10 Video Games That Got Women (And Men) Completely Wrong

Women in games has been a heavy topic discussed in recent years. Mostly because it is assumed that representation of…

Megan Simon

Contributor

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Women in games has been a heavy topic discussed in recent years. Mostly because it is assumed that representation of the female gender will attract more women to play games for the first time (or start playing again). When the game market is declining it is in the best interest of the developers to widen their audience to include the other half of the population. The gap between female and male gamers widened in the last console generation. The target audience at that time was typically teenage males, which swayed the market considerably. This was also unfortunate for older male gamers. Additionally – the gaming audience tends to be conservative, creating tension between feminist ideals and marketed themes.

3All this leads to warped representation of women, and less women picking up controllers (less money for the developers). In the current console generation it was Nintendo that led the way of widening their target audience to include women, and this was a major element in their earlier success.  When XBox 360 and PS3 sought the wider audience Nintendo felt the backlash due to their limited hardware capabilities. This proves that for the next generation a wider audience will be vital for success, as well as hardware. While niche games are certainly welcome, games that push certain groups out of the market completely will only hinder the market as a whole.3

Here are 10 games that got women completely wrong, and are classic examples tyranny of the majority leading the game industry towards an Ochlocracy.

Games like this obviously do not correctly portray the human body. They are a warped representation of both men and women. They can create body image issues for both men and women. They can create warped sexual expectations, low self esteem and more. However they are only a danger if they are treated as something to be taken seriously. The sexual suggestion of the characters is the only thing that makes them different from the strange bodies of cartoon characters like the Looney Toons. When looking at Hyungkoo Lee’s installation series Animatus it becomes clear that the design of the Looney Toons could easily be interpreted as the things of nightmares. This brings to light concepts around anthropology, evolution and the human mind. Perhaps the extreme body types should be more of a psychological concern, rather than women issues. Yet, it’s our cultural situation that make these games more of danger to women than men. Obviously aesthetic holds higher standards for women than men. Most men don’t feel they need to wear make up despite baggy eyes or wrinkles. It’s extremely unfair when certain games realistically represent men and yet don’t for women (this is especially true for older characters). It’s even more troubling when “good” characters are given unrealistic body types and “evil” characters resemble more common body types.

Of course games like soul caliber have a loyal audience and it would be unfair to demand this content not to exist (also known as censoring). However the sexual design isn’t the major concern when talking about misrepresentation of women, but rather the aesthetic of personalities portrayed by the characters. For entertainment like video games, comics, movies – the poses of a character gives a strong impression of personality. For many male characters the personalities are understood just by the way the character holds themselves. Yet women characters often only stand in a small number of sexual poses, and convey very little unique personality. This seems to suggest women don’t have personality, or that their individuality is unimportant. Leading to a small troupe of female personalities within games.

The design of the characters (such as costume design) only becomes an issue when unrealistic representation of both genders becomes harmful. This is especially a concern for younger teens who are just developing their body image identity. Avatars are quite active, and so an athletic body is realistic. And for older characters – so is bad backs, wrinkles and creaky knees. Boobs that defy time and gravity — not so much. But for those beloved characters with breasts that break the time/space continuum – permission to express an individual personality is most important.