Sexism In Gaming Culture: Women Can Be Gamers Too, and Don’t You Forget It


I was a gamer ever considering I first was given my palms on my first Gameboy and a Pokémon red cartridge as a little lady. As I burned thru one Pokémon play-through after some other, in various generations (Red, Yellow, Silver, and so forth.), I continually named my avatar something feminine: Mia, Liza, Anna, Lena. Once, in an instance, I’ll by no means overlook, my cousin and I traded video games to take a look at each other’s Pokémon teams. “Why did you call yourself Lena?” he requested, at the same time as scrolling thru my Pokédex statistics. “This is a boy. Didn’t you take a look at him? You can handiest play as a boy.”

I am nevertheless a big fan of games. I am nevertheless disappointed in the quantity of sexism inherent in the titles that can be coming out, from AAA video games to indie darlings. And I’m now not the most effective one who feels that manner: This week, John Keilman, a Chicago Tribune author, wrote about the terrible mindset toward girl game enthusiasts, in addition to the shortage of girl protagonists. He factors Metroid’s Samus and Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft as a number of the most effective examples of well-advanced girl protagonists (and we are no longer talking well-evolved-in-the-chest-department way, which is nearly usually the case, however well-advanced inside the this-person-is-extra-than-a-taking walks-pair-of-boobs way).

Keilman spoke to female game enthusiasts like Jasmin Tomlins, who stated, “It’s uncommon to look at a girl character who isn’t always created as a love interest or someone who desires to save. They’re normally something that does not certainly make contributions to the development of the plot. A lot of times, they are unplayable.” Another common problem is that girl characters get unnoticed entirely, as in Ubisoft’s modern-day Assassin’s Creed title, in which there could be no girl protagonists because “it’d have doubled the work on [development].”

Although there may be masses of chatter out there concerning sexism in gaming, Keilman’s article jogged my memory why it is still essential to speak approximately it. So did a very demanding piece with the aid of Polygon’s Brianna Wu approximately the awful backlash faced by girls who game. As mentioned using the case studies in her article, some examples of slurs directed at girls are beneath.

Gaming Culture

In reaction to a Tumblr post reblogged with the aid of famous vlogger Anita Sarkeesian:

“You’ll know when I rape your mouth hollow, complain!” In response to a PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) Girlfight panel, which focused on ladies in gaming: “I notion they would position a few fucking hot ladies up there to fucking look at. AM I RIGHT?” A comment with the aid of an AAA sports developer (who’s male): “When a girl criticizes me, it goes to a one-of-a-kind part of my mind that whilst a man on my team does.” I can think of few Internet subcultures that perpetuate this kind of unrestrained vitriol. This gender dynamic glorifies one sort of lady — the helpless, svelte, horny kind — simultaneously as vilifying girls who’re impartial and smart. It is crucial to recognize that the former type of lady is fictional. Real ladies like this might be uncommon. That’s why developing characters who run around in pasties and thongs at the battlefield — characters you may sleep with for trophies, in the case of The Witcher, which, marvel surprise, most effective has a male protagonist! — is harmful. (For a few bellies laughs, test out The Hawkeye Initiative, which inserts Hawkeye into the photos — and clothes — of scantily-clad girl characters.)

This is Ivy, from Soul Calibur, and her…Nipple coverings. I can not consider a better word for those. This is not to say that good female characters do not exist or that ladies want lady characters to play a sport in the first area. Games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Portal offer completely-found-out characters. Furthermore, no longer each recreation needs male and woman protagonists. In video games like Bioshock: Infinite, the personal journey takes place to be focused on a person with a selected backstory, and that character — Booker DeWitt — occurs to be male. That’s OK. But neglecting to include images of real girls, time and time once more is while problems arise.

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Portal and Portal 2’s Chell, an excellent instance of a female character whose sexuality or appearance is not the main cognizance of the games. To get more angles on the problem, I came to some of my buddies for their thoughts. “I realize I’m afraid to call myself a gamer,” stated my pal Mackenzie. “The moment I do will inevitably bring about a man or be calling me out, scoffing at my puny listing of favored games or lack of shooters among them. I’ve had someone say I play video games to get attention from boys. I’ve had someone say that I’m faux. Honestly, I love gambling games. They are so relaxing and a laugh!”

“There was best one man who told me he’d go smoothly on me in Guitar Hero because I become a female. I then proceeded to crush him to the floor brutally. Oops,” said Elizabeth. “Gaming attitudes in the direction of women are as ridiculous as they may be sexist. For a few cases, several individuals who identify as “gamers” have a rigorous concept about what does and would not qualify as a gamer. They’re very short of protecting their own little bubble that they have constructed up around themselves. People want to recognize that masses of people play video games and enjoy them and that their present definitions of who can and can’t play video games are just harming the industry,” Josh told me. “Having a female protagonist shouldn’t feel like a checked field on a PR listing. I could desire that recreation industries within the future flow far from handing over lady protagonists, or even characters, like concessions,” stated Erika.

“I simply want to experience the game, no longer what a few male developer’s understanding of the ‘woman experience’ is or should be,” University of Richmond professor Dr. Kristin Bezio instructed me. Bezio often writes approximately the connection between gender and video games. She said she hardly ever performs with a girl avatar because “maximum lady avatars are demanding or unclothed” and pointed me toward her revel in Fable 3 to explain why. It’s time for the gaming industry and gaming lifestyle as a whole to face the fact of sexism within the majority of video games to be had on the market. (This is not an indictment of all-male gamers, or maybe people who do espouse these evaluations — it is probably that much of the sexism is a result of lack of know-how and miseducation, in preference to aim.) Some groups are making strides: I can play as a lady on Pokemon video games if I want. And even if the gaming international isn’t always getting it, the toy-making international certainly is, with merchandise like Miss Possible, IAmElemental, and Lammily. But, if video games are to be typical as a legitimate shape of storytelling just like films and books — they ought to do a higher activity reflecting fact.

Carol P. Middleton
Student. Alcohol ninja. Entrepreneur. Professional travel enthusiast. Zombie fan. Practiced in the art of donating rocking horses for the underprivileged. Crossed the country researching hula hoops in Deltona, FL. Won several awards for supervising the production of etch-a-sketches in Nigeria. Uniquely-equipped for investing in bathtub gin in the financial sector. Spent a year building g.i. joes worldwide. Earned praise for deploying childrens books in Africa.