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Nerds and Male Privilege


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#-29 Tzu

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:17 PM

EDIT: Added useful videos. Please watch them before posting:

Gender & Games (added by Vitglance)
Video Games 6 the Female Audience (added by eremos)

I found a well-written article on an otherwise tangled topic:

Nerds & the Male Privilege (please actually read the whole thing)

Author revisits article (06.01.2012)

I would really like to hear your opinions on this. :)

Edited by Tzu, 07 January 2012 - 12:59 PM.


#-28 Wothan

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:30 PM

Tzu said:

I found a well-written article on an otherwise tangled topic:

http://www.doctorner...rivilege/all/1/

I would really like to hear your opinions on this. :)

I believe that the batman comparison was not fair, because the characters were already that way

Catwoman is supposed to be sexy due to her cat-like style
Harley is almost as mad the joker, her dresses will most likely reflect that
And Ivy uses her beauty to attract new victims, like a man-eater plant

Of course, the manifestations might change, some are over the top while some are not, why he do not used talia al ghul? she was properly dressed

As for the rest, well, its only the reflection of how the geek culture developed, fortunately that is changing lately

Edited by Wothan, 08 December 2011 - 11:33 PM.


#-27 eremos

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:41 PM

Very interesting indeed. There's a thread here on GW2G about girl gamers and they linked to a video that goes well with this:



#-26 Evlin Heron

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:41 PM

Wow, thanks for that Tzu. That was a very well written, well argued blog post about something that is too often shoved under the rug. While I will admit that I love being a female geek because it lets me play a kick ass female warrior who can do anything the guys can do, I also admit that often it can be hard to be a woman around often awkward and outright rude men. They are not always the majority, but they are never the minority, unfortunately. We need more male gamers to look at how they react towards the sexualization of female characters in games, and deconstruct the notions of masculinity which are created through video games (just as we should do in all other areas of life! Deconstruct gender performance!!).

Again, thanks for finding that Tzu. It was a really great read.

@Wothan, I think you missed the point, aka you didn't even read past the pictures....your argument is directly contradicted by the author.

#-25 Ethernet

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:50 PM

Alright, this part:

Quote

Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are. The most common responses a woman can expect in an argument – especially online – is that she’s fat, ugly, single, jealous, a whore, or a lesbian – or any combination thereof – and therefore her opinion is irrelevant, regardless of it’s actual merits.

Guess what? If you say something stupid online as a man, you're gonna get called an idiot, a fag, a homo, a virgin, a fatass, etc.

Decent article, otherwise, though. Good read.

#-24 eremos

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:50 PM

Evlin Heron said:

Wow, thanks for that Tzu. That was a very well written, well argued blog post about something that is too often shoved under the rug. While I will admit that I love being a female geek because it lets me play a kick ass female warrior who can do anything the guys can do, I also admit that often it can be hard to be a woman around often awkward and outright rude men. They are not always the majority, but they are never the minority, unfortunately. We need more male gamers to look at how they react towards the sexualization of female characters in games, and deconstruct the notions of masculinity which are created through video games (just as we should do in all other areas of life! Deconstruct gender performance!!).

Again, thanks for finding that Tzu. It was a really great read.

@Wothan, I think you missed the point, aka you didn't even read past the pictures....your argument is directly contradicted by the author.

Yeah, it's definitely made me think. There are clearly a lot of other elements in games that are designed to appeal more to guys than gals, but this is something we should be paying more attention to.

It occurs to me that the reason MMOs have a bigger female population than many other games is, in large part, that the characters actually have a bit of depth, or allow players to create their own story, and are not as shallow and oversexualized as in some other games. I'd be curious to know if you agree?

Edited by eremos, 08 December 2011 - 11:53 PM.


#-23 Evlin Heron

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 12:05 AM

eremos said:

Yeah, it's definitely made me think. There are clearly a lot of other elements in games that are designed to appeal more to guys than gals, but this is something we should be paying more attention to.

It occurs to me that the reason MMOs have a bigger female population than many other games is, in large part, that the characters actually have a bit of depth, or allow players to create their own story, and are not as shallow and oversexualized as in some other games. I'd be curious to know if you agree?

I agree that MMOs allow more choice and may be more attractive to women because in other games (FPS, majority of single player games) we can't create our own female character: the characters are either all male (most FPS), the main character is male surrounded by females you cannot play as and may be over sexualized, or you can play a female who is sexualized (i.e. batman). To be honest, as much as I am an loudly outspoken feminist, most reasonable games don't bother me. I may remark that something seems  a bit odd, but overall I think games allow women to express themselves in ways that other media don't (not many movies have truly strong female characters-even the bad ass ones always are a love interest/get saved by the male hero). But that doesn't mean don't think we should analyze these things: we should. When I'm not bothered by things its more likely the result of me giving up on fighting every little thing that I see for my health lol.

Also, I've noticed that MMO players tend to be, on average, more understanding/accepting of female players. I don't want to relive my first xbox live voice chat moment...

#-22 Ginkgo

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 12:54 AM

Lots of decent points to be honest, but ones that will recieve lots of negative feedback from certain elements of the geek/gamer community (the writer seems to know this in advance).

#-21 FoxBat

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 02:05 AM

eremos said:

It occurs to me that the reason MMOs have a bigger female population than many other games is, in large part, that the characters actually have a bit of depth, or allow players to create their own story, and are not as shallow and oversexualized as in some other games. I'd be curious to know if you agree?

MMOs not oversexualized? With depth? Which ones?

MMOs have more women because MMOs are social. I don't think you will see the same demographic skew for Skyrim, despite it doing better in your categories than most other MMOs.

#-20 Zeful

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 02:11 AM

Wothan said:

I believe that the batman comparison was not fair, because the characters were already that way.

Actually it's totally fair because the point of the entire article was that reactions like yours, the insistent justification that "This is different/doesn't apply because..." is a big issue, because it's systematically saying "this isn't sexism" despite the fact that it totally is.

This doesn't mean that the characters themselves are bad things, it does mean  that the reaction of immediate and insistent defense of the sexualization of women as a good thing in the geek community is a problem that should be addressed if the community is actually going to be as egalitarian as it claims.

#-19 Firetruck

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:18 AM

Ethernet said:

Alright, this part:



Guess what? If you say something stupid online as a man, you're gonna get called an idiot, a fag, a homo, a virgin, a fatass, etc.

Decent article, otherwise, though. Good read.

Except for the fact that females are automatically singled out, and are more or less goaded into such arguments. Guys will be fine doing nothing and keeping quiet, but once a girl is identified, it's almost inevitable.

#-18 Vitglance

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:37 AM

For what it's worth, Foxbat, I'm playing the hell out of Skyrim right now. :p


Nice article. It's nice to see a man call attention to the  'idealized males in games = male power fantasy, not female fanservice' point.  Of all the knee jerk strawmen counterpoints, that's the one that truly gets under my skin. It's like having a boyfriend buy himself something for my birthday and insist it's my present.:mad:

Edited by Vitglance, 09 December 2011 - 03:50 AM.


#-17 Craywulf

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:44 AM

Great article, thanks for sharing this. i just linked it on my FB page. I think a lot of what was written applies to all types of males, not just nerds. I think males from other social backgrounds are just as "male priviledged" as nerds are, it's just less noticeable because geeky women are scarce in the nerd realm compared to other social backgrounds.

#-16 Folkvar

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:06 AM

I'll be honest and say that I feel women deserve much more respect than they get. And that's not just referring to video games. I cringe everytime someone makes a kitchen comment. Or when guys say something amazingly tactless and/or suggestive.

Sometimes I feel like the only guy who is attracted to modesty and looks at the woman, not her chest.

#-15 Lady Miranda

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:16 AM

Vitglance said:

For what it's worth, Foxbat, I'm playing the hell out of Skyrim right now. :p


Nice article. It's nice to see a man call attention to the  'idealized males in games = male power fantasy, not female fanservice' point.  Of all the knee jerk strawmen counterpoints, that's the one that truly gets under my skin. It's like having a boyfriend buy himself something for my birthday and insist it's my present.:mad:

Very true!

What especially annoys me is how in the very few cases of male characters being sexualized in the same way female characters always are, you inevitably get cries from male gamers saying how "gay" the character is. You get this in movies too, especially from the (clearly aimed at women) Twilight series.

I even heard it about this game on another forum, complaints that you have the choice to make male characters that don't look like they're jacked up on steroids and can wear revealing clothing, and that somehow this threatens the sexuality of all male players.

I just don't understand the "it's all about me" mindset.

#-14 Vitglance

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:36 AM

I don't know what pisses me off more about that.

The "manservice must be related to homosexuality because only men play games" part, or the "Quid pro No!" part.

I mean, really, if I pitched a fit like that every-time I saw fanservice in games, I'd never shut up.

#-13 Mizakura

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:48 AM

Folkvar said:

I'll be honest and say that I feel women deserve much more respect than they get. And that's not just referring to video games. I cringe everytime someone makes a kitchen comment. Or when guys say something amazingly tactless and/or suggestive.

Sometimes I feel like the only guy who is attracted to modesty and looks at the woman, not her chest.

i agree with that fully, i have a few friends who do the whole "women belong in the kitchen pregnant and sweeping the floor" thing and it pisses me off, i mostly have female friends because in general the guys around here tend to be douche bags. ive never really gotten along with guys as much as i do girls and because of that back in school i was always pointed at and people would give me crap spreading rumors i was gay when in reality im far from it. i just dont like people who act like jerks in general. the objectification of women that has supposedly decreased still seems a bit high at least around here.

when it comes to the attraction thing im right there with you. i fall fro girls for their personality, however saying that i will admit im still a guy and i dont like girls that just arent attractive. however thats isnt all i look at. i never make a decision if i am fully attracted to a girl until iuve gotten to know them and seen their personality. in fact to me the personality is mreo attractive than the outward appearance.

this article was however a great read and i see this objectifying of women very prominently and over all agreed with it. it was well written and used very good examples. I think it might be a while yet before the gaming industry realizes how much female gaming is rising but we can only hope it comes sooner than later.

#-12 wilebill

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 05:06 AM

Think this has been going on since the Stone Age. The same arguments flared around SF conventions because while there were female SF writers, and impressive female SF heroines, magazine and book covers tended to be lurid and sexually exploitive. So it all settled down in the end.

#-11 Mr. Mango

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 06:58 AM

Decent points but I still think that the problem mostly lies with the devs for creating the content, even if the masses gobble it up.

Regardless, I'm not doing anything wrong, I feel. That's what matters to me.

#-10 Castegyre

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 07:53 AM

I don't disagree with him, but he seems a bit late to the party. This isn't exactly new.

Part of the problem has always been that a lot of this media of whatever form is/was made by nerds for nerds. Meaning, guys who probably had no luck with women in school and early life and are/were semi-socially retarded are making this material for similar guys. It's hard to treat someone as a whole and equal person if you don't really understand that they are, even more so if you are afraid of them which I think is often the case. The fact that even the best of guys can sexualize anything and both male and female followers of a lot of this stuff want their favorite fem to be sexy, whether it's a character in a story or their avatar in a game, doesn't help.

#-9 eremos

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:14 AM

FoxBat said:

MMOs not oversexualized? With depth? Which ones?

MMOs have more women because MMOs are social. I don't think you will see the same demographic skew for Skyrim, despite it doing better in your categories than most other MMOs.

Guild Wars for instance.

No, it didn't have that much depth in itself, but you could immerse yourself in the character without having to account for why you suddenly had FF cups.

Mr. Mango said:

Decent points but I still think that the problem mostly lies with the devs for creating the content, even if the masses gobble it up.

Regardless, I'm not doing anything wrong, I feel. That's what matters to me.

Yeah there's no way people will suddenly start to boycott games. Just set an example and call people on it when they're being dicks.

Edited by eremos, 09 December 2011 - 08:22 AM.


#-8 Milennin

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:39 AM

Quote

If a girl wants to see herself represented in video games, she better get used to the idea of being the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. If she wants to see herself as a main character, then it’s time to get ready for a parade of candyfloss costumes where nipple slips are only prevented by violating the laws of physics. The number of games with competent female protagonists who wear more than the Victoria’s Secret Angels are few and far between.

He obviously hasn't played a lot of games...

Quote

Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are. The most common responses a woman can expect in an argument – especially online – is that she’s fat, ugly, single, jealous, a whore, or a lesbian – or any combination thereof – and therefore her opinion is irrelevant, regardless of it’s actual merits.

Rarely ever seen that happen in my 6+ years of playing MMO's...

Summary of article: Way, way exaggarating. Or maybe the author is just playing the wrong games.

#-7 draxynnic

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 09:25 AM

Wothan said:

I believe that the batman comparison was not fair, because the characters were already that way

Catwoman is supposed to be sexy due to her cat-like style
Harley is almost as mad the joker, her dresses will most likely reflect that
And Ivy uses her beauty to attract new victims, like a man-eater plant

Of course, the manifestations might change, some are over the top while some are not, why he do not used talia al ghul? she was properly dressed

As for the rest, well, its only the reflection of how the geek culture developed, fortunately that is changing lately
There's nothing instrinsic about cats that mean that someone with a special affinity to felines is going to be any more provocative than anyone else - female cats don't have prominent mammaries to show off, and averaged over a year are probably less inclined towards promiscuity than a human woman. And if there was such an intrinsic connection, why isn't there a Catman*? There are certainly female versions of all the well-known male superheroes (Batgirl, Supergirl...)

And where's the male equivalent of Poison Ivy? Such a character would probably be more of a Barney Stinson than a Stripperella, but while the tactics may change, it's not hard to imagine a predator that employs seduction techniques to catch women**. In fact, it's kinda surprising you don't see more of them, since I'd imagine many nerds would enjoy seeing a villain that's basically an exaggerated alpha male getting beaten up by the hero.

Harley... without knowing more than what you've said and looking at appearances... I might give a pass to. Why? Because one thing that is often missed in these discussions is that women do have a tendency to show more skin and otherwise dress more 'provocatively' than men. A common mistake in discussions relating gender is getting the idea that men and women are equal (good) confused with the idea that men and women should be identical (clearly false). Different things attract men and women in looking for a partner, and men generally don't dress sexily while women do because, deep down, men know that dressing sexy isn't actually likely to help much in catching a woman***, while it's patently obvious that a woman dressing sexy can get more attention from men as a result****.

I've railed against sexualised outfits in the past, and then been surprised when female players I knew expressed preferences for exactly those outfits. In some cases, because they would be perfectly happy to wear those outfits themselves in public (how many guys would be willing to wear male equivalents to some of the scanty convention attire you see?), in others, it can be part of the fantasy to dress their character more sexily than they would dare in real life (except possibly in private with their SO). Bottom line is that women are that much more likely to dress in a scanty and/or provocative fashion than men are, and reflecting reality isn't sexism. (One might think that this reality is itself a symptom of a bigger problem, and that may be true, but that's not a crusade that's going to be won by attacking the gaming industry.)

Personally, my attitude is that as long as there are never circumstances where a female player character lacks a reasonable sensible options and the female NPCs aren't too ridiculous, it's not a problem*****.

There are also times, of course, where it's not just the outfits that are a problem, as this article shows. Even though I can't imagine many women being attracted to that article's suggestion for how the male could be made as hyper-sexualised as the female.

*Puss in Boots doesn't count.
**Dracula and vampires based on him might count.
***Unless they have one of those physiques, but even then, only in situations where it's socially acceptable to go shirtless anyway (and in those cases, you'll often have plenty of women wearing bikinis). Wearing clothing designed to show off abs and a sixpack generally doesn't work as desired.
****Whether it's the right sort of attention is another question.
*****Guild Wars did fall down on this in some cases, especially early Nightfall... but on the other hand, male Paragons. *shudder*

Edited by draxynnic, 09 December 2011 - 09:37 AM.


#-6 Space

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 09:55 AM

I'm not sure if I gained anything from reading the article, I mean is it any suprise that a male dominated industry use overly sexualised content to sell games?

A related article in the Guardian regarding how women are starting to have an increased role in the games industry is quite a good read too for those interested.

http://www.guardian....signing-writing

#-5 draxynnic

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 01:10 PM

That's probably what's really going to make the difference in the long run - enough women in games development to truly represent what women consider desirable or at least acceptable.

#-4 Zerdav

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 01:16 PM

If you want to solve this problem, attacking sexualised portrayal is not the answer I feel. Instead of going against, you should go for. For more originality, for more creativity. Sexualisation here is not the real problem, it's rather a symptom.

I'm not familiar with geek culture, but based on what's written, it's represented by unoriginal idiots, with a feeling of superiority. Work with that, not against it.

#-3 Symbiont

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 02:48 PM

He made a girl wait for him, who had zero interest in geek stuff, in front of a comic store and acts violently surprised on a fellow nerd because he mustered the courage to approach her with a question that is beyond her comprehension of said geek-culture. Haha, fantastic.

Couldn’t she just respond at the geek with “Maybe you should try and ask your mother such a bold question first before trying that on another female”?

Funny how he writes about his exclusively negative experience that guides the reader throughout the article. Unless he lost most of his girlfriends by a fellow geek, that don’t know their way with woman, his experience remains exclusively and once.

Anyhow, seems like he found himself a sensational topic to write about, explaining in his fine words and mainly focusing on the negative side of things without providing positive examples that are happening. Therefore, I question his sincerity on the topic.

To be fair, he does seem somewhat concerned in his experience by the portrayal image of his fellow white straight male geek. But the most effective thing he could do is not consume the things he dislikes. Because trying to completely eliminate this market is futile; such a market will always exist.

And one might wonder if the author actually did stop going to conventions or stop reading the comics and stop playing the games where he deemed the woman are portrayed as overly unnecessary sexual. Or does he rant after consuming it, because his experience must have come from somewhere other than his probably adolescent experience he started his article with.

To me the solution seems simple; if you don’t like it, don’t consume it.
Or is that not good enough? Well then, to break it to you, I can’t change the Twilight movie to appeal to my fellow man, yet countless of men are dragged by their woman to watch it with them. And the questionable lucky ones just refuse to watch it.

To make it brief, as long females are interested in geek culture, inevitable change will happen throughout.

Edited by Symbiont, 09 December 2011 - 03:00 PM.


#-2 Kernull

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:34 PM

Symbiont said:

snip

Pretty much agree with this. The article was very insightful and has some great points, but it's from a fairly youthful point of view and forms too many generalizations based on personal, negative experiences. (which I suppose can be a good thing in some people's eyes)

In general, though, I agree with the main point of article, that it comes down to the individual to broaden their perspectives.

#-1 another

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 05:15 PM

draxynnic said:

Harley... without knowing more than what you've said and looking at appearances... I might give a pass to. Why? Because one thing that is often missed in these discussions is that women do have a tendency to show more skin and otherwise dress more 'provocatively' than men. A common mistake in discussions relating gender is getting the idea that men and women are equal (good) confused with the idea that men and women should be identical (clearly false). Different things attract men and women in looking for a partner, and men generally don't dress sexily while women do because, deep down, men know that dressing sexy isn't actually likely to help much in catching a woman***, while it's patently obvious that a woman dressing sexy can get more attention from men as a result****

While I agree with most of your post, I don't really agree with this paragraph. I don't think you're looking deeply enough at the reasons why women tend to dress differently from men -- it's not that they're trying to attract men, it's that they're trying to conform to social norms, and those norms say that women should be beautful and show off their beauty for male benefit. That's an important difference.

I don't dress sexily -- I don't like wearing uncomfortable clothes and I don't enjoy being stared at. And yet people (of both genders) frequently tell me that I should wear dresses and make-up more often. They rarely bring up men; they just think I should dress more like a girl. "You'd look sooooo pretty if you wore a little make-up," they insist, "and that would make you more confident!" Funny; I always feel more confident about myself before folks start implying I'm ugly.

#0 Faowri

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 06:07 PM

Symbiont said:

But the most effective thing he could do is not consume the things he dislikes. Because trying to completely eliminate this market is futile; such a market will always exist.

If you deliberately went out of your way to cut out all games that adopt females as sex symbols, all games from companies that have ever used booth babes to lure in gamers at cons etc. you'd be cutting yourself off from a MASSIVE number of essentially good games with misguided character design and marketing. This kinda plays into the idea of male privilege, actually -"If you don't like it, don't buy it" is easy to say from a position of privilege - reverse the situation, and imagine that the standard convention for the past twenty years is that 90% of male characters run around in sexualised deviant bondage gear. The games are all great, but they have this design flaw. Male gamers might feel ostracised by this, but if they want to play good games, they have no choice but to consume. Gamers still want to play good games, after all. They want to reward dev teams who put together excellent games and keep them making excellent games, and it's much easier to be informed on something and involved enough in a community to have a voice when you're actually participating.

An example: a few months ago, I started playing Borderlands with a friend I meet up with once a month or so to have a game binge with. Now, Borderlands is a great game, I like the art style generally, and it's a lot of fun to play multiplayer on. But inevitably, I went to pick my character if I wanted to play a girl, and I'm stuck with this:

Posted Image

A seductive, vacant-expressioned, dull generic babe. Where the other male characters have interesting and varied character designs and titles relating to their combat abilities, 'Lilith' is a 'Siren', because apparently the token female HAS to be a seductress of some kind. And to milk that age old stereotype even further, her special abilities are 'psychic' - because females can't be physical fighters, of course.

I still play and enjoy the game. But I rolled my eyes and questioned the design choices and wondered why the games industry continues to try and manage female characters this way in this day and age. The 'market' for this design choice is something of a phantom - would fewer people have bought Borderlands if the cast included a tough female soldier character with a sturdier design? Unlikely. Similarly, would there have been much of a dent in the sales if the people who were annoyed by Lilith's design and presentation boycotted the game? Equally unlikely, because the majority of people who aren't interested in games because of crap like this ALREADY don't buy games, and unless they're organised, boycotts are too extreme to pinpoint particular problems with a product that is otherwise sound.

Playing games, giving feedback and spreading the word that this stuff is ridiculous is more productive than not buying something. Even worse, if all equally irritated girl gamers were to do this, then based on precedent it'd probably just be dismissed as the usual "I guess girls aren't interested in games" without anybody stopping to wonder why.

I agree with your final comment though - change will come naturally as more girls game, and more women get involved in the games industry. Making games that don't make these silly 90s mistakes with the representation of women, and offer a little more female character diversity, is the key to kicking this outmoded convention in the face. Sexy video game characters don't need to go away - they just don't need to be the be-all and end-all of women in games.

Edited by Faowri, 09 December 2011 - 06:09 PM.