Disclaimer: Let me just start by saying that I don’t consider myself a “gamer” because of my recent lack of gaming. I do, though, read books about game theories, have taken video game/animation classes, and know about games! Theoretically I could call myself a gamer, but I won’t, but I can…
I grew up with video games. From playing Bubble Bobble on a dinosaur of a computer, to throwing chickens in Ocarina of Time, I lived in the many worlds created by video game creators. Back then, as a kid, it was just family fun; it was a chance for my brothers and I to bond on rainy days and it was an even playing field. Growing older, I start to feel that it is a statement to play video games, not just a fun activity to partake in for some good old competition or a distraction that takes more strategy and brain power. Now, apparently there are qualifications to call yourself a gamer, and most of those qualifications have to do with being male. The video game world is not one that is comfortable for a woman. Women and girls who play these games have to deal with grumpy male “gamers” who apparently create the “gamer” requirements, and also they have to deal with a lack of strong playable female characters, let alone ones who are realistically female.
If you Google (yes, Google and not Bing unless Bing wants to sponsor us then, yes Bing) “gamer girl” you will find the worst of images. What you’ll find in the infinite abyss of the internet, are memes making fun of “poser” girls. The jokes about these women have to do with them only playing Call of Duty, or even smaller games like Angry Birds, and thus having no justifiable reason to be calling themselves “gamers”. If a woman places Call of Duty religiously, let her call herself a gamer, in fact if a woman plays any video game and wants to call herself a gamer she should be able to do so without being attacked. You don’t have to be a technically good drawer to call yourself a drawer or a professional athlete to call yourself an athlete, if you enjoy something that much and genuinely, you have the right to be that person. That goes for men and women. My second problem with this issue is that it’s very rare (it still happens) for a male gamer to get apprehended for being a poser gamer. The second that a woman goes on the internet and claims to be a gamer, it is challenged. What you’ll also find are inappropriate images and drawings of naked women using video game controllers as seductive objects. I have two contradicting opinions regarding these images but first I have a question; when did women with video games become a sex fantasy? No, not all men have sexual fantasies of women and controllers but it’s definitely become a popular one that exists. The problem that emerges with this is that either people only see women who play video games as sexual objects for desire. Have any of you women ever gotten on Xbox live? What you usually hear is “boobs or gtfo” which is stupid because when do we do that to you? I would love for all the female gamers of the world to start saying “penis or gtfo”, let’s see how uncomfortable they get. All we want to do is defeat our enemies on video games as a nice break from the world; if we wanted sex we wouldn’t be gaming. Another issue I have with this though, is we get women who act as this sexual video game player who tend to ruin it for the women who do actually want to play. If that is really what you want to do, that’s fine, but let’s realize how we impact the other inhabitants of this world, and other worlds. Really though, how can we blame them when almost every playable female character looks overtly sexual and exposed.
When I play video games, I am almost always going to pick the female character, if there is that option. I do this not only for the fact that women are awesome, but because in a lot of the video games that I play, I want to feel like I am actually in that realm. Because of that, I should be able to pick a character that I can relate to and one that makes me feel powerful and unstoppable. Most of the playable female characters out there are not relatable. Personally, I could not run around killing zombies without a sports bra, and if there isn’t one available because of an apocalypse, then give me a realistic meter bar telling me how exhausted my breasts are making me. There are so many female characters in video games with their breasts almost all the way out, and good for them, but I couldn’t do that. Along with that, as badass as it would be, there is no way I could last a whole battle while wearing high heels, at least not without some Dr.Scholl’s shoe inserts, some foot cream, and someone to rub my feet afterwards. I could go on and on and on with more complaints, like the complaint that when there are male and female options in games, the men are full of armor and the women have nothing on (unfair!) or the complaint that every female character is way too skinny and there are no plus sized characters, but I will stop the complaints there and start discussing the few awesome female character options.
In the Mass Effect games the main protagonist is Lieutenant Commander Shepard, and Commander Shepard can either be female or male. You can customize the facial appearance of your character which makes it more personal, the one main flaw being that the men can’t wear make-up. The armor that they wear is basically the same, except for the GREAT detail that the woman’s armor has room for your breasts to breathe easy, without being exposed. It would be counter productive if designers made it so our breasts didn’t exist! Some women see their breasts as a powerful means of their female identity so hiding it wouldn’t do anything for them. In Mirror’s Edge, the main protagonist, Faith Connors, is a “Runner”, and has the perfect outfit for it. She has a black fitted tank top, tennis shoes, white light-weighted pants and a short hairdo so it’s not in the way. Not only would I wear the crap out of her outfit, but it’s practical. She’s relatable, and her appearance makes perfect sense for the context of the game. Alyx Vance, from Half-Life, is another good female character in a video game because she realistic. Her face is pretty, but plain, and she has a strong natural body type.
It’s going to be a while until the male-dominated video game industry lets in the opinions and the talent of women gamers and designers but it will happen. All of you beautiful nerdy ladies who like video games, keep playing and don’t be afraid to announce your love for the games. Voice your opinions to these game-makers and tell them how much you love them and how much it would mean to you to have powerful female protagonists. We need to stick together and demand for better characters, especially female characters of color. White women and men aren’t the ones who always save the world in real life and we know that there are amazing women of color who play these games (Rosario Dawson is an avid gamer). All of you excellent male gamers should also be vocal with your opinions on the same matter. I didn’t touch on it, but there are some crazy unrealistic male characters in video games too. Not all men in this world are huge, tall, with 100 abs, and perfect bone structures! That would be boring! We want to live in a world where men and women all love video games equally and together make the coolest games.
What would your ideal character look like? What do you think about this jumbled nonsensical post?
xoxo Feminist Bitca Elena