April 12, 2010

Enough pixelated boobs! (Sexism in video games)

It's pretty common knowledge that the world of video games is a very male-dominated one. I'm into video games myself, but I'm far from being an "extreme gamer". I'd rather pick up a fun and cute Nintendo game then anything overly violent and serious on Playstation or XBox. Harvest Moon, Super Mario Bros., Sonic- those are my kinds of games. But when you step away from the innocent area of gaming and jump into the more serious side of it, you are bound to see some sexism.

I'll start off by saying that when it comes to the design of characters in video games, I think there is sexism to be found with both genders. The majority of male characters in video games are designed overly masculine with huge muscles, while the majority of female characters in video games are designed overly feminine with huge...well...boobs. But the sexism is quite obviously worse for the female characters. Female characters in video games are constantly sexualized and objectified. They are usually shown as damsels in distress who need the big strong male main characters to come and save them (I'm looking at you, Princess Peach), or if on the off chance the main character in the video game is a woman kicking ass, you better believe she will have to look overly-sexualized while doing it (hello, Lara Croft)! I'm talking barely-there clothing with big double-D pixelated breasts bouncing up and down, of course.

But the scary part is that the objectification and sexualization of women in video games isn't even the worst of it. It's the rape and violence against women in video games that really scares me. In Grand Theft Auto you can go to a local strip club, pay for a lap dance, have sex with the stripper, and then kill her after your done with her! Awesome (please note the sarcasm). And then there are rape video games which are surprisingly and sickeningly very popular online and actually have a cult following. One of the most well-known rape video games is RapeLay, which was released in Japan back in 2006, but just recently got a lot of media attention. I have a hard time even writing about this video game because it grosses me out and pisses me off so much. Here's the description of the game off of Wikipedia:

"The player can choose from a variety of sexual positions, and controls the action by making movements with the mouse or by scrolling the mouse wheel. It features a realistic sexual simulator which allows the player to grope and undress the characters on a crowded train. Later, the player may have forced intercourse with all three women at his leisure."

And that's not even the worst parts of the description of the game, if you'd like to read it all you can do so here. Now let me make it clear to everyone that I don't believe that just because you may play a video game with killing or raping in it you are automatically going to want to go out and do those things in the real world, not at all. But I do feel that if you continuously play video games with those themes in them you can possibly become desensitized to it. And that scares me, because for the most part people are aware that murder is wrong, but for some reason many people still don't see rape as wrong or as serious of a crime as it is.

And what makes RapeLay and other games like it worse then the typical shooting games to me is the context. Sure in Halo you shoot and kill people, but that's not the main purpose of the game, there is a whole storyline and objective behind it. But with games like RapeLay, raping women and young girls is the sole purpose of the game. And it's a realistic sexual simulator, so you're not just raping these women, but you're pretty much torturing them in detail- extra points for you if they cry or scream! Disgusting. I'm not a fan of censorship, so I personally don't believe that this game being available is the problem and that censoring it would then be the solution. I think that the problem lies with people wanting to play it, because if there wasn't anybody wanting to play it, then these kinds of games wouldn't continue to be made.

But don't fear female feminist gamers, on the brighter side, there are also a handful of video games that feature awesome intelligent and strong female characters lacking any sexism. For example- Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2, and Samus Aran from Metroid, just to name a few.

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