Female Gamer and Discrimination

Female Gamer and Discrimination

Thoughts VS Opinions Female Gamer and Discrimination

There are lots of people playing video games now than twenty years ago, each coming various cultures, races, and genders. We have Japanese gamers who brought us memorable JRPGs like Persona 4 or love their visual novels. There are European gamers that enjoy the simulation and micro-management of their sports along with the action-packed moments of being on the field. And we have North American gamers that keep making video games that make any other race the bad guys. However, while it is hard to find a game that is meant for women (outside of Otome games from Japan), I think most gamers in our community don’t give any respect to our double-X chromosome players. In fact, I think most of the younger gamers still question on whether female gamers exist, or even worse, give little respect to them.

The short answer to whether female gamers exist is yes, they do exist. My sister got into gaming because of me and my brother. Plus a lot of the games I grew to love as a kid on the Super Nintendo were picked out by her. I really love Secret of Mana as a kid, and when my sister found Secret of Evermore I had a blast with that game. When my sister found E.V.O.: Search for Eden, we both had months of fun finding a variety of creatures to make through a fairly linear action RPG. We never did a lot of multi-player gaming in our youth, but we share similar interests and I occasionally talk with her to get input on game design ideas or a perspective from a woman on something in the gaming community.

I think, as a community, we’re still ignorant of their existence. A good chunk of video game history was predominately male-oriented, especially in its single-player era. In commercials for old video games the target audience were men, and even today we still have generalizations that men still play video games. Today there is an abundance of social games, yet rarely do we see who the other person looks like when we hop into a multi-player game – let alone respect them as a person, or anyone in general.

One reason where I think most female games get little respect from is the recognition of using them as main characters in video games, or even considered for 3D model assets in a game. Jim Sterling stated that game developers rarely include female models in their video games for petty (it would be too expensive to make the models) or confusing (hit-boxes would be different, thus imbalancing the game) reasons. I agree with Sterling that these two reasons he brought up are both dumb and confusing, but I think a bigger reason why we don’t see so many female models (or female avatars) in our video games is the lack of respect for female gamers.

Earlier this year I was taking a 3D modeling class at my college. We were given a question from our instructor on how to make a Call of Duty, shooter game but was meant to have female models along with male models. Most of my class mates in this class were all male, and the answers they gave to this question just seems to lack any respect to women. I remember one suggested smoothing out the torso on the sides and abdomen, so she could have a well-presented chest to show off her gender. I find it odd that game designers want to emphasize the gender of a person in a military shooter of all places, when the thesis of these games are about fighting in a war. It’s like trying to recreate Saving Private Ryan but with more female actors that wear corsets into World War II than the traditional military uniforms the men wear.

The video game community doesn’t have a good history of respecting female gamers, unfortunately. Earlier this summer a game designer made a Flash game where gamers can beat up on Feminist Anita Sarkeesian, due to her project on talking about tropes in video games towards women in general. Earlier this year Aris Bakhtanians, the coach of a Tekken game was made infamous with his defense that sexual harassment and the fighting game community are the same thing.

Bakhtanians later apologized for his words, but I think one sliver of truth found in his words is that in the fighting game community, no one likes you. I think this applies to a lot of gamers in our community, and it makes it very hard for anyone to admit their interest into joining our culture. There have been lots of gamers and smarter people than I am telling us that we need to be nice and respectful of others – which are later met with trolls and griefing behavior. I won’t get into that argument here, but I do have a message to female gamers: Keep on playing your favorite games.

I would have loved taking that 3D modeling class again, with that same question, but getting the opinion of female gamers on how to properly represent the women that our defending my country (along with male gamers). I think the only reason why my class had so many male gamers is female gamers gave up on their favorite games due to the discrimination or sexism they encounter when sharing what they love. I know it’s hard to push through that kind of discrimination, but we already have memorable women like Anita Sarkeesian admitting their love for the gaming community.

I’ll be the first to admit that the game community is full of bullies. Like what Bakhtanians said, we’re jerks to each other to possibly establish some feeling of superiority. I think it’s a male thing that I never figured out in my youth, or maybe it is feeling like they have to lash out at others to make themselves feel better. I know that I’ve been a bully to my sister a few times. But she kept on playing the games she likes, and I strongly encourage any female gamers out there to continue doing this as well. Keep telling us that we’re disrespecting your gender in videos, blogs, or through forums. Keep reminding us to make strong, female avatars in video games, or even include female models in multiplayer games.

I don’t deny the existence of female gamers since I grew up with one in my house for years, but I shake my head in shame that I’m associated to a community that assumes women need big boobs to serve in fictional war games. As the game community gets larger and larger, we’ll eventually make games that get women interested, but might be quickly pushed aside due to dicks being dicks to them. I hope female gamers out there don’t give up that easily, as I would like to find more games like Secret of Evermore or E.V.O.: Search for Eden that is appealing to bother genders. We’ll only end the sausage-fest in the game community if female gamers give up on us.

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3 Comments

  1. My girlfriend is into video games, maybe not as much as me but she does play them quite a bit. Something odd unlike most female gamers is that she prefers to play as male characters rather than female ones. Female gamers generally always make out that their representation in games is not always tasteful but to be honest when I try and put myself in that person’s shoes I actually think that female characters in games are pretty cool. Sure Lara Croft had big boobs but she still looked like an awesome character in the universe she was depicted in. Nariko from Heavenly Sword didn’t have massive breasts but females still hated on her and I thought she was also a really well designed character and role model. I think the majority of female gamers especially those that go to conventions and dress up as their favourite characters show that these characters are accepted in society just as much as male gamers being forced to play as ugly meat heads in male focused games.

    I also don’t really think there is a discrimination on female gamers in gaming. I think female gamers generally force that discrimination when there isn’t really one in the first place. Just because a design team decided to make a game with a male lead role doesn’t mean that they didn’t put women gamers in their audience needs. Jade Raymond designed Assassin’s Creed and she put a male protagonist in it. Does that mean she is betraying her own sex? No of course not, she just had a vision and created it. Jennifer Hepler wrote the Dragon Age games which was slightly aimed more at a male demographic. Rhianna Pratchett wrote the Overlord series too. I think women in general just like to throw a stick just because they want to throw it and see what reacts from it. As I said there is no descrimination in games, people just want there to be.

    • About how some female gamers might encourage the discrimination…I kind of agree with you, Josh. It’s possible that some female gamers might do this – but the key word I use here is ‘possible.’ I kind of think of it like the character analysis of Bella in the “Twilight” books: She could be an innocent archetype character that has to be protected by men; or she could be the most manipulative female character in a tween-story that is just pushing Jacob/Edward into dog-fights for herself.

      Discrimination, racism, or any kind of offensive action/message could be brushed off with no harm done or it could be a serious insult. Bakhtanians was using very insulting remarks towards a female gamer in his party, but it could be interpreted that she was brushing it off. When other gamers heard these comments, it became a more serious issue.

      As for the female game designers making male role models, its hard for me to either agree or disagree with you on whether it could be discrimination. You did give examples of triple-A games there which are often driven out on whether they could be built as a successful product in the market, and one could argue that most publishers think they should still target the male audience in getting them interested. Jade Raymond, Jennifer Hepler and Rhianna Pratchett could have made these characters of their own free will, or maybe they made them due to a business memo. A little hard to tell for me.

  2. Bella is just a poorly written character and also an incredibly confused teenager :p

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