Why Video Game Designers Are Missing The Mark With Women

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A Growing Demographic

The statistics and the research may vary, but it’s quite clear: girl gamers are here, and they’re here to stay. Especially in the online realm, women make up a growing demographic of gamers who are just as passionate about playing as your typical gamer guy.

But as a girl gamer myself, it’s abundantly clear that the video game industry is not only run by a majority of men, but it’s catered to them as well. And it doesn’t seem to be changing much. Of course, catering to men makes sense from a business perspective, or at least it used to. But statistics indicate that’s no longer the case. And for some reason, many video game companies are just not willing to change to accommodate that shift. Maybe it’s part of the whole industry, so deep-seeded, that executives and producers can’t think outside of the box. But really, it’s still not an excuse. It’s honestly disgraceful at times, and downright disrespectful.

The Lara Croft Syndrome

Now, my intent here isn’t to start a flame war. There are plenty of women who are completely content with video games the way they are, and have no desire to see games change into anything other than they are. In fact, they like that they’re playing in a “Man’s Realm”. And that, of course, is absolutely fine. What irks me is that, so often, playing video games still feels like crossing into a man’s territory—like finding yourself in a world you weren’t taken into consideration. Aleah Tierny puts it into perspective in her article “What Women Want” when she talks about the Lara Croft syndrome:

I couldn’t wait to load and play Tomb Raider when it first came out, but when I saw Lara, I just couldn’t take the game seriously. The giant twin pyramids mounted onto her chest look like something she could use to impale her enemies. In many ways her kick-butt presence is a triumph, but the designers’ decision to sexualize her to the point of deformity angered me. I couldn’t get past her proportions, so I put the game away.

Customization and Character Creation

I know, for many of you readers, this might not make sense. But let’s take my most recent game obsession, Dragon Age, and maybe you’ll see what I mean. First, Dragon Age gets huge props for even allowing play as a woman. Believe it or not, there is an an entire group of people who like playing as women, and not just to stare at the avatars in their bras during cutscenes in dungeons (you know who you are). Fact is, I never really got into games much until I was able to play women. Mario Brothers didn’t get cool until I could float around as Princess Peach; Warcraft didn’t have the appeal until I could log on as a female paladin. And the #1 reason I haven’t gotten into Red Dead Redemption is because I don’t get to play a gal. (I will also point out that Dragon Age also gets props for taking on gender stereotypes with Shale; but since it’s already been written about, I’ll just direct you to that article here.)

Dragon Age allows for some pretty high-level customization starting out the game. You can really mold your character however you want, down to overbites and skin tone. Which, for girls like me who were brought up with Barbies, definitely holds appeal. I’m not embarrassed to admit that a huge component of my game play is feeling as if the character is utterly mine. Not me, but mine.

So, sure, maybe I’m the Carrie Bradshaw of RPGs, but I care a great deal about how my equipment looks, in addition to my character’s general appearance. Tell me, then, why the same piece of armor on a male character which clearly covers him from throat to ankle, shows enough cleavage and leg to make a stripper blush when worn on a female character. There’s nothing wrong with a little skin now and again, but seriously? Sure, this is a magical world, but they must have some really heavy duty tape to keep everything in place. It’s absolutely ridiculous. (I should mention that Dragon Age, while transgressing in this instance—particular with mage outfits, is not a lone example; it’s pervasive, though none are perhaps as nefarious as WoW’s chain mail bikini).

Sexuality and Choice

I will not deny that sexuality plays an important role in video games, especially those in the fantasy genre (heck, the whole fantasy genre is replete with sex and gender stereotypes, so it’s not falling far from the tree to say the least). But, from my point of view, there’s something rather insidious about not having a choice—like how much skin to show on your avatar—no matter what you do. It’s saying, sight unseen, that your character’s body is the center of the story. What if I want my mage to be really conservative? Oh, it doesn’t matter. I can’t. No choice, none at all. She dresses slutty. I mean, in Dragon Age all the women are built like porn stars, and the outfits on the Chantry priestesses even accentuate their boobs. It makes it abundantly clear that straight men were the number one consideration during design.

Guys, think about this. What would it be like if you logged on to your favorite game, and every piece of armor your warrior tried on was nothing more than a metal jock strap and a halter top? Sure, I might not mind looking at it—but you probably wouldn’t find it that thrilling. With no choice other than slutty, the whole armor issue treads into some very dark territory. Objectification and sexualization to the nth degree.

Stereotypes of Gender

I’m not saying that sexy women have no place in video games. On the contrary, I’m not calling for the obliteration of sexiness—I think the female form is beautiful, and ought to celebrated. But we should, like in the real world, have a choice whether or not to let it all hang out, so to speak, or look just like any other soldier in the army.

I use Dragon Age as an example, mostly because it’s fresh in my mind. But as my Twitter pals are quick to point out, the portrayal of women in video games across the board run the gamut of stereotypes. If she isn’t the sexy mage, she’s the clever librarian, the healer girlfriend, the evil heavily accented and mind-bogglingly sexy villain. What Dragon Age, and similar RPGs, hold in common is a certain level of customization of the main character. But when you look at the supporting casts of many games—even when you’re able to make a main character to your liking—it even gets worse. Don’t even get me started on Leliana and Morrigan and the whole Alistair thing. (No, I’m not bitter. I swear.)

Sounding Off

There are plenty of other issues to note, but as it stands I’ve gone on at length on this particular subject. And there is a solution. Games don’t have to be completely “feminized” to appeal to women. We’re not asking for pink suits of armor, torrid romances, and customizable purses. Many of us get as much enjoyment out of slaughtering Darkspawn as you do. But we’re simply looking for accurate representations, respectful representations, that give us the choice to play how we want. That means putting more women behind the scenes of video game production and writing; that means being vocal about what irks us, and making sure we don’t just let things slide, that we don’t accept things just because it’s been allowed for so long.

So sound off. What bothers you about gender and sexual stereotypes in video games? Any particularly bad perpetrators out there? Anything you’d love to see changed?

(Special thanks to my Tweeps @thexmedic, @pauljessup, @jennywilliams, @aweeadventure, @mercedesmy, & @erinramos for their input!)

[Image: BioWare]





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307 Responses to Why Video Game Designers Are Missing The Mark With Women

  1. "Mr. Gambini, that is a lucid, intelligent, well-thought-out objection. Gambini: Thank you, your honor. Judge: Overruled."

    But seriously, I'm never against MORE character customization. I agree it can be limited at times and can see especially how over-sexualization might be frustrating to female players. But seriously, exactly what percentage of gamers are we talking here? A lot of warcraft ladies I know like that they can at least be sexy in Azeroth if not RL. (Do you wanna date my avatar? She's a star!)What is the actual percentage of women gamers overall anyway? Until you ladies get your numbers up I'm afraid you will just have to grin and bare it. Majority and the almighty dollar have and will always rule.

    • I'm one of them, actually, which is why although I love RPGs, i dont play any of the current crop. I'm still playing morrowind, as a beast race, because then at least my mammaries arent on display to any CGI character with a perversion.

      I dont think its asking too much to be allowed to set length of costumes – Even make a joke of it, make the longest length include a burkah if you like! Just don't make us run around in bra and undies or just leather straps!

      PS Guys, sexy isnt nearly naked like that. Give us choice, and let us show you sexy….. >D

      • Ok as someone who has done work in game design, it's not as easy as you think to make costumes length changeable. Costumes involve a lot of textures and shading techniques, and to make them all completely scalable would require a lot from the art department, animation team, and rendering power on your system. For the amount of energy it would require, not really worth it.

        Making alternate costumes though, so you can pick and choose the ones you like, is a much more viable option. As someone said, games like Resident Evil 5 give you the option to stick with the more traditional realistic costume or switch over to the exaggerated wish-fulfillment versions.

        And if you're having problems with RPG's and MMO's, try Guild Wars. The costumes are almost all designed by a girl designer, she has history in the fashion industry what from what I've read, and she does phenomenal designs. Some of these are modest, some not so much. But almost every class you choose will have a mixture of outfits, both slutty and reserved, so you can pick what fits your personal style.

        Get the gladiator 'armor' for your female warrior if you want to show skin, or the plate armor if you want it all covered up. Same goes for every class I can think of, the elementalist, monk, mesmer, etc. That game is filled with girl gamers, probably like 4/10 or 5/10 that I've met were girls. Also just a fantastic game all around, and no monthly fees…

        But yeah, just wanted to respond to the clothing customization and RPG parts, gotta read more of the article and comments before I can comment on the rest.

        • Guild Wars does have a very awesome selection for both male and female gamers. I always enjoyed the ability to pick and choose between the different styles and to go out and get some of the more rare armor – which you also had a choice on. Now, the big deal with the different styles there was that it also affected your play style since each different type of armor gave bonuses to different stats/skills. The ability to customize each with runes helped, but you were still somewhat limited. It's a great step in the right direction though so I give them kudos. Their females also aren't disproportionate – another win. It's not surprising to me how many females play that game given these options and facts. Just one example – http://bellsouthpwp.net/v/o/voodeaux/armor_sets.j… :)

        • @ Renira

          Yeah, pre-Runes you could have made an argument against Guild Wars, since you would have to get a specific set of armor if you wanted specific stat boosts. But now you can get any set of armor and give it any stat boosts you want. Which is great for customization and choice… look how you want, play how you want.

          @ Aelon

          Also, Guild Wars 2 is hopefully coming out next year, and it looks absolutely stunning. The huge amount of updates and changes they are making to it should yield the first true next-gen MMO (I consider everything out now, including GW1, to basically be PS2-level design). There isn't much out yet to show the costume design, but 5 playable races (and the non-humans don't have big breasts like WoW orcs!) and girl/guy choices seem promising.

    • Well, according to 2011 American game industry statistics, 42% of gamers are female. And, apparently, that's a greater share than the under 18 male audience. If the industry really is concerned with the "almighty dollar", it makes plenty of sense that they would try to be more female friendly.

  2. This has definitely been going on since the dawn of gaming for sure. There were very few games in the beginning that let you be a female at all, just as you mentioned, and there are still many games released (mostly in the fps genre) that allow only male avatars. I know I personally begin a game and am amazed if the females actually have normal proportions. I go in and I exclaim to my fiancé, "look! Normal boobs!" Playing Aion was just ridiculous. Men (you know it was men) would create their female avatars with small heads, tiny waists, and the most gigantic boobs in the world coupled with big hips and thunder thighs. Add to that the Aion wardrobe for females and you have a school girl lingerie nightmare. http://9kohorta.com/blog/2009/09/07/zbroje-daevan… I wonder how that lace plate armor works…hm.

  3. "nothing more than a metal jock strap and a halter top? "

    I loled ;)

    No, I wouldn't really be interested in playing a game like that!

  4. Hello! Thank you so much for this article!! I completely agree with you in every way. I am a female gamer- heck, there isn't a game I haven't at least tried! I spend pretty much all of my free time gaming!! When I tell people I play video games they usually don't believe it or just kind of shrug it off as a lie. I play more games then a lot of my guy friends do though!

    I completely agree with you with this whole article. My gamer name is MidnaKitty, because I adore the whole Zelda series and Midna is my favorite character. Midna is a powerful, teasing, independent, badass female character! She is practically nude for most of the game, but she doesn't look like a sex toy. : Zelda in the game is covered up, badass, powerful, and independent too! She is a very good example of what I think a Female character should be more like.

    In Resident evil 5, Shiva is running around in a tank top and cargo pants, that isn't that bad but the extra costumes you can unlock are completely necessary.

  5. Hello! Thank you so much for this article!! I completely agree with you in every way. I am a female gamer- heck, there isn’t a game I haven’t at least tried! I spend pretty much all of my free time gaming!! When I tell people I play video games they usually don’t believe it or just kind of shrug it off as a lie. I play more games then a lot of my guy friends do though!

    I completely agree with you with this whole article. My gamer name is MidnaKitty, because I adore the whole Zelda series and Midna is my favorite character. Midna is a powerful, teasing, independent, badass female character! She is practically nude for most of the game, but she doesn’t look like a sex toy. : Zelda in the game is covered up, badass, powerful, and independent too! She is a very good example of what I think a Female character should be more like.

    In Resident evil 5, Shiva is running around in a tank top and cargo pants, that isn’t that bad but the extra costumes you can unlock are completely necessary.

  6. You are saying that if you cant play a girl-char, you wont play the game. Think less on look, more on gameplay. Go play SIMS – it's what I got from that article, no disrespect tho.

    • No, it's not that I won't play one. It makes me more reluctant, because there are *so many* games out there that have either no women, or only marginalized women. Sucks. And I don't like games like the SIMS, so why would I ever want to play them? The point was that these games don't give me any option other than to play characters in slutty costumes in many instances, which is a far greater offense.

      • You know what always makes me laugh? It's really hard to find the gender selection in FPS games. I'd like to run around with boobs, shooting people. :P But I agree, I play Aion and it has serious issues with showing off lady bodies… one set of armour on guys will cover them and on girls, it looks like something a stripper would wear, even on the plate mail and it's like holy crap, I'm pretty sure that much skin SHOULD lower my defence. :P

        • (Not constructive at all) I loled at the Aion bit… I've been playing it for a little while and wondering the same thing… :P

    • Think about it from the other side. If your only option in all games was to portray characters that were female all the time wouldn't you start being drawn to games that allow you to play a male? How about RPGs where you marry a a male as a female (*cough* Fable I *cough*)? If you're a straight male, wouldn't you be happier playing a male character marrying a female?

      Not having a female option isn't deal breaking, but having the option is by far better.

    • I agree with you. Saying you won't play a game because you can't play as a girl is bullshit. You're missing out on a lot of great games. If you think that way, then honestly you failed the gamer test. Go play dress up, I'll play Uncharted 2, k'thanks.

  7. You are saying that if you cant play a girl-char, you wont play the game. Think less on look, more on gameplay. Go play SIMS – it’s what I got from that article, no disrespect tho.

    • No, it’s not that I won’t play one. It makes me more reluctant, because there are *so many* games out there that have either no women, or only marginalized women. Sucks. And I don’t like games like the SIMS, so why would I ever want to play them? The point was that these games don’t give me any option other than to play characters in slutty costumes in many instances, which is a far greater offense.

      • You know what always makes me laugh? It’s really hard to find the gender selection in FPS games. I’d like to run around with boobs, shooting people. :P But I agree, I play Aion and it has serious issues with showing off lady bodies… one set of armour on guys will cover them and on girls, it looks like something a stripper would wear, even on the plate mail and it’s like holy crap, I’m pretty sure that much skin SHOULD lower my defence. :P

        • (Not constructive at all) I loled at the Aion bit… I’ve been playing it for a little while and wondering the same thing… :P

    • Think about it from the other side. If your only option in all games was to portray characters that were female all the time wouldn’t you start being drawn to games that allow you to play a male? How about RPGs where you marry a a male as a female (*cough* Fable I *cough*)? If you’re a straight male, wouldn’t you be happier playing a male character marrying a female?

      Not having a female option isn’t deal breaking, but having the option is by far better.

    • I agree with you. Saying you won’t play a game because you can’t play as a girl is bullshit. You’re missing out on a lot of great games. If you think that way, then honestly you failed the gamer test. Go play dress up, I’ll play Uncharted 2, k’thanks.

  8. *are completely UNnecessary

    sorry about that xD

    Yeah I do kind of agree with Matie.. I do prefer to play a female character but it doesn't HAVE to be a female character. I love LOZ, KH, MW2, TWEWY and others. :)

  9. *are completely UNnecessary
    sorry about that xD

    Yeah I do kind of agree with Matie.. I do prefer to play a female character but it doesn’t HAVE to be a female character. I love LOZ, KH, MW2, TWEWY and others. :)

  10. “Mr. Gambini, that is a lucid, intelligent, well-thought-out objection. Gambini: Thank you, your honor. Judge: Overruled.”

    But seriously, I’m never against MORE character customization. I agree it can be limited at times and can see especially how over-sexualization might be frustrating to female players. But seriously, exactly what percentage of gamers are we talking here? A lot of warcraft ladies I know like that they can at least be sexy in Azeroth if not RL. (Do you wanna date my avatar? She’s a star!)What is the actual percentage of women gamers overall anyway? Until you ladies get your numbers up I’m afraid you will just have to grin and bare it. Majority and the almighty dollar have and will always rule.

    • I’m one of them, actually, which is why although I love RPGs, i dont play any of the current crop. I’m still playing morrowind, as a beast race, because then at least my mammaries arent on display to any CGI character with a perversion.

      I dont think its asking too much to be allowed to set length of costumes – Even make a joke of it, make the longest length include a burkah if you like! Just don’t make us run around in bra and undies or just leather straps!

      PS Guys, sexy isnt nearly naked like that. Give us choice, and let us show you sexy….. >D

      • Ok as someone who has done work in game design, it’s not as easy as you think to make costumes length changeable. Costumes involve a lot of textures and shading techniques, and to make them all completely scalable would require a lot from the art department, animation team, and rendering power on your system. For the amount of energy it would require, not really worth it.

        Making alternate costumes though, so you can pick and choose the ones you like, is a much more viable option. As someone said, games like Resident Evil 5 give you the option to stick with the more traditional realistic costume or switch over to the exaggerated wish-fulfillment versions.

        And if you’re having problems with RPG’s and MMO’s, try Guild Wars. The costumes are almost all designed by a girl designer, she has history in the fashion industry what from what I’ve read, and she does phenomenal designs. Some of these are modest, some not so much. But almost every class you choose will have a mixture of outfits, both slutty and reserved, so you can pick what fits your personal style.

        Get the gladiator ‘armor’ for your female warrior if you want to show skin, or the plate armor if you want it all covered up. Same goes for every class I can think of, the elementalist, monk, mesmer, etc. That game is filled with girl gamers, probably like 4/10 or 5/10 that I’ve met were girls. Also just a fantastic game all around, and no monthly fees…

        But yeah, just wanted to respond to the clothing customization and RPG parts, gotta read more of the article and comments before I can comment on the rest.

        • Guild Wars does have a very awesome selection for both male and female gamers. I always enjoyed the ability to pick and choose between the different styles and to go out and get some of the more rare armor – which you also had a choice on. Now, the big deal with the different styles there was that it also affected your play style since each different type of armor gave bonuses to different stats/skills. The ability to customize each with runes helped, but you were still somewhat limited. It's a great step in the right direction though so I give them kudos. Their females also aren't disproportionate – another win. It's not surprising to me how many females play that game given these options and facts. Just one example – http://bellsouthpwp.net/v/o/voodeaux/armor_sets.j… :)

        • @ Renira

          Yeah, pre-Runes you could have made an argument against Guild Wars, since you would have to get a specific set of armor if you wanted specific stat boosts. But now you can get any set of armor and give it any stat boosts you want. Which is great for customization and choice… look how you want, play how you want.

          @ Aelon
          Also, Guild Wars 2 is hopefully coming out next year, and it looks absolutely stunning. The huge amount of updates and changes they are making to it should yield the first true next-gen MMO (I consider everything out now, including GW1, to basically be PS2-level design). There isn’t much out yet to show the costume design, but 5 playable races (and the non-humans don’t have big breasts like WoW orcs!) and girl/guy choices seem promising.

  11. one of the first video games i ever played was fable. dont get me wrong, i love it, but i would of loved it even more if i could play as a female character. it just made sense because of the anonyminity of the main charecter. there are a lot of strong female characters so its forgiven. ;)

    • Fable didn't have the option to be a girl? Wow I really thought it would have, that would have gone with their entire concept of "choice" and your character's look changing to reflect your choices.

      For a lot of games it's difficult/impossible to make the lead be a girl OR a guy, like Red Dead Redemption or Force Unleashed. But Fable really should have, I agree with you there. Just makes sense.

      • No, unfortunately the original Fable did not allow for female play…so basically female players had to run around, marry women, flirt, bed down with prostitutes, etc. It made for an interesting gender switch for sure and is one of the few games I continued to play in spite of having to be male. However, it was awkward at times and I would have much preferred a female role. I loved the fact that you could be a female in Fable 2, but unfortunately I am not a console gamer and they never have any intention on releasing it for PC. ;(

        • Well, you didn't have to marry a girl. Unless things were different on the PC, you could make your character gay. I know it's not really a substitute, but this is really just in reply to the "marry women."

  12. one of the first video games i ever played was fable. dont get me wrong, i love it, but i would of loved it even more if i could play as a female character. it just made sense because of the anonyminity of the main charecter. there are a lot of strong female characters so its forgiven. ;)

    • Fable didn’t have the option to be a girl? Wow I really thought it would have, that would have gone with their entire concept of “choice” and your character’s look changing to reflect your choices.

      For a lot of games it’s difficult/impossible to make the lead be a girl OR a guy, like Red Dead Redemption or Force Unleashed. But Fable really should have, I agree with you there. Just makes sense.

      • No, unfortunately the original Fable did not allow for female play…so basically female players had to run around, marry women, flirt, bed down with prostitutes, etc. It made for an interesting gender switch for sure and is one of the few games I continued to play in spite of having to be male. However, it was awkward at times and I would have much preferred a female role. I loved the fact that you could be a female in Fable 2, but unfortunately I am not a console gamer and they never have any intention on releasing it for PC. ;(

        • I (somewhat sarcastically) like how Fable is mentioned so often, yet there are other games that have a similar situation and aren't mentioned–my choice example being Harvest Moon.
          I guess I haven't kept up with games enough to be familiar with Fable, but Harvest Moon appears to present the same "issue," if that's what you want to call it. The series has been around since the time of the SNES, but I believe that the first time you could be a girl in the series was in a re-make of the GCN's "A Wonderful Life" (wasn't a choice between gender so much as they made two separate game disks at different times that was essentially the same game. I had the initial version for it as it came out earlier, and I believe my brother purchased it at the time of release). I've played the game for the SNES and the original version of the game for the GCN, both being guys. Sure, it's weird, but kind of refreshing in a strange way. It's nice that they have the option now, but it doesn't matter too much to me, as it's essentially the same game.

  13. this isn't a huge issue for me, though i really enjoy being able to play games with a female character. i loved playing through fable 2 and my female hero had enough clothing options so she didn't have to look like a mega slut.

    it seems that all the disney princesses and barbie dolls i grew up with had the same crazy proportions as lara croft. it would be fun to have more customizable options for our characters, but i wouldn't avoid a game simply because i didn't have that choice.

    like it or not, we're in a guys world as gamer girls. i've grown pretty used to that as a female engineer surrounded by boys all day long, i just accept it now.

    • "it seems that all the disney princesses and barbie dolls i grew up with had the same crazy proportions as lara croft."

      Maybe my memory is fuzzy but I don't remember ANY Disney character endowed like Lara. I seem to recall most of them being on the A to B size scale.

  14. this isn’t a huge issue for me, though i really enjoy being able to play games with a female character. i loved playing through fable 2 and my female hero had enough clothing options so she didn’t have to look like a mega slut.

    it seems that all the disney princesses and barbie dolls i grew up with had the same crazy proportions as lara croft. it would be fun to have more customizable options for our characters, but i wouldn’t avoid a game simply because i didn’t have that choice.

    like it or not, we’re in a guys world as gamer girls. i’ve grown pretty used to that as a female engineer surrounded by boys all day long, i just accept it now.

    • “it seems that all the disney princesses and barbie dolls i grew up with had the same crazy proportions as lara croft.”

      Maybe my memory is fuzzy but I don’t remember ANY Disney character endowed like Lara. I seem to recall most of them being on the A to B size scale.

      • Nah, man. They were pretty stacked. They weren't quite Lara Croft status, but they were definitely unrealistic.

  15. Red Dead's story would have to be completly altered to be able to play as a girl. Also, you can play as a girl in the online gameplay. There is a whole category for them in the character selection. Great game by the way!

  16. Red Dead’s story would have to be completly altered to be able to play as a girl. Also, you can play as a girl in the online gameplay. There is a whole category for them in the character selection. Great game by the way!

  17. Small typo, but calling it "The Laura Croft Syndrome" (internal title) sort of undermines your gamer cred :-/

    I would have to agree, though. Perhaps more women _would_ be inclined to play if they weren't relegated to eye candy avatars…

  18. Small typo, but calling it “The Laura Croft Syndrome” (internal title) sort of undermines your gamer cred :-/

    I would have to agree, though. Perhaps more women _would_ be inclined to play if they weren’t relegated to eye candy avatars…

  19. I may not fully understand what it is like for a female gamer (dont really hang out with may girls). But I have had somewhat similar issues being a gay male gamer. While I can alwayse play as a Butch Straight Guy that has some kind of loving relationship with a girl. Sometimes that does get old. I like to see same sex in video games. In recent years that has grown (Fable 1 and Fable 2 both allowd you to marry someone of the same sex. and you could get a very nice *hot* relationship on with another dude in dragon age), it still sucks for a gay male. Sometimes it seems to be easier to find Lesbian Content. While that does play into the Straight Male controlled world. I played mass affect as a girl because i knew there was a lesbian scene and really wanted to see it.

    And i wouldnt complaign if i could see some more skimpy clothes on guys in games ;)

    • No offense, but your demographic percentage is most likely even lower then the lady gamers. I predict you will also have to get your numbers up before the powers that be take note of your purchasing power.

      • Yeh, trust me I have noticed this >.> It took me forever to find another gaymer that i actualy liked :p I have met more girl gamers than gaymers

        • Throwing it out there — it might just be me, but as a straight, male gamer, at least 50% of the guys I play WoW, LoL and MW2 (amongst other games) with are gay…I might just be an anomaly in this sense, but to me they seem quite prevalent.

    • I am a girl gamer and I would LOVE to see guy on guy games. I know countless girls that would as well. Gaymers could be grouped with girls in a way…

      At the same time, I like the slutty clothing sometimes, and I love the boobies! But that's only because I can put the 'realistic' breasts to shame. :D

  20. I may not fully understand what it is like for a female gamer (dont really hang out with may girls). But I have had somewhat similar issues being a gay male gamer. While I can alwayse play as a Butch Straight Guy that has some kind of loving relationship with a girl. Sometimes that does get old. I like to see same sex in video games. In recent years that has grown (Fable 1 and Fable 2 both allowd you to marry someone of the same sex. and you could get a very nice *hot* relationship on with another dude in dragon age), it still sucks for a gay male. Sometimes it seems to be easier to find Lesbian Content. While that does play into the Straight Male controlled world. I played mass affect as a girl because i knew there was a lesbian scene and really wanted to see it.
    And i wouldnt complaign if i could see some more skimpy clothes on guys in games ;)

    • No offense, but your demographic percentage is most likely even lower then the lady gamers. I predict you will also have to get your numbers up before the powers that be take note of your purchasing power.

      • Yeh, trust me I have noticed this >.> It took me forever to find another gaymer that i actualy liked :p I have met more girl gamers than gaymers

        • Throwing it out there — it might just be me, but as a straight, male gamer, at least 50% of the guys I play WoW, LoL and MW2 (amongst other games) with are gay…I might just be an anomaly in this sense, but to me they seem quite prevalent.

    • I am a girl gamer and I would LOVE to see guy on guy games. I know countless girls that would as well. Gaymers could be grouped with girls in a way…
      At the same time, I like the slutty clothing sometimes, and I love the boobies! But that’s only because I can put the ‘realistic’ breasts to shame. :D

  21. Hi, I'm also a girl gamer, a huge one. But one thing I've never had a problem with is female characters in games. To be honest I'd rather play a sexy character than a covered up one. I don't know why this is (I am straight!!!), maybe it's because I can't dress that slutty in real life?

    Games are about escaping and I rarely think of them to represent society at all.

    I loved LARA croft when I was little, and I still do. Even if she did have big boobs she was a strong, intelligent female character and that's what mattered to me.

  22. Hi, I’m also a girl gamer, a huge one. But one thing I’ve never had a problem with is female characters in games. To be honest I’d rather play a sexy character than a covered up one. I don’t know why this is (I am straight!!!), maybe it’s because I can’t dress that slutty in real life?

    Games are about escaping and I rarely think of them to represent society at all.

    I loved LARA croft when I was little, and I still do. Even if she did have big boobs she was a strong, intelligent female character and that’s what mattered to me.

  23. As a side note before I get into my actual response – It's interesting, because you talk about the video game world needing to get feminized, but yet this site's concept seems to be defined by a sexy woman on her laptop.

    However, I'm not saying you're wrong. I certainly think the Lara Croft situation can tend to turn women off of gaming, which is sad because they are missing out. However, I'm in the odd situation of actually liking the fact that I can make my female character look sexy. I think if the women have the chance of covering up completely, can't they also have the chance to look as sexy as they want? I wouldn't say I'm a slouch in the looks department, but I'm also no supermodel, so I like being able to have a super hot character.

    So while I'm on board with your ideas, I also don't want to take OUT the option to have a sexy character.

    -Kat

    • Hey Kat, just wanted to say, there's 5-6 contributors writing for this site, and even if the site was initially geared towards male IT geeks, the situation quickly changed a year after we migrated to our own domain. Now, around 35% of the readership is female.

  24. As a side note before I get into my actual response – It’s interesting, because you talk about the video game world needing to get feminized, but yet this site’s concept seems to be defined by a sexy woman on her laptop.

    However, I’m not saying you’re wrong. I certainly think the Lara Croft situation can tend to turn women off of gaming, which is sad because they are missing out. However, I’m in the odd situation of actually liking the fact that I can make my female character look sexy. I think if the women have the chance of covering up completely, can’t they also have the chance to look as sexy as they want? I wouldn’t say I’m a slouch in the looks department, but I’m also no supermodel, so I like being able to have a super hot character.

    So while I’m on board with your ideas, I also don’t want to take OUT the option to have a sexy character.

    -Kat

    • Hey Kat, just wanted to say, there’s 5-6 contributors writing for this site, and even if the site was initially geared towards male IT geeks, the situation quickly changed a year after we migrated to our own domain. Now, around 35% of the readership is female.

  25. "That means putting more women behind the scenes of video game production and writing…"

    I think that this is quite relevant to your discussion. It's already been proven that the amount of women who game has risen and will continue to rise. So the demographic is indeed changing. With any luck this will, ultimately, lead to a change in the ratio of men to women working behind the scenes.

    At the same time though, I think it's also important to note that good games are just that – good games, regardless of the gender of the main character. I think that the shift in demographic proves this to an extent.

    • Ok this hits on my #1 problem with this article. I agree with a lot of the points, but when I hit upon that line I got kinda pissed off.

      "putting more women behind the scenes"

      What is the implication here? Are you saying that game companies should just go out and hunt down girls to hire to make the games, rather than pick from the applicants they receive? Game design is an incredibly complex job that requires a lot of experience, you can't just "put" women in the job if they don't have the training and qualifications. Not unless you prefer cellphone-level games with full customization to the next gen stuff we have now. I seriously hope you aren't implying they should hire women just because they are women, instead of finding qualified personnel.

      Or are you implying that the game companies are prejudiced against female applicants, and that's why there are more men behind the scenes? Because that would also be way off. Being a graduate of a game design program, and having spoken with companies and recruiters, they actually favor girl applicants OVER guys, because girls are so under-represented in the companies and design room. We had some EA recruiters come to our class, and they spent the entire time talking to the 2 girls in the class because they were so excited about being able to recruit 2 more capable female designers/artists. So if you're a girl and want to design games, go get your degree, the companies are looking for you.

      The way you phrased that comment is what bothers me, like it's something that game companies can just DO right now to fix it. The problem isn't something EA or Activision can just fix on their own.

      The problem is the AVAILABLE applicants. Like I said, there were only 2 girls in my game design class of 20 people. There had been 3 at the start of the semester, but our female professor spent so much time gushing over "how great it is to have girls in the class" that one of the 3 felt too singled-out and actually dropped the class. There aren't enough girls getting into game design and programming classes, not enough with degrees, so not enough available for the job market. Which means most design rooms are predominantly male.

      So if you want to get to the root of that part of the problem, look at why girls aren't getting into programming or IT fields. Which is a national trend. It's probably similar reasons to why there aren't many girl engineers, or guy nurses. Many link these gender-career tendencies to childhood factors, such as the toys they are encouraged to play with (or prefer to play with, I never had to be encouraged to play with action figures over dolls, just preferred my GI Joe's and Ninja Turtles). More boys play with LEGOS it seems, or they play until a later age, which might lead towards the engineering discrepency. More girls play with dolls, play house, play nures taking care of mommy and the dolls.

      Of course, when we look at this root of the problem related to games, the likely answer is "more guys play games as a kid/teenager, so more grow up to become game designers." Which makes our problem cyclical, and particularly hard to solve. But the fact that Nintendo DS's and Wii's are owned by about 50/50 guys/girls, possibly even more than 50% girls on both Nintendo systems, could signal a growing shift in the gender representation among both game players and game makers.

      We shall see as time goes on, I suspect. By the way, I participated in a big research program two years back that was about teaching programming, journalism and game design to middle-schoolers, with a focus on getting girls to accept and enjoy the fields they normally avoid. It was a very enlightening experience.

      But anyway, sorry if my rant comes off harshly. I just don't like it when people assume things or point fingers without the facts or understanding. And the "put girls in charge of making games" comment seemed like a careless offhand remark, so I wanted to address it.

      • Actually there are a pretty good number of female programmers out there. They don't necessary go to game school. I think the majority I have found are either self-taught, or got a BS in computer science instead. I would estimate, as a programmer, that I have work with about 60% males, 40% females.

        I do agree that game companies tend to have less women working for them but I also think that tend is changing. I am not saying this as fascist feminist, I am saying this from experience. My husband has been a game designer for over 15 years. Some of the companies he has worked for in the past had a frat house attitude. Not necessary a work environment when a girl might feel welcome. It is just taking time for the industry to mature.

        I think the author is trying to make the point that she would like RPG games design not just for the demography of males 18-30. I think she has a valid point. That demography is pretty saturated. If game companies build a RPG targeted at a different demography, they might find a more open market. Ever wonder why Facebook games are making so much money? They have hit markets that traditional RPGs would not have appeal to.

        Personally, one of my favorite all time games is KOTOR. I love that there was a story line for both female and male characters. I ended replaying it as both sexes for that reason alone.

  26. “That means putting more women behind the scenes of video game production and writing…”

    I think that this is quite relevant to your discussion. It’s already been proven that the amount of women who game has risen and will continue to rise. So the demographic is indeed changing. With any luck this will, ultimately, lead to a change in the ratio of men to women working behind the scenes.

    At the same time though, I think it’s also important to note that good games are just that – good games, regardless of the gender of the main character. I think that the shift in demographic proves this to an extent.

    • Ok this hits on my #1 problem with this article. I agree with a lot of the points, but when I hit upon that line I got kinda pissed off.

      “putting more women behind the scenes”

      What is the implication here? Are you saying that game companies should just go out and hunt down girls to hire to make the games, rather than pick from the applicants they receive? Game design is an incredibly complex job that requires a lot of experience, you can’t just “put” women in the job if they don’t have the training and qualifications. Not unless you prefer cellphone-level games with full customization to the next gen stuff we have now. I seriously hope you aren’t implying they should hire women just because they are women, instead of finding qualified personnel.

      Or are you implying that the game companies are prejudiced against female applicants, and that’s why there are more men behind the scenes? Because that would also be way off. Being a graduate of a game design program, and having spoken with companies and recruiters, they actually favor girl applicants OVER guys, because girls are so under-represented in the companies and design room. We had some EA recruiters come to our class, and they spent the entire time talking to the 2 girls in the class because they were so excited about being able to recruit 2 more capable female designers/artists. So if you’re a girl and want to design games, go get your degree, the companies are looking for you.

      The way you phrased that comment is what bothers me, like it’s something that game companies can just DO right now to fix it. The problem isn’t something EA or Activision can just fix on their own.

      The problem is the AVAILABLE applicants. Like I said, there were only 2 girls in my game design class of 20 people. There had been 3 at the start of the semester, but our female professor spent so much time gushing over “how great it is to have girls in the class” that one of the 3 felt too singled-out and actually dropped the class. There aren’t enough girls getting into game design and programming classes, not enough with degrees, so not enough available for the job market. Which means most design rooms are predominantly male.

      So if you want to get to the root of that part of the problem, look at why girls aren’t getting into programming or IT fields. Which is a national trend. It’s probably similar reasons to why there aren’t many girl engineers, or guy nurses. Many link these gender-career tendencies to childhood factors, such as the toys they are encouraged to play with (or prefer to play with, I never had to be encouraged to play with action figures over dolls, just preferred my GI Joe’s and Ninja Turtles). More boys play with LEGOS it seems, or they play until a later age, which might lead towards the engineering discrepency. More girls play with dolls, play house, play nures taking care of mommy and the dolls.

      Of course, when we look at this root of the problem related to games, the likely answer is “more guys play games as a kid/teenager, so more grow up to become game designers.” Which makes our problem cyclical, and particularly hard to solve. But the fact that Nintendo DS’s and Wii’s are owned by about 50/50 guys/girls, possibly even more than 50% girls on both Nintendo systems, could signal a growing shift in the gender representation among both game players and game makers.

      We shall see as time goes on, I suspect. By the way, I participated in a big research program two years back that was about teaching programming, journalism and game design to middle-schoolers, with a focus on getting girls to accept and enjoy the fields they normally avoid. It was a very enlightening experience.

      But anyway, sorry if my rant comes off harshly. I just don’t like it when people assume things or point fingers without the facts or understanding. And the “put girls in charge of making games” comment seemed like a careless offhand remark, so I wanted to address it.

      • Actually there are a pretty good number of female programmers out there. They don’t necessary go to game school. I think the majority I have found are either self-taught, or got a BS in computer science instead. I would estimate, as a programmer, that I have work with about 60% males, 40% females.

        I do agree that game companies tend to have less women working for them but I also think that tend is changing. I am not saying this as fascist feminist, I am saying this from experience. My husband has been a game designer for over 15 years. Some of the companies he has worked for in the past had a frat house attitude. Not necessary a work environment when a girl might feel welcome. It is just taking time for the industry to mature.

        I think the author is trying to make the point that she would like RPG games design not just for the demography of males 18-30. I think she has a valid point. That demography is pretty saturated. If game companies build a RPG targeted at a different demography, they might find a more open market. Ever wonder why Facebook games are making so much money? They have hit markets that traditional RPGs would not have appeal to.

        Personally, one of my favorite all time games is KOTOR. I love that there was a story line for both female and male characters. I ended replaying it as both sexes for that reason alone.

  27. Laura does bring up a good point. Video games are all about escapism. I'm an average guy. But why would I want to play as an average guy? Or a fat or skinny one for that matter? And given the chance, I know I would rather be rocking the physique of most video game heroes over mine any day. A magic transformation that would make Brad Pitt envy ME? Yes please! Are some of you ladies actually saying, (be you attractive or not) that if offered you wouldn't take a physique more like the idealistic ones portrayed in games? Plastic surgeons' bank accounts seem to disagree :)

    • Actually, no thanks.

      I like my actual curves, and my boobs are already too large for my liking, without becoming Barbie…

      • Sooo… lemme get this straight. You have curves and large breasts, so you have no desire to become a curvaceous woman with large breasts? Umm…Ok.

        "I told zem we already got one!"

        • No actually, what you want me to go on the table and become is a rediculous parody of a woman, a size 8 with miraculous curves in the places a size 8 wouldnt get, and huge boobs.

          Nope, sorry. not interested.

  28. See, and when I first saw Bayonetta coming out I thought "Hey, girl with dark hair and glasses. Potentially a little nerdy while being kickass, yes?" There are not enough dark-haired girls in the media world, particularly with glasses. I'm biased because I do have dark hair and glasses, but I digress . . .

    Instead I found it was a game that essentially gives you a stripper-tastic scene with your attacks. :/ So, y'know, so much for that.

    I often play males on MMOs just because it's simpler. I do have female characters, but I don't always want to stare at their rear ends when making a five-minute run back to town or something. When it comes to customization, wouldn't it be nice if they simply made the male's wardrobe options available to women if they wanted them? It couldn't be that difficult, and that would certainly make me (a tomboy) much happier. It wouldn't solve everything, but it might help some. Hell, maybe reverse it, too, let more "womanly" stuff be available to men. Gender equality for everyone!

    • I agree, playing as a bloke while kicking ass in a dress sounds awesome to me (this is coming from a bloke)

      • I'd just like to be able to wear cloth in wow without it being a 'dress' regardless of gender.

  29. Laura does bring up a good point. Video games are all about escapism. I’m an average guy. But why would I want to play as an average guy? Or a fat or skinny one for that matter? And given the chance, I know I would rather be rocking the physique of most video game heroes over mine any day. A magic transformation that would make Brad Pitt envy ME? Yes please! Are some of you ladies actually saying, (be you attractive or not) that if offered you wouldn’t take a physique more like the idealistic ones portrayed in games? Plastic surgeons’ bank accounts seem to disagree :)

    • Actually, no thanks.

      I like my actual curves, and my boobs are already too large for my liking, without becoming Barbie…

      • Sooo… lemme get this straight. You have curves and large breasts, so you have no desire to become a curvaceous woman with large breasts? Umm…Ok.

        “I told zem we already got one!”

        • No actually, what you want me to go on the table and become is a rediculous parody of a woman, a size 8 with miraculous curves in the places a size 8 wouldnt get, and huge boobs.

          Nope, sorry. not interested.

    • Totally agree. I'm confident with how I look, but I wouldn't mind being a bit curvier. Also, I like playing as a curvy lady with clothes that show off, just for the fantasy of it.

  30. See, and when I first saw Bayonetta coming out I thought “Hey, girl with dark hair and glasses. Potentially a little nerdy while being kickass, yes?” There are not enough dark-haired girls in the media world, particularly with glasses. I’m biased because I do have dark hair and glasses, but I digress . . .

    Instead I found it was a game that essentially gives you a stripper-tastic scene with your attacks. :/ So, y’know, so much for that.

    I often play males on MMOs just because it’s simpler. I do have female characters, but I don’t always want to stare at their rear ends when making a five-minute run back to town or something. When it comes to customization, wouldn’t it be nice if they simply made the male’s wardrobe options available to women if they wanted them? It couldn’t be that difficult, and that would certainly make me (a tomboy) much happier. It wouldn’t solve everything, but it might help some. Hell, maybe reverse it, too, let more “womanly” stuff be available to men. Gender equality for everyone!

    • I agree, playing as a bloke while kicking ass in a dress sounds awesome to me (this is coming from a bloke)

      • I’d just like to be able to wear cloth in wow without it being a ‘dress’ regardless of gender.

  31. This article is awesome!!! Sorry if this message went through twice; little dilemma occurred. One thing I appriciate is the acknowledgement of the audience as HETERO men.

    Ok…I used to be married to someone in video game production, hence I have heard professional debates about things like this. I also got my degree in Women's Studies and created my own Women's Action Coalition. Ladies, please acknowledge the idea of variety. Objectification is based on repetition. If there was more VARIETY in women's characters' presentations, things would be easier.

    Soul Calibur is an interesting game, and is a perfect example of how cheesy it is that the men that go topless are the ones with 'something to show'. What's even cheesier and PATHETICLY dork, is how the sequels consist of BIGGER BOOBS ON THE FEMALE CHARACTERS. lmao! Can it be any more obvious that they're aiming for the male players that HAVE NO BLEEPIN' SEX LIFE? lol! Hey straight guys: they make porn for that, ya know.

    I see the other big sexist problem–if not bigger–is the games that offer no woman roles to play. For example: my ex once came home from a work meeting saying that feminist org's were complaining about GTA's violence against women. Yes the game is sexist, but NOT IN THAT WAY. Men and women both get beaten; the problem is that MEN ARE THE ONLY BEATERS. Shooting games are the same way. There are only men players to choose from, and it's shady!

    Men will play with women characters if there are any offered, like on fighting games; no money would be lost. The only money that's being lost by the industry is the cash that they are preventing from omitting the mindset of a majority of our country's population (and yes, there ARE more women than men in the US).

    • Wow, and you've managed to hit on one of the reasons why feminist movements don't garner a lot of male support. A word of advice? Try engaging others in an open and cooperative manner, rather than hurling insults and blanket generalizations. You might find that you get more done in your coalition.

      Soul Calibur is perhaps the best fighting game around, with extremely well-honed gameplay, good balance, and a roster of characters that play and look very diverse, something that sets it apart from the Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive games (if you want to talk about female stereotypes, feel free to attack DoA). It's acknowledged as one of the best by girls and guys alike, and there's a reason it's seen so many sequels. It also happens to be a favorite among all of my girl friends and girlfriends, who like the intuitive gameplay and the many female characters available.

      So saying that the game is "for the male players that HAVE NO BLEEPIN’ SEX LIFE" is both a gross generalization and an offensive insult to me and the millions of gamers, both girls and guys alike, who enjoy playing one of the best of the genre.

      Are the representations of women stereotyped for some of the characters? Certainly. Ivy comes to mind as the worst offender, although Taki's breasts and Seong Mina's cut-dresses also border on absurdity. But the game also features plenty of more normal-proportioned and modest girls, like Talim, Xianghou, or Hilda. The guys are a similar mix, with hot-stud hulks like Kilik and Maxi showing off their muscles, or more modestly dressed/armored choices like Raphael or Siegfried.

      But your thoughts on Soul Calibur aren't what bother me, it's the manner in which you say them. I had countless discussions (and attempted discussions) with women from the feminist groups and movements on my college campus over the last 4 years, and saw this trend there as well. Too many girls are too quick to insult, assume and generalize, preventing me from ever sympathizing with them.

      I'd try to have a conversation with them about something, and rather than wait for what I had to say, they would jump all over me, insult me, talk about "you men" in this generalizing way, as though we were all mindless rapist pigs, and I was the worst of them. It's incredibly insulting, especially when we were at an esteemed academic institution, where they should have known better.

      The girls who managed to calm down and listen to what I had to say realized I am neither a chauvinist nor someone who opposes them, and we were able to have some lengthy and rewarding discussions.

      But sadly, at least half of them couldn't manage to get that far. It seemed that, because I am a man, my opinions or thoughts on gendered issues were less relevant or less true, and they would refuse to talk with me. Or on many instances, I gave up and left after their opening insults, not having the time or energy to fight them again.

      Take the first time I saw Vagina Monologues, for example. My girlfriend at the time was in the feminist group that hosted/performed the Monologues, so I knew many of the people in the group through association. About a dozen or so came up to me after the show, or the day after, to ask what I thought, since they knew it was my first time. I told them I liked and agreed with parts, but disliked and disagreed with parts. Of the 10-12 who asked, all but a few quickly assumed what I hadn't liked about it, and either: 1. Attacked me immediately for not agreeing with or liking the entire thing, before listening to what I did and didn't like, or 2. Assumed that it was the "emotional" parts I didn't like because "they were too much for me" or "I couldn't handle them." None of those conversations went anywhere. I did have three great conversations though with the girls who were willing to hear my thoughts on the monologue.

      My point being: insults and generalizations don't help anyone. You might protest back at me that you're fighting guys' insults and generalizations in the first place (this is what girls at my college responded with), and I understand that, but do you really want to fight fire with fire? Fighting fire with fire just leaves the whole world burning.

      • Quite agreed. I also tried involving myself with some feminist groups and am very much for equality. Unfortunately when I went to a meeting, it was a lot of male bashing and anger that I just couldn't understand. I mean, isn't the point equality and not degradation? Boost yourself up, but don't knock someone else down to accomplish it.

        • My point exactly, well said. Boost girls up, not guys down. We'd rather both be happy and secure, not both be down in the mud.

          In my junior year, the girl in charge of the whole group told me flat out that she hates all men. That's not the ideal person to lead a movement for gender equality. The leaders the other years were pretty good though, I was good friends with some of them. I think it's important to keep the few man-haters and angry/irrational ones from misrepresenting the rest of the community.

          Which is true of any community… being Catholic, I hate what the few bad priests have done to our reputation. I've had close relationships with a couple of genuinely amazing priests, who simply devote their lives to the betterment of their communities.

      • I believe you are talking about fanatics. Any movement, belief, or religion will have them and they are never a good representation of the overall movement.

        I have similar feelings about fanatic Christians. I can't have a real debate with them. But that does not invalidate the whole religion.

        • Yes, I thought it was clear I was talking about the fanatics. And I never said it invalidates a religion/movement, I only said that those fanatics should not be in charge, and that they misrepresent the movement. Just like fanatical christians misrepresent my religion, which is why I didn't allow them to run the religious organization that I started.

          But on my campus, the fanatics sometimes outweighed the rational people, within their organization I mean. The organization had a bit of a reputation for housing the man-haters and fanatics, which is why many of the rational, non-fanatic feminists I knew were not part of it. They did not want to be part of a group that was run/represented by the irrational, offensive people I described in my earlier post.

          Of course, there were other christian groups on campus that were similar, in that they were run by and made up of the fanatics, the door-to-door preachers, the "you'll go to hell for…" types. But when I helped start the new, non-fanatical group, it was obvious from how fast we grew that most of our campus preferred rational and kind religion to judgmental and offensive religion.

    • GTA allowed to play with a female character. You must be talking about the later cinematic games from the series.

      Anyway, the whole over-sexualisation thing is pretty creepy. I think that it's a method of corporate oppression of young males. The point of it is to addict them to these games which obviously isn't in their best interest.

      Funny thing, one of developer that actually got realistic armour models for female characters got flak from some female gamers that the characters don't look feminine enough and that they want sexy characters in their escapist fantasies *sigh* .

      Anyway, I find these tendencies pretty annoying. I don't want to be constantly exposed to oversexed characters when playing video games, I don't want to be manipulated by corporate scum and I want armour to look in a sensible and functional way.

  32. This article is awesome!!! Sorry if this message went through twice; little dilemma occurred. One thing I appriciate is the acknowledgement of the audience as HETERO men.

    Ok…I used to be married to someone in video game production, hence I have heard professional debates about things like this. I also got my degree in Women’s Studies and created my own Women’s Action Coalition. Ladies, please acknowledge the idea of variety. Objectification is based on repetition. If there was more VARIETY in women’s characters’ presentations, things would be easier.

    Soul Calibur is an interesting game, and is a perfect example of how cheesy it is that the men that go topless are the ones with ‘something to show’. What’s even cheesier and PATHETICLY dork, is how the sequels consist of BIGGER BOOBS ON THE FEMALE CHARACTERS. lmao! Can it be any more obvious that they’re aiming for the male players that HAVE NO BLEEPIN’ SEX LIFE? lol! Hey straight guys: they make porn for that, ya know.

    I see the other big sexist problem–if not bigger–is the games that offer no woman roles to play. For example: my ex once came home from a work meeting saying that feminist org’s were complaining about GTA’s violence against women. Yes the game is sexist, but NOT IN THAT WAY. Men and women both get beaten; the problem is that MEN ARE THE ONLY BEATERS. Shooting games are the same way. There are only men players to choose from, and it’s shady!

    Men will play with women characters if there are any offered, like on fighting games; no money would be lost. The only money that’s being lost by the industry is the cash that they are preventing from omitting the mindset of a majority of our country’s population (and yes, there ARE more women than men in the US).

    • Wow, and you’ve managed to hit on one of the reasons why feminist movements don’t garner a lot of male support. A word of advice? Try engaging others in an open and cooperative manner, rather than hurling insults and blanket generalizations. You might find that you get more done in your coalition.

      Soul Calibur is perhaps the best fighting game around, with extremely well-honed gameplay, good balance, and a roster of characters that play and look very diverse, something that sets it apart from the Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive games (if you want to talk about female stereotypes, feel free to attack DoA). It’s acknowledged as one of the best by girls and guys alike, and there’s a reason it’s seen so many sequels. It also happens to be a favorite among all of my girl friends and girlfriends, who like the intuitive gameplay and the many female characters available.

      So saying that the game is “for the male players that HAVE NO BLEEPIN’ SEX LIFE” is both a gross generalization and an offensive insult to me and the millions of gamers, both girls and guys alike, who enjoy playing one of the best of the genre.

      Are the representations of women stereotyped for some of the characters? Certainly. Ivy comes to mind as the worst offender, although Taki’s breasts and Seong Mina’s cut-dresses also border on absurdity. But the game also features plenty of more normal-proportioned and modest girls, like Talim, Xianghou, or Hilda. The guys are a similar mix, with hot-stud hulks like Kilik and Maxi showing off their muscles, or more modestly dressed/armored choices like Raphael or Siegfried.

      But your thoughts on Soul Calibur aren’t what bother me, it’s the manner in which you say them. I had countless discussions (and attempted discussions) with women from the feminist groups and movements on my college campus over the last 4 years, and saw this trend there as well. Too many girls are too quick to insult, assume and generalize, preventing me from ever sympathizing with them.

      I’d try to have a conversation with them about something, and rather than wait for what I had to say, they would jump all over me, insult me, talk about “you men” in this generalizing way, as though we were all mindless rapist pigs, and I was the worst of them. It’s incredibly insulting, especially when we were at an esteemed academic institution, where they should have known better.

      The girls who managed to calm down and listen to what I had to say realized I am neither a chauvinist nor someone who opposes them, and we were able to have some lengthy and rewarding discussions.

      But sadly, at least half of them couldn’t manage to get that far. It seemed that, because I am a man, my opinions or thoughts on gendered issues were less relevant or less true, and they would refuse to talk with me. Or on many instances, I gave up and left after their opening insults, not having the time or energy to fight them again.

      Take the first time I saw Vagina Monologues, for example. My girlfriend at the time was in the feminist group that hosted/performed the Monologues, so I knew many of the people in the group through association. About a dozen or so came up to me after the show, or the day after, to ask what I thought, since they knew it was my first time. I told them I liked and agreed with parts, but disliked and disagreed with parts. Of the 10-12 who asked, all but a few quickly assumed what I hadn’t liked about it, and either: 1. Attacked me immediately for not agreeing with or liking the entire thing, before listening to what I did and didn’t like, or 2. Assumed that it was the “emotional” parts I didn’t like because “they were too much for me” or “I couldn’t handle them.” None of those conversations went anywhere. I did have three great conversations though with the girls who were willing to hear my thoughts on the monologue.

      My point being: insults and generalizations don’t help anyone. You might protest back at me that you’re fighting guys’ insults and generalizations in the first place (this is what girls at my college responded with), and I understand that, but do you really want to fight fire with fire? Fighting fire with fire just leaves the whole world burning.

      • Quite agreed. I also tried involving myself with some feminist groups and am very much for equality. Unfortunately when I went to a meeting, it was a lot of male bashing and anger that I just couldn’t understand. I mean, isn’t the point equality and not degradation? Boost yourself up, but don’t knock someone else down to accomplish it.

        • My point exactly, well said. Boost girls up, not guys down. We’d rather both be happy and secure, not both be down in the mud.

          In my junior year, the girl in charge of the whole group told me flat out that she hates all men. That’s not the ideal person to lead a movement for gender equality. The leaders the other years were pretty good though, I was good friends with some of them. I think it’s important to keep the few man-haters and angry/irrational ones from misrepresenting the rest of the community.

          Which is true of any community… being Catholic, I hate what the few bad priests have done to our reputation. I’ve had close relationships with a couple of genuinely amazing priests, who simply devote their lives to the betterment of their communities.

      • I believe you are talking about fanatics. Any movement, belief, or religion will have them and they are never a good representation of the overall movement.

        I have similar feelings about fanatic Christians. I can’t have a real debate with them. But that does not invalidate the whole religion.

        • Yes, I thought it was clear I was talking about the fanatics. And I never said it invalidates a religion/movement, I only said that those fanatics should not be in charge, and that they misrepresent the movement. Just like fanatical christians misrepresent my religion, which is why I didn’t allow them to run the religious organization that I started.

          But on my campus, the fanatics sometimes outweighed the rational people, within their organization I mean. The organization had a bit of a reputation for housing the man-haters and fanatics, which is why many of the rational, non-fanatic feminists I knew were not part of it. They did not want to be part of a group that was run/represented by the irrational, offensive people I described in my earlier post.

          Of course, there were other christian groups on campus that were similar, in that they were run by and made up of the fanatics, the door-to-door preachers, the “you’ll go to hell for…” types. But when I helped start the new, non-fanatical group, it was obvious from how fast we grew that most of our campus preferred rational and kind religion to judgmental and offensive religion.

      • Nicely put. I fancy that I’d be like one of the ladies who you’ve had an open-minded discussion with.
        Radical feminism is a problem. My mum’s a bit like that but she doesn’t admit it. Tipping the scales in the opposite direction is pointless.
        And the Soul Calibur series is awesome, even with the alterations throughout the games (Sure, Kilik got a bit more buff throughout the series (which I honestly didn’t much care for; I honestly preferred his proportions in SC1&2), but notice that in Soul Calibur 4 his outfit is rather concealing). They’ve got options in aesthetics, which is nifty, but also great gameplay and compelling characters.

      • Nicely put. I fancy that I'd be like one of the ladies who you've had an open-minded discussion with.
        Radical feminism is a problem. My mum's a bit like that but she doesn't admit it. Tipping the scales in the opposite direction is pointless.
        And the Soul Calibur series is awesome, even with the alterations throughout the games (Sure, Kilik got a bit more buff throughout the series (which I honestly didn't much care for; I honestly preferred his proportions in SC1&2), but notice that in Soul Calibur 4 his outfit is rather concealing). They've got options in aesthetics, which is nifty, but also great gameplay and compelling characters.

    • GTA allowed to play with a female character. You must be talking about the later cinematic games from the series.

      Anyway, the whole over-sexualisation thing is pretty creepy. I think that it’s a method of corporate oppression of young males. The point of it is to addict them to these games which obviously isn’t in their best interest.

      Funny thing, one of developer that actually got realistic armour models for female characters got flak from some female gamers that the characters don’t look feminine enough and that they want sexy characters in their escapist fantasies *sigh* .

      Anyway, I find these tendencies pretty annoying. I don’t want to be constantly exposed to oversexed characters when playing video games, I don’t want to be manipulated by corporate scum and I want armour to look in a sensible and functional way.

  33. Ive been playing Console, PC, and Tabletop games for years. And while i don't refuse to play a game because I cant play as a girl, I do enjoy it more when the option is there. Its just always felt weird to play as a male character, especially in multiplayer games.

  34. Ive been playing Console, PC, and Tabletop games for years. And while i don’t refuse to play a game because I cant play as a girl, I do enjoy it more when the option is there. Its just always felt weird to play as a male character, especially in multiplayer games.

  35. Women might be over sexualized, but men are usually exaggerated as well. Beast muscles, dramatic chiseled lines, over sized shoulders.

    This is part of our culture of fantasy and design that is not unique to video games. Even blogs use these devices, even in there titles, like this one I visit called "Geeks are Sexy".

  36. Women might be over sexualized, but men are usually exaggerated as well. Beast muscles, dramatic chiseled lines, over sized shoulders.

    This is part of our culture of fantasy and design that is not unique to video games. Even blogs use these devices, even in there titles, like this one I visit called “Geeks are Sexy”.

  37. I've just got to say, your article really spoke to me (lol). But seriously. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this world xD

    Ya know, I've been thinking about this matter a lot lately. My boyfriend and I play a lot of games, and he tends to play things like Dragon Quest where all these women are dressed like total sluts. It makes me sad, as a female gamer, to know that that's all we are to the video game industry. When I play a game, I want to look like I feel: a somewhat conservative girl who likes kicking ass. And when I watch my boyfriend play, I'd rather not have him staring at all these whoreish women… Not that I'm jealous. I just find it insulting.

    You're absolutely right. Men aren't the only ones playing video games, so they shouldn't be the only ones with choice. I vote for more kick-ass girls and less pointless eye candy.

    Thanks for the great article!

  38. I’ve just got to say, your article really spoke to me (lol). But seriously. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this world xD

    Ya know, I’ve been thinking about this matter a lot lately. My boyfriend and I play a lot of games, and he tends to play things like Dragon Quest where all these women are dressed like total sluts. It makes me sad, as a female gamer, to know that that’s all we are to the video game industry. When I play a game, I want to look like I feel: a somewhat conservative girl who likes kicking ass. And when I watch my boyfriend play, I’d rather not have him staring at all these whoreish women… Not that I’m jealous. I just find it insulting.

    You’re absolutely right. Men aren’t the only ones playing video games, so they shouldn’t be the only ones with choice. I vote for more kick-ass girls and less pointless eye candy.

    Thanks for the great article!

  39. I agree with some of these points. It's really depressing sometimes when you simply don't have a choice and you're stuck playing the stereotypical female "look at me, I'm hot" type of character.

    I like the option of choice. I'm not saying it's wrong to have escapism for women to choose to dress that way. I'm just hoping to have more option, or just not "always hot" all the time – hot is different for different people, too, but there are always the "buttons" as they say.

    There's the same with many guy players too in games. They're usually built like tanks with muscles galore. Boyfriend comments on this all the time, too.

    I guess we just all want the option and just not pigeon-holed into some character of sorts that just are typical of the genre or games.

    Thanks for bringing this up for discussion.

  40. I agree with some of these points. It’s really depressing sometimes when you simply don’t have a choice and you’re stuck playing the stereotypical female “look at me, I’m hot” type of character.

    I like the option of choice. I’m not saying it’s wrong to have escapism for women to choose to dress that way. I’m just hoping to have more option, or just not “always hot” all the time – hot is different for different people, too, but there are always the “buttons” as they say.

    There’s the same with many guy players too in games. They’re usually built like tanks with muscles galore. Boyfriend comments on this all the time, too.

    I guess we just all want the option and just not pigeon-holed into some character of sorts that just are typical of the genre or games.

    Thanks for bringing this up for discussion.

  41. As a heterosexual guy, I usually have absolutely no problem with the over-sexualized female characters in video-games. It’s not because I’ll be like “she’s hot!” every minute I see a girl character, I almost never do that. Rather I don’t actually notice any of it. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to seeing such characters by now, but still I don’t notice them.

    Now if I were to play a game with a bunch of over-sexualized female characters from a womens point of view, I would be outraged too! And from any genders point of view, if I were to compare one of these over-sexualized female characters to an average female, I’m sure there would be very noticeable differences.

    Over-sexualization in female characters is also a big problem in comics (both American and Japanese), and the animated world (specifically anime). Now that this article has pointed it out, I think there should be something done about this.

    And the “majority wins” argument doesn’t really work. Statistics show that gay people take up one-in-ten of the human population, more or less. Therefor they are a minority. Does that mean this shouldn’t be able to marry? (Ironically gay people can’t marry at the moment, but that’s besides the point)

    • Luke said – “Over-sexualization in female characters is also a big problem in comics (both American and Japanese), and the animated world (specifically anime). Now that this article has pointed it out, I think there should be something done about this.”

      IDK about a BIG problem. I’d categorize it more as a minor annoyance (to some). (I think things like wars and oil spills are BIG problems.) Truth is sex sells. Nothing will be done about this. Not so long as the average male continues to vote with his wallet. So actually, majority wins really does work.

        • No. Nothing is ALWAYS anything. However, they often get what they want, right or wrong. In this particular instance your only recourse is to vote with your wallet.

      • Yeah, you have a point there. You might be right about it not being a big problem, but it’s still a problem (minor or not).

        Personally as long as the product is good overall I’ll keep putting money into it. Though the creators to these products probably should put more consideration into “over-sexualized” they make their characters.

  42. As a heterosexual guy, I usually have absolutely no problem with the over-sexualized female characters in video-games. It’s not because I’ll be like “she’s hot!” every minute I see a girl character, I almost never do that. Rather I don’t actually notice any of it. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to seeing such characters by now, but still I don’t notice them.

    Now if I were to play a game with a bunch of over-sexualized female characters from a womens point of view, I would be outraged too! And from any genders point of view, if I were to compare one of these over-sexualized female characters to an average female, I’m sure there would be very noticeable differences.

    Over-sexualization in female characters is also a big problem in comics (both American and Japanese), and the animated world (specifically anime). Now that this article has pointed it out, I think there should be something done about this.

    And the “majority wins” argument doesn’t really work. Statistics show that gay people take up one-in-ten of the human population, more or less. Therefor they are a minority. Does that mean this shouldn’t be able to marry? (Ironically gay people can’t marry at the moment, but that’s besides the point)

  43. Ummm…..Did u mean to reply to my post? Cause That had little to do with my comment and more with the general discussion…..

  44. Ummm…..Did u mean to reply to my post? Cause That had little to do with my comment and more with the general discussion…..

  45. Luke said – "Over-sexualization in female characters is also a big problem in comics (both American and Japanese), and the animated world (specifically anime). Now that this article has pointed it out, I think there should be something done about this."

    IDK about a BIG problem. I'd categorize it more as a minor annoyance (to some). (I think things like wars and oil spills are BIG problems.) Truth is sex sells. Nothing will be done about this. Not so long as the average male continues to vote with his wallet. So actually, majority wins really does work.

      • No. Nothing is ALWAYS anything. However, they often get what they want, right or wrong. In this particular instance your only recourse is to vote with your wallet.

    • Yeah, you have a point there. You might be right about it not being a big problem, but it's still a problem (minor or not).

      Personally as long as the product is good overall I'll keep putting money into it. Though the creators to these products probably should put more consideration into "over-sexualized" they make their characters.

  46. This is actually one of the reasons I like DDO:Eberron. All of the armor, from the wizard robes to the plate mail, is believable as being protective regardless of gender.

  47. This is actually one of the reasons I like DDO:Eberron. All of the armor, from the wizard robes to the plate mail, is believable as being protective regardless of gender.

  48. You bother me about video games.

    These characters are sexy. I want to stare at sexy ladies. The resources required to have 500 outfits for women to choose from just aren't worth the time of the developers. I think they would rather have a good game than a good closet.

      • I do look at porn, I just don't need to look at it all the time. I'm not trying to say that I get off to women in video games. I just think that they're sexy and I like them being there. I'm not offended by their presence.

        There are more important aspects to a game than what the characters wear and how large the women's breasts are. Anyone who has talked to me about video games (And I mostly play RPGs) knows how unimportant graphics are in comparison to things like story, music, and character development.

  49. You bother me about video games.

    These characters are sexy. I want to stare at sexy ladies. The resources required to have 500 outfits for women to choose from just aren’t worth the time of the developers. I think they would rather have a good game than a good closet.

      • I do look at porn, I just don’t need to look at it all the time. I’m not trying to say that I get off to women in video games. I just think that they’re sexy and I like them being there. I’m not offended by their presence.

        There are more important aspects to a game than what the characters wear and how large the women’s breasts are. Anyone who has talked to me about video games (And I mostly play RPGs) knows how unimportant graphics are in comparison to things like story, music, and character development.

  50. I realise I'm getting hung up on specifics here – it's the rules lawyer in me – but in the case of Dragon Age, I've not seen any suggestion that putting armour on a female character makes that armour more revealing.

    I only just bought it recently and finished playing through as a female Human Noble, and pretty much the only time you see any actual flesh is when the game force-removes her helmet so you can see facial expressions during a cutscene.

    So what I'd like to know is what class were you playing as? I usually tank, so obviously I've been upping strength and getting the heaviest sets of armour I can find (I think a few of them have roughly moulded breastplates but that's reasonable since you'd get into no end of bruising and deformity otherwise). Is it different if you play rogue or mage? Wynne and Leilana's clothing seemed basically the same as Sten or Zervan's to me.

    Like I say, I'm getting way hung up on the specifics of that example, but that's because it's fresh in my brain.

    More generally speaking, I think that in terms of the gender of the main character it depends an awful lot on the genre of the game: an FPS can have either gender, because it just won't come up (it's some arms holding a gun) whereas in an RPG it will (you're playing a character, and the gender of that character is an even more basic foundation than their class or alignment).

    On the other hand, Oblivion and Fallout 3 are both nominally RPGs, but they've got such a strong FPS *style* to them that, again, your character is basically the arms holding the sword (or the rusty hunting rifle) and it doesn't impact on the gameplay at all…

    Hmm.

  51. I'm always a little wary when I see blogs such as this. The portrayal of women in video games has always been a touchy subject.

    However. While the number of girls playing video games is on the rise I think that maybe we should be looking at the games these girls are actually playing, and what systems they're playing on.

    I'll give you an example of what I mean. I was loafing around my local Gamestation today and it was fairly busy, since I'm friends with a couple of the employees in there I loitered for about two hours. In that period there were a total of six girls entered the shop. Four where very obviously with their partners and made no secret of the fact they didn't want to be in there. The other two were a pair of 12 or 13 year olds trading in a copy of 'The Sims 3' for cash rather than another game.

    Now obviously this doesn't represent a huge cross section of the female audience but I'm betting the percentage of girls who play the odd casual game such as The Sims or one of the multitude of casual games appearing on the various consoles, is much higher than girls who would load up Mass Effect or Dragonage. That's not to say that some girls don't but the numbers are still skewed wildly in favour of Guys.

    While a game with the kind of customisation you're talking about might sell a few extra copies would it really make that much of a difference from the publishers point of view? Answer that honestly not with any kind of "Well it should work that way!" viewpoint and you'll see it's more work for not a lot of pay off.

    Secondly. You have to ask yourself for the majority of the audience would it really make that much of a difference? Would it add anything to and improve the quality of the game? I'm all for customisation in game terms but sometimes you have to ask yourself.

    "Who are the majority of the audience who will spend money on this game?"

    If the answer is that while say thousands of guys would buy "Call of the Mass Dragonblaster of War: Age of Asskickery" as opposed to for example a couple of hundred girls then I'm sorry ladies but you are most definitely in our world and you're going to have to take the bad with the good.

    Not trying to start a flame war just trying to point out the other side of the argument.

      • I think you misunderstand me. I don't care about Hardcore Vs Casual gaming.

        What I do know is that a higher percentage of women would rather play a Casual game or a pick up and play arcade style game rather than investing say 20 plus hours on a huge cinematic RPG experience.

        Granted there are women who will enjoy these games but the numbers really don't lie. The type of games the post is talking about don't attract a high enough percentage of the female demographic to warrant the amount of extra work needed to make these changes.

        Sorry if I didn't make myself clear the first time.

    • I’m betting the percentage of girls who play the odd casual game such as The Sims or one of the multitude of casual games appearing on the various consoles, is much higher than girls who would load up Mass Effect or Dragonage

      I wonder why…if only someone would write a blog post explaining why women would be turned off by such games. Oh, wait…

    • Another question: how much would the percentage of female gamers go up if options are allowed that are directed toward females in general? World of Warcraft is iconic not only because it has lasted the longest with the largest number of subscribers than any other mmorpg on the market, but also because it brought in a huge number of females to the gaming scene. One of the big reasons for this is the advertising (basically the first mmo to really run commercial ads on tv, begin designing t-shirts and other paraphernalia), I believe, but also (we're going into stereotyping here, so women please don't kill me) because of its cartoonish and easy-to-play nature. Someone who is completely new to the gaming world can get in, play, and know what they're doing very quickly…skill takes time, yes, but people can play and socialize right off the bat. The game allows for not only long raid gameplay, but also for short sessions and a very social atmosphere. I'm sure the fact that the female human avatars are not grossly disproportional helps. Now, many of these qualities can be seen in any mmo, but going back to the advertising point, how many mmo's really target their ads at females and place them in areas females will notice them? Almost none. In short, I don't think the current demographic is a reason for not making a more gender equitable game, but an excuse. If a game is manufactured well enough and targets its ads correctly, I believe it can make a killing off male and female gamers alike.

      • Actually, the human women in WoW ARE disproportional. Their heads are too small for their bodies. Drives me crazy every time I see 'em.

        • That's why I said not "grossly disproportional," but I guess perceptions on that differ a bit from person to person. :)

  52. I realise I’m getting hung up on specifics here – it’s the rules lawyer in me – but in the case of Dragon Age, I’ve not seen any suggestion that putting armour on a female character makes that armour more revealing.

    I only just bought it recently and finished playing through as a female Human Noble, and pretty much the only time you see any actual flesh is when the game force-removes her helmet so you can see facial expressions during a cutscene.

    So what I’d like to know is what class were you playing as? I usually tank, so obviously I’ve been upping strength and getting the heaviest sets of armour I can find (I think a few of them have roughly moulded breastplates but that’s reasonable since you’d get into no end of bruising and deformity otherwise). Is it different if you play rogue or mage? Wynne and Leilana’s clothing seemed basically the same as Sten or Zervan’s to me.

    Like I say, I’m getting way hung up on the specifics of that example, but that’s because it’s fresh in my brain.

    More generally speaking, I think that in terms of the gender of the main character it depends an awful lot on the genre of the game: an FPS can have either gender, because it just won’t come up (it’s some arms holding a gun) whereas in an RPG it will (you’re playing a character, and the gender of that character is an even more basic foundation than their class or alignment).

    On the other hand, Oblivion and Fallout 3 are both nominally RPGs, but they’ve got such a strong FPS *style* to them that, again, your character is basically the arms holding the sword (or the rusty hunting rifle) and it doesn’t impact on the gameplay at all…

    Hmm.

  53. I’m always a little wary when I see blogs such as this. The portrayal of women in video games has always been a touchy subject.

    However. While the number of girls playing video games is on the rise I think that maybe we should be looking at the games these girls are actually playing, and what systems they’re playing on.

    I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I was loafing around my local Gamestation today and it was fairly busy, since I’m friends with a couple of the employees in there I loitered for about two hours. In that period there were a total of six girls entered the shop. Four where very obviously with their partners and made no secret of the fact they didn’t want to be in there. The other two were a pair of 12 or 13 year olds trading in a copy of ‘The Sims 3’ for cash rather than another game.

    Now obviously this doesn’t represent a huge cross section of the female audience but I’m betting the percentage of girls who play the odd casual game such as The Sims or one of the multitude of casual games appearing on the various consoles, is much higher than girls who would load up Mass Effect or Dragonage. That’s not to say that some girls don’t but the numbers are still skewed wildly in favour of Guys.
    While a game with the kind of customisation you’re talking about might sell a few extra copies would it really make that much of a difference from the publishers point of view? Answer that honestly not with any kind of “Well it should work that way!” viewpoint and you’ll see it’s more work for not a lot of pay off.

    Secondly. You have to ask yourself for the majority of the audience would it really make that much of a difference? Would it add anything to and improve the quality of the game? I’m all for customisation in game terms but sometimes you have to ask yourself.

    “Who are the majority of the audience who will spend money on this game?”

    If the answer is that while say thousands of guys would buy “Call of the Mass Dragonblaster of War: Age of Asskickery” as opposed to for example a couple of hundred girls then I’m sorry ladies but you are most definitely in our world and you’re going to have to take the bad with the good.

    Not trying to start a flame war just trying to point out the other side of the argument.

    • I’m betting the percentage of girls who play the odd casual game such as The Sims or one of the multitude of casual games appearing on the various consoles, is much higher than girls who would load up Mass Effect or Dragonage

      I wonder why…if only someone would write a blog post explaining why women would be turned off by such games. Oh, wait…

      • I think you misunderstand me. I don’t care about Hardcore Vs Casual gaming.

        What I do know is that a higher percentage of women would rather play a Casual game or a pick up and play arcade style game rather than investing say 20 plus hours on a huge cinematic RPG experience.
        Granted there are women who will enjoy these games but the numbers really don’t lie. The type of games the post is talking about don’t attract a high enough percentage of the female demographic to warrant the amount of extra work needed to make these changes.

        Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear the first time.

    • Another question: how much would the percentage of female gamers go up if options are allowed that are directed toward females in general? World of Warcraft is iconic not only because it has lasted the longest with the largest number of subscribers than any other mmorpg on the market, but also because it brought in a huge number of females to the gaming scene. One of the big reasons for this is the advertising (basically the first mmo to really run commercial ads on tv, begin designing t-shirts and other paraphernalia), I believe, but also (we’re going into stereotyping here, so women please don’t kill me) because of its cartoonish and easy-to-play nature. Someone who is completely new to the gaming world can get in, play, and know what they’re doing very quickly…skill takes time, yes, but people can play and socialize right off the bat. The game allows for not only long raid gameplay, but also for short sessions and a very social atmosphere. I’m sure the fact that the female human avatars are not grossly disproportional helps. Now, many of these qualities can be seen in any mmo, but going back to the advertising point, how many mmo’s really target their ads at females and place them in areas females will notice them? Almost none. In short, I don’t think the current demographic is a reason for not making a more gender equitable game, but an excuse. If a game is manufactured well enough and targets its ads correctly, I believe it can make a killing off male and female gamers alike.

      • Actually, the human women in WoW ARE disproportional. Their heads are too small for their bodies. Drives me crazy every time I see ’em.

        • That’s why I said not “grossly disproportional,” but I guess perceptions on that differ a bit from person to person. :)

    • Another question: how much would the percentage of female gamers go up if options are allowed that are directed toward females in general? World of Warcraft is iconic not only because it has lasted the longest with the largest number of subscribers than any other mmorpg on the market, but also because it brought in a huge number of females to the gaming scene. One of the big reasons for this is the advertising (basically the first mmo to really run commercial ads on tv, begin designing t-shirts and other paraphernalia), I believe, but also (we’re going into stereotyping here, so women please don’t kill me) because of its cartoonish and easy-to-play nature. Someone who is completely new to the gaming world can get in, play, and know what they’re doing very quickly…skill takes time, yes, but people can play and socialize right off the bat. The game allows for not only long raid gameplay, but also for short sessions and a very social atmosphere. I’m sure the fact that the female human avatars are not grossly disproportional helps. Now, many of these qualities can be seen in any mmo, but going back to the advertising point, how many mmo’s really target their ads at females and place them in areas females will notice them? Almost none. In short, I don’t think the current demographic is a reason for not making a more gender equitable game, but an excuse. If a game is manufactured well enough and targets its ads correctly, I believe it can make a killing off male and female gamers alike.

  54. I consider video games to be a fantasy element. It's an escape from reality. As a female gamer myself, as a gamer who's been playing since I was old enough to hold a controller, I suppose I just don't understand how someone can base their entire experience off of what the character's sex is.

    The men are made to be 'ideal' mostly, sure. I don't want to play a nerdy boy in a game anymore than I want to play a nerdy girl. I want to play someone cool. I want to play someone I'm not. It's escapism. It's an extreme, and it makes the game fun.

    I have been gaming for a really long time. I would like to think that a large amount of female gamers like the games for the content, and wouldn't give up on a game just because of character design. In other words, I'd hope most female gamers are actually in it for the game.

    • That's a very good point.

      Knights of the Old Republic was a little like that for me. After playing through as a Video Gamed version of myself (I.E. Male) I wanted to strangle the dev team for what I viewed as a sub-par game.

      However when I played through again recently with the 'canon' female character I discovered the game Improved mightily.

      I wish more people could say "Why does it matter? How does the game play?"

  55. I consider video games to be a fantasy element. It’s an escape from reality. As a female gamer myself, as a gamer who’s been playing since I was old enough to hold a controller, I suppose I just don’t understand how someone can base their entire experience off of what the character’s sex is.

    The men are made to be ‘ideal’ mostly, sure. I don’t want to play a nerdy boy in a game anymore than I want to play a nerdy girl. I want to play someone cool. I want to play someone I’m not. It’s escapism. It’s an extreme, and it makes the game fun.

    I have been gaming for a really long time. I would like to think that a large amount of female gamers like the games for the content, and wouldn’t give up on a game just because of character design. In other words, I’d hope most female gamers are actually in it for the game.

    • That’s a very good point.

      Knights of the Old Republic was a little like that for me. After playing through as a Video Gamed version of myself (I.E. Male) I wanted to strangle the dev team for what I viewed as a sub-par game.
      However when I played through again recently with the ‘canon’ female character I discovered the game Improved mightily.

      I wish more people could say “Why does it matter? How does the game play?”

  56. point 1: Lara's "pyramid boobs": what do you expect from a 24bit console in an age where 3D graphics were in it's child years? they atleast "attempted" to make her look like an adult female.

    point 2: Peach in mario bros 2 was pretty broken with that flaoting ability. she also sucks in smash bros and Super princess peach was pretty meh.

    point 3: "slutty outfits": well, i'd rather run around as a damn hot girl in bikini rather than a fat orc in a tincan. if you don't like skimpy outfits in videogames, you can always get back to atari, as 8×4 pixel sprites never showed too much skin.

    you said yourself you grew up with barbie, so you should be accustomed to the commercial standarts. get over it, the majority of girl gamers like to have sexy pixelclothing, and this wont change because 4-5 ultra-feminists feel "offended" (read butthurt).

  57. point 1: Lara’s “pyramid boobs”: what do you expect from a 24bit console in an age where 3D graphics were in it’s child years? they atleast “attempted” to make her look like an adult female.

    point 2: Peach in mario bros 2 was pretty broken with that flaoting ability. she also sucks in smash bros and Super princess peach was pretty meh.

    point 3: “slutty outfits”: well, i’d rather run around as a damn hot girl in bikini rather than a fat orc in a tincan. if you don’t like skimpy outfits in videogames, you can always get back to atari, as 8×4 pixel sprites never showed too much skin.

    you said yourself you grew up with barbie, so you should be accustomed to the commercial standarts. get over it, the majority of girl gamers like to have sexy pixelclothing, and this wont change because 4-5 ultra-feminists feel “offended” (read butthurt).

  58. I understand you, but i don't say you're right.

    neither i say you're wrong… because i can't get into the complicated mind of feminist woman, omg did i just typed that… i'm sorry.

    They are fantasy games, but the majority is heavy influenced in middle ages, give thanks to game developers, they included woman in those games because in all human history woman have never adventured outside their homes, never had gone to war, except the latest wars that doesn't count,

    With the sexual issues in the games i'm with you, they don't have to exagerate, but it's not only that the focus of the devs is to "straight" guys, but the fact is that the majority of people that buy the games, about 87% are straght or bisexual guys, and they are so obsessed with sex that they will buy a game like Tomb Raider just to see Lara Croft boobs. SAD but truth, so deal with it, make your own company of game designing, start one project in one of the known companies…or quit gaming.

    • Ah, the old "Do something or shut up" argument. Because clearly, discussing something isn't allowed unless you intend to do something about it regardless of your ability to actually do something.

      Also, was the feminist comment really necessary?

      • It's ok, "feminist" is a compliment these days :) Who wouldn't want to be one?

        Er, ok…aside from some privileged people who have a problem with not being privileged anymore.

  59. I understand you, but i don’t say you’re right.
    neither i say you’re wrong… because i can’t get into the complicated mind of feminist woman, omg did i just typed that… i’m sorry.

    They are fantasy games, but the majority is heavy influenced in middle ages, give thanks to game developers, they included woman in those games because in all human history woman have never adventured outside their homes, never had gone to war, except the latest wars that doesn’t count,

    With the sexual issues in the games i’m with you, they don’t have to exagerate, but it’s not only that the focus of the devs is to “straight” guys, but the fact is that the majority of people that buy the games, about 87% are straght or bisexual guys, and they are so obsessed with sex that they will buy a game like Tomb Raider just to see Lara Croft boobs. SAD but truth, so deal with it, make your own company of game designing, start one project in one of the known companies…or quit gaming.

    • Ah, the old “Do something or shut up” argument. Because clearly, discussing something isn’t allowed unless you intend to do something about it regardless of your ability to actually do something.

      Also, was the feminist comment really necessary?

      • It’s ok, “feminist” is a compliment these days :) Who wouldn’t want to be one?

        Er, ok…aside from some privileged people who have a problem with not being privileged anymore.

  60. “nothing more than a metal jock strap and a halter top? ”

    I loled ;)

    No, I wouldn’t really be interested in playing a game like that!

  61. I am currently in the process of achieving my degree in Game Design, and I'm a woman. I hope to change the video gaming world, and I think you grasped the issue wonderfully. I am young, 20 in a few days, and I will not let this go much longer after I get into the field and get my name known.

    • "I will not let this go much longer after I get into the field and get my name known."

      lol.

      Sorry, That is not a mean lol. I admire your enthusiasm and like I posted earlier I think there is always room for innovation as well as more character customization. But don't be too discouraged if your presence alone doesn't revolutionize the industry. Changes will come slowly if at all. But until as many women are buying games as men don't expect a huge change. Also as Ben pointed out the same KINDS of games. Even if female gaming is on the rise the industry will cater to whoever is spending the most.

  62. I am currently in the process of achieving my degree in Game Design, and I’m a woman. I hope to change the video gaming world, and I think you grasped the issue wonderfully. I am young, 20 in a few days, and I will not let this go much longer after I get into the field and get my name known.

    • “I will not let this go much longer after I get into the field and get my name known.”

      lol.

      Sorry, That is not a mean lol. I admire your enthusiasm and like I posted earlier I think there is always room for innovation as well as more character customization. But don’t be too discouraged if your presence alone doesn’t revolutionize the industry. Changes will come slowly if at all. But until as many women are buying games as men don’t expect a huge change. Also as Ben pointed out the same KINDS of games. Even if female gaming is on the rise the industry will cater to whoever is spending the most.

  63. Alex says:
    July 28, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Laura does bring up a good point. Video games are all about escapism. I’m an average guy. But why would I want to play as an average guy? Or a fat or skinny one for that matter? And given the chance, I know I would rather be rocking the physique of most video game heroes over mine any day. A magic transformation that would make Brad Pitt envy ME? Yes please! Are some of you ladies actually saying, (be you attractive or not) that if offered you wouldn’t take a physique more like the idealistic ones portrayed in games? Plastic surgeons’ bank accounts seem to disagree :)
    Reply

    *
    Aelon says:
    July 28, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Actually, no thanks.

    I like my actual curves, and my boobs are already too large for my liking, without becoming Barbie…
    Reply
    o
    Alex says:
    July 28, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Sooo… lemme get this straight. You have curves and large breasts, so you have no desire to become a curvaceous woman with large breasts? Umm…Ok.

    “I told zem we already got one!”
    Reply
    +
    Aelon says:
    July 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

    No actually, what you want me to go on the table and become is a rediculous parody of a woman, a size 8 with miraculous curves in the places a size 8 wouldnt get, and huge boobs.

    Nope, sorry. not interested.

    Alex says,

    First off I don’t want YOU to do anything! (except maybe use spell check so u don’t sound so rediculous (lol)..) Second, I don’t even know what the hell a size 8 is. Third, all I said is most people (male or female) given the chance would take the magic pill and look like a superstar. You just felt like being contrary and trying to start an argument like you did when u called RoboAly a “sad little kid.” So go be an insufferable boor somewhere else, no one’s interested that you’re not interested. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!
    Now go away our I shall taunt you a second time!

  64. On the flip side, as a bisexual dude, I get really disappointed when a piece of armor shows of a sexy portion of midriff on a female character but nothing on my male one. I'd like to see a little more options for being a slutty guy.

  65. On the flip side, as a bisexual dude, I get really disappointed when a piece of armor shows of a sexy portion of midriff on a female character but nothing on my male one. I’d like to see a little more options for being a slutty guy.

  66. Considering that the setting of Dragon Age: Origins resembles George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, is it really reasonable to complain that most of the female characters aren't warriors dressed from head to toe in full-coverage chainmail?

    You might like the *Mass Effect* games better, given that you can play as either a male or a female, and the female protagonist has a better voice actor than the male.

  67. Considering that the setting of Dragon Age: Origins resembles George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, is it really reasonable to complain that most of the female characters aren’t warriors dressed from head to toe in full-coverage chainmail?

    You might like the *Mass Effect* games better, given that you can play as either a male or a female, and the female protagonist has a better voice actor than the male.

  68. This has definitely been going on since the dawn of gaming for sure. There were very few games in the beginning that let you be a female at all, just as you mentioned, and there are still many games released (mostly in the fps genre) that allow only male avatars. I know I personally begin a game and am amazed if the females actually have normal proportions. I go in and I exclaim to my fiancé, "look! Normal boobs!" Playing Aion was just ridiculous. Men (you know it was men) would create their female avatars with small heads, tiny waists, and the most gigantic boobs in the world coupled with big hips and thunder thighs. Add to that the Aion wardrobe for females and you have a school girl lingerie nightmare. http://9kohorta.com/blog/2009/09/07/zbroje-daevan… I wonder how that lace plate armor works…hm.

    • I like those outfits in that link alright, they're aesthetic enough, but all rather uniform in shape. Short dresses for girls, full-cover for guys. I actually liked the guys' outfits more coz they had more designs and detail; I'd like an option like that for the ladies.

    • I like those outfits in that link alright, they're aesthetic enough, but all rather uniform in shape. Short dresses for girls, full-cover for guys. I actually liked the guys' outfits more coz they had more designs and detail; I'd like an option like that for the ladies.

  69. I thought the name of this site was Geeks Are Sexy. You could have fooled me. I would have thought that if a sexy geek girl were playing a game, she would want her character to accurately describe her. This post is a bit sad to say the least. Looks like sexy games are out and amish games are in! Hail bonnets!

  70. I thought the name of this site was Geeks Are Sexy. You could have fooled me. I would have thought that if a sexy geek girl were playing a game, she would want her character to accurately describe her. This post is a bit sad to say the least. Looks like sexy games are out and amish games are in! Hail bonnets!

  71. DA:O is dark fantasy in a 'medieval' setting. That there are a fair number of strong women characters should actually be praised, IMHO (the two mentioned characters, Leliana and Morrigan, being two of them, but the initial impression brought on by their attires is, I guess, understandable).

    Hehe, if I wanted to point out a stereotype, it would've been Isolde. :P

    Plus your characters/companions don't have to keep their current looks as there are a fair amount of choices in terms of attire/armor (the heaviest pieces of armor for females being, if memory serves, practically indistinguishable in appearance to that of men).

    I do kinda agree on that bit about the looks of the chantry folk as well as Morrigan's initial attire (hers and Leliana's attire in the Sacred Ashes trailer, while still 'sexy', was, at least less revealing lol).

    And why bitter about Alistair? lol

  72. DA:O is dark fantasy in a ‘medieval’ setting. That there are a fair number of strong women characters should actually be praised, IMHO (the two mentioned characters, Leliana and Morrigan, being two of them, but the initial impression brought on by their attires is, I guess, understandable).
    Hehe, if I wanted to point out a stereotype, it would’ve been Isolde. :P

    Plus your characters/companions don’t have to keep their current looks as there are a fair amount of choices in terms of attire/armor (the heaviest pieces of armor for females being, if memory serves, practically indistinguishable in appearance to that of men).
    I do kinda agree on that bit about the looks of the chantry folk as well as Morrigan’s initial attire (hers and Leliana’s attire in the Sacred Ashes trailer, while still ‘sexy’, was, at least less revealing lol).

    And why bitter about Alistair? lol

  73. DA:O is dark fantasy in a 'medieval' setting. That there are a fair number of strong women characters should actually be praised, IMHO (the two mentioned characters, Leliana and Morrigan, being two of them, but the initial impression brought on by their attires is, I guess, understandable. Oh, and if you read/listen between the lines, Morrigan's attire has a rationale, of sorts lol).

    Hehe, if I wanted to point out a stereotype, it would've been Isolde. :P

    Plus your characters/companions don't have to keep their current looks as there are a fair amount of choices in terms of attire/armor (the heaviest pieces of armor for females being, if memory serves, practically indistinguishable in appearance to that of men).

    I do kinda agree on that bit about the looks of the chantry folk as well as Morrigan's initial attire (hers and Leliana's attire in the Sacred Ashes trailer, while still 'sexy', was, at least less revealing lol).

    And why bitter about Alistair? lol

    • One would guess that she didn't play as a F!Human Noble and thus Alistair dumped her after she made him king.

      I was uber irked with the single body for all females (and, what, one or two for males?), with Wynne and Flemeth looking just as perky as Leliana and Morrigan, but that's to be expected. The male bodies were just as dull (and then in Awakenings they practically did a carbon copy of Alistair and Morrigan's bodies [and personalities in part…] for Anders and Velanna). And yes, the Chantry robes (and mage robes, considering the Chantry doesn't want them making mage babies! =O) should have been less form-fitting (the templars wore skirts, for goodness!). But I agree with GH on this — the armour was generally the same awful skin-tightness on men and women, save the Dalish armour (good for movement, yes, but it leaves quite a deal of vulnerable area!), and the non-Circle robes were perhaps the only really over-the-top clothing choices (memory serves that they were form-fitting on men as well).

  74. DA:O is dark fantasy in a ‘medieval’ setting. That there are a fair number of strong women characters should actually be praised, IMHO (the two mentioned characters, Leliana and Morrigan, being two of them, but the initial impression brought on by their attires is, I guess, understandable. Oh, and if you read/listen between the lines, Morrigan’s attire has a rationale, of sorts lol).
    Hehe, if I wanted to point out a stereotype, it would’ve been Isolde. :P

    Plus your characters/companions don’t have to keep their current looks as there are a fair amount of choices in terms of attire/armor (the heaviest pieces of armor for females being, if memory serves, practically indistinguishable in appearance to that of men).
    I do kinda agree on that bit about the looks of the chantry folk as well as Morrigan’s initial attire (hers and Leliana’s attire in the Sacred Ashes trailer, while still ‘sexy’, was, at least less revealing lol).

    And why bitter about Alistair? lol

    • One would guess that she didn’t play as a F!Human Noble and thus Alistair dumped her after she made him king.

      I was uber irked with the single body for all females (and, what, one or two for males?), with Wynne and Flemeth looking just as perky as Leliana and Morrigan, but that’s to be expected. The male bodies were just as dull (and then in Awakenings they practically did a carbon copy of Alistair and Morrigan’s bodies [and personalities in part…] for Anders and Velanna). And yes, the Chantry robes (and mage robes, considering the Chantry doesn’t want them making mage babies! =O) should have been less form-fitting (the templars wore skirts, for goodness!). But I agree with GH on this — the armour was generally the same awful skin-tightness on men and women, save the Dalish armour (good for movement, yes, but it leaves quite a deal of vulnerable area!), and the non-Circle robes were perhaps the only really over-the-top clothing choices (memory serves that they were form-fitting on men as well).

  75. Great article, I always enjoy reading about other girl gamers. I totally agree with having a female avatar options, but I have to agree with Laura, I enjoy having eye candy avatars with bikini plate. I love playing a sexy looking avatar. Actually I was really turned off from games like LOTRO because the human and hobbit women are so ugly.

    If you want to play a pretty toon you always have to play a damn elf. So tired of elves, I'd like to see some new races with hot avatars beside elves.

  76. Great article, I always enjoy reading about other girl gamers. I totally agree with having a female avatar options, but I have to agree with Laura, I enjoy having eye candy avatars with bikini plate. I love playing a sexy looking avatar. Actually I was really turned off from games like LOTRO because the human and hobbit women are so ugly.

    If you want to play a pretty toon you always have to play a damn elf. So tired of elves, I’d like to see some new races with hot avatars beside elves.

  77. Lolne of the first video games i ever played was fable. dont get me wrong, i love it, but i would of loved it even more if i could play as a female character. it just made sense because of the anonyminity of the main charecter. there are a lot of strong female characters so its forgiven. ;)

    You can in fable 2 smart one. ><.

  78. Lolne of the first video games i ever played was fable. dont get me wrong, i love it, but i would of loved it even more if i could play as a female character. it just made sense because of the anonyminity of the main charecter. there are a lot of strong female characters so its forgiven. ;)

    You can in fable 2 smart one. ><.

  79. I firmly believe that in any instance, any game, that allows the freedom of choice in determining actions, or customizing appearance, should allow for customization of gender as well.

    For example, in the case of Kingdom hearts-a female player character would make less sense and require much more effort and modification of the story. it's fine as it is, a story about a boy and his friends, and his the devotion he has for them rooted in his heart.

    But, for a game that lets YOU determine the story, I say gender selection is imperative. That was my single greatest problem with Fable 1, and my greatest joy in Fable II.

    As for appearance customization, and the role of sexuality in it: I believe that any overt sexually attractive attributes in the character's body should be controllable to some extent, and only specific clothing meant to be skimpy should be skimpy. Muscle size, breast size, body shape, facial features, hair and skin-all should be customizable. What if I WANT to play a horribly ugly, scarred dwarven fighter with a bad attitude? What if I WANT to play the supremely sexy illusionist with a flirty attitude, always promising and teasing but delivering nothing more than illusion? What if I WANT to play the long lost heir to the kingdom, or a physically imposing giant of a man, or a tavern wench who ran away and had to learn some basic skills just to survive?

    This is the essence of our imagination.

    Brock
    @genericfantasyn on Twitter

  80. I firmly believe that in any instance, any game, that allows the freedom of choice in determining actions, or customizing appearance, should allow for customization of gender as well.

    For example, in the case of Kingdom hearts-a female player character would make less sense and require much more effort and modification of the story. it’s fine as it is, a story about a boy and his friends, and his the devotion he has for them rooted in his heart.

    But, for a game that lets YOU determine the story, I say gender selection is imperative. That was my single greatest problem with Fable 1, and my greatest joy in Fable II.

    As for appearance customization, and the role of sexuality in it: I believe that any overt sexually attractive attributes in the character’s body should be controllable to some extent, and only specific clothing meant to be skimpy should be skimpy. Muscle size, breast size, body shape, facial features, hair and skin-all should be customizable. What if I WANT to play a horribly ugly, scarred dwarven fighter with a bad attitude? What if I WANT to play the supremely sexy illusionist with a flirty attitude, always promising and teasing but delivering nothing more than illusion? What if I WANT to play the long lost heir to the kingdom, or a physically imposing giant of a man, or a tavern wench who ran away and had to learn some basic skills just to survive?

    This is the essence of our imagination.

    Brock
    @genericfantasyn on Twitter

  81. If a woman likes to game and wants to dress modestly/have a modest avatar, I'm all for it. Nor do I think it is an unreasonable demand. Giving people choices in how modest they wish to be in-game is a sign that the game developer respects the players.

    I like Aelon's idea:

    I dont think its asking too much to be allowed to set length of costumes – Even make a joke of it, make the longest length include a burkah if you like! Just don’t make us run around in bra and undies or just leather straps!

    PS Guys, sexy isnt nearly naked like that. Give us choice, and let us show you sexy….. >D

    A friend of mine visited Saudi Arabia recently. She commented that even in burkhas, women can still be sexy. :)

  82. If a woman likes to game and wants to dress modestly/have a modest avatar, I’m all for it. Nor do I think it is an unreasonable demand. Giving people choices in how modest they wish to be in-game is a sign that the game developer respects the players.

    I like Aelon’s idea:

    I dont think its asking too much to be allowed to set length of costumes – Even make a joke of it, make the longest length include a burkah if you like! Just don’t make us run around in bra and undies or just leather straps!

    PS Guys, sexy isnt nearly naked like that. Give us choice, and let us show you sexy….. >D

    A friend of mine visited Saudi Arabia recently. She commented that even in burkhas, women can still be sexy. :)

  83. You should play bioware's other recent release; mass effect 2. The skimpy combat outfits and exploitative camera angles are cringe worthy and it makes Dragon Age seem very very reasonable.

  84. You should play bioware’s other recent release; mass effect 2. The skimpy combat outfits and exploitative camera angles are cringe worthy and it makes Dragon Age seem very very reasonable.

  85. The mail G-string doesn't come from video games just have a look at old pictures paper based rpg or card games. Still it reminds me that Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines has a cheat code "money" to increase (or decrease) the size of breasts in the game…

    Oh and if you look for nice not oversexualized female characters try Mirror's Edge (ok it's not a rpg)

  86. The mail G-string doesn’t come from video games just have a look at old pictures paper based rpg or card games. Still it reminds me that Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines has a cheat code “money” to increase (or decrease) the size of breasts in the game…

    Oh and if you look for nice not oversexualized female characters try Mirror’s Edge (ok it’s not a rpg)

  87. I'm surprised at all the flames claiming this isn't a problem, that men make up most of the market anyway, that women should suck it up as long as the gameplay is good, etc.

    The point isn't what the market *was*. I can't pull numbers out of my hat for what the female audience is – and I notice that none of the flamers who claim that it's insignificant can, either – but it's definitely on the rise. It would be absolutely foolish for publishers to assume that Chicks Don't Play Games, and scoff at blog posts from these nonexistent players that describe what aspects of gameplay bother them. If you fix those aspects, you will attract more women – maybe not at first, but that's currently irrelevant, because we're not in the "at first" stage anymore. World of Warcraft is evidence for massive numbers of women entering the gaming scene; we're already at the snowballing stage.

    • Is there that many flamers? I saw a couple guys saying that, but it seems like most of the people on here (myself included) agree with at least the basic ideas of the article.

      Having written for a gaming website for 6 months now, if at least 50% of the commentors agree with you, you're doing pretty damn good, what with the trolls an all…

      • I think this whole situation is very tricky and problematic… and as people have said before, the only win-win for consumers seems to be the choice solution. Which unfortunately is the option that costs developers/publishers a lot more, since we would be expecting them to give us a choice in male/female avatar, a choice in the resulting story, choices in the look/build of that avatar, and choices in the modesty/sexuality of the costumes. As time goes on, I expect more and more publishers will be willing to put the time/money in to do this, since it pleases the largest portion of their audience.

        But anything less has positives and negatives for different consumers. If we use only a male or only a female avatar, for example, the other gender can feel alienated, as the author said. You also run the problem of the game making sense: in the worlds of GTA and Red Dead Redemption, for example, having a powerful and prevalent female lead just would not be accurate to the time period and culture the game is representing. GTA is not particularly kind towards women, but to be fair, the 80's mobster scene wasn't. Rockstar North is very ambitious and very detail-oriented, and their goal with each entry is to represent a time period and place, a culture within that place, and a specific fictional character within that culture.

        Of course, there are many many games that could and should add in multiple avatars, or at least more supporting roles. It'd be nice to see some female combatants in a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor game, for example. Not sure what the demographics are for the spec ops teams (since those aren't publicized), but the Army Ranger segments certainly could include women. That option could carry over to multiplayer, giving women the option to play a girl. But of course, we'd still have some small problems to work around, like the fact that the islamic-terrorist groups in some of the games would never allow female participants, making it hard to play as that team online.

        Then we run into the same kind of issues with the sexuality vs. modesty scene. As evidenced by this forum discussion, there is a portion of the audience who does not want to play as or see sexualized or idealized females in games. The differing opinions on here also show that defining "too sexualized" or "too idealized" would be difficult, since one girl might find a top cute and appropriate that another girl might find 'slutty' or 'revealing.' Obviously these differences in opinion exist in the real world as well, or we wouldn't have JC Pennys, Forever 21 and Victoria's Secret offering different selections.

        Beyond the problem of defining what's too much, you hit upon the realism vs. escapsim/fantasy issue. Some people playing games, again judging from the comments here, clearly want all their characters to be more realistic and reflective of true society. Some want all of their characters to be fantasized or non-realistic, since it's a game world not real life. Some just want them all to be sexy and ideal, whether it's man or woman. Some women prefer to play the sexy girls, some are turned off by this. It seems there is no right or wrong answer… but I think that, from seeing these opinions, its clear that every spectrum is out there. And I don't think it's fair to judge anyone by what they want out of games.

        Me personally, I think it depends on the game. I want the people of GTA to look and reflect real society, since that's the point of the game. I want to see fat people, old people, and yes sexy young people too, when I walk down the streets. I like that the supporting cast is always diverse, like the older Mani, or the heavyset Elizabeta. In other games, I want the developers to not feel constrained by real life. I'm fine with everyone in Mass Effect or Halo or Dragon Age being fantasy versions of people, and being a more idealized form. I don't complain about the over-muscled forms in Gears of War because that's how they represent forms in that fiction. I think that, being escapism and fantasy, it makes more sense in those games.

        And I've noticed that my gf tends to fall in with the "prefers sexy characters" group, so I can't really condemn them, knowing that's what she prefers. She only agreed to play Borderlands with me after realizing there was a cute female avatar available, and was thrilled by her feminine taunting and teasing. She also used similar avatars in Rock Band and other games we play.

        I think that in the end… you can't say definitively "why video game designers are missing the mark with women," because women, like men, are too diverse. So the only answer, as the author wisely said, is choice.

  88. I’m surprised at all the flames claiming this isn’t a problem, that men make up most of the market anyway, that women should suck it up as long as the gameplay is good, etc.

    The point isn’t what the market *was*. I can’t pull numbers out of my hat for what the female audience is – and I notice that none of the flamers who claim that it’s insignificant can, either – but it’s definitely on the rise. It would be absolutely foolish for publishers to assume that Chicks Don’t Play Games, and scoff at blog posts from these nonexistent players that describe what aspects of gameplay bother them. If you fix those aspects, you will attract more women – maybe not at first, but that’s currently irrelevant, because we’re not in the “at first” stage anymore. World of Warcraft is evidence for massive numbers of women entering the gaming scene; we’re already at the snowballing stage.

    • Is there that many flamers? I saw a couple guys saying that, but it seems like most of the people on here (myself included) agree with at least the basic ideas of the article.

      Having written for a gaming website for 6 months now, if at least 50% of the commentors agree with you, you’re doing pretty damn good, what with the trolls an all…

      • I think this whole situation is very tricky and problematic… and as people have said before, the only win-win for consumers seems to be the choice solution. Which unfortunately is the option that costs developers/publishers a lot more, since we would be expecting them to give us a choice in male/female avatar, a choice in the resulting story, choices in the look/build of that avatar, and choices in the modesty/sexuality of the costumes. As time goes on, I expect more and more publishers will be willing to put the time/money in to do this, since it pleases the largest portion of their audience.

        But anything less has positives and negatives for different consumers. If we use only a male or only a female avatar, for example, the other gender can feel alienated, as the author said. You also run the problem of the game making sense: in the worlds of GTA and Red Dead Redemption, for example, having a powerful and prevalent female lead just would not be accurate to the time period and culture the game is representing. GTA is not particularly kind towards women, but to be fair, the 80’s mobster scene wasn’t. Rockstar North is very ambitious and very detail-oriented, and their goal with each entry is to represent a time period and place, a culture within that place, and a specific fictional character within that culture.

        Of course, there are many many games that could and should add in multiple avatars, or at least more supporting roles. It’d be nice to see some female combatants in a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor game, for example. Not sure what the demographics are for the spec ops teams (since those aren’t publicized), but the Army Ranger segments certainly could include women. That option could carry over to multiplayer, giving women the option to play a girl. But of course, we’d still have some small problems to work around, like the fact that the islamic-terrorist groups in some of the games would never allow female participants, making it hard to play as that team online.

        Then we run into the same kind of issues with the sexuality vs. modesty scene. As evidenced by this forum discussion, there is a portion of the audience who does not want to play as or see sexualized or idealized females in games. The differing opinions on here also show that defining “too sexualized” or “too idealized” would be difficult, since one girl might find a top cute and appropriate that another girl might find ‘slutty’ or ‘revealing.’ Obviously these differences in opinion exist in the real world as well, or we wouldn’t have JC Pennys, Forever 21 and Victoria’s Secret offering different selections.

        Beyond the problem of defining what’s too much, you hit upon the realism vs. escapsim/fantasy issue. Some people playing games, again judging from the comments here, clearly want all their characters to be more realistic and reflective of true society. Some want all of their characters to be fantasized or non-realistic, since it’s a game world not real life. Some just want them all to be sexy and ideal, whether it’s man or woman. Some women prefer to play the sexy girls, some are turned off by this. It seems there is no right or wrong answer… but I think that, from seeing these opinions, its clear that every spectrum is out there. And I don’t think it’s fair to judge anyone by what they want out of games.

        Me personally, I think it depends on the game. I want the people of GTA to look and reflect real society, since that’s the point of the game. I want to see fat people, old people, and yes sexy young people too, when I walk down the streets. I like that the supporting cast is always diverse, like the older Mani, or the heavyset Elizabeta. In other games, I want the developers to not feel constrained by real life. I’m fine with everyone in Mass Effect or Halo or Dragon Age being fantasy versions of people, and being a more idealized form. I don’t complain about the over-muscled forms in Gears of War because that’s how they represent forms in that fiction. I think that, being escapism and fantasy, it makes more sense in those games.

        And I’ve noticed that my gf tends to fall in with the “prefers sexy characters” group, so I can’t really condemn them, knowing that’s what she prefers. She only agreed to play Borderlands with me after realizing there was a cute female avatar available, and was thrilled by her feminine taunting and teasing. She also used similar avatars in Rock Band and other games we play.

        I think that in the end… you can’t say definitively “why video game designers are missing the mark with women,” because women, like men, are too diverse. So the only answer, as the author wisely said, is choice.

        • I'd say that's a valid and well-crafted argument. Choice is all it really boils down to, which may be more fully realized with how rapidly technology is developing.
          As to the female characters in FPSs–anyone ever played Time-Splitters? Great FPS that included male, female, and non-gender characters.

  89. I'm a guy. I'm straight. I hate having every game I play offering only old crones and smokin babes. If I want pictures of hot chicks with no personality, I can get that elsewhere pretty easily.

    The outfits in WoW made me crazy. Dragon Age wasn't as bad, but the archetypes of the ladies in the story were sooo obvious and shallow.

    Being something other than a heroic, heavily muscled dude shouldn't be a gimmick. But we make everything else a spectacle by obsessing on who/what is left out instead of allowing for a natural story telling process, offering negative criticism without adequate suggestions and support, and failing to understand our similarities. People are mostly the same, despite race or sex or gender.

    When having a female lead means needing a completely different story, the game will suffer. And so will the players. Unfortunately, the current emphasis on fixed-path RPGs means you're stuck being who/whatever the designers decided you should play as. And they're overlords like to aim for the easiest customers they can please/distract.

  90. I’m a guy. I’m straight. I hate having every game I play offering only old crones and smokin babes. If I want pictures of hot chicks with no personality, I can get that elsewhere pretty easily.
    The outfits in WoW made me crazy. Dragon Age wasn’t as bad, but the archetypes of the ladies in the story were sooo obvious and shallow.

    Being something other than a heroic, heavily muscled dude shouldn’t be a gimmick. But we make everything else a spectacle by obsessing on who/what is left out instead of allowing for a natural story telling process, offering negative criticism without adequate suggestions and support, and failing to understand our similarities. People are mostly the same, despite race or sex or gender.

    When having a female lead means needing a completely different story, the game will suffer. And so will the players. Unfortunately, the current emphasis on fixed-path RPGs means you’re stuck being who/whatever the designers decided you should play as. And they’re overlords like to aim for the easiest customers they can please/distract.

  91. Guys, you're missing the point. Consider what sort of message over sexualized female imagery sends to women: "You're not attractive enough!". Rational arguments to the contrary won't work, this sort of mind fuck bypasses the frontal lobes to burrow into parts of the ego not under conscious control. Whether the result of cultural conditioning or biology, I don't know, but it's been proven that the most reliable way to destroy a woman's libido is to make her feel unattractive. Guys, how would you like it if you were constantly reminded that you had a flaccid micro phallus? If I designed games and I wanted women to like me, I would be accommodating their egos, and if I was a typical 18-24 horny male, I'd be demanding games that made women feel good about themselves.

    • Unfortunately, what you're saying is "the point" really doesn't factor into the minds of game designers, game publishers, or even most game consumers. And looking at the rest of the entertainment and marketing world, I don't think it ever will. Hollywood hasn't changed its tune on 'ideal-female representation,' neither has the music industry, the fashion industry, or advertising. As nice as it might be to offer realistic representations of everyone everywhere, NO industry does that right now, and I don't see gaming being the first.

      I also don't think it's fair to act like this is a problem by guys. Girls create as much pressure if not more on each other to look a certain way. That's why my gf dresses however she wants and doesn't wear make-up when hanging out with me or my family, but refuses to ever hang out with her girlfriends without first doing her hair and spending a while 'getting ready.' Girls are the ones who gossip about each other's looks, guys never gossip about another guy's looks, or really about girls either. At least not in a negative sense, not that I've ever seen.

      The people perpetuating these stereotypes of what's "hot" or "not" tend to originate in the fashion industry, which sorry to say it, is full of females. Yes there are plenty of guys as well, many of them high up, but it still leans more to the female side. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. But before everyone points the blame at us, saying its our fault that there is an "ideal female standard" that "girls have to live up to" look at who created and is perpetuating that standard. Look at any women's clothing magazine and you'll find way more examples of over-sexualized idealized women than in a game.

      I think the author's points about including female avatars, choices for clothing, toning down the exaggerated nature of the over-sexualized characters, those are all valid and achievable points. Which will probably become more and more prevalent, as time goes on, more market research data supports the claims of female-gaming being on the rise, and more females enter the game design workplace.

      But game designers aren't going to abandon the attractive characters (male or female) just to accommodate our egos. The guys will always have rippled muscles, nice abs, and hair that never gets ruffled in combat, and the girls will probably always be thin and pretty.

  92. Guys, you’re missing the point. Consider what sort of message over sexualized female imagery sends to women: “You’re not attractive enough!”. Rational arguments to the contrary won’t work, this sort of mind fuck bypasses the frontal lobes to burrow into parts of the ego not under conscious control. Whether the result of cultural conditioning or biology, I don’t know, but it’s been proven that the most reliable way to destroy a woman’s libido is to make her feel unattractive. Guys, how would you like it if you were constantly reminded that you had a flaccid micro phallus? If I designed games and I wanted women to like me, I would be accommodating their egos, and if I was a typical 18-24 horny male, I’d be demanding games that made women feel good about themselves.

    • Unfortunately, what you’re saying is “the point” really doesn’t factor into the minds of game designers, game publishers, or even most game consumers. And looking at the rest of the entertainment and marketing world, I don’t think it ever will. Hollywood hasn’t changed its tune on ‘ideal-female representation,’ neither has the music industry, the fashion industry, or advertising. As nice as it might be to offer realistic representations of everyone everywhere, NO industry does that right now, and I don’t see gaming being the first.

      I also don’t think it’s fair to act like this is a problem by guys. Girls create as much pressure if not more on each other to look a certain way. That’s why my gf dresses however she wants and doesn’t wear make-up when hanging out with me or my family, but refuses to ever hang out with her girlfriends without first doing her hair and spending a while ‘getting ready.’ Girls are the ones who gossip about each other’s looks, guys never gossip about another guy’s looks, or really about girls either. At least not in a negative sense, not that I’ve ever seen.

      The people perpetuating these stereotypes of what’s “hot” or “not” tend to originate in the fashion industry, which sorry to say it, is full of females. Yes there are plenty of guys as well, many of them high up, but it still leans more to the female side. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. But before everyone points the blame at us, saying its our fault that there is an “ideal female standard” that “girls have to live up to” look at who created and is perpetuating that standard. Look at any women’s clothing magazine and you’ll find way more examples of over-sexualized idealized women than in a game.

      I think the author’s points about including female avatars, choices for clothing, toning down the exaggerated nature of the over-sexualized characters, those are all valid and achievable points. Which will probably become more and more prevalent, as time goes on, more market research data supports the claims of female-gaming being on the rise, and more females enter the game design workplace.

      But game designers aren’t going to abandon the attractive characters (male or female) just to accommodate our egos. The guys will always have rippled muscles, nice abs, and hair that never gets ruffled in combat, and the girls will probably always be thin and pretty.

      • Well-put. I wouldn't want to play as some guy with a beer-belly & comb-over, or some chick that seriously needs to stop eating 50 cookies everyday; and girls really do put pressure on each other (I learned loads about that in sociology). Humans like beauty, and we're not going to avoid it or create anti-beauty.

  93. Try out Neverwinter Nights 2. No slutty clothing for women in there. Same with almost all of the older RPG's. Irks me when all the examples are from a single game or a very small batch of games, making the whole field look distorted.

  94. Try out Neverwinter Nights 2. No slutty clothing for women in there. Same with almost all of the older RPG’s. Irks me when all the examples are from a single game or a very small batch of games, making the whole field look distorted.

  95. SK has made some valid points, although I would disagree with his statement that men don’t pick apart a woman’s looks. Maybe he and his friends are just really great people. Noone, though, singled out games as being the cause of the problem, just a symptom that can be bandaged by having choices. Of course the fashion industry is the greater culprit, no arguments there! Selling anything seems to come down to either building up or tearing down one’s self-image these days. But. I used a behavioral study to illustrate an effect of the symptom which we need to think about. Hypersexualized imagery, *among other imagery*’ (the use of fear in a certain news network comes to mind), are affecting us at the subconscious level. We are being manipulated for sales. Duh, I know, what a revelation, but it doesn’t mean we have to blindly accept it.

  96. "Guys, think about this. What would it be like if you logged on to your favorite game, and every piece of armor your warrior tried on was nothing more than a metal jock strap and a halter top? Sure, I might not mind looking at it—but you probably wouldn’t find it that thrilling.È

    Actually I wouldnt really care, since I am not an insecure teenager.

    Although I am not going to deny that video games are, for the most part, designed by and for manchildren.

  97. “Guys, think about this. What would it be like if you logged on to your favorite game, and every piece of armor your warrior tried on was nothing more than a metal jock strap and a halter top? Sure, I might not mind looking at it—but you probably wouldn’t find it that thrilling.È

    Actually I wouldnt really care, since I am not an insecure teenager.

    Although I am not going to deny that video games are, for the most part, designed by and for manchildren.

  98. I’m a male gamer, and I like the option of the “slutty” costumes for characters, but while I think it’s a fair option, the more “conservative” options in clothing should be available as well. If your going to make your characters customizable, spend a bit of time on the clothing rpg’s are supposed to be about inserting your self into a role, it’s kind of hard to do if your limited for costume choices. Come on you don’t see Hollywood dressing nuns like street walkers (well maybe in some bad “b” movies or porno’s) or the reverse. The game industry should be able to do better.

  99. Fantastic post!

    I think you've hit on a key point; which is the issue of choice. This argument is so frequently dismissed as some kind of feminist rage (which is certainly no less valid, but definitely minimally supported in the geek world) against all things revealing and all sexualisation of the female form. Yes, that is a definite issue; but the factor here is the one you have highlighted – that women who would like to play a character that dresses as they might when kicking various kinds of ass…

    I find that I don't place much priority on gaming as a female character; but perhaps this has been bred out of me as I've never had the option in certain games and the male characters are usually stronger and have better armour and weapons…

    Gaming has come to reflect the reality of society in so many other ways; wearing what we want should be an obvious element of that. Some may continue to want to wander around in thongs and bandages; I personally would like to be armoured to the hilt.

  100. Fantastic post!

    I think you’ve hit on a key point; which is the issue of choice. This argument is so frequently dismissed as some kind of feminist rage (which is certainly no less valid, but definitely minimally supported in the geek world) against all things revealing and all sexualisation of the female form. Yes, that is a definite issue; but the factor here is the one you have highlighted – that women who would like to play a character that dresses as they might when kicking various kinds of ass…

    I find that I don’t place much priority on gaming as a female character; but perhaps this has been bred out of me as I’ve never had the option in certain games and the male characters are usually stronger and have better armour and weapons…

    Gaming has come to reflect the reality of society in so many other ways; wearing what we want should be an obvious element of that. Some may continue to want to wander around in thongs and bandages; I personally would like to be armoured to the hilt.

  101. I think Dragon Age is a step at the right direction – at least their male characters are also buffed like porn stars (and not like mutants on steroids aka WoW). I had all my male companions running around in their tighty whities. Though I need cheats to compensate for the lack of armour… a scandalous-conservative settings for both gender will definitely be awesome.

    (yep I am a gay gamer, a less marginalized market)

  102. I think Dragon Age is a step at the right direction – at least their male characters are also buffed like porn stars (and not like mutants on steroids aka WoW). I had all my male companions running around in their tighty whities. Though I need cheats to compensate for the lack of armour… a scandalous-conservative settings for both gender will definitely be awesome.
    (yep I am a gay gamer, a less marginalized market)

  103. Honestly, I thought Dragon Age did fairly well. Yes some of the female armor was rather skimpy, but not all of it was. I would love to see more choice in apparel in games (when its that type of game, don’t really care what my character looks like in an FPS) for all genders, maybe I would like to have a metal jock strap (It worked in FFXI.) That alone seems a small issue though, even in games where it is much more pervasive. It should be noted that Bioware included TWO bisexuals, one of either gender, as well as a gender ambiguous character. I was rather excited about that, compared to their previous game (Mass Effect) where you could be a lesbian (sorta) but not gay.

    I think, overall, things are moving in the right direction, if a little slowly. The only thing that will really speed the process is if more women take an interest in Game Design. Dive into the modding community of your favorite game, pick up some c++ or other language, companies watch modding communities to see what the people change about their games. If you really want to make a splash, develop your own game. It doesn’t take much learn the basics of programming or 3D modeling or game art, and if you can get a few people working toward a common goal, even if none of you know anything starting out, you can produce something that can go viral and really catch the industries attention.

  104. My MMORPG of choice is RuneScape. More and more they add updates and make all the nice pretty female shirts into belly shirts. On the bright side, they still do a pretty good job providing *some* options for those of us not interested in showing our midriff (although, they also have plenty of options for short-shorts and sports bras). It is still a pain for otherwise cute shirts to only be available in that style–and remember that the demographic of the site is 13-15 year old boys. And call me crazy, but I’m not a huge fan of getting hit on by horny little boys.

  105. I just want to point out that you are complaining about the options of clothing being too revealing and this message box that I’m typing in right now has a woman wearing a tiny skirt and stepping out of her high heels. she has even scooted all the way to the edge of the chair in order to reveal as much of her legs as she can. . .

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m a guy and I think it is just plain stupid that all woman are running around in bikini armors. Nothing would thrill me more than having woman depicted equally in the cosmetic appearance department in video games. If not all of them, at least the MMOs. It is so restricting when everyone has to RP (sexy seduction) or (Young silly, cute, childish).

  106. Main diff between guy/girl gamers- "oh man, I heard you're weapons will be fully customizable and there will online play for 2v2, sounds likes its gonna be awesome"

    "Wtf do you mean my character can't have a vagina…..*loses interest in game*"

    oh please…PLEASE do not start catering games for this crap.

    • Hey now, you're placing stereo-types based solely on male/female. I'm a chick, and I don't care whether I play as a girl or guy (that's what my nieces/nephew care about); I do care about the gameplay–fully customizable weapons sound awesome!

  107. What are you even talking about with Dragon Age? You CAN choose non-slutty mage outfits. In fact, that's the first outfit you get, the slutty ones only show up later. And you can stick Morrigan's scantily-clad butt into real clothes pronto. And Dragon Age also features female dwarves, who for ONCE are short and curvy instead of stick-skinny! I found that hugely refreshing. I was more concerned about them giving us male mages and female warriors than anything else.

  108. I can't agree with you more, I'm a female gamer since 8 years back but I am seriously starting to loose interest more and more because of sexism. It's not only the games that is designed by men, but it is a bit in the entire culture. It's a meatmarket, and I'm sick and tired of drooling men slobbering around on conventions etc, or if they find out online that you are a female. Since a couple of years back I completely stopped playing online because of it. I don't really care how much you can personalize a character though, I just want the clothes, armours etc to have a realistic fit on a woman. And the woman to have realistic proportions. Is it really that much to ask for?

  109. I’m one of the females who loves things the way they are. I play WoW mainly, and I love the more revealing armor.
    I playe EQ2 for a while before it, and I HATED how puritan all of their equipment was.
    Bring on the sexy bikini plate armor any day over that mess.

  110. As someone who works on games this argument always drives me nuts. Every studio I've worked at has had plenty of female's in all departments and they have just as much input on the looks as the guys do. And you know what? Girls like the same range of looks as the guys do – it's all over the place with opinions. Trust me, you will never make every party happy. For every girl like you wishing for a more realistic character, there's one looking for an escape from reality with an over the top female heroine – just like guys with their male avatars.

    Really, what this argument is, is your opinion wrapped in a veil of fabricated sexism. My girlfriend for one, a gamer, loved the females ind Dragon Age (since you brought it up) and wondered why I didn't party with Morigan more – she had a hard time understanding my dislike of magic in the game.

    When ever I hear this kind of complaint though I wonder why you're not playing the games that do have more realistic female characters – instead of bashing the ones that don't. It's like saying "my FPS has too much shooting – FPS's aren't made for us non-shooters and should be".

    Just google and you can find plenty of lists of fun games with characters to your liking – since this complaint has been done to death by now. Go play Beyond Good and Evil, or Silent Hill 3, Rise of the Kasai, Wet, the Fable Series, Eternal Darkness, Mirror's Edge, Borderlands (siren) to name a few from the last 2 generations. But I'm sure since I'm a guy you'll have some reason why these are what a guy thinks a girl wants to play…

    Now then, if what you're really looking for is complete customization of your characters "that give us the choice to play how we want" – keep dreaming. We're a few years from that tech being a standard feature in any game you try to play.

    And FYI, the credits for Dragon Age show quite a few females on the team – who I'm sure had at least some feedback on the looks before it went to market.

    But if this upsets you so much – why don't you become a character modeler for games? or a concept artist at the least? They're both pretty in demand positions at any time… try actually showing people how it can be done instead of just waiting for someone else to do it for you. Just a thought…

  111. My wife and I enjoy attractive female AND male characters in both games and movies (and we imagine attractive characters when we read novels). My wife thought Snow from Final Fantasy 13 was hot (cute+charming), and he spent a lot of time shirtless, but that's pretty rare, most male characters are not designed to be appealing. That's a separate issue from disagreements over what is or isn't attractive (skin, boobs, muscles, attitude, submissiveness), that's a matter of taste, and its is also separate from whether a specific character SHOULD be attractive (does it add/subtract from the overall experience or story). I just think more of an effort should be made to make male characters attractive.

  112. I'm a female gamer, and even I think this bitch need to shut the hell up. I have no problem whatsoever with females in video games, and she should either, because ITS A FREAKING GAME. GET OVER IT.

  113. True True Alex. I LOVE oversexualized women in games, and I would rather play as a man most of the time anyways. It makes me mad that in Gears 3 there are playable women. Bull—-, no way a woman could be a COG soldier. Women just don't fit into a lot of roles in games, and you whiny feminists need to deal with it or go back to the kitchen.
    ——FEMALE Gamer

  114. I'm a male gamer, and even I think you're basically a gender traitor at this point. Are you seriously saying that offering the OPTION to be something other than Sluttina the Whorior Princess, without changing what's already there, is something that a "bitch need(s) to shut the hell up" about?

    And for Bob: "Now then, if what you're really looking for is complete customization of your characters "that give us the choice to play how we want" – keep dreaming. We're a few years from that tech being a standard feature in any game you try to play."

    Nice strawman, but that isn't necessary and you know it. She's asking for the City of Heroes type of customization, where there's plenty to make a character as modest or as fantastic as you desire on both sides of the gender spectrum. And even without that crazy level of customization, simply offering one or two alternative costumes/models, or a few proportion sliders, surely will not break a game's development cycle.

    Natania asks for just a few more options, again without changing what's already available, and you respond with essentially the same thing as telling a woman 50 years ago that if they want a job, they can be a secretary or seamstress and it just isn't possible or economically feasible to accommodate them anywhere else. It was transparently sexist BS then and it's just as much BS now.

  115. I agree with most of this. Women are typically over-sexualized (especially with no CHOICE as to be sexualized or not), and you have to play as a male in most games, which kinda sucks. And by the way I am a very heterosexual MALE!!! Nevertheless, I notice these things, and it's lame. I will point out briefly that males are often over sexualized as well (in a different way, where many males are "ultra males" that are ridiculously ripped and act extra manly), but the sexualization of women is far more common and "extreme". And the thing is, I don't mind seeing scantily clad women in principle (being a male), but I don't think it's relevant or appropriate for 95% of women in 95% of ALL games to be sexualized all the time. That common trend says a lot about our culture. And I can easily see how women would be annoyed by that. Same goes for gender choice in games. Of course in many games it may not be feasible to have a male and female protagonist (it might cost a lot more money in a very cinematic game with lots of dialogue), but at the same time, games have big budgets nowadays… And hey, you can be male or female in Mass effect 2, and that has tons of dialogue. If I were forced to play as a female almost all the time, that would be annoying. It still wouldn't prevent me from playing some of the better rated games, but it would still be super lame. And I often like playing multiplayer or coop games with friends (including my girlfriend), and it kind of sucks that she cannot be a girl in the vast majority of games. To me, this gender issue is not the end of the (gaming) world, but like I said, it reflects on the nature of our society. Sexism is often overlooked or shrugged off… what if it was racism instead? What if all black people in games were enslaved, or what if all white people were imperialistic douchebags?? Don't get offended by my example, I'm just trying to use a very obvious and simple example… Sexism, both subtle and non subtle are everywhere in our society. And there is nothing wrong with sexualization, but it has a time and place. If want to look at scantily clad boobs, I can easily find them almost anywhere. I don't play games because of boobs. I play games because I can shoot people with assault rifles, get vaporized by nukes, bomb something in an F-22, drive a lamborghini, play co-op or compete with friends online, or slay massive demons with my Vicious Broadsword with +10 to gut-ripping. It's just a matter of balance. Having sexualized characters here and there in games is fine, but having women so blatantly and constantly over-sexualized compared to the men is quite obviously a huge skew in our perception and treatment of the sexes. It's about balance and respect. And hey, about 50% of ALL HUMANS ARE FEMALE!!!! That's some big market share to gain if game designers stop being so retarded… :)

  116. you don't think any woman, ever, could be a COG soldier??? It's too bad that you think so poorly of your own sex… Maybe you just don't know any truly strong or badass women??? Yeah, maybe there would be more males in the COG army, but to say that there is no way a woman could be there is retarded.
    —— MALE Gamer

    • I don't want to see a female COG. Yes, maybe they should integrate women into more games, but come ON. When I play Gears, it's because it's dark and gritty, a testosterone fest. I don't want female soldiers, they end up being bitchy and annoying as hell.

      You're retarded for wanting a female COG.

    • I don't want to see a female COG. Yes, maybe they should integrate women into more games, but come ON. When I play Gears, it's because it's dark and gritty, a testosterone fest. I don't want female soldiers, they end up being bitchy and annoying as hell.

      You're retarded for wanting a female COG.

    • Women could most CERTAINLY be a COG soldier. Aren't there, I don't know, REAL female soldiers today? Women do fit a lot of roles in games, you (itsjustajumptotheleft) were obviously brought up on certain stereotypes that you feel only you can break, obviously. Hell, I don't like women either really. But I certainly know we're not useless. We can actually do things if we weren't told we couldn't.

  117. I'm not a woman, but I totally agree. I'm often playing female characters when it's possible because I want to know if it has any effect on details in the story, and if you have to accept female stereotypes in the game or not… thus, drastically said, if the game truly deserves the label role playing game or not. And I think if you have these options, it adds an extra facet to the game which you haven't when you play as a male character.

    But to be honest I also prefer female characters over male ones because of the visual aspect. But that doesn't mean I want slutty outfits. It just makes it harder to idetificate an to take the game serious. And often enough these outfits aren't even aesthetic.

  118. You make a very excellent point. I would like to defend at least the RPG I'm most familiar with, WoW. You DO have a choice there. Many pieces of armor are conservative. You can preview them before binding. True, a better piece of armor may also be more revealing, but that's a universal struggle of anything consumerist: cosmetics vs. utility.

  119. my thoughts exactly on the lara croft topic. i always liked the way that she suffers from having big boobs but anyways is more capable than many men who do not have that handicap.(yes: BIG BOOBS EQUALS HANDICAP , in many ways)
    she is really cool and strong, and capable.
    —-yet another girl gamer.

  120. One game saga that has impressed me with their representation of women is left 4 dead. In the first, Zoe is a girl who used to go to college before the apocalypse, but she wasn't the star student. Instead she fed her fascination with horror movies in her dorm, which ultimately help her when it all comes down and she is living out her zombie movies in real life. She is with 3 other dudes and she is dressed in a zip up hoodie, t shirst and jeans. Her breasts are also proportioned to that of a normal woman. Her hair is also in just a simple ponytail. No ridiculously long tresses. In left 4 dead 2, it is also a 3 to 1 guy to girl ratio, but Rochelle is equally politely dressed. She is in jeans and a t shirt. No sloping necklines or crazy big boobs. One thing I was a little frustrated with, as a female gamer, is the fact that the guys never even noticed either of them in a romantic or physical manner (and really, in an apocolypse where the only woman they know to be alive is right with them it does seem a little unrealistic). However in the game add on to left 4 dead 2, The Passing, the characters from the two games meet and a little romance and physical attraction is referred to. Ellis, one of the guys from left 4 dead 2, notices zoe by saying something like "that is the prettiest girl I have ever seen". In addition, Francis, a guy from left 4 dead the first one, notices Rochelle by saying she is a "beautiful lady" and Ellis teases Rochelle by saying she has a crush on Francis, which Rochelle shyly denies in a way where you know what she REALLY thinks. So kudos to Valve and the Left 4 dead creators for being realistic.

  121. I know the Monster Hunter series is quite the offender for what you've written about. Not to say that all the armor you can obtain for female characters is revealing and scanty, but most. Kirin armor is worth a Google.

  122. I think the problem we're running into here is the difference between "sexy" and "slutty".
    I think most women don't have a problem with playing sexy women. After all, who wants to play a game in which they're frumpy? Sexy is fine.

    It's just that a lot of games these days don't have sexy women, they have slutty-looking women (Bayonetta is the worst example). Your normal, well-adjusted woman does not like to be treated like a piece of meat, it's degrading and insulting, and to see so many female characters in games being portrayed as such makes us understandably cross.

    Please, instead of telling us to just put up with it, could you be a bit more understanding? Or supportive? After all, if men were in the position of having to play as male strippers all the time you'd be whinging just as much as we are.

    Thanks to all you lovelies who have thrown us your support. :)

    • Good distinction. I think it's fun playing as a sexy character (female or male) for the fantasy of it. However, I would not want to be in a virtual situation where the character's disposition was less focused on heroism than attention from the fellas (or ladies, depending on the gender of the character).

  123. I just dont like women in games that look like an artificial fantasy from some big-breast loving artist.
    I mean, I am a man and I love women (and breasts – big ones too!), but its simply stupid to see a medieval girl at freezing temperatures with armor that barely covers 50% of her body while her boobs look like she just had some new implants. Its just stupid.

    But I have to say that theres also sometimes the opposite situation when I want to create my male character and simply find that all the males look either gay or like they are He-Man or Schwarzenegger. That actually makes me create a female character very often.

  124. i would love to play some of the games you all do. but since no developer can or will deveelop any of those games using only one button or two at most and for pc then i for one cannot join your ranks. i physically cannot do so being too arthritic. but i know other gamers with fingers missing and they have the same problem. not enough digits to play the games on standard gaming machines. as far as the designers and characters go, i know of only one female designer. and she made all the characters almost so androgynous that at times you couldnt tell the sexes apart except by name and by what they used and the characters apart from some of the animals.

  125. i agree but this of how much harder it would be for the designers it make it so you can customize the lengths of your armor? it would be a pain in the ass to design and make happen, then they would have to do the same thing for male characters or it wouldn't be fair. and that would take up a TON of space on the disk
    and its still true that most people who play rpg's are men. and most men i know who play rpg's play as female simply because . its funner to watch a sexy female character run around than a huge dude

    there are conservative mage robes. i have seen them.
    the best mage robes

  126. Great piece. Well-considered, well-written and excellent food for thought. I'll admit I'd never really thought about until reading this, but now I find myself in agreement.

    Regards,

    Sean.

  127. And, in the other hand, male characters in video games are also an stereotype of big-muscle-superhero-guy.

    I can't play as a XXXL or XXXS character. I can't pick his physiognomy. They're all goodlooking heros and we neither have much to say about it.

    Women have to show some skin, while men have to be so "macho".

    The fact that you win or loose about it is a mere fact of likeness.

    Greets.

  128. You know who you never hear complain about women being over sexualized in games, movies, tv etc.?

    Hot chicks.

    Jealousy and insecurity causing catty an haterific behaviors toward a pixelated female is a far bigger issue than the size of Lara Crofts boobs.
    Maybe you should see someone about that….

    • Not just hot chicks, just chicks that have self-confidence. I wouldn't call myself hot, but I'm not intimidated or upset by female avatars. Sure, I realize that their boobs are bigger, waists are thinner, but they're just avatars, nothing I should be upset about. I used to get upset, but I also used to lack self-confidence. Now I know better.

  129. This is something I've sorta been noticing for quite a long time. Other than something like second life or maybe WoW custom skins (or farmville?), there's not a great representation of "real world" type women in the videogame world; it's mostly either sex symbols/stereotypes (including the nothing-but-pink world of the barbie DS games), or what appears to be a male figure with a model swap. I do wonder why that may be… and is it a cause, or an effect of the (diminishing but existent) gender imbalance in the gaming population?

    Seems to have got worse since the days of SMB2 or Soul Blade (the fairly conservatively dressed, feminine, but still on a righteous ass-kicking mission from the gods Sophitita), too. Can't even really allow things like Lady Sia or Mass Effect, or Nintendogs, because they're either further examples of model-swap, or have no identifiable protagonist "inside" the game (though this itself can be a useful inclusion method to encourage a wider range of non-"traditional" gamers to have a go). And the Wii Miis are just chess pawns with a quite limited range of customisation that alters depending on which box you tick…

    Maybe a few more devs should take the plunge and see what the outcome is.
    Heck, though it's a possibly sexist suggestion in of itself, a protagonist in a midi skirt or dress, rather than bikini, microskirt/shorts-and-halter, or unisex/generally male attire? (Which may change the play dynamic all by itself)

    Hmm.

  130. Is it weird that, as a girl gamer, if given the choice between playing as two characters, i'll always choose the guy? Example: On Resident Evil (wii) I'll ALWAYS be Leon S. Kennedy. Guys always seem more kick-ass, to me.

  131. monster hunter does a pretty good job on the armor part for both girls and guys. usually it seems the armor definitely leans more towards sex appeal for girls, although i believe the fantasy rule is the less armor covering for women the better protection it offers. perhaps they are being wise in that most women couldnt match a guys strength so they use wits and speed to defeat them, as in isabela cap'n of the sirens call. personally i think theres a time to look good and a time to fight and the only thing that matters is if your standing at the end.

  132. I appreciate your article! I've been doing research on this topic for about a year and I'm sure that many female gamers share your sentiments. Good work!

    • I'm surprised nobody mentioned the RTS scene.I find it discriminating and perhaps male bashing too if you look at it this way that all units in nearly all RTS games i know are male.They're little people and if the game doesn't have zoom maybe it won't matter anymore if they're female and dressed too hot, but that does not mean they cannot be as good in battle as men.
      I'm a gamer woman too and with a bit more than average experience in gaming for a woman .i'm enough attractive myself for my 30's and i do not mind at all being overly sexual or slutty in a game.I'd rather be a decent lady in real life and be a Whore Warrior in a game than the other way around, cos this is what a game is about : Being more than you are/can/wanna be than in real life.
      I believe only wide range of customization can make peace between genders, nothing else.Who wants to dress like a islam woman or a nun it's their choice , who wants to look like a porn star it's their choice and no one should judge them for what they wanna be in a virtual world.
      And who says someone looking hot cannot kick ass too.As for the too skimy armors that's not relevant because the armor can be just a metal bathing suit and enchanted and can offer more protection than the heaviest and most covering knight armor.Some people are really quick to argue and forget the little details.

      So if a game is not rewarding and gratifying with all the action it can offer ( nudity and sexualization included ) then what is it for ? Nerve consuming ?
      We have our jobs for that and the world we live in with all its issues.
      Grow up and get over it.Rate sexual and violent games with 18+ , 21 + , sell them under adult material regulations and that's that but don't censore the content so it can cater to kids , backward moms and puritan xtians and leave you the adult to play a game who's been altered unnecessarily.

      Just my opinions on this matter

  133. I just sayid everything I´ve been thinking for a long time. And manga-anime are like that too. I could never love a female character because they are mostly sexual objects or just plain idiots. Thank u for writing this!

    • Do you get upset when the main character in a movie is a man?
      Did it bother you that Neo, Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker were men?

      If a strange sound is coming from your car engine, do you worry that it's because your car is painted in one particular colour? Are you choosing form over function?

      When you throw a spell with your mage in the game, do the special effects of the spell matter to you more than the actual effect of the spell?

      Don't play looking for pretty. Don't play looking for flashy. Don't play looking for realism.

      Play for gameplay. Play for fun.

      • That is what they are saying in that post. They are saying the women are nothing but sex icons, and there is no real character to them, therefore, they don't really contribute to gameplay.

  134. To the woman who wrote this article…. you are the WORST kind of gamer. And just to let you know, we 'real' gamer girls don't like you, don't agree with you, and don't want you in our world. I'm sorry if you're either so blatantly ashamed of yourself (and women) as desirable creatures, or that you have some misguided brain malfunction that tells you that everything needs you to rush in and "fix" it; but games are fine – put down the controller and step away slowly. You don't belong here.
    People have a misconception that gamer girls are something that need to be forged and catered to and pampered like whiny little babies. No. You're a gamer if you like games, not because you cried enough to get your own way. Whiny feminists make me physically nauseous. And the worst part is that they think they are doing some kind of a favor for womankind. Yeah, you aren't. I have never once played a game and felt like I had "stepped into a man's world" or that "I wasn't even considered" – Maybe that says more about *you* than it does about the game. You feeling like you 'stepped into a man's world' sounds to me like you were raised to believe that there's a difference. Maybe you had a preconception and you projected that onto the game, just looking for a reason to be offended or feel like you were being in some way insulted or ignored. And the fact that you feel like you 'weren't even considered' during the making of the game makes me think that you have an unhealthy need for validation. Here's a piece of news for you, *YOU* weren't considered. You know who they consider when they make a game? GAMERS – not girl gamers, not guy gamers, just gamers. And fans. Neither of which you are. So no, nobody making the game cared whether or not they were being attentive to your feelings.
    I'm a girl, and most of the time in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect I play my character as a guy – you know why? Because the guy characters are dead sexy. They're big, muscled bad-asses and perfect specimens of manliness. Yeah, that's right – I objectify them.
    Honestly, as a gamer, as a girl, and as someone who works in the video game industry, I just really couldn't be more disgusted right now.

    • Holy hell. Calm down. The writer of this article isn't being extreme feminist, I think she's just trying to ask for choice. Maybe I wanna dress as a stripper man/gal, maybe I don't, but having the choice would be nice. It doesn't make me stop playing a game; I'll play Soul Calibur II, often as Sueng Mina with her most revealing outfit just coz I like how it looks. However, if my friend likes playing as Ivy, he/she can wear the cleavage-bearing purple outfit (which I like coz I like purple lol) or the conservative-looking blue outfit. And I'm cool with that–it doesn't matter, but the choice of different options is there. I mean, hey, I'd like to see a little more skin on Kilik, but they don't offer much of an array of skin-revealing costumes for him. I'm still content, but having the option would be nice. And I must say, I'm glad that 14 year-old Talim has conservative outfit options. The aesthetics are more important than anything, I'd say; if a revealing outfit looks nice or is interesting, awesome–same goes for covering outfits–but I wouldn't want a single colour bikini or a plain black nun habit and no other option.
      The author may be a bit on the feminist side, but she's just asking for options, change & consideration for the masses, not the cancellation of video games or little outfits.

  135. I don't mind how video games are, but this article articulates how I'd say most girls feel. Personally, I don't think it's "offensive" or particularly "one-sided" in some cases–Programmers have the ability to make an avatar how they want, why not with big boobs? I would, even if it was just for the lolz. And hey, they make guys look pretty fine too, fighter games (the Soul Calibur series, for example) will have shirtless guys with nice abs as well as well-endowed women. Video games create no more body-insecurity for women & men than dolls, toys, or the media in general (i.e. celebrities, photos-hopped magazines). But hey, it would be nice to have the option of how much one's character is covered-up/revealed.

  136. You pretty much said most of it but I like to think women having better shopping taste, so we like only excellent games. Maybe that's not true for everyone, but still….

  137. I'm a female and I dont find it offensive or anything that most of the female characters wear sexy clothing. I love Morrigans clothes :)
    It's fantasy, so I think that as a female player it lets us play a sort of other version of ourself that plays upon our own fantasies (eg: looking and dressing that way perhaps).
    To me it makes the characters more confident. My character has very short skimpy armour and I think she looks cool. I have a bit of a crush on her (even though i'm not that way inclined..). But anyway, there are certainly plenty of games with sexy guys in them, its just that girls have enough imagination not to need to see guys in sexy clothes-in fact alot of the outfits they wear ARE sexy…I mean, i'm not sure about other girls but I dont find guys wandering around in male g-strings or anything like that sexy to be honest. With the exception of Zevran but he would still be sexy wearing a plastic bag LoL.

  138. look im a guy and sure i enjoy whats been put in games for the female gender but there has to be a boundary line

  139. Don't want to be an asshole but I do think it's a bit ridiculous that you avoid games because you don't get to play as a girl. I'm a guy and have been playing games all my life. I've recently been playing through the Metroid Prime games, where you play as a woman named Samus Aran. She so NOT overly sexualized, a lot of people go through the games not knowing it's a girl until the end, I had no problem with this at all. Metroid Prime 1 was easily one of my favorite games of all time, I didn't spend the cutscenes staring at her, she was a badass, she could be taken seriously. All I'm saying is you're missing out on some great games if you reject them just because you can't play a female.

  140. If I start seeing pink lances and such in my games in an attempt to appeal to women gamers I'm done with the industry. Give me death, blood and violence. So sick of the "you must barbify games to make girls want to play them".

    Fie on that trope I say. I'll be playing MVC3, let me know when the attempt to girlify everything is over.

  141. Yeah. I completely agree with this article. Even in a recent game I got that is extremely customizable, the smallest i could get my female characters boobs was a C. It kinda disturbed me how that worked cause I'm not a big fan of excess fat int he realm. Also it seemed quite unreasonable to be fighting monsters in an outfit that… well let's just say my underwear covers up more.

  142. When I saw that part about playing a game where all the dudes wore male stripper clothes, I finally understood your point.

  143. I think it should be noted most RPG games are based in the middle ages not making an excuse for the "sluttly image" but most females back then that were known to us magic were in some part succubi. Which would be sluttly in general just an observation but I do agree not having a choice is a little ridiculous.

  144. I really liked reading this article!
    Your points are very important, and as an avid Gamer AND A game designer, there simply aernt enough female opinions being brought forward. Although in past years, this has changed a little
    I will still play a game, even if i am a male character, but i don't feel as if i am as involved. I have also discovered while playing games that alot of male gamers still don't agree with female players, which causes issuses on top of sometimes not being able to choose characters. if a female is playing a game but as a male character, amle gamers will talk to you, but often when they then find out you are infact female, sexism is strucck upon you! And i feel that if you could be a female character in the first place, this situation wouldn't occur and Male players would sooner ignore you.

    I love the Lara Croft Series, and even though she is portrayed incorrectly/inapropriatly, i still enjoyed the game due to her power and strength as a female.
    Going on from Lara Croft, i can't help but feel this is where tables turn, surely Male gamers would of like to play a male character through this series, just like us women desire to play as females?

  145. I have to agree that the slutty female stereotype is very present in nearly every game, even those that you let play as a female character. This is a fact that has been pointed out again and again. But no one really ever mentions that the male stereotype is there as well. Yes, his armor may cover him more, but take a look at his frame. He probably has big muscles, a charming tough-guy personality, and pick-up lines that never fail. Stereotypes of ALL types are alive and well and I'm sure some psychiatrist would say that it is a reflection of what we perceive as the 'ideal' image of ourselves and others.