Sexism in Video Games: Research, Reason and Rebellion

Part 1: Professional Victimhood and Yellow Gaming Journalism

Part 2: Video Game Violence & Misogyny: A Brief History of Media Scares

In our first video in our sexism in video games series, which we affectionately refer to as the #Messiah Trilogy, we made mention of a book titled “The Proteus Paradox” by Nick Yee. The Proteus Paradox is a collection of data collected in the Daedalus Project, a study of how politics, superstitions, and various social norms infiltrate the blank slate of online gaming. While the Proteus Paradox shows some amazing data in regards to online behavior, from MMO marriages to how avatar customization can be used to influence those around you, we focused on Chapter 6: The Locker Room Utopia for the data regarding how gaming is still a largely male-dominated past time. While there are instances of sexism in gaming, what is more startling is that it’s not the biggest hurdle in making gaming a socially acceptable past time for women. A few of the biggest detriments to women being equally accepted as gamers include the perceptions that most women are iPhone and Angry Bird “casual gamers”, which could lead to a general lack of respect for female gamers when they are in positions of decision making in MMORPGs. And even picking up a video game at the local game shop could be an adventure in social stigmas. Additionally, there are reports of general harassment towards female gamers in that -besides the usual “smack-talking” abuse suffered by both men and women alike- some female gamers feel as though they’re somehow ‘required’ to prove the legitimacy of their real life gender, through pictures or web cam video,  to other gamers.

And of course, there’s the issues of female sexuality in video games. No doubt sex-appeal is a major marketing push for video game protagonists, but exactly how is sex-appeal in video games any different from other established mediums of entertainment? Is sex-appeal gender-exclusive, or are both male and female video game characters modeled and crafted to give the gamer a higher sense of empowerment? And what of the real-life women who, drawing inspiration from these sexualized female characters, cosplay as these very same video game characters? Are we meant to lose all reverence and respect for video game characters who show a little bit of skin? Additionally, the feminist vote appears to be split on the topic of the sexual nature of female game characters, with a female character being one feminist’s sexy and confident role-model, and another feminist’s oppressed fuck-toy.

However, according to Nick Yee’s book, there’s testimony from female gamers that suggest that they wouldn’t mind the sexy female characters if, say, male characters had a bit more ‘umph’ where it counts. Can we dare to speculate that people of both genders can actually enjoy sexuality? Le gasp!

B-mask

B-Mask was not always a purveyor of animation. Having credentials ranging from frog slinger to hash seller, he has experienced life to its fullest extreme from under his tiny rock. He hosts the series known as Beyond Pictures which aims to look beneath the surface of works- understandably difficult in this day and age.

CineMax

A subversive excommunicated from [REDACTED] as a result of a failed coup d'etat, CineMax has miraculously managed to reach and find asylum in the Land of the Free. Here he spends his days working for Cheshire Cat Studios, all the while plotting his inevitable return to the motherland to once again foment the flames of revolution.

The Fuboo

Artists, Wife, Mother of three, aaaaaand full time dork. WARNING: Easily Angered. http://inverted-mind-inc.deviantart.com/

LaughingMan

The loveable lunatic with the foul mouth and the iconic laugh, Laughingman is the founder of CCS. With more coffee than copper in his bloodstream, he's a full-time website developer by day, and a gamer, editor, and fiction writer by night.

One Comment on “Sexism in Video Games: Research, Reason and Rebellion

  1. First of all, freaking awesome to see this topic come to a close so gracefully. When Laughingman mentions that “The sex of a character has very little to do with how good the game is,” I started to think that, before anyone had figured out Samus Aran was a female, who really cared of the gender? Metroid was a great game and people didn’t need to nor cared to know what the gender was just that the game was a good and that it kept them entertained. Which would be the same if, let’s say, Link [As stupid as this sounds just bare with me] were revealed to be a female. Would that change anyone’s opinion on the games? No. The character… Maybe. They would be up in arms about it, sure, but that doesn’t mean it would stop several people from liking the games.

Leave a Reply