It’s A Shame That Sexism Towards Female Characters Is Still Strong In The Video Game Community

Remember Zoë Quinn? If not, let me jog your memory. Quinn is a video game developer, who was forced out of her home after she was hit time and time again with harassing comments. In the same month, an openly feminist critic and commentator, Anita Sarkeesian, was also forced out of her home after internet trolls continuously sent threatening and misogynistic messages to her. In the same year, Brianna Wu and her husband were both forced to flee their family home after Wu received death threats from a twitter account called “Death to Brianna”. If you can’t see why this is a problem, then you’re part of the issue we still face today. This was all back in 2015, and the thing is, we’re still seeing disgusting lack of respect for not only developers but female characters in games who aren’t even real, I mean, seriously? You’re angry because there’s a female protagonist? Get real and grow up.

Source: Tech.Mic

More recently, a QA tester for the 2016 hit game, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was so “upset” with the addition of a couple of female characters in the game that the game’s director had asked him to leave. What’s wrong with having a woman in a game? Nothing. What’s wrong with developing a woman to be a character in a game? Nothing. Adult women, now, are the biggest demographic in gaming and the group of gamers is far larger than that of teenage boys, however the gaming industry has done basically nothing to try and make their new consumers feel welcome. Not to mention the gaming community using the female gamers for their own personal gain on YouTube with videos like “sexiest gamers of all time” – lists which consist mainly of females.

Pointless videos showing female gamers as ‘sexy’

Sexism is a reality we still face in the gaming community and honestly, I’m pissed off about it. Female gamers constantly face vile comments, sexual harassment at conventions – where every member of the community are supposed to feel safe and at home – and objectification of female videogame characters. I’m not an active feminist but if I see something that isn’t right I’m not going to be the one to stand back and ignore it. Change doesn’t happen unless we actively battle the issue at hand, and the issue isn’t with female characters being introduced, it’s with people having trouble grasping the fact that we don’t live in the middle-ages anymore.

Breaking down some releases from Bethesda, Microsoft, Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo and Square Enix – 76 games to be exact – there were only 7 games that had a female protagonist that you had to play as. If you’re whining that you’re forced to play as a female character, then compare that to the other twenty-four that force you to play as a male. A good change that we saw though, was that 35 of these games included a choice between the two however only one game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo of 2015 marketed itself using a female protagonist.

Anita Sarkeesian mentioned a phenomenon which is pretty obvious in gaming, where woman as seen as rewards:

When women (or more often women’s bodies) are employed as rewards for player actions in video games. The trope frames female bodies as collectible, as tractable or as consumable, and positions women as status symbols designed to validate the masculinity of presumed straight male players.

And she’s not wrong in saying this, as in most games – notably The Witcher franchise – saving a female character often leads to the protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, being able to get more than just a “thank you” and frequently leads to sex scenes in the game. As well as this, there are also many pointless easter eggs in games that just don’t need to have their inclusion – for example, the 2002 release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 had a cheat where you could unlock a secret character called Daisy who, as opposed to the regular skaters we used, showed off a pointless number of moves. These were all very similar to that of a stripper.

Sarkeesian pointed out very well that these little things we see in games communicate to their players that woman exist in games with the sole intention that players can exploit them for their own amusement, and while you may disagree with these comments it’s kinda true. If it wasn’t, why would we need to see a sex scene? To add insult to injury, players of the original Witcher game are able to collect cards after each sexual conquest as if it was some sort of achievement to sleep with someone. Another pointless unlockable in the Resident Evil franchise is the ability to allow the female characters to wear other, more revealing clothes – these all come with the choice of not using them, but why just the female characters? Why give them these outfits in the first place? You’re killing zombies for christ sake.

Alternative outfits for the female characters of the Resident Evil franchise

There are many other notable games that reward you for your choice of woman, which is pretty stupid and disgusting – notably in Sid Meier’s Pirates! where marrying a girl deemed less beautiful by the game’s standards, will reduce your chance of becoming successful… why? You’re basing the player’s overall ability of becoming the best pirate in the sea over how ‘hot’ a 3D character in a game is.

Other games like God of War III give the player a trophy for having a sexual encounter with a woman. “Rockin’ the Boat” trophy in God of War (2005), the “Hero’s Welcome” trophy in God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010) and the “Two Girls, One Spartan” trophy in God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008) are all trophies related to sexual conquests in the games. Now, tell me, how is this supposed to help fans of the series recognise that girls aren’t just there for your own sexual gain? These things are seen as, by Sarkeesian, “trophyism”:

Trophyism is the tendency for men to view women as objects to be collected and displayed as status symbols of their sexual progress or virility. These “trophy women” then serve as a way for men to assert their social status among and relative to other men.

And honestly, I can’t help but agree. There is no need for these kind of things to happen and you shouldn’t have to have sex with someone just to get platinum in a game. At the end of the day, we’re all equal here, regardless of gender. And this should be shown in the gaming industry. But, enough from my ranting, we’d like to hear from you – even if you don’t agree – so let us know down below in the comments.

Have your say!

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  1. Oh, enough of this crap.

    • Care to elaborate?

      • That depends. Can I expect serious discourse, instead of every point being relegated to “male privilege” or “power fantasies” or some such? SHOULD I expect what I say to be seriously considered instead of dismissed because reasons? Honestly, I roll my eyes at these articles because they assume so much, and almost everything under the sun serves to support those assumptions, somehow or another.

        If I can be assured that it won’t be another “men are wrong because they’re men” type of thing, I don’t mind elaborating.

        • This was never anything to bash men. It’s pointing out the blindingly obvious issue that females in the gaming community don’t get the same sort of respect and safeguarding that men do. Not saying that men don’t get the same comments sometimes, but it’s far less of an occurrence.

          • And there it goes.

            “females in the gaming community don’t get the same sort of respect and safeguarding that men do.”

            I can’t claim to have been around since gaming’s infancy, but I CAN say I’ve been in it at least since the advent of online play. There’s no such thing as respect and safeguarding. Quite frankly, that’s a fallacy.

            ” it’s far less of an occurrence.”

            Again, fallacy. It’s almost as if the ridiculous levels of disrespect, insults, racial slurs and so on didn’t exist until women started gaming. There were death threats to people LONG before the likes of Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, or Brianna Wu; why act like they should be shielded from that treatment when no one else is?

            You say “all back in 2015,” but that’s misinformed. ALL of this started years prior. It goes back at least as far as Sarkeesian’s first attempts to label ALL of gaming as sexist, and if you note the examples she used, they were horrible ones. Yet she persisted, and somehow her narrative became the ONLY right one. There were supposed death threats against her- which I don’t recall any law enforcement agency ever calling legitimate- and the internet community’s own digging seemed to have found that some of the accounts involved were duplicates of people affiliated with her. I DO recall, however, at least one sicko that was perhaps obsessed with her; he was the exception, though, rather than the rule.

            Honestly, I can’t speak on the Wu part. I didn’t get as involved with whatever was going on with her, but if she’s anything like the other two, most of the drama surrounding her was fabricated, as well. That said, I can’t be sure, so I won’t say anything more than that on the matter- not really into looking that up at the moment.

            Zoe got wrapped up in some stupidity, partly of her own making. She was accused- and I can’t recall anything to the contrary- of sleeping with someone from a gaming site who then praised and promoted her game. Quinn’s alleged misdeeds- and the lengths to which the gaming media went to keep that and other suspicions happenings under wraps- are what started GamerGate in the first place. Somehow, though, THAT all became anti-women, too, which was weird: all anybody in that group ever said was “Be transparent,” yet that somehow became a meme representing GG’s “hypocrisy.”

            The survey cited to claim women make up the most of gamers… all this time, they absolutely refuse to explain how the questions were phrased. That means people who only play facebook games, or games on their phones/tablets(like my girlfriend and her mom) could be categorized as gamers. Fair enough, but you and I and everyone in the industry knows the folks that only play that stuff don’t drive the market like people who buy consoles or handhelds or line up at midnight for big releases. That aforementioned group? Almost all men. (And unless things are drastically different in the rest of the world, teen boys haven’t been the largest demographic in years; odd that that keeps getting reported, when people my age- in their thirties, have been the largest for some time.) Not trying to downplay the importance of that group, but trying to show that this desired focus on them is misplaced, as they’re NOT the ones driving or supporting the industry.

            You talk about “using the female gamers for their own personal gain on YouTube,” but neglect to mention that women, themselves frequently use their sex appeal to draw men in. Yes, in gaming, too. But that’s never taken into consideration, unless someone makes the bizarre argument that women who aren’t ashamed of using their sex appeal are degrading themselves for men… which is in direct discord with the argument that men shouldn’t shame women for how they look or reduce them to JUST their looks.

            There’s talk of 76 games you looked at from a number of developers where you note that only seven MAKE you play as a female protagonist. So? This ties in with previous points, but gaming is STILL male-dominated, on both the consumption and the production sides. Stands to reason those games would most likely have male protagonists. That doesn’t make gaming sexist any more than romance novels that cater to women are sexist against men. (I’ll use that example to more effect later, unless I forget.)

            You mention “most games” having a woman- or her body, since you quoted Sarkeesian- as a prize. Didn’t see anybody bitching about this when it came to Twilight. Wonder why that is? After all, you have two guys fighting and going through a bunch of crap to win Bella; why isn’t that sexist? It’s the same damn thing, but written from a woman’s perspective? Oh, and that’s a bit of a tangent, too: I wanted to talk about the “most games” part of that. See, I can list entire genres where that’s not the case, to say nothing of individual games or franchises. Massive bit of hyperbole there, claiming it’s most games.

            “Sarkeesian pointed out very well that these little things we see in games communicate to their players that woman exist in games with the sole intention that players can exploit them for their own amusement, and while you may disagree with these comments it’s kinda true.”

            Well, no, it’s not kinda true. In the games in which these things DO happen, it’s part of the genre. To use The Witcher as an example, that’s the sort of reward the hero gets in fantasy settings like that. Those setting are based largely on medieval times; the romantic view of those days is that the brave knight would risk his life facing grave dangers, and his just rewards for being willing to sacrifice of himself like that was the otherwise unobtainable pure grail that was a chaste, pure woman. Does that, to you, sound like a woman is nothing more than something for amusement? In reality, that was more likely to be the case, but in the tales we’re all told, that good woman is something a man has to work hard to deserve.

            “You’re killing zombies for christ sake.”

            So what does it REALLY matter what the women are wearing? Furthermore, it’s freaking OPTIONAL. You can choose not to use the costumes. And last I checked, enjoying the female form doesn’t constitute sexism. Seems like, somehow, that’s been forgotten in all this.

            “where marrying a girl deemed less beautiful by the game’s standards, will reduce your chance of becoming successful… why?”

            Use CONTEXT. You’re a pirate. There’s a particular era that goes with, isn’t there? And there were- and still are- particular standards of beauty inherent to that time. Particularly in the past, your station in life would determine the “quality” of spouse you could expect. Got money and status and lineage? You get the hottie. Got a tiny-ass farm with three sheep and just one cow? Odds are the most beautiful woman in the land isn’t going to be yours. For that matter, if you WERE quite lovely but low-born, expect, as a woman, to be able to marry above your station. Again, that may not have been the most gender-fair way to do things, but it’s freaking reality(or was).

            “how is this supposed to help fans of the series recognise that girls aren’t just there for your own sexual gain?”

            What I’d like to know is how you or anyone thinks this transfers to anything BEYOND the context of that particular game? Do you think GTA teachers gamers they can drive over pedestrians and take their money without consequence? Does Call of Duty teach gamers they can quick-scope in real life? Does Mario teach us we can respawn when we die? No? Then why the hell is anyone zeroing in on this ONE thing as if it’ll somehow affect gamers in a way the other things don’t?

            Other commenters have already brought it up, but this so-called mistreatment of fictional characters doesn’t translate into anything beyond gaming.

            Have you ever stopped to imagine the other side of this very stupid coin? What message does it send that men are almost always the bad guys, the MAIN bad guys, people for whom there is no redemption? Expendable? You mow down millions of faceless mooks in games, and 99% of them are men. They’re cannon fodder, with only the good looking protagonist and ugly/attractive villains standing out. What do us average guys gain from seeing only the handsome, fit dudes succeed? Or does that not matter?

            Now- because I really did forget, but it kinda fits here- on to those romance novels and the like. Those works, catered towards women, build men up to be eye candy, to be prizes to be won. Sometimes they’re smart, but as often their redeeming quality is their looks, usually coupled with their money or other status. That’s how men are often seen: as meal tickets, safety blankets. Whatever Grey wasn’t interesting because of his intellect; women were drawn to him because of his looks and power. Not just in the books/movie, but that refers to the audience that ate up the series, too. He’s as shallow as they come, and NOBODY CARES. This depiction is nothing new; ever notice the guys on the covers of those romance fantasies for women? They’re more Fabio than Frank, but Frank doesn’t care. At most, he thinks it’s a waste of time; he’s not gonna get all up in arms because his wife asks why he can’t be muscly and blond and super-useful like Fabio… well, he might, if she harps on about that. He won’t start a campaign to rid romance novels of shallow male leads who serve as the goal for the female protagonists in the books. He won’t call for a change to romance movies that most certainly cater more to women’s tastes than men’s. He won’t petition Cosmo and other magazines to write more articles from a man’s perspective.

            Those things are meant to appeal to women, and so some things are exaggerated or simplified to cater to those sensibilities. There’s not a damn thing wrong with that, and sometimes, if he’s not being full of himself and realizes that it wasn’t created with him in mind, a man can enjoy those things for what they are. The Twilight series doesn’t have a whole lot of what I’d like to see in a book about the supernatural, or one that contains a somewhat difficult to resolve love triangle; but I can see why it appeals to women the way it does, and I enjoy them for the books they are. If I want something else, I’ll read something else. And if it’s not there, then I’ll write it. (And I do; I may not be published yet, but I’d say I’m prolific when it comes to writing. Even so, I don’t have many true female protagonists, and my biggest one is more of a princess in her first adventure than anything. Does that make me sexist? I highly doubt it. There are sex scenes in my books, too, which I could have done without. Is that sexist, too? Nope; does help to flesh out characters and their world, their relationships with each other, and so on. It’s a real thing that happens, sometimes for no reason other than the two people were horny. Big deal.)

            Probably the biggest issue can be boiled down to one simple word: trope. The way Sarkeesian uses it- and the way you use it as you follow her- is in a way that ANY character can be broken down to. Ever visited tvtropes? That site breaks EVERYTHING down into tropes. The problem is that a game- or a show, or a book, or a movie- is more than just tropes. And so are characters. When you say “This character is only there for her boobs,” you almost ALWAYS miss out on everything else that character is about.

            Nevermind that Bayonetta is a powerful woman who does what the hell she wants; she’s only there for the sex appeal, right?

            Who cares that Quiet is a total badass; all that matters is how little she wears, right?

            It doesn’t matter that Tifa can hold her own against the best men on the planet; her big boobs are all there are to her, right?

            And all this is BEFORE we get to treating men like one monolithic THING that is only attracted to a certain style of dress and body type. There are SO MANY things to address before getting into how this so-called “feminist” movement (notably in gaming, but presumably elsewhere, as well) degrades or seeks to degrade men at every turn.

          • great read, did you read my mind or what?
            I think the same about all things you mentioned in here.

          • I don’t have that power anymore.

            Seriously, though, I’m just a little tired of how one-sided this has been almost from the start. Intelligent responses from the “we’re not sexist” side have largely been ignored, somehow treated as if they’re just further confirmation of the rampant sexism they claim is present.

            That’s annoying. In this case, we lose because we exist. And, interestingly enough, women also lose out, because they’really essentially slut-shaming women who aren’t afraid of showing their bodies, or because they ALSO like the look of a woman’s body.

          • did Sylar take it from you? (Heroes reference if you haven’t seen that show)

            I think it’s mainly because we don’t massively spam social media with “we’re not sexist” stuff, shame it’s basically necesary to be heard.

          • I loved and hated Sylar. One of my favorite villains. But it wasn’t a run-in with him. I lost it at the mall once. Then I found it in the trash, then I lost it at school.

          • This is such a good read, I hope you don’t mind I copy+paste it and have it as a backup for a later date. Judging by how things are going, I’ll be needing these arguments often.

          • There’s a typo or two in there, but be my guest.

          • Still waiting on a response.

          • There’s no possible counter response for logical arguments. lol

          • I’d at least hope for an acknowledgement that I commented, though.

          • I agree, the misogyny in the gaming community makes me sick. It’s like these fools don’t realize they don’t have mother, sisters, aunts and daughters.

  2. I’m so tired of this clickbait topic it’s borderline sickening! Unsubscribing from this website, no offense but I’m interested in game news, not to listen to the PC agenda.

    • It’s hardly clickbait. It’s a problem that’s been apparent for years.

  3. Oh look, the typical “woman play mobile games so they now make up the majority of gamers” argument. Mobile games while still games are extremely casual and most people who play them won’t be attracted to triple a titles and won’t be willing to drop 300 – 400 dollars on a console or a gaming pc. The main demographic for triple a games is still men. And its fine to have female protagonists but gamers dislike when a character seem only to be female or a minority just to check a diversity box.

    The author seems to just believe the propaganda that Quin, Sarkeesian and Wu were “hit time and time again with harassing comments” when we know that there’s evidence they faked the harassment and profited off of it greatly.

    And the author seems to be a Sarkeesian fanboy mimicking many of her arguments.Like her Resident Evil costume argument. These costumes aren’t meant to be taken seriously, they are a joke. And its funny how they mention the female costumes but leave out Chris’s sexy sailor outfit.

    Sex scenes in Witcher and God of War are sexist? Then we better cancel sexist TV shows like Game of Thrones. Why do these people attack games and not TV shows that do the same thing? This whole article is typical pc progressive trash.

    • I didn’t ‘attack’ TV shows because, if you’d not noticed from the title of the website, this is a gaming one. And I didn’t say that the sex scenes were sexist, I said that they shouldn’t be used as a way of praising the male protagonists. Women aren’t just to have sex with. Even if the harassing comments were ‘faked’ as you say, it doesn’t stop the fact that it happens to girls who play games anyway. These are just some of the top stories that were mentioned.

      • Of course women aren’t just to have sex with. Almost nobody in all of Western culture believes that. But God of War takes place in Greek mythology which has a lot of sex so the sex scenes aren’t too surprising. The trophies were added later with the PS3 HD collection and they probably just needed to add trophies for something or simply thought it was funny. These things were common at the time, everyone gave their consent and they’re fictional sex scenes. I don’t think anyone is going to think woman are just for sex because of a game. Also I find more often then not that male gamers suck up to female games and try to be nice to them, not harass them.

        • I just don’t think you should need to have sex with a character just to obtain a trophy. That’s where one of my points was coming from – I know it’s an opinion and people won’t agree with it, but it’s not something I deem as appropriate. Hopefully you can understand my point of view with that. It’s understandable that, at the time, women could be seen at trophies and something to brag about but there has to be a line between games and real-life.

  4. How dare you even portrait Zoe Quinn as a victim, she slept with game critics to get coverage and when people point it out to her she goes crying and play victim role.

    The thing you really don’t understand is that for example the Witcher is a medieval FANTASY game, meaning it doesn’t portray real life. In the books sex often occured as well so what should the developers do, remove those parts because of some people can’t handle the game isn’t 100% to their liking? Then the actual fans of the Witcher go boohoo you left those parts out of some people on the internet complaining. So what the fuck are they supposed to do??!!?

    In case of Sid Meier’s Pirates ( I haven’t played it), but i can imagine that during that era women were actually judged on their beauty and not their character/skills. So again, what do the devs need to do?

    The thing is they do the same thing with male protagonists, when do you ever see a skinny guy as protagonist? Hardly ever, they need to be muscular and have a strong opinion voice etc. You also never see a male protagonist mentally break down or cry. It’s because it is more appealing, and in the end it is still a business for them so if they make a character a certain way because they feel the need to do that for some crybabies and make less money because of it then they just shoot themselves in the foot.

    I’m glad most developers just pursue their vision and just make the character they want to make and dont feel forced to make certain female characters because they feel that they have to or the internet will go nuts.

    As some other poster said, you got way too influenced by those feminist gamers or whatever you want to call them. Those people just want everything catered to them and act if they are the victim if it’s not the case.

  5. Its really sad that these whiny babies get to dictate what a by far male dominated hobby should do.
    This is just mobile games and it really pathetic to promote this. What did men ever do to you. Why do you behave in such a childish way?

  6. A lot of insecure virgins who hate women tend to play video games I’ve noticed that.

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