Sexism in Video Games
Welcome to PSU.com's hit series on the world of gaming. Join our hosts Skip Williams and Max Platinum as they give you the inside scoop on a myriad of topics in gaming. From how to catapult up the Trophy rankings to debating about the current console war, don't change that channel as there might even be some broken tables, because the debates get so hardcore!
Disclaimer: All likenesses used are for parody and/or satirical purposes.
Skip: Welcome everyone to this week’s episode of Skip and Max’s Prime Time Gaming. I’m your host with the most, Skip…
Skip: It is the intro. Why did you say cut?
Rebekka: Don’t you remember what we discussed earlier about your title?
Skip: My title? Fine…but I don’t see how it is sexist…I’m your daily host, Skip Williams with the doctor of Trophinomics, Max Platinum. This week, we delve into the controversial, super touchy, definitely going to get us censored topic, the female demographic. Right away we have shots against us, because we are two guys talking about girls in gaming so we have a special guest tonight, our assistant director Rebekka.
Max: Okay Skip, I looked through all the material, watched some films, and I still think you are joking with me. Female gamers are a myth. Where are these mythical beings of supernatural properties? Next you are going to tell me there is no Santa Claus.
Max: What? You’re not a gamer, you are a director. Name me the lead character of Uncharted.
Rebekka: Nathan Drake.
Max: Fine, but that was an easy question.
Skip: So anyways, back on subject, this past year females in gaming and gaming in general took centre stage thanks to the firestorm caused by the new Hitman trailer, and also some choice scenes in the new Tomb Raider game. We’ll start with Rebekka. What is the problem with the video game industry and the female demographic?
Rebekka: The video game industry does not take the female demographic seriously. There are gamers who are girls but are ostracized due to how women are depicted in, and by, the gaming industry. Why did the female assassins in the Hitman trailer have to strip down into sexy, skin-tight spandex to assassinate someone? Couldn’t they have worn suits and ties just like the protagonist?
Skip: Max, she has a good point. The video game industry has sexualized the female form since they've had the technology to do so.
Max: It takes two to tango, Skip, and while Lara Croft and Tifa are made to look sexy and a dream girl, how many male characters are created just the same way. Even on the NES days when the graphics were archaic compared to today, what did we see on the Contra title screen? Two shirtless, buff men who looked like they could throat-rip someone for stealing their drink. I’ll concede the point that female characters are created as fantasies but so are male characters. How many young, impressionable males look at those characters and think they can’t measure up?
Skip: Interesting points from both sides but why do video games get such a bad rap when movies, magazines, and other forms of entertainment are just as sexualized?
Max: That is simple, Skip. Women choose to actively participate in those mediums. This is why I think female gamers are a myth. Where are they? Seriously, where are they? Supposedly almost half of the gamers in Canada are women but I’ve never seen them in the game stores. I’ve never seen them running any kind of gaming business. If anything it is more like 5% instead of 50%.
Rebekka: How can women come out in the public when online they are the subject of massive harassment campaigns by other gamers? Do you know how hard it is to be an active gamer when random people are demanding sexual material of yourself or threatening to rape you?
Max: The world is not a pretty or safe place. I am sure Nellie McClung got some threatening telegraphs and letters when she stood up for women’s suffrage in Canada.
Skip: Nellie McClung?
Max: You know, helped lead rallies that lead to Manitoba becoming the first province in Canada to allow women to vote in 1916.
Skip: You actually read a book, Max?
Max: Yes, is that so hard to believe?
Max: Oh, well, I’m not an illiterate.
Rebekka: Excuse me, can we stay on topic?
Skip: Wait, this is more important. Max, how many pages was this book?
Max: Around 200 pages. I got it at the library.
Skip: The library?
Max: You know, the building in town with all the books and magazines you can borrow for free. Sheesh, I thought you had a degree, Skip.
Skip: I know what a library is; I just didn’t know you did.
Rebekka: This is so typical of this show. You two cannot stay on topic and take anything seriously.
Skip: Okay, okay, Max, Rebekka brought up a valid point. How can women make a mark when being targeted for harassment campaigns?
Max: As I was saying before you took us off topic, any time someone or something rocks the boat there is going to be some blow back. Does Obama quit being president of the United States when there is a vocal minority of Republicans who think he is the spawn of the devil, a Muslim terrorist, and say just as denigrating things about him? No, he keeps on trucking. Does it suck? Yes, but from this individual point of view women just need to shrug it off and make an impact. Open up a gaming store, work at an EB, form their own gaming company if they think the female demographic is not being heard.
Skip: What do you think about what Max said?
Rebekka: I think he is missing the greater picture and is simplifying the problem too much. Working at an EB is not going to change a systemic problem where the people at the top are all men. Look at the Sony conference a month ago. How many speakers were women? None. Everyone, including the translators, were men. Where is the hope for us as a gender to have any say?
Max: To quote Nike: Just Do It. Every company was created by someone at some point in time. They didn’t just get created at the snap of a finger. If some women think their gender is being unfairly exploited, then they should make their own companies and create games that women want to play. There is nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing preventing them from doing it.
Skip: People in the gaming media like to throw out shock words like sexism and misogyny. What do you think of those words?
Max: I think they are overused and have lost all validity in the gaming medium from their overabundant misuse.
Rebekka: Misused? How can Ivy running around in a string of leather or Kasumi doing flips with triple Ds be anything but sexism? Need I remind you of the Hitman trailer and the nuns?
Max: What is the definition of sexism and misogyny? Does anyone actually look up words in the dictionary? I made sure to bring this special tool to help me with my demonstration today.
Skip: Uh, Max, what is that?
Max: It’s a soapbox.
Rebekka: Why did you bring a soapbox to the studio?
Max: Because I’m about to get on my soapbox, well, put it under the chair and preach for a moment.
Skip: Why would you put it under your chair?
Max: It’s metaphorical, Skip. They don’t sell soapboxes my size anymore. May I have permission to continue?
Skip: The floor is yours, Mr. Smith goes to Washington.
Max: Thank you…cough…ahem…
Rebekka: Are you okay?
Max: I’m getting in character. It was a very dramatic scene.
Rebekka: No wonder the director is on stress leave.
Max: Ladies and gentleman of the internet, fans and viewers of the show, what is the definition of sexism? The dictionary claims it is the discrimination or devaluation of a person based on his or her gender, for example job restrictions. What is the definition of misogyny? The dictionary claims that to be the hatred of women. To keep this fair and balanced misandry is defined as the hatred of men. Maybe I am a fool but I always thought the dictionary defined what a word means. In the world of internet video game journalism there must be a secret dictionary I’ve not been given, because the majority of what people complain about is not actually sexism or misogyny. Having large breasts on a female character is not sexism. Being scantily clad is not sexism. Where is the devaluation or discrimination? Where is the hatred? If looking like a super model is considered hatred, then sign me up for some hating for therein lies the inherent hypocrisy of the media. Video games are fantasy, make-believe, meant to bring about fun and pleasure. If video games are sexist, because the women are always ho,t then everything is sexist and we are all hypocrites. If you say video games are sexist because of those nuns in the Hitman trailer, then you have to say swimsuit models are sexist, movie actresses are sexist, and anything that looks good is sexist, because otherwise you are a hypocrite. I’ll get off my soap box with this final point to think about. If my entire soap box speech is wrong, full of crap, stupid, or whatever nasty comment that can be inserted, why is it okay to be sexist towards men when male characters are as overly sexualized as female characters? Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to take down my poster of Jill Valentine because I am a sexist for having a picture of a beautiful woman on my wall and having an imagination that apparently cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality.
Skip: I think I’m speechless. Max really loved that poster. I think I’m going to find him crying in the dressing room later. Rebekka, do you have a soapbox to stand on.
Rebekka: Sexism is a real problem in the video game world, because the definition of the words, as Max so succinctly defined, do not work, because this is a fantasy world and not reality. The issue is not that women are discriminated against but the other half of the definition. Their value is based entirely on their looks. Yes, there is an abundance of female heroes who are every part the equal of their male counterparts. However, while their male colleagues are robed in full body shiny armor, dress suits, or mysterious robes, the female hero is left catching a cold for only being covered up in half the amount of clothing. I am all about swooning over a beefcake with rippling muscles in a heavy suit of armour that drives my imagination crazy at what lays beneath the metal shell, but why can’t female characters give off the same fantasy by being as fully dressed in exotic and exquisite regalia? Wouldn’t Ivy look even more seductive to the male fantasy if she were dressed in a full body suit of some kind that would entrance the senses, instead of giving away everything for free? Even Wonder Woman wears more than her.
Skip: I think we’ll be getting lots of letters and emails after this episode.
Rebekka: From fans?
Skip: Fans or people wanting to do unnamed sexual things to Max. He has that effect on men.
Rebekka: Don’t you mean women?
Skip: No, apparently he has a lot of gay fans…or enemies…or both. I think it’s his abs that do it. That is the show for this week. Join us next week when we go a little lighter on the controversial calories and discuss trophy creation philosophies. East vs. West in an epic showdown of why they make trophies the way they do. For Max Platinum and Rebekka the assistant director, I’m Skip Williams saying good night and good gaming from the Tokyo Dome.
Interested in reading what an actual woman has to say about the topic? Check out episode one of this new video series here.
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