Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh, how the sexists will play.

I'm a gamer and I'm proud of it. I started with the Gameboy, and then, when my dad's birthday (or was it Christmas?) came around, my mom, my sister, and I - really, it was really my mom because we were not of workable age - upgraded him to a Gameboy Color. Can you guess who played the damned thing first? For days on end? Yeah, that'd be me. I also fiddled around with Donkey Kong on my dad's old Atari when I became a teenager. Oh, was I pissed when my parents wouldn't buy me one of the gaming consoles that I read about tirelessly while avoiding doing chemistry homework. However, I played PC games in the meantime, keeping myself abreast of the goings on in the gaming industry.

I probably broke them down with my complaints and general constantly-talking-about-it-ism, because a few years ago, my mom and dad finally bought me an Xbox 360 for Christmas, along with Lego Indiana Jones and Gears of War 2. My addiction was now a full-on obsession, and an expensive one, at that. I don't have nearly the amount of games that I'd like, but it's probably a good thing, considering my predilection of being a hermit. It's a nice size, though, with games that I will play over and over again. Because, hey, the fun.

You'd think that the industry would have suffered, what with the economy and all, but it seems that it has flourished. I'm thinking it's the "Star Wars coming out at the right time" syndrome. We need something to keep ourselves distracted by the giant economic shitstorm in which the world is engulfed, and they offer a wonderful amount of escapism. And it's catching on. E3 keeps getting bigger and badder, and comicons across the country are becoming giant social events, instead of only bringing together woefully awkward people that satisfy their need for interpersonal interactions taken care of over a headset, screaming, "I GOT YOU, NEWB!"

But as it's gotten more clout, the giant purple gorilla in the room is getting more and more conspicuous.


It's been mentioned before by much more prolific writers than I that gaming culture is ... how shall I put it? Dominated by the dick. That sounds about right. There's plenty of writing out there on sexism in gaming, so I won't try to make a scholarly article here. But it is very upsetting to see my favorite games going down this path.

Poison Ivy from Arkham Asylum
I mean, come ON

Take Mass Effect, probably one of the best game series of the past decade (and you can quote me on that). It has well-rounded characters. It has a wide universe, complete with cultures and background history that makes me want to just throw my own world-building attempts right into the trash. The story is well thought out and thorough, complete with interactive decision making. And then they have the eye candy: the asari, the blue-skinned, mono-gendered sex machines that wear little clothing and spend their "maiden years" usually dancing in clubs. I could overlook that because, well, they are pretty and blue is a nice color. And several of them are ball-stomping badasses. So.

Liara T'Soni, from the cover of Mass Effect: Redemption

In Mass Effect 2, we are treated to the gravity-defying breasts of an asari Justicar named Samara, and honestly, I nearly didn't play her because I felt sorry for her back. However, she's an awesome team member with her biotic powers (basically, it's the Force without the Force).

Like I said, her boobs do not abide by the laws of physics.

She's pretty stoic, too, and kills just kind of because her code tells her she has to. Spoiler: she even kills her own daughter. But the boobs, man. They don't even MOVE.

And the latest victim: Ashley Williams. Not my favorite character, by far. I got the achievement in the first game (complete the majority of the game with the Alliance soldier achievement) as soon as I could so I could kill her off and have Kaiden, who is still annoying but more endearing than Ashley. But here she is in the first game:


Pretty standard soldier fare, albeit the boob holders in her armor always kind of put me off. Not the worst attempt at T&A I've seen in comics/video games, but still. And a pink uniform? Really, EA/Bioware? Subtle. But here she is, all sexified, for Mass Effect 3, and it leaves me with a sad sigh:


Loose hair? Check. Lower cut outfit? Check. Bigger bazungas? Double D check. You can't really see how much bigger her cleavage is in this picture, but just look it up on Google Image Search. Ugh. Thanks, EA/Bioware, for making a love interest that was at least a moderately kickass, take-charge type into a 14-year-old's wet dream. I get that they want to attract people to their games, and I most definitely want Mass Effect 3, but couldn't it be done with, you know, good plot, word of mouth, etc., like with the first game? 

I'm probably speaking to the air now, since it doesn't look like things will be changing any time soon. The people creating these video games are pandering to the lowest common denominator (sorry, 14-year-old boys and those who still act like them), and it really makes me want to start my own video game company. Granted, I have no money or the technical know how, but fleh. I just want a series of games that treats women honestly and not as the weak, powerless, sex-crazed whores/bitches/saints that they are depicted as today. 

Sigh. 
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