Gamerisms

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Posts tagged with "stereotypes"

an open letter to video game designers

whathunter:

hi my name is hunter and I would like to let you in on a little secret: not every male is big and hairy and not every female is small and curvy. for that matter, not everyone fits into the categories of male and female at all!

I, for example, am a short skinny male-leaning adrogyne who most people tend to think “looks” like a girl whatever the hell that means. I have friends who use pronouns like ze and ey and friends who are tall and short and skinny and fat and robust and fragile and flat and curvy and pointy and male and female and genderqueer and androgynous and agender and genderfluid and all other sorts of things I haven’t thought of yet.

guess what! all of these people play video games. chances are, most of them have played one of your games. and chances are, they had to play a character that looked nothing like them, that felt all wrong, that didn’t use the right pronouns. they had to choose between a character that was all wrong and a character that was even more wrong.

I know technology is limited in what it can do right now, but don’t try to tell me this level of customization is impossible. that’s ridiculous. if you can let me adjust the bone structure of my character’s face I think you can squeeze in a handful of body type sliders.

just once I would like to play a video game where I don’t have to choose between being a tall muscular flat-chested man or a short skinny hourglass-shaped woman. I don’t fit either of those categories and I am really not interested in trying to, even in a game.

no love,

hunter

TW: mentions of violence, racism, sexualization
[image description: A poster for Max Payne 3. At the foreground on the right is Max Payne, a white cis man with a beard, holding a whiskey a glass and wiping his mouth. In the background to the left is a dark-skinned cis man with most his face covered, holding an automatic weapon in one hand. To his right is a white cis woman with her hands behind her back, writhing in pain]
This is the newest cover art for the game Max Payne 3.
Let’s ignore Max Payne himself. Let’s ignore the game’s content, message, previous incarnations, et cetera. This post is just about the advertisement poster, and I do realize I am largely taking it out of the context of whatever kind of game Max Payne is. This cover art displays some very racialized, sexualized images that I’m actually surprised a game company would actually use.
Let’s start with the woman. Looking at her in the background is very discomforting. Although she appears to be held captive against her will, her post is almost model-esque, just teetering on the edge of looking like she’s in pain or in pleasure. It evokes both violence and sexualization at the time, a rarity, but not unheard of, in advertisements and posters and covers featuring women.
Now, let’s look at the dark-skinned man to the left of her. Max Payne 3 appears to be set in Brazil, so of course there are going to be brown people around. However, even without the context of the game, just take a look at that image. A dark-skinned, evil looking man taking hostage of a beautiful white, or at least light-skinned, woman. This is something I think we see all too often.
We can look at the presentation of the woman and the presentation of the dark-skinned man, but when you put them both together onto one cover art with Max, who many unfamiliar with the game will probably assume is the protagonist, at the foreground of the picture, how can anyone look at it and not see a sexualized, racialized image?
- Aria

TW: mentions of violence, racism, sexualization

[image description: A poster for Max Payne 3. At the foreground on the right is Max Payne, a white cis man with a beard, holding a whiskey a glass and wiping his mouth. In the background to the left is a dark-skinned cis man with most his face covered, holding an automatic weapon in one hand. To his right is a white cis woman with her hands behind her back, writhing in pain]

This is the newest cover art for the game Max Payne 3.

Let’s ignore Max Payne himself. Let’s ignore the game’s content, message, previous incarnations, et cetera. This post is just about the advertisement poster, and I do realize I am largely taking it out of the context of whatever kind of game Max Payne is. This cover art displays some very racialized, sexualized images that I’m actually surprised a game company would actually use.

Let’s start with the woman. Looking at her in the background is very discomforting. Although she appears to be held captive against her will, her post is almost model-esque, just teetering on the edge of looking like she’s in pain or in pleasure. It evokes both violence and sexualization at the time, a rarity, but not unheard of, in advertisements and posters and covers featuring women.

Now, let’s look at the dark-skinned man to the left of her. Max Payne 3 appears to be set in Brazil, so of course there are going to be brown people around. However, even without the context of the game, just take a look at that image. A dark-skinned, evil looking man taking hostage of a beautiful white, or at least light-skinned, woman. This is something I think we see all too often.

We can look at the presentation of the woman and the presentation of the dark-skinned man, but when you put them both together onto one cover art with Max, who many unfamiliar with the game will probably assume is the protagonist, at the foreground of the picture, how can anyone look at it and not see a sexualized, racialized image?

- Aria

Stop Using Damsels-In-Distress

Rarely are there tropes in media more utilized and over-done than the damsel-in-distress. Some franchises are built on rescuing a damsel, such Super Mario and Legend of Zelda (though Zelda goes in and out on fitting this trope). Even the new Spider-Man game, Edge of Time, seems to be incorporating it as its main plot. It’s a trope that we all now exists, but taking a step back to really think about just how many games incorporate it, either as a side story or the entire plot, is staggering.

  • Resident Evil 4 (Ashley Graham)
  • inFamous (Trish)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Princess Elise)
  • Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney (Maya)
  • Castlevania series (several)
  • Kingdom Hearts (Kairi, Namine, the Disney princesses)
  • Starfox Adventures (Krystal)
  • Shadow of the Colossus (Mono)
  • Alan Wake (Alice)
  • Legend of Dragoon (Shana)
  • Fire Emblem series (several)
  • Viewtiful Jow (Silvia)
  • Crash Bandicoot (Tawna)
  • MadWorld (Naomi) 
  • Duke Nuken series (any woman ever)

Those are just the ones off the top of my head. All forms of media, have always saturated with the storyline of the hero rescuing the damsel-in-distress. In essence, the reason that Damsels-In-Distress are ridiculous is the fact that damsels are not people; they are tools. They are a force that moves the story along, causes enemies to put aside their differences, and inspire the protagonist to embark on his journey. You never hear about their lives, their family, their wants or their dreams. The damsel rarely has a personality that exists outside of being the love interest of the main hero, even if she becomes a playable character, and is always used a catalyst to engage and even enrage the main hero. This damsel is almost always a girlfriend/wife/love interest of the main hero, and a good portion of the game is spent trying to rescue her. If the main hero has a love interest, you can bet that she’s going to be a damsel.

I find that whenever games incorporate a damsel as a main plot point, it’s a sign of a lack of originality. It’s also particularly belittling to the women that the vast majority of these damsels are, as the proportion of damsels to actual female characters who are powerful and even playable is depressing. For every great female character, I could probably name four or five damsels. It’s just another sign of how male-centered the industry is and how women are used as plot devices than as actual people.

-Aria

Naughty Dog Provides New Female Villain for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

It seems that in the tradition of the Uncharted Series, the villain for the third installment will have a European accent and a load of henchmen. The latest female character in the series will be this installment’s main villain (though, also in the tradition of the Uncharted series, the “real” villain is never who the game leads you to believe).

The Uncharted game series has provided two of the most dynamic cis-female characters in recent video game history: the vivacious, is-she-or-isn’t-she-an-ally bombshell Chloe, and the loyal, strong-willed, and compassionate Elena. Although these two women are vastly different, they surprisingly do well with not succumbing to the usual paths that games all-too-often make and set them up as opponents fighting over Drake, but rather, they are well-rounded characters that the gamers learn to care about throughout the series, particularly Elena, who essentially provides much of the heart in the series.

But without even delving into the significance of this new female character, if you follow the link of this video to youtube, there are several very sexist comments that seemed to be “liked” by the obviously heavy cis-hetero-male audience of the franchise, including the classic, “She needs to get back into the kitchen” joke right at the top. If anything, it is an example of the male entitlement a lot of cis-hetero-male gamers feel as they consider the gaming universe to be a place for “them,” therefore leading them to disregard many dynamic, powerful female characters for the sake of asserting that female characters, often emasculators, such as the one presented here do not “invade their space.” Games and the gaming community should not be dominated by this terribly oppressive mindset; there needs to be an assertion of the diversity within the gaming community and speak out against all of the cis-hetero-male privilege that hampers the evolution of games as social media.

Either way, Uncharted 3 is a game I am excited for, so hopefully, this villain will prove to be worthy of the franchise.

- Aria