Monday, December 3, 2012

Portrayal of women in Video games

Learning about the male gaze has really opened my eyes to the way that women are viewed as, not only in the art world but in general as well. I wanted to take this idea further and investigate the portrayal of women in video games in relation to the male gaze. I am a total gamer but never really payed much attention to the sexism, discrimination, and unrealistic depictions of women in games until now. We all know how unfair the gaming industry can be when it comes to women, considering the fact that this field is a male dominant area. I wanted to create a gamer magazine to inform the public about the gender roles typically found in video games.

Upon doing my research I came across Anita Sarkeesian, creator of Feminist Frequency, little did I know we had the same idea. She is a gamer girl who wanted to look at tropes in video games vs women. She was my starting point and structure when it came to this project. She states in her video that a Trope is "a common pattern in a story or a recognizable attribute in a character that conveys information to the audience. A trope becomes a cliche when its overused." I started to look at the same concepts that she wanted to make her videos on, such as the Damsel in Distress, The fighting F@#k toy, the sexy sidekick, the sexy villianess, and women as background decorations. This topic has been discussed year after year and with new video games constantly coming out, there is a never ending amount of research to be done. What I found through my research was surprising.

From the beginning of time Women have always had a bad portrayal when it came to video games and now years later, there hasn't been that much of a change, which is a sad truth. I came to understand that women are constantly being objectified and its all because of the male gaze. Just like Berger stated at the beginning of this course, "Men act and women appear." This is the idea that fuels most video game female characters. Most of the characters I look at are highly sexualized for the male spectator. These female characters have minimal clothing, act helpless, and appear in need of a male hero. When reading gamer blogs a high number of men gamers admitted that the reason they like certain female characters are because of their sexual appearance. Lets look at for example, a very popular character, Lara Croft. For many female gamers, she is a tough chick who knows how to kick butt but for male gamers she is viewed as a piece of meat. Gaming artists have given her minial clothing, a huge set of boobs and a big butt to match. Was all this necessary? probably not, but we live in a male world and so their gaze influences what women should look like. Along with her I came across other almost "naked" female characters, such as the girls from street fighter, Dead or Alive or the Final Fantasy series, to name a few. 

Overall, I explore the influences of the male gaze within the video game realm. Here is my Magazine :) Enjoy

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