Do video games hate women? This is a question I was surprised no-one asked in the wake of the recent and colourful speech made by our Prime Minister.
Misogyny is apparently all around us: receptionists make less money than CEO’s, there are no female brick layers, and our politicians are a bunch of lying male pricks who hate their wives, sisters and daughters. But what of video games?
Why has no-one latched onto this nugget of doom and gloom? Indeed, when was the last time you played as a female character in Call of Duty? And aren’t women objectified in games; like in the Dead or Alive series with their massive busts and revealing outfits?
Well I would like to make it very clear that the perception that video games might somehow “hate” women is completely false but one that has probably spurred circumstantially. There are many factors at play here, and after you realise the broader picture, I’m sure you’ll agree that rather than “hating” women, video games offer the choice straight to the player.
Yes; I’m suggesting that video games gives you the choice to ‘hate’ women – but it’s not quite so black and white.
Video games are paintings and your experience with these artworks is going to vary greatly to my experience. Only from what you personally perceive while playing the game can you form your opinion. So while you might see the shapely and well endowed body of a female character in Dead or Alive, you can either see that game as hate slur, or you can see the character as a confident and able warrior. The choice is yours.
And because you have a choice on how to perceive the game, your opinion on the matter is not really that important or relevant. It’s unfair to jump on your soapbox and shout about how you were able to save sex with, and then bludgeon to death a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto because after all, you were the one who chose to look at those possibilities and follow through with whatever you felt was most enjoyable at the time.
Of course, not all video games offer such a choice. Some make it impossible to dislike the female characters, such as the Metroid or Tomb Raider series. Indeed Samus Aran and Lara Croft do look as you’d expect a woman designed by a team of male developers to look, but who can question that these characters are anything but a celebration of what women – or anyone, in fact – can accomplish? Aran is a confident bounty hunter who inadvertently saves the galaxy, and Croft manages her own fortune, runs a business and completes impossible feats in pursuit of an end goal.
These female leads may look good, but they aren’t anything but fantastic role models for not just young girls, but players of all ages and genders.
And if you choose to see video games for what they are, you can apply the “Samus/Croft Effect” to all kinds of games. The Last Story‘s ‘Lady Calista’ is not some spoilt, naive and disgruntled princess – she’s a powerful woman who knows what she wants in life, and seeks out to get it. Resident Evil 4‘s “token helpless female” Ashley Graham is actually a young girl, kidnapped by a cult who had the willpower and determination to overcome her captors and come out on top.
I don’t see video games as “women haters” in any way – they are completely open to interpretation. If that means that the player goes in with their prejudices, then that player is merely going to find what they want to find. Much like the case last year when an animal rights group found a link between Super Mario 3D Land and the slaughter of an endangered animal.
These conclusions are not necessarily wrong – games are, like I’ve said many times, open to interpretation – they’re just not fair to base an entire public opinion on. Games are made by artists (called ‘developers’), so an attack on a video game for being ‘misogynist’ in any way is actually an attack on a team of hundreds of people who worked tirelessly to provide hours of entertainment to the end user and food and money for their families.
Video games don’t hate women, any more than the Planet Earth hates women. Some people might hate women, or might seek out those who do and these people muddy the otherwise stark line between ‘entertainment’ and ‘agenda’. Video games merely offer worlds for you to explore, the conclusions you draw on those experiences are entirely your own.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you find video games empower or oppress women? And what about men? After all, more men die in video games than women, yet no one has ever jumped to the conclusion that video games hate men.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!