| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (148)

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 9:01PM Seraphina Brennan said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Ah, yes, the good 'ol double standard. Good point. While it does have a tangent in here, I think that issue is totally one that needs to be discussed on it's own merit. I've actually seen a guild that bans their men from playing a female character, so they can "strike fear in the hearts of their enemies" because "no one takes a guy playing a woman seriously."
Reply

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 11:17PM Mogloth said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
I do not feel like I "gender bend" when I create female avatars in MMOs. I make female characters because I feel, if I am going to spend a bunch of time staring at one character, it might as well be a female.

Reply

Posted: Nov 27th 2009 1:17AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think there are two kind of people when it comes to character choice. There are the "rpg-players" and the "fps-players".

The fps-player does not "get in to the character". They see it as a tool that they use to play the game, and they prefer to look at women than men.

The rpg-player feels that in someway they are the character, or part of it at least. They connect with it. rpg-player prefers their own gender, as imagining yourself to be another gender is much more difficult (and weird).

These two player groups don't usually understand each other well.

From fps-player pov; Rpg-player is gay, because they want to look at char of their own gender. But actually they arent looking a char of their own gender. They are looking a representation (avatar) of themselves.
From rpg-player pov; Fps-player is gay, because they want imagine themselves as a char of opposite gender. But they arent imagining at all. They see only what is on the screen, and they want to see something good looking of opposite sex rather than their own.
Reply

Posted: Nov 27th 2009 2:26AM DevilSei said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Ymar, I wouldn't exactly say that there are "two" groups as you put it, specially in such terms.

Personally, I roll both genders in an MMO, it all depends on the race, class, and how bored I am. For instance, in WoW, on my main server I have 7 male characters, and 3 females (2 of which mine). Now, one female is my bank alt (i just wanted an excuse to make a female with a fancy name and guild bank), then the other is my undead holy/disc priest. Now, undead aren't exactly "hot" so I can't fit into the fps group (though I swear, undead females are the only females that have some breast physics...), and well, I'm a guy sooooo... definitely not in the RPG group either.

Sometimes I just get sick of having a sausage-fest for a server list, so I make a female toon or two for a change. Personally I see no real reason why a guy cant make a female toon, as long as he is doing nothing dirty on said toon... though honestly, it seems like some people in MMOs are rather dull and expect men to play men, and females to play females. I have screenshots somewhere where some guy started emoting some rather crude things when me and my friends decided to roll a bunch of naked female gnomes and see how far we could go like that (something akin to the naked warrior toon).

ooi, I've gotten a wee bit off-topic i guess... heh whoops!
Reply

Posted: Nov 27th 2009 7:52AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I play a variety of characters from both genders in any MMO that I play, specifically because they are role-playing games. I am experiencing the story of that character but that character is NOT me.

A male playing a female character in an RPG is as much "gender bending" as it is for a male to read a book written from the perspective of a female character.
Reply

Posted: Nov 27th 2009 11:27AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Those were huge generalisation I agree. Those people that care what kind of character other people play say those things. I find it funny that they both see the "other kind" of players "gay"...

I have to admit that apart from Witch Elf in war, I've never played women chars, but I couldn't care less how some other player wants to play his game.
Reply

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 3:52PM Minofan said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
I have a lot of thoughts on these topics, being a fan of superficiality in games (it's a visual medium after all - I'll never get why so many designers make idiotically polarizing choices!) and also a gaymer myself (nudging me out of the conventional game marketing focus).

Firstly; I'd separate double-Z cups and exploitation/degradation - skimpy clothing is a whole different kettle of fish, and double-Z cups are their own issue whether bared or heaving within some stretchy fabric.

- Why I deplore the big bazoombas -

Since they aren't aimed at me and won't feature on any of my own avatars, why do I care? Because giant novelty knockers are the mark of doom (technically DDDoom)!

When you see these puppies thrusting out at you, experience teaches the following:
* They're desperate - as with a movie trailer composed of cleavage shots, bazoomba centric advertising is a warning shot that their game has no actual merits to put forth.
* They have no respect for aesthetics/anatomy - the male avatars will be ugly manga slabs of muscle, which does impact me greatly.
* They have no respect for atmosphere/immersion - don't act surprised when central characters are 12 year olds with bodybuilder physiques and the warrior queen/goddess is cast in several inches of chainmail or a leaf.

In short; abandon all hope of a quality production, and lower expectations to decent game mechanics wrapped in the skin of an Asian grinder.

- Hulk smash puny man now? -

I do have equal dislike of the steroid freakazoid archetype of 'man'liness - in fact I simply won't play games where my only avatar option are that ridiculous, so overall that has a greater impact on my non-gaming than cleavagezilla does.

It is however hardly worth commenting on any more though, since grotesque distortions of the male form have become so prevalent amongst certain developer communities that I cannot imagine what level of potential-consumer feedback it would take to make an impact.

I'm not sure I buy this personally, but one theory about why this is done (along with casting pre-adolescent or faux-pre-adolescent male leads) and why you wouldn't draw comment is that such grotesques are designed precisely to circumvent any potential for sexualization of male characters in gaming for the benefit of a hetero market.
= Make figures of 'masculinity' so ridiculous or unsuitable that they cannot be considered attractive no matter how much skin they show or how many ladies are draped over their gargantuan meat-parts.

Personally I'd give my straight friends more credit, but this theory could be in the right ballpark as to why no-one comments - no-one has a brain wired to connect meat-mountain-man to "the sex"?

- Exploitation a-ok? -

Personally I have a fairly high tolerance for exploitation in games, and think they could stand a whole lot more of the male kind...
Armor bikini for female = full-body plate armor over chainmail for male.
Cloth bikini for female = floor-length robe over shirt and trousers for male.

However; it can clearly be used as a crutch (see mark of DDDoom indicators above), and I've less patience for it when it damages immersion and atmosphere.
Lara Croft can rock an unzipped wetsuit because she knows she's rocking an unzipped wetsuit - prim 14 year old Jrpg heroines in fetishwear = wrong on so many levels.

It's fine for fierce amazons (/barbarians) and twinkle-eyed sorceresses (/sorcerers) to under-dress to their hearts contents, but when the game world's beloved monarch is sitting on their throne in string and half-a-yard of lace it just looks silly - and thus like the devs don't care about their IP.

Posted: Nov 28th 2009 1:01PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I totally agree. As a woman who majors in video game design and has (not to sound completely self-absorbed) an idealized body type, I am objectified often by men and I know from experience that the thing that ultimately makes a difference is the existence under the abs and boobs and whatever else. ANY character can dress and look HOWEVER the hell they want as long as it is supported by a relative and accurate personality. Because let's face it, some woman are sluts. I mean hell, if I was a bad ass sniper I would rock a bikini top and some low slug army pants in two seconds! And yeah, the people who seriously think that breasts that would snap a spine in two seconds are attractive have some serious considering of reality to do. I have just as many guy friends who love small breasts as larger breasts, in fact most of them (oh, and these are men who actually get laid BTW unlike I'm sure the majority of gargantuan breast supporters) find HUGE boobs freakish and disgusting. It screams poor production and desperation when games take it to that level.
The thing I find really hilarious is when all these male-game-designers try to compensate for their female sexuality by making this uber-men who are waxed to high-heaven and sporting arms that should fall off their bodies and continue lives of their own. WOMAN DON'T LIKE MEN LIKE THAT. REAL woman (at least in my eyes) don't give a damn about guys being able to rip tanks apart... all these macho-male-designs are more appealing to gay men then woman. I personally find Snake the most bad-ass and sexy thing ever spawned and he is far from that pumped up character classic. Same with Alex and all other male characters that I as an attractive woman who plays video games and actually has sex find appealing.
Characters who are unrealistic show a poor art department and ultimately you can make your men and woman look and dress however you want as long as they have a powerful personality that couples that look. That is what points to good game design.
Reply

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 4:04PM Gaugamela said

  • 1 heart
  • Report
Games have every right to portray women and men as whatever the hell they want to. Honestly, iit's visually pleasant to see big boobs for men, as it is to see nice muscled men for women. Why the hell should a stylized game have to protray men and women realistically??
if people don't like that depiction then don't buy games that represent both genders like that.
Oh wait... Nearly every game presents their characteers like that!!
And the reaction against women being portrayed that way is simply a knee-jerk conservative reaction or a reaction by pseudo-feminists that don't have anything else to bother with. If they are so outraged by this why not express their outrage against the way women are treated in nearly any part of the world outside of the Western world. Why not express outrage by middle Eastern women not having a chance of dressing those tops if they want to?

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 4:24PM AnthonyHJ said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
Personally, I found that I was playing a lot of female characters in World of Warcraft just because the men were so ugly and over-muscled.

When Arnie was cast as Conan, there was a man who had been a slave and a gladiator and pushed his whole adolescent life to get stronger or die in pain. It was a little pulpy, but it made sense to cast a body-builder as the Cimmerian.

So along I came to WoW and I saw men who I did not want to be. The Night Elves were built like olympic swimmers, the humans looked like Arnie whether they were warriors or book-worm mages, the orcs and trolls were stooped over from their ridiculous physiques. The Burning Crusade gave us Blood Elves, who minced a little and erred on the side of the bishounen, but at least they didn't make me feel like a 100-lb weekling by comparison.

Saying this, I suppose I communicated my objection to the lazy modelling by playing gnomes and women rather than complaining. I might have complained, but would it do any good? Society's views on men are just as medieval as its views on women, but the difference is that we look down on that view of women. Men who want to be a little less barbarian are considered suspect and maybe even gay, women who don't want to be a housewife are considered liberated (usually, though I know there are still issues) and maybe even a good role model.

I could talk about the Men's Movement or the Nathan Fillion Hero project thing, but I think it is less complicated than society's problems; when it comes down to it, all the market research is done into what players (mostly straight men) want from a female avatar or a poster-girl. Boobs shift product, especially video games, but nobody has worked out what the consumer wants from a male avatar, so they focus on meeting the demand they know about.

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 4:24PM (Unverified) said

  • 1 heart
  • Report
The fact is that women, at least the ones I've known, also, as someone said, 'get a kick' out of being 'objectified'. Because in the end 'objectified' only really means a display of physical attraction. Rarely does anyone accused of objectifying actually believe that women are nothing more than objects

However, I have heard plenty of women dump men by the side citing the fact that they are 'only boys'. Which I take to be a statement of superiority over them. I've yet to hear a male of my generation say anything similar about a woman. Presumably because he would be burned at the stake. :p

The reason women get up in arms about it, and men don't, is because of our culture. Women are, understandably, still taking full advantage of being seen as a victim. As soon as they are truly equals, equally objectified, equally treated, they will lose their power. Frankly if I was given equal legal rights, in addition to the power of accusing those around me of attacking me, inciting guilt and submission in them, I wouldn't want to give it up either.

Also this idiot:
"because of centuries, if not millennia, of objectification and repression of the female of the species by patriarchal power structures."
Has no idea how history really was. I had a women's studies teacher tell me that women had more power two centuries ago than they did in the last century. A lot of their inferiority had to do with the fact that women get pregnant, and men don't. The birth control pill changed everything, maybe even more than the women's right's movement.

I also had a (female) psychology teacher tell me that it was not women, or gays, that were the disadvantaged in modern culture - but straight men. Precisely BECAUSE we refuse to even acknowledge any degradation done to them.

So before you get all angry, and spout pop culture insanities, take a few college courses, at least.

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 6:32PM (Unverified) said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
I don't think a couple of courses at uni make you an expert on this. While your prof may have her point of view - being educated still doesn't make it anything more than a point of view - it is only one point in a very large and complex subject. Plus, you're giving us your understanding of what she said without the context in which she said it, so it's possible something is being lost in translation.

And as a gay man with not one but two graduate degrees, I can tell you that I've gained many more advantages in this world by being a white, middle-class man than I have by being gay. Not playing the victim card; just letting you know there may be more to the story than what one prof may or may not have said once.
Reply

Posted: Nov 28th 2009 1:13PM (Unverified) said

  • 1 heart
  • Report
It's funny because the girls I know who love to be treated like little darling and have dinners bought for them and doors opened and all the chivalry BS are also the ones who get all up in arms about the whole "loss of woman's rights" and "sexism embedded in society" and everything else... Rather ironic.
I feel that yeah, there was more power for woman in ancient times because they saw their sexuality as a tool and a gift and not a detriment. Today woman have fallen into this harmful christian ideal that you can't use sex and your body as a positive and that is just so harmful.
Woman are meant to be seen as sexy and wanted and craved: that's how evolution has made us. I personally love to exert my sexuality and couple it with intelligence and wit, because I am not so stupid to think that men are not going to stare when I bend over to pick something off the ground, let alone judge them for doing so. It's natural! I like to use my sexuality as a motivation and a source of self-esteem and through that power. Personally I think that woman today could learn a lot by looking back on Goddesses and pagan traditions instead of complaining about their "objectified natures" and then ogling at men they find attractive and swooning when they treat them like delicate little flowers.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2009 3:40PM (Unverified) said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
"I also had a (female) psychology teacher tell me that it was not women, or gays, that were the disadvantaged in modern culture - but straight men. Precisely BECAUSE we refuse to even acknowledge any degradation done to them."

In much the same way that Straight, white men refuse to acknowledge the privilege that their race/gender gives them?

Considering the fact that women are still making less than men and still being portrayed as inferior in many circles I think that your psychology teacher was flat-out wrong, and an even bigger danger here than not acknowledging any disadvantages straight men might have is trying to act like they don't have privileges as well.

I'm a feminist, but I don't completely buy into the idea that women are always being stepped on and victimized and objectified and men aren't; everyone is getting victimized or objectified to some extent- and there is no one group that is suffering because of it. Everyone suffers when this happens- however, women (and also men who are thought to be feminine) are disproportionately affected. This isn't just about video games- because honestly, Video Games are probably the least serious offenders; But even while most people will say "I don't like when someone is too muscular, it makes them look funny," the root of the problem is that when male characteristics are exaggerated (in a male), it is viewed as an admirable thing, but when female characteristics are exaggerated (in a male or a female), it's a bad thing across the board. If you're female, you get called a slut, and if you're male you get called a sissy. Look at WoW- people complain about the "slutty" female clothes while at the same time also claiming that there are no male blood elves- even though the male blood elf model is clearly a male and the only crime is that the characters voices/mannerisms are slightly metrosexual and they're not as overly muscled as the rest of the character models. What does that say to you?

Also, I love that you think your anecdotal evidence means that women are all using their victim status to their advantage; Women dump men for being "just boys?" How many men leave their aging wives/significant others for young women? It goes both ways.

Anyway, the TL;DR is that everyone is suffering when it comes to gender inequality and if you're trying to deny that there is inequality, you are an idiot, but I don't think video games are really a huge contributing factor to it.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2009 4:17PM (Unverified) said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
Make no mistake. White males suffer a rather intense degree of structural issues; I don't think a solid case can be made that white women definitely suffer more. Men are wrapped up in a fiction of not thinking of themselves as potentially having gender-related problems, compared to women, which is very, very detrimental. Men are less likely to be as motivated intellectually, less likely to get long-term fulfillment out of their sex life (sounds crazy, but believe it), less likely to desire or feel or act in friendship, less likely to understand their own bodies, less likely to try to deal with their personal issues...the list goes on.

That being said, please let's not pretend we truly understand the broad and deep differences in how men and women face structural obstacles in society. Just leave it open; men and women both face gender-related problems, and hopefully someday we'll all be learned enough to understand that gender is a choice.
Reply

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 4:31PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I don't mind oversexed characters in video games but usually there is a reason to promote a game with big boobs instead of other advantages. More often than not that's because there are no other advantages...

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 4:33PM archipelagos said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
It's a very complex, difficult and interesting subject to explore. This is mainly due to the fact that when you present people with sexualised imagery (and that's what the designs are, it's not a question of some immersive aesthetic but a question about sex) you will get loads and loads of different responses: some will say it's insulting to women, some will argue that it's immoral, some will say it's fantastic, some will be out and out turned on by it, some will say this is how men and women should always be represented and so forth.

My personal perspective on the matter is an issue of immersion and personal taste. For a start, as I said before on the Blade & Soul comments, the proportions for the characters - both male and female - are stylized in such a manner that it's very, very distracting for me. Tiny head + massive bodies x extra long limbs = visions of the puppets from the Puppet Master series. I just honestly think it looks horrible and more than a little deformed. It also seems incongruent to the world around them as the environment is realistically depicted and they're not.

I would prefer a game that didn't default female toons at sexualised nymph because I like to choose how my character looks and because I'd prefer to play a people that represent the culture of the world they're in and not the marketing position of sex sells. Do I think there's something inheretly wrong about using sexualised characters to sell a game? No, absolutely not, but I would like to see a variety of representations because it's simply more interesting. Well, to me at least, I'm sure there's loads of people who'd be happy if every single character ever designed from henceforth was just there for the masturbation.

As for the issue of how men are represented that's an entirely different kettle of fish. How many male characters in videogames do you see with a design that highlights their penises? How many animations do you see with men's junk flopping about in baggy cloth armour as they run? Or how if a male character is wearing tight jeans and you see a visible outline of his bits? (I'd love to know how many guys are reading that and wanting to throw up at the suggestion. I'm probably giving people flashbacks of the Blue Dong drama. Aah, Watchmen, we salute you.)



Posted: Nov 26th 2009 4:58PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I agree entirely.

What a surprise.
Reply

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 5:07PM toychristopher said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
There is more to male sexuality then just the penis! Although it is funny how taboo the penis can be in our culture. A fully naked female warrants a lower rating than even a flaccid penis.

This is also the actions/personality of characters-- that is also part of it.
Reply

Posted: Nov 26th 2009 6:59PM Ingrod said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Any anthropologyst could say that man torsos sizes are sexual reclaims to woman or gay mens, too angulous jaws, narrow hips, etc... these are sexual characters, and oversize them is oversize a sexual character.

Big boobs, slender waistlines, wide hips and curved butts are the equivalent for women.

I never see women genitalia clearly depict in any videogame publicity, in that case, why a man penis must be depicted?

Also I never see a explicit sexual scene in any videogame or videogame publicity, the "sex scene" in ME was a scandal without show anything really offesive. These Sarah Morrison pics were from a magazine for mens article about "sexy videogame girls characters" In the Tabula Rase publicity Sarah Morrison appeared with a big gun (yeah, is a falic symbol, sexual, ok, but much more subtle than a women removing their clothes xD )

The most common are scandly clad and beautiful women in some model poses. Never with a explicit sexual reclaim, kisses, man-women relation, or any remotely sexual action.

Really, if we speak only about videogame images the men-women comparation is equitative for me. Both are represent with oversized sexual attributes.
Reply

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW