Last year, I tackled the problematic portrayal of women in video games. More recently, I actually edited the article to talk about the way Epic Games’ art director Chris Perna recently rammed his foot rather deep in his mouth here, because at the expense of one man’s words that will undoubtedly come back to haunt him and his company, he’s provided a perfect example of the mindset straggling the industry.
So imagine how many soundless fist-pumps I serenaded the air with when I read Carolyn Petit’s fantastic article that went up yesterday on Gamespot, Fear Of A Woman Warrior. She explains how the (objectively) sexist mindset of many game developers isn’t just ridiculous, it’s downright insulting no matter what gender you are. Go read it; I’ll wait.
I was talking with a friend recently. We’re both God Of War fans, and he asked me if I would be able to take Kratos seriously if he was a woman. I answered that if everything else about the series was exactly the same…then why not? That’s the question we as gamers have to ask ourselves in terms of putting female characters on equal terms with men. “Why not?”
It remains to be seen whether the new Tomb Raider game launching next month will give Lara Croft reasonable treatment as opposed to being solely, as I quoted in the last article, an “object of the male gaze”. The promotional materials seem to depict Croft getting ‘down and dirty’, like an Indiana Jane instead of a Hustler model.
I really hope so, because I think it would be an excellent stride forward for female representation in games if they were to take perhaps the number one example of a “for the male gaze” character and actually give her considerable development structure. Of course she’s going to be athletic and we should be fine with that, considering the physical feats that she (and any male character in her shoes would be) has to do, but the promotional materials really seem to be shying away from the “hey, itz womenz!” silliness. That comes out in March, so we’ll go ahead and see, won’t we?