Challenging the Allegations of Sexism in Gaming - and a Simple Action you Can Take to Prevent it

Are certain video game offensive/bigoted/sexist/exclusionary to you in some way? Alright then, don't buy the game. Seriously, is that so hard?

Ugh... Try as I might not to allow myself to get sucked into the vortex of stupidity and hate that is gaming politics, I can't seem to help myself... It's like this crap infects my mind somehow despite my attempts to stave it off, like some sort of zerg infestation.

First of all, when did gaming suddenly get perceived as being sexist by everyone?

To quote the late great Bill Hicks, "Did I miss a meeting?"

Video games have existed since the 1950s in some form, and all of a sudden people are acting like gaming is the biggest detriment in the world to females. Yeah, video games. Meanwhile, in certain parts of the world, women are forced to cover up and have a male escort present. But yeah, those evil misogynistic and harmful video games!

So what has got everybody crying foul?

Well, the most common talking points regarding sexism in gaming are regarding the occasional 3D model of a scantily clad woman... How is this a negative aspect, again? Exactly what is wrong with celebrating the human/female body?

The simple fact is this - the majority of games are made by men, and the majority of gamers are also men. So naturally, this demographic is generally going to create, and be drawn towards games that feature attractive women. This is just the nature of the universe.

Of course, with this said, a large portion of gamers are also female (and the number is seemingly growing), but until the audience ceases being predominantly male, then games will tend to predominantly feature qualities that male gamers appreciate. This usually includes Michael Bay - style explosions, unnecessary amounts of gore, and purdy, often scantily-clad ladies. This is much in the same way that female dominated realms will tend to feature predominantly female qualities... See where I'm going with this?

But keep in mind, when I say "predominantly male qualities", this does not infer sexism. and nor should it (at least for the vast majority of games).. Yet, people increasingly seem to believe having male qualities automatically equates to being exclusionary or sexist to women.

Alright, but what about the lack of portrayal of female characters, particularly those with real depth, kicking ass, (and wearing clothes)? Well, in this case, I'll just let the pictures do the talking:

Alex Roivas - Eternal Darkness
Alyx Vance - Half Life 2
Anya - Gears of War
Yuna - Final Fantasy X
Heather Mason - Silent Hill 3
Lightning - Final Fantasy XIII
Jade - Beyond Good and Evil
Jill Valentine - Resident Evil
Joanna Dark - Perfect Dark
Lilith - Borderlands
Liara - Mass Effect
Nariko - Heavenly Sword
Commander Shepard - Mass Effect
Zelda - The Legend of Zelda
Samus - Metroid series
Peach - Mario series
Rosilina - Mario Galaxy

Midna - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Do these female characters look scantily dressed to you? And even for those omitted women characters that do happen to appear light in the clothing department - I could almost accept the argument that part of the reason for their creation may be as eye candy, but it's not like having an attractive female in a video game suddenly voids her character/personality.

I mean, surely it is possible for a female character be "easy on the eyes" while also presenting an in depth, 3-dimensional personality and/or backstory all at once, right? I just do not get this mentality that it must be either one attribute or the other...

"Ah, but I bet you can't argue your way out of this one! What of the lack of female representation in the games industry?" I'm glad you brought this point forward, reader!

Dona Bailey - Creator of the massive hit, Centipede, and first woman to design an arcade game.
Carol Shaw - First woman game programer and designer, creator of River Raid and Video Checkers for the Atari 2600
Kim Swift - Co-creator of Portal
Rieko Kodama - Creator of Phantasy Star series

Anne Westfall - Co-founder of Free Fall Associates, which was the first independent developer contracted by EA. Creator of Archon

Jane Jenson - Game designer and writer, creator of Gabirel Knight adventure games

Rebecca Heineman - Game programer, founding member of Interplay Productions, programmer of various graphic adventure games.

Lucy Bradshaw - Executive Producer of EA, played large role in Maxis and production of its games, such as The Sims

Robin Hunicke - Lead designer of EA, worked on My Sims and Boom Blox

Perrin Kaplan - Former Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Affairs, Nintendo of America

Nicole Lazzaro - Founder and Presient, XEODesign, Inc. Worked with Sony, EA, Ubisoft, and Sega

Laralyn McWilliams - Sony Online Entertainment

Patricia Pizer - Senior Designer, Disney Interactive Studios

and many many more...
Hmm, fair enough, but what about recent accusations of certain women in the industry being harassed? Well, those turn out to mostly be overblown sensationalism (granted - with a select few exceptions perpetuated among a select few bad apples) by the gaming media to generate cheap hits. Gee, what a surprise...

99.99% of gamers would probably never even think to send any sort of threats or harassment to developers (male or female), yet the gaming media rushes to eagerly gathers stories on the .01% of mal-adjusted dopes, blows it up into a major story, and makes it appear as though this somehow represents the entire gaming community in some way.

So, I'm confused. Where does the sexist part come in?

The fact of the matter - you misinformed and misleading media sensationalists - is that every single group on this entire planet is going to have its share of bad apples. It's like pointing to a few criminals and thugs who happen to watch movies, and then turning around and claiming that all, or a large portion of movie watchers are criminals and thugs. It doesn't hold any water, it shows your bias, your extreme shortsightedness, and most notably - your insufferable hypocrisy as you discriminate and look down upon an entire group of people based on an extremely small few. 

But let's not go too far on a tangent here. You can read more on my thoughts on the dwindling integrity, the hypocrisy, and overall demise of gaming journalism here.

But for now, let's get back to the topic at hand...

Much like the whole Jack Thompson controversy regarding "too much violence" in video games a decade ago, this major stink about gaming's supposed "sexist" attributes, being raised primarily by Anita Sarkeesian, has become little more than a trendy talking point by gaming journalists, with little real substance or substantial arguments. Stories like these get blown completely out of proportion, to the point where the fantasies overtake our grasp of reality on the matter, and the danger of revisionist history unfolds...

Thus, we need to take a step back, break free from the media narrative, and look at the reality of the situation from a more practical standpoint.

The ultimate question of this whole issue boils down to is this; do you personally find certain games to be sexist/bigoted/exclusionary/etcetera? Do you truly in your mind, believe this to be correct, outside the perceived allegations and narratives that have been pounded into your head and read hypnotically to you?

If you've still answered yes, that's complete and totally ok. I hold nothing against your beliefs. Live and let live, I say. But likewise, don't force your beliefs on my games either.

So now, to the main course of my rant! If you truly believe these sexist allegations in certain games - simply don't buy them. 

Voting with your wallet is far and away, the best way to make your voice heard and your impact felt. If you feel this strongly, don't support these games! If you continue to do so, then you are only part of this alleged "problem", are you not?

The market will always dictate, and have the final say in what types of games will be made. This is simply the cold hard reality of capitalism. Violent games with half naked women continue to be made, because they continue to sell. 

If you really want change, be the change. Buy more games like this, and less like this. Or better still, get out there and make your own games! But don't sit there and force your idea of change on other artists and developers and their creations, because that becomes a slippery slope that borders on authoritarian tactics.

For the record, let me be clear - I am a complete and total advocate of having games of all kinds, for everyone. While there absolutely should be some more games that have in depth female characters wearing more clothing, and containing more attributes that appeal to women, why can't they coexist with the traditional style of games that most men favor? Why must we feel the need to make all games adhere to this formula? Variety is the spice of life after all, and the more diversity there will be - as well as tolerance from both sides of this issue - the more we will come together as gamers.

Games are supposed to bring us together, not tear us apart. And furthermore, games exist to help us forget the evils, problems, and foolish politics. They should not be reminding us of them, and they especially shouldn't be tainting us with more of them

So, whoever you are out there, whatever your gender, race, or sexual orientation, keep gaming - or keep making games if you prefer. And do it proudly. We all deserve to enjoy this great artistic medium of entertainment. All I ask is one thing - don't push your beliefs on others. Rather, go out and manifest your beliefs into action!