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Men Incapable Of Portraying Videogame Women Fairly? 246

Posted by simoniker
from the maxim-ization-of-society dept.
Thanks to GameSpot for its 'GameSpotting' editorial discussing whether men can be trusted to portray women fairly in videogames. The author references Metroid ("I don't appreciate that Samus being a woman is a punch line"), and Ico ("Yorda... [is] this supposedly sympathetic female character in a video game that can do absolutely nothing for herself and is constantly in danger of being kidnapped"), and ends by leveling the charge: "I think men are inherently incapable of doing an adequate job of properly presenting female characters in games."
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Men Incapable Of Portraying Videogame Women Fairly?

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  • No it's not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M3wThr33 (310489) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @02:49AM (#8845493) Homepage
    Samus being a woman is not a joke, it's a realization that a woman CAN do powerful things and CAN be a hero. It's not an insult, it's something that makes you think.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:15AM (#8845584)
      A study in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that fully 64.3% of all persons born female, show markedly below average, or even undetectable, senses of humor. Their hyper-emotional nature and comparitively large hormonal fluctuations appear to impede the detection of the logical discontinuity necessary for humor.
    • My friends and I didnt not take it as a joke when we found out, after playing the original metroid for years that Samus was a female.
    • Re:No it's not (Score:4, Informative)

      by TechnoPops (590791) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @05:04AM (#8846001) Journal
      Please RTFA, people. The entire paragraph containing the cited quote in question:

      Anyway, so now we know Samus' "secret," and while she's still best known for that red and gold armor of hers, fans of the Metroid games also know that each game in the series encourages them to reach the finish line as quickly as possible to catch a glimpse of the woman beneath the suit. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that I disapprove of this--I like the series, after all, and it's targeted at people like me--it also rubs me the wrong way. I don't appreciate that Samus being a woman is a punch line.
      • And his thoughts are flawed. By completing Street Fighter II on higher difficulties, you get to see body shots of everyone, even close ups of the men. It's all fair. Just because the female body is a thing of beauty doesn't detract from the power she has.
      • Re:No it's not (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bagels (676159)
        That's an idiotic argument - you don't complete the game to see Samus, particularly not in the latest incarnations like Metroid Prime. In Prime, for example, you occasionally catch glimpses of Samus' face reflected in her visor; it's not neat because you see that Samus is, indeed female, it's neat because it's one of the few times in the game that you see Samus as a human being rather than a pseudo-robotic killing machine.

    • It may not be an insult, but it's hardly empowerment--the character was originally going to be a man, and they made her a woman to get a payoff at the end. This hardly qualifies as a good example of women in gaming.
      • You may not think so but I know a number of women who think that Samus is wikkid-cool and kickass and that that it's very empowering that she's a tough, independent woman who doesn't wear a bikini to work.

        Mind you, none of them are too happy with the whole "play faster, see her strip more" aspect of the gameplay.
    • Re:No it's not (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ruis (21357)
      Here's a thought provoking question. How many of you assumed Samus was a man before you found out the truth? Why did you assume that?
    • Pfff, yeah, if they have the coolest fucking armor ever invented.

      (KIDDING! PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!)
  • ...two things that are inherently "Male-Centric". Get over it or write your own video game. The world is driven by sex & greed. People (males) buy games that are sexy.
  • by empaler (130732) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @02:54AM (#8845507) Journal
    Women are inherently incapable of driving cars
    Men are inherently incapable of getting in touch with their feeling
    Women are inherently incapable of logical thought

    Yeah, let's polarize and call each other names.
  • by b00m3rang (682108) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @02:54AM (#8845508)
    As a kid I spent quite a while playing this game, had come to know and like this character, and when I found out the hero was female I thought, "Cool, that's unique. I don't see why the ass kicking protagonist /can't/ be a woman." Ever since then, any instance of female action heros has never struck me as being out of the ordinary. I think if anything, it in some way helped break down the gender wall. At least for some of us.
    • by Ayaress (662020) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @02:17PM (#8851471) Journal
      I always saw it as a way of inviting people to generate their own stereotypes, and then slapping them in the face with them. I'll admit when I was playing Metroid, I thought Samus was a guy for the whole game (I never bothered reading the manual, that may have made it clear, but who reads those anyway?). I was a bit humbled when I found out the truth, and I doubt I was the only one.

      Anyway, I think the unfair portrayal of women in video games is more often a side-effect of the sort of material covered in games. GTA delves into gangs and violent crime, where women are often utilized as a source of income, not as gunmen (gunpersons?) or drug runners.

      Most RPGs are fixed into the high fantasy, which usually brings with it an aristocracy and/or monarcy, and in history, those have been male dominated (title passes from father to eldest son, daughters are primarily used as a tool to secure alliance or union through marriage to the sons of other aristocrats).

      RTS generally involve war, and in human history, that's been the realm of male aggression. That's changing now, but even then, that change is bitterly resisted.

      FPS are even moreso. They're entire games that pretty much involve nothing but slaughtering one another. If anything better lends itself to testosterone, I don't know what it is.

      There are exceptions in each group, but a lot of those aren't any better.

      Square (and for that matter, most RPG makers) has(have) a long history of making their major femalecharacters into love starved twits (Lucca from Chrono Trigger, Kid from Chrono Cross, Terra and Celes from FF6, Mint from Tales of Phantasia, need I go on?).

      But when one of them gets off to a good start and look like they'll break the mold, they either end up being even worse (Arche from Tales of Phantasia, who after getting off to a good start ended up not just a twit but a slut to boot) or an anti-stereotype (Ayla from Chrono Trigger) which only serve to accentuate the stereotypical characters they're set next to.

      Also, there's not just one way to stereotype a character. Kerrigan from Starcraft, for example. She started out looking like a strong leader, a decent fighter, strong willed, impetuous, etc. Then she goes the way of the love starved twit during the dialog scene at the beginning of the New Gettysburg scenario, and after that, she picks up a completely different female stereotype: The manipulative bitch, playing every single character in the game against each other and then backstabbing her allies the second their job is done.

      Of course, all that forces me to ask the question: Are MEN fairly represented in video games?
  • Just look at 'Serious Sam', where are all the 'sensitive' guys? ;)

    Seriously though, my female NWN character is a cultured sophisticated intelligent career-oriented 'femme fatale'.

    Face it... girls just don't like certain types of games, and the sterotyping in these games just have no decent limits. This is marketing 101 people! It isn't fair!

  • by Kris_J (10111) * on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:04AM (#8845528) Journal
    Male characters in vidoegames are:
    • Cigar chomping muscle-brains
    • Weasley little pick-pocket wimps
    • Corpse-obsessed psychopaths
    • Spineless cannon-fodder clones
    • Sex-obsessed jocks
    • Coke-bottle glasses nerds that love computers
    Etc, etc, etc. It isn't a sexism thing, it's a "the story writers are stupider than the game's AI" thing.
    • Moustachioed overweight Italian plumbers?
    • ...you've never played Viewtiful Joe. Hero is just an ordinary guy...
  • Man's fault? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kent Simon (760127)
    The worst thing about today's games is that they're developed almost exclusively by men. "Theory" is actually much too strong of a word, as it's really nothing more than a hunch. I didn't know it was some big secret. I'm too lazy to look up actual figures on this. But its hard enough to find female gamers, or female programmers, let alone someone who decides to combine those two. Personally, I'd love to see more females in the art. Perhaps games would be able to produce a more emotional impact w/ the p
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:20AM (#8845613) Homepage Journal
    When it comes to video games, I am not looking for female characters that I can take home to mom.

    I want big titties on a tough as nails ass kicking chick like Lara Croft or B. Orchid, or big titties on a soft helpless babes like the babe in Final Fight or the hookers in GTA:3 and VC.

    Video games are like porno, the target market is mostly male. As a result the contents are going to be geared towards male fantasies.

    LK
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:22AM (#8845623)
    Seriously, not only should it be rather obvious that the majority of game developers lack any and all ability to portray real women AT ALL, but the author of this article choose some really poor choices of women in games to prove his point.

    Why not attack the games laced with idiot-centric content like women with oversized breasts who are always the victims.
    Samus is the one, true video-game heroin that hasn't, (yet), fallen to the same traps as nearly every other female in most other games. She is strong, silent, confident, and not a sex symbol. (Some may argue that the removing of her suit at the end of a quickly completed game is leaning in this direction, and I could understand that, but I still respect Nintendo for at least throwing her in a modest single piece bathing suite when most other developers would have her sporting a scant bikini or a lace nightie).

    Yorda from Ico could be seen as a weak female in a game, but she is still infinitely more interesting and unique as a supporting character than most of the aforementioned bad examples. Her character is successfully timid without becoming a weak, victim-ish sex-symbol.

    I can't wait to see more *real* women in games, but this will most likely come with the arrival of more mature developers.
  • by foniksonik (573572) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:23AM (#8845632) Homepage Journal
    Why not get a female perspective? Some oversight in all things female... I think if there were female producers looking for jobs in Gaming they would be hired. Give it a try girls... it's a good job and pays reasonably well, I here 60k and up is normal for a game producer.. if you're experienced it goes to 6 digits.
  • To assemble a thoughtful, introspective article? Come on, this is just flame bait on a larger scale. Granted it's not NYT calibur flame bait, but a real flamer it is.

    All Kasavin has is an insipid remark about Samus. Apparently it's not possible to look good and save the universe at the same time.
    The only other real complaint is an admision that he sucks at ICO which is twisted into blaming Yorda.
    The rest of the article is a list of exceptions and apologies.
    It's a subject worth exploring, but this article i
  • by LincolnX (700433) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:28AM (#8845658) Journal
    "I think men are inherently incapable of doing an adequate job of properly presenting female characters in games." Perhaps you could make that case if they were TRYING to properly represent a female in thier game. But they were not. They typically make games geared towards males. As for Metroid, Samus being female was a small tiny part of the game MOST people didn't know about for the first five years the game was out. I remember hearing Samus was female 3 years after I first played it.
  • by CelticWhisper (601755) <celticwhisper@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @03:33AM (#8845682)
    What of Alys Brangwin from the 4th installment of the series? The article cites Alis Landale as a strong female protagonist, but then goes on to say that her gender was largely a non-issue. Alys was proud to be a woman, and knew damn well that she could kick the asses of anybody who got in her way, regardless of their chromosomes. Furthermore, she had a lean, athletic figure and dressed very modestly-below her neck, no skin showed at all.
    • I agree with you, but we would be remiss to leave out these other examples:

      Aerith Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII)-- please, for the love of God, don't make me spell this one out.
      Shion Uzuki (Xenosaga)-- She's not oversexualized, she's a smart and capable character, and through the entire game the only real reference to her gender is the address "Miss Vector".
      Aribeth (Neverwinter Nights)-- a female rising to supreme commander of a military force, plus she has an actual backstory as opposed to being a one-d
  • Unfair! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fuzzybunny (112938)
    I mean, male game developers get crucified for portraying a female character as helpless, feminine, whatever.

    Then, they go and make a gung-ho asskicker--university educated, genius, speaks multiple Asian languages fluently, is a straight shot, knows several martial arts, drives cars like Fangio, jumps off bridges, climbs buildings, and generally unleashes whupass.

    And lo and behold, pandemonium breaks loose among the PC crowd, just because she's clad in a tiny thong and miniskirt and has enormous bazoombas
    • What they want is a woman who is all of those things, but looks like a man.

    • Re:Unfair! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mikedaisey (413058) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @08:29AM (#8847109) Homepage
      There is a middle ground--like female characters that are competent without only being sex objects. It really isn't such an impossible thing to wish for.
      • There is a middle ground--like female characters that are competent without only being sex objects. It really isn't such an impossible thing to wish for.

        How about April Ryan [longestjourney.com]?. I'll admit that this game was the first time I identified myself with a female character in any medium (games, books, movies, etc).
      • Well, I can think of a few examples, but even then, they're still stereotyped. Gotta remember, there's not just one stereotype for women.

        Kerrigan from Starcraft wasn't a sex object by any measure - well, she sort of was before the Zerg captured her, but she was also a minor character then. She only a major driving force in the storyline afterwords.

        At any rate, I don't know about you, I certainly wouldn't want to have sex with somebody who claims such titles as "Concubine of the Zerg," "Queen of Blades," a
  • Ico & Yorda (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkZero (516460) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @04:26AM (#8845896)
    Warning: Some moderate (possibly heavy) Ico spoilers will ensue after the quote.

    I never finished ICO. Not only did I get stuck at a certain point about halfway through, but more to the point, I grew sick and tired of the girl, Yorda, and her uselessness. This character was so pathetic, it almost made me angry. I admit that this is not the effect the game was intended to have on me or on anyone; however, here's this supposedly sympathetic female character in a video game that can do absolutely nothing for herself and is constantly in danger of being kidnapped. Who better than a man--or in this case, just a boy--to come to her rescue.

    If Greg had played Ico all the way through, he would've realized that Yorda was only pathetic because she had been repeatedly injured and abused. The real Yorda was quite a bit more capable, just as the injured, abused Ico was just as pathetic (if not more so) than she was when she was injured.

    This is what happens when someone starts their analysis of a game with the words, "I never finished..." That's like watching the first two minutes of the Spider-Man movie, turning your DVD player off, and then devoting two paragraphs to asking why someone would want to watch Peter Parker act like a geeky loser for two hours. If you're going to review or analyze something, you should at least have the maturity to take in the whole thing before gracing us with your ignorant opinion.
    • Well, obviously part of the point was the *gameplay*. I mean, if Yorda hadn't been helpless then the game wouldn't have been very interesting.
    • Re:Ico & Yorda (Score:4, Interesting)

      by May Kasahara (606310) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:31AM (#8847795) Journal
      Very true. There was that turning point in ICO when Yorda tries to save Ico! I don't remember the exact details all that well, only that this scene amazed me in it's spur-of-the-moment action on Yorda's part.

      I wonder how the author's opinion of Yorda would've been different had he finished the game...

  • by MachDelta (704883) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @04:42AM (#8845946)
    ...I really do. Here's a male, a gamer, who has been GUILTED by the "feminine movement" into a state where he cannot look at a modestly attractive portrayal of a female in a game without feeling shameful.
    That's pathetic. It really is. Why does he feel the way he does? What kind of horrible psychology has warped his mind into this sad state?
    He feels guilty that Samus is a woman? And that Samus *can* be seen in a bathing suit? Oh dear lord! Someone call the thought-police, he might start forming an attraction to the opposite sex! How horrible! -- Though the true horror is that he feels this way. That, every time he views an in game portrayal of a woman even REMOTELY attractive, it is somehow a violation of "womens rights".

    Let me tell you something guys. Not as a woman, because i'm not. But because i'm a MAN, and I no longer tolerate this "acceptable society" bullshit. Women in games? Thats great. SEXY women in games? Thats even fucking BETTER! Now before the "facist-femme militia of well-whipped men" decends on me, i'd like to point out one interesting fact: Women LIKE sexy portrayals of women. Women LIKE to feel sexy. They LIKE to feel attractive, they fucking ENJOY the power to reduce a man to a quivering puddle of goo with their bodies. Come on men, don't you too? All /. = nerd jokes aside, what man here can honestly say they don't like feeling sexy too? That they don't like feeling macho and handsome? What man doesn't enjoy the power to wow a woman with his body too?? Be it a nicely cut slice of cleavage or a well shaped bicep, we all like feeling sexy. Its hardwired into our brains. So claiming that every sexy portrayal of a woman in a game is somehow "wrong" is about as STUPID as saying breathing is wrong. I say again: Women are NOT offended by sexy women in games!!
    I know, I know... a lot of you probably don't believe me. Well look right here [womengamers.com]. Its a page all about female characters in video games. Browse through the ratings, go ahead. Check out some good examples and some bad. Notice anything? Notice any attractive females with high ratings [womengamers.com]? Women are not offended by their own genders display of sexuality and power. They love that shit just as much as guys do. What's offensive is unrealistic images and blatant focuses on sexuality. Guys, a woman is a mind and a soul as well as a body, and if they're going to play games then thats the kind of avatars they expect.

    I strongly encourage poeple to read this article [gamegirladvance.com] if you haven't already. And check out some of the quotes too. This one was on the infamous Lara Croft (sp. the box art):

    It's not the fault of the packaging. Okay, so her breasts are lethal weapons, sure. But I

    like the cover art. It shows that she's strong, she's tough, she's an adventurer, she's solo - she doesn't need a man! She *owns* those guns, and she knows how to use them. What's not to like?

    Whoa whoa whoa - back that up there. She LIKES the cover art? Lara Croft? What the hell? Look at her breasts! They're huge! And those shorts are TINY! How could any woman *LIKE* Lara Croft's signature pose? Its so blatantly sexual! By definition, all women should hate it, right?! WRONG. Like I said again and again: Women do not mind attractive females in games. They enjoy their sexuality too, because its *part* of how they define themselves as a woman. They IDENTIFY with a woman's sexual power. So what do they hate? Read on:

    But the hype surrounding Lara Croft was gross. The hype undercut her image as strong smart archeologist. The hype made her into a sex kitten.

    And BINGO! It was the marketing! The focus! Here, a female gamer was impressed not only with the attractiveness of Lara, but with her strength and confidence as well. For a b

    • by Bluesman (104513) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @08:14AM (#8846956) Homepage
      >Women are not offended by their own genders display of sexuality and power.

      Well, ugly women feel threatened by sexy women. I don't think you'll find many attractive women opposed to this sort of thing. This only reminds ugly women of their shortcomings, however. Have you noticed any hard core feminists that are REALLY hot? Probably not.
      • Doesn't it strike you as mildly ironic that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place?

        George Carlin
      • Have you noticed any hard core feminists that are REALLY hot? Probably not.

        Apparently, you've never near an arts university. Or you just don't like black sweaters and boxy glasses.
      • Lad, you really need to get out more.

        Define "sexy" and "ugly." Those are arbitrary labels you're tossing around there. I, for one, find a woman with a little extra padding to be infinitely sexier than, say, a waif. Society dictates that the waif is the attractive one.

        Screw society, I say. They typically go with stupid decisions, anyhow (Clay Aiken, anyone?). I judge who I find attractive and do not. Thus, your idea that there are "ugly" women is really, really immature thinking.

        Am I saying that

        • Umm excuse me? Society dictates? I think not. You're confusing correlation with causation. Just because most people find the waif more attractive than the chunk doesn't mean that "society" is telling them what's attractive and what's not.
          • You really think so? Go to Africa, then tell me that it isn't society dictating the standards of beauty. One of my former employees is from Nigeria, and she's a small, waif-like woman. She, herself, said she, when it came to turning men's heads, preferred being in the US as opposed to Nigeria because she isn't large enough to be considered desirable in Nigeria.

            You need to look outside of what you know. Society tells you what is attractive, lad, amonst other things. Hence the reason you put "herd" in

    • RTFA.

      The problem isn't women being potrayed as sexy. The problem is women being potrayed as weak and over-emotional.

      And there are times where the fact that a sexy woman is the protagonist in a video game can be used to negative affect. It's sort of like the way tomato soup isn't a problem in itself, but I don't like it quite so much after it's been spilled on my lap. Of course, the article didn't really get much into subtleties like that, so I guess it's a moot point.

      Assuming you read the article, I r
      • The problem isn't women being potrayed as sexy. The problem is women being potrayed as weak and over-emotional.

        Ignoring the fact that most women are (physically) weak and over-emotional (just as most men are stubborn and ignore their emotions), if Kasavin wanted to make that point, then why did he point out Samus Aran? She hardly fits that stereotype.

        Rob
    • This guy is a common sight on college campuses. He is the guy that majors in Women's Studies and calls himself a feminist in the hopes that it will get him laid. I don't think it works.
      • This guy is a common sight on college campuses. He is the guy that majors in Women's Studies and calls himself a feminist in the hopes that it will get him laid. I don't think it works.

        Very true.. no woman likes a guy who is "softer" than she is... and no man likes woman who is "harder" than he is.. it's just the way we're wired.
  • That's like saying that male authors are inherently incapable of doing an adequate job of properly presenting female characters in books. It may be true for many male authors, but I can't believe that's true for all of them.

    Just because the article author believes (rightly or wrongly) that it hasn't been done yet, doesn't mean that men are inherently incapable of doing it.
  • Why do so many men think like militant lesbians? I don't hear woman gamers complaining about how they're portrayed in games, when I hear one with a legitimate complaint, I'll take it seriously. Until then, this is just a bunch of pathetic men complaining about a demographic they likely have about as much contact with as any other part of the outside world. So far, I've seen documentary after article after essay written by nerdy men by the truckload, and not one word from an actual woman on the subject. Isn'
  • Missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Elkboy (770849) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @05:16AM (#8846038)

    The problem isn't that attractive female characters are shown, it's rather the very narrow definition of attractiveness that plauges all media. Most attractive women seem to be come from the same mold. I personally find the girl-next-door geeky girl infinitely more attractive, but then again, I'm a geek myself.

    Objectification is another problem. I completely agree with the criticism against Lara Croft and how a strong, capable kick ass woman is reduced to drool material by stupid marketing. It's perfectly fine with me to drool over her body, but when that's all there is to her, something's wrong.

    As for Yorda in Ico, I agree that not playing the full game is unfair, but she's also a product of a society (Japan) that still is very inequal. I believe her passiveness and inability is as much a game device as it is a reflection of the view of girls in Japan. Compared to other kinds of oppression, Ico is a harmless fantasy for boys in the end. I mean, who hasn't dreamed of being a hero and saving the girl?

    • As for Yorda in Ico, I agree that not playing the full game is unfair, but she's also a product of a society (Japan) that still is very inequal. I believe her passiveness and inability is as much a game device as it is a reflection of the view of girls in Japan. Compared to other kinds of oppression, Ico is a harmless fantasy for boys in the end. I mean, who hasn't dreamed of being a hero and saving the girl?

      Seriously, people... we're talking about a character who has been abused, locked in a cage, and ca
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The author of this article is obviously gay! I don't hear him complaining about having to look at male character's perfectly chiseled features and gleaming chest muscles as he carries a 6 foot long double-barreled gun of justice.
  • by Spoing (152917) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @06:23AM (#8846228) Homepage
    ...they aren't even questions. They are like religious statements of dogma. Like religions...
    1. If you aren't in the group what you think or say or do does not matter since your opinion is somehow tainted.

    Hold on a moment, since it gets worse as far as women's studies go. (I took a class...more below.)

    Right or wrong, supported by evidence or not, the mere support by evidence or the rightness or wrongness comes from your perspective. In the case of women's studies, statements -- right/wrong/evidence/... -- are even 'male constructions'.

    If you are a woman you can't give the male perspective completely...if you are a man, your whole 'male dominiated thought process that ignores shades of grey' works against you being able to comment effectively.

    You might agree or disagree...it doesn't matter. You agree, that's nice. You disagree, you obviously don't understand you poor schmuck.

    (The class on women's issues: Entering the class, I was sympathetic and thought I understood. Yet, as 1 of 2 men in the class I was constantly told any opinion I had -- including having an opinion at all -- was wrong since I should not comment since I'm not a woman. I left with a whole lot less sympathy for women after that.)

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @07:08AM (#8846456)
    "The author references Metroid ("I don't appreciate that Samus being a woman is a punch line")"

    Yeah, that Metroid game, nothin' but a barrel of laughs...

    If Samus' sex is a "punch line," what was the joke?

    I admit that the character art at the end of the two GBA games makes me roll my eyes (a little too "cheesecake" for my tastes), but here he's arguing that the entire premise is flawed, that her sex is a gimmick no matter what she may look like. This makes me wonder just what he thinks about women in general. He seems to be awfully sensitive to Samus' lack of a Y-chromosone and I wonder if this means that he finds the idea of a woman doing all those things to be unbelievable. After all, he's the only one I've seen who thinks her sex is a "punch line" to begin with.

    "each game in the series encourages them to reach the finish line as quickly as possible to catch a glimpse of the woman beneath the suit."

    Personally, I try to get the endings so I can catch a glimpse of the person beneath the suit. One of the series' cornerstone is the tantalizingly little information on just who she is and why she does what she does. I'm more interested in situations and facial expressions than her body (and on that note I'm happier with what Retro did with her than what Nintendo has done in the last two GBA installments). I chalk the cheesecake up as a failing by Nintendo to understand just what makes the games popular outside of Japan to begin with, the inability of a group of Japanese programmers to quite relate to gaijin gamers, not a failing of men in general.

    Being as sensitive as he is to the pictures at the end, why exactly does the author himself play through the games? How many other gamers here are actually encouraged by the drawings of a scantilly-dressed woman at the end of the game?

    Ah, wait a second...

    "That's also not what I've been taught by my parents. My mother is a neurologist. Her mother is a physician, as well. The women have always worn the pants in my family, so to speak. Perhaps this helps you understand my perspective."

    Now this is interesting. Here he implies that women must "wear the pants" in order to be worth something.

    "Alis wears a pink hair band, lipstick, and a skirt, but she's still OK in my book."

    I'm as sick of seeing women in pink as much as the next guy, but I didn't realize that actually liking pink is such a black mark against a woman. They can have any favorite color in the spectrum so long as it's not pink?

    I think his problem is that he's equating strong female characters with characters acting more male, that men are inherently better and women must act more like men to be better themselves.

    Personally, the more I think of what I've seen Samus do so far, I'm not sure if she could have been a man.
    • If Samus' sex is a "punch line," what was the joke?

      The joke, at least in the original Metroid, is the player's assumption throughout the game that Samus is a man.

      Take it from a girl who goes by a semi-androgynous name on various video game/anime forums (Slashdot Games notwithstanding, obviously). I've been mistaken for a male multiple times; it's just what people come to expect when they see such a vague, non-feminine name coupled with a personality like mine.

      • by BTWR (540147)
        The joke, at least in the original Metroid, is the player's assumption throughout the game that Samus is a man.

        It wasn't a "joke" to find out Samus was a girl. It's not like we saw the suit, and figured "Oh man, here comes the dude with the huge muscles! Oh, wait! A chick? That's hysterical!"

        If anything, I was "surprised" by the revelation in that I wasn't expecting anything like that. Would the same "surprise" been there had Samus been revealed to be Black? What if they zoomed out and we saw that
  • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @07:56AM (#8846800) Homepage Journal
    I think men are inherently incapable of doing an adequate job of properly presenting female characters in games."

    !

    If we're going to be sexist, how about we also field the equally-ignorant "women are inherently weaker and more in need of rescue than men."

    Was Laura Croft, Tifa, or the women in Soulcalibur (or other fighting games) programmed by a woman? Are they somehow "adequate" depictions of women--in a way that the same depictions of men are adequate?
  • by danaris (525051) <danaris @ m ac.com> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @08:08AM (#8846891) Homepage

    ...because I can think of several "fair" portrayals of women in games.

    First, let's look at the Final Fantasy series. I can only speak to the ones I've played, so here goes:

    • Final Fantasy 6:
      • Tina--strong woman, though she has some emotional baggage due to being only half-human. Never portrayed as particularly "sexy," though she's quite pretty in most official images of her (kind of hard to tell from her sprite ;-) )
      • Celes--definitely a strong woman! She was a general in the army, for Mu's sake! Not only that, but she can use every bit as big a sword as any guy in the game (same goes for Tina).
      • Relm--she may only be 10 (or so; I forget her exact age), but she's awesome. She takes the womanizing Edgar down a few notches with her wit, and has more spirit in her than any roomful of "typical" videogame characters.
      Don't see much to fret over there.
    • Final Fantasy 7:
      • Aeri(s|th)--She may not be physically strong, but she certainly has a strong personality. Not to mention she sacrifices her life to save the planet. A bit more stereotypically "weak needs-to-be-protected girl," but hey, some girls really DO need to be protected.
      • Tifa--OK, here we're getting into kind of shaky ground, not for her character, which I think is fantastic, but for her looks, which are a little over the top...take that how you will...especially in FMVs.
      • Yuffie--heh, you've gotta love Yuffie. She's cute, tough, and funny; what more do you want?
      Again, no real indication that men are "incapable" of portraying women fairly.
    • Final Fantasy 9:
      • Dagger/Garnet: She's beautiful, tough, strong, and still vulnerable at times. I can find no unfairness whatsoever in the portrayal of Garnet's character. Nor is she visually portrayed as anything stereotypical.
      • Freya: Not particularly feminine (and not even human); however, she's also both strong and sensitive. Included because she's technically female ;-)
      • Eiko: Cross Relm with Yuffie, and you've got Eiko. 'Nuf said.
      Still not seeing much problem here.
    • Final Fantasy X/X-2:
      • Lulu: Let's...not go into Lulu too much. She's the first real example so far of a woman I find quite unrealistic.
      • Rikku: Very much like Yuffie, but shows more real emotion than she does. She's genki, she's cute, and she's fighting against a millennium of persecution of her people. (And she's about the same in FFX-2) I really like Rikku ;-)
      • Yuna (FFX): Now, Yuna in FFX is the only main-character girl in the Final Fantasies I've played who is really the shy, quiet, needs-protecting type. She's still far from one-dimensional, though; after all, her motivation is to sacrifice herself to save the world.
      • Yuna (FFX-2): In FFX-2, Yuna is very different, though, interestingly, you can see the seeds of her new self in her old. She has become a strong leader, very energetic--but now her motivation is to find her one true love.
      • Paine (FFX-2): She's kind of Goth, but no one would argue that she's a stereotypical woman of any stripe. No one would want to mess with Paine.

    Well, that's all the Final Fantasies I've played through, and in all of that, there isn't a single example of the kind of "unfair" treatment the article was talking about. True, some of them are visually portrayed as "sexy" (though only Tifa, I think, is specifically made sexy without being especially pretty), but this is not at the expense of their character.

    Maybe it just goes to show that in the type of action games he's talking about, no one bothers to make the story or characters believable. (I know that's not universally true, but I also know it is true in some cases) RPGs, I have found, tend to make more of an effort than other genres to make their stories and characters if not realistic, at least believable and human. This is probably because their primary purpose is to tell a story.

    Dan Aris

    • I don't know... I don't think there are many "unfair" portrayals of women in Final Fantasy games, but it seems like you're looking at some of them (Yuffie, Eiko, Tifa) merely on the surface.

      For example, you forgot to mention that Yuffie has a staunch sense of nationalism that is unlike any other character in the Final Fantasy series (though Wakka's loyalty to his religious beliefs comes close). She feels humiliated by her nation's defeat in war and steals Materia as a means to help her people become power

      • I realize that several of these are quite superficial characterizations, but I didn't want to make my post longer than it already was; I felt pretty long-winded as it was ;-)

        I don't like Lulu very much, and it's partly because, to me, she seems like a token character, put in there almost to "cater" to guys who like women of that type, and to give a different kind of Black Mage than we've seen before. I think that she could have been a much better character, but the writers of the game didn't give her much

    • Then again, in Final Fantasy, the men seem to be more stereotypical female than the women themselves.
  • Video gaming is still a relatively new medium and it hasn't yet attracted a lot of writers who have the skill and/or desire to write outside of stereotypes for either sex.

    Well-written characters, though, might always be few and far between. Take a look at television today and ask any demographic how often they are acurately represented on the screen.

    Alex.
  • by superultra (670002) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @08:13AM (#8846944) Homepage
    Someone has already discussed ICO. So here's some other games Greg apparently didn't play.

    Beyond Good & Evil: Not only is the main character strong, forceful, and not sexualized, there are several other characters in the game that are as active in the resistance movement as she is. I guess Greg was one of those people who didn't buy it.

    Prince of Persia: So you save the Princess. But once you do (and she kind of saves you, the male), she's forthwright, mostly capable, and witty. And exhibits a remarkable ability to slide through cracks. Still, it's quite obvious as you play the game that your character, male character, is an obnoxious idiot, and that the Princess has been right all along.

    KOTOR: Not only can your main character be a female, but one of the primary NPCs is also a Princess-Leia-esque female. Sure, you save her, but she doesn't really need it. Same goes for another female member of your party. They're both quite capable. Well, as long as you level them up. So I guess Greg was focusing on the stereotypical macho Mandalorin?

    Deus Ex: IW: Again, main character can be female or male. One of the supporting female characters is diplomat of one of the paths you can take, and is quite forceful.

    There's many others, but I'm getting bored of listing them for someone who probably doesn't care. Immediately I'm thinking of Anachronox, Panzeer Dragoon Orta, and then there's a large portion of the old Sierra adventure games. The King's Quest series, the Gabriel Knight series, Phantasmagoria series, and the Quest for Glory series were all developed by women. If I thought a little harder than Greg did in his article, I think I could conjure up some more.

    So Greg might have a point: in the games he plays, which doesn't seem like many save the original Metroid and the first 2 hours of ICO, women are probably under-represented. For the rest of us, you know, the people that play games, I think it's fair to say that while it's not an equal representation yet, it's far better than it was even 5 years ago. And oh yeah Greg, you make mention of it, but apparently not enough to convince yourself. There are quite a few women in leadership positions in the game industry, who are approving these "embarassing" "malecentric" games. For example, the president of Activision is a women [activision.com]. Hmm. Greg doesn't play games, and he doesn't know about the people that make them. Can I be executive editor too?
    • I immediately thought of Beyond Good and Evil while reading the blurb, and right up there with it is the more recent Kya: Dark Lineage. Kya is a kung-fu goddess with magical boomerang skills who has to save her brother from her father. I don't know what more Greg could want.

      Although Kya's gender doesn't play into the game itself, during the credits she does a quite fetching come-hither dance for all the fanboys. I think we got the best of all worlds with this game...in respect to gender differences, an

  • A few points about the article..

    One of my theories is: The worst thing about today's games is that they're developed almost exclusively by men.

    This alone is a sexist statement. If it were being made against women in any industry the writer of the article would be up to his ass in feminazi groups bitching about him. But to move on...

    At any rate, I'm sure we all agree that today's games (notwithstanding casual games and a handful of other exceptions) are predominantly malecentric,

    They should be
  • No I'm not a ST nerd but I think this is pretty hilarious:

    "Spock, the women on your planet are logical. No other planet in the galaxy can make that claim."

    This story proves it!
  • Please keep in mind that a man's second brain lies within his crotch and it is always barking subliminal commands to us from our nether regions whenever dealing with the fairer sex.

    While completely capable of rationale thought amongst other men, our species tends to go retarded around women. This is highlighted by our fear of women in the workplace and in the military for so long.

    Our retardedness even goes further so that even when imagining women, we can only imagine what we saw in our state of retardedn
  • Samus... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gamgee5273 (410326) * on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:21AM (#8847668) Homepage Journal
    I found the article to be laughable. The picture of Samus has the question of "Do you believe this is a tough-as-nails bounty hunter?" or somesuch.

    What does he want? A butch dyke chewing on a cigar, wearing camo and a black tank top and with one combat boot-clad foot propped up on a dead Ridley's head?

    The fellow's intentions are good, but he undercuts himself in most of his argument. By simply saying Samus, as presented, cannot be a tough bounty hunter is, in itself, discriminatory. Hypocrite.

    • What does he want? A butch dyke chewing on a cigar, wearing camo and a black tank top and with one combat boot-clad foot propped up on a dead Ridley's head?

      That'd be pretty cool, actually. Well, maybe not the camo, since it'd be under her suit anyway.
  • by Snowmit (704081) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:26AM (#8847728) Homepage
    So a man writes an article about how men are inherently incapable of portraying women properly in a videogame.

    He knows this because so far, no man has ever portrayed a woman properly in a video game.

    He knows that women have never been properly portrayed because he has a good idea as to how they should be portrayed and none of the women in videogames has ever measured up.

    He is a man so he inherently doesn't know how to portray women properly.

    But he knows how they should be portrayed.

    But he can't know how they should be portrayed.

    But...BRAIN EXPLODY

    Thank you GameSpotting. Your amazing Zen koan has caused me to reach enlightenment.
  • I have to agree... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by njord (548740)

    The portrayal of women in media is not accurate, in general. While mediums such as books and music have reached a point where women are dealt with as honestly as men (which is often not very honest, mind you), games and films (to a lesser extent) have a long way to go towards balancing their portrayal of the sexes.

    The issue here is not necessarily that women should portrayed in complete honesty, but that they should be subject to no more or no less exaggeration than men. Men in films are typically clever/i

    • This guy's argument is screwed, and here's why. Women can be represented two ways in games - graphically, and who that character "is" - by which I mean the story and experiences that make up the character from a dramatic standpoint. Are women distorted visually? Of course. So are 99.9% of all the male characters. *Everything* in games is exaggerated. Who the hell wants to play a mini-van driving sim? Nobody. Who wants to go 210 in an F1 car? Everybody. Who wants to play video paintball? Nobody. Who wants to
  • by hambonewilkins (739531) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @09:41AM (#8847885)
    If we want videogames to be taken seriously, as art, then this needs to change. When people attack violent videogames and we come to their defense by saying "you don't attack movies or books, etc" then our videogames need to be better. They need better writing, better characters, etc. If we want to call them art, they need to be art. Tetris is art. Tomb Raider is not.

    If we stick with the Lara Crofts, we will still be relegated as "oh, stupid, mindless videogame players". We need smarter games.

    Want to know why women play the Sims and Sim City? Because they are just good games (without stupid or ditzy or whorish women).

    • If we stick with the Lara Crofts, we will still be relegated as "oh, stupid, mindless videogame players". We need smarter games.

      Smarter games? Like what, puzzle games? Flight simulator games? Adventure games? (Almost all of which are now niche games)

    • by Syncdata (596941)
      Comic fans debate how to get some respect for comics as a legitimate story telling medium. I've long held that so long as the average female character has breasts larger than her head, the medium is going to be regarded as purile.
      The same issue confronts videogames. No, they are not all marketed solely at 13 year old males with power fantasies. But most are. And that's precisely why both comics and videogames are regarded as illegitimate mediums.
    • "If you want videogames to be taken seriously, as art, then this needs to change" oh and I suppose that me pissing in a clear bucket and putting a crucifix in it is art too?

      Get off your high horse and stop pretending like you are better then the rest of us. The fact of the matter is these video games are created for a single purpose, to sell. Sex sells so women are portrayed in various ways. You can't change economics, you can't change desire. It's just the reality of life. Not to mention most of the
  • Yes. All games designed by men should contain only male characters, and all games designed by women should contain only female characters.

    More seriously, the article is right. Can we have some non-awful female characters already?
  • I think this is a good example of using a word ("men") to stand for an entire group of people. In a sense use of such words are stereotyping, but I don't think the negative connotation of "stereotype" is appropriate.

    Here the author is using the word "men" to describe something that all of us readily understand. But try to come up with an example of a man. Perhaps like me, you can choose yourself. Regardless, is that man one of the "men" she's referring to? Probably not. The word "men" and "man" (or others
  • Unreal (Score:4, Funny)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:29PM (#8850170)
    well, at the risk of getting flamed...

    I thought the female Juggernauts in Unreal Tournament are a spot-on representation of some lesbian activists I've met in the past. ;)
  • by Discoflamingo13 (90009) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @02:57PM (#8851986) Homepage Journal
    <UltimateMetroid> who here plays metroid?
    <Daishi> I only play it cause you gotta know samus is hot under that suit
    <UltimateMetroid> fag
    <Daishi> dumbass
    #49529 [bash.org]

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