A Conversation

Keflyn

I’m writing a blog entry on how there is no articles on male representation in games and asking why its ok for men to be stereotyped but not women

16:37Rachel

it’s a good plan, i need to write something similar

have you found no articles on it?

16:38Keflyn

I’m gonna say how maybe its all down to jealously at the end of the post xD

16:38Rachel

haha what that we’re jealous of characters?

16:38Keflyn

No, i’ve typed it in and just got articles on women..

Your jealous of the way the characters look its why you complain about them

16:39 Rachel

maybe a little, but i’d never want to look as slaggish as some

16:39 Keflyn

That’s why i’m saying it might be down to jealously

also wrote about how it might have to do with other media and how skinny women are considered as unhealthy and a bad influence on womens health but muscly men aren’t

16:40Rachel

i think the thing with the beefy male issue is that in fighting games,you have to be beefy to fight

but that doesn’t explain why they give them generic hard-man looks

like their face n stuff

16:41Keflyn

but women in them games as well wouldn’t be as skinny as they are

16:41Rachel

nah they’d be muscly and in very good shape

i don’t mind women like that

it’s when they’re bikini clad that it annoys me

16:42Keflyn

but even magic users and stuff are always skinny as well

16:42Rachel

true

16:42Keflyn

i mean there not skinny

there equally as muscly

16:43Rachel

mm i get ye

16:43Keflyn

i mention how men are always muscly killing machines in games

16:44Rachel

it depends what the story is

a lot of fighting games stories are “killing machine getting revenge”

if you wrote that in a book no one would buy it

16:45Keflyn

nope

16:46Keflyn

its just weird how there is hardly any or nothing on male representation in games, its like the way there shown is perfect

16:48Rachel

doesn’t that show guys don’t care or don’t want to admit they they care?

16:48Keflyn

That’s what I said

but even is the minority of men are effected by it why shouldn’t they try to appeal to them like they do with women?

16:50Rachel

do a poll

ask if guys care what their characters look like

and if it turns out they do

ask people why they don’t do anything about it?

16:51Keflyn

I might do

16:52Rachel

i’d of thought women do because they’ve always been degraded by men

and the games industry is one of the only art/media one’s left to not really include women

16:53Keflyn

But would you like it if we made every female character really ugly?

16:54Rachel

it’s not about the looks, it’s about the way they’re dressed

their personalities

sometimes the looks- if they’re not even real proportions. Like when lara crofts head was smaller than her waist

16:54Keflyn

Lara croft and Nariko are sure not wearing much but there personality is about being a strong women? Men personalities in games arent always the best alot of the time there equally as annoying

16:55Rachel

but most games are good with that

16:56Rachel

lara doesn’t wear much, but she never has her cleavage out

the only thing is the shorts

16:56Keflyn

I’ve seen you wear shorts like that before :):)

16:56Rachel

yup : D

which is why i don’t mind lara

16:57Keflyn

But alot of women DO dress like alot of the female characters in games

16:57Rachel

i’d of thought it was more the other way round

it kinda goes Media>Women>Games

16:57Keflyn

Thats what I mean, women in real life do wear equally as little clothes as some female characters in games

16:58Rachel

but women in real life aren’t going out fighting monsters

and most of the time they dress in little when they’re going on nights out

17:00Keflyn

I just don’t feel that women put up a good argument when it comes to this stuff because most of them are as bad as the characters. Its like when black people hate racism and being called the N word but alot of them use it themselves

17:00Rachel

i agree completely, women slag themselves up a lot

but if they were told “you’ve been missioned to fight off Lord Ezergold” or something

17:01Keflyn

yes its bad for the girls who dont but if you don’t stop doing it as a whole how can you expect the other media to?

17:01Rachel

they wont put their sexy shoes on and a bikini

17:02Keflyn

I dont think i’ve see a game where a girl in high heels and a bikini is fighting in world war 2

17:02Rachel

they released a game recently with girls in bikinis fighting zombies

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/02/10/hot-girls-slicing-up-zombies-is-something-we-can-immediately-ide/

and there’s another with this women in a latex onsie with ridiculously long legs and high heels

17:03Keflyn

thats one of them cheap arms they try to appeal to the men in order to make quick money

17:04Rachel

exactly

17:04Keflyn

i dont count them as games because there stupid

17:04Rachel

but a huge group of men got together and thought that was a good idea

17:04Keflyn

its not a serious game though.

17:04Rachel

and they’re in the game industry

it doesn’t make me laugh

17:05Keflyn

Its one of them games that were made for the purpose of horny guys

its not like one of them games that try to appeal to the mass market.

17:06Rachel

that doesn’t give it an excuse to make it though

17:06Keflyn

no but if they made a game with men in underwear nothing would be said

17:06Rachel

you don’t see any games out there where you play a beefy jerk in a leopard print thong

it would!

no one would buy it

maybe for a joke

17:07Keflyn

and you think people will buy that game?

17:07Rachel

not at all

none of my friends would like it

17:07Keflyn

I still dont think that game is as bad as the play boy game that was created by a female

17:08Rachel

but females are what playboy is all about

it’s sad

it puts women down

playboy women just want to look like porn

and that’s what’s seen as desirable

17:08Keflyn

but a women made that game so why is it always blamed on the men?

17:09Rachel

so suddenly we’re all put under pressure cause guys think women like looking like that

because the men are the majority

17:09Keflyn

the majority of gamers are men too

17:09Rachel

60% yeah

17:11Keflyn

blaming the majority isnt the way to do it

17:12Rachel

i’m afriad that’s how most people work

17:13Keflyn

and thats how people try to sell stuff by appealing to the majority

17:13Rachel

and it’s wrong

maybe women would be the majority if people tried to make games that they liked

but they don’t want to

because they think they’re the minority, and dont play games

17:14Keflyn

What sort of game would you like there to be?

17:15Rachel

i’m not a very good example cause most games please me. But i do enjoy puzzle related ones

like tomb raider

i don’t even know myself what women want

it’s hard to know if you’ve never tried it cause it’s not been made

17:16Keflyn

Lara Croft is wearing acceptable clothing for what she does, she is in alot of very hot places

17:16Rachel

she is

and they need to be durable, not like latex jump suits

which is why i don’t mind what she wears

17:17Keflyn

people complain about her body proportions aswell but she is just as exaggerated as alot of males bodys

17:17Rachel

i think old lara was a bit too unbelievable

but i like the way she is now

pretty much the same as angelina

17:18Keflyn

but look at He Man for example. he is a rediculos size and only steriods would get you there.

17:18Rachel

it’s funny cause if you look at the US army, the UK army too, they’re not beefy at all

they’re in good shape

but they don’t look like a killing machine

17:19Keflyn

exactly,, but in games there muscles have been doubled in size to that of a body builder

17:20Keflyn

that wouldnt be realistic in a game

17:20Rachel

i agree

but they’re made like that because that’s what the designer is jealous of

it’s all about fantasy

women characters are an object of someone’s fantasy

17:21Keflyn

I just think people like to complain

17:21Rachel

what they want the woman to look like

and so are men

17:22Keflyn

There all made to that state that is consider “perfect”

17:22Rachel

i think there are just a lot of social issues out there that give people something to complain about

yeah

it’s so hard

like

there are loads of women out there that are slags

and dress like it

and a lot of men like that, the woman is pretty much dressed to say ‘i’m up for it’

everything about them, small waist, big boobs, good features attracts male attention, cause that’s what genetics is about

which then puts pressure on the not so good looking people to dress like them

or they think they wouldn’t stand a chance with men

and they’re right, i’ve been shunned by loads of guys because i don’t look pretty

17:25Keflyn

Thats why

maybe its because they were just not attracted to you?

it doesnt mean your ugly

17:26Rachel

so that’s probably why sometimes i like to dress a bit sexy because i feel it’s making up for the fact i have low self image issues

17:27Keflyn

I’ve spoken to so many people that think your attractive Rachel and very pretty so its all down to personal prefrence.

17:27Rachel

oh..thanks haha

17:28Keflyn

I think a girl is more un attrative when she dresses like a slag

17:28Rachel

me too

17:28Keflyn

some dont

17:28Rachel

it was on tv yesterday on that sex ed programme that’s out now

17:28Keflyn

Thats why I think the girls in men mags are ugly.

17:28Rachel

i think some guys will want to have sex with a woman like that but then after want nothing to do with them

everything about the girl will turn them on but once they’ve got what they wanted they don’t need her anymore

17:29Keflyn

Are you as offended by pornos and men mag as you are when it comes to games that display women in the same way?

17:29Rachel

yes

i would never want to look like the girls in them

but at the same time there are things i want to improve on myself

17:30Keflyn

when they create games like that they are trying to appeal to that market because thats where they see the money is

17:31Rachel

totally

17:31Keflyn

then there are games like The Sims that appeal more to females

17:31Rachel

but i think they’re ignoring the fact there is money in girls too

17:31Keflyn

and they try to aim it more towards that market

17:31Rachel

i think a lot of women like ‘toys’ like the sims, and spore

because it’s more creative

17:32Keflyn

There not ignoring it, they just not bothered by it,They find it easier to appeal to the 60% of males then to the females

17:32Rachel

true

17:32Keflyn

even you said you don’t know what girls want from games

Continue reading

Her Interactive & Beyond: The History of the Girl Game Movement

JULY 16, 2008 – LOS ANGELES – Forty percent of gamers are women according to a new survey released today by the video game industry’s trade group, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

With this in mind, the questions seems to be: Why are games not being made for women?

Or are they?picture-12

-An Extract from Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding the Market, Sheri Graner Ray

Unfortunately, Publishers, under the distorted view that girls don’t play games, turned them away. With the formation of Her Initiative came their first self-published game, McKenzie & Co. (96). The game is based on the every day life of a girl (McKenzie). As the player, you are required to attend school where you complete tests and socialize with friends etc (These are done by completing mini-games). You can also visit the mall and buy clothes and return home to talk to your friends over the phone. The idea is simple, but the game sold 80,000 units.

Full Review

Next to hit the shelves was the Queen of play herself, Barbie Fashion Designer (Mattel, 97). Already with a reputation as being the girls toy, it was hardly surprising to see the game sell 600,000 units in its first year and become popular with young girls (including me). Again the concept of the game was simple, design outfits for Barbie and watch her show them off on the catwalk. The game even provided you with fabric to print the designs onto (though this was usually quite difficult, expensive and never looked as nice as on the computer screen). However, even with the success of Barbie Fashion Designer, any new release that attempted to follow in its footsteps would never matched the figures and eventually companies such as Purple Moon and Mattel closed their doors.

picture-3

-An extract from Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding the Market, Sheri Graner Ray

OK, so far the games mentioned have been aimed at girls.  But is that what we really want? Saying that companies are missing out 40% of the market by not designing games for girls is just as bad as a company designing a game only for girls. This means they lose 60% of their market. However, the game would probably attract more non-gamers so the percentage would rise and they would continue to make more money. But what if they made a game that was both desirable for girls and boys?

When I think back to playing games as a young girl, I never questioned why I liked more games than others. As I mentioned before, one of the games I owned was Barbie Fashion Designer. Thinking back, I can remember it feeling more like a toy than an actual game. In an interview with the BBC, Nancy Smith revealed that “To some degree The Sims is more of a toy than a game. People want to create characters, tell stories and explore relationships in a way that is maybe different from their real lives.”. I totally agree with this statement, I have many friends that play The Sims but would not consider themselves a gamer. I also have friends that consider themselves a gamer, but have no interest in The Sims at all. Personally, I enjoy playing The Sims and consider myself a gamer too. I brought this up because as a child Barbie Fashion Designer felt more like a toy than a game that both I (who played other games) and my sister (who had little interest in other games) could both enjoy.

I find it interesting that even though my sister and I were brought up in the same environment, exposed to the same games, access to a computer and are both female, that we are both very different people (Like most siblings). Games we were brought up with include titles such as Barbie Magic Hair Styler, Barbie Fashion Designer, Tomb Raider, Catz, Dogz, The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Theme Park World, GTA, Tekken, Worms, Max Payne, DDR and various others. I split the games up into two categories:

Games I Like:

All of the above

Games She Likes:

Both Barbie games, Catz, Dogz, The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Theme Park World and DDR.

Most of the games listed here all lack one thing in common: A goal. The theme park games did have some goals, such as making a certain amount of money or getting a certain number of customers through the door. But we only ever played the game in Sandbox mode, which ruled out goals and let you have free reign. As for DDR, it wasn’t about competing against the other player, more like being able to master each song and enjoying the physical activity that came with it.

However, although she had no interest in the other games listed, she would happily sit and watch me play them. Another interesting point brought up by Sheri Graner Ray was an observation of a female member of staff in an arcade. Boys would often enter the arcade with their girlfriends at their side, walk over to a machine and start playing. The girl would follow and watch from behind, occasionally going over to other machines to watch but always returning to her boyfriends side. Does this mean that women get more out of the visuals of a game? So much so that they can eliminate play all together and still hold interest. I’ll save that one for another time

In conclusion, I don’t think that all games in the past were gender exclusive. Creating a gender biased game may not be the answer to creating the perfect game for girls, but maybe there is a market (my sister for example, and others like her). However, ignoring the difference in gender altogether is just as bad, as there are obvious differernces. In Part 2 I will be looking at what it is exactly that girls want in games, and how this differs from what has been and is being marketed.

Letting the Team Down?

resident-evil-5-011

As it is the release of Resident Evil 5 today and I have spent the last few hours hovering over my friend’s shoulder watching him play it, I unfortunately found myself disappointed at what could of been a potentially good female game character. It’s not the way Sheva is dressed, nor how she looks or or the way she speaks. In fact, it’s absolutely no fault of her own. Let me explain… Within only a few minutes of play, my friend had already formed a hatred towards this woman. Because she is an AI partner to the playable character ‘Chris Redfield’, she will obviously have drawbacks. Getting in the way, shooting when you don’t want her to, using health spray when you don’t want it etc. This is usually the norm when having a partner in a game, but unfortunately she’s setting the example for the female species. And from what I heard emit from my friends mouth the past few hours, she’s not doing a good job.

A few examples:

“Move out the way, b***h!”

“F*****g b***h!”

“Can she be any more stupid?”

“Don’t use it now you daft b***h”

etc.. etc.. And not too long after, another friend game to visit and they both exchanged angry words regarding Shiva. I’m sure the intentions of using a female partner were good, but I think instead of portraying a strong, willful, respectable character, she has been observed to be an annoying, daft, stupid, waste-of-space woman. I hope that in meeting more Resident Evil 5 players, I will find someone who holds a different opinion.

The Size 16 Heroine

Whilst browsing the forums of www.womengamers.com I came across this post in an article that is discussing women in power. The user posted:

“…it’s been proven that women make up a huge percentage of the game market but I suspect that game manufacturers are far too scared that they’ll have to ‘stick ponies in’ to make games for appealing to the woman gamer- but that is ridiculous, women like a lot of the games that men play they just don’t appreciate the sexualisation of the female form, that constantly appears in games. When was the last time that a female heroine was a good ol’ (UK) size 16? Mind you, there are similar problems with the representation of women in mainstream film.”

The sentence I’m interested in I put into Bold. Now I do agree with what this user has to say, I don’t think I’ve ever played the character of a size 16 heroine in a game. However, (and this depends on the genre) characters need to be in good physical condition. Would the game be any more believable watching the size 16 heroine run for hours at a time without getting tired, fighting off other characters/creatures. Surely by the end of the game the character would of lost weight and ended up looking similar to the females already starring in current games? The problem I have with the way most women are portrayed in games is their appearance and attire (I thought it would be interesting to mention the avatar of this poster was the face of a beautiful female character).

Just to make sure this applies to all genres, I browsed for a full list. Looking at each one, I questioned what shape the character must be in, in order to believably act out the story. 3 out of the 21 genres mentioned came across as not needing a character to be in peak physical shape. These were adventure, racing games and sport.

Adventure games mostly involve story and puzzle solving. Therefore the character can pretty much be any shape or size (within reason) in order to do this.

Racing games such as Mario Kart already include larger characters. Mario isn’t buff, nor is Wario. However, I can’t say the same for the blonde, beautiful and slender Princess Peaches. Despite this, physical shape would make little difference when driving a car (unless the game is a serious driving game where weight may slow the car down).

Sport games depend on what sport it is. Football is obvious, if the games are serious. And usually base their characters on real footballers, which are always in good physical condition. The same applies to Basketball. However, my 78 year old grandma and 80 year old grandpa plays golf and they aren’t exactly muscled out to the max. Real life golfers don’t need to be either, unless they choose to of course.

What Does Gender Mean?

Before beginning my study into this topic, if I had been asked the question: What defies gender? I would of most likely of said ‘being male or female’. I have a feeling if I was to ask this question to others, I would receive a similar answer. You see it all the time in the world around you, from having to choose ‘M’ or ‘F’ on a form to shopping in the female/male section of the store. Whilst searching for the true meaning of gender, I came across these definitions:

“Gender is determined socially; it is the societal meaning assigned to male and female.  Each society emphasizes particular roles that each sex should play, although there is wide latitude in acceptable behaviors for each gender” (Hesse-Biber, S. and Carger, G. L., 2000, p. 91).

“Gender is used to describe those characteristics of women and men, which are socially constructed, while sex refers to those which are biologically determined. People are born female or male but learn to be girls and boys who grow into women and men. This learned behaviour makes up gender identity and determines gender roles” (World Health Organization, 2002, p. 4).

“Gender is the division of people into two categories, “men” and “women.”  Through interaction with caretakers, socialization in childhood, peer pressure in adolescence, and gendered work and family roles women and men are socially constructed to be different in behavior, attitudes, and emotions.  The gendered social order is based on and maintains these differences” (Borgatta, E.F. and Montgomery, R.J.V, 2000, p. 1057).


Gender Relations, Definition of
“Gender relations refer to a complex system of personal and social relations of domination and power through which women and men are socially created and maintained and through which they gain access to power and material resources or are allocated status within society” (IFAD, 2000, p. 4).

The common denominator here is that gender is learned through social experiences, where the learnt role can vary depending on your upbringing.

“In pre-industrial Europe, for example, the practice of medicine (Other than midwifery) was generally seen as a male prerogative. However, in Russia, health care was more often seen as a feminine role. The results of these views can still be seen in modern society, where European medicine is most often practiced by men, while the majority of Russian doctors are women.”- Source

So what’s the difference between Gender and Sex? They are often referred to as meaning the same thing, even the first definition above uses the word ‘Sex’ to refer to gender. In My Gender Workbook, Kate Bornstein attempts to put the two into a chart to help define each meaning, where sex is defined as the act of sex and gender is distinguishing between two people.

Picture 1Bornstein also expands on the definitions of gender assignment, role, identity, and attribution:

Picture 2– Extract from My Gender Workbook, taken from Google Books.

Introduction

In creating this blog, I hope to achieve a further understanding of the issue of Gender in both games and towards gamers themselves. In order to do this, I will conduct research using books, websites, articles, lectures and discussion with relevant others.

It came to my attention recently that representation in games is a sensitive topic. With the release of the Resident Evil 5 demo containing the potentially racist and/or sexist content, debates have cropped up between those who believe it is indeed racist and those who don’t. Although the major issue here is racism, which I won’t be covering, the scene they are referring to was also claimed to be sexist.

Despite being female, and a gamer, the main reason I chose this topic of discussion is my enthusiasm and interest in gender differences. Since studying Psychology in A Level, I became aware of the issue of gender differences, stereotypes and bias. I plan to apply this knowledge throughout my study as I believe even though the syllabus did not cover games, it does not mean it cannot be applied.

In completing my study and thus ending this blog, I hope to not only enlighten myself but others who stumble across it.