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04/16/2003

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Sparrow

First off - I'm a guy. Just so people don't get mistaken ;) .

Vihena, I'm in two minds about your comment on Shion (Xenosaga). Yes, she occasionally behaves in a stereotypically female way, but she's just as often a loose cannon with precious little self-preservation instinct (and I say this with the utmost respect ;). In that sense, I'd say Shion is a much better model for female characters than Lara Croft (who's basically a guy trapped in a woman's body). However, I do have to observe that EVERY female character in the game either gets a panty shot (in the case of the underage ones) or sports highly-visible cleavage - so it's not quite THAT liberating. Episode 2 is looking significantly less exploitative, though.

I've never been particularly impressed with Tomb Raider. Played the demo of the first game when it came out; wasn't interested in playing any more. As for RPGs like Arcanum, I'm a little disturbed that female characters are encouraged to use their sexuality as a "tool" to get ahead in the game. I don't see that as being particularly liberating - it does help a little, however, when you have the option afterwards to fill the slimy bastich, and his 20 bodyguards, with buckshot (Fallout 2).

And for what it's worth, I did enjoy DOAXBV. I found the visuals, well, pleasant (being a guy) - but the gameplay is quite engaging; it's hard not to grin wickedly when you get the hang of spiking straight between your opponents and make both of them face-plant in the sand. I wouldn't call it REALISTIC volleyball, but it's simple, solid reflex-based gameplay that harks back to the days of the classic arcade games, and is great relief for when you're tired of "playing a spreadsheet".

Aril

Lots of speech to read through..

A great article, and one which it so obvious when yuo look for it even now a year on. Ive personally played has female characters for the last 2 and a half years [im a guy behind the screen], originally because the clan i was in named The Black Rose
restricted access to female 'characters' because that was where its individuality appeared within the game. But now ive left the clan i still use the female avatar' of Rill / Aril / Arya, be it from habit i dont know, but ive acquired some semblance of the characters themselves.

Certainly after spending so much time among fellow gamers, in an environment predominantly of female gamers i now speak and act differently, discernable by msot people who know me.

On the point about female characters having an easier time within the gaming communities, it is true, yet even on the rare occasions i use a male character i recieve much the same treatment due to my textual mannerism's.

Anyhow, a great article and one shall make me go and read the rest of this website [originally found as a link]

^^

Daerc

I'll start this off with 2 statements (and all statements are based off the timeframe of games being released in America.) that will probably be fairly evident once you actually start reading this, the first is that I'm male, and the second, is that I have been around games for a little bit, ever since the early Nintendo days. Yeah, initially there were no games that even had females, and then when females were created in the games, they were all shallow. The first game IMO that really broke that bond in any way, shape or form was Dragon Warrior III, and even then it was simply through allowing you to choose the gender of your character, and then slightly diversifying the text based upon that, for instance people would call you the "son of such and such" but then would quickly realize their mistake, and while that was still nowhere near close enough to what it needs to become, it got better with Dragon Warrior IV, wherein the gender of your main character made no difference as far as actual gameplay, although a chapter of gaming did include playing as a female manager and a female dancer, and they were initially portrayed as weak characters, but were in fact surprisingly deep and strong characters.

After that, though, it was a long while IMO before anything came again, and in fact, I'd have to say that (as far as RPG terms) it took until Final Fantasy VI to have any sort of gender equality, and even then it wasn't always there, as your strong female characters had to be rescued by the male characters, but then again it's supposed to be taking place in a time just following the reinvention of steam tech, and as in all Steampunk based games sexism is to be expected. (The 2 main female characters at least had depth, though.)

Now this whole gender equality note hits close to home for me, because I like playing really good games from both a male characters point of view, and a female characters, to see what, if any, differences exist, and not because I'm particularly a feminist. My reasons are selfish, I want to have 2 different gaming experiences from 1 game. I don't want it to be the exact same game, because let's be real honest, real gender equality even in this day isn't here yet, and possibly never will, and certain things, no matter how small or large should be portrayed in games, particularly those trying to portray a medieval setting, and in those games, a certain level of sexism SHOULD exist, but not to the level where it excludes the entire female gaming community.

Daerc

I'll start this off with 2 statements (and all statements are based off the timeframe of games being released in America.) that will probably be fairly evident once you actually start reading this, the first is that I'm male, and the second, is that I have been around games for a little bit, ever since the early Nintendo days. Yeah, initially there were no games that even had females, and then when females were created in the games, they were all shallow. The first game IMO that really broke that bond in any way, shape or form was Dragon Warrior III, and even then it was simply through allowing you to choose the gender of your character, and then slightly diversifying the text based upon that, for instance people would call you the "son of such and such" but then would quickly realize their mistake, and while that was still nowhere near close enough to what it needs to become, it got better with Dragon Warrior IV, wherein the gender of your main character made no difference as far as actual gameplay, although a chapter of gaming did include playing as a female manager and a female dancer, and they were initially portrayed as weak characters, but were in fact surprisingly deep and strong characters.

After that, though, it was a long while IMO before anything came again, and in fact, I'd have to say that (as far as RPG terms) it took until Final Fantasy VI to have any sort of gender equality, and even then it wasn't always there, as your strong female characters had to be rescued by the male characters, but then again it's supposed to be taking place in a time just following the reinvention of steam tech, and as in all Steampunk based games sexism is to be expected. (The 2 main female characters at least had depth, though.)

Now this whole gender equality note hits close to home for me, because I like playing really good games from both a male characters point of view, and a female characters, to see what, if any, differences exist, and not because I'm particularly a feminist. My reasons are selfish, I want to have 2 different gaming experiences from 1 game. I don't want it to be the exact same game, because let's be real honest, real gender equality even in this day isn't here yet, and possibly never will, and certain things, no matter how small or large should be portrayed in games, particularly those trying to portray a medieval setting, and in those games, a certain level of sexism SHOULD exist, but not to the level where it excludes the entire female gaming community.

Beer

Star wars: Kotor is an awesome game for the equality that I really want in games. I mean, whether you're a guy or a girl, you can still be the Sith Lord, and kill millions of people if you want. That's a lot of equality eh?

Jeremiah

Hmmm, I just wanted to say that I am the only boy out of a 7 kids, and 2 of my younger sisters more enjoy the more sexual gameplay whereas the other 3 Just want it to be nuetral and then my older sister can't stand sexual acts or any type of female beuty at all, then you have my mom which her o9nly complaint is that the males are not as hot and sexual as the females, and then there is me, I just want it to be as real as possible, and in that matter if it is jiggaling boobs or ugly barbarian females in a game I like it, I guess the point is by saying that games are more based on mens likes that tells me that the only viewpoint you have on what a man or what a women wants is between you and your friends, I have met all types of ppl with all types of wants in games, and believe it or not most of the girls I have met just want more hot males

I don't know, if you understand me great if you don't just ignore me :)

Jeremiah

Hmmm, I just wanted to say that I am the only boy out of a 7 kids, and 2 of my younger sisters more enjoy the more sexual gameplay whereas the other 3 Just want it to be nuetral and then my older sister can't stand sexual acts or any type of female beuty at all, then you have my mom which her o9nly complaint is that the males are not as hot and sexual as the females, and then there is me, I just want it to be as real as possible, and in that matter if it is jiggaling boobs or ugly barbarian females in a game I like it, I guess the point is by saying that games are more based on mens likes that tells me that the only viewpoint you have on what a man or what a women wants is between you and your friends, I have met all types of ppl with all types of wants in games, and believe it or not most of the girls I have met just want more hot males

I don't know, if you understand me great if you don't just ignore me :)

Sean

I am a young gamer and i think you people are right that games are sexest and such but there is a line of games i recomend you might think they are gay but Harvest Moon games. They are comming out with Harvest moon for girls games were the main character is a girl not a boy. a good game is harvest moon GB for the gameboy colour. You can choose to be a girl or a guy in the beginning.

All i can say is If you want your artical in a highlt visted place i will recomend this to www.gamespot.com
just send me an e-mail back subject post ok? bye for now. (Sorry if the laink does not work)

DedEnimuls

I read your article, and I find it amusing and sometimes has a point as to character design.

I happen to enjoy BG:DA and while I wish there were more female characters (or at least the one provided be able to carry a bit more weight, it sucks having to Recall to the store every five seconds or so), but I play all characters, I really don't care what gender they are, I really don't care what they happen to look like. I'm interested more in the game play, can I get into the game? I have never seen myself in terms of the character. Yeah, the bartender had me laughing, but I figured that the character designers were playing off the fact that most real bars try to get the bustiest women they can behind the bar to draw customers, not that busty women really matter that much to guys three sheets to the wind.

Only recently with 'City of Heroes' have I played a game with a wide range of body types and design for character (I never played Star Wars Galaxies, I hear they have a similar system) and you can choose any power you wish, the powers are not dumbed down for female characters, in fact, you can have female brawlers that can 'arrest' a punk before a male brawler can.

I shudder to think what designers would create if they tried to incorporate what they thought girls/women want from a game. I don't want a more emotionally invested storyline, and I don't want the backstory of a character unless I ask for it or it furthers the plot of the story without wasting my time. Cut scenes are long enough as it is all ready.
And to hell with co-operative play, they have it in CoH, it is forced upon you when you get into the higher levels. Already we can see the flaws with this system as half the people playing tend to aggro huge flocks of punks without proper planning and get you hospitalized very quickly, which leads to massive amounts of experience debt that you have to work off. I would rather play alone and not have some jerk think (s)he's the strongest of the group and charge in without the rest of the team.

As a female gamer, I say leave the games/game designers/writers alone.
Just choose one of the characters provided and enjoy game play.

But that's just my opinion.

justanothergirlgamer

i actually feel sorry for guys sometimes in the regard that many advertisers feel the only way they will purchase a game (or quite a few other products) is if it features buxom ladies. video games are escapism though, and i do feel that many games portray women in questionable ways; but that many also show them as strong and capable. many of my male friends have told me they prefer to look at animated women (this being from the more anime graphics based games)because they don't look as disgusting as porn stars. to be honest; i don't care what the characters look like as long as they aren't sleazy lookinng (guys and girls.) i just want a good story, or something with great gameplay techniques (like bemani games, or good fighters like street fighter and soul calibur). most rpg's are not sexist, in my opinion. as for the games that are, well, if any guy is simple enough to believe that women truly act like that; then they are going to need those games so they have lifelong companions ^-^;; they certainly won't find any otherwise.

Tsunami

When I read this, it immediately brought to mind the game 'Metroid Prime'. Guys that I know, at least, don't know that Samus, the main character, is a girl. I've heard that at the end of the game she takes her helmet thing off, but that's beside the point. They assume that the figure in that awesome, mechanical, power suit, is a guy. And that's because they believe that a girl couldn't possibly have that much power in a game!

I don't mean to say that all guys are like that, of course. A lot of my friends KNOW that Samus is a girl, and they think that Metroid Prime is the best game ever! Regardless of gender.

Personally, I don't care whether I'm a girl or a guy in a game. In fighting games, for example, I just choose who's the best. My friends, guys and girls, do the same. And that goes for all games. Gender doesn't matter. Just the gameplay.

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Cheeses

Dustin Venegas

It's all about Oni. I'm a male gamer and bought Oni. It immerced me. There's nothing that makes the lead character a sex kitten, no nipples showing in this game. This is all about a woman's revenge and is played out quite well.

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gamer

"I don't mean to say that all guys are like that, of course. A lot of my friends KNOW that Samus is a girl, and they think that Metroid Prime is the best game ever! Regardless of gender."

Same goes for perfect dark where the protagonist is female but nobody makes a fuss about it they just get on with playing one of the greatest FPSs of all time

gamer

"I don't mean to say that all guys are like that, of course. A lot of my friends KNOW that Samus is a girl, and they think that Metroid Prime is the best game ever! Regardless of gender."

Same goes for perfect dark where the protagonist is female but nobody makes a fuss about it they just get on with playing one of the greatest FPSs of all time

bianca trump

neat!

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DPMG

Morgages are fun!

Kunami

Hmm... first visit to this site. I've heard about it before, but never bothered to check it out until now (slow day).

I know I'm a little behind, but I felt like letting you know I wholeheartedly agree with most of what was touched upon in the article. Especially the bit on gender in interaction, as I play quite a bit of Final Fantasy XI, and have yet to use a male character. I just have more fun with that alienation factor you speak of... what fun would the experience be without the fantasy? Yeah, I get a few annoyances here and there with those who think my "ta1l iz h0tz"... but, like you said of Justin, I play through it because it's not so big a deal as to ruin the overall experience for me.

Yeah, and I'm a guy.

P.S. - Sophitia? WTF? Who is she? I thought Taki was the only playable character in Soul Calibur. Might as well be... she kicks ass! :D

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hannah

This is a great artical. I just wanted to say that i think lara croft is a great role modle! If we look past her boobs and look at what she is representing. She is tough, highly skilled at what she does and she has MANNERS!! She's not some grungy girl who has a gun but a woman who knows when the time to use her guns and when to be poliet (watch the movies)! people think i'm strange or lezzo becuase i like her but they just can't see past how she is portrayed. :)

Bernie

Hello. I am a young aspiring programmer, and I am working on a fantasy action-adventure game. I found your article intriguing and it brought up a lot of point I had already thought of, and quite a few that I hadn't. I agree with you completely about gender equality in games, but there is one point which I have felt important and you did not mention:
I see everyday how (some) girls ruin their lives and bodies, and particularly their previously intelligent, free thinking minds, by trying to be like celebrities.
As an advocate of gender equality, and a programmer and thus acutely aware of the pschological media impact what I write will have on my audience, I absolutely do NOT want my games (or any games, for that matter) to exacerbate the problems already caused by TV. Now, being a guy, I'm not sure if this is acctually a problem in games, but I do know that the motives and personality of a character have much more influence on a player than their actions do, and I would like to know, do you think that this sort of things makes people feel inferior in the same way TV does? or, due to the accepted fantasy setting, is this a non-issue?

Also, to what extent do you think that real-world gender issues should be dissolved within a fantasy setting? for example, one reason that girls are often conveyed as archers is that girls are simply not as strong as guys (A strong girl may be stronger than a not-so-strong guy, but presumeably video game characters are supposed to be the most athletic around in most casses.) and thus would havve difficulty swinging a huge axe around all day. of cource in some games weapon sizes are so outrageous that they could not be held up by either gender....but that is an exception rather than a rule. In my game I do have a playable woman warrior, delicately avoiding the issue by creating a reptillian species (with reptiles, the females can be 33% larger that the males) however, the other two "normal" (humanoid) female characters take the traditional role as a mage and an archer. Do you think that this would let fly any resentment from girls? Could it be set off by the fact that of the 3 male characters (equal number of male and female playable characters) only 2 fit into the traditional warrior role, and even then one unconventionally.

Also, you have complained a lot about the "sex-appeal" type characters, but do you think there is a proper time and place, or should they be eliminated completely? obviously, the Baldur's Gate example is ridiculous, but it is true that in the world some (a minority) of girls are like that (some guys are as well). If the issue is used in moderation (and adressed as an eccentricity by other characters) do you think the ill effects would be nulified, or do you think this sort f thing should be completely eliminated?

I am sorry to swamp you with so many questions, mostly I just want your advice (as I have few good examples to work with) of how to make a game more equally appeal to both genders. Don't worry about marketing, because I am only 16 and don't expect to make a living off of this or anything (well, not with THIS game). I understand you are m=not a media pschologist and can't answer all my questions, but any help you could give would be very much apreciated.

Bernie

"I don't want a more emotionally invested storyline, and I don't want the backstory of a character unless I ask for it or it furthers the plot of the story without wasting my time. Cut scenes are long enough as it is all ready." -posted by random observer

As a programmer, I have to argue this point. Emotions, story, and background is NOT (or at least, should not be) a gender issue. I agree that cutscenes are to long, but I think that most games are sorely lacking in plot, background, and character, which are rarely even hinted at outside of the cutscenes. What books do people like? books with depth. When games abandon story and personality to become mindless killing sprees or puzzle solvers, the art of the game is lost, regardless of the gender of the player, programmer, or character. Guys have emotions as well, and not all emotions are "sissy" (Achilles is one of the most emotional characters in greek literature) and the male characters eccepecially could use a lot of work in the emotions and personality department.

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