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Author Topic: Female Chracters in Video Games
Gumdrop Girl
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NY Times Has a great article about the presence of female characters in many fighting video games (Tekken, Soul Calibur, et al). There are varying opinions between feminists as to whether this is distraction from the true inequalities women face (Bell Hooks said it), demeaning to women overall, or if it actually empowers women.


quote:
For the feminist author Jennifer Baumgardner, watching women do combat in video games is empowering. "I love having images in popular culture and these games that include women as fighters," she said.


She suggests that that casting women as gladiators challenges images of women as passive targets of violence.


"I do not think playing these games encourages women to be victims," said Ms. Baumgardner, 32, co-author of "Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux , 2000), whose central theme is a celebration of "girl culture."



I don't play these games too much (although in 7th grade, Mortal Kombat was a personal fave -- blood and all!), but when I did, I liked playing both male and female characters. and yeah, I think it's cool that the game setsit up such that the women are capable of holding their own against male combatants.


So, your thoughts? Do you think it's good for women to be represented in fighting video games? If you play these kinds of games, do you play as your own gender, do you switch, or do you play both?


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[This message has been edited by Gumdrop Girl (edited 05-14-2003).]


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Gaffer
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I definitely think that many of these games while not necessarily portaying females positively, don't portray them negatively either.

Virtua Fighter 4 is my current favorite, and while I'm a guy, playing as the girls is cool. They are more elegant and sophisticated fighters than a lot of the guys, but they are nice to look at as well.

Gender and video games go together well as a controversy, but I think people often read more into it than there really is. No video game is meant to promote violence against women, although some may portray it. Equally portrayed though, is violence against men.

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Posts: 356 | From: Phoenix--name that plurally | Registered: Dec 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Milke
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Well, it's not like most men spend all their time kicking arse and shooting fireballs at people anyway. These games, especially some of the fighting ones, are quite obviously fantasy. What seems more questionable to me is that most females in video games are shown as being sexy. Does anyone realise that hotpants and spilling-over bustiers aren't the most practical clothes for fighting in, or that not all fierce women are necessarily pretty? Are men equally unrealistically portrayed, do you think, or is this one-sided? And what do you think are positive depictions of women in this genre? Anyone remember the significance of Metroid to this discussion?

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Confused boy
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I did a study into violent video games that involved this very issue. I may try and put it somewhere on the net after it has been graded. However, I did not come to any firm conclusions about whether these games produced good or bad gender ideologies.

Looking at the audience, a higher proportion of young men, one might assume that the inclusion of these attractive women is designed to attract the "male [heterosexual] gaze." Players can also set up specific encounters in these games between characters. So the games could potentially be a way of acting out a fantasy of a man attacking a woman (or the opposite). The same could be said of race with the multitude of ethnicities in these games.

As far as I can see, you make out of this game what you take into it. If you go in with biases about how women should look, then this will reinforce such ideals. Rather like most other mainstream media, its simply part of the background reinforcment of stereotypes rather than a malignant force in itself.

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sapphirecat
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quote:
Originally posted by Milke:
Does anyone realise that hotpants and spilling-over bustiers aren't the most practical clothes for fighting in

Yes! That's always been one of my pet peeves about visual art in general. A male fighter heading up against a dragon will have sensible armor, but a female will (if she's lucky) get a metal bikini, as if the dragon will think she's sexy and decide not to attack.

quote:
...that not all fierce women are necessarily pretty? Are men equally unrealistically portrayed, do you think, or is this one-sided?

In general, yes. I've played quite a bit of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II, and I don't recall offhand anyone with beer bellies, grey hair, varicose veins (however that's spelled), or anything else generally considered un-sexy. (Maybe E. Honda, but he was a Sumo wrestler.)

quote:
And what do you think are positive depictions of women in this genre? Anyone remember the significance of Metroid to this discussion?

Metroid is kind of cool, but it falls prey to the "Dude, play this game quick and see the chick!" mentality. (Definitely present in the guy who loaned me Super Metroid.)

I'm not sure I can put my finger on what a "positive" image would be; only that I know what's negative. I've heard through the grapevine that there's a fighting game on the (U.S.) market in which the women's breasts bounce realistically, and I have to wonder if a corresponding amount of effort was expended on the men.

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'rin
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slightly off topic - milke just reminded me of something i said to my dad when i was about 6 years old and he'd asked what i wanted to be when i grew up - "well, i wanted to be a superhero, but i'm not pretty enough so maybe i'll be a vet instead."

i like the fact that female charactors are included in fighting games, but i wish they at least wore more realistic costumes, i mean common, who fights in stilettos? it's just not practical. but that doesn't stop me from usually picking the female charactors when i play. (i spent 2 years picking natalia every time i played perfect dark.)

i can logically see that the body types of both the male and the female charactors in these games are exagerated/fantasy, but for some reason the fact that the female ones are also wearing costumes that are imposible to fight in bothers me.

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Blue Roses
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To continue your post going slightly more off-topic - I know someone who actually did learn to do martial arts (I believe karate, but it could have been one of the other ones she does) in stiletto heels! Kicking somone when your feet have been turned into sharp pointy objects is verrrrry effective if you can manage to balance that way ;-)
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B-Assault.com
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Games are designed to make money... if sex sells, I don't really see a problem.

One of the text-based games which I manage has two male characters and 48 female characters, because the majority of my players were hetrosexual males.

To Milke:
I disagree with guys playing female characters for only sexual reasons or because they're "sexy", although it does play a part.
In Dead or Alive 2 for the Dreamcast, I always play Kasumi or Ein, for a few reasons.
1) Kasumi's cute (seriously, she is)
2) Kasumi and Ein being family, learning to play one is pretty much learning to play the other
3) Kasumi and Ein have the fastest moves, as well as good range. Third-hardest to counter, but easiest to pull off.
In DOA2, only Kasumi and that ninja person wears fighting clothes... everyone else wears non-practical clothing, and the majority are males (long trenchcoat on Ein, many layered very expensive vest on that old person, nothing but pants and a turban for that Arabic person, etc.)


To Confused boy:
As for guys playing these games to act out fantasies of hitting gals... I blame society. Society teaches males not to hit females, yet females tend to have no qualms about hitting males. It could be a way to release pent up frustration at society, and is much safer and less harmful than releasing it through activites such as rape (although I have no idea why rapists don't use dildos when raping, they lose more than their "victims" do).


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Milke
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Well, B, I never commented on why guys choose female characters, just how game designers outfit their women. (My favourite video game character is Rosella, who tramps around the countryside in a reasonably sensible peasant dress, but ends up in a gothic wedding gown if you lose the game.)

I don't think it's okay to hit guys, either, nor to hurt anyone who isn't posing a threat to you. I'm also really, really confused by your dildo/rape comment. Care to clarify?

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF

'What has the rest of you been doing while your hand has been playing Atari?'


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logic_grrl
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quote:
Society teaches males not to hit females, yet females tend to have no qualms about hitting males.

But in fact, all studies show that in our society at the moment, violence by men against women is far, far more common than violence by women against men (and I think part of the stigma attached to men hitting women is an attempt to combat that).

Needless to say, there are many, many individual men who are non-violent and wouldn't hit a woman (or man), and individual women who are violent. But nonetheless, that's what the overall trend is.

So if your logic was correct, then women should be the ones with a motive to play violent video games to "release their frustration".

quote:
they lose more than their "victims" do).

I'm not sure why you've put "victims" in quotes here. The victims of rape are very real victims of a very real crime.


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B-Assault.com
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To Milke:
As the first line of my previous post stated, "Games are designed to make money... if sex sells, I don't really see a problem."

If you were a game designer, would you prefer to make a game where everything's "normal" and make X amount of money, or make a game where there's scantily clad characters and make 2X - 3X that amount of money? Sex sells.

To logic_grrl:
Don't you think that the % of men who report physical abuse cases would be lower than the % of women who would report physical abuse cases? How many men do you know of who would go crying "that person assaulted me?". How many people would take reports of being raped by women by a man as seriously as they would if the roles were reversed? As for why putting victims in quotes, well, to be honest, I think there's too much hype over rape. It is being treated with more public outcry than murder sometimes, which is wrong. (opinionated statement). But, as I have never been raped or murdered, I cannot say for sure from personal experience.

PS: Thanks so much for the relationship advice on the other thread!


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Milke
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B, I'm not arguing with you, honest. I'm not really sure where you're getting your points from, but if you're finding my posts confusing try reading a bit more slowly.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF

'What has the rest of you been doing while your hand has been playing Atari?'


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B-Assault.com
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quote:
Originally posted by Milke:
Well, it's not like most men spend all their time kicking arse and shooting fireballs at people anyway. These games, especially some of the fighting ones, are quite obviously fantasy. What seems more questionable to me is that most females in video games are shown as being sexy. Does anyone realise that hotpants and spilling-over bustiers aren't the most practical clothes for fighting in, or that not all fierce women are necessarily pretty? Are men equally unrealistically portrayed, do you think, or is this one-sided? And what do you think are positive depictions of women in this genre? Anyone remember the significance of Metroid to this discussion?


From what I can tell, your point is that you disagree with female characters wearing bikinis to slay a dragon or to combat the undead (Tomb Raider series), while men are being portrayed differently. Did I misinterpret somewhere?


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Milke
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I believe it's unrealistic, I asked if anyone felt the same was true of men. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm out to comment and provoke discussion, not argument.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF

'What has the rest of you been doing while your hand has been playing Atari?'


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B-Assault.com
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I see.... well, unless there's posts against legalizing child pornography, I usually keep my posts "moderate" and not very challenging.
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logic_grrl
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quote:
Don't you think that the % of men who report physical abuse cases would be lower than the % of women who would report physical abuse cases? How many men do you know of who would go crying "that person assaulted me?". How many people would take reports of being raped by women by a man as seriously as they would if the roles were reversed?

From what is known, it is indeed harder for men who report physical abuse or sexual abuse by women to get taken seriously. It's also harder for men who get raped or sexually abused by other men to get taken seriously. It seems to go against the myth that men should always be invulnerable and stronger than everyone else, and it's a real issue.

But it is also clear from the research that, nonetheless, and even assuming that a whole lot of violence by women against men goes unreported, the levels of violence by women against men are simply not remotely comparable to the levels of violence by men against women.

This isn't about dissing men or saying that there's anything about men which makes them inherently more likely to be violent or commit rape.

But it is about the statistical facts at the moment in our messed-up society.

The impression your original post gives is that most men are "frustrated" because they're constantly being beaten up by women in real life, and that just ain't so.

quote:
As for why putting victims in quotes, well, to be honest, I think there's too much hype over rape. It is being treated with more public outcry than murder sometimes, which is wrong.

Rape may not be as bad as murder. But it is nonetheless a very, very serious crime. Putting "victim" in quotes seems to imply you don't think it's a crime at all. Maybe that was unintentional on your part - if so I'm just pointing out how it seems.

And the public outcry is often due to the fact that rape is often not treated seriously by our society - too many people still try to make excuses for it or blame the victim.


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B-Assault.com
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Well, rape is sometimes used in order to get the real victim, the person who gets charged with rape, in trouble.

For example, having sex with someone, then claiming rape. It's hard to prove consent, and a jury usually agrees with a female over a male in cases of sexual assault. Then again, I could be wrong.


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logic_grrl
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quote:
Well, rape is sometimes used in order to get the real victim, the person who gets charged with rape, in trouble.

Presumably you're talking about false accusations here? You're not saying that rapists are "the real victims" in cases of actual rape??

For your information, the evidence is that the rate of false accusations of rape is no higher than the rate of false accusations of other crimes.

quote:
a jury usually agrees with a female over a male in cases of sexual assault

Again, it just ain't so. Where it's a question of one person's word against the other in a rape case, without any physical evidence, juries typically acquit the defendant, which is one of the reasons why the rate of conviction in rape cases is so very low.

And given that the defense in rape cases usually involves attacking the credibility of the alleged victim and/or portraying her as a "slut" who somehow "deserved" to be raped, making a false accusation of rape would certainly not be an easy or painless way of getting somebody else into trouble!

In fact, some real rape survivors say they found the trial almost as traumatic as the original rape.

So actually going to court with an accusation of rape is not really something that a sane woman is going to do casually, just on a whim.

And in those cases where it is clear that a false accusation has been made, it often seems to be the result of mental illness or severe emotional disturbance.

You're making some pretty sweeping and inaccurate claims in your posts here, so I suggest you check your sources of information.


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Gumdrop Girl
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b-assault, pertinent topics for you, so please keep this one about video games, okay?

Don't hit a woman

and there's stuff about rape if you run search for it. but definitely check the stuff you said earlier since we're not cool with sweeping statements.

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Milke
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B, Scarleteen does not permit advertising on the boards. If you wish, you can list your site in your profile, but it's not okay to use it for a username. You need to re-register with a more acceptable name, and e-mail us about it before you post again, and cease using this name.

We can be reached at boards@scarleteen.com, or there are e-mail addresses avaialble for any moderatore if you click the links at the top of each forum.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF

'What has the rest of you been doing while your hand has been playing Atari?'


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MagicPatrick
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One of my favourite games with overpowering female characters is Final Fantasy X-2 (FFX-2) (info on the game here: http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/rpg/finalfantasyx2/index.html)

The three main characters (the only ones you control) are all female. It's like Charlie's Angels really... The girls kick ass and basically save the world, with lots of spunkyness ^^. The game basically shows that women really can be very powerful and can be the MAIN CHARACTER IN RPGs! lol! One little thing about the game is that some people think that the female characters are "sex-ed up". Mainly because the main character Yuna, has short shorts, and a long skirt on one side, and Rikku has a bikini top and a short skirt (Paine isnt really sexed up at all). The game definetly does not focus on the sexyness of the girls, but rather the actual game itself. It's definetly a really fun game .

"What seems more questionable to me is that most females in video games are shown as being sexy. Does anyone realise that hotpants and spilling-over bustiers aren't the most practical clothes for fighting in, or that not all fierce women are necessarily pretty? Are men equally unrealistically portrayed, do you think, or is this one-sided?"

Yeah this is common in a lot of fighting games. Take a look at Christie from Tekken 4, or Lei-Mei from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.. they are preaty sexed up. Christie has short-shorts i believe, and Lei-Mei looks really skanky!!!! Guys are still sexed up too. Usually its not best to fight topless but most guys in fighting games tend to go topless and have really big muscles. Some of them just wear speedo's (particularily in a fighting game where the character's style of fighting is "wrestling"). In some fighting games tho, there isnt as much sexing up. There are a lot of female characters in fighting games who are not sexed up. Like Vanessa, a cop, in Virtual Fighter 4. But often... i've seen women sexed up in videogames a bit too often


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