I love video games as much as the next guy. The problem? I’m not a guy.
In most scenarios of today’s world, it doesn’t pose too much of a problem to be female. Equality in the workplace and all that jazz is nice, although stereotypes still abound. In the gaming business however, the target audience is age 18 – 35 and almost entirely male. So while I should be playing Tetris Attack and Bubble Bobble like a good little girl, I run off and play the conventionally “not-girlie” games.
You’ll find me among games such as Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Halo. These are shooter games that are almost entirely devoid of any female influence. You’d almost think it was geared toward testosterone-based destruction, because I don’t find myself playing those games for a huge stretch of time. I can hear the counter-arguments now though. “It’s not typical for a counter-terrorist squad to include a female. They aren’t usually allowed on the front lines.” Yeah, well it’s also not typical for a size zero woman with a rack of double D’s to run around and collect artifacts. (Thank you, Ms. Lora Croft.) Which brings me to the real reason you’re even reading this article. Boobs.
I’m a gamer because my entire family is a nest of nerds. My dad was always buying the latest and greatest computer when I was young and my siblings and I would always get the leftover computers to play all sorts of video games. Then the Atari, Nintendo, Sega Genesis… the list kept growing because in a house of four kids in a middle-class nerd family, we got what we asked for, eventually. I recall sitting and watching my older brother play FFVII over and over from a certain cut scene. One of the girls on the blimp got jarred and she would stumble with the largest amount of chest jiggling I had ever seen. It just seemed the norm at the time, but I never did ask my older brother why he spent so much time in the shower later.
For some reason, a large pair of tits in a video game is the universal desire for men between the ages of 18 – 35. This is what video game marketing departments have discovered and no one has been able to prove them wrong. I can’t say where the real beginnings of boob worship began. Perhaps it was translation of comic books to video games or it could go as far back as murals painted on cave walls. In any case, I don’t see any gaming companies letting up of the sex appeal of marketing a huge chest to a bunch of guys named Woody. Alright…. maybe I’ve stepped over the line at this point, so I’ll just leave it waaaaaay back there next to my conscience.
Even in Metroid where there is an almost asexual, strong, yet female character, if you beat the game soon enough you get to see Samus in her underwear. I never understood the appeal of the Gameboy graphics displaying lingerie, but there were plenty of proud guys displaying their prowess on how fast they were able to beat the game. What about the blocky Tomb Raider graphics displaying Lora Croft and the hacker guys who coded her to run around nude on their PC? What about Bloodrayne‘s topless ad in Playboy or Dead or Alive: Ultimate‘s claim to make the boobs jiggle more “realistically” by coding them backwards? Are men begging for this? Is this some primal need that has to be expressed in video games?
In some ways, I suppose I can relate. I was the strange girl who played Castlevania: SOTN and kept Alucard in the librarian’s shop so I could keep him repeating, “I’m interested in this,” in his deliciously deep voice. While I was entranced by a mere audio clip, I’m sure that pictures can do the same for some people.
My real beef is the uneasy feeling that video games are just turning into soft porn. Sure, your lady friend can make you feel guilty about looking at Playboy or the Victoria Secret catalog, but you can buy Playboy: The Mansion and say that it’s just a video game. It’s not the same is it? Is it?
The truth is the gaming industry knows who it is marketing to. Why make a first person shooter for women when it won’t sell as well as the FPS made for men? Why make an RPG with a strong female character when everyone knows that women are the healers and magicians? You won’t catch a woman in a fighter game with the power and defense, yet she’ll be oh so very agile. Why the promotions of such stereotypes? Then again, maybe it isn’t really my place to blame men for the direction video games are taking these days. I should be investigating all the women who won’t stop playing Bejeweled long enough to see that there really are a lot of other interesting video games.