I’ve been reading a lot this evening. A lot of stuff about pop culture, gaming and stereotyping, little bits on political correctness and all that jazz.
It’s been interesting. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out what I wanted to talk about. I’ve got a lot of ideas at the moment, but I need one of them to form fully. I’ve settled on something quite broad. So this may be quite rambolic (I love portmanteau words).
So we all know I’m a gamer, and I’m interested in gender. I’ve talked about them in conjunction at least once before.
Anyway, I was apondering as I was reading, this very interesting article about gender inclusion in gaming.
Now it always winds me up when you can’t play female characters in games. It just makes more sense to be able to have anyone who might want to play be able to represent themselves, or whoever they choose to represent themselves. This is particularly relevant to online games, where your avatar becomes…well…your avatar (not a guy in tin armour with a red tabard and an ankh symbol mind…necessarily).
Anyway, I almost always play female characters. It just seems more interesting and more narratively pleasing. Plus I always hope that there’ll be some kind of interesting variation in the narrative or gameplay that the typical player might not get to see.
This rarely ever happens. Okay, so once I kind of got to have lesbian sex in Fallout 2, but only because I misinterpreted the term bath house, but that’s not exactly what I was after…honest.
Most games take the perspective of equality between male and female…so the one you choose is simply skin deep. Others, including Oblivion and Arcanum, change stats for male and female characters. Some controversy comes here. Oblivion is talked about here with stats viewable here.
The problem comes down to stereotyping. In Arcanum, it’s basically accepted that the female form of any race is less strong and more attractive. Now…more attractive is arguable…but really just plain silly. I mean…surely women are only more attractive to men, and vice versa (assuming heterosexuality…which most people do…again making assumptions). Now I guess the idea is that attractiveness weighs in more for women in a patriarchal society…like the one portrayed in both of these gaming worlds.
Hey….wait a second…why are all fantasy realms patriarchal…that’s lame too.
Obviously I’m not happy about this….I think it is solved by games that give you more control over the stats and appearance of your characters. That way you can make a beefcake ultra violent lady or a dainty young lad who likes sewing and washing up (or whatever stereotype you feel like debunking/reinforcing in a round about way today).
Now Oblivion pretty much had this…apart from the rather intriguing stats differences…you could make your character look just so. It’s great fun toying with that appearance generator…I almost found it more fun that some aspects of the game.
Then you enter the game and all character interactions and situations are the same.
All of them, (that I found).
I think that games, by being engineered for the tastes of an assumed male audience, lose so much depth. Female characters are almost always railroaded into the same chain of events and assumptions as men. It’s the old thing, that always bothers me, about female characters being empowered because they get to act like men. Rather than assuming equality and difference as being acceptable…it says ‘don’t worry ladies…you can be just like men in these worlds…you can’t complain about being unequal…for you are now as good as men….doesn’t that feel nice?’
It always pisses me off.
Gah….I think I’m not saying what I want to say….and I’m probably raising ire by not thinking this through.
Sorry, but I must continue to quest onwards and upwards.
Now…I just think there’s room for freedom and exploration of ideas in games. I think that femininity should be a part of games..but not a stereotyped aspect that dictates modes of playing.
There should be an ability to play as anyone you want to be and take routes that are different and interesting.
And when to we get to see some transgender characters? Or gay characters? Why isn’t there more options to play as anyone under the sun without having to fit into a set of narrowly defined parameters.
I know….I know…it’s all about markets and production times and the like….and also it would be difficult to create these things in an appropriate way. It’s quite a creative challenge to open up that many options and make them interesting and exploratory and fun and help people learn about difference and equality and the spectrum of human behaviour.
It’d be difficult, but it’d be worth it.
And it’d be better than just bashing the same route through the same games again and again
Balls….this has been a rubbish post and I think I’ve actually been arguing in detriment to my original point.
Go back to that link about…ok…it’s here again. Now that’s how you write about this stuff.