Women and video games – Omniscience
The World Geek Day has existed since 2006. This day of celebration, initially created in Spain, allows people to claim the right to be a geek. So with women at its heart, MyScienceWork looks at the place of women in the world of video games.
Do you know Samus Aran, the main character of Metroid? First released in 1986, he wears a helmet and armor throughout the game. It is only at the end that the player realizes that she is a woman, which makes her the very first video game heroine. A great feminist breakthrough? That remains to be seen. If the player completes the game quickly within an hour, the full armor disappears, revealing a Samus Aran in a bikini, and in underwear (yikes!). A sort of “reward” …
Are women better represented in video games today? A study by Jessica Tompkins, Teresa Lynch, Irene Van Driel and Niki Fritz attempts to answer this question through their article “Kawaii Killers and Femme Fatales: A Textual Analysis of Female Characters Signifying Benevolent and Hostile Sexism in Video Games“, published in 2020 in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. By analyzing 11 playable female characters from American and Japanese video and console games, the researchers show that while the sexualization of clothing seems to be a requirement for all characters, sexism can take different forms.
Hostile sexism is characterized by the domination of men over women, perceived as manipulative and dangerous, and by the contempt of women who seek equal status with men. Hana Tsu-Vachel (Fear Effect 2) is an example of a femme fatale who uses her sexuality to achieve her ends. In the opening scene of the game, she appears in lingerie, walking towards a man. An ellipse later, she calls her boss to tell him that she killed him. This scene reveals that seduction is the deadliest weapon in Hana’s arsenal. In Bayonetta, the heroine’s physique is often highlighted by close-ups of her butt, crotch and breasts. To finish, Rayne’s (BloodRayne) intensely sexual appearance and sadistically violent nature evoke “deadly eroticism.”, “as the project manager put it so well.
Image: Bayonetta and Rayne’s poses and fighting moves are reminiscent of an erotic dance
Provocation, deadly eroticism, female domination over men and violent sexuality nurture this sense of competitive differentiation between the sexes. The authors also emphasize the autonomous character of the protagonists. Their detached relationship with men evokes a rejection of dominant paternalism.
The article also highlights a much more insidious sexism in video games. Benevolent sexism portrayed men as protectors, women leaders and leaders as subject recipients of these qualities. This sexism also often relegates women to a secondary role, underscoring their value as romantic partners of the male gender. Under the pretext of promoting a positive and desirable position for women, benevolent sexism describes them as weak and dependent on men through a heteronormative lens.
Yorda, from the ICO game, is totally dependent on the male character Ico. The latter is able to fight, climb and move objects, which Yorda is unable to do. In this game, Ico takes care of Yorda, the two characters embody complementary gender differentiation, and heterosexual intimacy is suggested between the two characters. Likewise, Juliet Starling in Lollipop Chainsaw is a male addicted high school cheerleader: In the game’s intro scene, she raves about her boyfriend, becomes consumed with this mutual affection, and makes sexually suggestive remarks. . Despite the confidence and authority she exudes, Juliette is still represented as a sexual object. Her buttocks and breasts are the subject of numerous film sequences. By constructing its status as an object, the play overturns Juliet’s domination and attenuates her autonomy.
Serah Farron from Final Fantasy, Neptune from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory or Alyssa Hamilton from Clocktower III all wear more sexualized outfits when they reveal their great power, confirming previous studies showing a positive link between female sexualization and power in video games. Serah receives her powers with her revealing bodycon dress, and Alyssa trades her school uniform for a short one-shoulder white dress during her confrontation with the game’s main antagonist.
Image: Neptune’s simple outfit is dropped in favor of a hyper-sexualized outfit during battles.
In studying these 11 games, it was relatively rare for women to equal their male allies, and even rarer for them to help other women, although examples do exist, such as Juliette being supported multiple times by her sister. oldest as a sniper.
Despite some progress and a slight trend towards gender inclusion and feminism, the study found that sexism is still prevalent in video games, which are still primarily aimed at male consumers.
This study supports data from other articles, which indicate that the digital game industry may be experiencing a positive cultural shift in the portrayal of female characters although some sexist representations, sexual objectification and marginalization of female characters from male characters persist.