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Fair game for girls

Nov 20, 2007

The female of the species is reportedly deadlier than the male. But judging by the appearance of the Frag Dolls (Ubisoft-sponsored female pro gamers), ‘deadly’ means ‘clothing optional.’ In many a publicity event and magazine spread, the Dolls wear tiny hot pants, work out on exercise bikes and say things like, “Breasts and butt only come into play as an advantageous distraction.” Is it sexist? Regardless, it’s a clichéd, age-old representation of women in gaming.



“Historically, women in games were the prize or the victim,” says Phaedra Boinodiris, from WomenGamers.com. Whether it’s Elexis Sinclaire from SiN: Episodes, looking like she crawled out of an S&M club, or the chicks with Space Hopper breasts in RPGs, women in games are often sexualized to the point of deformity. “This is laziness,” says Ragnar Tørnquist, creator of The Longest Journey and its sequel Dreamfall. “It is a lot easier to create an easily digestible and titillating stereotype than a real character. Beauty is fine - I’ve no problem with characters being pretty - but if there’s nothing inside, it feels shallow and we stop caring about them.”

Some years back, the charity organization Children Now published a report saying that 38 per cent of the female characters in videogames are scantily clad. How they reached this conclusion is questionable, but it sounds about right. In the big shooters - Far Cry, Doom 3, F.E.A.R., Unreal Tournament, etc. - women are absent or reduced to support roles, appearing every so often to show off their lady lumps. The industry doesn’t help matters much. At game conventions, developers dress models like hookers in order to lure men toward their stands. Sex sells (it always will), but in an industry that keeps blabbing on about attracting girl gamers, isn’t it time there were more realistic female characters in our PC games?

 

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