Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has published her independent report on the sexualisation of young people for the British Home Office. It's a sound enough topic for discussion - a look at any fashion game or music video will show you there's at least a potential problem. Though every medium is covered in the report, the section on 'Computer games' has some interesting statistics.
Citing Dill and Thill (no, really) from a study in 2007, she says:
83 per cent of male characters were portrayed as aggressive, while 60 per cent of female characters were portrayed in a sexualised way and 39 per cent were scantily clad.
The equivalent figures for male characters were 1 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.
Which got us to thinking. Can you really imagine a gaming world where characters aren't sexualised? Let's take a look at what that might be like:
Above: Gaming's Lara Croft and real life archaeologist Carenza Lewis from Channel 4's Time Team
We can't imagine a real-life styled archaeology game, especially with a non-sexualised female lead. What bullet points would you put on the box? Real-time toothbrush switching?
Above: Gaming's Ivy in SoulCalibur and real-life's women's Kendo
Above: Gaming's sexual Bayonetta and... the Wicked Witch of the West
Is that really what gamers need? We can't imagine buying any of those (although we would be intrigued by that Wicked Witch of the West game. YOU MELTED - GAME OVER).
And then there's the flipside. Sexualising male leads can be done with tact, humour and convincingly too - just look at Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2 for an example of that. But look what happens when you sexualise a familiar male lead. We're sorry to have to do this to your eyes...
Above: Oh please, God - no!
We're all for maintaining the innocence of childhood for as long as possible and some games characters are undoubtedly sexualised for titillation's sake alone, like Ayumi from X-Blades. You probably haven't played the game, but we're certain you'll remember her...
Above: Not fan-art - that's official wallpaper from the game's PR company
So yes, there's obviously a problem. How would you solve it? Let us know in the comments.
08 Mar, 2010