Sexualisation of games characters

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:

Tomb Raider

Above: Gaming's Lara Croft and real life archaeologistCarenza 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-timetoothbrush switching?

Soul Calibur

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 (althoughwe 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. Butlook 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 wouldyou solve it? Let us know in the comments.

08 Mar, 2010

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.