This originally started as a reply to someone else's blog, but it started getting pretty long. So I decided to just make it into my own blog.
Game companies don't have an agenda other than that they want to make money. They design their games based on what they think will sell. If you aren't seeing the types of games that you want with the types of characters that you want, it's due to the fact that game companies don't believe that those games will sell. They could be wrong, and I'm sure they are from time to time, but, in most cases, my guess would be that they're probably right.
I personally don't feel that there is a gender problem in video games. I don't believe that anyone has made a convincing case for that. The people who assert that there is one seem to be under the impression that most female gamers want games that are more or less the same as the games that most male gamers want, only with a female lead character who dresses modestly and doesn't look like a super model. The problem is that there's no evidence that that's what most female gamers want. If there were, that game would already exist.
I think that a lot of us so-called "hardcore" gamers tend to forget that there actually are video games that aren't in the action-adventure genre and don't involve shooting things. A lot of female gamers simply don't care how Lara Croft is dressed, or whether or not the female lead in Remember Me gets to have a husband, because a lot of them are too busy playing things like Angry Birds or Bejeweled. Those are video games too, and, when people cite those statistics that nearly half of all gamers are women, they conveniently leave out that a lot of those women are playing FarmVille; not BioShock.
As for the female gamers who do like playing action-adventure games, why assume that all of them have a problem with those games in their current forms? It's really easy to look at a character like Bayonetta or Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw and conclude that those characters appeal exclusively to straight men, and that women must either not like them at all, or would at least like them more if they'd put some clothes on.
But look at Britney Spears. Britney Spears looks and dresses like she's something straight out of some 14 year old boy's wet dream. Yet, if you look at her fan base, most of her fans are women and gay men. So there's obviously something about the image of an attractive woman who dresses provocatively that is capable of appealing to more than just straight men. This, by the way, is the point that I'm most interested in hearing feminists, or just anyone who thinks sexism is a problem in games, address. How do you rationalize claiming that the idea of a sexy woman in skimpy outfits only appeals to straight men when that claim is demonstrably untrue, as we have multiple examples, most notably in music, of that image appealing to women and gay men?
It's also not really fair to make the assumption that, just because someone is a female gamer, they would prefer to play as a female character. They may not care one way or the other. They could also prefer playing as a male character. There are plenty of male gamers who will tell you that they prefer playing as female characters. Why couldn't the opposite be true?
I can understand the frustration of the people who do want games with female protagonists who possess characteristics that are different from the ones commonly seen in female characters in games today. However, that's no different than the frustration you would feel if not a lot of stores carried your favorite kind of ice cream due to the fact that it wasn't a very popular flavor. It doesn't mean that there's a gender problem, or that what female gamers want is being ignored, or that game developers think women should be locked up in Josef Fritzl's basement(Don't bother looking up that reference if you don't get it. You'll be disturbed for days).
It just means that you happen to like something that isn't very popular, and therefore isn't in very high demand, and therefore isn't as likely to be produced. And that sucks, but it doesn't mean that anyone is doing anything wrong. It's just an unfortunate part of life. We all have things that we like that aren't very popular and aren't likely to ever be made. I, for one, would like a Batman game called "Barkham Asylum", where the entire game takes place in a dog pound for the criminally insane, and all of the Batman characters are replaced with anthropomorphic dogs. Even Catwoman would be a dog. Unfortunately, I'm guessing that game isn't in very high demand, and, even if they did make it, all the dogs would probably be dressed like skanks. So I know how you feel. However, that doesn't change the fact that there is no sexism problem in gaming.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing how wrong I am in the comments.
LOOK WHO CAME: