Disclaimer: I want to note that it's pretty much impossible to word this kind of article in a way that won't piss off anyone, because someone will ALWAYS be pissed off, when it comes to this. I couldn't even word it this way in german (and I simply have to ask of you to remember that english isn't my native language, so I might have worded things not well sometimes, although I used a dictionary and a thesaurus). Please consider that I simply can't put every detail, example and exception into this text, neither can I put in every extreme as an example of how to not do it. I tried to cover all the important corners, however. I don't want to piss on somebody with this, I want to encourage to think about this.
I won't say sorry for it, but if something on here bothers you, you may feel yourself invited to simply ask about it, instead of trying to take the piss out of me right away. If you think I simply want to blame a certain group with this, you completly misunderstood everything I wrote here and should read it all again. Slowly. Cool? Cool.
So, it feels like an eternity, but if I don't remember it wrong this whole sexism debate about video games started just somewhat a year ago, when Anita Sarkeesian started her Tropes vs. Women Kickstarter. I won't write about that thing here, her lies were exposed multiple times. But ever since then, neither the blogs nor the pundits, it seemed, were able to put a stop to that topic. Suddenly there was a problem for the whole of females and stories of inappropiate things poured over the scene from all corners. But the question that I came up, for myself at some point, was: what about the men?
What about them, right?
That is most likely the reaction I would get from many people. Destructoid's own Jim Sterling did a whole episode
of his weekly column "Jimquisition" on this topic, arguing that men don't have to suffer the same kind of objectification that women do (and putting the fact that there are problems with male characters too basically into one sidesentence). The basic jist of it, and this seems to be a prevalent idea, is that male characters have it simply better. That males have it better.
Now I agree on the fact that male characters are not objectified in the same way female characters often are. That is completly correct. I agree with Sterling here that male leads are often idealized. But let's look at the possible effects of that, shall we? Because, as we all know by know, almost 50% of gamers are female.
The usual male lead character is nothing ugly. Even old or grizzled characters, like Old Snake or Marcus Fenix, are still not ugly. They might not be male model handsome, but they are pretty nice to look at. And this is something that goes through all the games. Nathan Drake in Uncharted
, Altair or Ezio in Assasin's Creed
, even Joel in The Last Of Us
, a man who basically lives on a junkyard of civilization... the list can go on forever. As with female characters like Lara Croft, the male characters aren't ugly. They never are. They are not overweight guys. Not men that are balding in their mid twenties. They don't have a body(type) that most of society would not find attractive or desirable, depending from which way you approach it. The last superhero that was ugly, as far as I can remember it, was Boogerman. And that was 1994. Even Mario, with his round belly, still doesn't look fat or even really overweight. So the notion that only male characters are granted to be "ugly" is simply not true. To say it with some biting cynicism: nobody wants to play something ugly for +8 hours.
Now one can argue that Marcus Fenix isn't sexy and any woman can be my guest in stating she wouldn't give Nathan Drake some of the old "in out, in out" even if he was the last man on earth. But this boils down to personal taste, to subjective preference. I for once wouldn't want to hump any one of the Dead or Alive
girls, but that doesn't mean they are not dollfaces with huge breats. But the thing is: the male leads are very much good looking, even if they are near retirement age or walking around in a fat space marine suit.
But like I said, if that imbalance of male to female characters is something that annoys you, voice your opinion. Just do it civilized and balanced. Because if enough people will call for female leads, for stuff like the Bioshock Infinite cover drama and stuff like that not to happen again, companies will have no choice but to hear it. We, all of us, are the people that keep them alive. It's our money they want and it's bad publicity they fear. And if anything has been proven, then that this industry will listen to us, if the voice our opinion clearly enough. As a customer, you have a certain power - use it, but with responsibility.
Thanks and Salida.
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