Author Topic: Representation of women in games  (Read 5135 times)

Kelvin

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2021, 03:43:05 PM »
Relatedly, the original Metroid was quite progressive in a way, although the reveal that robot-suit-wearing, alien-blasting Samus was actually a woman was probably just there to be a shock twist rather than a feminist statement.

Of course, since then plenty of games, even happy-cutesy Smash Bros - have taken pains to feature her in her skintight Zero Suit. When did the transition occur?

Technically the zero suit was a concession, as in Super Metroid she's in her underwear when her suit explodes. The remake of Metroid 1 on Gameboy featured a new section where she lost her armour and had to sneak around in the Zero Suit, which is why that version has appeared in various games since then.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2021, 03:55:36 PM »
I think it's a bit unfair to expect a game with a male protagonist to pass the Bechdel test. While movies, TV and books can follow any character and their interactions with any other character, so it's fair to ask why a woman can't talk to another woman about something other than a man, a videogame always follows the player character -- it can only pass the Bechdel test if the protagonist is a woman, unless two women have a chat in a cutscene, and the point of videogames isn't cutscenes (fuck off, Kojima). Just seems like the Bechdel test makes additional unnecessary demands on a videogame -- a videogame can have healthy sexual politics without the protagonist necessarily being a woman.

Oblivion absolutely crushing the Bechdel test with nonsensical  autogenerated NPC dialogue about mudcrabs.

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2021, 04:00:25 PM »
Oblivion absolutely crushing the Bechdel test with nonsensical  autogenerated NPC dialogue about mudcrabs.

Mudcrabs do tend to get better representation than women do, to be fair.

beanheadmcginty

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2021, 04:06:49 PM »
Mass Effect
Watch Dogs Legion (this game is filled with distinctly unsexy but hard as nails grannies. It's basically a tough granny simulator)
Untitled Goose Game

Lemming

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2021, 04:12:49 PM »

bgmnts

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2021, 05:46:11 PM »
I think I may have to discount created characters or interchangeable gendered protagonists right?

Zetetic

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2021, 05:49:13 PM »
What's your thinking about that?

bgmnts

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2021, 05:51:21 PM »
What's your thinking about that?

Well, they aren't really written to be anything are they? They are created solely by the player. Maybe it counts I don't know.

Zetetic

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2021, 05:58:04 PM »
I don't think any character is solely created by the player - they're operating within systems designed by someone else and maybe picking dialogue choices and making decisions in stories written by someone else. You can still look at those and what they let you express.

At this point, I think I agree with you on interchangeable characters insofar as a complete lack of reaction to gender isn't really terribly interesting[1]. Complicated a bit by some games' stories making much more sense with a/the woman (e.g. Dishonored 2) or there being a consensus on voice actors etc. being better with the woman (e.g. Mass Effect), while others clearly had "play a woman!" tacked on as a feature later on (e.g. Fallout 4 seemingly being built around playing a fairly specific man, and this then being rowed back from).
 1. Particularly if it makes no sense in the world of the game. See race and Skyrim.

Lemming

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #39 on: February 05, 2021, 06:06:01 PM »
I reckon interchangeable characters can be a great thing, since writers are forced to simply write a good character, rather than a "female character" specificially, which could help in eliminating any misogynstic/sexist attitudes they might otherwise subconsciously include.

The Chosen One in Fallout 2 is one of the most enjoyable female protagonists in gaming IMO, simply because the dialogue being (mostly) the same no matter which sex you pick means that she can be as demented, sardonic and deranged as the male protagonist, which are qualities you don't often see in female characters.


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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #40 on: February 05, 2021, 06:08:47 PM »
Is Elizabeth's dress in Bioshock Infinite even that revealing? It's slightly lower cut, but it's very much something that a woman could be wearing during the time period. It's also a lot longer than the original dress she was wearing, which provided a wanton and shocking level of lower shin and ankle reveal.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #41 on: February 05, 2021, 07:27:03 PM »
Relatedly, the original Metroid was quite progressive in a way, although the reveal that robot-suit-wearing, alien-blasting Samus was actually a woman was probably just there to be a shock twist rather than a feminist statement.

Of course, since then plenty of games, even happy-cutesy Smash Bros - have taken pains to feature her in her skintight Zero Suit. When did the transition occur?

Metroid switched to a US sub developer in the early 2000's didnt it?

Kelvin

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #42 on: February 05, 2021, 07:34:59 PM »
Metroid switched to a US sub developer in the early 2000's didnt it?

That was the 3D games, the "Prime" Series, which I think only show Samus with her helmet off in Prime 1 and 2, then a few shots of her in the zero suit in 3. This is literally as "sexualised" as it get, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pQtbFidSf0

EDIT: Just to be clear, Retro, the US studio that made the Prime games, didn't make the original games where the zero suit appeared, although they did come out around the same time. 

Ironically the most sexist depiction of Samus is probably Metroid: Other M, which was a game intended to explore the character in more depth, and give her more motivation. Instead it gave her an obsession with babies, depicted her as a literal child while scared of a monster, and saw her refuse to use certain life-saving abilities without the permission of her male commanding officer. Truly the lowest point for that series.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #43 on: February 05, 2021, 08:53:33 PM »
  Play The Longest Journey and get back to me.

The protagonist has been introduced in her underwear and is explaining verbosely how she's woken up exhausted. Not a strong start.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #44 on: February 05, 2021, 09:39:07 PM »
Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark was a step in the right direction, although the N64's lack of cut scenes made it pretty hard to develop the character into much more than Female James Bond... in the future. Fronted one of the most anticipated games of the day, but fell some way short of becoming the new Lara Croft she was presumably hoped to be.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2021, 09:54:15 PM »
Are women who embody the (arguably) worst aspects of masculinity (solving problems with violence, domination of others, extreme risk taking etc.) really good representations? I don't know.

Lemming

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #46 on: February 06, 2021, 02:51:16 AM »
Are women who embody the (arguably) worst aspects of masculinity (solving problems with violence, domination of others, extreme risk taking etc.) really good representations? I don't know.

Given the culture we're currently in, I'd say yes. Having female characters embody whatever we consider "masculinity" to be is subversive, and expands the range of roles available to female characters in media, and thus changes what society considers to be appropriate for women. That chips away at sexism until, hopefully one day, there's no such thing as a "female character" or a "male character", just a good character.

I'd definitely agree that the glorification/fetishisation of violence and domination in media is a serious issue, but it's one that's totally separate from representation of women, I think. As long as we unfortunately idolise violence in fiction, there's no reason why we shouldn't have women doing it too.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #47 on: February 06, 2021, 03:07:51 AM »
It's not subverting it if it's an unironic gender-swapped version of it though. To subvert it is to undermine. Making them into action heroines, while fine in itself, just suggests women need to play by male rules.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #48 on: February 06, 2021, 03:27:25 AM »
This is all a product of our limited interaction with the world in action games just now. Shoot, punch, loot etc. As Eddie says adventure games have a far better representation not only of gender but of all classes, races etc.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #49 on: February 06, 2021, 03:33:45 AM »
Is Syberia worth playing eddie, or is that a load of shit? I think I started it ages ago and gave up for some reason.

Lemming

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2021, 03:35:06 AM »
It's not subverting it if it's an unironic gender-swapped version of it though. To subvert it is to undermine. Making them into action heroines, while fine in itself, just suggests women need to play by male rules.

Alternatively, depending on how it's handled, it might suggest there ought to be no such thing as male or female rules.

Gender is undermined and destabilised when the limits and restrictions it prescribes are broken, surely? Female characters engaging in "masculine"-deemed behaviours isn't necessarily a case of them playing by male rules, it's potentially a case of rejecting the idea of such rules altogether, and suggesting that any behaviour, attitude or aesthetic can be displayed by anyone, regardless of sex.

Especially if it's coupled with a trend of male characters fulfilling "feminine" roles in media, which we might be at the very cusp of starting to see now.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #51 on: February 06, 2021, 03:56:20 AM »
 I meant that women don't need to be 'badasses' to be respected in game narratives. Which is usually the lazy way of characterising a 'strong' woman.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #52 on: February 06, 2021, 03:58:19 AM »
Especially if it's coupled with a trend of male characters fulfilling "feminine" roles in media, which we might be at the very cusp of starting to see now.

Like that guy from Are You being Served? :)

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #53 on: February 06, 2021, 06:30:28 PM »
Sorry to say that Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite is a shit carrot-on-a-stick to gear the infinitely stupid and heinously racist plot into motion. She has no real agency and does nothing of import, and kills the only other important and characterized woman, whom is also a complete monster. She also has unbelievable, weird mood swings because it's convenient for the plot to make her Mad at the Player. She has no existence without Booker, and is not a unique person, let alone a well-represented woman.

And no, it's not racist because it deals with racism, it's because its handling of racism is infinitely awful. The fact that several of the black Vox members are just re-colored white ones (yes!!!) and hoot and rebel-yell in combat while talking about taking your scalp is just the tip of its infinitely winding iceberg of paradoxical racism.

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #54 on: February 06, 2021, 06:34:31 PM »
There's also the fact that in the DLC her more reserved costume (aside from the fishnets and the insanely over the top "fuck me" makeup) is a stripper's outfit that she stole upon arriving in Rapture. Then she also becomes this really tropey noire-vengant seductress that smokes cigarettes languidly and croons huskily at the player. It's filth of the highest order and not in a good way. Infinite is just a career-destroying car crash from the top down.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #55 on: February 06, 2021, 10:27:43 PM »
Elizabeth is peak "Ahhh I'm more interested in a women's mind actually... as long she's also really conventionally hot!!!" It desperately want's her to be a "strong female character" but it's really just incredibly horny for her. Which I think is more insidious than straight out objectification, and that's also particularly creepy considering the whole daughter thing going on.

I was fooled by it at the time, bought into the hype, but it's embarrassing looking back.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 12:44:52 AM by Thursday »

bgmnts

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #56 on: February 06, 2021, 10:49:40 PM »
There's also the fact that in the DLC her more reserved costume (aside from the fishnets and the insanely over the top "fuck me" makeup) is a stripper's outfit that she stole upon arriving in Rapture. Then she also becomes this really tropey noire-vengant seductress that smokes cigarettes languidly and croons huskily at the player. It's filth of the highest order and not in a good way. Infinite is just a career-destroying car crash from the top down.

Yeah I finished Bioshock Infinite and am playing through Bioshock now and the difference is staggering. The former is a pretentious load of dull toss with some cool ideas and the latter is one of the greatest video games ever made. Plus the character of Tenenbaum is infinitely more interesting than Elizabeth.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #57 on: February 06, 2021, 11:05:50 PM »
I defended Bioshock Infinite to the hilt when it came out; never replayed it, where I've gone back to Bioshock like 3 times.  Speaks volumes.

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #58 on: February 06, 2021, 11:12:27 PM »
THANK YOU yes elizabeth is naff

Kelvin

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2021, 11:53:12 PM »
All the above is true, but i'd still rather play Infinite that the original. It doesn't drop off so hard in the last third, the characters are more likeable, and the combat's more fun.

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