The steel bikini is getting stale for women in video games


Tyler Hargreaves says that the impression that women don't play games is a reason why there is a lack of good representation

Tyler Hargreaves says that the impression that women don’t play games is a reason why there is a lack of good representation

Video games have always stirred up some sort of issue, from being to violent to making players anti-social, but one of the biggest problems that seems to remain constant is the troubling way women are represented, or aren’t.

Throughout the many years that video games have existed, games featuring female leads is still an unusual sight, according to Cindy Poremba, who is a professor in the Bachelor Undergraduate Game Design and Postgrad Level Design programs and notes that she has been playing games since many years.

“I mean even in the indie games where you even have a female character that is available and playable tends to be fairly rare”

“I do think that there is a lack of female characters and when I play certain online games I don’t feel accepted or taken seriously as a female gamer,” adds Kaytee Dalton, 18, a first year media fundamentals student.

Some say that the reason behind the few women in video games is due to the perception that women do not play video games, or that there are so few that there would be no point in going out of the way to please them.

However, according to a survey done by the Entertainment Software Association in 2013, 45 per cent of gamers were females.

“It’s disappointing. I have such a love for video games, but I still often feel excluded in the gaming universe as video games are still heavily marketed to males,” says Dalton.

“The stats will say that not as many females are playing, which is false.  I don’t know where it’s coming from but mostly because the games are catering to males and they don’t seem to notice the female population that plays,” agrees Tyler Hargreaves, 19, a student in the child and youth worker program.

The female characters that do appear in video games are often over sexualized, clearly appearing as such to appeal to the male audience without any regard of the female gamers.

“The stereotype that women are incompetent or that they are only there for male pleasure is still a core part of gaming,” says Vittoria Gibson, 18, a first year media arts student.

“It’s very rare you can find a game where they aren’t over-sexualized. Especially for like armoured games, it doesn’t really make sense” Hargreaves adds.

Even if they aren’t oversexualized, there is sometimes something about a female character that seems off, says Poremba.

“As a woman, I always notice the annoying things, so you could have a character that seems like a good strong female character but then you’ll just notice the one thing that’s off with the way they’re characterized or with the way their story is structured” she says.

Another reason why there aren’t as many female protagonists seems to be because there’s the belief that male gamers wouldn’t want to play as women, though that isn’t the case, according to Shaan Khangura, 19, a first year art fundamentals student.

“I would not turn away from buying a game for 60 bucks if it was a female lead role. If it’s a good game it’s a good game,” he says.

“I personally prefer the games that portray the women as a strong independent person. As I said, it brings a lot more emotion and in a way brings the story of the game to life,” agrees Gavin Rebeiro, 20, a student in first year advertising and marketing communication.

Things are changing however. People are beginning to speak up when they find elements in a game sexist and those who are heavily involved in the gaming industry are trying to change how women are represented in video games.

“I think people are getting more conscientious about how that changes what types of experiences people would have with that character so I think we’re avoiding some of the initial issues we had with female characters,” says Poremba.

“People have been a lot more vocal in their criticisms of the way in which women are portrayed in various games in general, from an audience standpoint but also from women in the games industry.”

“It’s getting better, and the portrayal of a strong Female lead or even as a secondary character appear to be getting more fierce, sarcastic and not putting up with any guys bullshit,” agrees. Clarees Swart, 19, a student in media fundamentals.

“The world is moving forward with the times and I think [the video game industry] needs to move on as well,” Gibson concedes.

Do you think that women in video games are fairly represented?

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