Much has been made over the past couple of years about the role of women in video games and, by extension, the video game industry. The lack of female video game developers, or a intangible global conspiracy of the matriarchy to keep women down, are often blamed for female characters usually getting the short end of the stick. I think the big problem with this problem is that there’s a lack of perspective. In fact, if we look to another bubbling controversy; that of the recognition of transgendered people, we actually strike upon a solution to both of these issues!
As recently pointed out by Kotaku, games aren’t progressive enough if they discuss women’s issues related to traditionally female anatomy because not all women have vaginas. That’s such an axiomatic statement that you’re a horrible person should dare to disagree. With that in mind, doesn’t it call into question the progressiveness of someone who complains about the presence or role of “women” in video games? How are they distinguishing between what is an is not a woman?
The notorious video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games goes at length to detail the imbalance in the portrayal of women in games (mostly as victims.) However the host, Anita Sarkeesian, never bothers to lay down the groundwork of what constitutes a “woman” in her analysis. Considering how, in the real world, the difference between a man and a woman is simply a matter of saying so then how can we simply look at these characters and know whether they’re a man or a woman? One could argue The Last of Us, like The Walking Dead (and even Tomb Raider,) is simply the continuing subjugation of women (particularly when shown as girls) to men (particularly bearded, burly, manly men.) However, that interpretation is just loaded with stereotypes. Why are the girls considered girls? Because they have breasts? If having a vagina isn’t proof of womanhood, then certainly the presence of breasts isn’t. In none of these games does the player become familiar with any of the characters’ genitalia anyway, so how could we really know that Nathan Drake isn’t just a particularly masculine woman or Clementine an effeminate little boy? We can’t even take for granted the characters’ use of pronouns, as those are possibly just socially-imposed on a gender confused character afraid to use their preferred identifier.
Where does that leave us? There is no gender gap in gaming because there are no longer any genders in gaming. We don’t have enough information about any given character to say definitively who is a man or woman, let alone how that’s influencing their roles. “Princess” Toadstool is just an unlucky cross dresser, Duke Nukem is the champion of the bull dyke, and the cast of most Final Fantasies remains somewhat ambiguous. Transgendered people suddenly find themselves well represented in gaming while “women” no longer have to worry about being the victims of plot contrivance.
- MUD2MMO Trope Solving @ YouTube
- Who Are We to Say Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Native American? @ MSNBC
- Video Game Industry Sexism Debate @ Slate
- Microsoft Rape Joke at E3 Sparks Outrage @ FOX Newss