REBUTTAL TO: Give the Lady Some Armor!
I recently read Mr. Eller's editorial on the depiction of women in
video games. While it was certainly interesting, it barely shed any
new ground, and indeed was lacking in several key facets that I feel
are a must when discussing the issue.
Before I start, let me say that this sort of thing has been
happening long before Sony came along. Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury),
Chun-Li (Street Fighter), Celes (Final Fantasy), and
Katt (Breath of Fire) were all female characters in the 16-bit
era designed for the purpose of alluring adolescent males.
Furthermore, Leisure Suit Larry is a franchise that didn't just start
recently, but were among the first PC adventure titles during that
genre's golden age. So while things have gotten somewhat worse with
the advent of realistic polygonal graphics, let us not kid ourselves
into thinking this is a problem started by the PlayStation.
Furthermore, to simply look at the way women are dressed is a
failure to look at the whole picture. Take a look at how their
personalities are usually, especially in RPGs. The main female is
always shy and hesitant, almost immediately attracted to the main
male lead. She's always completely innocent, doe-eyed, giggling and
going doe-eyed at any chance they get. And why are they always
depicted in this manner? Because that's what males 14-24 apparently
like to see; perfect women staying behind their men, never talking
back, never getting angry at her glorified Master, all but at his
beck and call. In many ways, I find Rinoa (Final Fantasy)
much more offensive than Rayne (Bloodrayne) ever could be. At
least the latter has her own personality and isn't the perfect little
Another problem is the lack of legitimate female leads, particularly
in RPGs. Quick, name me an RPG other than FFX-2 and Rhapsody
released domestically that had a female leads (Games like Knights
of the Old Republic with user-created lead characters don't
count). You can't, can you? That's because men in the age group I
mentioned don't want to see strong, independent women taking the
lead. Look back at FFX-2. One of the things it was most heavily
panned for was the all female party it sported. I've more than once
seen the game referred to as “girly.” Would people have
felt better were Yuna, Paine and Rikku going to war with each other
over a man's affection throughout the game, fighting over the right
to treat him like he was king of the world? I'm sure that after that
reaction, Square's learned its lesson about female leads.
However, why are we at this point? Why is it that women are made to
be less than men, and why is it that any attempt to reverse that
trend is seen as unacceptable? The answer is simple: the demographic
game companies seek is males 14-24. It's quick and easy to get their
attention with beautiful women, either walking around in scantily
outfits or acting like slaves to men. And, to be honest, that
demographic isn't going to stop liking these things any time soon.
What does need to happen is for women to get involved. Women
need to start developing and publishing games, games that reflect
women as they really are – Their attire, their personality, the
whole bit – and having those games sell. In other words, women
need to stop bitching about it and start doing something to change
it, because the current developers and publishers aren't going to cut
their own arm off to please a few screaming, indignant feminists.
Personally, I for one hope women gain a presence in the industry.
This industry could use a balancing in demographic, if nothing else
than for originality. And if the results are more deep,
strong-willed women like Bastilla and Kreia (Both from the Knights
of the Old Republic series) and less wet blankets like Rinoa,
then it'll be all the more worthwhile.