This is the follow up to the previous article Men wear armour, Women wear sexy-time lingerie. Here I address issues of how men and women are pictured in games, beyond what they are wearing.
We will try to answer the this two common questions that often arise in discussion:
“What is wrong with pictures with sexy women in sexy poses?”
“What is wrong with pictures of submissive and passive women? And dominant and active men?”
The answer to these questions is that the problem isn’t sexiness, nor is the submissiveness, dominance, passivity or activity. The description becomes sexist when the traits is predominately applied to one gender.
Let’s turn to our hypothetical example of the fantasy game “Wyrms and Warriors”.
Role-playing games are often about wish fulfilment. We want cool characters, we want them to look cool. So let’s look at the pictures. Perhaps the male characters look something like this:
Pictures of male characters:
~ 30% : Conventionally handsome sexy dudes
~ 20% : Elvish androgynous beauties
~ 20% : Muscular guys that look like they can wrestle bears
~ 15% : Ugly bad-ass mother fuckers
~15% : Average everyday looking dudes doing cool things
Looks pretty cool to me. If I want to create a character I have a lot of different looks for character can inspire me. I can be inspired to play beautiful characters or ugly characters and a lot of other cool looks.
Then I take a look at the female characters:
Pictures of female characters:
~ 40% : Female supermodels with a E-cups
~ 30% : Female supermodels with a B-cups
~ 30% : Female supermodels with a GGGG-cups!
Wow. My cup size can vary! I feel inspired! Or… Perhaps not. While many of the male characters type was attractive in different ways, there was a lot more variation to them the size of the bulge between their legs. The different looks and body types expressed something about the character.
Well. Perhaps you could try something like this:
Pictures of female characters:
~ 30% : Conventionally handsome sexy gals
~ 20% : Elvish androgynous beauties
~ 20% : Muscular gals that look like they can wrestle bears
~ 15% : Ugly bad-ass mother fuckers
~15% : Average everyday looking gals doing cool things
Just saying. It is a bit more interesting than cup size. Here is a great site to help you: Athletic Body Diversity Reference for Artists.
Here’s the thing. There is more to images of characters then clothes and body type. It’s about their attitude, situation and pose too. Let me try to explain.
Active: Someone who is active in the picture is doing something, making something happen.
Passive: Someone who is passive in the picture isn’t doing much. They might just be standing, sitting or laying about.
Dominant: The one that dominates in the picture is the one who is in charge, or has control and power, or is self assured and look to be in control.
Submissive: The one that is submissive in the picture, is the one that doesn’t have power, or has less power and is vulnerable, or insecure or at a disadvantage.
Sexualised: If someone in the picture is shown in sexualised way they try to hint at sex in some way. They can be posed in way that focus on sexy body parts, or be undressed, or show sexual cues like hard nipples or hinting of an erect penis.
Non-sexualised: If someone is shown in a nonsexual way they are simply shown in a way that doesn’t try to hint at sex, be sexy or show sexual cues.
While nothing is wrong with any of this things on their own, they are often expressed in a sexist pattern. Men are more often active, dominate, and non-sexualised in images and women are more often passive, submissive and sexualised.
An example would be that there are more images of brave, powerful male knights fighting a monster to save the the weak, submissive but sexy princess then the opposite with female knights and princes.
It’s pretty boring if everything fall into that pattern. It’s also an easy trap to fall into. Mix it up. Let men be sexy, and let women be active sometimes. Let the prince be the one that needs saving sometimes, and the dominating monster be female.
Count the images. If 60% of the men in the pictures are active, let 60% of the women in the pictures be active. If 30% of the women are submissive, have 30% of the men be submissive. If 50% of the images of men are non-sexualised, have 50% of the images of women be non-sexualised.
Assuming that you can count, it is pretty easy.
As you can see, this discussion isn’t about banning things. It is about variation, not just for the guys, not just for the girls, but for everyone.
TOO MANY GAMES!!! Can’t handle it. Gonna do something unimaginable and read instead.*
Prints are available HERE and you know you want one.
*I actually read quite a lot. Please stop judging me. <3
Yup, reading or tumblr. =)
As all of you know already, there is still discrimination in videogames. And lately there’s been drama with the whole “gamer girl” thing. Girls can’t be gamers, and all that. As well as game makers are limited as to what they can do; They try to make a female character, and then they get told, “No, that character can’t be a chick. Scratch that, make her a him.”
This is the only solution I’ve come up with and it’s to make our demographic known statistically.
When you get a game, REGISTER THAT GAME, and take their online survey, putting your name, age, and gender, as well as how experienced of a gamer you are!
Even if you only play Pokemon- every little bit helps! They have these surveys so that they CAN know who to market things for and how to market things better. This helps THEM, and this helps US.
So dust off your old game boxes, and look inside and see if it has a place you can go to register, and register that baby!
Please reblog this so we can be known!
This is a really good point. One of the best ways to let companies know that women are a viable demographic is by registering games and checking that ‘female’ box.
Compelling, infuriating and uplifting story, all at the same time. This is a MUST. WATCH.
What would you put up with to be accepted in your field of interest?
[Please take note that the commentary is just for fun. Bunch of sarcasm. Don’t take it too seriously. I am getting tired of these outfits, though.]
1. The classic Bikini Armor. If you’re lucky you might get an actual shoulder-pad! If the designers even bother doing something more than just a regular bikini, you might get some accessories with stilettos! Exactly what I want in battle. For a extra nice touch; cameltoe.
2. The Lingerie ”Armor”. There’s absolutely nothing that protects you, but it looks really
uncomfortable and nice in bedbattle! Complete with some feathery, useless shoulder pads!
3. The ever so Stylish Swimsuit! This is usually the armor you get before you get the upgrade Bikini Armor. Bonus points if a choker, thigh-high boots/stockings and a half mask is included!
4. The Abstract Art. Yes, we’re all wondering how the hell that works; how does that thing stay on, how does she walk with those shoes, how on earth is that supposed to protect her and why is half of her naked? All those questions is a part of the costume! They say art say more than thousand words.. or something!
5. The Dominatrix and/or Slave outfit! For those kinky players out there! Complete with leather or latex, fishnets, chains, chokers and whips! Bonus points of the stilettos are sky-high!
6. The StereotypeShaman or Barbarian! Because she’s clearly so wild and ~exotic~ that she doesn’t need clothes! Best worn with tiny loincloth and underboob-straps!
7. The Cute Frilly Dress! Something you’d LOVE to wear, CONSTANTLY…. in battle! Usually the female “robe” costume, but hey, robes doesn’t show her nice legs! ): For absolute effect, add garterbelts.
8. I call this the Why?. Everything is so massive and made of thick material, but we wouldn’t want to cover her girly parts now, would we? Clearly NO ONE would be aiming there!
9. Nature Thing Something. If you’re not of human race and belong to the nature, expect your outfit to look something like this! Feel completely
exposedfree! I didn’t even bother with this one, but clearly they don’t even do that in games either. But since you’re not human, it’s totally okay!
10. This is best known as “Just In Case You Forgot”. Have a decent looking outfit, but then they suddenly cut obvious holes around your privates, just reminding you that you have breasts, a butt and a vagina! How nice of them! Bonus if you don’t have a boob-hole, but instead boob-chest-plate!
11. The Everyday Archer! A very classic outfit, complete with a corset and a mini-skirt! Don’t forget the cape, but heavens forbid that you wear it longer than your hips! Then we wouldn’t be able to see your nice butt or legs from behind! *sad face*
12. The Creative Healer! She isn’t supposed to be in close-combat, and sometimes doesn’t even use weapons other than a staff, so minimal armor is understandable… that’s why we give you a dress that leaves you wondering how that thing stays on, and with a leg-slip-thing! We wouldn’t want you to forget you have legs, after all!
13. And finally, your Average Sci-Fi chick! This one is an absolute classic. It has weird cut-outs everywhere, extreme cleavage, patterns pointing to your crotch and chest, and CRAZY shoes! Don’t forget the skin tight, often nearly-transparent, glossy fabric. Perfect battle wear, absolutely perfect!
For the students at East Austin College Prep, a charter school that opened in 2009, designing video games happens every day in a program called Globaloria. Starting in sixth grade, students spend at least an hour a day as part of the curriculum, learning how to design Web and mobile games. They work on their own games, but they also collaborate in groups, developing many tech skills along the way.
I recently received an email from an anonymous fan sharing how she pulled a Hawkeye Initiative themed prank on her CEO to illustrate a problem with some artwork.
My personal compliments to her and her accomplice on a mission well done; they perfectly took they perfectly took the concept of The Hawkeye Initiative one step farther, and effected actual change. I hope this gives you as much of a laugh as it did me (the artwork is currently my desktop), and inspires you to be unafraid to stand up and take action in your own awesome way.
Now, excuse me while I go play my new favorite mech game. :)
I work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.
I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.
For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job. This
Our CEO loves this picture. It is to all appearances his favorite piece of comic art for the game. He had it blown up poster-sized, framed, and displayed on the out-facing wall of his office. There, it looms over the front room like a ship’s figurehead. It is the first thing workers and visitors see when they enter the building and the last thing they see when they leave. This little lady’s undermeats have been the open- and close- parens to my work world for the last six months.
I loathe this picture.
Why do I loathe it? How, you ask, can I stay mad at a sweet young belle who has so obviously taken a break from her important welding to offer me a piping hot cup of coffee and/or a vigorous hand job? (And probably, given her apparent safety consciousness, simultaneously?) If you don’t already know the answer, you might want to check out things like #1ReasonWhy, and the Bechdel Test, and also this, and this, and this and this, and all these other things. (And while we’re talking you should check out this other bullshit right here.)
So at our office holiday party, while our CEO was having everyone in the company sign it, I stand there grinding my teeth into tiny shards. Until, suddenly, it came to me: a vision.
And so it came to be that I approached Sam Kirk, a wickedly funny co-worker who shared my sentiment. Sam, turns out, is a very talented artist who can be bribed-slash-inspired using a medley of feminist indignation, hysterical giggling, and two $90 bottles of añejo tequila.
A month-and-a-half later, our vision was a reality. I give you:
Bro-sie The Riveter.
I want to make it completely clear that everything in this prank that required actual talent was done by Sam. Find this, and more of Sam’s art, at TheRealSamKirk.com.
We blew (ahem) Brosie up poster sized. We framed him. And then, at 7:30 on Monday, April 1st, we snuck into our CEO’s office and switched them.
I stood in the entryway, dizzy with joy. It was glorious. There Brosie stood, proud, nipples testing the air like young gophers in springtime, the post-apocalyptic breeze gently swaying his banana hammock. Brosie said, loud and proud: “Get ready, world! I am here to lubricate your joints and tighten your socket.”
I basically spend the next few hours having a joy-induced neurological episode.
As the morning progressed, Brosie (ahem) revealed himself to our co-workers. The air resounded with startled, suppressed gargles of mingled joy and horror. Some take pictures. Some instantly turn and flee. Several men blush and grin in vindicated solidarity. Several women ask us for prints. At this point I am in total rapture. This is the moment I have been dreaming about for six months.
Yet somehow everyone in the office manages to keep quiet about it. Until, finally, our CEO arrives.
We hear a loud: “What the hell is this?!” And then all goes quiet. Ten minutes pass. We panic.
We are both suddenly and painfully aware that we have, in fact, just punked the CEO of our company. He is by all accounts an awesome dude. He is also a late-50s ex-army guy who happens to determine our employment futures in an at-will state. Meep.
Twenty more minutes pass. And then our CEO comes up to my desk, taps me on the shoulder, and says this:
“That was a brilliant prank. You called me on exactly the bullshit I need to be called on. I put up pictures of half-naked girls around the office all the time and I never think about it. I’m taking you and Sam to lunch. And after that, we’re going to hang both prints, side by side.”
Ruby Underboob and Brosie the Riveter, together at last
Yeah. That happened.
This wonderful experience has taught me two things that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and in gaming. It taught me this:
Lots of men (like Sam) are already sympathetic to the stupid, constant crap women put up with in gaming/STEM, and they are ready and willing to call that crap onto the carpet.
And, most importantly, many of the guys who are behind that stupid, constant crap are totally decent, open-minded human beings who just don’t realize they’re doing it. You know how sometimes you don’t realize how much you and your girlfriend are talking about shoes or menstruation until some dude walks into the room? Well sometimes guys don’t realize how much they’re talking about titties.
We just haven’t been around enough for them to notice.
There is only one solution to that, ladies. Bust out your baby-Gap tee and your protective welding goggles, and let’s turn this damn industry into the environment we want it to be. It’s hard work, and yes, there are a couple genuine assholes along the way. But if Ruby Underboob can brave the occasional droplet of molten metal, so can we.
Speaking from experience, it’s worth it.
About our CEO, Mark Long:
Mark has a long and storied history with, among other things, research, games and comic art. He’s a partner in the RoqlaRue gallery in Seattle, representing “chick art.” Mark considers himself a feminist activist. He is proud to have created a graphic novel trilogy with Nick Sagan (Carl’s son) that features a female hero so strong, Hillary Swank is attached to star as her.
Mark and I are now in an open dialogue about gender in comics and gaming.
I love this so very much!