Feminism | Posted by Ariel B on 11/11/2009

Bringing Feminism to Hyrule Since ’96

good times

good times

I am a geek and have been since I was young. Like many of us here on the internet, I say this with a hint of pride. That kid who stayed at home playing Super Mario Bros. and reading the encyclopedia? Yeah, that was me. Knows every anime to hit America since 1995? Also me. Can recite multiple episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series? You get the point. But geekdom is not always the shining Mushroom Kingdom we make it out to be. Like every group, we have our share of misogynist douchewads. for instance, let’s look at one of my earliest hobbies, video games.

Before the ragestorm hits let me say: I AM BY NO MEANS DISSING GAMING. I am a gamer. I specialize in a genre frequently criticized by feminists: fighters. Many of my happiest memories involve Soul Calibur IV and my boyfriend yelling, “What? NO!” while I laughed triumphantly. But loving games does not stop me from seeing flaws in them. I remember one or two games from my youth in which there were only two female characters, both scantily clad and completely useless. While women in video games are still wearing next to nothing and modeled like Playboy models from the planet Mammillary (I’m looking at you, Dead or Alive), they’ve come a long way. I remember playing Tekken knock-offs in which the female characters were fast, but did almost no damage. It wouldn’t have bothered me if it were only a one or two female characters, but no, ALL women fighters are fast but not strong. Because strong girls would have to have muscles and as we all know, “Muscles on chicks are nasty, bro.” Which explains why the gamers of the world are disgusted by Chun-Li. Ok, I can’t even be sarcastic about that. I’m sorry, Chun-Li, we all love you and your strong, muscular legs.

WOW

WOW

Now, fighters aren’t responsible for ALL the chauvinism in the industry. Let’s look at World of Warcraft. WHAT THE HELL DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET ARMOR THAT COVERS MY FREAKING TORSO? One would think that instead of wearing metal bras onto the battlefield, my Night Elf Warrior would get some armor that covers, oh, I dunno, her vital organs? Don’t get me wrong, I love boobs. But when I’m in the middle of a raid, the last thing I’m thinking is, “Aw, geez. I hope my character’s boobs are well supported and perky.” No. I’m hoping those ogres back there don’t club me to death. And don’t even get me started on the arrogant veQ* that graces the servers. Go to any server and say anything. Once they hear a female voice, the chauvinist veQ will emerge from the shadows. Be prepared to hear anything from insults about how horrible of a gamer you must be (alarming amounts of people believe that women are terrible gamers who only play Nintendogs) to pleas for pics and your email address. I am not in Azeroth to join in a flame war or find my soulmate; I’m here to do battle.

Finally, we need to examine the FPS (first person shooter). Yes, I realize Samus Aran from Metroid is a fully clad woman. And I love Samus. When I was eight, I wanted to be Samus. But there is a huge lack of Samus Arans (or any playable women, for that matter) in the FPS world. Let’s look at the Halo series. There are no women in battle for the first three games. There are women in the game, but they seem to disappear as soon as the shooting starts (or they are the creepy AI that I still have vaguely erotic nightmares about). So, I was excited when I heard that there was a woman in combat in Halo:ODST. A strong woman! And I get to play as a soldier? I’ll be able to make a superbad female soldier! Right? No. That “strong woman” I was hoping for is repeatedly objectified and disrespected by the troops under her command and completely incompetent. And I can only play as a man, because apparently women can’t be soldiers in the future. Way to fail the female gaming community, Bungie.

In conclusion, we the geeks would like to announce that we’ve found a few bugs in human nature. We are currently working on a patch to fix it so please be patient.

*veQ: translates to garbage or filth, for those of you who don’t speak Klingon.

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  • dare2believe @ at 11:56 am, November 11th, 2009

    That has always bothered me. It’s not fair. But then, most things aren’t.

  • Maria D @ at 12:16 pm, November 11th, 2009

    It used to freak out my big brothers friends when they’d bring in fighting games which they’d practiced for hours and little ole me would pick it up on the first try and kick their asses.

    :D

  • merlin @ at 1:30 pm, November 11th, 2009

    it makes me happy in my soul that i knew that particular piece of klingon.

    it makes me less happy that with each successive tomb raider game lara crofts boobs got bigger by an apparent factor of ten. for no apparent reason.

  • Arran @ at 4:18 pm, November 11th, 2009

    This is interesting, as a gaming blog I regularly visit discussed something similar this week.

    http://blogs.watoday.com.au/digital-life/screenplay/2009/11/10/yourturntheg2.html

    The thing that interests me is what plays a larger role in the lack of games that would appeal to intelligent female gamers? Is it a lack of female developers, a lack of understanding of the potential market, or just the usual tight-arsed white boys club fiscal conservative crap.

    Thanks for sharing this piece with us!

  • K8 AH @ at 4:22 pm, November 11th, 2009

    Though I am a geek, I am not a gamer… But I want to praise you for this article! It is really well written and even as a non-gamer, I never got lost once and was captivated the whole time… Well Done!

  • Zoe @ at 4:30 pm, November 11th, 2009

    I always played Chun-Li! I mean, she was the only girl in Street Fighter 2. Loved her.

    I was a big fan of LOZ. I loved it. Still do. Me and my brothers are considering getting Triforce tattoos together. I always liked putting my own name instead of Link’s and characters would say my name. Just a little “HAH! You see a boy but I’m really a girl behind the screen!”

  • Maia M @ at 9:12 pm, November 11th, 2009

    This article provoked sympathetic ire, but also made me giggle. Thank you ^^

  • Metroid Fan @ at 12:57 am, November 12th, 2009

    The problem with using Samus Aran as an example for a good model of how women should be portrayed in FPS games is that it has changed since the original release of Metroid and Super Metroid. In the first game, when Samus took off her helmet, everyone was like, “HOLY CRAP! I just spent three hours kicking ass as a GIRL?!?!?” Back then, see, Samus was drawn in a very Western comic-book style; meaning that there was a lot of attention paid to musculature details beneath her armor. This was awesome. Even in Super Metroid, where you could get her to strip down to a little white bikini by beating the game fast enough (and everyone, male or female, gay or straight, rejoiced), her pixelated sprite form still wasn’t TINY. She wasn’t a little girl, or an anorexic supermodel. She was a badass, and every fan of this game series that I have EVER spoken to agrees that she was SO. RIDICULOUSLY. HOT.

    Now, onto the problem. Samus Aran is no longer done in a Western comic-book style (a la the older console games), nor is she done in a realistic style (a la Prime). No, now she is done in an obnoxiously Anime style: Thanks a lot Zero Mission/Fusion. You have successfully “femmed-up” Samus Aran. She has lost somewhere around THIRTY FLIPPING POUNDS OF MUSCLE so that she can look “sexy” in her new, skin-tight, blue catsuit. WHAT???

    So now, instead of playing as a strong, capable young women who commits genocide against aliens, I have to play as a very rape-able ninja. I AM NOT PLEASED WITH THIS “PROGRESSION.”

  • Annon @ at 4:27 am, December 29th, 2009

    Are you serious? Out of all the MMOs around you pick WoW as your target for unrealistic armor?

    Come ON! They have one of the most reasonably dressed females in all MMOdom. I was so relieved that I wouldn’t HAVE to run around in a metal bikini, next to a fully armored male character wearing the SAME armor. Arghhh…
    WoW is better than a lot of them out there.

  • Dia @ at 3:18 pm, March 2nd, 2010

    Well, about the WoW issue play a Tauren. All of their stuff fits and ,surprizing, female gamers are expected to play the more unattractive races because guys normally play the female ‘bunnies’.
    And Halo series you’re supposed to be the awsome MasterChief who’s like the last survivor.So from one geek to another ‘Blame the covenent!’.
    And I also played Chun-Li though I’m not into fighting games cause they generally have no storyline like first persons shooters or RPGs. Besides Chun-Li Cammy is my favorite Street-Fighter character. And I like the female character from DOA3, though I didn’t find any of them particulary attractive. Always wondered how Kasumi fought with those people on her chest though.

  • Wilbert Sauter @ at 3:13 am, May 21st, 2010

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some guildies!

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