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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Letter to the Editor

    In response to “Female video game leads should be strong, not sexy” (by Shelby Thomas, Nov. 13):

    While I agree with the author’s point that the game industry has a long way to go to overcome sexism, I have some issues with the arguments that were made.

    It’s unfair of the author to write about the state of modern video games and then cite as examples of sexism: a game that came out in 1997 (“Final Fantasy VII”) and a game that is an update of a game from 1996 (“Dead or Alive”). It would be nice if the author had referenced games released this year, and the strides in equality that have been made.

    The latest Final Fantasy game, “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII,” stars an aggressive and unsexualized female protagonist as the sole playable character. Lara Croft was once an icon of female sexualization in video games, but in “Tomb Raider 2013” she is a strong, unsexualized female protagonist whose dialogue is written by Rhianna Pratchett, an award-winning female writer. No apologies for the “Dead or Alive” series, it is known for its overt objectification of women.

    It’s also unfair to make an apples to apples comparison of male and female clothing. It’s true, sexy female clothing does emphasize female sexual characteristics. However, to then say that a male character’s clothing is unsexualized because it doesn’t highlight these same features is patently false, because sexual characteristics differ widely between males and females.

    If you broaden your definition of sexualized male clothing to include clothing that emphasizes pectoral muscles, broad shoulders, or large hands, you would find that most male characters are also sexualized. A good example would be the males of the popular game “World of Warcraft,” who have hands larger than their skulls, and shoulders larger than their torsos.

    I don’t see any difference between hulking biceps and bulging breasts, except that one happens to be taboo in our society. The problem is not that some characters have emphasized sexual characteristics or flattering clothing, but that these things wholly define their character.

    One last quibble is with the quoted statistic that only “4 percent of video games feature a female lead character.” That number seems oddly specific for something that is hard to quantify.

    I looked at the article quoted, “It’s time for more leading women in games” on Polygon.com, and I couldn’t find any mention of where this statistic came from. Is this survey counting all video games ever created? If so, I think you would find that ratio reflected in theater, books and film, which have been historically dominated by men.

    How do you determine the lead character in a video game? Is the player character the lead character? Are they also counting games like real time strategy games or puzzle games that make no reference to the gender of the player?

    That would also put games that feature male characters in the minority. What about games that feature a male player character, but focus on other characters?

    In “Bioshock Infinite” the player is male, but the game is arguably focused on the story of the female character, Elizabeth. A statement like “of the games released last year that feature a player character without customisable gender, 4 percent feature a female player character” would be less misleading, and speak more about what could be improved in the industry.

    – Russell Doner is a sophomore studying studio art.

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