I make bad assumptions every now and again, just like every other human being on the planet. My most recent bad assumption was that if I talked about fairness in the representation of men and women in video games, I’d get a crowd that was more agreeable than if I said something along the lines of ‘Put some clothes on those women!’. Boy, was I wrong.
The truth of the matter is this: I have nothing against sex. Nothing. At all. I advocate sex – and plenty of it. If you doubt me, take a look at the entirety of the beefcake category. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even have a huge problem with women wearing skimpy armor in video games, especially if they are given the choice. The problem comes when A) There is no choice, and B) When the opposite isn’t true.
So let me put you in the shoes of many women. So boys, brush the cobwebs out of your imaginations and try this on for size. It might give you just a little glimpse into what we see in video games.
You’ve heard about this great new fantasy game, and you’re really itching to play it. The day it comes out, you’re in line with all of the other people eager to buy the game. You come home and pop it into your console or PC, then turn it on.
At character select, you have a choice between four different female characters and one male character. The female characters are attractive, but they’re dressed as if they’re ready to do battle – no skimpy clothing here. They all have detailed stories as to why they’re out on their quest.
The first one seeks ancient tomes to return to her library back home in the hopes that she can crack an ancient spell that she’s been working on for some time. The second one saw her brother killed by the hands of the enemy, and now she seeks revenge of the most bloodthirsty sort. The third one is a mercenary, and she just wants to see blood spilled in exchange for enough drinking money, and the fourth one is seeking riches to build a castle and conquer the southlands.
After reading all of those, you get to the only male option in the game. His stats are the same as all the other characters, but his story is much different, and his clothing is much different. It turns out that his parents turned him out of the family farm because he didn’t want to get married at the age of majority like every other male. Thus, he’s been forced to take his finely-honed martial arts skill out adventuring so that he can find a date. His main weapon is a quarterstaff, and his avatar is dressed in a mesh shirt, leather speedos, and he sports a constant hardon.
You’re not too thrilled with the female avatars, and want to play something you can relate to a bit more. Unfortunately, the male avatar only fits the bill in so far as gender. He’ll just have to do. Maybe you’ll be able to find some armor along the way to cover up his protruding nipples and bulging sack. At least he’s muscular, that’s a plus.
So off you go. During the adventure, you meet plenty of eligible women. Unfortunately, you can’t control a lot of the dialog, and you find yourself shamelessly flirting with every one you come across, wiggling your ‘package’ at them whenever they come near. You find a few encounters during gameplay that actually engage in light-hearted sex acts, but unfortunately you find that your only options are to have sex with other males.
The armor situation doesn’t get any better, either. Every set of armor is skimpy at best, and something out of a BDSM homoerotic wet dream at worst. Once, you find a pair of greeves that actually covers up the gigantic, swaying package between your legs, making you feel a bit better. However, when you turn around, you find that your ass cheeks are bare and getting chapped by the wind.
When you come across other players in the online version, who have chosen the female avatars, you find that they’re wearing the exact same armor as you, but it covers them up and makes them look actually protected while still letting them be attractive. What’s worse, due to the nature of your avatar’s clothing, you get more than one solicitation by other males (or are they women playing male characters? you can never tell).
Now… to all of the heterosexual men out there who think us women that have a problem with the lack of fairness should just go away… would you play this game? What if it was the only game available? If every other game that exists right now ceased to exist and they were all replaced with versions of this game? DOA Xtreme Volleyball with well-packed men sporting bouncing hard-ons in speedos? Racing games where the driver is always a woman, and a horde of shirtless Chippendales dancers always greeting her in the winner’s circle?
Think it’s all a little far-fetched? It’s not. Every example I used above comes from my experience playing games for the last thirty years. I just changed which gender and sexual orientation the game is geared to.
If someone wants to make this game, I’ll volunteer to work on it. After all, turn about’s fair play.