|Does this dress match my controller?|
I never thought of myself as a "girl gamer". I'm a girl. I play video games. Whatever. I never had a problem with being a boy character. I liked being Mario or Dante or Kratos. Hell, even the little dude in Katamari Damacy is a boy. I just finished playing Bioshock and even without ever seeing the character's face, I still thought it was a boy. I didn't mind, it was just... comfortable. It was the default. Of course you were a boy, because that's how things go.
I recently acquired the Mass Effect trilogy and excited spoke to a friend about it. I was awed by the ability to customize basically everything about the main character, Shepard. I told my friend that I would be trading in shouting obscenities at an assassin and instead be shouting obscenities at some dude named Shepard.
"Wrong!" my friend said. "It'll be a lady named Shepard!"
Mind. Blown. For the first time in all my years, I could play a woman? That's... weird. My mind rebelled at the idea. I wasn't comfortable playing a girl. Being a boy character was easier. More fun. What the hell was my brain doing to me?
I had never before thought of gender in video games. The ability to be "FemShep" was a shock. "...Why can't I be a guy?" I asked my friend, confused as hell. Despite being a huge feminist, I couldn't get around the idea that I could chose to be a girl character. Why would I want to be? Sure, there are a few girl characters out there (Lara Croft, Samus, the girls in Final Fantasy), but they all seemed rather... I don't know, less fun? Lara Croft was basically a pair of boobs in shorts, Samus wasn't a girl into the very end of the game, and the girls in Final Fantasy were never as awesome as Cloud Strife or Vincent Valentine. Even in fighting games, I had always chosen to be a boy character, because the girls were scantily clad. Maybe bras hadn't been invented in the Soul Calibur universe, but the bouncing that Taki did in her little ninja outfit had to be PAINFUL! Don't even get me started about the Dead or Alive series.
|Shepard and FemShep|
Now, I'm not stupid. I know there's a lot of boobs in the God of War series. Some of this is explained by the time period. It's ancient Greece and ancient Sparta. There is some nakedness that goes along with that. Some of the female monsters, like harpies, are bare breasted just because of the type of creature they are. It would be kind of insane to put a toga on a harpy, right? Aphrodite shows up basically naked in one volume, but hey, she's the goddess of love. I'd be surprised if she even knew what panties were. This recent God of War, though, has been really (and awfully) in your face with just naked boobs all over the place. Whole scenes dedicated to them. I started to find myself getting slightly pissed off. It was gratuitous. Boobs for the sake of boobs. Whole harem scenes devoted to mewling women rolling around half naked.
"Well, that's bullshit." I thought to myself. Why isn't Kratos naked under his loincloth instead of wearing a pair of flesh colored hot pants? What's good enough for the goose should be good enough for the gander, right? Tons of basically naked women, yet no male junk. Weird. Why had I never noticed that before?
Then I heard about the now infamous "Bros Before Hos" scene. In it, Kratos stomps on a female Fury and you earn a Trophy (which are pointless, why do PS3 trophies exist?) called "Bros Before Hos".
Record scratch noise. What in the seven hells? Seriously? Wow, okay then... that's... a thing that happened.
A patch was quickly sent out to change the offensive trophy (it's now called "Bros Before Foes"), but the damage was done. Much internet vitriol was spilled, teeth were gnashed and flame wars started. You couldn't go near a gaming website without hearing about the offensive trophy and hearing people run to DEFEND IT! I didn't think it was very funny but it also didn't ruin my enjoyment of the game, but I'm also apparently a humorless feminist who should find a kitchen to go back to, as one charming individual told me. I'm also probably fat, ugly and single. Thanks, trolls on gaming websites! Awesome work. Yes, it was definitely women who ruined your game by having one insignificant trophy name changed. Despite Adam Sessler, noted MALE game journalist who pointed it out in a Youtube review, it was clearly the ugly men-hating women who did it. No wonder you don't want to give us rights or anything, imagine what we could do with that power!
|Ivy from Soul Calibur fights in this! WTF?!|
Where does this rant bring me? Right back at square one. I still like the God of War series, it's still fun to dismember rampaging Greek monsters, but it made me truly understand that gamers and game designers really don't think women play their games or even care. FemShep is a huge step forward and I'm still probably going to fall back on being regular guy Shep. I'm concerned about what that says about me, to be honest.
It's all depressingly the same though. Comic books, TV shows, video games... guy characters get to be awesome, girl characters get to be half-dressed and proportioned like a Barbie. Why would I want to play a character like that?
Dammit, I'm a girl and I like video games, why do I have to deal with this shit?
For more of Meghan B's ranting about girls in geek culture, check out her article about girls not being considered "real geeks": Geek Girls: A Rant.