Why Are Women In Games Still Marginalized?

So I was watching the AngryJoeShow on Twitch.TV and seeing what the new Dead Rising 3 game was like. As always, it seems like just another slasher game with generic interactions and a somewhat clever interface with the creation of new weaponry able to slaughter hordes of zombies with little to no effort. Your typical action hack n slash game. If you’re into that, no big deal. Hey, someone has to play them. I myself am into heavy story oriented games, which seem to be on the decline in recent years. What with so many people looking only for the gratuitous fix in beating something up. The American way nowadays it would seem. Well, the game Dead Rising 3 serves up plenty of onslaught and destruction to give a perfect fix to those who don’t like to do a whole lot of thinking in their gaming. And then DR3 gets to the sequence where the woman, Rhonda, is abruptly abducted by a motorcycle gangand taken inside a small room where, presumably, she will be raped to the pleasure of the macho mad thugs riding in to destroy the day. Meanwhile, our hetero male hero must fight off the horde of motorcycling devils to swoop in and save our damsel in distress.

And that got me to thinking about all the recent garbage I’ve been reading on comment boards over the last few months. About how there are not any good games with female leads. Mostly they’re not good, according to the male populace playing them, because they have females in the lead. Because, obviously, a woman can’t carry a game. She’s automatically considered weaker and must by nature take on the role of the damsel in distress or cower down to the ‘might’ of the grunting male who is quite possibly more able to carry the title than she. And I began to wonder, why? Why is this mentality so prevalent in gaming? Why do so many men believe that women are automatically weaker? Is it a symptom of the western world? Have we been brought up to ‘keep women in their place’? Why are women portrayed in this fashion?

Particularly since we have such great games as the new Tomb Raider reboot and the cult classic Mirror’s Edge. Hell, Jade in Beyond Good and Evil carried herself with a bravado that male protagonists would be the envy of. Yet still women are looked down upon. Has history not taught us ANYTHING about the strength of women? What is a woman exactly? What is the difference between a man and a woman? Why, I do believe, it is one lowly chromosome. The Y chromosome. And it makes me ask WHY all the time.

As a culture, America seems to ignore all the historical figures that have demonstrated quite convincingly that women are not at all weaker than men and, in fact, are often stronger. Joan of Arc, Boudica, Cleopatra, Tawakul Karman, Hatshepsut, Mulan, Elizabeth the I, Tomoe Gozen, and even Gladiatrixes in ancient Rome. And the list goes on. As many men are reknowned through history there are the same in the woman variety and yet women are looked down upon still. I had a debate on youtube with a guy who believed that women shouldn’t be in games because men represented what players most wanted to be: badasses. Yet when I posted my retort with a list of badass women, he was unimpressed. Likely because he was a troll. But also likely because the mentality in this country still exists that women need to be protected. Which is nonsense. Sure there are women who are abused and taken advantaged of. The same is true of an equal number of men. But men, out of some distorted sense of honor and wounded pride, are far less likely to report these abuses. But in gaming, companies are more than happy to keep the stereotype going.

While on the ubisoft forums, I stated I wanted to see more female assassins represented in the lore. And I got flack for that! Guys saying that that ‘isn’t realistic’ and that ‘women weren’t active in those conflicts in those time periods’, which completely ignores the fact that women have fought in every major combat throughout history. Women disguised themselves as men during the civil war and no one was the wiser until long after the war! Women fought in all the major World Wars, built advanced weaponry in World War II, and still today serve in active duty rosters throughout the world! Yet somehow they are still considered ‘weaker’! How is it that history can show us so much about the strength of individuals in humanity, yet we’re so shallow as a people that sex is the only defining factor!?

It annoys the piss out of me and I’m tired of it! I want my games to reflect the truth. That women share in the burden all people carry throughout the world and throughout history. We all struggle to survive and take care of our families. Whether or not you have a certain body part does not change the desire of the individual to make a difference! Games may be an escape from reality, but every game trying to capitulate to the desire of ubermales is a great disservice to gamers everywhere and a disgrace! If women were so much weaker than men, a goddess wouldn’t be the major threat in Assassin’s Creed, the term ‘Amazonian’ wouldn’t exist, Jade and Faith wouldn’t be able to change the dynamics of the worlds they inhabit, and Queens wouldn’t be knealt before in high fantasies!

It’s far past time that this debate was changed and such insolence to diversity and understanding nipped in the bud! I want my badass woman protagonist already, and I want her to be taken seriously!

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