Sexism in Video Games

Topics: Massively multiplayer online game, Video game culture, Abuse Pages: 6 (2197 words) Published: October 28, 2014
Video Games as a Study of Male Entitlement and Rape Culture

Its easy to label video games as mindless pastimes for children, and just as easy to dismiss the imaginative culture its bred. The world has entered a digital age, and for better or for worse, technology has become an integrated part of everyday life. Life online makes it easy to create ties with people across the globe, and communicate with friends, family, co workers; practically anyone. That’s not to say the digital world isn’t as toxic as the real one. Cyber bullying runs rampant through social networking sites and online forums, as well as sexual harassment, misogyny, and racism. Under the guise of anonymity anyone can take on a role to feel powerful, a bully, a villain, a lecturer, and occasionally a hero. Words are just as powerful as actions in a world where everything must relayed through a keyboard. Video games take the idea of a digital world even further. Through Massive(ly) Multiplayer Online games (MMO), and by extension, Massive(ly) Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s) players can step into the shoes of practically any character available, or character they create. From the most popular MMO of today, Leauge of Legends, to the famous classic MMORPG World of Warcraft, players create communities full of players from across the U.S., and sometimes the globe. As much potential games have to be new social media platforms, as well as more interactive ways to communicate, most video games harbor social issues that mirror those of the real world. Sexism runs rampant through online forums and MMORPG chat services. (Taylor, 2014) In the same way catcalling has very little repercussions, online sexual harassment is very rarely addressed by game makers and community administration. Sexism specifically needs to be addressed because of the misogyny, male entitlement, and rape culture it fosters within gaming culture and how that culture affects players in and outside the virtual world.

It's no secret that video games have long been deemed as "something for boys" and very specifically not for girls. Since the early 1970’s when arcade games first took off, game after game showed off a scantily clad damsel in distress as the singular female character, with Ms. PacMan barely breaking part of the the mold by being the heroine of her own game. Her arcade cover art depicts her with long, shapely legs, bright, full red lips, eyeshadow, a beauty mark and a pink bow. Somehow her designers managed to make a simple yellow dot that eats smaller yellow dots and ghosts- very provocative and attractive. (Williams, 2013) Donkey Kong's first victim Pauline, commonly mistaken for Princess Peach of the Mario franchise, is dressed in a torn up, tight fitting outfit on the original Donkey Kong arcade art, swooning while Mario hurdles barrels to save her. Early female characters became objects at best, mere objectives of the game at worst. (Filipowich, 2013) As games grew on, the depiction of women barely changed. Today’s most popular MMO, League of Legends demonstrates in great detail, how women are often decorated in games. Not only does League have only 40 female characters of 118, but 22 out of the 40 have a *sexy default skin (design), and 30 of the 40 have an alternate *sexy skin available for purchase. Women in games are easily objectified through their designs, and to a further extent their designers. The issue with this is that in game communication a large portion of the audience expects real women to be just as easily objectifiable, and in fact turns their view towards women into one that sees them as sexual objects. Its not uncommon for male players to shout expletives at female, demanding or even expecting women to act like the sexual objects they see so often in video games. Women are so often harassed online that its not uncommon for women to pose as guys, just to avoid the constant barrage of rude, and often sexually expict comments. (Dietz, 1998)...
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