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View Full Version : Arkham City Sexism?



Tom OBedlam
03-11-2011, 01:56 PM
So, I've just been reading about the concerns people are having with the female characters, the representations and the way they are treated by male characters in the game. Something I came across in the Den of Geek article got me thinking: it's hardly saying anything new that female characters don't tend to get portrayed in the most flattering of ways, but its got me wondering where we stand currently on our attitudes to gender in games and where male physicality and sexuality fit into it all?

Of course, male characters are not typically hyper-sexualised, at least, not intentionally. Maybe some women do find these characters attractive, but they are not designed with titillation as a primary aesthetic feature (whether the male gamer's want to play as men that they somewhat fetishise isn't really important here, I think). The fact remains that in any game representation Batman will be dressed as Batman regardless, while Catwoman's outfit varies depending on what the contemporary alluring female fashions are. The Den of Geek article notes that the ludicrously proportioned women of gaming are no more representative of true feminity than the comicly muscular and gruffly voiced chaps are of real men. Now obviously, both of these points are the product of a generalised assumption about the male market's wishes and how to achieve their fufillment. So my first wondering is: what would a Batman game look like if aimed at female wish fulfillment?

Another issue that is frequently raised is the portrayal of female personalities in games. Perhaps the most tired cliches (after fucking amnesia) is writing female characters with daddy issues or who are desperately seeking the main character's affections. Personally, I find both of these a little off putting in game writing, as I know do many female gamers, but this gives rise to my second wondering: do male personalities fare any better in gaming? Who do people consider to good (not strong) believable male characters that we can honestly say are decent examples of masculinity? Clearly there's way more male figures than female, but for every Keldorn there's a Michael "Suave" Thorton.

agentorange
03-11-2011, 02:35 PM
Keldorn was a goody two shoes douche bag, I don't think any man would want that to be their gender archetype.

QuantaCat
03-11-2011, 02:50 PM
Im throwing a thought in there: Witcher 2 was the only game ever that featured adult women with different cup sizes, as well as believable dialogue that not only revolves around men. (not even Longest Journey does the first, but the second it obviously does.) Though Geralt makes a sexist remark about women being soldiers (and the impossibility/improbability there of, though he doesnt say why) he is not openly sexist towards any female character he encounters. There are also different male character models.

Alpha Protocol can be entirely gender neutral if you so please. It also has neutral dialogue for men and women, though no different women in body. (though I guess the men arent different either)

Catwoman is teasing, thats her shtick. I doubt anyone would survive her, its that black widow kind of thing.

Nalano
03-11-2011, 03:01 PM
Im throwing a thought in there: Witcher 2 was the only game ever that featured adult women with different cup sizes, as well as believable dialogue that not only revolves around men. (not even Longest Journey does the first, but the second it obviously does.) Though Geralt makes a sexist remark about women being soldiers (and the impossibility/improbability there of, though he doesnt say why) he is not openly sexist towards any female character he encounters. There are also different male character models.

Alpha Protocol can be entirely gender neutral if you so please. It also has neutral dialogue for men and women, though no different women in body. (though I guess the men arent different either)

Geralt's world involves lots of hand-to-hand fighting with mean characters. Sexual dimorphism puts women at a disadvantage what with upper body strength. That being said, Geralt can and does fight alongside and against women.

It's funny that you'd compare Alpha Protocol with Witcher 2. I'm hard pressed to remember a female character in Alpha Protocol that wasn't a potential love interest for our Jason Bourne/James Bond expy.

Rii
03-11-2011, 03:07 PM
One thing that impressed me about Metal Gear Solid 4 was its depiction of Snake as being well past his physical prime. Still cast very much in the gruff hyper-masculine mould, but the fact that he's old is enough to resonate as a significant departure from the norm. The game follows through on its theme too, and whether on account of its wide-eyed sincerity or simply its novelty one can forgive it for being about as subtle as a brick in doing so.

QuantaCat
03-11-2011, 06:16 PM
It's funny that you'd compare Alpha Protocol with Witcher 2. I'm hard pressed to remember a female character in Alpha Protocol that wasn't a potential love interest for our Jason Bourne/James Bond expy.

All were love interests, but all could be approached asexually if wished for. Try doing that in other RPGs, or more specifically, Cons & Guns. (ahem mass effect)

Nalano
03-11-2011, 07:41 PM
All were love interests, but all could be approached asexually if wished for. Try doing that in other RPGs, or more specifically, Cons & Guns. (ahem mass effect)

Well, both Geralt and Shepard could be played chaste as well, but in ME/ME2 and W/W2, not all women were potential love interests.

deano2099
03-11-2011, 11:27 PM
Well, both Geralt and Shepard could be played chaste as well, but in ME/ME2 and W/W2, not all women were potential love interests.

But more subtly, in most Bioware RPGs, the 'potential' love interests will make the first move if you're not currently in a relationship. If you decline them all, the 80% of the cast you can be involved with will express interest.

With Alpha Protocol, Thornton generally has to make the first move. That's significant because while every cast member is a potential love interest, you only know that because of the internets. If you just play the game, unless you do it four times you might not realise (not sure how many you can string along at once if you go that way though, but then if you want to be a womanising dick then...)

I think it's important to distinguish between the experience of playing the game, and the actual hidden mechanics behind it.

Nalano
03-11-2011, 11:31 PM
With Alpha Protocol, Thornton generally has to make the first move.

Not with Mina Tang and not with SIE, and those are half your choices.

Lukasz
03-11-2011, 11:34 PM
Not with Mina Tang and not with SIE, and those are half your choices.

...
so
half of the time a male makes a first move
the other half of the time a female makes a first move

that's equality if you ask me

Nalano
03-11-2011, 11:40 PM
...
so
half of the time a male makes a first move
the other half of the time a female makes a first move

that's equality if you ask me

Helps that SIE practically rapes you by the end. :P

Lukasz
04-11-2011, 12:01 AM
Helps that SIE practically rapes you by the end. :P

I was disappointed tough when she did not want to rape me.

I felt rejected :(

deano2099
04-11-2011, 12:53 AM
Not with Mina Tang and not with SIE, and those are half your choices.

The problem with Alpha Protocol being so good at that sort of thing is that it's hard to talk about... SIE never liked me anyway

TailSwallower
04-11-2011, 01:24 AM
Alpha Protocol can be entirely gender neutral if you so please. It also has neutral dialogue for men and women, though no different women in body. (though I guess the men arent different either)

Actually, SIE has a very different stature to the other women, and is pretty unique in games - she's built like an Amazonian, wields a heavy machine gun but is still presented as a sexual being. Not sure if her presentation a good thing or a bad thing really, but at least she's not a damsel in distress or a femme fatale (which are 2 archetypes that female characters normally fall into, including the other women in Alpha Protocol). It is interesting to note however that some (most?) of Thornton's dialogue towards her is expressing disgust - men being put off by sexually-confident women is common if media; the Madonna/Whore complex, essentially.


do male personalities fare any better in gaming? Who do people consider to good (not strong) believable male characters that we can honestly say are decent examples of masculinity? Clearly there's way more male figures than female, but for every Keldorn there's a Michael "Suave" Thorton.

First off, hello fellow Invisibles fan. Secondly, for your question concerning men & masculinity in games, I can't actually think of any noteworthy examples... I think the Mass Effect characters could be good, but the fact that everybody on the ship wants to get into Shepard's pants makes it a strange game to point to in this discussion. For instance, I thought Thane's backstory was really interesting and compelling and was surprised/disappointed when FemShep could start putting the moves on him. It's like the characters are all diminished by becoming potential sexual conquests. Perhaps if the relationship system wasn't so gamey it wouldn't stand out so much.

deano2099
04-11-2011, 01:50 AM
Just a thought based on an immense but true generalisaton:

Men tend to be more visual, physical attractiveness matters more, as do certain sexual characteristics. Hence you get under-dressed, over-endowed characters.

Women tend to be more personality-driven, looks matter less than things like attitude, confidence and so on. And just as tiny waist / huge boobies is the most common 'ideal' for men, the bad boy, bit dangerous but ultimately decent bloke personality seems to be the most popular amongst women.

And they're nearly always what you get with male videogame antagonists. In some ways, the likes of Nathan Drake, Cole Phelps, Renegade Shep and so on appeal to women in the same way that Lara Croft appeals to men...

Gentleman Jim Stacey
04-11-2011, 05:16 AM
Women tend to be more personality-driven, looks matter less than things like attitude, confidence and so on. And just as tiny waist / huge boobies is the most common 'ideal' for men, the bad boy, bit dangerous but ultimately decent bloke personality seems to be the most popular amongst women.

If they made a Witcher movie that captured the essence of the PC game Geralt (I can't speak on the literary Geralt), I have no doubt women would find the character attractive.

QuantaCat
04-11-2011, 06:28 AM
To everyone discussing Alpha Protocol & The Witcher: I was not talking about being chaste in a game. I was talking about "talking genderneutrally" in a game. The mere fact that individual bodies and characters are recognised in a game is not something to be taken granted.

As Ive said: W2 is one of the first and only games I know of that feature different women models, and Im not talking about clothes. Look at dragon age: Origins. Something that prides on its characters: All. Women. The. Same. "dont judge them by their appearance!" yeah, theyre all stereotypes, with stereotypical personalities. Maybe you have some stereotypes in The Witcher, but far less, and far more believable situations & characters.

If your main character is a very sexually engaging man, then of course sex is going to come up at some point. I, for one, thought of Geralt as a fantasy 007. Though much more mature, depending on which bond youre thinking of right now :D (theres that one where bond rapes some girl, but she ends up liking it, nuff said)