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While some women will line up to protest against anything remotely hinting at sexism, from Zoo magazine, to equal jobs opportunity, to Lara Croft’s rack being far too big, you’ll never see anyone protest that male characters in gaming are also often sexist stereotypes, typically being muscular, unshaven, gravel voiced heroes. This fact has always perplexed me, seeing as Sexism goes both ways. Why do people think it doesn’t? How can women, or to be more precise, feminists, pick and choose their equality? For example, you’ll never hear a feminist campaign for the equal opportunity to work on a fishing boat miles out on some stormy sea. No, they campaign for equal opportunities in harmless careers like I.T, completely ignoring the fact that the majority of dangerous jobs are done by men.
Game developers aren't singling out women to victimise, they're just playing to demographics of the gaming market. For example, statistically male drivers are far more likely to speed or be involved in a car accident in the UK, therefore car insurance is more for men than it is for women. So when the Entertainment Software Association published their findings in 2011 and found that 42 percent of gamers are women, it's not surprising that game developers gravitate towards the 58 percent of gamers who are male and therefore unlikely to complain if, say, they give Black Cat an hour-glass figure. Yes, I am aware that some of those male gamers must have been gay, but I couldn’t find the percentage of how many are. So for argument's sake let's say it was 10 percent, that still makes the majority of gamers straight males.
However, even with those statistics in mind, male characters in games, in my eyes, are still steered towards appealing to women. So why aren’t game developers' inboxes flooded with angry emails from men saying how sexist it is to have a ridiculously built bloke as the main protagonist? Firstly, because we’re too busy actually playing the game, rather than pointing out the social commentary inherent in having ripped men beating the crap out of an equally ripped enemy. But, secondly, the whole point of gaming is to escape this horrible nine to five reality and dive into a new world to live out the fantasy as a CIA agent or a martial arts champion. The problem with those decrying sexism in gaming is that most of them clearly haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about and just see a woman in a skimpy outfit, completely ignoring the flip side which is the half-naked burly guy with the jaguar mask. If you demand that the female characters feature more clothing, because women shouldn’t be objectified, then what about the objectification of men in games? Should developers change King's (or whoever's) appearance? No, don’t be stupid.
I believe that if there isn’t malicious intent behind the decision to make Lara Croft’s bust big, or to have a man’s privates bulging out of a skin tight spandex outfit, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Most games have a tongue in cheek attitude anyway. I believe that videogames are one of, if not the best form of free speech in the modern world because they allow developers to create anything they want, and I think people standing up and screaming “you can’t put that in your game because I don’t like it” are unbelievably arrogant and entitled.
I find this whole equality malarkey ironic because the people who use it are usually the most close-minded of all. It’s become a word to just toss in a sentence any time someone feels cheated or wants to take offensive, and the sad thing is it works all too often. The strange thing about equality is men and women are very different beasts and what men find offensive is usually pretty different from what women find offensive. Maybe, instead of trying to put every living person into a box and saying we’re all equal, you should just play the damn game. Most games are bad enough without having to defend a side character in a short skirt.