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Are female characters in gaming becoming more or less exploitative?

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Recently, there has been quite a bit of hype, regarding the negative effects of exploiting the female form in video games. It seems about every third video game to come out has a leading lady, which appears in particularly revealing outfits. With these releases comes a barrage of negative criticism from the female audience, condemning these characters, stating that the senseless characterization and exploitation of women is setting us back 50 years.
Now, before I go on, lest I get a plethora of hate mail and death threats, I must shout from the rooftops that for the most part, I completely agree with the female audience. Much of what is released is pure eye candy for sexually repressed thirty year old men who may or may not still live in their parents basements. No offense.

I remember being a teenager, at the height of my prepubescent sexuality, and still scratching my head at the sight of Lara Croft in the first “Tomb Raider” for the Playstation 1. Or seeing Tifa Lockhearts huge mammary glands bounce around in every scene in “Final Fantasy 7”, and realizing its utter ridiculousness. Do these visually appealing attributes positively affect the game as a whole? Is it completely necessary to the plot to have every woman appear as voluptuous as possible?

Video games seem to do this as a matter of course, opposed to actually developing the physical features of the female characters to coincide with their roles or personalities. I do not think that woman, for the most part, dislike that the female characters have nice bodies. I think that women are disgusted with how games deem these unrealistic outfits, and the naughty girl next door type, a necessity for their character, rather than actually spending the time to develop them in a humanistic way.

Alternatively, let me put on my devil’s advocate leather jacket and dark shades. In the developer’s defense, these games are now and have always been the ultimate male fantasy. What guy does not want to have the perfect chiseled body, the ability to break anyone in half, the license to kill, a diverse arsenal of technical destruction and to get the beautiful girl at the end of the world.

I will be the first to admit that guys are ignorant. We really have no clue when it comes to the subjectivity of the opposite sex. I do not think they create these characters to hurt women, nor do I think that they ever acknowledge the ramifications of these actions. Unfortunately, this ignorance is probably makes it worse. I really do believe that in the process of creating these over sexualized females, they are simply trying to add one more “thing” to fully realize their male fantasy world.

After all, woman are the creators of the vast majority of romance novels which is the epitome of the female fantasy. I have seen these smut books, and every cover has a mostly nude man in all his pectoral glory posing for the salivating female demographic. So, if this is the creation of women, similarly, video games and their worlds are a creation of men. In a way, should we not allow both sexes to have their fantasies realized without scrutiny?

I do believe that the difference between my two similarities is that the female romance novels are not promoted across every medium as video games are, meaning that a larger audience is seeing these over sexual characters. So the only answer I have is to tone down the commercialization of these offensive characters, to avoid such a saturation of the less mature audience members.

As I stated before, game developers have without a doubt created offensively characterized female characters for years which, in this reporter’s opinion, does little to further the plot or create a great game. I do not believe that a great game needs the perfect female figure at all. “Farcry 3” was by far my favorite game of 2013 and every woman that appeared was fully clothed in jeans and a t-shirt.

Games have begun to tone down this senseless exploitative nature of women. The latest “Tomb Raider” is a great example of a badass woman, in her most natural of bodies. Aveline de Grandpré of "Assassin's Creed: Liberation" is overly clothed and carries little to no sexuality, unless you call silently throat slicing while bounding across rooftops to safety, sexy. Sarah Kerrigan of “StarCraft: Brood War” may be a villain, however she is complete clothed and exudes little sexuality. What about Chell, from the “Portal” series, who look like she stepped right out of a female fitness magazine. While she may not speak a word, she says far more with her facial expressions and body language, both of which do nothing to subject women or titillate men. And let us never forget the most iconic female protagonist to ever blast her way through alien infestations, such as Samus Aran from the “Metroid” franchise.

While I agree with women and their anger towards this ridiculous representation of women in gaming, I do not think it is meant to be harmful, and we all have to admit that they have toned down their misogyny monumentally in the last few years. If developers agree to create more realistic female characters, will women start using the Bill, the sensitive accountant from the 12th floor who wears the black framed glasses and pocket protectors in their romance novels? I think not. But it had to be said.

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