The Role of Women in Video Games

| 8 Comments

Thesis: Although the game "Tomb Raider" exhibits women with no class, being destructive, and not being motherly it suggests that women have become strong members in society.

My personal background with the game Tomb Raider is limited, but I have played enough of times to understand the concept of the game. After reading the class presentation on Lara Croft, I learned a lot of information about the game. This included the history of Lara Croft, popular feminist arguments, and Croft being good.
The game Tomb Raider uses Lara Croft as a main character who has power and authority. This shows how a woman can do the same things that a man can do and sometimes better. On the other hand, the game describes women as being destructive and dangerous. This is shown by Croft looking like an FBI agent with her gun strap and guns in hands. In addition, Croft wears limited clothing which can show that women have no class (for use of better wording). This negative factor in the game shows that women are people who show their bodies off. My personal opinon is that this is not true! The game uses pornography as a key concept which Zach also stated in his comment.
On a positive note, isn't it more important to examine the game as showing how strong women have become in society. Many years ago, women usually were stay-at-home mom's who cleaned the house, prepared meals for her husband, and tended to the children. Women have come very far and I am proud for that. The game uses a woman instead of a man to show that they can do the same thing that men can. Just think, Croft can do anything in the game. I compare her to Kiefer Southerland in the movie "24" because there both able to do everything for some reason.
I would enjoy to read comments about my thesis statement from classmates and welcome all suggestions.

8 Comments

Derek, you've made some clear statements -- yes, this is the kind of thing that will spark debate. The word "although" introduces a contrast, but from a certain point of view, "not being motherly" and "becoming a strong member of society" are actually the same thing. Of course, mothers have a strength that's based on instinct (never get between a bear and her cubs, for example), and mothers are often deeply involved in society (in part because they want to ensure a good life for their kids). So perhaps those points could use some clearing up. Since Lara Croft is not a real person, I think it's a stretch to say that a Tomb Raider game that centers on one fictional female character can really be said to make comments about all women in real society. While a more traditional branch of feminism would argue that by flaunting her sexuality, Lara is making herself into a sex object (thus gaining power based on how attractive she is to men, rather than on her own accomplishments). But there is a pro-sex, pro-pornography branch of feminism that sees the sexually liberated woman as an emblem of power. Your statement about skimpy clothing equating to a lack of class is another way of saying that women should be modest, which in its extreme form is just a few jumps from saying "women who wear sexy clothes are asking to be abused by men." I don't at all think that's the claim you are trying to make here, but in order to prevent a reader from coming to that conclusion, I think you need to clarify what you mean by "The game uses pornography as a key concept." On what basis do you say the game is pornographic?

Though I think there is one version of the game that has a secret code that makes Lara swim naked, the game doesn't depict the sensual removal of clothing, one person stroking another's body, etc. I agree that the "Nude Raider" patch is kind of pathetic, but that's not something that ships with the commercial product -- hackers added that and released it themselves. Even with this patch activated, the character still just runs and jumps around doing the same thing she does when clothed. Does that make it pornography? Inappropriate for kids; vulgar; shocking. It's all those. Degrading to women? Evidence that some guys really need to get a life? I'm with you there. But do you need to include the concept of pornography in order to argue that Lara Croft is degrading to women? How would you differentiate your reaction from someone who dislikes Lara because she challenges the traditional values of ladylike behavior. Do men complain that Superman is immodest because he wears tights? His uniform is useful for the artist to emphasize his muscles, and athletes and circus performers have traditionally worn tight clothes so that their bodies can move more freely. Isn't Lara just dressing for her work? Did society criticize the Crocodile Hunter for wearing shorts in his work? Why shouldn't a woman be able to dress for her work?

Having said all that, I don't mean to suggest that your point of view is wrong... all I'm doing is pointing out that when you make an argument, part of your responsibility as a writer is to predict opposing views and address them as you write. You did what I asked you to do -- you made a strong claim. Now I've tried to show you how making a strong claim can foster discussion. If you want to develop your thesis into a fuller argument, you have many possible ways to strengthen it, since I've given you many possible responses. I'm sure Ashley will be able to come up with some good thoughts, too.

Dr. Jerz, Thank you for the great in-depth comment! I really like how you said, "feminism would argue that by flaunting her sexuality, Lara is making herself into a sex object" and then there is a pro-sex, pro-pornography branch of feminism that sees the sexually liberated woman as an emblem of power." When I thought about this viewpoint I was able to understand how woman could be an emblem of power by being so-called sexually attractive. Take for instance a woman who wears tight clothes and shows off her body, well most men would do anything she said because of her sexy she was. The point in saying that is she would be has a sense of control over what men do because of her looks. Being sexy and having good looks decides a lot of decisions that are made. I think that the game is pornographic when the plug-in idea of Croft being nude is added. Since we can't control what hackers do I understand that things like this can be used.

I just thought about, "What if a younger adolescent saw this plug-in and actually downloaded it to the game?" It worries me that this is avaliable for anyone to download.

I also agree with you when you said "Some guys really need to get a life." It's amazing to think that some people have this much time on there hands. It is important to consider that no one complained about Superman or the Crocodile Hunter wearing tights or shorts on the job. I just think that Croft's attire is something that a polite woman wouldn't wear on most jobs.

With everything we've said I think it would be great to receive a woman's point of view on my topic. I would like to hear Ashley or Nancy's comment.

I have quite a few things to say about this. Some which I think has come off a little offensive but I do not think that you made it that way. First I will start off with a part of your thesis statement.
"...women with no class, being destructive, and not being motherly it suggests that women have become strong members in society."
I see a few things wrong with this. You mentioned that wearing limited clothing shows that a woman do not have class. I do not think this is entirely true. Yes while hookers and prostitutes wear basically no clothing, even in the dead of the winter, I think there is a difference between that and wearing something comfortable. Croft's shirt is not low cut and you can not see anything of the bottom area so I do not think that her clothing so awful, at least she is not wearing a bath suit the time with a pair of heels. The only things showing are her legs, stomach, and arms. The creators also had to make Lara appealing to men so men did not think that this was just a female's video game. Some freaks invented the nude patch where Lara runs around naked, which implies some guys like imaginary characters, you have to remember that there are perverts out there who are not in it for the game. They make a deal out of something most people really did not think about when the game was released. I'm sure there was no reviewer recommending the game because Lara Croft was hot.
I would love for you to expand on your meaning of destructive. I do not think Laura was necessarily 'destructive'. Yes she shoots some things up but that is so she does not die. Does she intentionally blow things up?
Another point you made what that the game shows how women have become strong members in society. I do not think that is true nor is it the message that the designers are trying to convey. I think maybe a reason they chose a woman was because to do many of the things in that game you must be flexible. It may have been a little bit 'gay' to be playing a male character doing cart wheels and back flips. Women do that type of stuff.
This is the point I have to make. You definitely should have chose your words more wisely when it came to this thesis statement. Basically it comes across as "To be a strong woman in society, you can not be or act motherly." I think that makes no sense. I have seen very many mothers who take care of four kids while working a full-time job. Also Lara Croft is a younger woman so I do not think she needs to act like a mother anytime soon.

While reading your comment I considered the question of "does she intentionally blow things up?" This seems to depend on the player's choices. I enjoyed reading your comment and was happy to get a females reaction. I used this thesis and wording in order to get a dicussion and/or debate started.

"I think that the game is pornographic when the plug-in idea of Croft being nude is added."

I do not think this game is pornographic. I understand it could be considered pornography because the path makes her naked, but I do not think that it is necessarliy pornographic. HOw about the The Sims nude patch? Perverts make a nude patch for just about everything.

The question about "The Sims nude patch is very interesting." I did not know about that until reading your comment. It is very true that hackers and such make nude patches for about anything. It's amazing to think how much time these type of people have.

The Tomb Raider games are nothing but pornographic
just look at how she jumps and the cameras zooms into her breasts.

Lara Croft I do believe is one mans interpretation of the 'ideal' woman, which sadly(?) happens to be computer generated. What does that it say about his intolerance or unacceptance of women in reality?

Her proportions probably match a barbie doll more than that of an actual woman, and does not reflect women in society on the whole in terms of colour shape or age.

As far as being 'empowering' to women?, try asking a disabled woman who is trying to empower themselves on being real, is that an adequate 'role' model? More a hinderance.

There is something quite bizzare that people could be so influenced by a manufactured image and aspire to follow a computer graphic 'lead'. Hence the increase in cosmetic surgery.

As far as being 'pornographic', it aims to sexualise, as apparantly she makes orgasmic sounds, (can sounds be pornographic?), but it depends on the conext in which she is placed whether it constitues being a pornographic image. Is she involved in pornographic acts? Nudity in itself has nothing to do with 'class' were all born nude, 'class' is invented.

Are swimmers who wear next to nothing considered pornographic?, to most no, it depends on the interpretaion of the viewer. Is a naked Barbie doll pornographic? would you give it to your child? Not problem for most people, though some peoples imaginations might have other ideas for it.

The intention of the portrayal of Lara may only be know to himself. I don't think his 'goal' however is to 'empower' women or that was his main concern. Why would he be the main authority on that anyway and disempower women from the right to do that themselves.

He might want to consider focusing on his own 'gender' and show men or himself taking on more traditional 'womens' roles, and recognising the true strength of women and of men minus the guns which don't empower anybody, they just generate fear and destruction.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on January 10, 2008 10:17 PM.

Values in Video Games - Reflection was the previous entry in this blog.

What have you learned? is the next entry in this blog.

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