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February 27, 2007

Donovan: This isn't any McNabb, that's for sure

“Much of our literature in fact depends on a series of fixed images of women, stereotypes. These reified forms, surprisingly few in number, are repeated over and over again through much of Western literature. The objectified images have one thing in common, however; they define the woman insofar as she relates to, serves, or thwarts the interests of men.”

I saw this quote and I, immediately, couldn't help but begin making my strange pop-culture connections to things. The first thing I thought of, especially since it is something both near and dear to me, is videogames, moreso the perception and depiction of women in games. I know, from first-hand experience, that women have a stereotypical form in games (as much in comics, too, but that's for later). In a photo-realistic game, a female character, generally speaking, has enhanced...physiology. The typical features, which tend to be more geared toward a western/male-dominated groups, are really played up.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 2

Need I say more?

This, too, is another rant altogether, which I don't feel ready to unload on everyone yet. I, personally, think that the depiction of women in games is a bit over-the-top and unfair as well as, well, horribly sexist. However (and this is what gets me into trouble)...the market for which most videogames are made...is made up of adolescent boys. The 14-24 year category. Some of us in this course are men. We know what its like being that age. You women know what it was like having to deal with us at that age. It wasn't a pleasant experience for either party.

What I liked is how Donovan qualified (I guess you can say that) these stereotypes by acknowledging the rebuking of men. That, too, is then perceived as a stereotype, but a much stronger stereotype and, generally, a better stereotype. It is much better, at least in modern society, to be seen as a strong woman who can toss men to the side with great ease rather than some dimbulb with a big chest and a wind-tunnel of a brain.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at February 27, 2007 9:41 AM

Comments

I have to say that reading your blog entries is becoming very interesting to me.

I have to agree with your references however. They are extremely accurate, but what gets me is the fact that the women that play video games (and there are a few of us out there) don't seem to speak up much to our defense. We know that video games of this nature and many of the RPG games that are out there are geared toward the male population. It is an advertising technique. You do what you can to make money. If that means making women seem larger than life (in more than one way) then you do it. That is the money making market.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 27, 2007 2:25 PM

I have found, in all my travels and experiences in gaming, game journalism, and just being an all around geek, that women who play videogames don't care one hoot about the depiction of the fairer sex. They care more about functionality of the game, if its worth paying money for, investing the time in, etc.

That isn't to discredit people who aesthetically evaluate games. The appearance is an important part of the gaming experience, but it isn't the whole thing. The rind without the fruit is somewhat pointless.

Thankfully, Nintendo (the company I prefer, by and large) has realized there is a market for female gamers. They took a gamble with the Nintendo DS by releasing it in pink and making games such as Nintendogs. These stereotypes exist for a damn reason. Cute and cuddly games like Nintendogs sold because it was something new and you can't help but saying "awwwww" when the little puppy wants to play. Hell, I had a little Weiner dog named "Stinky."

Nintendo has also embraced the new generation of gamer with the Wii - fun and accessible games for people who haven't played for a long time or ever.

I really wish I had a strong argument for or against Donovan's topic, but I really don't. It sounds terrible to say, but stereotypes do exist for a reason. Admittedly, these are somewhat exaggerated portraits of people, but its also a composite of traits.

And when dealing in art, and video games are an art, just as a painting or a poem is, you tend to err on the side of stereotyping. Art can be precise and calculated and true, but it almost looses some of its emotion that way.

Posted by: Kevin at March 1, 2007 1:47 AM

You're right to point out the physiology distortions. Nobody's hair really looks like that! Sheesh.

You might want to look at some student blogs on Lara Croft, from the Jan 2006 video games course.

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/LeslieRodriguez/013769.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/EvanReynolds/archives/013844.html

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz Author Profile Page at March 1, 2007 4:22 AM

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