Friday, November 24, 2017

“Video Game Girls Too Sexy?”

This Blog Was Written By 
Ian Wong

The media has always been a source of influence for people, and with the increase in popularity among video games, their influence on people and people’s views on things have also increased. This is because, many video games degrade and sexually objectify women. Many times in video games, female characters are often underrepresented, and or oversexualized in contrast to their male counterparts, to attract a male audience. This is clearly evident in the fighting game series “Mortal Kombat”, where female characters are both dramatically oversexualized and underrepresented. 





In many video games, women are depicted wearing very provocative and revealing clothes, which help exaggerate their sex appeal. Video games also convey the message of women being weaker than men, often showing female characters who are much smaller and thinner than their male counterparts. In almost every installment of the fighting game series “Mortal Kombat”, almost every female character has been depicted with large breasts, a small waist, and or wearing extremely revealing and provocative clothing. 


Further adding to how video games misrepresent women, is how video tends to portray women being weak, and helpless, alluding to the idea of women being the “damsel in distress”. In many video games, the default or main character is usually a male, while most of the secondary or supporting characters are female. This is due to the fact that many video game developers want to attract a male audience. Video games in general, tend to have more male characters, and when they have a female character, they tend to play a very insignificant or “nonessential” and “passive” role. This also applies in the Mortal Kombat series. In a few of the Mortal Kombat games, there is a popular stage that you can fight on, which shows two of the female characters chained up as prisoners wearing scantily clad clothing, showing them as nothing more than background decorations. This further adds to the idea of how women in video games are misrepresented and sexually objectified. 


To further add to the idea of women playing weaker/inferior role in video games, more often than not, not only do female characters tend to be weaker, but also tend to be submissive while the male characters are depicted as aggressive and domineering. The Mortal Kombat series clearly illustrates this. In the ninth game of the series, you had to fight your way up a ladder of opponents who increased in difficulty, with the final opponent being an evil emperor who is depicted as a huge, hulking man with a giant metal hammer who conquers other worlds. If you lose to him, it shows him laughing at you as a female slave reluctantly crawls up to his leg and hugs him, showing that idea of a dominant male and submissive female roles. 

With video games being a major outlet for mass media, many more people can be influenced by it. The sexual objectification of women in video games could lead to many negative effects on society. In many studies, when presented with material that idolizes and promotes a thinner body, many women will feel anxious and pressured to try and fit that body type. Mortal Kombat is no exception to this. In many of the Mortal Kombat games, the female characters are depicted wearing revealing clothing that show off their stomach, chest and legs. Combined with their over exaggerated feminine features, they set a rather unrealistic and oversexualized standard for women.
Due to backlash from many feminist movements and communities, in recent times, many video game developers have begun to “de-sexualize” their female characters, or at least make them slightly more realistic. Some video game developers have even decided to stem away from the traditional style of video games by making a female lead character instead of a lead male character. The developers of Mortal Kombat have also decided to implement these changes. . In the latest installment of the series, the game developers made a new female character as the lead character for the game. They depicted her as a leader/fighter, a person who isn’t afraid to take on challenges. Despite this, the character is still sexually objectified. She is depicted wearing skin-tight clothing that help define and exaggerate some of her features. 



Please share your thoughts in the comments

Do you agree that women are misrepresented and over sexualized in video games?
Many gamers and game developers have stated that this isn’t a big issue. Do you agree?
What do you think game developers should do to stop misrepresenting women in their games? 


Sources:

Beasley, Berrin, and Tracy Collins Standley. "Shirts vs. skins: Clothing as an indicator of gender role stereotyping in video games." Mass Communication & Society 5.3 (2002): 279-293. 

Harper, Brit, and Marika Tiggemann. "The Effect Of Thin Ideal Media Images On Women’S Self-Objectification, Mood, And Body Image." Sex Roles 58.9/10 (2008): 649-657. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. 

Ivory, James D. "Still a Man’s Game: Gender Representation in Online Reviews of Video Games." Mass Communication and Society. Department of Communication Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 17 Nov. 2006. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.