This coming weekend my friend and colleague Dr. Kimberly Voll is unleashing the (first annual) “i am a gamer” Game-Jam on our world. The event is committed to creating games with strong female characters and was prompted by a number of industry comments doubting the viability of woman as lead characters in games.
If any of the many worlds theories promulgated by contemporary physicists are correct, we might hope sexist rubbish has long since disappeared in those alternate universes. But in our here and now confronting such nonsense with truth must be the order of the day – or at least the order of this weekend.
The Jam is July 12-14 at the Centre for Digital Media. Sign up @ the website: http://iamagamer.ca/
I’ve discussed the topic of sexism in video games recently. The typical protagonist game-sprite (and quite often all of the characters within the game as well) are more often than not depicted as the hyper-feminine / hyper-masculine ideals of secondary sex characteristics. The females have large bust sizes with squeezed waists. The males have broad shoulders, wide-set jaws (attractive from an evolutionary perspective because it may have allowed an ancestor to better chew through a less convenient food source – think Brad Pitt).
But it’s not just video games is it. All of the heroes and princesses follow this trend throughout all of fantasy/fiction. Why are there no plus-size Disney Princesses? The impact this has on children (and we were all children once!) is no doubt contributing to the eating/anxiety disorders and possibly the collapse of society. I’m not being hyperbolic; our expectations have been raised so high that we find contentment in reality an impossibility. So we detach into synthetic realities where we have huge pectorals and hour-glass figures, because we’ve learned to live vicariously through these idealic sprites.
I don’t know if it’s an unavoidable (perhaps forgivable) evolutionary drawback from the programmer’s perspective, an efficient marketing strategy, or the compilation of all (Western) society’s encouragement into fitting the idealized archetypes. I’m not sure if creating more female protagonists (to balance out all the males?) that propagate this mentality is the way to go. The alternative is to perhaps put a bow or ribbon in an otherwise genderless sprite (like Miss Pacman?)…
I would find it very interesting to see a controlled experiment on sales considering the next Tomb Raider game: “Lara Croft – + Size Edition”