What's a 'Normal' Female?

Let's get serious for a moment.

There's something that's been bugging me of late. It could very well be the fact that everywhere I look, there's no end to the mythological belief that all women are short skirt wearing, big boob owning, makeup dominated creatures of the night life.

I must have missed the memo when they approved all that.

Before you get me wrong, I'm not suggesting a for or against mentality here to those who actually want to dress like this. It's a persons right to decide what they wear and how they act. What disturbs me is how this 'version', for lack of a better word, is the dominant iteration spotted in most forms of media. Especially gaming.

The common excuses for such actions is that gaming is a male dominated society, it's what people want to see. Even I can see that this a dated term, dare I say it a pathetic excuse for nudity or sexual exploitation just for the sake of selling a few extra copies. Yes I'm looking at you, Grand Theft Auto. Coffee anyone?

There's some small level of comfort that a game like, say Mass Effect 2, allowed you to create your own character (male or female) and decide yourself how he/she acts and responds to certain events. It's up to you as the player to choose how they look, to a point. I've also read just recently that gay/lesbian relationships will be introduced into the third game. It's an edgy call to make for a game so well known in the public eye, but does it make it right? Especially when it isn't a believable scenario?

Truth is, as long as video games portray women in a light that deems scantly clad as normal for police officers, detectives, doctors, lawyers, heroes, mothers, scientists, etc, etc, than how can gaming possibly be considered an adult medium, if it's such a childish mentality in design?

There's an argument for and against. For: gaming needs to be unbelievable in order for it to be entertaining. Against: True to a point, but where does that leave LA Noir or (dare I say it) Call of Duty, that rely on realism for the impact of the story to hit home?

Here's another interesting point, relative to this thought process. In the last ten years of video games, only a small number of games with a female lead character have sold in profitable numbers. I dare you to remember at least one of them that doesn't feature a certain Lara Croft. Got one? Okay, was this character in any way like what I suggested above? Big boobs? Maybe even all that?

Hands up who thought of Portal? Congratulations, you picked one of the only games in modern history (not counting the Mario Bros. titles, which depicts a helpless princess ... I'll get to that problem another day) that doesn't follow all the typical rules.

It could be considered unusual that I, being a male, would write on such a topic. I guess, maybe, I have an opinion that doesn't conform with reality. A reality that's become tainted by immoral choices considered 'normal'. I guess that's why it bugs me. Why should it be considered normal in the first place, when clearly it isn't. Gaming or otherwise, it's the ultimate misstep by society, especially when I see fourteen or fifteen year olds dressing like this. It just seems ... wrong. Very wrong.


RLFloyd said...

I hear you, loud and clear. It's one of the reasons why I love Mass Effect so much. It's THE BEST portrayal of a strong female lead character in video games. Probably one of the best in any fictional medium, full stop. Jennifer Hale does wonders for that character. Commander Shepard comes across like she's earned everything she's got, and it has nothing to do with her being female. Love that. We need more of that in video games.

Mark 'Kartanym' Isaacson said...

Totally agree ... but then I look at the costume designs and the dawn of well written female characters gets lost in the typical air of tight fitting, unrealistic design structures. It's a step in the right direction, though.

I'm actually interested in this Tomb Raider reboot. The portrayal of Lara Croft has been a big reason why female characters have turned out this way, so to have the ultimate heroine updated into a more realistic, both physically and emotionally (to a degree) character could be a trend changing move. I'll reserve judgement until the finished product though.

And don't get me started on The 3rd birthday. I think Hex from Good Game said it all about that, all sighs torn clothing and no actual character development.

Mel said...

I haven't played Mass Effect (yet), but I wouldn't knock Samus Aran. At least before Other M, where the developers totally missed the point.

Also, it's hugely refreshing to see guys writing about this problem in the industry too.