I read last week an interesting article on how liberally Batman: Arkham City slings the word “bitch” about. I don’t yet have the game myself–of course I’m itching to play it–and I’ll wait until I get my hands on it to pass judgment. The articles that have stood out most to me have been Kotaku’s own articles on Batman’s weird “bitch” fixation and the hypersexualization of female characters in game worlds. I thought these two to be well-written articles that certainly incited a lot of discussion in their comments. That is, of course, never a bad thing–discussion begets critical thinking. Hopefully.
Today I spent some quality time with my mom, and surprisingly we didn’t engage in very many battles. In fact, I don’t believe we had any at all during the time we spent together. Let me tell you from experience that when a mother and a daughter are very much alike, they clash. A lot. Little did I know that we were also alike in our career aspirations.
This was my final paper for my advanced writing course. I wrote this in perhaps the worst way possible, and did not give it the time it deserved. It just came at a horrible time, while projects were due, other papers were due, and I was putting in extra hours at work. That all left me to complete this the night before and over the course of the night. Sometimes, life just decides there aren’t enough hours in the day.
You Monster looks at the answer to the question, “How can we create a realistic, strong, and smart female game character?” GladOS plays a rather large starring role as the solution.
Female characters in video games can often be described as slight variations of one of three archetypes: the helpless, hapless damsel in distress; the coquettish, alluring vixen; and the cold-hearted, distant embodiment of stoicism. In addition, the majority of women in games are heavily and overtly sexualized for mass male consumption, thereby providing slight variations of the same visual across several different games. Many lauded video game members have taken issue with the current state of women in games and have offered their own viewpoints in order to fix it. Leigh Alexander writes in an editorial for Gamepro Magazine that characters such as Bayonetta “[take] the video game sexy woman stereotype from object to subject” in which “the game itself is an artistic representation of the concept that female sexuality is its own kind of weapon.” Others disagree, believing that “characters [should] reflect the harsh lifestyle of their world in a much more believable way” (Hamm). Both offer interesting yet opposing solutions. However, both solutions can go much further in creating believable or truly empowering female characters. The hypersexualized dominatrix invoking female empowerment is a dramatic knee-jerk response to the objectification of women in games. The normal, average woman with a matching attitude and manner is currently the method being taken for game developers wishing to inject their games with respect for females. Video game females can be so much more than either of those two proposals. The change the industry needs for their female characters is to make them more multifaceted by giving them unique strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and personality traits. Female characterization needs to evolve to better reflect where females are today, instead of the antiquated false notions of what they were and perhaps should have been in the past.