Friday, 29 May 2015

War has changed

It's been a bone of contention now for many years. There have been memes made about it, Satirical jibes and even full on "why the hell is this still happening" posts which seem to fall on deaf ears. Today we're talking sexualization in gaming, and is it even welcome in our hobby in this day and age? Today's soundtrack on the left, Arnhem Knights from Medal of Honour

There are many things in the gaming industry which do not spell equality across the board. For example I can't remember the last time I played as a black main protagonist who wasn't a criminal, or apart from Lara Croft the last time I felt a female protagonist was given as free a reign as a male counterpart would have been.

Speaking of the Queen of Gaming, Miss Croft and her origins have a lot to answer for... or rather her developers do at least. We all know the mantra "sex sells" but it's not the only thing that does and I don't feel Tomb Raider would have been any worse without a bosom you could smother Andre The Giant in. Females, historically, are largely relegated to NPCs in gaming, with only a minority of games giving you even the option to play as a girl/woman/crone. It seems largely that the only times you do get an option to play as a bad-assed She-Warrior of any description are RPGs, the likes of Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls, or  similar so you could be forgiven for thinking that in those games, at least, we're getting closer to equality.

That would be, however, before we look at the armour choices. As your steadfast male character gets built up your trappings become more and more chunky, and adorned with spikes and gold trimming. Most of the time for the lady gamers (or male gamers who fancied prodding donkey as a girl) the more you level up the armour, the more skin you can see. Now, this doesn't seem like the way armour works to me and if you look at it for just a second, even the most ardent male chauvinist has surely got to take a step back and say "hold on... that's not quite right. Where is the Brienne of Tarth,
why is my paladin wearing three rolled out Pepsi cans?! This is offering no protection against the elements, never mind a sword!"

There are steps being made, which is obviously a good thing, but I'm not sure how here in 2015 we're not already there, or worse, seem to have a lot of people trying to move us back the other way. A number of gamers (and, it has to be said, exclusively male) have taken to social media to decry the fact the EA Sports have announce that Fifa 16 will have the option (and it is an option) for you to play as one of twelve international Women's football teams.

It's hard for me to see how the option if you so choose to play a football game as 11 females instead of 11 chaps can in any way detract from the enjoyment you would have got had those teams not been included. I'm not sure there will be pop-ups every five minutes if you're playing as a men's team telling you to give it a go, there's probably not even going to be a woman on the box art (although it would be wonderful to see) so how does giving you the option take away your enjoyment.

I'll admit, I would be a bit gutted if EA Sports had announced that they would only be providing female players (perhaps giving you the option to pay for Male players as DLC) but then we have to remember that this is what it has been like for females in gaming for the last god knows how many years. Everybody should have the option in gaming to play as a character which they can relate as closely to as us white male gamers can in nearly every game we play.

Nobody is asking people to give things up, only to let others be included. Your options will still be there, but theirs will too, and surely that can't be a bad thing.

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