Gender Bias in Games?

I’ve heard people complain a lot (mostly women, but also some men) that there’s a lot of content in games that’s totally geared towards a male audience. It’s not hard to agree with that sentiment, given the fact that most game designers are indeed male and also that many more men than women buy games-especially “blockbuster” action/adventure/FPSs.

I thought that one point in particular was interesting: males are stereotyped in games almost to the point females are. While all of the women are generally slender, busty and have unbelievably well-kept hair (not to mention their catering to fetishes), men are also similarly either bulky, Adonis wannabes or shadowy hotshots (both of which find widespread appeal amongst both genders). This reminds the player that games are also, importantly, a marketing device for themselves. As well, people who find such stereotypes appealing put them into the games purposefully.

While it’s true in many MMO RPGs that armor appears differently depending on which gender equips it (chain mail bikini syndrome) I would contest that it’s not gender bias we should be worried about-that’s feminist rhetoric. No, rather the threat we ought fight against is the willful delusion of the public. The only reason any of these stereotypes became so popular is that people bought them, usually in a very literal sense. Again, if this is advertising and appeal for the game, then the only reason it persists in them is that it sells. Of course, we could dive into a multitude of psychological topics on this one, but suffice to say that it has nothing to do with gender bias-and everything to do with escapist fantasy and the burying of human sorrow.


~ by Bob on July 4, 2008.

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