Female game characters tremble, while men kick ass

// 7 August 2007

ff.gifGirl in the Machine presents a well-argued case for sexism in the games industry, specifically in the way the protagonists are portrayed in “horror” games.

I have limited experience of this one: horror games cause me to drop the controls and leap behind the coach. It’s the sound effects that do me in. Luckily, the bloggers at GITM have gone where I personally fear to tread, and provide a sound analysis of the behaviour of female versus male characters in these games.

In Fatal Frame, for example, protagonist Miku wonders the halls of a haunted mansion “whimpering with fear”, armed only with a camera. Not sure quite how it works as a weapon, but apparently it does.

Our intrepid hero must have rushed off to rescue her brother so quickly that she forgot to change out of her school uniform and didn’t pack anything besides that dinky little flashlight. I can’t fault her for excessively whimpering through every single cutscene because, frankly, who wouldn’t? And while her main weapon, the Camera Obscura, proves formidable in context, it doesn’t exactly ring the same bell as Leon’s magnum Handcannon in Resident Evil 4.

In Rule of Rose, another female lead is “armed with a dessert fork as her first weapon”. Yeah, a fork. “She hides her face with one arm and blindly jabs random targets before her with all the accuracy of a kid with a clubfoot playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” While some female characters do stare zombies in the eye without flinching, and even get to play with big macho weapons, as of yet no male characters have been cast as scared. Like, ever. As GITM says, the difference between the way men and women characters behave in this genre of game, seems to reveal a belief that women are inferior to men:

The concept of vulnerability is not strictly limited to the female sex, and by doing so in these games again and again suggests an inherent weakness that afflicts only women. Miku’s petrified whimpering is neither weak nor unrealistic, but I would love to see game producers put dudes in her position for once.

In another post, GITM notes that healer is a female-dominated profession. Anyone who has played the Final Fantasy games will probably relate to this post.

(Via Feminist Gamers)

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