Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pants and Pantyhose

Astarte over at Utopian Hell brings up an interesting point about women and video games:

Women are currently stuck in the realm of “women’s issues” because of this
mentality to pick at only the things in a game that affect women. There is a
belief (and one with good reason) that if a woman is going to look at video
games, all she’s going to complain about are “women’s issues”. That is, how
women look within the confines of the game.

If we want to be taken seriously, if we want some sort of “culture of equality”, we have to step back and take a much less myopic view of the gaming industry. What’s more, we have to make a much more positive view of the industry, and I don’t mean turning a blind eye to the obvious sexism. I mean focusing on things that we like about games.

All around me, game developers are floundering and asking time and again, “what do women want”?! It’s no wonder that they’re doing this because all they are
getting back is what women don’t want. What women want isn’t, surprisingly, much
different than what the rest of the currently-non-gaming populous wants. The
problem is that we’re not talking about what we want. We’re talking about the
things we don’t want.

I don’t want to hear some far-flung idealistic image of the future where all women are regarded in one way or another. I want comments about current games that you’re currently playing and what you like and dislike about them. I want real solutions, not empty navel-gazing.

Her points really hit home for me first of all because 1) I am definately interested in women's issues in games because I feel that they aren't addressed as well as they could be; along with race and sexuality 2) I take part in significant amounts of ranting and naval gazing--therefore I forget to write about or mention fully the things that I really do enjoy about games (see below post). What I want is this: (and in my own time I can write as such BUT) I would love for some major media outlet, whether it be a popular website, magazine, radio show, tv (i.e. G4 or MTV, but I know, wishful thinking) that included with a regular review segment that addresses how the game accounts for gender, race, and other issues such as class and sexuality. It could be a show that specializes in this, it could be it's quirk or kick. It's good to write about such things on blogs and zines, but how to get something like this incorporated on a larger scale so that people who don't actively seek out this kind of critique come across it? So far, I feel that the blog Old Grandma Hardcore has been the most successful at this (though they aren't necessarily in your face). Until then, if more voices in the mainstream aren't heard, games will be hard-pressed to change.

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