Tomb Raider

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Lara Croft is the female protagonist of the Tomb Raider video game series. She is not only tough, but also widely viewed as one of the most attractive female game characters.

Lara Croft is not only extremely attractive but also seen as a positive role model for women. In 2006 she was chosen to be the spokesmodel for the Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation. In addition, she’s also the inspiration for comic books, music, etc. She’s so popular that  Guinness World Record  named her the “Most Successful Human Video game Heroine.”

So, there’s a little background history as to why the world would want to perfect actress to portray such an important figure in our society. When the movie representation of the game was in the works Producers of the film had the large responsibility of properly portraying such an iconic figure in video game culture and society as a whole. Actress Angelina Jolie was picked to play the part. Most people understand that these are huge shoes (among other things) to fill. Of course, she had to make a few tweaks in order to fit the role.

According to an interview, they added padding to her bra in order to increase the appearance of her breast size. Not only that, but there were months of rigorous training so she could not only look fit, but also do the stunts. Angelina did, however, have the independent attitude that encompasses Lara. Angelina also looks uncannily similar to Lara, which was a must since Lara is praised for being physically perfect. The movie did not do well critically, however, it was awarded as:

It is said that Angelina Jolie’s career was launched because of her role in Tomb Raider. I guess this proves that she played the role successfully since the movie . In addition, it proves that video game characters have the power to transcend the TV and have an impact in the real world.


Wooing Women Gamers

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

Throughout my blog I have been discussing the issue of Gender and Games. Mainly the way women are portrayed and how that is influencing the culture of gaming as a whole. However, it seems that one probable solution is to have more women having an impact within the industry. Most developers agree. According to a CNN article titled “Wooing Women Gamers“.

Torriee Dorell

The article follows Torrie Dorrell, The senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Sony Online Entertainment.

According to the article, “Studies and sales data have shown that women are more likely to play hand-held casual games, such as the Nintendo DS, along with social oriented games such as ‘The Sims,‘ where women make up more than 55 percent of players.” It goes on to say, “Though the number of women who play games is high, they represent just under 12 percent of the industry, according to the International Game Developers Association.

The gaming industry is so desperate to have women in the field that they started a  scholarship program called, “G.I.R.L.” (Gamers In Real Life). The purpose is to attract girls into joining the gaming industry.

It is apparent that women in the industry are wanted by game developers. This is not only for the purpose of having diversity in the field, but also to reverse the stereotype of women as “casual gamers”. They know that women in the field will help balance the extreme issues that have been discussed in the blog thus far.

From Side-kicks to Soldiers

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Uncategorized


The portrayal of women as protagonists has changed quite a bit since earlier games. Some evidence of this can be seen in my earlier post, the Evolution of Women in Games. A few female leads that I find especially intriguing are the women who have been placed in male-dominated games. Games such as Halo and Gears of War are both game franchises that have main characters as these “manly men.” However, in the earlier Halo games and Gears of War 1 & 2, these men were not without help of intelligent female side-characters. In the Halo series the main protagonist, Master Chief, was able to save the planet from the Covenant Forces numerous times with the help of A.I. Cortana. Cortana was one of the few women who played a vital role in the Halo series until Kat was introduced in the newest Halo game, Halo: Reach. Kat is the first woman to join the elite ranks of the Spartan army in the Halo franchise.

As you can see, there’s a huge difference between the A.I. character and the actual solider in the game. Cortana’s femininity is very much accentuated when the lines are somewhat blurred with Kat’s character.

Kat From Halo: Reach

The second example I have is from Gears of War. Similar to Cortana’s character, Anya Stroud plays as the female support of the male characters, namely the main character Marcus Fenix. In the game, Anya is extremely intelligent and appears to have a soft femininity about her.

Anya Stroud

However, in Gears of War 3 (Yet to be released), she has taken on the ranks of the other Gears (soldiers) and with a new look to boot. Her well-groomed hair is now shorter and rugged. She now wears partial armor and has become more buff.

Anya Stroud as a Gear

Two things stand out to me in these images:

1) At first, the women acted as intelligent support for the main, macho men in the two games. As

the intellectual sidekicks, they are much more feminine and passive looking.

2) When the women join the ranks of soldiers in these male-dominated shooter games, they take on a completely different look. The women are more masculine, rugged,strong and project an aura of power that they did not have before. Where once their eyes were doe-eyed, they are now narrowed and angry.

The reason for these transformations? I believe that in order for the idea of women to be apart of these violent wars to be convincing to the audience, they have to take on a more “manly” appearance. As Christine Gledhill put it, women who do cross over to the man’s territory

…must abandon or suppress those features characterized as feminizing

If Cortana and the original form of Anya were to be in the middle of the battlefield holding guns, it would not fit the normal view of what a solider looks like.

Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?

Posted: November 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

The music video Do You Wanna Date My Avatar is comprised of the cast of the The Guild, a comedy web series about video games players. Creator of the show, Felicia Day, wrote this song with the help of Jed Whedon.

The song was a huge hit when it first released, with 1 million views on YouTube and #1 spots on iTunes & Amazon. The song has been praised as a highly professional production with well-written lyrics and choreography. The satirical song relates to geeks who play games such as World of Warcraft, but also the people who may dismiss such games as stupid. So what explains the song’s popularity? Well, it speaks incredible truth to those who play these types of games.

MMOs are games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest, where a mass amount of people are playing online together. You can play with friends or complete strangers from all around the world. In this world I’m not “Savannah the Human” anymore. Instead, I can name myself, change my race and even change my gender. This will be my identity in this world. Although the song is parodying the fact that avatars become these better-than-reality beings, it is still conveying an importance message: That online, you can have relationships with someone’s “avatar” because instead of it being some purple guy on the screen, it’s a human being. That’s why there have been numerous cases of marriages and relationships that happen because of MMOs.

"Purple Guy On Screen." My Future Husband?

In this case, video games can be compared to soap operas. As Christine Gledhill put it

…soap opera serials offers a fictional experience which audiences encounter as part of a routine in which fiction and everyday life intertwines–to such a degree in fact that major events in soap opera characters’ lives become national news…

The point that is being made is that although soap operas are not “real” they become so apart of everday life that the lines become blurred. In this scenario, they become so blurred that the the lives of characters end up on the news. However, with MMOs it is a little different. MMOs are dismissed as pointless, fictional games yet this is proven false when real relationships and marriages come out of the virtual realm. That is also why The Guilds‘ parody song was also such a hit; because there is truth in the lyrics.


Reflection Post

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

At first I thought I wanted my blog to focus on the exploitation of women in games. However, after doing more research and actually starting the blog, I realized that exploitation is just one part of a more important topic;  Women and Video Games.

My blog posts thus far may not seem interconnected at first, but they all come back to the overall theme of  Women and Games. Here’s a small refresher on all the topics I covered:

Just like any other media outlet, in the gaming world there are so many messages being sent out to consumers. It’s is extremely interesting to see what is labeled as

Princess Zelda

sexist when it shouldn’t be and vice versa. This is clear with the new Metroid game being labeled sexist for following a man’s order and showing emotion. However, the Imagine Game Series isn’t labeled sexist when they are clearly putting content out there for tween girls that is telling them what they should and should not like. The same can be said for IGN’s mission statement and how they clearly target men as audience and leave all women out of it, but they don’t make this obvious when you first see the website. Yet, they’re not labeled sexist.

Another similarity and difference can be seen in the blog posts about Wet’s game trailers and the Evolution of Games. The Evolution of Games looks at the bright side of how women’s roles have changed in Video games throughout time. At first, they were typically portrayed as damsels in distress while nowadays, women are portrayed as strong protagonists. Of course, when you have a strong female protagonist, there’s bound to be some sex appeal, right? The analysis of the Wet game trailer shows this side. Rubi, the main character of the game Wet, is portrayed in such a way that only a woman can be shown. If it were  a man doing the same thing, it wouldn’t have the same effect.

Rubi from Wet

In the gaming industry, all things are done with a purpose. It’s important not only to critique what content is out there right now, but also to look at the bright side of things. The main thing I learned from my media analysis’ is this: There are many ways that women are exploited and portrayed negatively in the gaming industry. Some sites like IGN are blatently sexist, and some games, like Wet are sexist in ways, as well. There’s also plenty of women who notice these things and stand up for them (even if I felt that Metroid labeled sexist was misplaced). It is being acknowledged and good is coming from it.

I have also learned that by examining multiple different aspects of the gaming world and the role women play within them, one can better understand how they are shaping consumers.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Original Prince of Persia

Super Mario Bros

Many people, including myself, are quick to judge the role that females play in Video Games. Most of the time, they are seen as objectified or stereotyped. One thing is for certain, if you compare women in the older games to where they are now, things are definitely different.

Three prime examples of how things have changed for women in games are in the classic games Prince of Persia, Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda. In all three of these games, the storyline revolves around a courageous hero saving a princess from the evil clutches of the main antagonist. The princess, for the most part, is helpless.

Interestingly enough, despite what people would call “sexist” today, these games are still considered some of the best games, with Super

Main Character, Nariko, of Heavenly Sword

Mario Bros ranking #1 and Zelda #2 in the Top 100 Games list.

The gaming industry has come a long way since the Damsel in Distress phase. Now, some of the most anticipated game titles have their own lead heroines. This, of course, comes with a other whole set of issues [objectification]  but hey, it’s a start.

Imagine Game Series: Beneficial?

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

“What’s your daughter’s dream job? With Imagine® video games for Nintendo DSiTM and DS, she can try them all! Whether she wants to be a fashion designer, teacher, zookeeper, or an artist, the Imagine series has a game for her. Each game features easy-to-follow storylines, fun mini-games, and the ability to share rewards and items with friends. Plus, Imagine video games encourage creativity through character customization and player-created designs!”
The Imagine game Series by Ubisoft is extremely successful, having sold 4 million copies worldwide back in 2008.

Here’s some of the Imagine games out there:

  • Imagine Resort Owner
  • Imagine Babysitters
  • Imagine Teacher
  • Imagine Animal Doctor
  • Imagine Makeup Artist
  • Imagine Boutique Owner
  • Imagine Party Planner
  • Imagine Fashion Designer
  • Imagine Cheerleader
  • Ubisoft may be patting themselves on the back for being “the first” to create a line of games that are committed solely to the tween girl demographic, but they shouldn’t take all the credit. All Ubisoft did was use classic girl toys and make them into games. When girls used to play with baby dolls, kitchenettes, dress-up clothes and their mother’s makeup, it was the same concept. Only, back then, kids actually used their own imagination.
    \According to Ubisoft they,“…conduct substantial research each year to understand what tween girls are interested in, what they like about our current games, and what they think could be improved…”
    That’s fine and dandy but this method almost seems arbitrary. Ubisoft is asking girls what they want to play for career experimental games, when they want to play these games because that’s what they’re told is feminine or cool. It then becomes a vicious cycle. Of course little girls want to do hair, and of course they want to be fashionistas. This method is a way to get make money from the games. By insuring that these are the games girls want, there won’t be a risk in a loss of profit. However, if Ubisoft were to put out a more diverse range of games, it would help girls realize that there’s more out there for them than fashion and babies.

    Wet Video Game Trailer Analysis

    Posted: October 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

    Game trailers are used for the purpose of enticing consumers and also giving background story to games in a concise way. A method in which to do this in 4 minutes? Using signs. All these signs are thrown at us while watching game trailers, and it’s up to the viewer to catch everything and put the pieces together. My analysis is going to focus on a game called Wet. The first game trailer has more of an overview of the game but the second one is a little trickier to analyze. By decoding the messages that are being sent to viewers, we can better figure out what messages the creators are trying to convey.

    E3 Wet Game Trailer:
    • Filmy grain texture
    • Gang “notorious killer”
    • Red still background
    • Shot Whiskey Bottle
    • Music
    • Description “Hired Gun”
    • Rubi versus everyone
    • Red & White scene
    • Fire in background
    • Lock, Load, & Live to tell about it
    • Car Chases
    • Wet Western Logo
    I’ll pick some of the more important signs and analyze them.

    1. Filmy grain texture:

    • Denotation: Filmy grain texture= Aged
    • Connotation: Movie-like game, Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Old Western

    2. Shot Whiskey Bottle:

    • Denotation: Bottle=Whiskey
    • Connotation: Anger, Drunkard, depression, masculine.

    3. Music:

    • Denotation: Music=Guitar
    • Connotation: Tough, action-packed, Western.

    4. Hired Gun:

    • Denotation: “Hired Gun”= Mercenary
    • Connotation: Killer, tough

    Sierra Game Trailer
    • Junkyard
    • Old Plane Home
    • Liquor, empty shot glasses
    • Crate of weapons
    • Solitary sword
    • Bathtub
    • Music (Harmonica)
    • Text message, “It’s on ice” (Long term storage)
    • Heart on ice
    • Beer
    • Naked in lawn chair

    1. Music:

    • Denotation: Sound=Harmonica
    • Connotation: Western, Solo

    2. Liquor, empty shot glasses:

    • Denotation: Bottle & glasses= Liquor
    • Connotation: Depressed, tough

    3. Bathtub:

    • Denotation: Bathtub=Nude
    • Connotation: Attractive woman, relaxing, desirable

    4. Naked in lawn Chair:

    • Denotation: Lawn Chair= Naked
    • Connotation: Lack of Scruples, alone

    5. Weapons:

    • Denotation: Weapons= Guns & Sword
    • Connotation: Killer, dangerous, masculine

    6. Text Message:

    • Denotation: Phone= Message, “It’s on ice”
    • Connotation: Long-term storage, mission accomplished

    7. Beer:

    • Denotation: Bottle= Beer
    • Connotation: Masculine, relaxing

    By analyzing the signs from the game it’s easier to figure out what the creators are saying. My conclusion is that the creators were trying to portray Rubie as a very masculine, dangerous, sexy woman. The creators used signs like the bathtub, alcohol, possession of weapons, lone wolf attitude and nudity. The message that Rubi as a character is sending to players is, “desire me, but don’t come near me.”
    To further prove my point, try to imagine the trailers with a male character instead. In the first trailer showing one person go up against 3 powerful people, wouldn’t be as impressive with a male character. I can guarantee that the second trailer would NOT have shown a man in a bathtub, naked, or him sitting naked on a lawn chair.
    The creators were sending a message that only works using a sexy, female character. And that female character is someone to be feared and desired.

    Metroid: Other M was released as the next game in the popular Metroid series. The game was widely praised and topped the charts for Wii Sales. However, Xplay, a game review show on G4TV, gave the game a score of 2/5. The reviewer, Morgan Webb, accused the game of being sexist because of the portrayal of Samus, the main female protagonist of the series. Before I go into detail about the issue, I want to add that I have never played the Metroid games so this is my complete objective opinion.

    Let’s start off by actually watching the video of the review by Morgan Webb, co-host of Xplay.

    I found that most other review sites agreed with Morgan Webb about the sexist themes. Giant Bomb admitted,

    “This is the first game in the franchise that’s really attempted to humanize Samus and surround her with a supporting cast, but for the most part it does so flatly and without much gravity. Samus’ voiceover is painfully dull at times, and the game introduces some frailty in her character that struck me as out of place for someone who’s exterminated entire planets’ worth of awful monsters.”

    Yet, the site still gave the game a 4/5. Similarly, IGN said,

    “…She [Samus] decides, out of respect to the commanding officer Adam Malkovich, to deactivate everything and only reactivate them when he gives the OK. While the writers were probably patting themselves on the back for coming up with this plot device, it does not work in the context of the gameplay. You’ll frequently encounter doors that can only be opened with a Super Missile, but Samus respects Adam too much to fire one to open up a chamber? Puh-lease…There is a a story payoff towards the end for Samus’ subserviency but it doesn’t make up for the absurdity of Samus being somewhat of a mindless drone and refusing to activate her normal functions simply because Adam didn’t say it was OK.”

    Metroid: Other M Cover

    However, the game still got a score of 8.5 (aka “great”) from the site.

    The Gamespot review also agrees by saying, “Things become a lot more interesting once Samus shuts her big yap.” They too gave the game an 8.5 score.

    So is the game sexist? Morgan Webb both accused the game of being sexist and insulting to her female fans. The reason was that Samus,  was “submissive.” Here’s a look at the written review:

    Diary of a Wimpy Bounty Hunter

    So, is it all as soul-crushingly terrible as it sounds? Yes, yes it is. There are some great moments in the secondary plotline, if you can turn off the volume and ignore Samus’s voice entirely, but that’s not really the point of the game. The point is to flesh out one of the most iconic (and nonsexualized) female characters in gaming history and yet the outcome is insulting to both Samus and her fans.

    When she isn’t submissive and obedient, the flashbacks portray her as bratty and childish and the whole mess smacks of sexism. Almost every other aspect of gameplay including character design, sound and level design is mediocre. I’m sorry Metroid fans, because this isn’t what I wanted either. I also didn’t want to hear the phrase “fledgling girl’s heart” in anything but the phrase “I disintegrated the fledgling girl’s heart with a plasma beam,” but with Other M, no one gets what they want and half a good story with a smattering of acceptable decisions is far below the bar Nintendo has previously established for the series.”

    Morgan made some pretty bold assumptions in this review by saying “…the outcome is insulting to both Samus and her fans.” If the other game reviews would have agreed, they would not have given the game such high scores. She also makes that assumption when she goes onto say, “I’m sorry Metroid fans, because this isn’t what I wanted either.”

    Morgan Webb & Adam Sessler

    Rojek, author of Cultural Studies, talked about organizations “implying we are all in the same boat…” in order to create some sort of relationship with consumers. That is exactly what Morgan is doing.

    Morgan puts emphasis on the “sexism” in the game and ignores everything else that is good about it. In the beginning of the written review she says, “Samus has more daddy issues than Montana Fishburne.” This automatically sets some sort of expectations for the readers since Samus has now been compared to a porn star.

    The whole thing that confuses me is that Morgan goes on a rant about the  game because of it’s sexism, when she earlier admited, ”

    Other M is a bizarre collaboration between the Metroid series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto and Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame.  Indeed, “odd pairings” becomes the common thread throughout the game and its clashing dualities extend to the storyline, control scheme and onscreen action…”
    Team Ninja happen to be the people who created one of the world’s most sexist game, Dead or Alive: Extreme 2. Of course, Morgan doesn’t go on a rant about that game during that review .
    Overall, I feel that Morgan overreacted about the game. Do I understand her point, yes? However, the language she uses in her review are manipulative. She deliberately tries to make the creators of the game seem sexist and evil, when none of the other review sites see  it as that extreme. I believe the reason why Morgan Webb (a woman), did the review instead of  the main host, Adam Sessler was to make a connection to the women demographic watching the review, who would be more susceptible to root for her. All in all,  there are more sexist games out there that are worth getting upset over.

    Sexism In Popular Game Sites

    Posted: October 17, 2010 in Uncategorized


    For my first blog entry I am going to be focusing on Sexist video game sites, specifically IGN Entertainment.  IGN was awarded as #1 in the gaming information category in 2010. If they weren’t powerful enough already, they also own the popular men’s site Askmen as well as the gaming site Gamespy.

    There’s no doubt that IGN is an influential site for gamers out there.  Their site provides a convenient way for gamers to read game reviews, cheats, strategies and news. When someone looks at the website it looks like a normal gaming source. As a gamer, I always went there to look for whatever I needed.

    What I discovered was that IGN really doesn’t seem to care about the women population of gamers. It becomes apparent when people actually take the time to look at their site. For example, their mission statement is:

    Guys? We could argue semantics all day but they put the word “guy” there for a reason. After doing further digging IGN continued to say, “Our premium gaming & entertainment content attracts the largest concentration of 18-34 year old men online, which means that 1 in 4 US men online are engaged with our brand-names like IGN and AskMen. Worldwide, our reach is over 40 million unique visitors, including our sites in the U.K., Australia and Germany…”

    Furthermore, under IGN’s press releases they do not mention women unless it is to provide the results for sexiest women polls.

    According to the Entertainment Software Association,“Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (20 percent).”

      Why isn’t IGN tapping into this population? Why is there target audience men? From what their site reads, IGN thinks men are where the money is at. Because men are the more predominant audience on the internet, that’s where IGN wants to invest their  time and effort. Never mind the growing number of women gamers.

      I will give IGN this much; they at least put this sexist information out there for everyone to see. However, at a glance, it isn’t obvious enough for women who come to the site like I did. It’s once you do a little digging that women will realize how unwelcome they really are.