Many video games I grew up playing had the main characters as male. Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., and Sonic are all examples of games that starred a male character. In addition, many of these games had the main character, such as Link or Mario, saving the helpless female, (Zelda and Princess Peach) who had been captured by the main boss. However, as the years have passed, many more games have been created, or at least evolved, to have female main characters. Some games have it as choice between gender characters and some strictly have a female protagonist. Nonetheless, these female characters seem to be modeled after a woman that has the perfect breast to waist to hip ratio with flawless skin and hair. Thus, has this evolvement toward a more female empowering gaming world really contribute positively to the cause?
I have mixed feelings and so do other critics. Peter Hartlaub, writer of the article “Top 9 greatest video game heroines” mentions how The Chronicle’s video game critics picked “nine playable characters…judged on toughness and coolness, with no swimsuit, or evening gown competition” since many of these characters still have exaggerated body images. Still, that doesn’t take from the fact that these characters still kick serious butt and can stand on their own two feet. The fantasy world these characters live in have their community depending on the character’s success. That is a serious load to have to carry. So don’t these females get credit for that?
Yes, it would be nice to have a game focused around a woman who radiates strength and independence without her having to have the next Miss America body but would that game really sell? I feel that we are making progress toward a more gender-equal society but the step is just really small. Nonetheless, any step counts and we should appreciate the step for what it is worth. While some people may initially start playing the game to admire the woman’s shape as she moves across the screen, I feel that eventually these people will begin enjoying the game for its storyline. This may be a very small fraction, but at least it is something, right? A drastic leap from powerless, but beautiful women to strong, but physically unattractive women may just be too much of a shock to society. The cause must be eased into or all the efforts may be lost. As a final note, give the public what they want but slowly habituate them to an idea that truly puts women on a pedestal that is equal to a man, without the degrading body image stereotypes. Whether this is in video games, books, movies, or government, these small steps to the common goal will eventually reap praiseworthy benefits.
Read more about the “Top 9 playable characters” article at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/16/DDMA15T5M9.DTL#ixzz1qkdTHwqD