The following is a guest post by Zaewen:
Zaewen is a white, straight, cis woman and avid feminist gamer, with MMOs being her favorite genre. She has a degree in psychology, a Texas accent, and spends most of her free time playing games, reading blogs, and very occasionally doing some blogging herself. Zaewen hopes to one day get a PhD in awesomeness (or sociology) and do her best to help change the culture we live in.
E3, the gaming convention and showcase for gaming professionals, wrapped up late last week. I was a bit busy elsewhere, so this is going up a lil late, but hey it’s my blog and I do what I want So here are my reactions and thoughts to some of the games I saw in the coverage of the convention.
First, though, a word about the convention itself. Having booth babes is not in any way professional and is both degrading and alienating to the women who attend the expo and to the women in the gaming audience looking on from home. Having them there is a very loud and clear signal from the game companies themselves that says women only matter to them as a pair of boobs they can dress up in skimpy little outfits to sell games to hetero-men. And to the game journalism sites that exert a huge amount of effort to take photos and write articles about these women, almost as if they were a game to be bought and played with like the merchandise they’re hocking…. way to stay classy. It’s no small wonder that there is still such an entrenched atmosphere of open sexism in the gaming community with professionals and journalists like y’all.
With that said, onto the games!
Fable: The Journey
Apparently its a rail shooter type game that sounds absolutely boring and counter-intutive to the idea behind an Action RPG. I’m getting really tired of the male as default character too. You see it in almost every game that gives you the option to have a male or female character. The gaming companies apparently think that no one will want to play a game that has a female hero as default/canonical, so we get stuck with the white dude being the hero for the umpteenthillion time. Also, they never seem to like really advertising that you have the option between male/female even though it would probably get them a much larger audience if they really pushed that edge. Add to that the decline in progressiveness from Fable 2 to 3, and I am not optimistic for this one at all.
OMG pretty. So pretty. They’ve pretty much done everything they needed to do to make Oblivion 100x better and then they introduced DRAGONS. So much win. Only thing I need to know now is how the female Khajitt look so I can be even more psyched about playing the game. Yes, I want to be a cat dragon-born hero, leave me be.
3DS games announced: Star Fox, Zelda, Mario Kart, Smash Bros
All my favorite Nintendo games on a 3d handheld to be played whenever/where ever I want? Yes please! Now I just need to get my hands on a 3DS…
Batman: Arkham City
I love Batman and I love the first game, butwhat they’ve done to Catwoman in this game borders on making me not want to play the game. Their outfits and body proportions are absurd. Seriously, how do you get a leather catsuit that is so tight it gives you butt cleavage, and how does she managed to keep her breasts in with that huge slit down the front? I’ll still end up playing this (just because I’m such a huge Batman fan) and enjoying all the awesome combat, but I can guarantee you that I will be fuming every time the camera strays over Catwoman’s butt. She’s not an object to be lusted at! She’s the most badass woman in the Batman universe!
Zelda Skyward Sword
This looks great, the windwaker art style but sans boat and wind. Though it does have bird riding in it…. so we’ll see. Can’t we just recapture the awesomeness that was Ocarnia of Time again? Ooh, maybe they should just totally redo that game in awesome graphics mode (I know they’re doing it over in 3d, but just think of it the game with the graphics of Skyrim or something, that’s going on my gamer wishlist)
Mass Effect 3 (Trigger Warning for talk of rape in this section)
This series has only gotten worse with the more exposure I have to it. When I first played Mass Effect it was awesome in its scope and story… then I got into the details of the races and background cultures (the Asari and Salarians) and it was suddenly not as cool. Then I heard tell of all the ‘goodies’ tucked away in ME2 (Miranda’s butt cleavage, Samara’s chest cleavage, the Krogan breeding/rape camp, the rape city mission, just all sorts of not good stuff) and the game lost even more of its luster. Now, ME3′s coming out and I’m just really hesitant to get excited about it at all. Especially since there’s some hubub going around about a Krogran princess from the game demmo(lemme guess, a mushroom tells Shephard that his princess is in another castl…err…breeding camp?)
Kingdoms of Amalur
This game looks and sounds like it could be either super awesome or super horrible. A game whose story is written by R.A. Salvatore, visuals done by Tod McFarlane, and the game dev behind Morrowind and Oblivion could be the most amazing game ever to grace our medium, or it could be one really polished and great looking piece of misogynist crap (niether Salvatore or McFarlane or particularly known for the feminist views). So far, I know that there’s the option for female avatars (not that they’re used in promotional material and not that this is specifically a problem with this game… like I said earlier, it plagues almost all games of this genre like Fable and Mass Effect), we’ll just have to see how it all works out. This is a game I will definitely be keeping tabs on.
When I first heard about the game I did an *eyeroll*, then after seeing some stuff about it I was a lil interested, then after seeing some more stuff about it I have reverted back to *eyeroll* status. The IP is not known for its progressive attitudes towards women in their universe. And tho Bioware has done some good things with the IP in the past, they’ve not been particularly good lately with their handling of gender, especially when it comes to character models or lore (just check out the huge racks and tiny waists on the women of DA2 or any of the backstories for the races of Mass Effect). None of the screenshots I’ve seen of the game give me a confidence that they’ll be giving us reasonable body proportions on the women, nor do the three trailers they’ve released. It is amazingly, disturbingly sad that the aliens and people with half their faces blown away look more human and normal/right (i.e. not smack dab in the middle of the uncanny valley) than all of the women in the trailers. It’s something about their eyes, the facial features, the airbrushed skin, and heavy amounts of makeup that just make the women look like amateur renders compared to the detailed and realistic looks of the men’s faces. Also, the fact that in all 3 of the trailers there’s only like 4 women compared to the roughly 100 men in each trailer. Ok, yea, that’s a slight exageration, but seriously… the ratio is very skewed and the women are very much tokens (of the ‘oh crap, all the jedi are men, guess we’ll make the bounty hunter you see for half a second me a woman) or scenery for the oodles of men to leer at.
The trailer for this looks pretty awesome but the same thing I said for Kingdoms of Amalur and SWTOR hold up here. The IP and lore is not exaclty renowned for its feminist ideals, but it could either be great or horrible, depends on the route they took. It seems like it’s going to be good, both in the gameplay and the not causing me to *headdesk*
Saint’s Row The Third
I’ve always preferred these games to the GTA series, probably because I get the option to be a woman (which is such a big plus), they’re not so full of white guys, and I like their humor a bit more. We still have to put up with quite a lot of sexist crap from them (see the link up above with the car wash booth babes and the numerous panty and boob shots in the trailer) but they usually give us more options to subvert it than other games. In Saints Row 2 I was a gang leader who swaggered and cursed like a sailor, but had a posh voice and was overly fond of cleavage shirts. Apparently, in this new game we get even more control over our character creation, and they add in a sex appeal slider. This, on women, is a boob slider all the immature boys in the audience can have huge boobs on their characters. This would usually get a gripe from me, but they went one step further, and made the slider on men affect how large their ‘package’ is. When I found this out, I could not stop laughing for a good 5 minutes. We usually only joke about this when people bring up boob sliders, the fact that it is now being given to us as an acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of boob sliders, is so unbelievably awesome.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
This trailer surprised the heck out of me when I saw it. I played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune just recently (yay gamefly!) and loved it…. minus the zombie parts, that scared the crap out of me. The characters were great and even though she was the only woman, Elena kicked major butt and didn’t take any shit from the guys (not that the guys gave any shit, they treated her more or less like an equal). The third apparently has three women in it, one of which is the bad guy and the other is what appears to be an even more badass Elena. I’m definitely down with that, so I’m going to have to sneak Uncharted 2 up on our queue and try that out asap!
Ah, Tomb Raider. The *only* game with a female lead protagonist that I saw in all of the E3 coverage (if I missed some, please let me know, I’d love to be wrong about this), which is quite fucking sad. Pardon the cursing there, but seriously, that is some sad ass shit right there. We’re half of the population and 44% of the gaming audience, yet we only get one game that focuses on our stories out of a whole slew of games? Pathetic. Anyhoo, besides that BS, I’m not entirely sure that this reboot of the franschise will be a good thing. When watching the trailer and gameplay demo, I got a distinct Other M vibe from it. Maybe it was Lara simpering while she ran away from her chaser or the naive baby face they gave her, I dunno, but something about it is giving me the impression that this is not the badass Lara we all know and love. I know its a reboot and origin story for her, set in her first (mis)adventure. She’s just a kid, fresh out of college, and that what she goes through in the game are the events that make her into that badass we all know and love. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be another Other M. I’m just going to have to hold off on making a judgement about it (again, would love to be wrong about this) till I play through the game.
Don’t have too much to say, other than this game is so realistic that its slightly disturbing to me as the wife of a combat vet. ’Course he thinks its bloody awesome and is eager to get his hands on it, but I keep getting this image in my head that he’s one of the soldiers getting gunned down. Also, when are they ever going to start adding in women soldiers to these military games that are set in the future like B3 (its set a couple years in the future, which at the rate things are going its quite possible we’d have them on the frontlines) is or MW3 will be (which is definitely set in the not-so-near future and has no excuse to not have women in them)? Come on, if Bungie could do it with Halo, certainly these games can manage it.
Assassin’s Creed 3
Love this series, can’t wait to try out this new one and the trailer is all sorts of epic. I’m kind of sad, though, that they decided to stick with Auditore’s tale throughout the last three iterations. I really liked the idea that the second game presented us with: that each new game would follow a different assassin from history, and thus that we’d get to see and be a female assassin, but alas that was not the case. Maybe after this one we’ll get to have the protagonist be a woman, pretty please Ubisoft? That would be totally awesome.
Rift Patch 1.3
Rift announced its 1.3 patch and I’m rather excited about it. We’re getting a new raid zone, guild banks, and a new type of rift event thing called slivers. The only thing I’m upset about is the new armor models that will be released with the patch (yes, I care more about the armors than class changes, class changes I can learn to deal with, sexist armor models I cannot). Apparently they either did not have the time to or decided not to take under advisement the plethora of criticisms they got about the female armor models. The new male armor models cover the men head to toe in really badass looking armor. Meanwhile, the new female armors are all some form of bikini bottoms with chaps or leg warmers and tops that have some form of cleavage or belly windows involved. The female plate model has so many cut outs and is so short, I had trouble identifying it as plate armor at first *headdesk*. At least the designs on them still look pretty awesome, even though there is a whole lot less surface area for those designs to be displayed. It’s rather upsetting that there is the high probability that they saw the complaints about the female armor models (especially since they have been going on since the beta started back in December long before this patch was being developed) and decided to say ‘fuck you’ and made more of the same anyways. If they keep this up, the wardrobe function will not do us any good because there will be such a limited amount of non-revealing armors to choose from that the ability to choose becomes almost meaningless.
Yea, this game gets a seriuosly big WTF from me. Its an animated, side scrolling dungeon romper…. with BOOBS. Lots of boobs that jiggle… and, as Wundergeek pointed out in her E3 review, because its aniamted the jiggle had to be drawn in…seriously WTF. And its not just a lil jiggle, the Amazon and Sorceress jiggle so much it made my chest hurt with sympathy. Also, talk about crazy ass proportions, they’ve both got hugely exaggereated body parts (butt on the Amazon and breasts on the Sorceress, although the Amazon still has quite a large rack and the Sorceress is well endowed in the rear too). Now, to be ‘fair’ the men are exaggerated too, but I’ll give you a guess as to whats not exaggerated on them…. that’s right it’s definitely not their penis or balls. No, its their biceps and shoulders which is tooootally equivalent to women having GG boobs or a butt the size on Montana. Men having exaggerated muscles != women having exagerated sexual body parts because the men are not being sexualized, they’re having their strength and power exaggerated. The women are having their status as sexual objects to be lusted after exaggerated which is not the same. At. All.
So that concludes my E3 roundup. I didn’t cover everything, no where near in fact, and most of what I covered was sadly things that caught my eye for being *bad* or *not good* from a feminist standpoint. Trust me, I would really, really love to see the day where I can pick out the things that are doing great on that front.
(Originally posted here)