Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ohhh! The Muscles! An examination of the MAN in games.

In this day and age I can barely move for comments on the sexualising of women in games. I would say a lot of questions wind up being asked of me on the topic only because of my gender. Of late, however, I've decided to take a step back and examine things from a slightly different perspective.

As a woman I face bombardment from media about how to portray myself. I should be skinny. I should have a big chest. Woo for me! My male friends get the same treatment too. According to the media they should be built like fighters. Indeed, many of them are more paranoid about their appearance than I ever have been. How often to you hear about men hitting the gym obsessively because they must (MUST!!!) be able to lift that extra pound? In fact, eating disorders are on the rise amongst the male population as well.

It's okay, guys. I know your pain.

Time and again I hear people pointing the finger of accusation at games such as Tomb Raider. In all fairness it is far less practical to run around scantily dressed and with enormous cleavage than it is to be a CS avatars type of character, but the pressure remains the same. I can't imagine that gamers who fit stereotypes of our kind don't look at Solid Snake with some envy. After all, who doesn't want to be built like that, 'rugged' of face and 'badass' of nature?

While it's very easy to poke at action games and FPS for this, others are guilty of it as well. I'm going to take Final Fantasy as a prime example here. The male characters in that game display physical prowess and tone, especially when this latest generation of graphics allows it. One of the few games I've seen when you can even come close to some of the 'less derisible' physical structure as a male is Fable, and even then, you can quickly return to your 'prime'. I would say that even Gordon Freemon gives pressure for a certain body shape, for all he wears glasses (Ooohhh.. rebel!)

Clothing is another point picked on by those who see Lara Croft as the Devil. I would say for this that the tight clothing worn by some male characters to best show off their smuggled cantaloupe melons is just as sexualising as the cut-away outfits of the women. It's all a matter of degree. However it's somewhat more difficult to find mods which would allow JC Denton to run around in his underwear than it would be to find the same for Alyx Vance. A matter of target audience, I believe.

I digress.

The fact remains that the pressure is there. Both in the games as stated above, and in the media around us. To quote Fight Club "Is that what a real man looks like?" I think there's more to the uh.. 'not so fair' sex than that. Just like there's more to women than cleavage and miniskirts.

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