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Spencer Goodlett

Dr. Stumphy
Argument of Definition
English 102

Sexisim in Video Games
If you do not think that video games are, and always have been, sexist, then you
have clearly never played video games. Video games are sexist because they do not
have equal representation of genders, they make women appear to be weak and
helpless, and they objectify women. Ever since video games have been created, they
have consistently used women as a means to reward players while simultaneously
using them as comic relief by making them seem stupid and unable to perform even
basic tasks. This essay is going to address some the glaring issues that games have
with women.

One of the most overlooked reasons as to why videogames are sexist is the fact
that there are simply much fewer playable female characters in many of the games
made in the most recent years. While almost every video game has female characters
in it, only a small about actually allow you to take control of one and play. A recent study
showed that only 15% of video games actually allowed the play to play as a female
character, while the remaining 85% were completely and totally played through the eyes
of a male character (Kolhatkar, Sheelah). Not only do women lack representation in
games, but of those 15% of games that involve playable female characters, most of

them only received 50% of the marketing budget that their male counterparts received
(Kolhatkar, Sheelah).

The problem with females having less representation in video games is that it
starts to skew the player’s perception of them. There are good examples of women in
video games, like Samus Aran of Metroid and FemShep of Mass Effect, but they start to
be overshadowed by their helpless and ditzy counterparts like Princess Peach from
Super Mario and Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw (Gittleson, Kim). In many games, the
only women you see are the stereotypical blondes that seem to know absolutely nothing
and appear to only own extremely suggestive clothing (Gittleson, Kim). With so many
characters like this, you start to find yourself being surprised when you see a genuine
representation of women in video games. This should never be the case.

I already touched on the fact that many female characters in videogames seem
to be helpless or damsels in distress, but it is a serious and very common theme in a lot
of games. Take Princess Peach from Super Mario for example. In almost every main
series Mario game, and even some spin off games, Princess Peach gets captured by
Bowser and Mario has to come and rescue her. Princess Peach is always helpless and
unable to get herself out of these situations and she is also apparently unable to keep
herself out of trouble (Gittleson, Kim). Peach is not even the only one though, take
Princess Zelda for example. She actually is captured in every Legend of Zelda game,
despite her expressed proficiency with magic. No amount of magical prowess is enough
to keep herself safe from Ganon’s evil agenda, though, and she always has to have

Link stop Ganon for her and save Hyrule. Video games want to prove time and time
again that women are weak and helpless without their male counterpart.

It is bad enough to immediately make a character in a video game over
sexualized and weak, but when you take a strong preexisting female protagonist and
make them into the undesirable mess that other games portray women as, its a tragedy.
Samus Aran in Other M is a prime example for what I am trying to say. While Samus
started off a little questionable with the whole “bikini Samus ending screen as a reward
for completing the game fast enough” situation, but she was overall a solid character
that was praised as a beacon of light for women in video games (Alexander, Leigh).
That quickly changed when Other M came out and turned her into a bodacious, blue
spandex wearing, wimp who literally breaks down and cries at the sight of danger.

Video games have also been known to heavily objectify women. Since they were
first created, women have been a goal for the player to achieve in many video games.
Think back to when Donkey Kong was popular. The whole purpose of the game was to
scale this seemingly endless construction area while leaping over barrels and dodging
mobile fires to save the girl at the top. If getting the girl is not the explicit goal, several
games just throw them in as an “added bonus” (Romano, Aja). Win a racing game and
expect more than a trophy? Just toss in a few bikini models handing you the trophy and
boom, you have yourself a “proper” ending. Granted, most of the misrepresentations of
women in sports games stem from real world objectification of women, but it is
something that the developers could have easily kept out of the game.

As I mentioned earlier, video games often depict women in extremely suggestive
attire and even more suggestive behaviors. Just look at any Grand Theft Auto video
game cover and you can see the sexism bleeding out of it (Romano, Aja). Some video
games start of muddy the water a little bit when making some female characters,
because they will make a powerful women who as strong, if not stronger than their male
counterpart, but give them this hyper unrealistic body type and adorn them with maybe
three pieces of cloth to cover a very minute about of skin (Romano, Aja). If you look at
almost any fighting game like Street Fighter or Soulcalibur, you will see just that. Both
games are only getting more and more sexualized with every new installment,
Soulcalibur being the worst of the two in my opinion. They take these female characters
that would be just as fun to play as if they were wearing actual clothing, and strip them
of their dignity and clothing for the most point. Video games basically say that women
can be our equals, as long as they stay sexy while doing it.

The signs are everywhere. From seemingly harmless mobile phone games, to
Xbox, to several thousand dollar gaming computers, video games relentlessly target
women as a means of shallow entertainment. They objectify women to make a quick
dollar and do not even consider the impacts it has on the player’s impression of women.
The reason why sexism is such a problem in video games is because there is not equal
representation of both genders, women are portrayed as weak and helpless, and
because females are often objectified. All of this could be avoided if developers would
just start being more fair with women and stopped trying to appeal to only men.

Work Cited
Kolhatkar, Sheelah. "Anita Sarkeesian Battles Sexism in Games, Gamergate
Harassment." Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Gittleson, Kim. "Is the Video Game Industry Sexist?" BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 11
Feb. 2015.

Alexander, Leigh. "Everybody Is Losing in the Culture War Over Video Games." Time.
Time, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Romano, Aja. "How Sexist Video Game Animators Keep failing Women." The Daily Dot.
N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.