Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Defense of the Hot Videogame Babe

Yesterday I talked about how a game or movie or TV show who are filled with scantily clad women is a sing of a bad game/movie/show. What I mean is that any game or media who ONLY have the scantily clad women going on is a bad sign. But what I want to say now is that the existence of those kind of characters is not a bad thing in itself, and why I think we should never get rid of them.

First, I recognize that games most of the time have a sexist portrayal of women. There are many times damsels in distress, eye candy and/or love interest for the male lead and, when the main character, created with horny teen males in mind. But this is the main problem: those kind of female portraits are the predominant ones. The sensible dressed, independent woman who also have a more common looks are rare. like Jade from Beyond Good and Evil, Elena from Uncharted and such. We have way more DOA girls types than them.

Those types.
Of course, if I am going for a realistic portrayal, I want a female police officer to dress with police uniform, not with leather clothes and a cleavage so big we wonder why she is wearing clothes anyway. I want a soldier to dress as a soldier and a female knight to use the same armor as their male peers. But when I have no compromise with a realistic portrayal, when I am going to the fantasy, the over-the-top or the parody, I think it is all right having those types of female characters.

Part of this opinion I have is about artistic freedom. If the artist wanted to created a beautiful character and use the best way to show it, them I am OK. If he really wanted a hot babe with slut behavior, damn, it is his creation. We don't need to like it or pay for it, but I don't like the idea to hinder the creativity freedom because of political correctness.

Second, as long as those characters are created to live a fantasy, not to be a realistic portrayal, I don't see why we should care. We always fantasize about the ideal women or men, but most of us grown up those fantasies and stop expecting them to come true. As gamers got older, even male gamers start wanting more realistic female portrayals.

But by realistic, I do not mean ugly. We can say all we want about not judging people by its looks (which is a good thing), but human beings prefer to look at a beautiful thing than an ordinary or ugly thing. We are drawn to beautiful things and the marketing department of any game developer knows that. That is why we have a hard time to see any TV show or movie with 'ordinary' people.

Also, when we think of heroes, we kind of expect them to have looks above ordinary. They are supposed to be the paradigm of all that is good in humans, including their appearance. Take Wonder Woman, for example. She is supposed to represent all that is good in women (I am not saying she do this, just that she is supposed to). If she was ugly, or fat, or skinny, she would fail to her purpose. 

She is supposed to be wonderful, you know...
Of course, if those characters can have a great personality to back them up, the better. Being just a plain stereotype or superficial character hurts more than their looks. A woman portrayed as someone stupid, who is always in need to be saved by men but wears casual clothes who covers all her body to me is worst than an independent woman who dresses in bikini armor.

The hot videogame babe exists because players wants to escape reality when playing a game. If a game is a perfect reconstruction of reality, why bother? We have reality all the time. We want to live in a fantasy world for a little and of course this includes fantasy women.

I said many times before that the main problem with the sexism in games is the lack of variety in the portrayal of women, with the sexist portrayal more prevalent than the sensible one. If you are doing a game with the intention of showing a serious story, using the 'bimbo girls' will hurt the story. But if you are doing a game to not be taken serious, just to be fun and over-the-top, than I see no problem, as long as you make something who is really great to play and is not using the hot babes just to attract incautious consumers.

In the end, I think there is a place for those extremely idealize, sometimes impossible girls in games. Getting rid of them will not make games less sexist. But having variety and taking care with how they are portrayed it is what make all the difference.

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