HeartPlus+: Women in Gaming (#GamerGate?)

Games and 8bit, Blogging

Hello again ladies and gentlemen! I’m here to talk to you about something you’ve probably heard about, unless you’ve been living in a pineapple under the sea. What is this you may ask? Equality in games, as well as fixing what we call “gaming journalism.” If you haven’t heard by now, then it’s the perfect time to start. Strap on your thinking caps because things are about to get slightly complicated –– but, ahoy! There are videos in this post!  I swear, you won’t have to read the entire time. Just for quite a bit of it.

#gamergate banner gaming journalism
Can’t we just enjoy our video games?

Let’s get the hard part out of the way first. What is #GamerGate and why in Hylia’s name does it have a hashtag? Well, firstly, you may want to check this out. http://onforb.es/1rOUeBS If you find it to be too long to read, I’ll try to give you all the key points. First, a girlfriend who happens to be a game developer is accused of sexual activities with other people. Second, national outcry on the subject, stating that this was a personal attack on the girlfriend due to it both being posted online, and directed at her exactly. Third, #GamerGate appears as a social hashtag as a reaction to the corrupt games media, which the feud between the girlfriend and boyfriend sparked. Fourth, but certainly not last, 4chan decided to hop in and throw the entire thing into disarray, issue death threats toward females and popular women in games media. The basic result is now a split between gamers and “real gamers” (Males vs. Females), how money and games/game journalism are now corrupt (which they have always been), and the “Us vs. Them” mentality when it comes to these journalists, both male and female.

literal fight against gamergate art
Well, if we can’t enjoy our games we can just put on armor and fight an octopus with head-hands, right?

Now, what else will I add to this growing pile of problems that have created this recipe for disaster? Nothing, actually. Today, I am here to talk to you, and let you know about #GamerGate, as it affects gaming for everyone. This point is beautifully summed up by writer Eric Kain in his Forbes article titled ‘GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games:

 

“#Gamergate isn’t about conspiracies. It isn’t about scandal and corruption. It isn’t about feminists or misogynists. It isn’t about any of these things. It’s about all of them at once.”

 

Along with Eric Kain, I also believe that it’s an event that has grown much worse in scale due to both consumers, and the games media. That and well, maybe the only answer is to “encourage honest debate between people who truly care about video games.”.

Groose, anybody? (Taken from Vinny from Vinesauce's playthough of Tomodachi Life)
Groose, anybody? (Taken from Vinny from Vinesauce’s playthough of Tomodachi Life)

 

But that’s enough about that now- and it’s time to move on to some truly epic and cliché characters in video games. Women in games have a history of being depicted sexually, often portraying characters that include, but aren’t limited to, background pieces, courtesans, strippers, and all other sexualized roles you could possibly think of. It’s thanks to this, and the mostly huge majority of males vs. females in male dominated games which make many guys think that ladies don’t exist on their type of games, and are in fact what they have been pictured to be in games – objects of sex and things to make fun of, often shown by the insults players throw at each other and threats directed against each other on Xbox live, such as calling other players names relating to stereotypical female behavior and tropes found in games.

Yeah, people go pretty far to tell you performed not so close to their expectations.
Yeah, people go pretty far to tell you performed not so close to their expectations.

This doesn’t just apply to real people though, but what the media has perceived as what girls should be in games and what they shouldn’t be. Many games have come out in which pretty much the only strong person is a guy, and the weaker person is the girl, or they sexualize female characters to the point of absurdity. But, this all relates to one of my strong opinions: games need better characters, and way stronger and independent female leads. It’s not just the media’s fault however, but how we, the gaming community, choose to take it, as mentioned earlier. Many ladies in games, both inside and out, are met with constant ridicule, which seems to be the norm in most games and a “rare sight” to guy gamers.

Dodger from PressHeartToContinue. Check her out over at YouTube!
Dodger from PressHeartToContinue. Check her out over at YouTube!

Even though this doesn’t apply to every guy gamer out there, the majority of gamers pretty much think that girls don’t play the same games that guys play. And that is what we need to change –– not just how we tell developers what we don’t like and to be more open minded –– but for ourselves as a community to change, and to commend female game enthusiasts not because that person happens to be a girl –– but because she is a fellow gamer in arms.

More stuff on Dodger, with TotalBiscuit! Check it out. Really. It’s hilarious.

On this subject, speaking further would ruin everything, so as my last message, I say we change both the media and attitudes truly by making gaming as a place for hardcore and casual gamers alike, regardless of gender.

It doesn’t matter what kind of games you play or how you play, who you are, or what gender you may be. You should play things that you like, and have more good quality stuff, and not the cliché demeaning stuff. And it’s fact that you deserve game developers, media, and just entertainment in general to give you things that you enjoy, that aren’t completely stereotypical unless it’s satirical. We’re the people who buy the products, so shouldn’t the things we buy reflect who we are as well? Not just the media, game developers, but us as a gaming community. One example is Sunset Overdrive, a game which basically lets you do what you want, how you want, as a character who you design, in whatever weird or badass fashion you’d like.

We’ve got bills to pay, folks. And we can’t start it without some kickass music. Remember this one? Let’s get back into the grind.

Aside from just that, I’m here to talk about the badass femme fatales in terms of both gameplay and story, and just plain awesome women in gaming. To do this, I will reference my five favorite female leads in gaming. Mind you, when I say leads, I mean to  play as, not look at. But fear not! Games have as many good supporting characters as they do main characters, some of whom are even better than the stars themselves. On a side-note, my favorites come from games that I personally have played, so I may miss a few good ones here or there.

ME3-FemShep-580x379

5. Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 1, 2, 3)

Despite the fact that the Mass Effect series also comes with a male option, and both characters are freely customizable, the choice to play as a female lead surprised me when the very first version came out in November 20, 2007. To make things even better, ”Fem Shep” felt as if she was a complete contrast to male Shepard. Did I mention that this game allowed same-sex romances between both gender leads? Double points.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.47.27 PM4. Faith Connor (Mirror’s Edge 1 & 2)

Next on our list of 2007 releases comes free-running master Faith Connor ––the leading lady in Mirror’s Edge and its upcoming sequel, this runner has the skills of a martial artist and the flight of a butterfly when it comes from jumping from one red box to another surrounded in a city that has a rather large affinity to the color white, as the entire game is composed of buildings that are literally just white with black squares in which I think are windows. One of the best parts of Mirror’s Edge was that fact that you were a swift package runner who ran from the law and could slide and jump from story to story, as well as demolish anything that stood in your way. I, as well as many others look forward to the release of Mirror’s Edge 2, to strap on the familiar red shoes this legendary free-runner bears.

                                           Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.47.40 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.47.47 PM

3. Lilith, Maya, and Gaige the Mechromancer (Borderlands 1 & 2, Borderlands: The Pre Sequel)

Hailing from the Borderlands, better named Pandora, come Lilith, Maya, and Gaige the Mechromancer. Of all the characters I’ve put too many hours into, these three characters were pretty much the most awesome. What made them loveable, was that they were completely overpowered, like the entire cast and crew being filled with crazy skills and special abilities, and hilariously full of life. For example, Gaige the Mechromancer was a high school student who created a robot in which she sacrificed an arm for. When the robot accidentally kills a rival opponent at a school science fair, escapes the cops and has run to dear Pandora in order to shoot things with unparalleled accuracy and insane damage. These three girls may not look like much to you, but they are indeed a force to be reckoned with.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.47.33 PM

2. GLaDOS & Chell (Portal 1 & 2)

Much to my unending hilarious outbreak of laughter after researching the release dates for all of these games, the surprise release of Portal, as part of the collection known as “The Orange Box” from Valve was also released in –– you guessed it –– 2007. So, have some lie-cake! Our silent protagonist and entertaining passive-aggressive antagonist make quite the interesting pair, with the quite freakishly human-like computer , GLaDOS, being marked by IGN as one of the “Greatest Video Game Villains of All Time.” In control of Chell, you play as a test subject whomust run through a series of puzzles provided by GLaDOS, only to develop a weird sort of symbiotic relationship even after killing our favorite evil robot genius and seeing her in the second game. Cheers to one of the creepiest, but one of the most entertaining and likeable villains ever, as well as our silent favorite who pretty much looks like Zoey from Left 4 Dead because all Valve-produced females tend to almost always look like her. Just my opinion. Aside from GLaDOS, obviously.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.48.00 PM


1. Clementine “Clem” (The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 & 2)

From the game (and not the show), Clem, deuteragonist of season one of The Walking Dead, made quite the dramatic change from season one to season two. To be completely honest, this choice for number one was a rather largely split between her and Ellie from The Last of Us. Either way, both characters are both rather young and coincidentally stuck in a zombie apocalypse. However, the strongest thing about Clem are the choices she has to make in order to reach the endgame. In season one of TWD, the player has the choice of the main character, Lee Everett, or leaving him alone to turn into a zombie. In a heart-wrenching twist, we witness a beloved character of ours meet their end either way, and the child we raise is left to make her first steps into the unforgiving zombie apocalypse.

Throughout season two of TWD, you follow Clem as she becomes practically independent, chooses between which lives to save and which to abandon, gets shot, and  experiences a multitude of other horrifyingly depressing choices that I won’t name in order to keep the game interesting for all of you at home.

Who ever said that all female characters in games were bad? In my opinion, games have actually churned out a lot of well conceived and genuinely interesting leading ladies who have proven that time and time again, girls rule and boys most certainly salivate onto their chins and then onto the floor. However, even though we have said female characters, we still need more. Guy dominated shooters like Call of Duty, as well as games like Sunset Overdrive recently have been adding a feature to play as a female –– letting you play not as just a blank sheet that is practically the same as all the others, but as unique and completely badass, but we could always use more. And to be honest, we kinda need good characters, both female and male, to make good games. Let’s make a change, shall we? Thanks for hanging in for the entire post. As always, good luck and have fun!

Words and Pictures by John Paul Apolinar 

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