With all the “controversy” surrounding how genders are portrayed in games, the “rhetoric” of the chest versus breast and the “impact” this may have on children later on in their lives, common sense should prevail at some point with someone stating the obvious that this is entertainment we are talking about. However, unlike other passive media such as movies, blurays and television, which, in themselves (for the most part) deliver a similar theology, games are singled out more so due to their interactivity.
This is a good time for some common sense to enter into this debate. The character models we play or are forced to play are not truly representative of the world that we live in. They do not represent the diverse culture that we live in. They do not represent the peoples of the real world. They are constructs of an unreal world, built to provide a way to tell a story and are therefore unreal in themselves. We play these characters because we choose to. There is no obligation for us to play a game that promotes violence against other people. We choose to play a character in a game because it propels us into and through the story, however tenuous that may be, and whether it is male or female, or given a gender choice, we still purchase the right to play.
A number of articles written about this issue have singled out women as being secondary to the male protagonist role or are NPCs or are playable but are portrayed as young, dumb and busty, subjugated into doing their partners bidding. These articles seem to forget that tastes and times have changed. Strong female protagonists such as Lara Croft from the” Tomb Raider” reboot or Ellie from “The Last of Us” are more memorable than those stereotypes from last century and the games industry has embraced this fact. Truth be told, watching breasts bounce is cringe worthy at best and funny at worst. But the Dead or Alive franchise is tailoring to a niche gaming market that would enjoy the physics of the breast. I would not call those “women” dumb by any means either. In reality, it would have been no mean feat to have the kind of discipline to be able to pull off some of those take down manoeuvres.
Gamers have changed, the age bracket being more adult and therefore, the character modelling has matured and depiction of gender has changed too. The games industry has created some compelling stories such as Assassins Creed and if the story of the game is primarily about a male, why is it so different from watching a television series based around an individual? We do not see people up in arms about there never being a female Dr Who and whose assistants have always been mostly young, attractive women, but not having a playable female assassin, that is entirely another issue which raises the feminist heckles to the point of fist pounding at the gaming industry for gender discrimination. I am not saying that gender discrimination in games does not happen. It occurs in all media. It is just not something that I consciously look for in a game.
If given a choice, my preference is to play a class based character and usually gender just doesn’t come into making that choice. If it is a story based game, why not have a male or female protagonist to propel us through. Imagine a female Trevor from GTA 5, the mind just boggles. The gaming industry is certainly more progressive than other media when it comes to gender portrayal and I cannot see this kind of progression stopping. Maybe one day other media may begin to follow suit.