The Grater Good: Sexism

video game boobs

Here at Pixel Grater we do a lot of silly satire. It’s fun, it reminds us the world isn’t so bleak, but it also keeps us out of the loop of actual gaming commentary. So the new years resolution this year is to every so often weigh in on an issue with a sense of genuine analysis, but also a sense of fun. Welcome to The Grater Good.

So, boobs. I kid! But I also don’t. This year saw a huge rise in the accusations of sexism in gaming, from the sexualisation of the killer nun assassins from Hitman (a group with very little voice in gaming) to #1reasonwhy leading to a whole heap of troubling stories from female game developers, this was a year for the ladies! … to reveal why gaming is still a very male dominant hobby. It’s hardly surprising to be honest; gaming, like most things that you see on a TV screen, hasn’t really been at the forefront of feminism. And why would it bother? With gaming mascots like Lara Croft built on the shoulders of mammary glands surely it’s actually in gaming’s interest to keep its sexist views out in the front and open. I recall one of the most anticipated games of last year being Duke Nukem Forever, a game that is basically a misogyny simulator. It broke a million despite the fact it was universally panned and shown to be one of the most hateful little games ever to have not been properly finished.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a good thing; I’m as feminist as the next person (See! Person! Not man! I’m awesome at feminism.) But it’s hard to deny that sexism sells and you’re buying. Not that it’s entirely the consumer’s fault, there’s very little a gamer can do if the next big blockbuster they’re busting at the blocks to play has got some sexist undertones. It’d be stupid to expect them not to buy it, after all how many of you have seen Dumbo? I’ll tell you, fucking millions of you, and that film is racist as hell. There’s literally a Jim Crow, how can you not… you know what, going off topic.

The fact is the idea the consumer can “vote with their wallet” is pure bunkum, because you don’t buy parts of a game, you buy the whole package. A gamer can’t go into a shop and say “I’d like to buy the humour of Borderlands 2 please and staple that to Halo 4’s gameplay if you would. Lovely.” So people buy things perceived to be sexist not because they actually actively like sexism but because they like the game, and the sexism is just a part they either don’t like or ignore. For example I’m a huge fan of The Darkness 2 for its surprisingly deep combat, but the excessive titty waggling I can do without to be honest. I’m still stuck with the whole package though, and all I can do if I want to play the game is sigh heavily when the strip club bit comes on.

I must admit actually I think one of the bigger issues here is that this feminist backlash, deserved though it is, may be attacking the wrong targets. I saw a lot of people bringing up Lollipop Chainsaw as an argument for sexism in games but that may be missing the point of that particular piece of puerile satire. I’d love to go into detail as to why, but it’s far easier to point to the article by Jim Sterling and be done with it. Yeah that’s right, we plugged an article for another site. That’s because we care. Or I’m lazy, one of the two.

So in conclusion, sexism – No.

About Lewis Dunn

Lewis got into gaming as a child, when he was handed the portable version of crack cocaine, known colloquially as Tetris. He would spend hours trying to make blocks form lines so they would disappear never to return. At the age of 8 he had his first existential crisis as to what happens to blocks that disappear. Lewis has a deep love of humour in games, with some of his favourites being No More Heroes, Brutal Legend & Portal. Lewis enjoys writing bios in the third person.