The rise of “PC” gaming

I never used to relish the prospect of buying new underpants.    It’s not that I have either a phobia of underpant shopping or a fetish for going commando, I just harbour very little interest in shopping for pants.  It was just another one of lifes somewhat arbitrary tasks that had to be done.  These days though, the thought of shopping for underpants isn’t such a dull proposal.  See the place where I go to replace my burnt out tighty whities, is now also the place where I can go to checkout the latest game releases.  Computer games are no longer restricted to dedicated home computer shops or specialist magazines.  The rise in popularity of the computer game has seen it pushed right to the forefront of the entertainment market.

Pants…made better by gaming

Having grown up with and been involved with gaming all my life, its become one of my greatest passions.  Watching it transcend from its arcade roots and spearhead its way into the heart of home entertainment fills me with a strange sense of pride.  I still remember the excitement I felt the very first time I saw a TV advert for a computer game and now these days you can’t help but see game advertising at every turn.  Its like the mainstream world is finally starting to understand what I have been banging on about all these years.  Like I can finally stand up and say “I told you so!”

However – with gaming being pushed into the limelight, it seems its also being put under the microscope.  With the popularity and revenue growths have come the media coverage and journalism.  Games and their content are now reviewed, analysed and dissected more than they ever have been in the past.  Some of which, and usually the most disturbing for me, is from outside of the industry.  Individuals with political correctness agendas have started to take an increased interest in the medium.  Recently, feminist issues around both the portrayal and equality of female characters within games have been a point of contention.

Stupid bint has been captured again….

I don’t have an issue with people standing up for what they believe in.  If anything, I respect it.  But when you start trying to apply real life ethical issues, such as feminism, to the virtual reality of gaming, you fall off your high horse at the first hurdle.  In being virtual reality, video games  by their very nature don’t have to adhere to the rules applied to real life.  In fact this simple, fundamental element of video games is probably their biggest draw and something that all gamers are acutely aware of.  We play games to break free of the constraints of real life and propel ourselves into a reality that is different, one that exists on a completely separate plateau to that of actual reality.  To put it another way, they aren’t a real representation of life or are they trying to be. Feminist complaints hold little to no value in this virtual reality.  In this reality I just spent five minutes doing doughnuts over a policeman’s corpse.  I only stopped so I could get out and teabag the bloody remains.  I certainly didn’t stop to weight up the political implications of why it was a policeman and not a policewoman or should that be police person?

Should something soo wrong, feel soo right?

Even if I do stop to give these complaints pause for thought, the outcome is far from sympathetic.  If anything, I find myself becoming hostile.  I don’t have a problem with the issues themselves.  My annoyance around these real life issues being aimed at the games industry is that they don’t even stem from any desire to improve gaming.  They are simply using gaming as a easy stepping-stone to further their own agendas, which is neither big nor clever.  Far from improving gaming, binding game development to political correctness can only serve to restrict creativity and diversity within the industry.

If you’re going to make any changes to games that involve females, don’t do it for the sake of equality, do it for the sake of gaming.  Do it for reasons like “Not having female characters in an Aliens game is stupid, the entire series is based around a female lead character” and not for reasons like “I’ve put a man in this game so I must now put a woman in it as well”.  Gaming has always been about extremes and unfortunately this doesn’t always leave much room for ideals like equality.

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4 Comments

  1. OK, I can now comment, although not with the account that I wanted to. We have had this discussion many times, but firstly I want to put you straight on one thing – Feminism is a political ideology, not an “ethical issue.”

    That being said, you do make valid points about those outside the industry using what goes on in games a means to push their particular agenda. It is like the argument that violent games caused that kid to got all bat shit crazy and shoot his parents – the idea is ridiculous, however I will argue that games can transport a certain type of person to another plane of reality and that that might inherently skew their outlook on what is wrong and right in the real world.

    As for the female issue in gaming. I am sorry, but we are NEVER going to agree on this point. I love playing games. I too have been playing games for a long long time, I am also female and often bemoan the lack of adequate and realistic female representation in gaming. Honestly, I don’t sit there grumbling every time a ridiculously proportioned female appears in the game I am playing, most of the time it just glosses over me, however I do regret the lack of meaningful female characters in a lot of games.

    As you know, I love Mass Effect. When I think about it one of the major reasons I fell in love with that game is that I could create a FemShep. Now, in actual reality there is no difference between the male Shep & the female Shep, the script is the same, however the simple fact that I could play as a female, voiced so brilliantly by Jennifer Hale meant that for once there was a believeable and meaningful female lead character. I fell in love.

    This is where I think we are never going to agree. You are not female, you don’t have any idea what it is to be female, and you really aren’t going to view things from a female perspective. It is the same argument that Xprimental had in the forums about the lack of characters in games that were of mixed race or non-white characters. You are a white male, precisely the target that most games are made for. You won’t see an “issue” because you are not supposed to.

    I guess my point is, I agree that those outside the industry might well be pushing their own agendas, however I do believe that female games with feminist leanings (hello!) do have valid arguments about the representation of females in games, whether it is a fantasy world or not.

    Reply
  2. Cool – I put ethic issue because that is what I would describe it as. It wasn’t intended as some male chauvinistic slight on the term “Feminism” :) I don’t/didn’t know the PC term/definition of feminism. I think ethical issue is still a fair way to describe it? Ethics = the right and wrong behaviour/conduct around that subject. Either way, I think the point remains exactly the same.

    Reply
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