I have to confess to one thing I dislike about my favorite hobby: video game girls.
Luckily my genre is more kid-friendly in terms of saving a well-covered Princess Peach from peril or engaging in a battle to save Final Fantasy VII’s Midgar. I’ve never been one to play massive amounts of Dead or Alive or Soul Caliber for one big reason: the skimpy, annoying and gravity defying women in these games. It plays to the image that gaming is only for guys wanting to indulge in virtual portrayals of unrealistic women whose only job is to serve as eye-candy and as an unhealthy promotion of unrealistic proportions.
How did I get to this topic? Well, a few weeks ago I had an interview with Kristine Harrison, a professor at the University of Michigan, who completed a study examining the ramifications of female bodies in video games. She mainly looked at the thinness of these characters compared to normal, real women. The study found that in all areas (except head size) video game women were smaller than average woman which I believe in all but one area.
In video games women are more sexualized and scantily clothed than their male counterparts. In addition, most games feature a male lead battling unimaginable forces to save the day. The constant damsel in distress disorder plagues most if not all video games in past generations. There have been infrequent attempts to create a game centered on a female protagonist without it being an adult rated game. Samus Aran in Metroid and Beyond Good & Evil are two that come to mind, both given critical acclaim although not as commercially successful as say Call of Duty or Madden.
Many of you may cry out and say “What about Tomb Raider? She’s a successful video game character and female lead!” But my point is for female leads who don’t have cartoonist proportions like Jessica Rabbit from the noir film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
However, with the recent redesign of Lara Croft I have to reconsider. This new model gives me hope that we can not only rejuvenate a time-honored video game but also redefine what makes a woman strong and popular in today’s society. Too often we are subjected to unrealistic models in magazines, advertisements and television that send us into a spiral of self-doubt and anxiety and I don’t want this invading and taking over my last level of sanity: video games.
What do you think of Lara’s makeover? What are some of your favorite video game gals?