August 2014 edit: TRIGGER WARNING FOR DISCUSSION, DEPICTION OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
In case you can’t tell from the title, in the latest Tomb Raider installment (and reboot!) the lead female almost gets raped by her captors. This made a shit ton of people mad, and while their intentions were good, the outcome was ultimately…worse.
The game designers explained this rape attempt was to make Croft, who is known for being a gun-toting bad-ass, more “vulnerable” and “human,” perhaps thinking society could finally have a rational discussion about rape. Boy were they mistaken, judging by the online reaction! (Which incidentally led to a detracted statement that could easily be construed as a silencing attempt, almost mirroring the aftermath an actual rape victim would find themselves in.)
The online reaction was the typical knee-jerk foaming-at-the-mouth feminist “oh my god how could they do this to my favorite female hero and literally one of the only few strong female hero’s” arguments. And it was especially nice to see the men wringing their digital hands louder than any one else.
But how often has a video game tackled rape? And have they ever approached the subject in even as remotely delicate of a manner as the latest Tomb Raider?
The answer is a no, again easily answered by the level of outrage.
Mic Wright wrote in the Kernel, “I don’t remember Master Chief ever being anally raped to help us empathise with him more.” Helen Lewis also compared Croft to the male Halo franchise hero in the New Statesman: “Bungie didn’t think that the only way players would root for Master Chief was by having him raped.”
I don’t know how Wright or Lewis can be confused, but in case you dear reader are too, I’d like to take this moment to point out to you that Master Chief is a man, and Lara Croft is a woman.
And not only that, but, RAPE is one of those weird sexual things men have been doing to women since the dawn of time.
The Hebrew Muslim and Christian god condoned and advocated using rape as a weapon of war in the Old Testament, and armies to this day still use it as as demoralizing tool all over the world. Even military contractors and soldiers in modern war zones still rape women, and they even rape women who are not their enemies but their comrades-in-arms.
Recent statistics for rape in the United States put a sexual assault or rape at every two minutes, and 1/6 of the female population in America will be raped, or fight off a rapist in her lifetime. Globally, one in every five women will be raped. But you didn’t come here to read rape statistics, and if you’re bored by all those numbers, sorry. I just thought I had to note them, because I laughed when Kellie Foxx-Gonzales wrote, NOT IRONICALLY, on The Mary Sue:
“The responsibility is wholly upon her to protect herself, it is not upon the scumbag rapists who are trying to hurt her. “
Duh, Kellie. Do you not know how rape happens? Women usually have to protect themselves alone, from the men attacking them. And rapists are generally scumbags. That’s why they’re rapists!
Not to keep picking on Kellie from The Mary Sue, but she went on to say rape shouldn’t be in any video game because she’s “had enough of that in real life.”
Great. So now we can’t talk about rape because it happens too much? I thought one of the biggest problems with rape was that people don’t talk about it enough: the crime doesn’t always get reported, etc. Read the rest of this entry »
I just read this article over on G4tv.com by Kevin Kelly titled “Sex in the City 2: Gaming with the Girls“. I think the article was aiming to be a list of games you can get your girlfriend, who is a Sex in the City fanatic (hence the title). The games listed in the article aren’t half bad, except for the “soulless” Imagine: Fashion Designer, and Kelly wrote the article in an attempt to be humorous but happened to fail miserably. I know I shouldn’t get offended at Kelly’s attempt at humor, but Kelly wrote in exactly the way the gaming industry views women, a view that is insanely offensive considering we now make up more than 40% of the gaming population.
Any female I know that happens to like Sex in the City already plays video games. What video games do they play? At least some sort of web- based puzzle game when they are at work, and another normal game on their Wii, Xbox, DS or PC. The rest of the women I know that like Sex in the City are 40 and above, and are already playing some Bejeweled-type game online, which is, surprise, also A PUZZLE GAME.
Last Friday saw the unveiling of Nintendo’s newest game for the Wii console titled “Project Runway”. The game is a collaborative effort between Nintendo, Atari, The Weinstein Co (producers of the Project Runway TV show) and Tornado Studios. I don’t know whether to be insulted by this development, or pleased, as this game is clearly just for the girls. It doesn’t help when other media outlets say “This could be the future of gaming for women“. A fashion game based off of a reality show? Please! 40% of gamers are girls, and we were doing just fine before this game came along. If anything, this game ruins our cred as gamers.
First off, I am a little bit offended that this game is about fashion considering this will be “the future of gaming for women”. This game is clearly trying to get new girl gamers, and ignoring the already established gals that game. If any gaming company were to look at the games most popular with females, they would see that we like puzzle games. Just look at the casual gamers that like internet based games like Text Twist, Bejeweled and Mahjong Tiles, to DS games like Professor Layton. Did anyone in the industry stop to think about why the horror shooting games with puzzles (Tomb Raider series, Resident Evil series, Bioshock series) are more popular with girls than those that do not have puzzles?
Second, I am a little offended that this game is being marketed to 6 – 12 year old girls, and that this game is all about fashion and models on runways (Super model Heidi Klum is also in the game). Do we really need to make little girls that play video games feel bad about their weight? Do we need to start giving them body image problems when they are 6 years old (if we don’t already)? It is the 21st century…. why are we still boxing our genders? (Down with the system I say, quietly….)
Third, if I were to be one of those people that would use video games as a scapegoat, I could blame this game, and other games like it, for the vapid consumer society we live in and for the whole American way of living beyond our means. If I could say that shooting games are responsible for all those school shootings, why wouldn’t a game like this be responsible for Confessions of a Shopaholic and our recession?
Fourth: Think about it. The reality TV show “Project Runway” has drama and suspense. Contestants don’t like each other. The judges are cruel. Does this game have any of the qualities that make a reality series good? No.
As for playing this game, of course I will play it (will I buy it? No…). For the record, I love games that let you design costumes or have amazing character customization (and I will admit I spend hours on designing clothes/characters within those games), but for a game that is only about clothes and fashion? It will get boring and repetitive…. just like any ol’ shooting game.