Video Game Misrepresentations 

Nina Huntemann's documentary Game Over: Gender, Race and Violence in Video Games is, as the name suggests, a look at the problematic representations of race and sexuality within violent video games. By now, most of us have heard these issues before. In such an imperfect world as the one we live in, almost nothing escapes the critique and finger pointing of a culture looking for someone (or something) to blame for its flaws. ("Surely the Columbine shooters must have played video games and listened to death metal", etc, etc.) But, as was pointed out by a few individuals in the film, video games and the technology they spawn from are not inherently evil. So have they become increasingly gory and violent because somewhere down the line that's what the consumers, in this case usually young men, have asked for? An escapist, fantasy world in which they are aggressive, hypermasculin beings who have total control over their environment, including the women who inhabit it? Perhaps.

Now I don't mean to be a stick-in-the-mud and I'm certainly not saying we should burn every game in sight (heck, they're kind of fun). But I do think that the producers of these games have a responsibility to move away from their representations of women as mere sexual objects and towards a more fair and accurate portrayal of empowered females. And I'm not talking about Lara Croft, either. That's hardly an improvement.

However, what I found even more offensive than the representation of women within the video games themselves, since those are obviously not real , was the objectification of women in the video game ads. Girls tied to beds and standing around in bikinis? Give me a break. Talk about alienating any female gamers who might have been interested in the game otherwise. Apparently 35% of video game players are now women and I'm sure that number would be a lot higher if their were some strong, independent and healthily proportioned female characters out there.

But what I find most frustrating is that, during our discussion after the film, while most of the girls in class said they didn't agree with the gender stereotypes being presented in the video games in question, no one was particularly outraged or even all that offended. We've gotten so used to it that it just seems normal. We're comfortable with our place in society and don't feel oppressed or objectified in real life, so we've given up on fighting for the same equality within media representation. But why should we have one standard for reality and another, more lenient one for representations? If a young boy is playing x number of video games a day in which all he sees are scantily clad women, then seeing similar images in ads around the city and on tv and in mainstream films and just about anywhere you look, isn't that eventually going to ad up and affect his views of women in real life? I would think so. As one man said in the documentary, there is no clearly defined switch from reality to fiction and I would tend to agree.

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