Dear Game Developers, Can We Chat About Breasts and Armor?

Dear Game Developers,

Look, I know that it’s not a new complaint, but perhaps that’s the whole point.  There have been years and years for you to learn that stupid illogical depictions of women in a game is a problem and do something to improve it.  So get on that already.

Maybe you need me to be specific to understand what I’m talking about.  Here is a common problem I encounter: Let’s say I have one set of armor I’ve picked up that most of my party can equip.  When I put it on any of the male characters, it could be spiky, or curvy or have funny tribal symbols, but chances are, it will be recognizable as armor that could protect the body from damage.  But then I go and put it on any female character, and it’s some sort of ridiculous tit-exposing monstrosity that leaves clear damage prone areas in favor of cleavage and jiggle physics.  And that’s really not cool.

First, it truly breaks immersion in a game if you’re going along and suddenly think: hey, that’s total bullshit, that wouldn’t protect her from shit, plus, what’s holding her boobs up?  Is it hope?  I bet it’s hope.  ‘Cause unless this gameworld has plastic surgery, natural breasts that size would sit totally differently if 2/3 of them were uncovered.  And wait, why is she just wearing little panties under metal chaps?  That can’t be very effective.  But for another thing, it is insulting.

Now you can go ahead and trot out the old defense that you’re just catering to your demographic by putting women in exploitative clothing*, but the fact is, I don’t believe you anymore.  Gaming as a medium has been around for more than my entire lifetime, and when you go to gaming events, look at gaming commentators and survey gamers themselves, you find that there are lots of women there.  We don’t have to be fully 50% of your market for you to start thinking about women as worthy people too, and represent us in your products accordingly.  There are any number of kind, good male gamers out there who are either feminists or feminist allies who don’t like this shit either.  I married one of them.

Gamers and geeks are having families of their own and are exposing them to the awesome comics, games and movies that they loved as children.  We have young children, boys and girls, who are growing up loving gaming, and you are doing yourself and them a disservice by assuming that they and we want to keep buying the same sexist crap you used to justify by having a 99% young male demographic.

If you think that kind of thing is sustainable in the long term, I think you’re behind the times.  And don’t believe that children can’t tell when you’re pulling this kind of sexist crap; look at this wonderful and heartbreaking account of a little girl who was horrified by the recent costume monstrosity for Starfire.

So stop it.  Just stop.

If you need someplace to start looking for ideas of putting women in armor, someone has kindly created a Tumblr that contains any number of ideas for you to draw from.

I look forward to seeing less sexist shit in the future,

Sincerely,

slignot

*It’s unfortunate that I have to explain exactly what makes this sort of thing exploitative, but the sad reality is that I do.  I have nothing against women being sexy, sexual, or erotica/pornography in general.  But there is a key difference that makes one example cool and sexy and the other bad and exploitative, and it all comes down to the source and intent.  When a woman chooses to wear something sexy or watch/be in porn because it’s fun and exciting and expresses something about her, that’s awesome.  When it’s something from the male gaze that’s imposed on her, it becomes sexualization and is something we as a society can do without.  Turns out that women are people too, just like men; who knew?
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