How feminism influenced the gaming industry

Jan 09 2019 6 min read

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The first thing I would like to note is that in this article we don’t want to hurt the feelings of girls and women who are close to the philosophy of the modern trend of feminism in any way. We recognize that there are people who can’t share our point of view and also the point of view of feminists. We’re open-minded to everybody’s opinion, so please take this article as a description of the history and the current situation, and not incitement of any kind of disputes or insults.

For reference (as described on Wikipedia): feminism is a range of ideologies, political and social movements aimed at achieving equality of political, economic, personal and social rights for women or overcoming sexism. 

Women have fought for their rights since ancient times, and in the last couple of decades, the issue of feminism has become a sharp blade on which it is dangerous to walk. Any game developer or publisher tries to bypass all sharp corners to satisfy the needs of each player and not attract criticism. However, the games are created not only by their creators but also by the gaming community. This is especially true for multiplayer games. We will return to this part of the question at the end of the article.

The struggle of women for equal conditions leads to the fact that you and we often see women in the management and development of the gaming industry. “The boys and their toys” - isn’t real anymore. There are a lot of smart women who play any type of games, participate in esports tournaments and develop games. Bonnie Ross (the vice president of 343 Industries), Jennifer Hale (voice actress of many games), Corrinne Yu (game programmer), Brenda Romero (video game designer), Amy Hennig (Video game writer, video game director), Lucy Bradshaw (game developer) and many other women, we will not name them all - it is worthy of a separate article. And in our opinion, everything is as it should be. There must be the point of view of both sexes in the gaming industry.

Let us examine a few examples of how the point of view of feminists literally contributes to the change of games. Previously, in games, for instance, in the genre of the first person shooter, you could only choose a male character. Brutality, strength, power - all that stuff. Now we can see there are female characters who bring a variety of variability in such games as Rainbow Six: Siege, Battlefield 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (and many others, yes, we won’t list all the titles). There are many more examples from the new games, where female characters are increasingly appearing as warriors and strong not only in spirit but also in their body. Far Cry New Dawn, expected this year, is the brightest example of the influence of feminism on the gaming industry. It’s your right to disagree with that, but face the truth: there were no female main characters in Far Cry series till this part.  

However, there are still examples of content in games that are sharply criticized by feminists for overly exposed parts of the body or an emphasis on the beauty of a woman’s face. Here I would like to cite the example of Mass Effect: Andromeda, in which the original trailers showed us the prettier face of the character. As a result, we get more rough, a bit strange features. You can write it off to a total downgrade of the whole game. This aspect has already been discussed by many fans of the Mass Effect game series. But the issue of feminism can account for that. 

Another example is when developers try to join the discussion of sensitive issues and insert episodes into games that have little effect on the plot but involve the audience in discussing the point of the struggle for women's rights. And here I must warn you about small spoilers for those who haven’t played Red Dead Redemption 2 yet. I’m talking about an episode with a protest of women for the right to vote. These historical events could actually take place at that time. But they didn’t have much influence on the plot and this episode could be easily cut out, because there were so many moments in the plot that reflect the life and reality of that time.

We cannot ignore the question of the attitude towards girls and women playing multiplayer games. Not so long ago, the web roared about the harassment of the Overwatch player under the name Ellie (the first female player to join a pro team in Overwatch’s Contenders League). The girls and women playing games will understand me now: we often had to hear that computer games are not a female occupation, girls play terribly and in general, “go to the kitchen, woman, you should cook dinner.” The level of aggression has decreased in recent years, thanks to the feminist movement, companies have begun to pay attention to such episodes of aggression and block particularly harmful players. But the problems still exist. There are esports teams that consist only of the girls, and they play very well in their disciplines, but how often do you see them in major competitions?

The recent scandal with the account under the female nickname Ellie and the alleged girl with a high rating playing under this nickname (spoiler, the girl didn’t exist) reveals the attitude of the community to girls gamers. There were several articles on essential gaming websites and many comments in support of the female players. The news was fake. This doesn’t make the players or the team better behind the society. They only laughed at the real state of affairs in the gaming community with their experiment. Cases of real harassment are still taking place.

We will not raise the issue of excessive sexuality of game characters or the presence of sexual connotations in many games - the topic is pervasive, and we can go into many hours of philosophical conversations. We only give you an idea of the real state of affairs in the gaming industry today. Feminism does its job: developers listen to what excites female players and want to please everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This leads to the frequent appearance of stronger female characters in games and control of aggression by gender in multiplayer games.

Our point of view is the following: it makes a positive impact on the gaming industry because more and more female players and women who are directly involved in the production of games have the opportunity to show themselves as professional in this industry.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on this in the comments.


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