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The following article makes me imagine that it’s the 90’s all over again. Except instead of violence, it’s depictions of fictional women.

Joe Lowe begins by stating that ‘British opposition MPs have called for the U.K. government to follow France’s example and consider measures to clamp down on sexism in videogames.’

Here’s where I have to ask our French overlords – who says you can dictate fiction. Art at its core is subjective. So for all you might think a certain portrayal is sexist. Others may disagree. You can’t objectively claim something is sexist because it doesn’t fit your world view. If everything did fit your view of the world then strong well developed female characters wouldn’t exist. The Oracle comes to mind, considering how some revile The Killing Joke. Yet from that was born a memorable character. There a plenty examples of female characters pushed to their limits, will those instances count towards your judgement on what is or isn’t a negative portrayal.

The article further states how Axelle Lemaire, the French minister of digital affairs, met with senior figures in the country’s videogames industry in order to discuss measures aimed at battling negative portrayals of women. In other words Lemaire wishes to dictate the creator through financial incentives. And rewarding them for positive portrayals of women. But they also want to takes things a step further by labelling games that promote sexism.

Again my French Overlords games don’t actively promote sexism. It’s a drawn conclusion usually made by those who think they know the games industry. I also have to wonder, does this mean you would punish developers who have female Devs on team. Are those women sexist? For deciding the final designs of these characters. Are the men also sexualised? And should that also be addressed? Questions never posed or even answered because that’s the crux of modern games journalism. They speak on behalf of women, they act on behalf of women.That point is proven by the image and caption that seems to unnecessarily criticise cosplaying. Something many women love to do. And continue to do because they love video games.

The most absurd thing is that anything deemed sexist by our overlords will be branded 18. It’s crazy to even contemplate the path we are on right now. Especially from a fictional standpoint.

An Mp for the Labour Party has decided to jump on board with this too. Chi Onwurah, an opposition spokesperson for Culture and the Digital Economy, said to Newsweek:

I think it’s absolutely right that the government should be doing more to promote more women into the gaming industry, and that includes helping to identify when video games don’t have sexist and demeaning representation for women. So I’d like to be working with industry bodies so that we can celebrate the good examples and identify the bad ones.

Again to repeat myself. Who are you to judge what is demeaning or is a poor representation of women. How a character is portrayed should be critiqued but that doesn’t mean you people can just change the characters appearance or personality on a whim and expect the creator to just accept it. They have the freedom to make that decision. If they don’t, then there’s nothing you can do.

Onwurah goes on to say that she is considering sexism as part of the age rating system and is quoted as saying

That is something… I’d be very interested in working with the video standards council and also the gaming authorities to look at, because we consider how offensive films are [and that] impacts their rating, so I think there’s an argument that gender offensiveness should at least be signposted.’

Gender offensiveness. Ah so I could mention as an example when Alma rapes Beckett in Fear: Project Origin. It could be said that is offensive. Therefore, should that be removed? No and here’s why. Because it symbolises what Alma has become, that she manipulated you to this point and that you can’t do a thing to stop it. It’s a symbol of her power over Beckett. As such it’s one of my favourite games for the simple reason, Alma is both a terrifying and fascinating entity capable of tearing a mind apart through psychological terror. She is also a mirror of the gothic monster created by Frankenstein. It’s these things that make her such an iconic antagonist.

But no one ever mentions Beckett or cases of men being put in traumatic positions in video games. I have a feeling that Chi means Gender Offensiveness when it affects women. Such as Ellie perhaps in the Last of Us or Quiet in Metal Gear Solid. Quiet obviously for how she wears very little even though its stated in lore that she breathes through her skin. As for Ellie, shes a fan favourite, well developed and loved by the gaming community. Yet she could be considered a negative portrayal just for the fact she was captured at one point and is in otherwise vulnerable positions. Yet the strength of her character means she can overcome them. My view of these characters though is subjective, as are yours.

Another Labour Mp, Tulip Siddiq stated
in regard to issue the issue of online abuse of women, says:

Sexism in video games is more prevalent than one may initially think. The most famous video game franchise in history, Super Mario Bros., frequently sees a helpless Princess Daisy in need of rescue by Mario and Luigi. Why in the Lara Croft series, focusing on an ostensibly more positive role model, is she still depicted through such sexualized imagery?

You obviously don’t understand Art design, or development processes. Tomb Raider has come a long way since inception, the recent reboot has shown a dedication to character personality as well as making sure she still looks fit and athletic. After all she robs tombs for a living. Will she end up looking sexualised, perhaps. It’s a matter of interpretation. As for the Super Mario comment all I will say is the Princess is actually Peach. And besides she too has a come a long way. When you think of Mario, she comes to mind. When Nintendo release spin offs like Mario Kart, she’s featured. Maybe she was a damsel in the past but with any franchise. Things change.

Tulip further states that: “As examples they might raise a grin, but it should be possible for the videogames industry to embrace women as positive role models without resorting to sexism and stereotypes that we wouldn’t allow to fester in other creative industries.”

Stereotypes are a part of fiction they can be used for anything and limiting their use solves nothing. Women are already positive role models. Why can’t you see that?

“The government can do more to support a culture of equality across the creative industries. The issue of sexism in the videogames industry could be a part of a wider review by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. I take the broad view that laws and regulations must keep pace with technology, and in this case, they are clearly lagging behind.”

Another Orwellian suggestion. It was a book not an instruction manual. Inflicting laws or any kind of regulation onto the games industry will not solve your problems and they would only hinder and suppress the creator. Maybe I read too much into things. But I fear we are on this path where depictions of women will be monitored and scrutinised so heavily these overlords will make characters untouchable. I will oppose whatever law/regulation you try to impose on my creativity.

The article then brings up Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency. I will keep this brief, Sarkeesian can’t be trusted to critique games when she misrepresents games like Hitman. Yes you can kill prostitute but it’s a choice, and killing her is punished. Sarkeesian doesn’t mention this. Her content is scrutinised but she blocks or hides honest criticism. She’s only paraded around because of the established narrative that games need to change.

Like a hammer shattering glass we reach the mandatory ‘muh gamergate drop’. However it is actually a more accurate reflection of the movement instead of the usual lie that we are all sexist, racist alt right monsters. Aka the Bogeyman. It mentions how Gamergate ‘began in 2014 in response to false claims about alleged impropriety between independent game-maker Zoe Quinn and a journalist and how the movement has gathered into a broad coalition of resistance to perceived attempts to introduce social justice “agendas” into games and games journalism.’

The perceived agendas are already in place as evidenced by sites like Polygon and Kotaku, and besides most gamers vote with their wallet. They also aren’t a fan of ideology being pushed down their throat. We don’t want to be preached at. Political commentary is fine when done well just look at the Deus Ex series. But its done best when personal politics are put to one side. Allowing the player to easily immerse themselves in the world.

To conclude, the matter of sexism in games is debatable. And will remain so even despite plenty of women cosplaying or being drawn to so called sexualised characters. In the end like with all art. Interpretation of character is purely subjective. This article throws stones but never quite makes clear the final intention. I just hope these Labour MPs don’t have the power to impose these ‘regulations’ not just on games but on fiction in general.

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