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Gender in Video Games

JoonJoon Registered User
edited May 2007 in Games and Technology
For a research project at my school, I'll be looking into gender in video games. My professor has suggested that I look at a couple of games specifically. I'll be looking for how men and women are portrayed, what the differences are, what this conveys to the players, and other such things. I can elaborate if need be but you get the idea. Anyway, I would like to ask G&T which games would make for interesting research.

I've already been told to look at Beyond Good and Evil.

Another idea is to take games with boy and girl versions, see what changes are made. Such as one of the Harvest Moon games and its respective "For Girls" version.

So, what do you think? Know of any games that have something interesting to say about gender, the norms for men and women?

Joon on
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Posts

  • DeusfauxDeusfaux Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    an MMORPG for sure like WoW... in game gender and the gender of the player behind the character

  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    For shits and giggles, log into CSS with a name klike xXxSexxyLisaxXx. That'll be all the research you need

  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Deusfaux wrote: »
    an MMORPG for sure like WoW... in game gender and the gender of the player behind the character

    You could do a lot of paragraphs on how armor magically becomes skimpy on women.

  • _J__J_ Festive Pedant Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Joon wrote: »
    So, what do you think? Know of any games that have something interesting to say about gender, the norms for men and women?

    Check our Leisure Suit Larry.

  • XagarathXagarath Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Baldur's Gate 2 should definitely get a mention.

    For entirely the opposite effect, examine Mario or Ico.

  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo FF69B4 Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    In MMORPGs, it seems that girls are expected to play more supportive roles than males. Healers, buffers, and so forth. The stereotype goes further to suggest that females who do not go down the role of support will be attracted towards magic. They will shy away from melee and, to an extent, ranged weapon classes. Girls like magic and they specifically like the supportive kind.

    This is not a rule, but the general stereotype. Though, I admit that in WoW I've met a lot more females that play healers or mages than anything else.

    I should mention that males are generally not restricted to any class. However, most are expected to stick to their gender, whereas females can play male characters (presumably so they can avoid harassment).

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  • IShallRiseAgainIShallRiseAgain Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Maybe, you should turn this into a discussion about gender in a videogames instead of saying lets do my homework, because a) its not allowed, and b) I could see it as a decent thread.

    One thing I seem to notice is that female characters in videogames tend to be more oriented towards stealth and magic then combat prowess.

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  • SpeakeasySpeakeasy Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Samus Aran, anyone? A fully capable woman who works alone, and does things that some heroes can only dream of.

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  • 12gauge12gauge Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    There are Harvest Moon versions with male/female leads.

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  • thunderclumpthunderclump Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Speakeasy wrote: »
    Samus Aran, anyone? A fully capable woman who works alone, and does things that some heroes can only dream of.

    And notable for this because of how exceptional it is.

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  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Planescape: Torment has a good number of female character you interact with or have in your party. A number of them are in somewhat archetypical roles (the scrappy female with a tomboyish demeanor, the quiet supporting caregiver, the enigmatic crone, etc.) but all are well written.

    Plus the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts is something unique that you don't see in other games. Again, the females in it are pretty familiar roles yet it's interesting to observe them in conversation instead of merely as male fantasies.

    Big Dookie wrote: »
    I found that tilting it doesn't work very well, and once I started jerking it, I got much better results.

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  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Speakeasy wrote: »
    Samus Aran, anyone? A fully capable woman who works alone, and does things that some heroes can only dream of.

    And then at the end she strips for the presumably male player.

    Kind of a mixed message.

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  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Speakeasy wrote: »
    Samus Aran, anyone? A fully capable woman who works alone, and does things that some heroes can only dream of.

    And then at the end she strips for the presumably male player.

    Kind of a mixed message.

    Depends how you look at it. While outwardly not pandering to male audiences the way a damsel in distress does, confident and capable women are a staple of some male fantasies. For example, there's often an athletic and sometimes tomboy female character in harem anime.

    Big Dookie wrote: »
    I found that tilting it doesn't work very well, and once I started jerking it, I got much better results.

    Steam Profile
    3DS: 3454-0268-5595 Battle.net: SteelAngel#1772
  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo FF69B4 Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    Kerrigan is Queen Bitch of the Universe.

    Though...probably not a good role model for girls.

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  • WybornWyborn GET EQUIPPED Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Look into Knights of the Old Republic 2: the Sith Lords. Male and female lead, just to see the effects that you have on members of the opposite and the same sex.

    Also Kreia, because she's probably the most outstanding female character in videogames.

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    3DS code: 2406-5129-4317 | NNID: CamandMonica
  • firekiunfirekiun Registered User
    edited May 2007
    One things I noticed, 90% of Japanese publisher think they unless they put a female on the front cover, their game won't sell.

    American publisher is going more and more toward this attitude too, it won't be long till we have a cheerleader instead of football player in the madden box art. O.o

    Also,
    In Eastern culture, it is more acceptable to play as a female character in a MMORPG as a guy.

    PSN ID : Kiunch

    I play Blazblue, Soul Calibur 4, Street Fighter 4 and soon Tekken 6... yeah... so add me if you want to play any of those.
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Deus Ex Invisible War lets you choose your gender at the start. The dialog changes to match your gender so maybe you could compare the subtle ways the scripts change between male and female characters. The female character gets hit on by an NPC while the male character doesn't, etc.

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  • XagarathXagarath Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Fallout 2 gives female characters a distinct advantage provided that the player has no scruples whatsoever.

  • ReynoldsReynolds Sting, Sting, Sting Venice Beach, CARegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I was thinking the same thing for KOTOR or Jade Empire. Where you can be male or female and make conversation choices, as well as wind up in a relationship with half the characters.

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  • Joe Camacho MKIIJoe Camacho MKII Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Speakeasy wrote: »
    Samus Aran, anyone? A fully capable woman who works alone, and does things that some heroes can only dream of.

    And then at the end she strips for the presumably male player.

    Kind of a mixed message.


    Also, I have two cousins who like videogames, and they refuse or rather like, feel unconfortable playing Metroid now that they know she is a girl.

    They are both old, and managed to play the nintendo metroid one without any problems, but they refuse to play the prime games.

    steam_sig.png I edit my posts a lot.
  • EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    Yeah, Fallout 2. I remember mainly choosing female characters and picking the Sex Appeal perk, so that my CHA would be boosted when talking to male characters. Which were most of the important characters in the game.

    Also, have any of you played Tony Hawk's Underground with a female character? They didn't bother to change some of the dialogue, so when you're having a party to celebrate your newfound sucess in-game, the party is a bust because it is a total "sausage fest". During a cutscene, one of the other characters asks "You like girls, right?", and the player, male or female answers "Uhh... yeah".

  • LBD_NytetraynLBD_Nytetrayn TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Don't forget Mega Man ZX, where the only real difference besides some dialogue is that Aile is faster on her knees.

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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Deus Ex Invisible War lets you choose your gender at the start. The dialog changes to match your gender so maybe you could compare the subtle ways the scripts change between male and female characters. The female character gets hit on by an NPC while the male character doesn't, etc.

    The first game did this too (although I don't think you get hit on at any point). Also Vampire: Bloodlines.

    It seems that RPGs, or games with distinct RPG elements let you do this more than, say, FPS or Action games.

  • scootchscootch Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Speakeasy wrote: »
    Samus Aran, anyone? A fully capable woman who works alone, and does things that some heroes can only dream of.

    And then at the end she strips for the presumably male player.

    Kind of a mixed message.

    Depends how you look at it. While outwardly not pandering to male audiences the way a damsel in distress does, confident and capable women are a staple of some male fantasies. For example, there's often an athletic and sometimes tomboy female character in harem anime.


    I always thought it was just a shout out to the ending of alien.

    TF2 stats
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  • edited May 2007
  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Rorus Raz wrote: »
    Kerrigan is Queen Bitch of the Universe.

    Though...probably not a good role model for girls.

    Oooh, now there's a good example of a woman scorned. Quite like a Sci-Fi Medea.

    Taking traditional literary representations of women and seeing which female game character match could be an interesting topic. A lot of the female characters from my favorite games have a high correlation with literary archetypes.

    For an example of a game that doesn't follow that route as much, Fallout 2 has two of its cities governed by females with very different viewpoints about things. Tandy generally seems like a kind-hearted, elderly, matronly figure but is realistic enough to know when to look for someone good with a weapon for a mission and is quick to offer such a job to a player that beats up her son in a bar fight. Lynnette is queen bitch of Vault City, growing up in an isolationist community and supportive of slavery (which is especially twisted when you consider that she's an African-American woman).

    In addition to various hookers and caretakers of either people or a community, there's Lara and her small gang, Ms. Wright and Ms. Buckner and their ignorant views of what they consider uncivilized savages, Marge and her mining company, a number of mutant haters in Broken Hills, and a good number of female Enclave soldiers in Fallout 2 in non-traditionally female roles. Fallout 1 has a fair number as well, just not as many since it's a smaller game.

    Big Dookie wrote: »
    I found that tilting it doesn't work very well, and once I started jerking it, I got much better results.

    Steam Profile
    3DS: 3454-0268-5595 Battle.net: SteelAngel#1772
  • RidleySariaRidleySaria Mighty No. 6978 AnaheimRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Princess Peach, the original damsel in distress, is an anomaly. At times she's ditzy, helpless and in need of rescuing, but at other times she's remarkably capable, clever and perfectly willing to get dirty with the guys. Perhaps she represents man's desire to have a woman that needs help (to make him feel more manly and in control) but who isn't a drag and can be fun to hang out with.

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    3DS Friend Code: 2664-2118-8366
    PSN & Wii U: RidleySaria
  • WybornWyborn GET EQUIPPED Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I'm so serious, guys.

    All he really needs to look at is Kreia.

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    3DS code: 2406-5129-4317 | NNID: CamandMonica
  • WallyWally Registered User
    edited May 2007
  • RemingtonRemington Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Back when Splinter Cell mutliplayer was relatively popular, my friend and I could never get anyone to join the server (by default the server would use your name as the room name). As an experiment I decided to make an account named StealthyChick69 and create a server with the same name...

    Wasnt too hard to fill our rooms up after that.

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  • edited May 2007
    Lots of games, not just MMOs further evidence the "woman as support" role.

    Example: Halo + Cortana. Cortana doesn't actually fight, she just gives you support and guidance. Also, isn't there some sort of female VO advisor in Gears, too? I can't think of any others like this at the moment, but I know there are more.

    Edit: Starcraft! Kerrigan is badass, but the only female (regular) units are the medics and dropship pilots. Support roles both.

  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Aemilius wrote: »
    Edit: Starcraft! Kerrigan is badass, but the only female (regular) units are the medics and dropship pilots. Support roles both.

    To be fair, I think the real reason the dropship pilots were female was a nod to the pilot in Aliens being female. I mean, the SC pilot mimics one of the Aliens Warrent Officer's lines IIRC.

    Big Dookie wrote: »
    I found that tilting it doesn't work very well, and once I started jerking it, I got much better results.

    Steam Profile
    3DS: 3454-0268-5595 Battle.net: SteelAngel#1772
  • EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    In Starcraft's defense, the dropship pilot is a reference to Aliens.

    edit: damn

    edit 2: In the pipe, five by five.

  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Didn't get female characters in Shadowbane more spirit/wisdom/whatever while the males got more strength/stamina?

    I would like to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis.
    Spoiler:
  • RohanRohan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
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    Two of my favourite women in gaming. Elaine Marley is also great.

    ...and I thought of how all those people died, and what a good death that is. That nobody can blame you for it, because everyone else died along with you, and it is the fault of none, save those who did the killing.

    Nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    Joon wrote: »
    For a research project at my school, I'll be looking into gender in video games. My professor has suggested that I look at a couple of games specifically. I'll be looking for how men and women are portrayed, what the differences are, what this conveys to the players, and other such things. I can elaborate if need be but you get the idea. Anyway, I would like to ask G&T which games would make for interesting research.

    I've already been told to look at Beyond Good and Evil.

    Another idea is to take games with boy and girl versions, see what changes are made. Such as one of the Harvest Moon games and its respective "For Girls" version.

    So, what do you think? Know of any games that have something interesting to say about gender, the norms for men and women?

    The medium actually shows a huge amount of variation in how genders are portrayed. Alyx from Half Life 2 was pretty good, not a lot of games you find female genius engineers. Super Princess Peach is totally fucking worth a mention for deliberately and completely inverting the usual conventions of Mario/Princess interaction. In most Final Fantasy games (excepting X and X-2), in contrast, the only major plot-related role held by women is "hero's love-interest". Like, that's all Tifa and Aeris do in FF7, for example, while Yuffie just ends up not being important to the overall plot (missable character).

    You'll be hard pressed to find less-than-pretty main characters in any great numbers, but that's true of both genders. Both genders are frequently (though not always) impossibly proportioned, particularly in games that are aiming for a "realistic" art-style. The hypothesis that always gets thrown around pertaining to this is that no one wants to play an ugly character, of either gender. There are exceptions (UT2k4 off the top of my head) and the Todd MacFarlane type "beautifully-ugly" sort of characters (almost always male), but that hypothesis might be worth exploring.

    In fighting games the standard approach to portrayal of women is "they're small and fast". See Taki, Mai Shiranui, Chun-Li, Sonya Blade, etc. Rarely will you find a female powerhouse-character, which on one hand makes some sense (the average woman would have an even harder time swinging Siegfried's Requiem than the average man, skeletal/muscular architecture is the one real inherent difference between men and women) but on the other hand makes no sense (I'm sorry, no real human-being could swing Requiem like that, male or female, and yeah when was the last time you saw someone throw down hadoken in a bar-fight?).

    Honestly, I need you to narrow this shit down for me to give better input.

    DAMM
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers
  • NarianNarian Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Beyond Good and Evil's Jade?

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  • CokomonCokomon Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Aemilius wrote: »
    Lots of games, not just MMOs further evidence the "woman as support" role.

    Example: Halo + Cortana. Cortana doesn't actually fight, she just gives you support and guidance. Also, isn't there some sort of female VO advisor in Gears, too? I can't think of any others like this at the moment, but I know there are more.

    Edit: Starcraft! Kerrigan is badass, but the only female (regular) units are the medics and dropship pilots. Support roles both.

    Valkyries. The anti-aircraft ships were piloted by women.

    Also, the Locust leader in Gears is woman (at least from the voice that you hear in multiplayer/in cutscenes).

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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I think I made a thread about this a while back wherin my basic premise was that there really very few girls in video games, just guys in dresses. And this really covers most games out there. Even beyond good and evil, I don't think would be any different if Jade was a guy or a girl

    Anyways, interesting games I'd go for
    Half-Life 2 and perhaps more particularly Episode 1. It's very blatant that you're supposed to feel attracted to Alyx and she's kinda into you. At the same time it's very clear that you and Barney are good buddies. It's a definite guy thing going on here

    Dreamfall. Zoe Costille has an ex-boyf and gets romantically entangled with someone during the game. It's really one of the very few games (although, now I mention it, I bet people come up with a half dozen others now) where that happens when you're playing a girl character. Typically they tend to be very independent.

    Max Payne 2. Because you play both the male and the female roles here in a love story. Is there essentially any difference between Mona and Max? Could they have swapped the characters over without making any changes?

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