Thursday, June 20, 2013
SHODAN Rejects you, insect - The Female Function in Games
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In the narrative context of video games, where lies the boundary between the substantial portrayal of the female ethos VS the sexist objectification of it? At two main places: in personality portrayal - or, in the complete lack of it - and, in your mind. Both aspects are crucial. The entertainment industry long has realized that the female figure and its inherent symbolic message is the ONE no marketing campaign or movie poster can go non-efficient with, simply because women are the BEST, but it takes men to recognize this.
You're perfect, yes, it's true, but without me, you are only you."
- Faith No More
The following is observable: whether we are talking about female or male protagonist characters in video games, they almost always tend to approximate the average attractive archetype per both genders. Counter-examples are accessible, but those surely represent a mini-minority. You would have a hard time naming a deliberately obnoxious main character in a triple A title. The misplaced and fruitfully antiquated assumption is that the video game woman has a moral obligation to exhibit optimal physical characteristics, whereas the truth is much more uncomfortable: women are autonomous unique individuals and it takes work and commitment to simulate and portray such a being. Read on to know more about it.
In most mainstream instances, the protagonists simply are attractive and charismatic digital people, seeking to conform to what the developers think the collective mind of mainstream awareness holds as an optimal-, "trendy" and desirable cultural image per gender. This intention to serve what is assumed to be desired, is key. And also, it is one with numerous misinterpretations that are about to count their remaining days on the stage. Narrative expectation levels towards character depth and character drama are rising, and the sexist overtone is becoming a laugh, armed with a dismissive hand gesture, AND a bitter of those.
Developers will not want to see YOU doing that towards their product.
Sexism is not something to be proud of beyond 13, simply because it fails to recognize the dignity of the female. Even though nothing turns women on more than showing true curiosity in mapping out their personality and dignity. True enough, for man, the female necessarily is the most optimal and most desirable, - on multiple levels, not just literally - and it is easy to over-emphasize, to exploit the surface characteristics of the female figure in an attempt to appeal to the receptors of the lurking inner sexist the developers assume each male secretly/silently cultivates in the psyche. Ahhah! Do we really really do that, gentlemen? Yes. Then we grow up.
Provided that you show any level of success at the prior, you start to cultivate this tendency as a naturally constrained one from then on, without propagating it as a liability, a creep-tendency on the representatives of the female population you are fortunate enough to encounter. Every wobbly-booby-flash in games, in magazines, in movies is a compliment offered to your creep-tendencies, and here is why: it is evident to be fascinated by the female 24/7 on multiple layers, and it is creepy to voice those inherently private affections at any second of the day. They are your responsibility to control and to get comfortable with, as is to build up the interpersonal connections on which you may have a channel to express those. It is not to say that sexist games should not be available - it is just saying that the exhibition of sexism is becoming a character trait that shapes to be more and more incompatible - as result of being of no consequence - with the ethos of top of the food chain narrative gaming - and that is good news.
What women might need to understand is that succumbing to the trite machinations of sexist manipulation, or needing this type of manipulation is greatly dependent on the quality of the mere consciousness a given male observes such an attempt at manipulation with. As a man, you do not need to sport Buddha consciousness to find redundant sexist overtones in games pathetic and repulsive. Why "redundant?" Because it has nothing else to say, and I already know that I adore boobs, no need to remind me of that. Isn't "repulsive" a strong word? Not at all, because the sexist overtone assumes that this is what you are craving, as a man. This is your worth, your level of related sophistication, this reflects your inner image of the woman. The emergence of redundancy happens whenever a female-centered narrative structure has no other meaning in it/agenda to it than to showcase the anatomical depth-map of the female.
Personality portrayal is of key importance. The most important one, no doubt. Interestingly enough, it makes even more accentuated sexist overtones tolerable, even if their presence is not at all called for. Here is a well defined screenshot of Miranda's butt from Mass Effect 2 that borders on "what the hell this is for, Madame?", and this is not me positioning the camera, mind you, this is a fixed Director's Cut dialog camera, so you will stare at Miranda's ass like there is no tomorrow, regardless of your preferences.
- There is a part of you that NEVER existed.
- Might wanna double check THAT.
Ironically enough, it really is the personality portrayal through which even sexuality may flow through in a more simultaneously rampant/subtle way. For a living example of this, you need to look no further than the doctress of the Mass Effect series, who - minor spoilers ahead - is a stone cold sober realist, and lonely as a derelict spaceship, and embodies absolutely everything about the ethos of the elegant cougar looking for a quickie in the solitude of the infirmary. These percepts - which are personal, by the way - have risen without any sexist overtone offered in the context of the character herself - other than the fact that you can drink with her at a particular point of the game, during which she shares eloquent details both of her professional life and of her more private sentiments. This is BEYOND sexism, and has much more to do with a legitimate interpersonal relationship, of which sex may or may not be a part of.
Sexism has no true weight other than its capacity to cause repulsion with its retardation, because it provokes, exhibits and abuses the Evident, - sex drive - hereby devaluating both its object and its cultivator. Your sex drive is not special. It is the most mundane thing like - EVER, and if you are enticed by any narrative flow which attempts to project your own sex drive as a demonstration of higher value in the context of your very self, then you simply are an immature idiot, who is paying for the developers to make him feel happy and jolly good about being an immature idiot.
The sexist overtone is slowly and surely becoming a "pseudo-narrative" platitude of superficial staleness, even an obstacle, which hinders the end product more than it benefits it as a whole, since the portrayal of digital women whose identity equates with their sculptured silhouettes, has a harshly limited - if any kind of - narrative value contained in it beyond the good looks you can interpret by the mere blink of an eye.
"-So you have swords, wings and tits. Okay, now what?"
"-My point exactly."
What I'm getting at is the contextualized portrayal of sexuality, VS the unsubstantial portrayal of it. The latter, I feel, is becoming more and more risky - and thank God for that -, because the gamer audience that consumes high profile titles, has a more sophisticated and intricate taste now than to willingly stomach an entirely new frontliner-generation of sexy chicks in narrow latex suits. Those days, in a sense, were evolutionarily needed, and they also belong to the past from which the present can learn from to shape the games of tomorrow. Sorry for going Carl Sagan on you. The days of Karate Latex Chicks with Boobs might choose to stick around, but then they will be represented by a related sub-genre, assuaging the cravings of its fans. For-the-sake-of-it sexism needs to accept that it has nothing to offer to a high profile narrative game, simply because for-the-sake-of-it sexism is totally and completely non-consequential.
But what can you do with the female in a narrative context, when you strip - TUK! - her of the sexist overtones? Are you even serious? The female metaphorical "role model" of games is equally as narratively fruitful and operable as is the male, provided you take your female character seriously, and you operate her through spirit, thought, and emotion. Sophia Lamb in BioShock 2 does not likely reign at the Epicenter of your sexual fantasies, - unless you have noteworthy imagination - yet she is such a masterfully written egotistical ultra-villain that she surely invites Lord Vader to make a move for his notebook. The Sophia Lamb character also MUST be female, so she is capable to reveal the perverted antitheses of motherhood, and she, too, is quite attractive with her imperturbable ice queen aura. But definitely not sexist. Imagine Sophia Lamb in a sexy outfit - it would totally KILL the character. Why is it so? Because the Sophia Lamb character is serious. Sexism is not, it's childish. This, I feel, is a legitimate example of how to convey an attractive female character who sports monstrous ideas to fuel a great narrative.
In extremely rare instances, the utter lack of sexuality invites to the fervent mind the most transhumanistic connotations of it, all by the absence of female flesh exploitation, as there will be none around of it, this time. The timeless main-villainness of the System Shock series, SHODAN, - Sentient-Hyper-Optimized-Data-Access-Network, the word "Shodan" also is a rank in JUDO - even though she is an artificial intelligence, is the most impertinently sexual female character EVER in gaming history. Not SEXIST! But sexual, and let's observe, how. Here is an introductory quote from her:
"Look at you, hacker: a pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors."
Tell me more about it. SHODAN arises as the non-conquerable female "IDEA", the primordial female 2.0 form, simply as result of her true, final, and imperturbable contempt towards the human condition. As a pathetic - for the narration's sake - male of flesh and bone, how could you amuse and satisfy the incomprehensible ideals, values, and favorite pastimes of a perfect, digital Machine Goddess of virtually infinite capacities like SHODAN? I'm sure she shows no interest in your spirit either, I've tried, trust me.
SHODAN is YOUR Constant Rejection. Embodied. Evident. Rampant. Final.
Machine Mother, and here is why: because you know that you will NEVER get it. NOT from SHODAN. She is the Ultimate Female in the sense that she is the female who is non-conquerable. Making SHODAN a female character is one of the most brilliant decisions ever that have happened in the gaming industry. Uncompromisingly female, and equally uncompromisingly narrative-driven.
Unsubstantial sexism - the kind that has nothing more to say than "lookigotboobsandepicass" - in games is not something worth being outraged at, because really, the whole thing is just simply sad and pathetic, and, this is my prediction, is a dying trend in the context of top tier games. There ARE and SHOULD be places for the visual exploitation of female flesh, it just simply is that those are the places you can not venture to without dropping off your dignity at the front desk prior, and you will find no female dignity inside, either - no pun intended.
The days are near the corner-, in fact, they very well might be on your screens via recent games - when the over-sexualization of the woman will be a hallmark of sub-par narrative/production values, or even will "warrant" an almost assured and utter lack of high quality narrative content. Think of the game Dishonored, and of how realistically the brothel is represented in that game. Sexist? Nah. "Just" realistic. Or check out the evolution of the breasts of Lara Croft for a more direct example. Even "better", back in the early days, Lara exhibited sensual sounds while she was climbing ropes, as she was having an orgasm. Good jaub!
Why do I claim that I, as a man, practically am humiliated when such an attempt of pathetic manipulation is made on my receptors? Because such a manipulation assumes that these are my NEEDS, this is what turns me on, and also assumes that these are the sole and exclusive tools I think the female possesses to fulfill those needs with. Ruthless devaluation of both genders, which, I feel, still has a totally legitimate place in a deliberately sexist form of narrative entertainment, but I once again predict herein that a truly high profile game will no longer be able to validate its status by utilizing the increasingly stale and cheap method of female over-sexualization. In fact, it will prevent it from emerging to any degree of renowned consensus prestige. See game examples above that already have delivered serious female characters, so it is just logical that the consecutive titles will have no other choice than to perform in this important department.
The games with wobbly boobs in them will most likely be a niche market to fulfill the interest of the adolescent generation, - and I find nothing wrong with that - but in robust top tier titles there will be less and less place for female flesh exploitation, as there really is nothing wrong with female flesh exploitation, except for one thing: you, who it is happening for.
Easy! You will outgrow it, and there will be plenty of boob-silhouette-flashing titles around to help you in it, but, once again, those declarations will have the acknowledged trait to emphasize these cravings and tendencies, while the robust titles will no longer have the misplaced luxury of female flesh exploitation, as the act of doing so would immediately taint their ambition of emerging as a legitimately robust accomplishment.
- Hey creep, you're checking out my BOOBS??
- Your boobs are checking ME out, Lady.