As a natural-born feminist (sorry, not sorry) as well as a life-long gamer, this has always been a topic I’ve wondered about; and I mean always, like as far back as I can remember. My first memory of questioning this was one early morning while I was watching “Pokémon” as well as trying to play “Pokémon Blue” on my Gameboy Color. I was just a toddler -- back in the good old days, when everything seemed so simple --except for the fact that Misty must have been freezing in that skimpy outfit she wore every day.
It was something I was extremely concerned about. My four-year-old self could only think of how cold she must have felt; or how uncomfortable she must have been, having her belly out in the open all the time. While I did occasionally enjoy wearing what I called belly-shirts and pretending I was a Spice Girl, I couldn’t help but be genuinely concerned for Misty’s wellbeing. What if she caught a cold?
As I grew up, I’ve never failed to notice the uncomfortable, weird, forced sexualization of female characters in the games I played. As I became more aware of the extreme sexualization of women in today’s real-life society as a whole -- as opposed to the comparatively mild sexualization of men -- I became angrier. I understand the whole “sex sells” cliché, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be forced onto the public; and specifically, onto men. How far can it possibly be taken before it, admittedly, becomes too much?
Just think about it -- why would Lara Croft, the tomb raider, dress so uncomfortably if she were going on such serious quests? Because, unfairly enough, the “Tomb Raider” series has predominantly male players, and it probably wouldn’t have become as popular as it is now if she happened to be wearing more clothes. While this type of objectivism of females in games has always been evident, it’s only gotten worse due to companies’ abilities to make characters more realistic (and therefore, more "sexy." Ugh).
“League of Legends” is an incredibly fun game. The concept is simple, but very strategic: in the main game-mode one’s team of five must fight the opposite team within three lanes, and destroy the opponents’ protective towers and, eventually, the opponents’ base. It’s one of the most popular games in the world, with its own international tournaments every year that bring its fanbase together (Go TSM!)
When my boyfriend first introduced me to “LoL,” I loved it; but I couldn't help but pay attention to the women. While the male characters (or champions, as they're called in the game) mostly looked like total badasses that could destroy anything in their paths, the female champions looked more like prostitutes. There are some that cover up -- like Leona, who wears a full dress and armor. But then there are Katarina and Miss Fortune, whose entire beings are kinky -- right down to how they speak. There’s no need to wear latex pants while shooting guys down, just like there’s no need for their breasts to be busting out of their tops. Doesn’t it hurt? Like, wouldn’t actual female warriors want at least a sports bra, or something?
My favorite part of my introduction to “LoL” was asking my boyfriend’s opinion on these women -- I wanted to know if he was as disgusted as I was. His response was something along the lines of, “It’s just the art of style." Women in games are so sexualized, that now it’s just drilled into the heads of gamers that they’re supposed to look like that! And it’s ridiculous. Because the “style” of girls in games is no different than the expected style for girls in today’s world; if a girl doesn’t show enough skin, she's not seen as sexy at all -- she's insignificant.
The best part of all of this is that even Nintendo took the opportunity to sexualize their characters. The newest “Super Smash Brothers” games, both on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, include Zero Suit Samus, a female character from the “Metroid" game series. Her usual attire is a body suit -- it looks a little tight, but it’s how female spies are supposed to dress, I guess (throwback to “Totally Spies”).
But in “Super Smash Brothers” for the Wii U, players are given the option to play as Zero Suit Samus in a skimpy sports bra, spandex shorts and of course, the infamous high heeled, knee-length boots. And, of course, she's somehow flexible enough to kick up at 180˚ angle. So is Fox, but he’s literally a fox.
On the Wii U gamepad, players can draw “fan-art” of their favorite characters or Nintendo-related things, and submit it to eventually show up in the background of the “Miiverse” fighting stage; but as a disgusting and unfortunate result of Nintendo’s advocacy for creativity, some drawings I’ve seen are literally pornographic. I’ve seen countless nude drawings of Zero Suit Samus that I never would have wanted or needed to see for any reason.
The most disgusting part of this all is that these are all characters that are being sexualized. It would still be enraging and creepy if it were real people, but nope -- they're all animated. Cartoons. Drawings. Computer-generated. Anything, but real. While characters are beginning to look more realistic, they are still just characters, and nothing but. So, sorry to all you gamer nerds like me, who hope to one day find your own Lara Croft or Zero Suit because, aside from cosplay, they will literally never exist.