Gender in Video Games

FPS, Platformer, MMORPG, or anything else - discuss here!
User avatar
WolfofWords
Pirate of the Internet
Pirate
Posts: 1904
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:22 pm
Location: Charm City
House: Ravenclaw

Fandoms

Arts & Crafts

Sports

Lifestyle

Vaccines

Gender in Video Games

Post by WolfofWords »

(Cross-posted from my blog. The forum gets it a few hours early)

I have a bunch of jumbled thoughts in my head about a few things and I thought I would put them down in order to make sense of it. I mean nothing is wrong, this is just all things that have been knocking around for a bit and I was thinking about them the other day. This is about gender in video games which may be a touchy subject for some. It may also be a tiresome subject for the more conservative-minded folks. This is not about sexuality and will be fairly tame. As usual, you can bail out at any time.

I was playing Saints Row 4 the other day and I realized something that I have talked to friends about before. I was playing as a smoking hot young woman. I am, in fact, not a smoking hot young woman. I am a cis male which means that I still live under the gender that I was born with. The way that games like Saints Row work is that the narrative is built around you playing whatever character you want. You have the choice to play as male or female. When I started playing video games, this was not a thing. The first time I played as a female character it was in Metroid and I didn't know Samus was a woman until I was told

Given a choice, I often play as a woman. In itself, this does not really mean anything. It is not an indicator that I am actually a trans woman or that I am anything other than male. (Not that there is anything wrong with that). I think it does mean that I am more open-minded than your average alpha male who would be no homo-ing this up and down. The visuals when you play as a woman are better. There are usually more diverse options for clothing, makeup, and accessories. Saints Row 4 especially has a robust character creation which allows you to create a lot of what you can imagine.

I was also thinking of something that happens in South Park: The Stick of Truth. This game is truly outrageous in ways that only South Park can achieve. In short, you play the game as The New Kid who gets swept up in a town-wide game inspired by Game of Thrones and Dungeons and Dragons. The New Kid (whose name pointedly does not matter) is always male. On the third day, you are tasked with recruiting the girls into the game who have thus far been completely unwilling to play. They will not play the game until you engage in a series of undercover missions which requires you to crossdress. (it gets gross yet funny).

However, when the missions are over, you are left with all of the feminine clothing, makeup, and accessories. When I play, I often just decide to leave it on as if The New Kid learned something new about himself during the adventure. The character being male is crucial to the story they wrote.

The next game, The Fractured But Whole, gives you a lot more options. It allows you to be very specific with your gender. You can be Agender, Gender Fluid, Genderless, Aliagender, Androgyne, Androgynous, Aporagender, Bi-Gender, Demiflux, Gender Nonconforming, Gender Questioning, Gender Variant, Genderflux, Genderpunk, Genderqueer, Intersex, Mixed Gender, Neutrois, Non-Binary, Non-Binary Butch, Non-Binary Femme, Pangendered, Polygender, Transmasculine, Transsexual, Trigender, Two-Spirit, Demiboy, Demigirl, and Demi Non-Binary. This is unheard of in a video game (and awesome). Whichever option you pick, rednecks get mad at you for labeling yourself and try to kick yer ass.

I am not sure what any of this means but it is definitely food for thought. I want to see more options in games going forward (if narratively appropriate). There are now way more games being made with female protagonists. Still, more diversity is always welcome.
Writer. Dissident. Paralegal. Blogger.

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
User avatar
CrazyCraftLady
Admiral
None of your business
Posts: 377
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:45 pm
Location: Baltimore-Washington Corridor
House: Ravenclaw

Fandoms

Arts & Crafts

Lifestyle

Vaccines

Re: Gender in Video Games

Post by CrazyCraftLady »

Interesting.

This puts me in mind of cross gaming in tabletop RPG. In particular, an old friend who used to play a lot of female characters. He spoke of it (at first) as connecting with his 'feminine side'. Later on he began to identify some of his recurring characters as alternate personalities which needed 'body time'. Weird, but fine.

What wasn't fine (for me) was that every time he played a female character she was defined as a victim. Or by overcoming victimization. Not so fine, in that none of his male characters had similar issues to work through. We discussed it a few times, and he never could wrap his head around why I found this problematic.
‘Meow’ says the knitter. :twisted:
User avatar
WolfofWords
Pirate of the Internet
Pirate
Posts: 1904
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:22 pm
Location: Charm City
House: Ravenclaw

Fandoms

Arts & Crafts

Sports

Lifestyle

Vaccines

Re: Gender in Video Games

Post by WolfofWords »

Yeah, I would never claim to know what the female experience is (or any other gender apart from my own). I try to be cognizant of how I write female characters versus male characters. Most of all, it's important not to be frickin' obtuse like this guy was.
Writer. Dissident. Paralegal. Blogger.

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
User avatar
CrazyCraftLady
Admiral
None of your business
Posts: 377
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:45 pm
Location: Baltimore-Washington Corridor
House: Ravenclaw

Fandoms

Arts & Crafts

Lifestyle

Vaccines

Re: Gender in Video Games

Post by CrazyCraftLady »

He was, but we were close enough that I understood he was working through abuse issues from his own childhood. It just got on my nerves that he always worked through it with his female characters.
‘Meow’ says the knitter. :twisted:
User avatar
Ravenfreak
Bunnicorn
United States of America
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun May 22, 2022 8:42 pm
House: Ravenclaw

Fandoms

Lifestyle

Re: Gender in Video Games

Post by Ravenfreak »

I think it's amazing that out of all the games to have such a diverse gender option it's a South Park game. :lol: I think this should be in more video games, not everyone identifies in the gender binary. (My spouse actually goes by they/she prounouns.) I know people might be like "your gender in the game doesn't matter, why give so many different options?!" It's all about representation, 9 times out of 10 characters who are part of the lgbtq community are usually villains. We need more positive representation IMO. On that note, lots of my cis male friends often play as female characters. I do sometimes, but I sometimes get dysphoric if I play as a female character being a trans guy.