Case number two: The upcoming reinvention of Lara Croft. For years she has been portrayed as a sex symbol, both in gaming and on the big screen. The direction that developer Crystal Dynamics is taking with the game icon is refreshing, and the industry should take note. Their motives are not purely benevolent; after all, the franchise has gotten a bit stale in recent years, and this reboot was needed to keep Tomb Raider profitable. Regardless of intentions, they are portraying Lara as a strong and determined lead, without the ridiculous body dimensions that made her famous in the first place. Does this mean that male gamers will not play? I highly doubt it, and anyone who decides not to play because of this change will be missing out on what will most likely be a fantastic story and exciting game. The point is that although this is a well-established franchise with many fans already planning on playing regardless of what changes have been made, it should help to prove that we as gamers do not need Lara to be in a string bikini to capture our attention. And the best part of all of this? Some female gamers who may have avoided from the franchise because of Lara's image might just pick up Tomb Raider for the first time, and see what all the fuss has been about.
Despite these advances, the fact remains that the majority of female characters we see are still objectified, whether they are strong-willed or not. Leads such as Bayonetta and Nariko from Heavenly Sword only serve to solidify this, regardless of the fact that they do convey a sense of strength. Perhaps their attire does portray a certain style and flair that the designers felt would fit the theme of the game, but the end result is a product that may have put off some women (and maybe some guys) who would have given the game a try if the protagonists had been clothed in something a bit more practical.
At this point in time, it should be pretty apparent where I stand on this issue. And I believe that the vast majority of the male gamers today would agree that although we will never complain about seeing a lady in a revealing outfit, it is not something that we need to see in every game we play. Sure, it's amusing to see a female protagonist head into battle with reckless abandon wearing only a few pieces of strategically-placed cloth, but it does nothing to improve the story, game play, level design, or any of the other things that we look for in an enjoyable game experience. I am happy to see some diversity in the gender of characters in video games, and would never base a purchasing decision on whether the lead is a guy or a girl; I just want something worthy of my sixty bucks.
At the end of the day, it is safe to say that it will be a long time before we see sexism vanish from the gaming industry. It is still so prevalent in society today, whether TV, movies, or music, that women being objectified in gaming may never go away. Developers have taken strides as evidenced by the strong female characters we are starting to see more and more in games today, and as the community continues to grow and attract new female gamers, one can only hope that things will continue to head in the right direction.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*