Let’s Address the Topic of Power and Sex Fantasies

Let’s Address the Topic of Power and Sex Fantasies

With Anita Sarkeesian once again in the news, people are once again talking about what it means to objectify women, men, and people in general, and since I can’t believe we are still having this discussion and I’m basically a glutton for punishment, let’s dive headfirst into the issue and hope that we don’t bust our head open on the ill maintained pool that is the subject of progressivism in video games.

The issue here is fantasy, more specifically sex and power fantasies. When you look at a game, you ask yourself “who are these characters made for?” Are they people you want to be? Are they people you want to be with? Who is it that wants to be and be with these characters?

The progressive stance is that characters are more often than not written for males. Male characters become male power fantasies and female characters become male sexual fantasies. Of course, this is usually responded to by “but females love guys with ripped chests! Just look at romance novels!”

OK, let’s. Here is a side by side comparison of a buff romance novel character, and a buff video game character.

Let’s Address the Topic of Power and Sex Fantasies

Do you see the difference? The long flowing hair? The completely unblemished skin? The bare chest and tight pants showing off his perfect physique? That’s a sexual fantasy meant for women.

Meanwhile Duke Nukem is scarred, unshaven, smoking, and looks like he’s going to beat someone up. That’s a power fantasy. Duke Nukem is a badass you want to be, not a person you want to be in a relationship with. Yes, they are both bulky and cut, but they are two completely different designs.

Now let’s apply that same logic in the reverse. If a character is a female power fantasy, she’s not worried about her looks. She is worried about kicking ass, just like Duke Nukem over here, or Snake, Kratos, or a myriad of other similar characters. Good examples of characters like this in video games are Samus and Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot. But even Samus gets a skin tight body suit and rocket heels in her zero suit form, and Lara Croft was put in a million different depowering situations, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

Perhaps the best example of a well-made female power fantasy is Agrias from Final Fantasy Tactics . She wears full armor, is one of the most powerful characters in the game with her sword magic, and isn’t involved in any real romance plots. She is badass for the sake of being badass.

Similarly, a male sexual fantasy is someone designed for men to appreciate sexually, and thus is far more concerned with her looks while kicking ass. Take a look at Ivy from Soul Calibur, who is practically wearing string and is showing off most of her body, including her humongous breasts. She fights in high heels. There’s no doubt that she’s badass, but she’s made for men to look at.

Now here’s the very, very, very important message. There is, and please listen to this, nothing wrong with having either male power fantasies or male sexual fantasies in games. It is ok to have people you want to be and people you want to be with in games. No feminist worth their salt is trying to say, “boys, you no longer get to have your fun.”

However, feminism is about equality. So what is being said, or at least should be said, is, “let’s even up the fantasies.”

According to the latest ESA survey , 52% of gamers are male and 48% are female. Therefore, if the industry was fair, when we see sexual and power fantasies in games, about 52% of them should be male power and sexual fantasies and 48% should be female power and sexual fantasies. Anyone who simply takes a look at the current state of the market can see that’s not the case. A 2012 EEDAR study showed that only 4% of games have an exclusivley female protagonist.

We are getting better, though. That same EEDAR study said that 45% of all games allow you to choose between being a male and a female when creating your character, which is good. Games that allow you to make your own character, like Mass Effect , are getting better about not forcing female characters to be oversexualized. Heck, the same applies for games from Japan, like the recently released Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Many don’t oversexualize their female player characters. That, and female main characters are starting to become less sexualized as well. We could still stand to have more female main characters in order to even up the numbers, but like I said before, characters like Lara Croft, especially the damaged hoodie-wearing assassin type Lara Croft from the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider , are doing a good job at evening the numbers.

In 2010 an EEDAR study said that 51% of current gen games give you a chance to play as a female at some point, although those games may also have a male create-a-character option. Not only that, but the study showed that new IPs with the option to play as female protgaonists, or an exclusively female protagonist, actually sold better than new IPs with male protagonists. However, iconic IP without female protagonists, like Mario, Call of Duty, God of War, etc, still ranked highest in sales, though this was attributed to their branding, not their characters. Not only that, but many iconic IPs are now offering a choice of female protagonists, with Super Mario 3D world allowing you to play as Peach and Rosalina. Also, that gap between the 4% of games that feature an exclusively female protagonist, and that around 50% that feature a male protagonist is shrinking year over year, both with the growth of games that let you design your own protgaonist, and the creation of more games with exclusively female protagonists. So hey, things are looking up.

It’s important to acknowledge who characters are created for nonetheless, not to say that either Is bad, but to examine trends in the gaming industry, and frankly to criticize ourselves and ask ourselves why we make the games we do in the way we do.

Yet, these days tt seems like such a natural reaction for people to stick their fingers in their ears and say, “LALALALALALA THERE ARE NO GIRLS IN GAMING. EVERYTHING IS FINE. YOU ARE WRONG IF YOU ARE TRYING TO CHANGE ANYTHING!”

To me, this seems so weird. I mean, maybe I’m just looking at the past through nostalgia goggles, but it seems like 15 years ago when I was still playing my PS1 and PS2, me and my hormone-riddled friends were wondering why all the girls we knew weren’t very interested in gaming, and how awesome it would be if girls liked gaming as much as we did. Now, women are coming forward and saying, “Hey, we love games! We’d just like some more characters to be made with us in mind, please,” and our response is, “NO! YOU DON’T EXIST! GIRL GAMERS DON’T EXIST! YOU ARE JUST A CORRUPT SJW FEMINIST TRYING TO RUIN GAMING!”

Seriously guys. WTF?

Frankly, I don’t think it’s all that weird to ask for some more characters and games to be designed with you in mind, and I think our reaction to that is frankly just ludicrous. Why not indulge women in their fantasies? Isn’t all gaming just a fantasy for someone? I don’t see why our fantasies can’t coexist.

To top