Game wallpaper sites: for men only?

[Brief note: Quickie post today. I have an injury that makes sitting at my computer incredibly painful. Sorry for the relative brevity.]

I’m one of those people who compulsively changes their wallpaper; I think the longest I’ve ever kept a wallpaper is maybe two months. Most of the time I wind up changing it when I stumble across something new that I like when I’ve had my current wallpaper for a while. But sometimes I find myself itching to change my wallpaper with nothing new in mind, and then I’ll go looking – which is how I stumbled across gamewallpapers.com.

Almost immediately, I had to suppress the urge to facepalm when I saw the boobular banner taking up most of the right side of the page. Even better, the very second category in the navbar is “Cyberbabes”, a link which takes you to the following screen:

…yup. About what I expected. Boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs. And, oh hey look – it’s Lara Croft’s cleavage. Because, really, what collection of game wallpaper would be complete without the iconic ta-tas of Lara Croft?

I was also completely unsurprised to note that our friends over at Destructoid are partners with gamewallpapers.com, since Destructoid frequently goes out of its way to assert how important boobs are to games and gaming in general. And I suppose I should be glad that the pornular wallpapers on gamewallpapers.com are at least free of overt misogyny like this infamous gem published on Destructoid a few years ago:

Way to go, guys. You always know how to bring the charm.

Anyhow. I was curious to see how the “Top 100″ would compare in boobularity to the Cyberbabes gallery. As it turns out, the results were kind of mixed. Looking at the first screen of the Cyberbabes page, 19 out of 21 featured wallpapers feature boobs. When looking at the Top 100, only 15 of the top 20 feature boobs. However, the boobs featured were more extreme:

And I think it’s especially telling that the top voted wallpaper is the Age of Conan wallpaper (top middle) that features bare breasts and only just baaaarely covers up the poor woman’s bajingo. Also, four of the top 20 are various iterations of Lara Croft, which is yet another discouraging sign.

Lastly, the site features several awful boobular ads that cycle randomly in the sidebar, and none of these ladies would look out of place in an Evony ad.

You know, I love how all of these ladies either have “SIGNING UP” or “ACCESS” either right near or right over their tits. There’s varying degrees of crassness, but the Age of Conan girl is definitely the worst, thanks to strategic cropping. The nipples and the start of her ladybits are juuuust out of frame. And unlike the others, proclaiming that you can get access to a variety of wallpapers, the Age of Conan banner just says “get full access”… Nice and subtle there, guys.

Not that the others are much better. All of them except for Nariko (Heavenly Sword) suffer from outrageous sphere-boob and costumes that they’re on the verge of popping out of. Like, the elf on the far left – what the hell is with those not-pants? And the elf in the middle – did someone seriously photoshop a picture of Liv Tyler? Because that’s what it looks like to me.

Anyhow. I don’t know why any of this should surprise me. After all, this is just yet another example of how our culture assumes that all gamers are (straight) men. Why the hell would a woman be looking for games wallpapers? Everyone knows women gamers don’t count after all.

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

53 Responses to Game wallpaper sites: for men only?

  1. moseslmpg says:

    Huh, someone should really make a “Cyberdudes” wallpaper site or something. I never really thought about how few male game characters actually have wallpapers.

    Honestly though, I find the idea of having any person as my wallpaper very strange. It would be like they were constantly watching me. I prefer abstract or landscape scenes.

    • Ikkin says:

      Huh, someone should really make a “Cyberdudes” wallpaper site or something. I never really thought about how few male game characters actually have wallpapers.

      I don’t think there’s a dearth of male characters in videogame wallpapers — they’re just not separated out from the “general” wallpapers like the women are, and they tend to be covered in so much armor that they’re barely human anymore anyway. Didn’t Wundergeek do an analysis of World of Warcraft wallpapers that showed that the majority of them featured male characters…?

      Going back to the OP, though… I’m really confused as to how Lightning falls under “BOOBS(ish)” when she’s wearing a jacket over a turtleneck and is squared up to the camera rather than stuck in the 3/4 view that almost all the other images up there use to exaggerate their subjects’ chests. (On the other hand, if she had “LEGS” written over her, I’d totally understand)

      And… is that Raiden I see in the Cyberbabes gallery? XD

      • Anne says:

        I can’t believe Raiden’s listed under “Cyberbabes.” Do these guys even play the games they’re downloading wallpapers of?

      • wundergeek says:

        Well, hence the “ish”. It’s a fanservice-ish angle of Lightning, and she’s next to a bunch of chicks with almost no clothes on. But yes, I take your point that “LEGS” would have been more accurate.

  2. Daniel Feit says:

    This is bad, but I think the stuff they offer on PSN is even worse. At least this is an independent website trolling for traffic. PSN is a closed network (presumably overseen by Sony) available only to PS3/PSP owners and the “themes” section is littered with “anime girls” “car girls” “random crap girls” etc. It’s not even quality artwork, it’s just repugnant. And some of it costs money!

  3. PyrZern says:

    Hmmm, I believe categorizing Lightning from FFXIII as boob-ish is too boob-mind-oriented. Meaning it is too boob-obsessed, or you’re looking only at boobs and nothing else. Why ? Size, normal. Revealing skin, well, not around her boobs. Sleeveless-jacket is so normal. Defying gravity ? Normal. Boobs centered or boobs in yo face? Nope.

    I appreciate your concerns about women in these days’ media and I enjoy reading your points. But when you paint a white dove black, and call it a crow, then your points are less meaningful.

    Reference: Bigger image of Lightning
    http://images.wikia.com/finalfantasy/images/f/fa/FFXIII_Lightning.jpg

    • wundergeek says:

      Don’t get me wrong. I love Lightning! She’s one of my favorite female characters EVAR. But her design is pretty fanservicey, and that angle seems designed to show off her legs. Still, I should have labeled it LEGS and not BOOBS.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        “her design is pretty fanservicey ”

        Is are you talking about the wallpaper pose, or the character in general? I’ve seen people walking around in more risque outfits than hers, and I live in Northern Alberta.

        • wundergeek says:

          Both. It’s not as bad as Vanille’s, but in-game you do get frequent shots of the shorts underneath Lightning’s super-short skirt. And also, the pose in that wallpaper does put a lot of emphasis on her legs.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            I… didn’t think that shorts were a widely held fetish object. Well, better than panties, I suppose.

            • wundergeek says:

              It’s not the shorts. It’s the whole upskirt thing in general. Some parts of anime fandom are huge on upskirts, even if there’s shorts underneath.

              • Hazmat Sam says:

                I thought the appeal of the upskirt thing was that you’re seeing something that’s forbidden? Shorts aren’t even underclothing!

                I’m completely baffled here.

              • Ikkin says:

                I always thought the shorts were a “oh no, you don’t” to those types, honestly. >_>

                Low camera shots themselves aren’t inherently sexual; they’re used all the time with guys to make the character seem powerful (because he’s towering over the audience). I’m not really convinced that wasn’t what they were doing with Lightning, particularly because they gave her those shorts.

      • Ikkin says:

        I don’t know whether intent really means all that much, but I think there’s good reason to believe that Lightning’s pose is completely innocuous. Lightning’s shown from the exact same angle as Versus XIII’s Noctis as part of a dualistic pair, and Noctis’s own pose is identical to a concept art of Kingdom Hearts’ Sora, which I think is a pretty strong suggestion that it’s just a pose that character designer/director Tetsuya Nomura thinks is generally cool.

        The pose itself is pretty harmless on its own anyways, I think.

  4. Chaltab says:

    The sad thing is that Princess Peach wallpaper would be pretty cool if not for the text. Someone should try photoshopping it out and see how it looks. :D

    Also it doesn’t surprsie me that some random game wallpaper site has cyber-babes when IGN, one of the biggest gaming sites period, has a weekly feature called Babeology.

  5. So, I’ve actually been collecting a lot of (mostly) video-game wallpapers together and I wrote a sweet webpage to be set as a Desktop that cycles through them randomly, and also lets you browse through the folders in a particular directory by using F-keys not otherwise utilized by the Windows Shell (to the best of my knowledge… seems to not affect anything).

    I was just designing it for myself, so the dependencies for getting it up and running are kinda complicated, but if anyone is interested in it (or the images), I could probably manage to share.

    • wundergeek says:

      Cool. Stuff like this always makes me happy.

    • Cole92 says:

      Fantastic. It’s a perfect example of what a female warrior could/should look like in games.

    • Ikkin says:

      That’s pretty awesome. Though I was kind of expecting this when the url said “viking.” ;)

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        Now see, I assumed that was a man until I read the caption.

        Goddamn I watch too much anime.

    • OUT51D3R says:

      That’s some good art there. Full armor without it being ridiculous, boring, superheavy plate.

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      Plus, you can tell she’s a woman at a glance without any lazy cleavage or hyper-hourglass frame or whatever. That’s better anatomy than I’d except from a museum, let alone DeviantArt.

  6. Horace says:

    Wow what a shocker, it turns out guys like boobs.

    I think you’re looking at this the wrong way, the problem isn’t that our culture assumes all gamers are straight men(thought the majority probably are), it’s that the fan site your looking at is presumably run by a straight man. Why would a straight man take the time to look up/create highly sexualised wallpapers of male characters?

    The question is are there similar sites skewed to women? If there isn’t why hasn’t some straight woman made a fan site containing a whole bunch of sexualised wallpapers for women?

    Are not enough straight women gamers into that sort of stuff?

    • LilithXIV says:

      Wow what a shocker, it turns out guys like reducing women to tits and ass and showing once again they have no respect for them as people or fellow gamers*

      Fixed that for you. Y’know, porn exists, it’d be nice if you stopped turning women characters into your fap aids and just showed them in lesser degrading art. Yes, the problem is the culture (You’ve shown that right now. ‘Men have sex drives, so clearly /that/ matters more than how women are made to feel and are badly represented. And no they’re not the majority of gamers, but you and yours sure like to pretend they are). And I’m not really going to have that oh so tiring conversation where we compare sexualized men to sexualized women, all the wallpaper up there is official art.

      • LilithXIV says:

        A small fix though. I should have been more specific and made it ‘guys like you reducing etc’, because we all know you’re talking about yourself in that first sentence. And really, your first sentence is dishonest. I know plenty of men that know the difference between being attracted to women and thinking women exist to be their public pin-ups 24/7 :(.

        You seem like the latter.

        • Horace says:

          Well you didn’t really fix my sentence, you made a new sentence. I said guys like boobs, I didn’t say the only good thing about women are boobs or that they shouldn’t game.

          I was certainly talking about myself in that sentence and it was very honest. Why does admitting I like tits instantly make you think I’m chauvinist? Do guys who are respectful to women not like tits?

          I didn’t actually have a hand in making this art…..but who cares if some freaks wanna fap to drawings, it’s not like that actually affects you or I.

          Your whole post really just baffles me, I didn’t say anything sexist and you’re just making all these accusations.

          • Ikkin says:

            It’s not about liking/not liking boobs — it’s about refusing to compromise when other people tell you they find your behavior uncomfortable and inappropriate for the stated purpose of a community.

            Imagine you went to the website looking for bikini chicks and found yourself inundated in wallpapers of Sephiroth and Kuja making out — and, if you complained, you’d be told “well, that’s just what we like.” Now imagine that every wallpaper site out there was like that. You’d probably start thinking that the site owners have issues with men, too. ;)

          • LilithXIV says:

            Because it wasn’t about ‘admitting you like tits’. It was about you defending this site that reduces women to tits and ass, and largely a gaming culture that does the same thing. All The Time. Think context. There’s a difference. And again, those ‘guys who respect’ women and are actually serious about that still don’t actually think women should have to be public pin-ups and sex dolls in your games 24/7. Your ‘solution’ to this is really just ‘oh well, that’s the way it is, suck it up and don’t let it affect you and go on your way’. That doesn’t fix anything, that doesn’t make it better and you’re mostly just telling people to silence themselves and tolerate it.

            They shouldn’t have to tolerate it, it should be changed.

            And yes, it does affect women. It really does. It makes them feel excluded like it’s some boys club only where if women do exist in these games they exist only if they pay the price of admission, which is being degraded representations that are reduced to floppy bits and thong armor. Just because something doesn’t affect/exclude you doesn’t mean it has no effect. You’re not the one being constantly labeled as a fap toy first and whatever else second.

          • An Onymous says:

            “Your whole post really just baffles me, I didn’t say anything sexist and you’re just making all these accusations.”

            That’s perfectly normal. You must not have a lot of experience with feminists.

          • Cole92 says:

            “I was certainly talking about myself in that sentence and it was very honest. Why does admitting I like tits instantly make you think I’m chauvinist?”

            While I won’t go so far as to label you a chauvinist given how little I know you, your initial response (“Wow what a shocker, it turns out guys like boobs.”) reveals a contempt toward those of us who criticize the over-sexualization and degradation of the female form within the gaming industry. There’s no denying the sarcasm in your statement, and it was that sarcasm that roused a negative response from the commentors here. If you would like a more positive reaction, try being more professional and assiduous when posting your opinion.

            “Do guys who are respectful to women not like tits?”

            Men who respect women normally wouldn’t refer to their breasts as “tits”. Like Ikken said previously, it isn’t about whether or not someone likes breasts. What it comes down to is acknowledging that breasts are not simply things or objects, but instead parts of women. What we are dealing with here, with this particular issue, is the dehumanization of women through focusing solely on one aspect of their body, ignoring the woman entirely.

            “I didn’t actually have a hand in making this art…..but who cares if some freaks wanna fap to drawings, it’s not like that actually affects you or I.”

            There is a difference between not personally caring about whether art affects people, and art actually affecting people. This kind of art does in fact affect people, and it has affected the majority of us here.

            “Your whole post really just baffles me, I didn’t say anything sexist and you’re just making all these accusations.”

            Instead of trying to defend yourself by declaring that you have said nothing sexist, why not ask those who you have offended why what you said was indeed offensive? You have in fact made sexist statements, and if you want an explanation as to how they were sexist, I would be happy to give one.

    • Ikkin says:

      The question is are there similar sites skewed to women? If there isn’t why hasn’t some straight woman made a fan site containing a whole bunch of sexualised wallpapers for women?

      Are not enough straight women gamers into that sort of stuff?

      The way you phrased your questions makes it sound like you’ve already made up your mind, but I’ll field them anyway: wallpaper sites very rarely work with anything but easily-available official assets. What women want to see, in this case, is secondary to the fact that creating sexualized male wallpapers would take a hundred times more work, because the sexualized assets that are so common for female characters are vanishingly rare for male characters.

      In any case, if I was to be looking for that sort of thing, I’d avoid the wallpaper sites entirely (they tend to seem rather seedy to me to begin with) and find something on deviantArt to use instead, because I’d be forced to look for fanart and no one really creates fanart just to upload it to a wallpaper site where no one will see it.

    • wundergeek says:

      Dude, if I want to look at naked or mostly naked men I’ll go find some porn on the interwebs. I won’t go looking for wallpaper so I can plaster it all over my desktop. Also, I dare you to find enough beefcake wallpaper to create an entire site from. I might be wrong, but I’m willing to bet there’s just not enough official beefcake game art out there to do so.

  7. giullina says:

    Saw this in Modena PLAY last weekend and thought of you.
    Luckily someone pictured this miracle of magic see through!

  8. Nick says:

    Hey, I’d just like to say that I love this blog. I’m a guy, but I totally agree with just about everything you say (I apologise on behalf of the rest of my gender!). Sorry, but this is a long post because I’m a chatty kind of person and this is something I feel quite strongly about.

    I think games are being held back by the sexist attitude that developers seem to have, and I mean that for their male audience as well as female. If the writers could write engaging female characters, the audience (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) is going to become emotionally involved. Dressing women in degrading outfits and focusing on their tits and asses just reveals how they are nervous their game wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t.

    Forgive me, but I do wonder sometimes, though, where the distinction is drawn between sexually objectifying women and finding women sexually attractive, and when, if ever, the sexualisation of women is acceptable, and if never, why not? You say “Dude, if I want to look at naked or mostly naked men I’ll go find some porn on the interwebs.” Is it ok, then, for men to look at porn too? Even though it’s far, far, FAR worse in the sexual objectification of women than the posters you’ve linked to in your blog (I mean, seriously, have you seen the kind of porn going about now?! The girls are being paid to be raped!)?

    Is it always wrong for men to sexualise women? Should sex not be sexy? Or is it simply when the sexualisation is attached to the selling of products that it becomes unacceptable? What if the women voluntarily sexualise themselves (when not attached to products)? Is it only the frequency of it that’s the problem, since there is no other choice? I don’t mean to cause any offence by these questions, I’m just curious as to whether you have any thoughts on the matter.

    The gaming industry is, I’m sure many guys have pointed out, sexist in another way too, by assuming that guys ONLY want to see tits and ass. It may be hard to believe, but some gamers might actually prefer engaging female characters who are, for a change, fully clothed.

    I’m aware your blog is a gamer blog, but I find it disturbing to see how practically everything in culture and society (movies, comics, adverts, men AND women’s magazines (just look at how much space in Cosmopolitan is dedicated to making yourself look good for the guys)) these days is aimed towards the sexualisation of women, and yet how few women are annoyed by this or even notice it. Why do you think that is? Is it just because it’s cultural norm?

    Finally, please keep this blog going. It’s brilliant.

    • An Onymous says:

      “I think games are being held back by the sexist attitude that developers seem to have, and I mean that for their male audience as well as female.”

      I thought games were being held back by publishers churning out boring identikit games for the lowest common denominator.

      “If the writers could write engaging female characters, the audience (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) is going to become emotionally involved.”

      Implying that it’s impossible to become emotionally involved without female characters. This is a straw man anyway since there are games with competely written female characters.

      “Dressing women in degrading outfits and focusing on their tits and asses just reveals how they are nervous their game wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t.”

      When women slut it up in real life, it mean’s they’re strong and independent and empowering themselves by taking charge of their sexuality. But skimpily dressed game characters are an expression of degrading heteronormatively misogynist patriarchal oppression, even if they are stronger, more capable, more attractive and more independent than any woman could ever hope to be, and probably more morally upright than most women.

    • Cole92 says:

      “Forgive me, but I do wonder sometimes, though, where the distinction is drawn between sexually objectifying women and finding women sexually attractive…”

      I’m not sure if you worded this the way you were thinking it, but based on what you said, the distinction is perfectly clear. Finding people, male or female physically attractive is, of course, only natural, and is in no way a bad thing. The problem arises, however, when someone’s (in this case women’s) sexuality and physical appearance are exploited for the purpose of serving the whims of others. The over-sexualization of women in the gaming industry is an example of this exploitation. Women are portrayed as being sexual objects instead of human beings, there only to fulfill the sexual fantasies of straight males.

      “Is it ok, then, for men to look at porn too?”

      No one here advocated that porn be banned.

      “Even though it’s far, far, FAR worse in the sexual objectification of women than the posters you’ve linked to in your blog…”

      Yes, the majority of porn that is out there is far worse than some of the images posted on this blog, but this blog focuses on the representation and treatment of women within the gaming community and industry. The issue of pornography is a difficult one among feminist, as some are for it and some against, for various reasons, and if you are interested I can guarantee that you can find websites that cover that topic on both sides of the issue. It would be good for you to look into it, but this particular blog is not the place for it.

      “(I mean, seriously, have you seen the kind of porn going about now?! The girls are being paid to be raped!)?”

      You may not have understood this when you typed it, but using “rape” so loosely as you did is quite offensive, especially to those who have experienced such a traumatic event. No one pays to be raped, that is absurd.

      “Is it always wrong for men to sexualise women?”

      Yes. The only ones who should be in charge of women’s sexuality are the women themselves.

      “Should sex not be sexy? Or is it simply when the sexualisation is attached to the selling of products that it becomes unacceptable? ”

      Sex should be whatever consenting partners wish for it to be. Sex is not the topic, though. The topic is the sexual objectification of women.

      “What if the women voluntarily sexualise themselves (when not attached to products)? Is it only the frequency of it that’s the problem, since there is no other choice?”

      We cannot regulate the behavior and choices of women, and we do not want to.

      “I don’t mean to cause any offence by these questions, I’m just curious as to whether you have any thoughts on the matter.”

      You have not caused offense, and it is clear that you have a genuine interest in the topic. Don’t worry about how you’re coming off, you’re fine.

      “The gaming industry is, I’m sure many guys have pointed out, sexist in another way too, by assuming that guys ONLY want to see tits and ass. It may be hard to believe, but some gamers might actually prefer engaging female characters who are, for a change, fully clothed.”

      The easiest way to say it is that the gaming industry discriminates anyone who is not a straight male. Like you said, the industry portrays women in one particular way (it’s all about the T&A). Doing this is not only degrading to women, but it sends a message to bisexuals, homosexuals, and straight women telling them that they are not a valuable part of the gaming community.

      “… but I find it disturbing to see how practically everything in culture and society (movies, comics, adverts, men AND women’s magazines (just look at how much space in Cosmopolitan is dedicated to making yourself look good for the guys)) these days is aimed towards the sexualisation of women, and yet how few women are annoyed by this or even notice it. Why do you think that is? Is it just because it’s cultural norm?”

      Make no mistake, there are many of us here who are disgusted by the overall portrayal of women in general, but like I’ve mentioned above, in this blog the focus is on women in the gaming industry (which is why you only see criticism regarding video games). If you would like to see some of the issues that lie outside of the gaming realm and responses from other feminists, there are some links I could suggest:

      http://feministing.com/

      http://www.feministe.us/blog/

      http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

      http://www.wimnonline.org/WIMNsVoicesBlog/

      http://jezebel.com/

      • An Onymous says:

        “Yes. The only ones who should be in charge of women’s sexuality are the women themselves.”

        Reality does not work this way and never will. You cannot decide who sexualizes you.

        “We cannot regulate the behavior and choices of women, and we do not want to.”

        But you’ll happily regulate the behavior and choices of women. Are we still going to pretend feminism has something to do with equality? Also, any society that does not regulate the behavior and choices of its citizens will soon be a former society. Of course you can’t comprehend this since you know nothing of responsibility and consequences, and care only about freedoms and privileges. The ironic thing about feminism is that it’s actually a powerful argument against women being allowed to vote and hold political positions.

        “The easiest way to say it is that the gaming industry discriminates anyone who is not a straight male.”

        So only heterosexual men are allowed to develop and work on video games? That’s news to me!

        • An Onymous says:

          “But you’ll happily regulate the behavior and choices of women.”

          Should have been “men.”

      • Nick says:

        Thanks very much for taking the time to give such a detailed response, Cole92. I said some pretty naive things in my first post which were a bit of a gut reaction to this, the first of the topics I’d read from this blog, but I listened into the DM’s roundtable discussion with the author, and read some of the topics and conversation threads, and I found it very enlightening as it answered many of the questions I’d written.

        I think one of the points I was getting at with questioning the distinction was that models (usually) give their consent to be used in a sexually objectifying way in advertising, whether for games or anything else. I think I was trying to ask whether it was sexual objectification if the model was consenting, but I guess maybe it still is, especially if she’s representing all women in general, or a particular subset of women (gamers, for instance).

        I’m really sorry if I offended anyone through my use of the word rape, and of course no one would pay to be raped. I simply mean that porn is becoming increasingly violent and demeaning to the female actors, even if they are consenting. Even as a straight guy I’m disgusted by that, which is why I was surprised by comments like the ones I mentioned in my previous post (see below), though as I mentioned I might have been reading too much into things, and as you quite rightly point out, this isn’t a blog about women’s role in pornography.

        ““Is it always wrong for men to sexualise women?”

        Yes. The only ones who should be in charge of women’s sexuality are the women themselves.”

        Sorry, I worded this wrong. I know it’s wrong for one person to reduce another to a sexual object (regardless of the gender on either side). What I meant to ask was is it always wrong for women to be sexualised, even if they choose to be? I understand you don’t want to regulate women’s behaviour, but this is, I think where some men (including at least partly myself), struggle to understand how the sexual objectification of women is sexist when the female models in such adverts, movies, etc., often consent to such depictions of themselves.

        My point with talking about movies, tv series, comics, adverts, magazines, etc. and how women are portrayed in it was simply to state that I think it’s part of a wider issue of sexist depictions of women becoming increasingly acceptable within society, even to many women.

        • Cole92 says:

          “I’m really sorry if I offended anyone through my use of the word rape, and of course no one would pay to be raped. I simply mean that porn is becoming increasingly violent and demeaning to the female actors, even if they are consenting.”

          I assumed you did not mean to offend by using the word “rape”, but your usage of it made no logical sense. Yes you are right, while not all types of porn are inherently negative, the pornography industry as a whole has become increasingly violent and demeaning to women.

          “What I meant to ask was is it always wrong for women to be sexualised, even if they choose to be?”

          That’s a tough thing to think about really. On the one hand, the woman is willingly participating and putting herself in that position, but on the other, that woman may be representing an entire group of women. Like you said earlier, she’s representing a subset of women, which in this case would be gamers.

          “I understand you don’t want to regulate women’s behaviour, but this is, I think where some men (including at least partly myself), struggle to understand how the sexual objectification of women is sexist when the female models in such adverts, movies, etc., often consent to such depictions of themselves.”

          I think we must also consider why certain women choose to objectify (or allow others to objectify) themselves. This most likely comes from being brought up in a society were this is expected of women, where, in order to be liked or accepted, you must conform to the stereotypes created by that society.

          “My point with talking about movies, tv series, comics, adverts, magazines, etc. and how women are portrayed in it was simply to state that I think it’s part of a wider issue of sexist depictions of women becoming increasingly acceptable within society, even to many women.”

          It is a good point and I fully agree with you.

  9. An Onymous says:

    The morals of the story:

    1) The fact that men like attractive women is apparently supposed to be shocking, outrageous and sexist.
    2) Everything in the universe must accomodate women. Men are not allowed to be anywhere or do anything without women. Even though there’s an endless amount of establishments, organizations, clubs and websites etc. exclusively for women (and men don’t complain about it).

  10. Ton says:

    “If the writers could write engaging female characters, the audience (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) is going to become emotionally involved.”

    That’s a very valid point. Just take a look at how popular characters like Elena (Uncharted series) and Alyx Vance (Half Life series) are.

    People say ‘sex sells’ but is that really true? Most popular games are popular because they are from well-known series, or because they had amazing hype, or amazing marketing. I can’t name one game that sold well purely based on sex (except maybe Bayonetta, though the fact it was made by Devil May Cry’s creator probably helped). I think ‘sex sells’ has become something that people say to excuse female characters who are scantily clad for no reason other than being ‘sexy’.

    I believe realistic, engaging female characters will be remembered for far longer than those who exist solely to titillate.

    • An Onymous says:

      Have you actually played Bayonetta? It’s a very good game. The sexiness is completely incidental.

      • Ton says:

        I have played it and I really enjoyed it. I was just disappointed that the majority of its marketing revolved around ‘sex sells’ when it was a solid game in its own right (dare I say, better than all of the Devil May Cry games). I know the sexiness was one of the main themes of the game and that Bayonetta’s sex appeal and loss-of-clothing-hair was a big aspect of the gameplay, but it seemed cheap for the publishers to market the game as ‘sexy’ and nothing else. If anything, I think it put more people off the game.

  11. Nick says:

    “People say ‘sex sells’ but is that really true?” Have you seen the magazine ImagineFX? For those that don’t know, it’s a magazine which has amazing tutorials on how to paint digitally, whether your using Corel Painter or Photoshop, etc., with a focus on science-fiction and fantasy art. The trouble is, and the reason I stopped buying it was, barely any of their pictures don’t revolve around pinups of overly sexualised women. I don’t think they’ve sold a single issue without a woman on the front cover. This has been brought up in their letters pages a couple of times, and the usual answer given is: “we find it sells well so we don’t want to change that”. They once, as an ‘experiment’, did a choice of two covers, one a beautiful face of a lady elf, and the other was a horrible mutated version of same face with pointy teeth and so on. Because, clearly, the only choice is between pretty or mutated ugly monster.

    “2) Everything in the universe must accomodate women. Men are not allowed to be anywhere or do anything without women. Even though there’s an endless amount of establishments, organizations, clubs and websites etc. exclusively for women (and men don’t complain about it).”

    Actually, men DO complain about it. A lot. And things change to suit us. The European courts just ruled that car insurance companies are not allowed to discriminate against drivers based on their gender. Previously, car insurance companies were offering women cheaper insurance because, statistically, women are involved in less accidents than men. However, that annoyed men like me, who drive safely and at normal speeds, because we were being discriminated against because of other men. So men complained about it, and it was outlawed.

    Having said that, I do get a little annoyed because of the double-standards surrounding some things. There are, as you pointed out, women-only clubs, gyms, organizations, etc. and this isn’t seen as sexual discrimination, yet if there was to be a male-only gym it would be. I think this is supposed to be more of a security thing, as if women are terrified that, while at the gym, sex-obsessed men will strike at any moment, a belief which is ultimately A) degrades women into being terrified helpless sex objects and B) degrades men into being cavemen who ONLY think about sex. In an ideal world, women and men would get equal treatment. Positive discrimination is not the answer, but I don’t think anyone here is arguing that it is.

    “I thought games were being held back by publishers churning out boring identikit games for the lowest common denominator.”

    Here, you have a point but you also completely miss the point. Gaming companies ARE churning out cookie-cutter games which are getting lower and lower-brow (just look at StarCraft II in comparison to the original), BUT part of that cookie-cutter is the sexual depiction of women, or rather, ONLY the sexual depiction of women. My problem, and I wonder how much this is shared by the audience of this blog, is not just that female characters always wear bikinis, but that female characters are often REALLY BORING. They have no personality and are defined solely by their relationship to men. They are very often objects to be rescued, things to be argued over (“get your hands off my woman!”) and plot devices (particularly the murder of women as a reason for men to enact revenge). Women have long asked for strong female characters in games (and film, comics, TV, etc.) and male developers have recently answered by making them all ass-kickers. Yes, this makes the women strong (and there’s nothing wrong with that, per se), but they’re not strong CHARACTERS. And any writer worth his salt knows that characters are the most important part of any story. If the female characters are engaging and interesting, I’m far more likely to care about it if they get kidnapped, or are in trouble or get killed, and am far more likely to sympathise with the lead male when he tries to rescue/avenge her. And I also think I would also be more likely to get emotionally involved with a female character if she wasn’t dressed like a prostitute all the time. But then, I can also understand how guys would be upset when their fap material is under threat.

    “When women slut it up in real life, it mean’s they’re strong and independent and empowering themselves by taking charge of their sexuality.” My opinion is that they’re not taking charge of their sexuality, their sexuality is taking charge of them. But I’m no psychologist, so take from that what you will.

    “But skimpily dressed game characters are an expression of degrading heteronormatively misogynist patriarchal oppression, even if they are stronger, more capable, more attractive and more independent than any woman could ever hope to be, and probably more morally upright than most women.” The issue is not, actually, with the degrading depiction of any one woman, but the fact that most (nearly all) women in games are scantily clad and there is no choice for an alternative, even when a gamer can design a custom character (e.g. in WoW). Having one or some woman being slutty is not an issue because some women are slutty in real life too. It’s when there’s nothing but skanks and we’re supposed to believe that an armoured bikini is seriously something women would wear into battle. They don’t issue bulletproof bikinis to women in the army for a very good reason.

    However, I’m still not sure I understand when some commentors have, essentially, said that porn is ok, but pinups of fictional characters are not. Porn is infamous for its degradation and maltreatment of women.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make myself a sandwich.

    • Cole92 says:

      “However, I’m still not sure I understand when some commentors have, essentially, said that porn is ok, but pinups of fictional characters are not. Porn is infamous for its degradation and maltreatment of women.”

      If I have read correctly, none of the commenters here have actually said porn is “okay”. Perhaps you were referring to my comment, wherein I said: “Yes, the majority of porn that is out there is far worse than some of the images posted on this blog, but this blog focuses on the representation and treatment of women within the gaming community and industry. The issue of pornography is a difficult one among feminist, as some are for it and some against, for various reasons…”.

      Like I said, none of us here said porn was more acceptable than the things we see in video games. However, if I have missed anything, please point me to it.

      • Nick says:

        Cole92, while no commentors referred to porn specifically as being ‘okay’, but the posts I were referring to were:

        “Dude, if I want to look at naked or mostly naked men I’ll go find some porn on the interwebs. I won’t go looking for wallpaper so I can plaster it all over my desktop.” by wundergeek, and:

        “Y’know, porn exists, it’d be nice if you stopped turning women characters into your fap aids and just showed them in lesser degrading art.” from LilithXIV

        both of which seemed, to me, to say “These pictures are disgusting. If you want to get your rocks off, go look at porn instead.” but I may be reading too much into those statements. The two statements just seemed very out-of-place.

        • Cole92 says:

          “…both of which seemed, to me, to say “These pictures are disgusting. If you want to get your rocks off, go look at porn instead.” but I may be reading too much into those statements. The two statements just seemed very out-of-place.”

          I may be incorrect here (as I do not speak for the others on the blog), but I believe by saying “…if I want to look at naked or mostly naked men I’ll go find some porn on the interwebs.” and “Y’know, porn exists, it’d be nice if you stopped turning women characters into your fap aids and just showed them in lesser degrading art.”, Wundergeek and Lilith are making a point that the gaming community and the gaming industry should not be a place for straight men to utilize women’s sexuality for their own pleasure (which is what [most] porn does). I’m not sure if their statements are enough to conclude whether they condemn porn or condone it, but the message that is trying to be made is that gaming is almost going into the realm of conventional pornography, and that shouldn’t be the case. I hope that makes a little bit of sense…

    • LilithXIV says:

      Mm, it’ll take me a bit to reply to the entire post here, Nick, but I would warn that the Anonymous up there is a known misogynist troll on this site (check some posts a few ways back, you’ll see what I mean). I’ll just reply to you though so he doesn’t feel like he’s being validated.

      To the ‘Everything in the universe must accomodate women’. Women are not the ones in the all the political and business positions of power and have been for gazillions of years. Men were (and still are) the ones who strong-armed women out of the public sphere and pushed them toward staying at home and taking care of babies because that was more suited to their ‘role’. Men are not the ones fighting for their bodily autonomy right now either, I’m pretty sure. That’s why entire cultures of say, media, serve to cater to men while degrading women and normally treating them like no more than objects for the satisfaction of the dudes out there (hi, gaming!)? Is it really about his strawman argument of ‘you just want women to get everything!’ or should it be more about ‘we just want women to have something, we just want it to be /fair/, and for men to stop being considered the most valuable person by default and that it’s totally okay to throw women under the bus for them’.

      People like the anonymous up there speak of the ‘endless’ amount of things without any cites or any real insightful information about most of these things. Like the websites he mentions for example, how many of them are usually made because women tend to get harassed and attacked on the internet for… existing. Probably by people like anonymous, who seem to slinging a word like slut oh so casually. That kind of casual misogyny is kind of rampant. I’d make my own little safe space to get away from him and guys like him too. Marginalized groups fighting for their own spaces isn’t the ‘universe accommodating them’, especially not when the the majority of our society tends to just continuously send the message of ‘tits or gtfo’. Honestly I’m pretty much sure that he has concocted a world in his head, so wrapped up in himself that he is, that if women aren’t completely subservient then obviously there’s something Wrong with the world. He sees things as a zero sum game, he doesn’t want equality, which is what the people here are asking for, he wants the imbalance. He wants it to stay where it always has, on his side of things, and giving up that privilege would be difficult for him.

      • An Onymous says:

        I would warn that the Anonymous up there is a known misogynist troll on this site.

        You are either intentionally misusing these words or you have no idea what they mean. Which is it?

        Is it really about his strawman argument of ‘you just want women to get everything!’ or should it be more about ‘we just want women to have something, we just want it to be /fair/, and for men to stop being considered the most valuable person by default and that it’s totally okay to throw women under the bus for them’.

        Nothing is preventing women from starting their own websites, organizations, companies, clubs and associations. The reason why you think that isn’t fair is because it requires women to make an effort and do some work, instead of having everything handed out to them (preferably at the expense of men).

        Probably by people like anonymous, who seem to slinging a word like slut oh so casually.

        So you’re saying all women are sluts? Isn’t that, like, misogynist or something?

        I’d make my own little safe space to get away from him and guys like him too.

        I like how feminists keep alternating between “women are strong and independent and don’t take shit from anyone!” and “women are weak and need safe spaces and affirmative action” depending on which narrative is more convinient at any given moment.

        Marginalized groups fighting for their own spaces isn’t the ‘universe accommodating them.’

        I didn’t know “marginalized groups” are prohibited from starting their own websites, organizations, companies, clubs and associations.

        Especially not when the the majority of our society tends to just continuously send the message of ‘tits or gtfo’.

        The Western world is thoroughly feminist now. Are you perhaps posting from 1951? I wish I had a time machine too.

        Honestly I’m pretty much sure that he has concocted a world in his head, so wrapped up in himself that he is, that if women aren’t completely subservient then obviously there’s something Wrong with the world.

        I’m pretty sure you just randomly made that up.

        He sees things as a zero sum game, he doesn’t want equality, which is what the people here are asking for, he wants the imbalance.

        It’s feminists who don’t want equality.

    • An Onymous says:

      Actually, men DO complain about it. A lot.

      I have never seen a man complain about it.

      The European courts just ruled that car insurance companies are not allowed to discriminate against drivers based on their gender. Previously, car insurance companies were offering women cheaper insurance because, statistically, women are involved in less accidents than men.

      This has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

      Having said that, I do get a little annoyed because of the double-standards surrounding some things.

      You’d think feminists would be hard at work fighting against these double standards, seeing as how they always characterize themselves as champions of equality. Instead, they do exactly the opposite and try to make sure there isn’t even one man on the planet happily doing something without a woman’s supervision.

      BUT part of that cookie-cutter is the sexual depiction of women, or rather, ONLY the sexual depiction of women.

      This is a minor issue that isn’t anywhere close to holding games back.

      And any writer worth his salt knows that characters are the most important part of any story.

      There aren’t that many professional writers working in the industry, and most games have very light story requirements where stereotypes and clichés will do just fine. Video games are not primarily about storytelling.

      Women have long asked for strong female characters in games (and film, comics, TV, etc.) and male developers have recently answered by making them all ass-kickers. Yes, this makes the women strong (and there’s nothing wrong with that, per se), but they’re not strong CHARACTERS.

      I wouldn’t pay any attention to what feminists are asking since they will never be satisfied with anything, and will keep complaining no matter what. And if they feel so strongly about this issue they should start their own development studios instead of constantly demanding men to do everything for them.

      It’s when there’s nothing but skanks and–

      Obvious hyperbole.

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