Games I won’t let my daughter play

Here’s the thing about having a three year old daughter. I write a lot about feminism, but even I wasn’t prepared for how goddamn early the cultural indoctrination happens. My daughter’s birthday was only three months ago, and yet she has already been infected with pink and with princesses. Her favorite toys are now princesses, her favorite movies are princess movies, and she insists that she herself is a princess (when she’s not insisting that she’s a fish). And every day she asks to wear dresses.

It wouldn’t be so bad if that’s as far as it went. I could handle having a pink-obsessed, princess-loving, dress-wearing daughter if she hadn’t also accepted all of the garbage that goes along with that. But more than once I have heard her observe, unprompted!, that “girls can’t” do… you name it. Mundane activities. Like “drive”. Even worse was when she said “a proper woman should…”

She never finished the sentence, so I don’t know what would have come next. But honestly, I don’t need to, because I know how that script reads and I know what it leads to – the same issues that I am still struggling with myself in my thirties surrounding my own internalized guilt about being generally pretty crappy at adhering to standard expectations of feminine behavior. Which breaks my fucking heart, because my daughter is three. She makes up stories about her toys, loves climbing things, and is so intensely curious and innocent. So the fact that she, AT THE AGE OF THREE has already internalized the idea that being female makes her LESS…

Well. It makes me want to punch the goddamn universe in the face.

Now, to be sure, as terrible as I feel about it, my spouse and I can’t be held entirely accountable. Since she’s in daycare, she spends more time with other people than she does with us. And even if she didn’t, it’s impossible to control for every exposure to possibly harmful media, because we have to leave the damn house on a daily basis.

Still, it doesn’t prevent me from putting a lot of thought into the sorts of media, games included, that I will allow her to consume while at home. Because while it may be impossible to prevent her from internalizing the core beliefs of our sexist culture, I certainly can do my best to expose her to alternative points of view during her formative years. The problem is that, when I try to come up with titles that I would be okay introducing her to, I don’t come up with a whole lot that she actually can play.

 

Things that are most definitely Not Allowed

1) Games with Damsels in Distress

First, my daughter will not be allowed to play any games that revolve around saving a damsel in distress. Period. It’s bad enough that at the age of three she’s already learning to think of herself as less capable than boys. But given that she’s obsessed with princesses, and well, a lot of damsels in video games are… fucking princesses…

Damsels

Yeah. So right off the hop, that rules out any game in the Super Mario series, except for Super Mario Brothers 2, since Peach is actually playable in that one. If asked, I’ll refuse to acknowledge any other game in the series. (Just like how I think it’s really sad that they never made a sequel to X-Men 2, or how Spider Man 3 never happened. Wink wink, nudge nudge) Mario Kart is all right, of course, since the characters are just color in those, but even Super Princess Peach (the one game that Peach starred in as her own title) will be verboten, since her superpowers in that game are basically having emotions and crying. So, you know, fuck that noise.

Likewise, any Zelda game. Zelda gets damseled in EVERY SINGLE ONE, even the ones where she turns into Shiek. And yes, Hyrule Warriors is a game, and yes you can play Zelda, and no she doesn’t get damseled. But Zelda’s costume design is a cleavagey boobplate nightmare, and she actually attacks people by pulling glowing energy OUT OF HER DAMN BITS to attack people. NO I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Plus there’s also Shia, whose design is just a hot mess of pointless sexualization and that brings us back to nooooope. No Zelda.

Plus, you know, all those other games where women get damseled. You know, Donkey Kong, StarFox, Ico… (I could go on and on, but really it’s just easier to link to part 1 of the Feminist Frequency video on damsels, because really the list is just depressingly long.) That shit just isn’t going to exist in my house.

2) Any game with fridged female characters

Because Jesus Christ, do I really even need to explain why the trope of fridged women is a terrible idea to introduce as commonplace to a three year old girl?

Fridge

So, you know, thankfully this spares me from having to prevent her from playing a lot of games that I’m personally attached to. Games like StarCraft (which fridges Kerrigan), Max Payne (fridges his wife and daughter), and God of War (fridges his wife and daughter) have never really been my cup of tea.

However, one of my all time favorite games, a game that I replay every few years because I absolutely adore the gameplay and will never get tired of it, is Final Fantasy Tactics. And FFTactics unfortunately manages to have not one, but two damsels in distress (Alma and Princess Ovelia – again with the princesses!). But you also have a fridged woman – Delita’s sister Teta. So as much as it breaks my heart to ban Tactics, because really it’s a flawless example of a tactical RPG, Tactics goes on the shit list too.

Along with, you know, every fucking game featured in part TWO of FemFreq’s Damsel series. So, just with our first two points, we’re already running out of games that can be considered.

3) Games with pointless fucking fanservice

I certainly don’t want my daughter to internalize the idea that being strong and competent requires being sexually pleasing to men. Nor do I want her to internalize unhealthy lessons about how she “should” look, because our culture is already saturated with toxic imagery that holds women to literally impossible standards of beauty. I don’t need to add to that bombardment by exposing her to that kind of bullshit in media that is meant to entertain.

Objectified

Unfortunately, that means mostly no online roleplaying games. Certainly not League of Legends, or really any MOBA. Or… you know, really any MMO, except Dark Age of Camelot or Lord of the Rings Online. Except… wait. No, almost none of the major lore characters are women, and hell, almost none of the minor lore characters are women either. So… just Dark Age then. Yes I know that it’s unspeakably ancient and a second-gen MMO that hasn’t kept up with standard MMO UI innovations, but that’s just the price she’ll have to pay. Oh and she’ll have to play on a roleplaying server so doesn’t run into female toons with names like “Muffeater” or “Sweettits” – yes both actual honest to god names I have literally seen.

What else…

Well, as far as single player games go, no Mortal Kombat or Soul Calibur. Or, you know, really any fighting games at all, because fighting games are the goddamn reason why “jiggle physics” are even a thing in the first place. It does make me a bit sad, because I lost hundreds of hours to the original Soul Calibur and to Soul Calibur 2; also, Mortal Kombat 1 was one of the first games that my brother and I purchased for ourself and I have many fond memories of playing it. But … yeah. No.

Sadly, #3 means I’ll also have to outlaw a good portion of the Final Fantasy games. It will be hard, and sad, and I will struggle with temptation, but it has to be done. Frankly, anything past Final Fantasy X-2 just has to go. From the ridiculous, ass-exposing shorts Yuna wears in X-2, to Fran’s awful lingerie ninja outfit in XII, to Vanille’s outfit and porny battle noises in XIII… yeah. I did think about outlawing X, but really X is mostly equal opportunity with it’s objectification, so it can stay. Especially because Yuna is one of my favorite female protagonists in games. (Even if her outfit has a stupid amount of sideboob for someone who is traveling across the damn continent and fighting monsters.)

Most heartbreaking, however, is the fact that I will have to outlaw Mass Effect 2 and 3 because of the ridiculously sexualized female companions. Mass Effect 2 has Miranda of the Ass Cleavage, Samara the Space MILF, and Jack of the Ridiculous Nipple Straps, and given that they’re in your party they’re pretty inescapable. Mass Effect 3 is a bit better, but EDI still gets her fucking awful sex-droid body, not to mention that Jack and Miranda still make cameos, so… no Mass Effect 2 or 3, which kills Mass Effect altogether since ME1 is really not all that playable since the stupid Mako missions are required.

And can we just have a moment of silence, because honestly my N7 hoodie is one of my most treasured possessions, and I am still ridiculously excited about getting the reversible Paragon/Renegade hoodie for my birthday this year.

…shit. We’re down to a handful of games here, but there are more things I want to ban. Like…

4) Games with no female characters, or smurfettes, or female characters who are only important for their connection to male characters

Games with NO female characters? That should be fairly obvious, I’d think. Games with smurfettes, though, those have to go too. That particular brand of under-representation really contributes to the notion that women always have to compete with one another – because if half of the population are women, but only 20% or so are heroic, that means that other women who are competent must be the enemy. And while we’re at it we’ll also lump in games who feature female characters that are only important because of their connection to male characters, because that is deprotagonizing and heteronormative as fuck and seriously it’s almost 2016 and I want my daughter to learn that she has the power to make a difference in the world.

Manz

So, uh, let’s see. Well, much as I loved Sonic, none of the early Sonic games, because they only had Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik, all of whom are male. It also means pretty much nothing by Blizzard, especially anything based on WarCraft IP. (Except Blizzard already DQs themselves with their copious amounts of pointless sexualization of female characters, so I guess that’s really a non-issue.)

Sadly, this also catches up games that I’ve even been playing pretty recently. Bastion is totally guilty of this; Zia is “central”, but only in that the McGuffin is her father’s journal, and Zulf and the Kid wind up fighting over her. Sure she sorta has an opinion for what you should choose at the end, but you can totally ignore her if you want, because why would you listen to a girl?

Oh god, we’re really down to almost nothing here, but there’s just one more thing that I have to ban and that’s…

5) Games that are casually misogynist

hitman_dead_woman

There’s enough casual misogyny in the world without it being packaged as entertainment. Bad enough that she’s going to have to learn that casual misogyny is a thing without me having to introduce the concept of casual misogyny AS ENTERTAINMENT.

So, you know, Grand Theft Auto. The Arkham games. The entire Hitman series…

So. Uh. I guess that leaves… puzzle games? Which isn’t so bad because I love puzzle games! Like, Katamari is one of my favorite games ever! Except… wait. No. No Katamari, because it’s about The King and The Prince, and it takes a long time to unlock The Princess. And there is a Queen, but only in the intro, and she only seems to exist to be pretty and make pies and…

…you know what, maybe I’d better just stop there.

38 thoughts on “Games I won’t let my daughter play

  1. Maybe as she grows older, the game industry will wake up and stop treating half their customer base as disposable.
    When she reaches the appropriate age, maybe some of these would do: Ori and the Blind Forest, Gone Home, Ninja Pizza Girl, Minecraft. I think Feminist Frequency has a curated list of reasonable games on Steam.

  2. Just to be really pedantic, Zelda doesn’t get Damselled in Twilight Princess. There’s still more than enough there for it to make your ban list, like Telma, but Zelda played so little a role and was never the “”needy woman”” Phantom Hourglass it was Tetra, and I don’t know how much spirit tracks counts given she was a companion and actually – I think – done really well.
    I think you might just have to limit your daughter to Minecraft….

  3. The Sims is good – and was the source of the “where do babies come from?” conversation with my daughter😛 (Actually, “How do I make my Sim be pregnant?” – I managed to have an entire second child without my older daughter actually asking . . .) Bonus points for being able to have same-sex relationships and bi characters and not needing any weird special mechanics or explanations for it.

    Still have things like SimCity, too, and the Civilization series, and a bunch of other sim-type games (although not all of them, unfortunately). You can skin your Minecraft avatar to be female, so no real issues there unless you want your daughter to actually play with other people – but that’s usually a recipe for disaster all on its own. One of my favorites – which I’ve let my daughter play already – is Magical Diary by Hanako Games, who also does “Science Girls” (another “yay girls can like science and be good fighters” title).

    My daughters are 7 and 3, so I’m right in the middle of this now. I have found several games I’m fine with her playing, but you’re absolutely right that the number of games with NO weird sexist crap is somewhat limited :-\

    • In fact, I’ll just go ahead and plug the whole Hanako repertoire, particularly “Black Closet,” “Magical Diary,” “Science Girls,” and “Long Live the Queen.” I’d love to see more female and feminist game designers out there, honestly, but Hanako does some great work. http://hanakogames.com/ and a bunch of them are also on Steam.

      • I think I’d be a bit wary of those because the artwork style is very anime – to the point where some of the Steam reviews are all about teh boobies.

      • Wouldn’t Long Live the Queen play into some of the “girls can’t do X” problem due to the repetitious nature of the game + the way the main character responds to those around her when she doesn’t have enough “stats” (Which happens quite a bit)? I mean, technically she CAN do X, but most playthroughs she won’t be able to do X and she’ll act nervous when she can’t do X.

        • I think there’s a big difference between “I didn’t pick the stats to do X” (which applies to every stat-picking game ever, with characters of any gender) and “This game is written to categorically not allow women to do X.” Long Live the Queen gives the potential to do all kinds of stuff, if you plan it right. I mean, it’s probably too frustrating a game for younger kids, because you’re pretty much guaranteed to die 99% of the time, but persistence proves you CAN do whatever you want eventually🙂

  4. How about just stuff her in a bomb shelter until she’s older, like Brendan Fraser in “Blast from the Past?”

  5. OK so I’m Serbian and as such some of my recommendation might not be good for a Canadian, but here goes:

    Have you played Armello? Would Armello be appropriate for you daughter? The rabbit and bear in the trailer are women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DIV8Hwy4n0

    Darkest Dungeon also has classes that are purely male or purely female that you can play. So it might be something she can play.

    Dex is a cyberpunk game who has women as both the main protagonist and the main antagonist.

    Thomas Was Alone is something she could play. Maybe?

    NyxQuest has a female protagonist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB-UKmntuT4

    Ziggurat has female characters you can play, but I don’t there is a female starter in that game.

    I’m out of ideas otherwise. If you are looking for books to read to your 3 year old I recommend anything by Tamora Pierce as she writes awesome stuff with female leads of varying ages. Of course only read her Tamora Pierce’s stuff to her if you would read her the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings since it’s about on the same level.

  6. I can give some suggestions, but I’m not sure how age appropriate they are. (No sex or anything.) I second Hanako Games, she makes really great stuff. One of hers that wasn’t mentioned was Cute Knight. It’s a child-raising simulation game that stars a girl. Like Princess Maker, but without all the naughty bits. (I also loved Magical Diary! Just like Harry Potter, but with a female main character, and fantastic writing!)

    Super Mario 3D World has Peach as a playable character, just like SMB2, and it has Rosalina, too, after you beat the game.

    Pikmin 3 has a woman in their roster of three characters. It’s up to you whether that’s good enough or not, but it is a fantastic game, too.

    Torchlight 2 allows you to play female versions of all classes, unlike 1.

    Broken Age stars a girl of color who doesn’t take shit from anybody.

    Defender’s Quest is a tower defense that also stars a woman as the main character. She, herself, doesn’t fight, but her party that she controls has 6 classes, 3 male, 3 female. One of the female classes is a dragon!

    All the Gemcraft games (tower defense) don’t specify the sex of the main character.

    Recettear is a cute game that stars a woman and her fairy advisor on running an RPG Shop. Much of the gameplay is selling items and haggling, but there is some dungeon crawling, too. I don’t remember how balanced the adventurers that you play with are, but there are many women.

    Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP stars a woman.

    Cinders really inverts and subverts the whole Cinderella story and tropes. Very excellent game.

    There is Don’t Starve, you have to unlock characters, unless you play Don’t Starve Together. It has a morbid sense of humor, it has to, I guess, since it deals with Survival. It’s pretty balanced with the characters.

    The new Pokemon games let you choose to play as a girl.

    I’m sure there’s more, but this list is probably long enough. Enjoy!

  7. Minus the idiotic judgmental posts, I’m really loving all these recommendations for games I haven’e heard of. I don’t have kids, but I do like knowing about non-exploitative/all-gender-friendly games I can support financially. So thank you to everyone posting suggestions!

    I will only add my voice to the Minecraft suggestions! Creative mode means no violence for while she’s still young, but promotes an amazing amount of creativity. Though you already know this.🙂

    • I have more recommendations, if you want. I left off some things that were more mature in nature, like very gory, or heady subject matter.

      Analogue: A Hate Story. You are tasked with figuring out what happened to a lost generation ship. You get to select your sex during the course of the game and be whatever sexual orientation you want, although it doesn’t impact gameplay that much. You mostly talk to the AIs in game, very story heavy.

      Hate Plus. Analogue’s sequel. After you figure out what happened to the ship, this game explains how it got that way. Identical gameplay.

      Those two games were made by Christine Love. She has two free ones, if you want to try out her style of writing: Digital: A Love Story and Don’t Take it Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story. I think she did best with Analogue and its sequel, however.

      The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead Season 2. Based on the comic book (which I haven’t read.) Extremely intense, I wouldn’t recommend it to squeemish players. Surviving the zombie apocalypse. The first game stars a man of color, Lee and his orphaned charge Clementine. The second game lets you play Clementine herself.

      Papers, Please. Not a female character, but still a very good game. You play a border crossing station guard for an increasingly bureaucratic and totalitarian government. You get to decide whether the people should immigrate to your country, or not. (Some nudity, not gratuitious.)

      The Stanley Parable. Again, not a female playable character, but a meta game about gaming. Has to be experienced; you can’t be told what the game is about.

      Okami. Ok, people still don’t know about this game, somehow. It’s like Zelda, but how Zelda should have been. It does have a few WTF moments in it though, like a couple of characters are sexualized, one for no reason, but the other, I could argue that it has everything to do with her character. Since you play as a (female) wolf a couple of your attacks are bodily waste based. (Sorry.) They’re not used terribly often, so you can overlook them if you want. I do wish that the female goddess wolf element had been played up more, but se la vie.

      I have some more to recommend, but these games, while very good, are much more problematic, and do some of the things Wundergeek complains about. I didn’t know if I should list them. Tell me if you want me to.

      • One critique of Stanley Parable (Despite being one of my favorite games period)
        There is an ending that uses Stanley’s “wife” literally as an object. (You hear her call you into the house, just find find out she’s a mannequin that was used to mess with you.)
        Also, some people might not like the “Cardboard baby going into fire game” bit (like new parents).
        If those don’t deter you, you’re going to have a good time. OH, and the DEMO is a completely separate and uniqe game from the actual game and does not contain the previously mentioned problems, so if nothing else, at least play the demo.

  8. While many of these won’t be for a 3 year old, some others that I have not seen mentioned:
    Strong recommendations:
    Portal (1 and 2): You free yourself from imprisonment.
    Undertale: NOT FOR KIDS, but when she’s older, main character is could be interpreted as male or female, strong theme of not hurting others, lesbian and gay relationships that are treated as perfectly normal.

    SPOILERS:
    Also, for you personally, Undertale is the type of game that will chastise you if you play it as the grizzled murder hobo you detest so much.

    END SPOILERS.

    Pokemon games after Gold/Silver: Can chose to play as females, the highest level pokemon trainers are mixes of guys and girls.

    Weaker:
    Super Smash Bros. Melee: No zero suit Samus.
    The Blackwell series of games: Am adventure game where a woman teams up with a ghost (male) to solve mysteries that let other ghosts move on into the afterlife
    Monkey Island 1 and 2: In 1, female governor seems to get damseled, but turns out she was fine saving herself and you almost ruin her plan. In 2, she’s broken up with main character, showing that female lead doesn’t always have to be romantically involved with main lead.

    DANG IT, perfect till realized:
    Chrono Trigger: WAS going to say “If you’re willing to be a bit less strict with no damsels (One main party member, who is technically a princess, but doesn’t dress like one, gets damseled early on, but you work with another woman to get her back AND late in the game the main character who is male gets damseled and saving him is completely optional.)”

    But then I remembered Schala.
    Frick.

    • Aaaaaand just noticed under pokemon I used the term “females” in the creepy noun way. I apologize for the slip up.

    • I know I’ve been posting a lot, but I’ve realized that most of my recommendations were PC/Nintendo, and haven’t talked about cell phone games:
      Steven Universe Attack the Light: RPG like paper mario where 3 Crystal Gems (who are all coded female) fight monsters made of light while Steven does not fight but helps out the gems with items and encouragement.

      Two dots: puzzle game about connecting dots.

      And that’s the extent of my knowledge. Anyone else with more knowledge of the smart phone game environment got any good ones?

  9. What I’m curious about: while discouraging sexist games is a good thing to do (especially that young), at a certain point, isn’t it better to allow games with problematic content while having that open a discussion? I have fond memories of watching M*A*S*H as a kid with my dad, which had a lot of problematic issues (sexism DEFINITELY being one of them), but my dad would talk about how some things on TV aren’t good in real life, and other problems with how some characters treated each other.
    Of course, not a parent, so I understand I am probably severely lacking in child upbringing. Just curious. I just noticed that you brought up some things you loved that you sound sad you can’t share, and there might be a way to get the good out of those games while mitigating the harm (or it might be a positive teaching her to look out for those things even in games/movies/TV shows she likes).

    • [Semi-mod voice because I don’t feel like repeating this a bunch. (This discussion has been moving too fast for me to keep up with it on a mostly solo-parenting weekend.)

      Obviously I’m not talking about games that would be appropriate for her to play RIGHT NOW. Because, uh, she’s three. And that would be insane. But yeah, this was written half tongue-in-cheek, because I have SO MANY COMPLICATED FEELS about some of these games. Final Fantasy? Has some of the best-written female characters in games, period, despite their bullshit character designs. Same for Mass Effect. I mean, FEMSHEP. COME ON.

      So partly I wrote this to illustrate just how goddamn difficult it is to be a parent who doesn’t want my daughter’s introduction to games to be games that will contribute to the sexist conditioning she is already receiving. Will I actually ban all of these games? …probably not. But some of them, you bet. I loved THE SHIT out of FFX-2, but that’s part of my collection that is going to stay hidden for a looooong time.]

      • Oh yeah, as an illustration of how hard it is to find games that don’t give the wrong message, it is incredibly illuminating. Trying to get my mind into a recommending mode that takes all those criteria into account (instead of just, what games do I like) was challenging, and the fact it was challenging is a huge disappointment, because of the current state as well as history of the industry. We didn’t even get to the good and bad of games made explicitly for children (Like the mix of progressiveness and lazy stereotypes in the backyard sports games, or how characters like putt-putt, pajama sam, frieddy fish, and spy fox are all male.)
        Even though I don’t have kids, I occasionally like to look up game and movie reviews on https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ since they look at games from a very parent perspective and pick up on things I don’t usually think about. (Even if I don’t always agree with the ratings, I do find them interesting)

      • Also, saw on twitter you were getting crap for this article, which is too bad because it is a really interesting article and I think you deserve to know that (even if 1 negative comment, no matter how false it rings, can ruin your day more than 100 positive comments)😦

  10. My daughter also attached herself to the Princess shit when she was a toddler and I still blame myself for not sequestering her enough. She is now saying her college education is just for her to be well rounded so that she can help educate her own children but that she wants to skip a career and marry as soon as she graduates. As much as I hate to say it, I can finally understand the disgust or betrayal a Christian fundamentalist has when their child comes out as gay. I know that’s different, but it’s still like a punch in the gut and it is straining my ability to reach down to where my love is. I feel like I’ve lost her and I can’t go where she is going.

  11. About the only MMO I can think of that is good fairly across the board wrt women, especially in lore, is Guild Wars 2. There are a lot of major lore figures, and storylines involving their descendants, who are women that fought back against the patriarchy and dealt some pretty major blows in their respective societies. There are still cults that follow those patriarchal dudes but they’re all bad guys. (AKA how I know my girlfriends are playing GW2: “Wanna come kill some patriarchy?” “Sure!” *ten minutes later* “DIE PATRIARCHY DIE BWAHAHAHA”)

    There are also a lot of little stories in the game that are pretty awesome. There is a ruling Queen who hasn’t chosen a consort yet and walking through the city capitol, you can run across a couple of noblewomen, one of whom is complaining that there’s no heir and the Queen doesn’t seem to really care. The other replies in effect sarcastically (it’s voiced), “So, you’re mad because the Queen isn’t barefoot and pregnant?”

    There is definite “eye candy” armor, but it’s more common for some races than others. Norn and Human, mostly, and it’s not uncommon to find armor sets where the female version actually covers more than the male one does. I particularly remember one set that you could buy via the gem store where a guildie and I both met to show off our new outfits. He was on a male character, me a female one, of the same race. I did a double-take and asked, “How am I wearing a plunging neckline while your character is… wait, does your character even HAVE a shirt?” (Answer: Yes but not much of one.) Even then, it is really easy to steer away from revealing outfits; it’s not like some games where your only option for levels upon levels IS a bikini.

    It’s not something I’d suggest for a three year old, obv, but later on, it’s something I’d look into, especially as there are numerous examples of lesbian and gay couples (one of the races is assumed to canonically all be pansexual), and a trans character as well. ArenaNet has been very good about having women devs and other minorities, at pretty much every level; I remember when they were designing the Charr (felinoid race) and the question of art came up. The woman in charge of the art team (if I recall her position correctly) gave the ultimatum of, “They’re cat people. Six breasts or none.” Answer: None.

    It’s not perfect, no game is, but they’ve done a lot better than many others. And I must admit that playing through all the personal stories and later living world and expac stories, the number of awesome women continues to grow.

    Although, I hope that when your three year old is of appropriate gaming age to be looking at stuff like this, there are a LOT more options for her out there.

    • I would also like to add that Final Fantasy XIV is pretty good with female representation, considering that before the expansion, all three major nations had women as their leaders/figureheads. The nation that they added in the current expansion, Ishgard, is run by a religious patriarchy, but it’s established pretty early on that their system of government is corrupt and… well, I’d rather not spoil it. Also, the gender parity between armors is pretty great, with 99% of the equipment being identical between the sexes. There are a few exceptions, mostly with gender specific event equipment. FFXIV does have a few issues, and that’s mostly with what some prevalent women NPCs wear.

  12. We’re not really a (video) gamer household, so we don’t have that issue, but I hear you on the “princess peril” / gender stereotyping inundation. I cringe every time I walk into the toy section of a Target or Fred Meyer and see there’s a “boy section” and a (always pink) “girl section.” My boy (who is nearly five, and whose favorite color is pink) is starting to distance himself from things he previously liked because they’re “girl toys.” I shudder when I think about what my 18 month old daughter faces. Like you, I often want to punch the universe.

  13. Mass Effect 3 NOT any better than Mass Effect 2 in regards to pointless sexualisation than Mass Effect 2, in fact it’s WORSE in that it takes the only woman that looked like a normal soldier and turns her into a Kim Kartrashian clone.

    In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen you address Mass Effect 3’s treatment of Ashley Williams at all, I recall you mentioning before ME3 came out that she was one example of an unsexualised character in the first two Mass Effect games. If you considered her to be an example of an unsexualised character in video games surely you’d have addressed the over sexualisation she was put through for the third game? The artbook even says ‘we let her hair down and gave her sex appeal’

    IMO, ME3 Ashley is the worst example of pointless sexualisation in Mass Effect, Miranda and Samara were sexy from the get-go (not so sure about Jack as she’s the female version of the IRL hardass prisoner who walks around shirtless to show off all his tats that prove how hard he is, I believe some of Jack’s tatts symbolise kills she’s made) but with Ashley they took a character who in the first game said ‘you won’t catch me dead in light armour, you can’t outrun bullets’ and made her default battle outfit for ME3 a frakking catsuit.

    Her voice actor Kimberly Brooks is one of the people who dislike her new look.

  14. I recommend the Touhou series. All female cast, no damseling, no fanservice, great art (usually), great music, lots of fun. They are ridiculously hard, though.

  15. We chose to home-school our daughter partly to insulate her from the sort of toxic cultural environment you’re talking about. She still loves princesses (you can’t insulate them completely), but she rarely backs away from trying anything.

    This will sound like an odd recommendation, but some of the Barbie computer games were actually decent for kids. The main protagonist is a woman and there are no damsels in distress (although there is a man in distress in the Three Musketeers game). They do reinforce the “princess” and “pink” memes, but we found them to be otherwise okay and our daughter loved them.

  16. So your solution is to just ban things from your house? If your daughter grows up playing video games, she’s going to hear about Mario and Zelda a lot, and she’s going to want to play them. What’s more, she will inevitably play them. Could be when she’s 10, might be when she’s 25, but sooner or later she will. And just as inevitably she’s going to have fun, and resent you for denying her access to them for so long. I say this because my idiot father did the exact same thing in regards to Disney films (no, I have no idea what his problem with them was), and all he accomplished in the end was causing me to take a dim view of him in retrospect.

    By taking this course you’d also be throwing away ample opportunities for critical analysis and discussions with your daughter about what aspects you think are dumb, and why you think they’re dumb. And what kind of person decides to just outright forbid something because it has some parts they don’t like? I can’t help but roll my eyes at Frank Herbert when on occasion his conservative bent shone through too much in his writing, but that doesn’t stop me from proudly having the complete Dune series on my bookshelf.

    The world is filled with things you might not like, but trying to just shut out the parts you don’t like is a poor solution. No matter how much you insulate your kids, they will come in contact with stuff you don’t approve of. At worst you’ll have produced an adult who is poorly equipped to cope when she is set free out in the real world.

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