A satirical look at a gaming glitch
by Jeremy Berlinski
Staff Game Boy
Over the past few decades, the use of video games has found a way to integrate itself into countless cultures across the globe. Countless stories, premises, and worlds have been created in the world of video games, so much that extremely popular genres have been popping up in almost all games that can be found on most teenagers’ shelves. Some of the more popular genres include first-person shooters, strategy games, vehicle simulation, and role-playing games (RPGs). However, a certain trend has appeared in nearly all video game genres, especially in the sub-genre of war games that emphasize strategic or tactical warfare, to the point where it has become a stereotype in the gaming world. Of course, this trend refers to the extremely inappropriate portrayal of women, leaving the feminist community, and the general public, in a great uproar.
All too often in video games, it can be seen that women are found wearing nothing more than the stereotypical short skirt and sports bra. In the previously mentioned war games that almost always involve the male characters being heavily armored and participating in hand-to-hand combat, the skimpy apparel of female characters becomes an even greater problem, more so than just being inappropriately dressed for the weather. While male characters are heavily suited up for intense combat while the female characters are portrayed as being clad in flimsy armor that barely covers their bodies. Their “armor” leaves much of the crucial regions of the body vulnerable, such as the abdominal region and the limbs. The feminist community has relentlessly pointed out that portraying women dressed in inappropriate battle armor sends the world the message that women are too stupid to dress themselves according to proper battle code. They continue to ask the undying question: Why make women leave so many crucial regions of the body so open to easy attacks and critical hits?
“My son and daughter love to play World of Warcraft and other similar games in lieu of having any friends” says Cindy Minelsi, clutching her children’s hands affectionately. “It always pains me to see the girl fighters leaving themselves so vulnerable to crucial blows! What kind of message does that send to my daughter?”
Minelsi went on to give an account of her seven-year-old daughter, Vanessa, going out for a bicycle ride and refusing to strap on her helmet. In fact, she went so far as to refuse to put on her knee and shoulder pads. “Why should I have to protect myself?” Minelsi recalls her daughter shouting back after Minelsi tried to strap on the appropriate gear. “If the warriors in World of Warcraft don’t need to protect themselves, why should I have to?”
After giving in to her stubborn daughter, Vanessa had to be consoled by her mother after becoming very upset when she scraped her knee. A gruesome shallow laceration that required Neosporin and three band-aids resulted in the lack of the proper armor necessary to safely ride a bike. This occurred three weeks prior.
Minelsi involuntarily moves her hand across her daughter’s knee where she bears the scars of social injustice.
Upon hearing the news of the tragic accident suffered by Vanessa, Tom Chilton, one of the lead designers of World of Warcraft and Lead Game Designer currently working for Blizzard Entertainment, expresses that he can’t help but feel partially responsible for Vanessa’s fate. “World of Warcraft, and other games alike, have been subliminally telling its audience that girls do not need to wear protective gear during dangerous activities” Chilton explains. “How? Well, in our game, women leave so much of their body exposed, leaving their attackers with an easy chance to go in for a fatal blow.”
Chilton went on to explain that if the female fighters in the game were dressed in armor that was just an eighth of an inch thick, fatal injuries for female characters would decrease by 78 percent, a substantial number in the gaming world.
“It gives the gamer a sense of edge, a sense of adventure and added danger. The audience responds to the fact that the female characters are less protected” Chilton reasoned after being asked why the designers do not just dress the female characters appropriately for battle. “It’s what makes games like these truly unique. If we gave in to these demands and put more clothes and armor on the female fighters, we’d lose more than half of our audience.”
Fred Klifdon, a 42-year-old single man from Seattle, Washington, responded “Chilton is a good man” when inquired about his thoughts regarding Chilton’s refusal to appropriately attire the female fighters in his all-too-popular computer game. “I think it’s kinda hawt,” Klifdon added with a chuckle and a wide grin that scrunched up his poorly-groomed salt-and-pepper mustache.
While game developers continue to refuse to dress women appropriately for battle as a result of their business interests, stories like Vanessa Minelsi will continue to rear their ugly heads in the news. When impressionable children spend as much time playing video games as they do today, the tiniest details of the game are able to construct a bridge from the fantasy world to the real world of the child. Video games have become too big a part in our daily lives to let game designers and developers get away with such a promotion of social injustice.