Tuesday, 21 December 2010

As people, we’re sexual beings. It happens all the time all around the world, even now as I type and now as you read. So naturally, promoting sex and offering humorous innuendos where appropriate to sell a product is only natural, and there would be a massive gap in the sales market without it. However, it’s not always appropriate, or appreciated in certain situations.

Earlier this week when going through a stressful house hunt, I me and my prospective housemates, entered an estate agents and asked to see what 5 bedroom houses. We were given this:

Now, let’s take a step back a minute. I’m a 20 year old male. I’m hardly going to be the type of character which is prude, but seriously?! When I was first handed this, I didn’t know what the agent had handed me, or what they were proposing. I was kind of in shock. Perhaps it was just the fact that I was stressed from the house hunting situation, but I really didn’t appreciate this blatant promotion of sex to try and get me to sell a house. It’s not like there is any subtlety to it.In any case, I let it go and went on to look at the houses within the paperwork underneath the facade. Yet once I’d finished with that situation, I came home, signed into MSN as you do, and this popped up:

Once again my mouth dropped open. “Sexiest characters ever immortalised in pixels”. So I decided to follow the article into what is considered as a “sexy” game character and see if there was anything other than your typical “tits and guns” characters. For the majority of the characters, I’d say no, it was your regular Kasumi from dead or alive type of character, with breasts larger than life and “armour” that protects and conceals about as much as a piece of string in a high breeze. Just about the only positive grace for one or two characters were the fact that the body was anatomically correct and the artistic judgement on the colour scheme for the clothes against the character themselves and the composition of some of the images.

It seems however, that in terms of games, when it comes to selling games with sex, it’s aimed very much towards straight men. In all fairness, the vast majority of serious gamers are male. But with women all presented with tits and guns to appeal to men, what are games doing to the male characters to appeal to men?

From what I’ve seen there’s defiantly more verity with the male characters. Games with “bad ass” fantasy characters like the Gears of War and Halo have these unstoppable, supernatural, anatomical monstrosities for protagonists. With games like Red Dead Redemption or Splintercell, the character isn’t particularly attractive, or you can’t even see their face, but they have a skill or an attitude that the player would probably love to have them self. Also, RPG style games like the Elder Scrolls games, or Dragonage, the player can customise the character, to be as ugly or attractive as they live with basically a default perfectly defined generic body throughout, and they can customise the character’s skills and make choices to what the player wants in the game, including actually partaking in the act of sex. When looking at these games I noticed that they have one main feature in common. All these different types of male characters have an attribute that the player themselves would want to have given the choice. If the player could be this unstoppable killing machine, with a bad ass attitude and gets away with it, with the perfect body and can go around having sex with whoever whenever, they probably would. Having male characters like this allows them to escape into this world where they get a limited, consequence-less taste of this.

If I apply this same logic to the depiction of women in games, it's unfortunate, but it makes sense that the industry would assume that teenage boys want to see their women as objects of sex and attraction as oppose to female warriors with a back bone like Sigourney Weaver's most iconic, Ellen Ripley from the original Alien franchise. Which is a shame because personally, I'd rather play along side, or as Ellen Ripley than an in game version of Barbie.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Maxwell Taylor said...
    Some very good points made there, Tom.

    I was shocked to see that leaflet's cover too. It's incredibly insulting that people in marketing deem us students to be of a mental calibre that renders sex-selling an effective way to catch our attention.

  3. heh, well I'm sure if pitched right, it would probably catch my attention, it was just the crude and in your face manor that it was presented which made me want to write this.