So it has been a while since I have written anything people would consider “controversial” and for good reason, I have recently been having a bit of problem online due to the use of a certain twitter hash tag and that’s as far as I will go into that so I hope you guys understand but one thing I will tell you about is a problem that I noticed during said online problem and that people is the incredible double standard of how characters are treated because of their gender.
Yep it’s another one of those days where I am kicking the internet’s hornet nest and expecting not to get swarmed but this year I have learned that it just comes with the territory when you write things on the internet and I will just have to put up with it but no big deal so on to the subject at hand.
Now I have written three posts about this subject before and well they were like the equivalent of me getting a couple cans of petrol, pouring them all over my self and lighting a match, yes it’s that dangerous of a subject to write about when it shouldn’t be but moving on to the actual discussion about the double standards.
The way I could best describe the double standards is if there was a crack in the sidewalk, instead of it being a small narrow crack, it’s a giant gaping chasm with an infinite drop and I will gladly tell you why but this is my own opinion so please don’t go all torches and pitchforks on me guys for simply voicing it.
Now there are a number of factors that go into this problem with one being that people want characters to reflect them and this is extremely difficult to do for characters of both genders because one person’s “them” is completely different to another individual’s, we as individuals are unique, we come from a plethora of different backgrounds,beliefs,wants and needs and so on and it would be borderline impossible to represent anyone “correctly” when no two people are the same.
We can have characters of the same ethnicity and gender but that’s roughly about it since everything else varies from person to person and that’s a part of the double standard issue I have seen recently…..people want the characters they play to represent them but there cannot be one “be all end all” character that represents all women or all men.
It’s a impossible request and it puts developers under a tonne of stress because they have to cater to everyone specifically or face backlash, I follow a couple developers on twitter and they tear their hair out thinking of how to make female characters unique and believable but still cater to people’s demands which is the next point I want to make….how people would react to a female character even when they are treated exactly the same as their male counterparts or if they shared the same characteristics.
For example, anyone remember the Monkey Island games made by LucasArts back in the day, the one with Guybrush Tweepwood, yeah that one remember him, when I played Escape from Monkey Island (which is what I believe to be the fourth game in the franchise please correct me if I am wrong) I found it enjoyable for what it was, he was an okay character but he wasn’t great.
Now when I look back at Guybrush, I feel sorry for him because he’s weak, socially awkward, cowardly and kind of a nerd who is borderline useless and the last person you would expect on a pirate ship even though he is a pirate albeit a poor one, he is constantly mistreated, yelled at, hit mainly by his wife and put down by his peers but the players are like “Meh no big deal”.
Here is where the double standard comes in, let’s give Guybrush a sex change, I will call him Galbrush, now Gal is weak, socially awkward, cowardly and kind of a nerd who is borderline useless and the last person you would expect on a pirate ship even though she is a pirate albeit a poor one, she is constantly mistreated, yelled at, hit and put down by her peers.
Exactly the same traits and not a single thing changed except for the gender but here is where it deviates, while no one cares if Guybrush gets treating unfairly for being a less than ideal pirate, Galbrush will presumably discriminated against because of her gender and every hardship she will endure even though exactly the same as her male counterpart in every way, people see it as misogyny and degradation rather than being ill suited to being a pirate like Guybrush obviously was.
This double standard is why we can’t have better characters more on the female side than the male side but this narrow mindset is what limits potential for more thought out and well written characters which I will explain in more detail now.
Have you ever wondered why most video game protagonists are men, it’s not because men sell better, it’s because they can go through and be things female characters can’t and no this is not me being sexist by any means, tell me when was the last time we got to play as a deeply flawed and tragic female character ?
We haven’t because we simply can’t or more accurately be “allowed” to portray a female character in such a manner without being hounded but with a guy it wouldn’t matter hence is why Max Panye exists and not Maxine, writers and developers can’t do much without having people looking over their shoulder dictating what they can and cannot do.
A male protagonist can be a depressed down on his luck drunk. Females can’t because it will be seen as being “sexist”. A male protagonist can be a mentally scarred soldier who’s very mind is unraveling as he walks through the hell of a blood soaked war zone. Females can’t or they are “being victimized and portraying all women as crazy”.
This is what I have observed and it’s ridiculous in my honest opinion because this overzealous mindset restricts creative potential to such a degree it completely suffocates it, this is why we have the “damsel”, the love interest” and the “women who act like men” stereotypes…..it would be career suicide to even try and give them any meaningful depth and make them better when people are never pleased with the outcome.
We can’t even have female characters who are complete halfwits for comedic value because it will be seen as seeing all women as stupid, anytime a female character is shown to have some sort of flaw or moment of weakness it’s automatically bad…if you need an example of that please look no further than Tomb Raider 2013.
Now I love the reboot of Tomb Raider, it’s one of my all time favorite titles and I loved seeing Lara evolve from a timid archaeologist major to a weathered survivor, however there were quite a few people that were not happy and they went after Crystal Dynamics because of a 7 or 8 second quick time event sequence.
What’s worse is the fact that people started to degrade Lara for those brief seconds of vulnerability, they completely stripped away all of her achievements because of those few seconds and this is a 15 to 20 hour game where Lara changes from a frightened young woman into a female John Rambo, explosive arrows and all so that’s some perspective for you.
The very same people who were degrading her also called the game “torture porn” and I am not kidding or playing around before you ask, people said that all because the possible deaths were somewhat graphic in nature even though Nathan Drake goes through the same treatment.
How are writers and developers meant create a meaningful character with emotion if they cannot put them in peril, how the character deals with peril is what shows you if they’re a strong character or not and that’s why I love Lara in the reboot, she is thrown head first into a situation she never would of dreamed of being in and survived, sure she doubted herself at points but she carried on and became stronger and by the end when I looked into her eyes, I didn’t see a victim,I saw a woman who had been transformed by her experience for the better.
The horrible truth is if this double standard with gender or race for that matter doesn’t go away, it will become very difficult to creative new and interesting stories, characters experiences and I am saying this not only as a gamer but as a guy who spends a large majority of his time scribbling down ideas for interesting characters.and etc.
Making interesting games and characters is slowly becoming a minefield that is almost impossible to traverse without blowing yourself up in the process but let me just say this, trying to change every character male or female alike into some unobtainable ideal will not make things better, it will make things extremely difficult and what would happen if they did manage to reach this “ideal”, what would happen to characters like Lara Croft, Kratos, Bayonetta, Princess Peach and the hundreds of other awesome and unique characters that we have already ?
They will be considered obsolete, playthings from another time, not needed or more appropriately not wanted anymore because they don’t match up with this overzealous political correctness ideal where having a bust size anything close to a D cup is considered over sexualization or a woman being vulnerable for even a second is bad….this is not good for anyone, not even the developers because it will be impossible to make anything without a whole lot of hurt heading their way.
It’s sad but I don’t want some of my favorite characters wiped out to make room for new ones especially if they are born from this very poisonous mindset and set of rules and regulations and I am willing to bet you guys and girls don’t want them to be either.
This double standard of treating characters differently because of their gender or race must go if we want better games, we can’t have restrictions if we want better developed characters so no double standards, no preferable treatment and I guarantee that we will have better characters, let female character be scarred war heroes, let them have struggles and hardships, let them be flawed and tragic because you would surprised what can come from it, I have read great books from great authors that don’t have the morality police watching over them like vultures so why can’t we have the same treatment.
Anyway that’s my thoughts on this, I just really needed to vent I guess since I want to be in game development but most if not all my ideas would be put through the shredder because I stepped on someone’s feet or someone didn’t like the way my characters were created but now I am just rambling on like a mad man which is somewhat disturbing but oh well.
Do you think game and character development will get harder as writers and developers are weighed down by political correctness with half a dozen rules and check lists before something is deemed “acceptable” and not offensive by the populace or do you think it won’t change at all not even a little bit….please leave your comments down below and I will see you next time .