Hitman Absolution And The Army Of Girls That Will Change Gaming

Hitman Absolution And The Army Of Girls That Will Change Gaming


Yesterday I had the most incredible day.

Yesterday I visited the studio of Good Game: Spawn Point, at the ABC.

Good Game: Spawn Point is a TV show about video games, and its target audience is young gamers – under 10s — kids who spend their days playing Minecraft, Smash Bros., and Mario Kart.

The show’s creator is a woman, her name is Janet Carr. She is a real hero of mine, and I’ll never forget what she said.

“The kids are so innocent in the way they love games,” she explained, as she showed me around the set, “but the thing that really amazes me is just how many girls there are gaming.

“When I speak to developers I always say, ‘you better start thinking about the games you want to make in a couple of years for teenage girls — because soon there’s going to be a whole army of them, and they’re going to be angry when they see what’s out there.’”

And then I went home and I watched the new trailer for Hitman Absolution.

No doubt you’ve seen it already – sexuality by numbers – chaste nuns, casting aside robes to reveal themselves in the most tacky way possible. Dressed in leather and stilettos, having their faces smashed in and shot by Agent 47 — a strapping bald male — grimacing as he chokes, punches and blasts his way through this sexualised horde of females.

This, I think to myself, is what those girls, who love video games in the purest way possible, have to look forward to.

They get to watch the ‘sexy’ unboxing of video games. They get to wear underwear armour that isn’t armour at all. They get to lick lollipops suggestively. They get to play beach volleyball; they get to choose which bikini to wear while doing so.

I can’t abide it. If this is what works, if this is what genuinely sells video games, I just don’t want any part of it. Is this what we want as a culture? Is this what really works. I genuinely hope not.

Yesterday I had the most incredible day, and I left with a real hope for video games as a medium — because it has this beautiful, pure, diverse audience to look forward to, to cater to — an audience that doesn’t engage with video games in the same dull, gendered way.

They’re going to be so angry.

And I hope they get angry. All of them. There’s already an army of girls playing, engaging, writing and talking about video games – and they’re about to get some new recruits.

Janet told me that in a single week, Good Game: Spawn Point receives over 17,000 letters and emails from its viewers. At least 50% of them are from girls. I sincerely hope that, by the time they’ve grown up, we’ll have something significantly more substantial for them than Nuns in stilettos and beach volleyball in bikinis.

Because if we don’t, there’ll be hell to pay. And you best believe they won’t be donning leather and bikini armour when they burn this silly little boys club to the ground.

Comments

  • I get the feeling the creative types are in a different headspace than the marketing types. I sure hope so, anyway. This seemed like a cynical attempt to stir controversy to me. *shrugs*

          • I have to agree. with the markters bien nutcases. I’ve really enjoyed some of the older Hitman games. I’m make and not afraid to say I don’t mind seeing a bit of boob now and then but this trailer made me less keen on the game if anything. I don’t think there is anyone who plays hitman for sex.

            Then again it’s obviously generating it’s own publicity as a result so I guess you could say it’s a win for the marketers.

    • If I’m understanding you correctly DC you’re attributing this to the marketing types. I’d respectfully disagree (and I’ve little love for the marketing types). This seems more than just a skewed use of sexualisation to market the game, rather it appears to be somewhat representative (I could be wrong). That aside, the examples (lollipops, volleyball, armour) Mark has listed are most definitely attributable to the creative types. I know it’s not that black and white, but responsibility definitely needs to be spread around.

  • Agreed. Nothing else to say really, except nice one. Lets see what E3 throws up ey? The cutting edge of mainstream gaming culture.

    • So, a weak man in tight speedos (Tony Abbott?) going around and bitch slapping buff, fully armored women (Brienne of Tarth?)

      Or a bikini clad woman strangling hordes of bald muscle-men?

      Or… So many thoughts.

      • Or a Brienne style woman slapping down submissive and sexualised men. As horrifying as that would be, I think it’s the most demonstrative reversal of the trailer. I just wish the trailer hadn’t been made in the first place.

      • I loved that games approach to gender equality, you can do pretty much anything with the guy characters that you can with the girls. Cracked me up when the traditional boob slider in the character customization changes the size of the guys package.

  • When I see trailers like this, or that Sexy Unboxing, or Coco and the Ghost Recon trailer, I just cringe so hard.

    GUYS VIDEO GAMES ARE ART!

    Then what’s with the hyper sexualised trailers?

    They’re art, so it’s okay.

  • Well said Mark. This is basically the reason why at the very beginning of development on my game I decided to go with a young female protagonist. The gaming world definately needs better representation of women.

    • Same here, and fully clothed in coveralls. No less. Still in the documentation and concept art phase, so nothing I care to show yet.

  • I fear this day is still a long way off, though. Although storytelling in games might be on the improve, the (unnecessary to my mind) over-sexualisation of female characters is only increasing as graphics improve.

    Even the most mature stories on the market (I’m thinking MGS1 and 3, and Heavy Rain for example) include opportunities for the male gamer to participate in or observe the gratuitious stripping off of female characters.

      • An equal opportunity game. 😛 I get the feeling David Cage was trying to do the exact opposite with that scene, exploring where Madison drew the line and the like. The scene was any thing but sexy to me. (Unless you mean the shower scene, then yeah, that was kind of gratuitious. :P)

        • Yeah I agree, I thought the stripping scene was intended to make you incredibly uncomfortable and tense. I felt very stressed with my avatar being in such a terrifying and demeaning situation. However, there were other scenes and choices in that game that I thought made missteps on the gender politics. But that scene in particular I thought was quite good, even if it could easily be interpreted in another way by someone who was less sensitive to the gender politics at play.

  • It’s the articles like this Mark that keep me coming back to this site. Well done old chum.

    • The Spawn Point letters segment is one of favourite things in all of television, love the way they earnestly read all the bad grammar and spelling without batting an eyelid!

  • You know what sold me on Hitman Absolution? Hitman Blood Money.

    The sniper challenge is good as well.

  • My cousin – she’s 10 – loves Spawn Point, it’s where she gets her game recommendations from. She wants Minecraft and Fez now. But when she gets older – what’s going to happen? Gaming is becoming more normalised, more gendereless for younger kids today, but suddenly she’s going to hit the demographic gap at some point and leave disgusted, I suspect.

  • Hey, I’m all for boobs and stuff. But most of this stuff is just gratuitous and over the top, and quite distasteful, especially that unboxing crap! It’s kinda sad really.

    There’s no real need to put this stuff in games, or game culture.
    YOU HAVE THE INTERNET, AN UNLIMITED ACCESS TO ALL SORTS OF STUFF *wink wink*

    • I agree that this trailer is just stupid and over the top. Hitman is a franchise about varied and interesting tactical options in order to complete an objective which typically involves assassinating someone.
      Watching that trailer is like going to see Saving Private Ryan and seeing girls having pillow fights in the middle of the bomb craters. It just doesn’t seem right.

      I see no reason that sexuality should not be part of video games as a medium. Sex is part of life. Most humans find that after puberty they are attracted to other humans. It would be nice, however to see more games that include females without assuming sex is the only motivating factor any gamer ever has.

  • It’s interesting an article like this comes after the story of Purple Moon yesterday and the article about “The three words” today.
    My impression is Australian gaming culture, especially regarding female gamers, is more mature than the US equivelent, but not by much.
    I think female gamers should be writing to their favourite developers and let them know what games they want.
    As the Purple Moon story demonstrated, targetting can be an issue when you can’t see where to aim.

  • I can’t help but wonder if this trailer had a counter-purpose. On its surface it seems grotesque and base, but it is SO grotesque that you can’t help but think about what you’ve seen:

    Sexism in gaming.

    I admit, when I saw those women getting shot, I was disturbed. There’s something in me – primal male instinct I guess – that reacts badly to the idea of violence against women. And yet, violence against men in video games – meh, I couldn’t really care less.

    I feel that this is probably a widely held attitude among male gamers, who would much rather blow other men apart than to destroy an attractive woman.

    This inherent inequality in attitude basically ensures that if a woman is going to be in a mainstream video game, it won’t be as a target (or at least, certainly not in a 1:1 ratio with male targets), so she needs to find a different role to play in the game. If the game’s only mechanics involve violence/gunplay, all that’s left is window dressing.

    And – sadly – this is where women factor into AAA titles which use violence as their primary vehicle for gameplay. This has of course spilled into other genres too, in which game engines are designed to calculate breast jiggle (really).

    Maybe – maybe (but probably not), this trailer is attempting to get us used to the ways in which gaming needs to change. That we have to get used to shooting pretty women to get true equality in games. If this is their message, though, they did it poorly.

    Just wanted to share my thought process here.

        • I think the idea still stands, though. I would be extremely reluctant to buy a game that advertised violence against women or even equal-opportunity slaughter.

          • No, I agree with you there. I just suspect that the extent of the thought process was: Nuns? Great the Christian groups will go nuts! Hooray! Women? Great the women groups will go nuts! This’ll make Fox News FOR SURE!1! 😛

  • It is embarrassing seeing this trailer but is it really different to the girls that love music at 10 and already are exposed to the over specialized embarrassing music industry.

  • It seems to me, that a lot of females that grow up gaming, stop earlier than men might. And it may be the sexualisation that does it.
    Because companies focus on targetting a male audience there’s nothing there to keep the female gamers. Or if it is there, it’s drowned out by the imagery used and therefore ignored. The way games/gaming culture is sexualised for the male audience may also be a key piece as to why people don’t see it as more than ‘pervy games with blood and bullets’ and people that enjoy them are ‘immature’.
    Same thing happens with comics.
    And when you take another ‘nerdy’ media, board/table top games, which doesn’t have as BIG an issue of sexualisation (it is there), and there’s less criticism of the medium in general.
    There’s more than female gamers finding it difficult to enjoy the medium, it’s that the entire medium is ‘dumbed down’ by the way it portrays itself.

  • The thing is, it seems to me that sex DOESN’T sell games, so I have no idea why marketers still think it does. Top sellers like Mario and call of duty, halo etc don’t have a shred of sexual themes in them at all. Mass effect had sex but it’s certainly not what sells it. Arkham city wasn’t critically acclaimed because of catwoman and poison ivy. What few games do use sex as a main selling point (like DoA) don’t seem to sell nearly as well nor are they as well received as their counterparts.

    • I play Bioware games, so I’m kind of spoilt for, on the one hand, undeniably sexy games (Miranda’s ass FTW!) which nevertheless feature interesting female characters (Miranda’s biotics, pistol shooting and daddy issues FTW!). It’s entirely possible to avoid a false choice between sexy ladies and female participation in gaming. What I don’t understand is why more developers don’t get this. (CDProjekt also FTW, although strictly speaking the Witcher’s badass women should be credited to Andrej Sapkowski.)

    • Sex doesn’t sell games? You think something like a DoA has to be made in order to prove that point? Then why do most “non-sexualised” women in any game have great curves, reasonable cup size and an attractive physique, and not say, slightly obese with a cute face? It’s because it’s attractive and gets people to think about sex, genius.

      Case in point: have you ever heard of a guy friend describing a beautiful woman starting with her personality?

      • I think his point was more that games which don’t feature sex as a selling point sell better than the ones that do, as opposed to just “sex doesn’t sell games”

    • That’s an interesting question Harli…
      I don’t feel I’m qualified to answer, how would you feel seeing a male protagonist shooting up women if the were in proper combat gear?

      • For my part, if they were graphically distinguishable as women, it would be
        a) first or all, armour fail
        b) still problematic for me

        If they’re not graphically distinguishable as women, then they might as well be male or androgynous sprites. blast away.

        • There are a few countries that do have front line female troops… Canada and Israel come to mind.

      • No, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. If a bunch of assassins are trying to kill the dude, then he should be expected to retaliate. A fight is a fight.

    • I would find it more acceptable if it were a mix gendered group in full armor. I don’t see why women shouldn’t be just as capable combatants.

      I would also find it acceptable if it was a woman in a business suit killing large hairy bearded men in sexy nun outfits, because I find that mental image humorous.

  • Let’s just balance it up & get some Top Gun beach volleyball games with jiggling man-junk for the girls to ogle. Wait that’ll never stick… Perhaps some half-naked buff barbarians wearing leather straps?

    Being serious, though – given that we’re essentially witnessing the maturity of the industry, I’m actually surprised with the way things are heading. When we think of genres, the video games industry is seeming to create a few new ones (namely puzzles/casual/simple games) and then adapt all the Hollywood genres in various different ways: Action, Comedy, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Epic, Fantasy, Gangster, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller, etc.

    Now, aside from these are two obvious stand-outs which otherwise would be marketed for the female gamers: Romance & Romantic Comedy. Aside from a few dating sims which tend to be targeted toward the forever alone male, there’s really only …. *The* Sims which I guess I can think of which would really engage this genre, right?

    I’m thinking the reason for these not being developed (as far as I’m aware) isn’t because of lack of demand but probably more because of the fact that the dev studios are simply not that interested in the challenges that would come with coding these games when they could instead be involving themselves in their own fantasy/adventure world or designing puzzle logics & other challenges. I think there’s also got to be something to do with the financial backing of the studios. Investors would be more likely to imagine money coming from male gamers & games which are already played by a significant portion of girls – whereas a game targeted towards girls may not be nearly as well received by guys & as such is not as desirable to invest in.

    Either way I agree that there’s clearly a niche of the industry that’s not being filled while at the same time the over-sexualisation of various other sectors is simply running rampant … Perhaps saying that the industry is “maturing” is somewhat of an oxymoron.

    • I think you might be missing the point a little fortalyst.

      If the GG:SP audience is anything to go by, girl/women gamers arent a ‘niche’, they are (or soon enough will be) equal with males in terms of raw numbers. To suggest that the industry need to cater to them by making ‘girl friendly’ rom-com games with pink packaging (i exaggerate) is a little insulting. That devs are ” not that interested in the challenges that would come with coding these games when they could instead be involving themselves in their own fantasy/adventure world or designing puzzle logics & other challenges” is a pretty telling statement. Fantasy/adventure and logic are now a male-only domain?
      Girls and women don’t need patronising, they need an equal voice and equal representation within the medium. If the industry grew up and evolved out of the sexualisation/fetishisation of women (and violence towards women), it would be a step in that direction.

      • Oh perhaps I was poor with my wording – I absolutely agree! I wanted to say niche as a means of describing the gap in the market where these genres seem to not be present, rather than imply that it’s small and insignificant. I also did not mean to carry the opinion that fantasy/adventure are a male-only domain. It’s a genre which caters toward a larger demographic by appealing equally to women as well as men whereas the rom/com genre (given that in Hollywood the genre has earned a nickname being “Chick flick”) tends to stereotypically be targeted for to the fairer sex. The point of that statement was to imply that the appeal to game designers and developers might pose more of an exciting challenge to design puzzles or model dragons or cars & developing physics engines rather than the components of a romance game focused on female gamers.

    • Judging by the amount of yaoi fanart & comics proliferating in all corners of the web I think there’s definitely a space in the market for half-naked barbarians and jiggling man-junk beach volleyball. The female gaze is ripe to be made money out of, and beach volley ball featuring already established male game characters with large fangirl bases would make a fortune. It makes me want to develop such a game, and more importantly, reap the obscene profits said venture would generate.

  • I agree. What can be done about it though? It’s all good to post articles like this (kudos for this article by the way Mark) and to post comments about how we’re fed up with it and want things to change (or at least some of us are fed up with it and want things to change) but do these things really have any sort of impact at all? Are the developers getting this feedback or not and if they are does it really matter? If a game with stripper nuns sells more than a game without stripper nuns do they really care if some people don’t like stripper nuns?

    In my opinion I think we all need to be a little more forceful with this issue. I’d love to see someone stand up at E3 or something and ask a game developer, in front of an audience of millions, why their games are so sexist? Why aren’t the women wearing proper armour? Why does your game only feature one female character and she’s wearing a bikini and has triple D breasts (is that even a size? I know nothing about bras)? If we bring this issue to the forefront and put developers on the spot, demand them to explain themselves, I think we might actually see some change. Until then I just don’t see how anything will change.

    • I think you’re right. The thing is I’ve been a Hitman fan going way back. I’ve played and loved ’em all. I’ll still probably buy this one, but it has nothing to do with this trailer. How will they know I didn’t like the trailer if I still bought the game any way? *head explodes* I remember reading something from Tracey (I think?) about how she was pulled aside for asking too many questions about ethics in war games or something. Seems they’re VERY protective of their IP. :S

  • While I find the trailer disgusting, and sexism definately exists within our chosen medium, there’s every chance that this is just the work of some marketing consultant – creating a trailer that will undoubtably get the cheap attention they’ve obviously gotten.

  • I agree 100%.
    I could write a well thought out response to further elaborate on my thoughts, but I’m at work so I’ll just post this to convey my feelings on this article.

    • And for the record I am not horrible outraged at this trailer, I did however find the hyper-sexualisation of the nuns to be unnecessary and flat out dumb.

      Some games use sexiness in the right levels and in necessary ways, but cramming in T&A into every possible angle of every new game is insulting to all of us as an audience.

  • Im a bit sick of this discussion on Kotaku. If you dont agree with sexism in games, dont buy games. Simple solution. Vote with your wallet. And get over it, and bring me game related stories rather than articles about sexism. If you have ever (as a girl) shaved your underarms for a date, or bought a “pretty” dress, you are as obsessed the female form as anyone else. Conversely, if you are a guy and have ever checked out a girl, same thing. So get over it.

    • Frankly, I’m a bit sick of people who say they’re a bit sick of this discussion. For some people, it’s an interesting issue and for some people, it is an up close and personal issue. If you don’t agree with a discussion about sexism, feel free to vote with your mouse and click off. There are plenty of game related stories on this site and others – Kotaku excels (in my opinion) because it goes a little deeper into gaming culture, into the sociology of gaming and the relationships between gamers and society at large.

      That’s what appeals to me; evidently not to you. Feel free to migrate to a gaming site that revels in T&A, sounds like you’d be more comfortable there anyway.

      • sorry Shane, I totally agree with you, but ‘click off’ wasn’t strongly worded enough to convey my thoughts.

    • Dear eltial,
      I think you’ve missed the point. Entirely.
      I’ll just assume you didn’t read the article, so here’s the gist of it in four easy dot points:
      – Games revel in sexualising women to an extreme degree
      – there is a fairly high number of female gamers aged under 10
      – When these female gamers reach their teen years, the above mentioned hypersexualisaion is most likely going to put them off the medium entirely.
      – the single-minded adherence to the games-are-for-boys & sex sells ideas is destroying the medium for a large number of people.

      right. so that’s the article summarised for you. so you’ve got context for the following:
      now then, its people like you who are complacent enough with this problem (and it is a problem) to just ignore it coz it doesn’t apply to you that are making it worse.

      no wait, its worse than complacency because you are actively speaking against an article that is condemning the practice. i’m sure youve heard the cliche that ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’? yeah well this applies here. please understand that this is not just directed toward you, eltial, but every single motherfucker who can sit there & see bullshit like that trailer & think its ok. ITS NOT FUCKING OK. guilt through inaction.

      vote with you’re wallet you say? thats not gonna stop this. if you dont like it, get fucking vocal & talk to the developers & publishers who are pushing this shit.

      but if you’re complacent enough to just sit there & take it, or say youre sick of people writing against this crap, then you can always fuck off to ign & join in the rest of the ogling masses.

      sincerely,
      Shoggoth.

  • I know it’s not the point of the article, but I wanted to comment on the 17,000 letters GGSP gets sent each week. I think that’s really awesome. I remember seeing Hex tweet a photo of one of those letters a while ago, it was pretty heartwarming stuff.

    Personally, I don’t find this trailer anywhere near as bad as the ridiculous ‘sexy unboxing’ and that Coco lady for Ghost Recon, but I certainly see why people are up in arms about it. Actually this has reminded me about an anime/manga series called Trinity Blood. The action nuns in that series were fully clothed. I’m not sure what my point is there, but yeah.

  • I’m not a woman, but do we really believe that selling games with pretty pink ribbons and my little ponies are going to less offensive to grown women? They’re human beings they don’t want to be patronised to.

    The target market for this game is males… and that’s who it’s being marketed to.
    Do I think it’s stupid? Absolutely.
    Do I think it’s short sighted? Completely.
    Do I believe that a company is going to blow millions of dollars in marketing without some market research first? Hell no.

    Look at this from a business point of view: Games are product, with a defined market (I’m not saying their modelling is right) and until that market changes that’s who their ads will target.
    The market may evolve, but until it does publishers… and probably developers… will not change.

    It’s not about what’s right, it’s not about art, it’s not about what’s wrong, it’s not about reinforcing stereotypes… it’s about dollars.

    • Agreed. What’s truly sad is that the research indicated that adding sexy nuns to a stealth shooter would sell more copies.

      • haha. This ^

        You made me laugh. Mainly because If I didn’t laugh at the truth in this i’d be crying instead.

    • Once again, someone writes my argument before I do, dammit!

      Anyway, upon repeat viewings of that trailer, I realised that as nonsensical as it may seem, it’s actually a symbolism piece for Agent 47. If you’re confused as to why the assassins are dressed in nun garbs, then truly examine why it is you think the creatives did that.

      [what I wrote on another site]
      At the beginning, we see Agent 47, in what may be his first appearance ever, undressed, in the game’s history. He dresses his wounds and we also see that he’s tried to remove his barcode tatt and has covered it up. This represents the fact that for the first time we are seeing the inner layers of this man, and that he has begun rejecting his identity, again pointing to a more personal adventure for 47 in Absolution.

      Now the nuns. It’s strange at first to see the assassins dressed that way. Why? There’s no church… they’re heading towards a hotel… no reason at all to dress that way. Again, it’s symbolic. The nuns represent religion; the female element represents the innocence we associate with females. These are both figures whom human beings generally find difficult to deal violence to. No one could really shoot a nun in the face without even a slight fear of divine retribution, or kill a woman without fear that some loved one would come for them. But 47 can. Because he’s not clouded by emotions or thoughts. He’s bred to be precise and objective.

      As the nuns approach, 47 senses them in his dark room, and as he slips out the back door the camera focuses on the peephole where the brightest bit of light shines through, a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that one could say 47 avoids. He’s going to adapt, and he’s going to survive.

      The bondage outfits represent impending calamities, and being hunted is a theme IO interactive tells us is prevalent in the story. Their agency tattoo seemed to be proof enough of where those threats are going to come from.

      But 47 is still not phased. In a sequence where he is supposed to be hunted, he turns the tables and becomes the hunter. Taking them out as quickly, brutally, and more importantly, as dispassionately as he normally does. He then stores their weapons in the trunk of his car and drives off.

      This idea of the trailer being symbolic excuses the lack of narrative context in the scene(“why are they at a motel?”) or the ludicrous outfits, and why we don’t see how 47 manages to creep up behind a group of 7 deadly assassins. The answer is because it’s not important. They’re trying to get you to look deeper, and while I agree they didn’t execute as well as they would like people to think (no nun, er, pun intended) it is ultimately what I got out of it.

      And I do think and hope people would be more understanding about creative work in future before falling into hopeless discussions about how socially detrimental any of this is.

  • I think that, like most things, the industry is driven by profits. Once a publisher realizes there’s money to be made in games targeted specifically to women they’ll start making them. The industry is growing; they’re slow on the uptake, but they’re not blind.
    It’s a transitional period for the industry – from predominantly male – to mainstream; everybody plays, and everybody’s OK with that. Games made for women are coming.

    • I’d say they already exist. Games like The Sims, Farmville, Draw Something. I still don’t buy there’s a market out there for women who like games more immersive than that. Most of the hardcore gamer girls out there actually like playing games that guys like. Maybe try asking them directly if they’d like a game more sympathetic to female perspective?

      • The issues isn’t as black and white as farmville vs CoD
        From some of the things I have read you are more likely to find that women are more likley to play a game like Mass effect where interactions and conversation are a larger part of the game than KDR.
        The difference between goal oriented game play and emotional gameplay is one that hasn’t been fully explored. No matter what the media is there is always some that is targetted to a specific gender, film have martial arts action films for men and romantic comedies for girls. Which isn’t to say that their will not be some overlap but you generally have those on either side.
        What you generally then get is a range of middle ground films that are marketed neutrally and equally enjoyable from either side. Currently AAA titles that focus on this middle ground are a much smaller % than those that sit on the martial arts action film side of the scale.

        Referencing hardcore gamer girls you are talking about a very small subset, what about the girls who enjoy gaming but aren’t hardcore as you call them. The 8,500 young girls who are writing into GG:SP but fall away as they get older. Some can make the transition into the boys club by becoming one of the guys, but a large number will find their in nothing to hold them in the media and turn to TV or movies to fill that space in their recreation

        • Nice points. Maybe it has something to do with the fact most developers are males themselves. Very few females become developers. I don’t know about game designers. I think the best solution is for a bunch of girls to setup their own company and design games they think will cater to a more engaged female gamer audience. To be fair, most male developers got into it for the love of games, and I’m not talking about their love of Pony sunshine 7.

          • Don’t know if you read the article about purple moon which was basically an attempt at that. The problem was that in order to get funding it was to do more market research than game development.
            But there lies the catch 22, as long as games are catering to males and there is a strong undercurrent of making women who play games unwelcome then the number who want to flow through to development will be low. How it happens I don’t know, but what I think would be a better solution is to include the more female friendly features into the games. In the same way that a big budget action film will have a corresponding romance storyline running through it.

      • I do like playing games that guys like. Doesn’t mean I don’t think there is plenty of room for improvement, both of portrayal of women in male-dominated games, and some more games that feature women as protagonists. I obviously don’t speak for all women, nor all women who play games, but I know plenty who are frustrated and sad that the medium they love does not seem to consider them an audience worth considering. See: The Border House, or the upcoming web series Tropes Vs Women in Video Games by Feminist Frequency. There are hundreds of people out there who love playing games targeted at guys because that is the only option available for “hardcore” games, not because they completely condone every single thing in them.

        • Fair enough. I guess you just need to keep grouping together and raising awareness so the developers can have an idea how big of a market to sell to

          • Or just make some more games keeping in mind that their market is much more diverse than they often give it credit for. That’s where a developer like Bioware excels. And where a developer like Rockstar, who have made some of my favourite games ever, have not succeeded quite so well. The option to play a female charater, or, more radically, a few games where the protagonist is as well characterised and deep as other Rockstar games but just happens to be female, would be appreciated. It’s not so much about how big a market it is, because I think with less sexism in the medium there would be more women playing, which is the point of this article, but about telling more varied stories which might appeal to a varied market. Women are forced to play as men all the time, I don’t think it’s too radical to ask men to do the same occasionally.

          • This is a much wider issue than games and is a don’t know if it can be solved, at least not when this is all being done by businesses. I was talking with me niece the other day and she is really looking forward the the movie “The brave” (starring Mark Serrels) because it has a strong female lead.

            But these are few and far between because research has shown that a girl will still watch a film with a male lead, however a number of boys will not go see a movie with a female lead. So you lose a percentage of your audience with no corresponding increase for doing so, why would any company knowingly make that choice.

          • Unfortunately unless the culture changes and people realise that men will go and see things with female leads, then there will be less of them around and men are not likely to go and see things with female leads. It’s a horrible circular pattern that I can’t see changing unless a company makes a concerted effort to take a big risk. Which is such a pity. I’m still hoping that the success of Hunger Games might begin to make a change in movies, since I work at a cinema and that consistently had the most diverse audience in age and gender that I had ever seen. Couples, groups of teenage boys, groups of 40 year old women, elderly people, and the requisite tween girls. Just heartwarming to see 🙂

  • I agree with most of this though the threats through out could have been dropped. “Hell to pay, BURN down the silly boys club” all that stuff. For the record I agree. Females heroins are few on the ground in the gaming world. Lets hope more like EA’s Mass Effect 3< where you can be Male or a Female leader in "actual armor" becomes popular 🙂 In the end it's supposed to be equality, not take over and act worse.

  • I’d be much more impressed with a girl wearing a pair of sneakers and a hoodie with body armor on underneath.

    Who am I kidding though? Heels and leather mini skirts is obviously more appropriate for trained killers to be wearing…

  • Wow, haven’t checked this site for a while, but when have gamers become such female apologist wusses? Did I just see a trailer for Hitman or Barbie Ponies Unicorn 6? Of all games that can afford to be ultra macho in an over-the-top manner, it’s Hitman. It’s a game enjoyed by guys. Yes, there are lines that it mustn’t be crossed, but one example does not a trend make. The whole world is becoming so effeminate with less and less male role models in society. Can’t guys have a bit of escapism in our own domain? See the girls out there screaming their heads off for Justin Bieber or One Direction? That’s just girls being girls. In the same way, boys like to see boobies. Stop apologising to women about it.

    • “Can’t guys have a bit of escapism in our own domain”
      So games are just the domain of men now? The problem some of us have with this clip is that it is trying hard to make that statement a reality. How would you react if a woman started saying that books are the domain of women and therefore any books to targeted towards her likes shouldn’t be allowed. Or to use your example the music is women’s domain because they are the ones that care enough to go and scream at their idols. So major labels should only release boy band and light pop.
      It was apparently a trailer for hitman, but that clip is nothing at all like the hitman I know. It is dark, mean and violent. Wait for the right moment and then strike without warning. Stipper nun fox news bait isn’t or at least has never been part of what makes hitman, hitman.

    • Oh hai, girl here. I hate Barbies, Ponies, Justin Beiber and One Direction. I play GoW, Hitman, etc. It’s not “your” domain, it’s something both sexes have fun doing, get used to the fact that there are ladies in the treehouse now and we will only increase in number.

      Oh, and funny side note: the only people I know who have collections of barbies and ponies are all guys.

  • What I want to know is why were they dressed as nuns in the first place and where the hell did she pull that RPG from?

  • I have to admit, that’s a pretty annoying trailer.I hope there is more to the whole Nuns thing than just “Absolution” but really, it would have been perfectly fine if they stayed in the Habits.
    I don’t think the skimpy leather outfits didn’t add anything, and to me, cheapened the whole clip. And it did so in a way no other Hitman game has done in the past.
    I’m suddenly a little bit worried about this game…

  • I love Kotaku AU for the interesting articles on gaming culture, and the fact that unlike most other mainstream gaming sites I’ve seen, they’re willing to address the darker sides of gaming culture, such as the sexism, racism and homophobia that is unfortunately rife among a vocal minority. And in particular, I love Kotaku AU for the community that seems to be open minded and comments with considered opinions , unlike pretty much anywhere else in mainstream gaming online culture.

    On the article itself, I pretty much just play single player RPGs because theyre the ones that let me play as a female character that I define (oh Bioware how I adore thee), or games with carefully crafted stories and deep main characters (like Red Dead Redemption), because those are the few games that allow me to mostly avoid the isms that really bother me.

    So thank you to commenters like Shane and Shoggoth for giving me hope for humanity. And to Mark for such a fantastic article, I love Good Game itself and have been thinking I should watch Spawn Point for a while, and I think knowing that the show runner is a very intelligent woman with great things to say about gaming culture will finally convince me 🙂

  • While the trailer may be slightly over the top, we’re arguing about the poor representation of women in a game that’s entirely dedicated to finding the most effective way to illegally assassinate someone. No problem with the murdering or promoting a criminal lifestyle, just get those damned latex clad nuns out of there…

    • The World: Those video games are violent and we are worried that they will make people more violent!
      Gamers: Look at all these studies proving that you’re wrong!
      The World: Okay, but what about all the sexist objectification of women for reasons that have nothing to do with gameplay?
      Gamers: OMG! Why aren’t you worried about all the violence in video games?!

  • im a big fan of action games like this.. but sadly that trailer disgusted me in a sense that to me it seems that they have inferiorated females making them look weak and their outfits were also a little “too sexy/over the top” for what they were doing.. idk i guess i just wanna be able to play a game like this or any other action/shooting/violence game where i can be/play as a female character that is equal to male characters.. although the fact that there arent any or many female characters in violent games is that it may be that the gaming industry doesnt want to endorse violence against women (except for the fact that this trailer kinda just did in a way) because the gaming industry gets accused for many things such as the future behaviour of many young children/teens growing up and being desensitized to violence towards people and thinking that its ok.. idk this kind of topic is quite controversial because there are so many view points and ideologies.. but thats just my thoughts 🙂

    • “but sadly that trailer disgusted me in a sense that to me it seems that they have inferiorated females making them look weak”

      Agent 47 is perhaps the deadliest assassin in his fictional world and the protagonist of the game. Surely they wouldn’t have the nun assassins kill him and thus end their popular video game franchise because of the fear of making females look ‘weak’ or ‘inferior?’ To me those were some kick ass empowered chick assassins living in a world of equal danger of which both genders can participate in. So if Agent 47 can’t kill bad female assassins because it might may them look ‘inferior’ or ‘weak’ what do we do next – leave female enemies out of the game entirely (oh now that’s sexist isn’t it?) or just cheap out and have Agent 47 knock them out with a steel pipe or something?

      “and their outfits were also a little “too sexy/over the top” for what they were doing”

      What they were doing? They were armed to the teeth and about to blow away another assassin… Should they be dressed in suits or something? You do realise this is a fictional story set in a comic book quasi-popcorn universe dont you…

      “idk i guess i just wanna be able to play a game like this or any other action/shooting/violence game where i can be/play as a female character that is equal to male characters”

      There are no games like this at all? Are you sure?

      “although the fact that there arent any or many female characters in violent games is that it may be that the gaming industry doesnt want to endorse violence against women (except for the fact that this trailer kinda just did in a way) because the gaming industry gets accused for many things”

      You just accused them of a few things as well.

  • why is every body so up set about this it makes no sense at all when movies and tv get away with much worse why is it that game s are the ones being targeted when i play games i dont play for what the enimies are whereing or about their gender i play for the story the and gameplay all you adults are over thinking it

  • Thanks for this Mark – well fricking said. Sadly though, I think I need to reinstate my comment blocker policy on Kotaku posts that look at gender issues in gaming. But I’ll still be reading the stories.

  • Hopefully that trailer has nothing to do with the actual game.
    That said, why can’t we just let people make/play the games they want to make/play. Get a group of people together and try startup a game devoid of the sexism you hate?

    Seems better than attacking developers.

  • Showed my girl friend the trailer she cant wait to play the game, not everyone fits in your cookie cutter world.

  • Great article! My sentiments exactly. Let’s burn it to the ground and out of that create something better in the process.

  • 17000 emails and they determine the sex of the authors? yeah right. I work with high volumes of emails 80,000 plus and there is no way anyone would be doing that sort of analysis.

    unless there is a webform

    • Most of the questions answered on the show are along the lines of I’m this old and a boy I like adeventure games like this and cane you recommend anything for me

  • It’s a game that is squarely in the pulp/action/schlock genre. While it is an exceedingly silly premise, anyone who is genuinely offended by it should re-evaluate their own sensibilities.

    Yes there is sexism in video games, yes I hate how people use the term “rape/fag/pussy/bitch” all feminising words to be-little their opponents.

    However I don’t think this trailer in particular is some kind of overly aggressive sexist example people should jump on, this is like a Conan pulp comic/story, it’s all massive stereotypes and over-the-top characters.

  • “They get to watch the ‘sexy’ unboxing of video games. They get to wear underwear armour that isn’t armour at all. They get to lick lollipops suggestively. They get to play beach volleyball; they get to choose which bikini to wear while doing so.”

    All of that is awesome.

  • YES THIS IS WHAT WE AS A CULTURE WANT, A MILLION TIMES YES.

    But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for something aimed at girl gamers too. And if they are indeed as big an audience as is generally believed these days, then it will happen. It’s just good business.

  • That trailer was just tacky :\
    Gaming really needs more Alex Roivases, more Samus Arans.

  • IO interactive (the creators behind hitman) have a history of stirring controversy. In the same hitman games, they depicted a killer Sikh sect in previous games.. Call it irresponsible stories or clever marketing. I would go for the latter. The present discussion is a proof in itself.

    Square Enix is changing lots of things which made Hitman the popular game it is- they changed the main voice character, the sound and music director (Jesper Kyd – ). It remains to see how gamers will welcome the new overhauled Hitman.

  • Good article, sexism in gaming is something that developers need to focus on considering the changing demographics and wider social acceptance of gaming on the whole.

    In fact, I think game developers are generally doing quite well at providing experiences that everyone can enjoy. All my favourite games at the moment basically have nothing to do with sex or boobies (except Mass Effect 3, which portrays romance as opposed to sex, albeit a little awkwardly), and I still have way more games like this in my stack of shame than I have time to play.

    As far as the trailer goes, I wouldn’t say I was really offended by it.. it was more embarrassing than anything. Like they tried for the whole Grindhouse thing and failed at it. Some of the more graphic shots made me feel a bit uncomfortable though, which was more to do with violence against women than anything else.

    I think that ideally, the range of experiences that gaming offers should parallel film – something for everyone. If that means having Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball in the same media as Journey then so be it, but a little less of column A and a little more of column B thankyou.

  • To all the “get over it” types, here are two simple observations:

    1) Male characters in games can be big, small, ugly, handsome, slim, muscular, smooth, scarred, fully-covered, near-naked, masculine, or fey.

    2) Female characters in games must always be conventionally sexy, with very, very few exceptions. Go on, try to think of some female game characters who aren’t “hot” by any mainstream standard. I bet I can think of fifty that are before you can even name five that aren’t.

    Even some of the best-written games out there, with intelligent scripts and plausible relationships, still sexualise women. You don’t get much smarter or more mature than Mass Effect, but Samara’s idiotic cleavage still makes me cringe with embarrassment every time I see it.

    This shit needs to change. If you cannot see that there is a problem here, then you are very much part of that problem.

    • 1) Main male characters must always be either ruggedly handsome (John Marston, Agent 47) or conventionally handsome (Cloud Strife, Link). They are always muscular. I bet I can name fifty muscular lead characters before you can name five that aren’t. Bonus round: I bet I can name ten that are handsome, tall, muscular, have short brown hair, and light facial hair faster than you can think of one ugly male protagonist. I’m sure at least half of the ones I name will be voiced by Nolan North.

      2) True.

      The knife cuts both ways, though. You brought up Mass Effect, which is a great example. Default male Shepard is based off of a freaking supermodel, Mark Vanderloo. Sure, you can make a Shepard that’s ugly as sin, but they aren’t putting that on the box art. Besides, have you seen Shepard’s butt in that armor? SO TIGHT. Can you name five guys that you know personally that have bodies like Kaidan Alenko or Joker (y so beefy)? Maybe if you happen to be a bodybuilder or gym rat, you might be able to, but my guess is that the average person can’t,

      Both sides are depicted as being caricatures of the male or female form , and I do agree that more variety would be nice–not for aesthetics, but for the story.

  • I know what this guy is trying to say (and I actually agree with some of it), but this is what this article sounded like to me:

    Yesterday I had the most incredible day.

    There’s this neat show for kids that’s made by a LADY! Her name is Janet Carr. She’s a WOMAN! She has a job that you would expect a man to have. She’s my hero. She’s also a lady. That’s the coolest! Isn’t that cool?

    This cool lady said kids are innocent. And then they grow up and have to play games like Hitman. Hitman is a bad game. You shoot girls in it. Why are they so sexy? Is this what *really* works. Why can’t I punctuate my sentences correctly. Why is this assassin killing sexy girls who are trying to kill him? Why did the developers put sexy stripper nuns in a video game about systematically murdering people in brutal and merciless ways? That part about the girls really upsets me.

    Girls don’t like wearing sexy bikinis or violence. If things don’t change, girls will be really mad when they grow up.

    • If that’s what the article sounds like, then the article sounds really freaking stupid. Because it insinuates that it’s either 1) not okay to shoot girls (sexy or not) or 2) it’s okay to shoot girls as long as they aren’t wearing anything sexy.

      Kids never retain innocence, it’s part of growing up. Hitman, or any other game like it is not going to brainwash teenagers by themselves(which by the way they shouldn’t even be playing this), they have TV, music and film to do that for them. And if they’re grown women who pick this game up, well then it’s safe to say their innocence is long gone..

  • The sad thing is, I can see the points this guy is trying to make (with awful grammar), and I can agree with some of them. I watched the trailer thinking, “Hmm…bikini babes with guns. This is stupid, but whatever.” After reading the article, I wanted to cosplay as one of the nuns and send him pics.

    Oversexualization does irk me when it’s utterly gratuitous. I feel it cheapens things in the same way that slutty drunk chicks make restaurants instantly less classy. But, the sexualization of the female form technically has a reason to be there if the game’s demographic is teenage boys and men (who typically like both guns and boobs).

    Hell, I can enjoy those kinds of games, too. I happen to really like Bayonetta in all her gun-toting, lollipop-licking, clothing-banishing glory. Would I want to play as a fat girl in a dumpy hoodie and pajama pants? Sure, if the story is good and reflects this character in a meaningful way. Do I want to play as the obese chick in a game about running around and shooting bad guys in the face? No (or YES if it’s Saints Row).

    Look at gamers themselves. Who do they–even ugly ones–like dressing up as? Unattractive characters or hot ones? I’ve encountered fat cosplayer blogs where the girls say outright that they don’t want to cosplay as fat characters (even the ones with pretty faces) *because* they want to feel sexy. When girls try on clothes at the mall, they might not reach for the micro-miniskirts, but I guarantee they will strike at least one sexy pose in the mirror. Some of us happen to like sexy. I understand clamoring for better quality storytelling and less “cheap” games overall, but to cry foul to protect the innocent masses of girls that might someday join the adult gaming world is demeaning to the grown women that are already here (and like it).

      • Ah, Chris. Clearly a man who doesn’t get out much, judging by the comments you’ve been making.

    • Darling. you miss the point. NOWHERE in the article did it say being sexy is an egregious crime.
      It was stating that there is not variety in the way in which females are depicted in games, therefore teen boys and girls are growing up with the impression that women are just tits on legs. And this is coming from a girl who resembles the kind of woman that is (over)represented in games. You know it’s pathetic when a female warrior looks or poses like I do when I’m dancing at work.

      And really, you should not be sending photos of yourself in revealing attire to strange men, dear…unless like me, you are being paid a lot of money for it. 😉

      • “You know it’s pathetic when a female warrior looks or poses like I do when I’m dancing at work.”

        Are you saying you look pathetic at work? I doubt that. I bet you look great and sexy. Just like the female warriors in video games. Whats wrong with sexy pixelated female warriors? Images like that have been a staple of fantasy even before video games depicted them. It doesn’t particularly do anything for me, but I dont mind it. I dont think we should tone it down because of some supposed angry horde of future female gamers reacting badly to it or because of the poor vulnerable children growing up. It has a marketplace and it sells so I am all happy for it to do so. Just thinking about this article conjures up images of Helen Lovejoy “Oh wont somebody please think of the children!”

  • Wait for *ex addons to see them naked! Only one warning kids don’t be afraid to see them naked in real life and for some reasones the game out of wine, don’t miss it or you won’t take them down. Prepare your pistols to act! Enjoy!

  • I’ve just spent a few minutes re-reading some of the comments on the gender articles of yesterday, and on some of the linked sites, and the whole thing is so incredibly… exhausting. I think Mark’s article really hit the nail on the head: the attitudes of adults today are pretty much set – the ones still up for grabs are the kids of today and tomorrow.

    As someone who has a young daughter, and will soon have a son, this issue has become surprisingly personal for me.

    My daughter will be tall and blonde, and if current level of cuteness is a guide (frequently remarked upon by strangers), she will be attractive too. She’s going to be encouraged to experiment with makeup and skimpy clothes long before I’ll be ready for her to do so, and she’ll be resented by the girls around her if she looks better than them. I have no doubt that (somewhat sadly) in the end, her looks will help her to get ahead… but I hope that she finds role models that can encourage her to emphasise and promote her intelligence, skills and personality.

    My son – assuming he is attracted to women – will be encouraged on every channel to objectify pretty girls, and berated in real life if he chooses to do so. If he turns out anything like me, this will stunt his sexual development by infusing the entire prospect of physical intimacy with an unbelievable dose of guilt and self-hatred. I’ve struggled with this for many years, and haven’t yet managed to deal with the guilt I feel just for being a man.

    Both my children will be growing up in a world struggling to deal morally with hypersexualised popular media. I hope they both emerge from the fray as well-adjusted people, and will be doing my best to help that happen.

  • Yes I agree that more thought needs to be put into the market and emerging markets for gamers.
    I do not however think that gaming should be yet another vehicle for ramming a bastardised ‘equality’ down everyone’s throat.
    Men and women are different. Boys and girls are different. Some things they have in common, some they don’t. Let’s not let gaming become a playground for the indoctrination of children as that is almost as bad as the sexualisation that many have posted about previously.

  • Wow, what a kickass trailer. I am very much anticipating this game. Looks great.

    As for this article, well you have it all wrong.

    I dont think you give females any credit at all. In fact I think some of the responses here are offensive to females.

    Yes Mark Serrels, our large future female gamer demographic are going to be so angry when they see Agent 47 taking on a group of fictional dangerous and sexy nuns clad in tight leather and other future video games scenes like this. Apparently all images of females from now on need to be healthy, positive, endearing role models with courage, strength of character, and dressed in long pants and bulky sweaters? Dare we make any more sexualised images of women lest we have a horde of angry gaming girls tearing down at our doors with torches and pitchforks? Yes, those precious girls – we better not make them angry.

    Anger of course is a strong emotional viewpoint, it often drives people to commit violence and even sometimes drives people to kill. But I also know that often behind anger lacks logic and reason. Lots of things make people ANGRY. Homosexuality makes people angry, should we ban that because of that angry reaction? Cartoon images and documentaries on religion can also make people angry and drive them to commit murder. Extreme examples I know, but then again so is this article in reaction to a 2 minute game trailer.

    Personally I think this wonderful Hitman trailer is less offensive to females than the typical image of the poor damsel in distress – weak and desperate for a man to come save her. Oh yeah you remember those games Mark – the ones you used to play as a kid? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhFV5-qbbIw. To me that is way more offensive than half a dozen nuns with big boobs in tight leather. It says to girls you are worthless and defenseless and need men to come save you.

    Girls should be more offended by Donkey Kong than by t*ts and tight leather in a Hitman trailer.

    “This, I think to myself, is what those girls, who love video games in the purest way possible, have to look forward to.”

    Girls who love video games in the “purest way possible” wouldn’t be playing Hitman anyway. It’s all about marketing to your audiences. Did you see the levels of violence in the trailer as well? This game appeals to a market of males and females who love their shoot em up and violent games. Whatever appeals to girls in the ‘purest way possible’ will also have a marketplace and Hitman won’t be in it.

    ““When I speak to developers I always say, ‘you better start thinking about the games you want to make in a couple of years for teenage girls — because soon there’s going to be a whole army of them, and they’re going to be angry when they see what’s out there.”

    Yes those young teenage girls, the same ones that heavily indulge in the sexualised music, tv and movie industry of today are going to be totally angry all of a sudden because of popular sexualised images in video games…

    I call bull*hit.

    Im all for equality. I don’t see a problem with http://www.youtube.com/user/sexyunboxing at all. I think she looks great and is having fun and some guys (or girls) may get off on that so more power to them. In fact I think they should have a sexy oiled up muscle man doing an unboxing as well so the female and gay audience can enjoy a similar thing.

    Does sex scare you? Do you think we need to wrap females up in cotton wool and come to their defense like Mr Mario in his barrel dodging plumbers boots? Sex is here to stay, it feels great, looks great and it sells. Does it objectify? Can it provide bad role models for young girls? Possibly, but it all depends on your audience. If you dont like tight leather and t*ts you can always press the off button now cant you…or just be a parent and raise your children how you want them to be and control what they watch, teach them morals and not spoil it for everyone else.

    I hardly doubt that there will be an angry horde of female gamers because of some bouncing boobs in a Dead or Alive video game in 5 years time Mark. If anything the marketplace should call for more sexualisation of men to even out the playing field (not that it doesn’t happen now). In the midst of this so-called powder keg of sexualised video game entertainment is hardly any cause for someone to get angry, but just relax and enjoy themselves. Embrace the pixelated boobs and groins, and tight leather and muscles…

    Dust off the PS1 controller and come play a few rounds of classic Dead and Alive with me Mark.

    (Ps. I hope this ok for the moderator this time, ive toned down on the sarcasm – apparently we dont like challenging viewpoints anymore?)

    • Clearly you haven’t been paying attention at all. No one is saying there should be no sexy characters. They have been saying that there should be characters that exist as more than sex objects (or helpless plot devices). There is a big difference between creating female characters that are realistic and believable (or even merely female while still being competent and not obviously sexualized) and the complete removal of all sexy female characters from games. Apparently you have not been reading the same comments here as I have or you would have realized this. It’s saddening that I even have to interpret other people’s clear, precise statements to you. But there you go, now you have no excuse to spout such bollocks arguments.

      It’s interesting that you brought donkey kong into this… I know I surely wouldn’t have if I were trying to make your point. Aside from the obvious of “kids love animals, animals aren’t humans and don’t have to obey human gender roles to be compelling”… did you realize that there were female members of the main, playable cast in the donkey kong series? With their own, unique and useful abilities that actually affect gameplay in a meaningful way? Yeah, girls should *definitely* be upset by one of the few games in the history of gaming that presented a non-sexualized playable female character with just as much relevance to the game and story as any of the boys. As it turns out, this is EXACTLY what we need to see more of, much to your apparent chagrin. Now, the classic version of donkey kong you linked to is something different altogether, but you actually do have a point about it also being offensive. That does not change the fact that the excessively sexualized depictions of women in nearly all video games ever are also offensive, to many women and to a good number of men as well.

      It is also amazingly correct of you to note that music, movies, and TV also do the exact same thing. However you seem to think that people who are unhappy about the present state of affairs in video games aren’t unhappy about the depiction in other forms of media as well. I can assure you that this is most certainly not the case. However, we seem to be discussing an article published on a website that is directly connected to gaming, not all other forms of media that could possibly exist. Naturally we are going to discuss the article and our views in the context of gaming. Be reasonable here. And has it ever occurred to you that typically speaking, your average female doesn’t stop aging at 14 years old? It’s funny how many men commenting on articles like this seem to think that female = preteen girl. I guess after they grow up they’re not females anymore, eh?

      And then you go on to confuse the argument for one of morals. No, that’s really not where it was going, I have no idea where you even got that from. But let’s play along and pretend it was a moral argument for a moment, and that the concern is that little girls will grow up having bad role models in video games. Do you realize that your response of raising one’s child how you want and controlling what they watch and play is completely invalidated by the stance you’re taking here with this article? You’re saying “no, don’t change anything, I like my sex and so do all my male friends, and some of the females who play video games are happy to see it too. We don’t want our sexy half-naked… er, three fourths… wearing clothes only to avoid an M rating women taken away from us.” You are apparently so outraged by the fact that there might be female characters, or dare I say protagonists, who are more than mere window dressings for men to ogle or a boob slider toy. The problem is there is a TINY amount of media that actually does display women as worthwhile meaningful individuals for anything other than their sexual characteristics. So you know what, there are basically no role models for young girls. And you don’t want us to create them, either.

      But getting back to the actual argument at hand, the problem is that there are a lot of females who enjoy playing video games, but once they reach a certain stage of development, they are basically stuck with either playing games that “real” gamers look down on, leaving gaming period, or having to put up with the inane male fantasy BS that basically completely inundates the genre. Sex certainly as hell doesn’t scare me, but you know what, I would be ecstatic to see a realistically drawn and proportioned female character, wearing a realistic and sensible outfit for her occupation, who is treated like an actual human being as opposed to masturbation fuel. And if she can kick ass while doing all the above, all the better.

      And you know what, oversexualization of characters in video games really is offputting for a good number of people. Especially potential girl gamers. It’s sad that you think the solution is to add sexy men into the mix as well. That’s just hiding cheesecake behind cheesecake. Why can’t we just have reasonable female characters?

      • sigh…

        “No one is saying there should be no sexy characters. ”

        Great, glad we had that sorted out then. So whats wrong with the Hitman trailer then? Oh but you are saying that some content can have sexualised female characters now can it? So what’s wrong with the Hitman trailer then? Why are we picking on that? I thought we were having a big whinge about that… *rolleyes*

        If you dont like it and are sick of sexualised females in video games, don’t buy the bloody game mate! If females don’t like it they dont have to buy the game either. YOU are the one helping to create the very market you and others on here are whinging about. Even if you and the few others on here did have any inkling of change to the marketplace, there would still be a huge market for material of this sort. I don’t have a problem with pixelated boobs, I am comfortable with my sexuality and don’t really care about this type of content. In fact most of the games I play don’t even feature the type of content – but if it did – it wouldn’t bother me.

        What I have a problem with is kneejerk reactions to content like a 2 minute hitman trailer which didnt come across as over sexualised at all -, accusations that we should be afraid of some angry horde of future female gamers (Im sorry but potential fear of something like this doesnt irk me – if they dont like they can create their own market demand) and people acting like internet puritans wanting to cleanse videogames of sexual content. Oh no Personman, but some sexualised content is fine now right? If the market demand hated this stuff, then it wouldnt appear in video games. The fact that it does in vast quantities says to me there a lot of people out there who aren’t afraid of their sexuality and enjoy this content. More power to them.

        If there is a marketplace for reasonable female characters then great. Im sure with the rising female gamer demographic there will be a whole slew of these games and more power to them. In the meantime you can vote with your wallet if you don’t like it. I see no problem with this content whatsoever and think you are all over reacting and acting like a bunch of damned puritans.

        • Okay, I will attempt one more time to explain, but I was quite clear the last time and you are misinterpreting or plainly ignoring a significant quantity of the text of my previous post. So if you continue to come to egregiously faulty conclusions about what I am saying this time, I give up attempting to talk to you and can only assume that you are a troll.

          The problem with the Hitman trailer is that it combines violence against women, with the simultaneous hypersexualization of them. This sends bad messages about sex and violence to the people who see the trailer, and in effect fetishizes it. If you can’t see why it would be a problem to fetishize violence against women, then I suggest trying harder, because it should be obvious. The fact is though that it could be a number of different trailers or games that we had this conversation about… but we’re having it about the hitman trailer because mark serrels wrote an article about it, as it was a blatant, current example. There are times where sexuality has its place. Assassins, dressed as nuns, stripping , posing and strutting down the streets with a nice hip shake… this is not a good use of sexuality. This is the gaming equivalent of cheap and tacky porn being used to get young men to buy the game. While I have no particular objection to porn myself, many people do object to this sort of content. For example, a very significant proportion of females. Many women don’t enjoy being treated as fetish objects, and that is exactly what this trailer treats them as.

          Here’s a secret – I’m not going to buy the game! I will not download a demo, and I will not pirate the game either. I will have nothing to do with this game, ever, in my lifetime. I never had any intention of buying this game. I already vote with my wallet, thank you. For similar moral objections, I stayed far, far away from the grand theft auto games and have never had anything to do with them. And The Witcher, for the trading cards. Anything else I have moral objections to? You can believe I stay the hell away from them. What I’m doing here, is commenting on why I agree with a particular opinion piece, and the many ways in which you have misinterpreted the statements of both myself and others who have commented here. Or simply read things into our statements that were never facts (such as the assumption that I help create the market I’m whining about despite commenting here, when in fact I already vote with my wallet, as explained above). Now I’ll repeat from earlier – I have no personal moral objection to pixelated boobs, I’m comfortable with my sexuality, and it does not bother me at all to see sexual content in games. However, at the same time, I *do* care how it is presented and what message it sends to the people who see it. Sexuality without relevant context is, in my opinion, undesirable and a negative feature. Exploitative sexuality like we see in the hitman trailer is especially undesirable and will outright cause me to turn down a game. And games that *do* contain that sort of sexuality should be exclusively for adults, if anyone. Note that while the trailer in question has nothing to do with the content of the actual game (in theory), I am using it as a platform on which to make a statement about games in general, and my comment should be read in a more general context, rather than being all about hitman. Also, just because there is a market for content, it does not mean that it is responsible to generate it and disseminate it to the general populace. Or that you can’t be cutting out a market for your game by adding such content to it. And again, it is a significant problem for the gaming industry as a whole that so many other games receive the same sort of treatment, oversexualizing every female character and turning her into a bimbo sex doll with no personality of her own, because that turns off female gamers. The problem is not just this one game. The problem is the world of gaming in general. This is just an example of the sort of things that make female gamers turn away from gaming. If game developers want girls to play their games, they’re going to have to create more content that treats female characters as something other than breeding objects. That is the point that the article is trying to make.

          So this isn’t a kneejerk reaction to a particular game. This is a critique of the state of the gaming industry in general, using the hitman trailer as a platform to talk from and explain just why things are problematic. As to the contention that if female gamers don’t like something they can create their own market demand… what? The very existence of female gamers *is* the existence of their own market demand. The problem is that game developers don’t know how to respond to it, or just fail to care. There have been numerous examples of games that are very popular with female gamers. But find a game developer that knowingly uses that knowledge to create further games, and you’ll find… maxis. And that’s probably about it. The demand is there, it is just not being met.

          So on to puritans again. If you’ve been reading and paying attention to what I’ve said so far you’ll see that no, I’m not trying to cleanse video games of sexual content. And if you look back on and read some of the things others have been saying here, no one else has said that they want video games purged of all sexual content. We want, at worst, for video games to be purged of *misogynistic and sexist* content. And even some of that could possibly be lived with if it was the exception rather than the rule. Unfortunately that is not the case. Obviously the market doesn’t hate this… the market is filled with young men who see T&A and that’s all they care about. We live in a culture where the media has no problem whatsoever promoting sexism and misogyny until they are rampant. But that does not ever mean that it’s okay that that’s the case. And if you want to change that, you have to do it one step at a time. You’re complaining already at that first step. The mere condemnation of its existence. If it was not the hitman trailer, it would just be another game that got this treatment from us. Say a random super hero MMO where it’s literally impossible to create female characters who have humanly attainable proportions, or where you have maybe one possible costume configuration that is not incredibly revealing one way or another. Or any other of countless examples, that last one being a notably bad one. So yes, let’s see some reasonable female characters. It’s about time.

          • “The problem with the Hitman trailer is that it combines violence against women, with the simultaneous hypersexualization of them. This sends bad messages about sex and violence to the people who see the trailer, and in effect fetishizes it. If you can’t see why it would be a problem to fetishize violence against women, then I suggest trying harder, because it should be obvious”

            I don’t agree with that one bit. Again you’re making a mountain out of a molehill and totally misconstruing the tone and objectivity of the trailer.

            The ‘violence against women’ in the context of the Hitman trailer is an entirely ridiculous and flawed accusation. Let’s not forget that:
            A) Hitman is set in a fictional almost comic book world clearly not set in reality in any way, shape or form. By having the females assassins dressed in nun outfits is also a depiction of this unrealistic world.
            B) The female assassins portrayed in the trailer are the antagonists or villains of the piece itself, as it is clear that Agent 47 is the hero (or anti-hero).
            C) They female assassins are the ones that are instigating the violence initially – by hunting Agent 47 down.
            D) the females depicted in the piece are armed to the teeth and there are several of them. Thus they are on an almost equal or superior footing to Agent 47 himself.

            If the trailer instead featured Agent 47 pursuing several innocent and physically weak females and then gunning them down to death in cold blood then you would be onto something. But this is clearly not what is happening in the trailer and by ignoring this context your accusations are baseless.

            I also find your accusations of “violence against women” ridicilous as if:
            – Female life or harm to females, in the context of the Hitman trailer, is more valuable or precious than the lives or harm done to a group of 8 male assassins in the same scenario. Not forgetting the 5 points raised above that they are the villains and the instigators of initial violence in the piece. So you wouldnt have a problem with 8 males brutally getting gunned down, but because these villains happen to be female (and especially ones in sexy nun outfits) that’s not ok – even in the context of the 5 points raised above.
            I also find it disturbing how you pick on violence against women but raise no issues with violence in general or violence against men. These are also real world problems that you have conveniently brushed under the carpet, but that’s ok – everyone is used to this. It’s ok for men to die in droves and line the video game graveyards and desensitise our views to this, but lets not dare have any totally unrealistic comic book sexy nun assassins get brutally killed in video games in case you think it portrays violence against women or fetishizes the content in some msyogynist aims, either intended or unintended.

            As for the sexualisation of the content , completely tame and unrealistic and with the context of the violence portrayed in the trailer – is unrealistic, stylised and comic book. I think well executed for the content that it is.

            “We want, at worst, for video games to be purged of *misogynistic and sexist* content. And even some of that could possibly be lived with if it was the exception rather than the rule. Unfortunately that is not the case. Obviously the market doesn’t hate this… the market is filled with young men who see T&A and that’s all they care about. We live in a culture where the media has no problem whatsoever promoting sexism and misogyny until they are rampant.”

            Thanks, knew it all boiled down to demented feminisn 101 and a grand scheme of misogyny in the media. Tinfoil hat type stuff. Appreciate it. Nice doing business with you.

            To equate what is happening in the hitman trailer down to fetishizing violence against women and depicting mysogynism is pretty bat shit I gotta tell you.

            Time to get back to the slut walks…

  • Growing up, almost all of my friends played console & PC games regardless of gender. Then around the beginning of high school, most of the girls gave it up. Sure, some of it was due to gender role pressure–the “Girls shouldn’t game” nonsense–but in retrospect, the fact that women in games had the same representational equity as Bunnies at the Playboy Mansion was a far bigger impetus to give up the hobby. I worry about the girls in the GG:SP fanbase, because I’ve already seen & lived through that disheartening transition when your favorite subculture suddenly demands tits or GTFO.

  • “The show’s creator is a woman, her name is Janet Carr.”

    Actually, she’s the co-creator, with Junglist.

  • “Is this what we want as a culture”… erm… (s)exploitation already IS part of our culture…. and has been for decades….

    You don’t have to like it, but others do. Yes, even girls…. even though the author seems to think that all girls are looking for “video games in the purest way possible”…. That’s a sexist remark in itself…

    /rant

  • How about video game developers recognize the adult female market that exists RIGHT NOW? I’m 38 and have been playing video games since I was a kid, right along with all the rest of all you guys.

  • When these 10-year-old girls grow up and see sexism in games they will have a cause and bank accounts.

    When they see Booth Babes willing to do sexy unboxing and bouncy castles, they’ll be angry.

  • First off, as to Lollipop Chainsaw; Marketing aside, that game knows what it is – over-the-top silly fun. It does what it does deliberately for humor’s sake.

    Now, as to Hitman Absolution, and wow where to start? WHY ARE THERE BATTLE NUNS IN LEATHER?! That just… why? If you want nun assassins, DO IT! Have them walk in with body armor and hints of gear under their robes. You get a much better and more dangerous threat – you don’t know what they’re carrying in terms of weapons, giving you something more like an Assassin. Rather than, say, a skanky dominatrix that’s merely there for sex appeal.

  • “And you best believe they won’t be donning leather and bikini armour when they burn this silly little boys club to the ground.”

    I say BRING IT ON! We’ll be waiting for you, and won’t go down without a fight.

  • There’s been a dramatic rise in men with body image problems.

    Videogames have contributed to that in the way all male protagonists are good looking, mid 20’s, sculpted adonises.

    Where are all the bleeding hearts complaining about videogames putting unrealistic expectations on the young men of today?

    Fuck off with your double standards.

  • I just want to say I really appreciate this article. A lot of women don’t speak out on the issue, mostly because all the comments would be “get back in the kitchen” or some accusation of her being a “feminazi”. It’s actually nice to have guys on our side for once.

    I’ve been gaming for about four years and I started off with Half Life 2 – Sure, Alyx Vance is absolutely gorgeous and she has a wonderful figure, but she was also adequately clothed and quite frankly she kicked ass. I was thrown into gaming with such optimism because of it. I also played Beyond Good and Evil, in which the main character is also dressed practically (I don’t see how some developers think it is more practical for a woman to wear latex during a gunfight – do you know how hard it is to run around in latex?!) and she was also a completely independent and strong figure.

    What happened to me is the phenomenon a lot of you in the comments described. That as young girls we invest ourselves into gaming, and then the older we get, the more we start to see the problems. I tried my best to ignore the hypersexualisation when I was younger, but it is now to the point where sometimes I don’t want anything to do with gaming at all. And that’s such a shame. I’ve played a lot – from little indie games to full on FPS, but it is rare to find a mainstream game that doesn’t seriously put me off any more.

    I really hope the gaming industry gets it together. I remember seeing the trailer for Lollipop Chainsaw and curling up in my bed because of how disappointed I was. I loved the entire concept of the game (females kicking ass, please!) but her outfits were just plain over-the-top and her attitude in general was such a disgusting stereotype. I really don’t want to stray away from gaming just because developers are still clinging onto sex as a selling point.

    A lot of women act like they’re okay with it, or pretend to really like it, due to the fear of backlash. A lot of men still believe that there is no sexism left to beat (on par with the same people who still think racism is over) and will respond in the rudest ways to any person, especially a woman, who feels differently.

    Sorry – got a bit into that!!

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