To be a woman in modern times is to build a hybrid identity, complex, but nevertheless supported by feminism, without being locked up. A woman is a plural being, who is constantly in an individual, professional transformation. This is to create a journey away from the beaten track as we once inspired Marie-Curie, Georges Sand, Marguerite Yourcenar, Simone Veil, or Roger Arliner Young, the first African-American woman to have a Ph.D. Zoology. These women and many others have shown us the way forward to build an ambitious, radiant, free path, and this without taking into account the obstacles of resistant attitudes towards the freedom of the woman, and her right to dispose of her mind and body.
At a time when the issue of equality is on everyone’s lips, and the women’s rights movement is mobilising around the world, what is their place in the world of video games?
1- The helpless princess in video games
In most video game scenarios, the ultimate excuse is to save the damsel in distress. There is always the helpless girl in need of rescue. The hero had no choice, as a great sense of honor and gallantry, to rescue the princess (#Hardlife). Do you remember Princess Toadstool (Peach) in Super Mario 64? She is the archetype of the damsel in distress and forms the goal of most games in the series. Indeed, Mario’s quest is very often to save her from the capture- of Bowser. I stopped playing it very fast.
What is the point of all her ribbons except to escape? (I’m being Sarcastic)
The princess in video games, is a frail, helpless being that must be protected at all costs. What would be the woman without the man? Fortunately, Nintendo changes her character in the game Super Smash Bros. and Super Princess Peach. So the character of Peach has new ribbons to her bow. Indeed, thanks to her emotions, who can bring up a wall of flames. And when she cries like a fountain she can extinguish fires or grow seeds. Well, it’s not the best heroin, but she can at least defend herself when necessary. So, if we have to choose a princess main character, we would prefer the more independant Daisy in Mario Strikers Charged Football.
2- The sexualization of women in video games.
The universe is without appeal in the world of video games, and especially with regard to women. Often relegated to the role of princess in distress, or heroin breakaway that does not need anyone to get by; especially not a man, we can see they are still hypersexualization regardless of their female character in the game.
The first female character to be seen as sexualized is Lara Croft, who at the same time became the first major video game heroin. I remember as a teenager having played the game for the first time at a friend’s place. We were bitten by colorful, powerful female characters, who were able to defeat male characters. We dreamed to be stronger like them, and even though I had a problem with the acute exposure of her body, Lara Croft with Chun Li (who still remain in the top 5 of my female characters) represented, at the time, a revolution in the construction of female characters. They were « strong » role models as a woman of action instead of being a mere « damsel in distress to deliver ».
Most of the female characters were brown with heavy breasts. It must be said that at the time video games were rather built for male audiences of sorts that female players, like my friend and I, had to skip their physique to focus on their ability. Although I liked the character of Chun Li, I could not stand her high-pitched voice during the fighting. A sound disaster. It is clear that at the time, video games did not convey a positive image of women at all, on the contrary, since they were perceived in many games as an object of desire. Nevertheless, they embody a symbol of feminism and the players. For once a woman was brought to the fore in a video game. This is how they inspired a new generation of gamers to assert themselves in this universe.
If you want to know more, stay tuned for What we learnt from the helpless princess in video games: part 2