It strikes me as a sad reflection on the Games Industry that even in this day and age we still have a pretty poor representation of women in the computer games world, often portrayed as either helpless maidens or whores. What initially sparked this post was the news that the makers of Mortal Kombat, a game I enjoyed playing a lot when I was younger, are releasing another game to add to the saga. Additionally, there is a web series being produced at the moment to coincide with its release, notably starring the very talented Jeri Ryan as Sonya Blade, which should be amazing if the trailer that was released last year is anything to go by (see below; please note it is gory in places).
However, as much of a fan of the games as I am, I feel it’s sad that in the latest game, even though there will be a number of playable female characters, they appear to be dressed in attire that wouldn’t be out of place at a strip-joint. I realise that Mortal Kombat is a fantasy game, but I don’t see why the women in these games have to be dressed in little more than underwear; the men always seem able to find time to dress themselves before battle. Sure, the gaming world is heavily populated by male gamers, and game designers for that matter, but that doesn’t mean games always have to appeal to the base level.
Surprisingly this trend seems to be getting worse. In society, one tends to think that women are nowadays treated better than ever, with the pay gap closing, legislation in place to stop harassment and discrimination in the work place, so one would reasonably expect some of these advancements to be translated to the gaming world. I guess one could argue that games like “The Sims” indicate that game designers are evolving in their appreciation of what constitutes a game that is worth developing. However, in this latest instalment of Mortal Kombat the female characters seem to be wearing even less than in earlier versions, made all the more noticeable with long-standing characters, such as Mileena (see below, left in MKII and right in MKIX) and Kitana, where a comparison can be easily made.
Not all gamers want to see such slutty looking characters. Some gamers are female, some are gay *raises hand* and others are just simply more sophisticated than the knuckle-dragging morons that this sort of stuff seems to be aimed at. It would be unfair to tar all of the gaming world with the same brush. Indeed, one of the big hit games of the past couple of years has been the zombie apocalypse game “Left 4 Dead”, where players fight their way through campaigns set in different locations, taking control of one of four survivors. The intro movie from the game is embedded below. Both it and its sequel have a 3:1 ratio of male to female survivors, which, although disproportionate, both female characters are strong women dressed in appropriate attire for an apocalypse. No g-strings to see here.
I guess what it boils down to is that making the female characters in a computer game scantily glad and ridiculously busty (see the above Mileena picture again!) seems like the lazy option. The train of thought, I imagine, probably runs something along the lines of, “well the game may be a big pile of cack, but hopefully if we make these hooters big enough the horny sods won’t notice”. I think this is insulting to gamers, in addition to the unnecessary objectification of women. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this whore-chic becomes outdated very soon, and is a rarity in future games. Unless of course the character IS a whore then, well…