To Developers: Stop giving women unrealistic expectations

A lot of feminists and pro-feminist movement bloggers have discussed the indecency that is the objectification of women in the gaming industry. From Lara Croft’s unrealistic appeal to Nariko’s scantily clad ability to perform like the God of War himself, women have constantly complained without any thought or whim as to how we feel as guys within the entire situation as well. What about us? What about how developers make us men out to be a lot more than we are? Don’t you think that affects us just as negatively in society? You don’t? Well, we’re here to show you exactly what you’re missing.

Let’s start by taking it easy, by talking about one Nathan Drake. He’s as regular a guy as they come, as far as video game characters are concerned. He’s got a great sense of humor and the rugged good looks to match, so there’s plenty to like. I say we stop right there. If you’ve made any sort of regular human contact recently, you already know that Nate would stand head and shoulders above most other guys. In the boring ol’ game called Life, the funniest guys look less like Gerard Butler and more like Patton Oswalt.

Our boy Nate is no different really, despite his “every man” status. “He’s just like me!” I’ve heard some guys say. Sorry to burst your bubble, but he’s not. As far as I know, most men can’t climb sheer rock faces without the proper equipment, nor can they absorb inhuman amounts of gunfire simply by hiding behind cover for 7 seconds. Also, do you know anyone who’s blown up any helicopters using heavy artillery they found on a speeding train full of enemy mercenaries lately? No? Imagine that.

The problem also lies in the fact that if it isn’t overly rugged good looks with a badass complex being the issue, its entire male incompetence taking its place. This double-edged sword has allowed the male species to lose at every corner in the male protagonist industry. Just think about it a little. If the main character, as a male, is incapable of doing things on his own, they usually put an overly talented woman (this isn’t Cooking Mama) in the game to aid him. One such example is Ubisoft’s 2008 release of Prince of Persia.

Just take a look at Elike and The Prince for instance. The Prince is pretty much a dumbed down version of Spiderman in this game without the aid of the beautiful Elika. She’s not only blessed with the ability to heal the entire environment around us, but she’s also blessed with the talent level to prevent us from dying or from completely embarrassing ourselves as men through repeated failure. We understand that behind every great man is a great woman, but come on developers – at least make it a great man! The Prince falls short of even that. It’s bad enough that Nathan Drake’s Nolan North voices the guy (making him even more rugged), but he’s about as useful without Elika as peanut butter is without bread.

Moving right along, do you know what’s even less fair to our gender than a pussy who can’t get from point A to point B without the help of a woman? A guy that doesn’t just overachieve, but goes so far above and beyond that he makes others look dumb for even standing near him. We’re of course talking about Batman. There used to be a time when mentioning the Dark Knight in any games feature served only to make fun of his horrible, horrible games. With the release of Arkham Asylum, however, he showed men and women that he’s not an uncoordinated stiff like earlier releases made him out to be.

Since the cat’s out of the bag on the gaming front, it’s high time for a little crash course on the Dark Knight. Unlike you and me, he’s an eccentric billionaire. Unlike most billionaires, he likes to play dress-up and fight crime. When was the last time you saw a devilishly handsome billionaire on the front line? Must be a short list you got in your hands there. How are we, as men, supposed to feel when we have icons like this to measure up to? You might say, “But come on, how many people know who Nathan Drake is or The Prince, etc?” You’d be right; probably not many. However, EVERY woman knows who Batman is.

Hell, we haven’t even gotten to Solid Snake yet. Unlike Batman, he’s not swimming in pools of money. Instead, he’s the genetic clone to the greatest soldier in modern history, and is known to single-handedly defeat bipedal nuclear tanks on occasion. Wait, what? Not only that, Snake is said to have an IQ of 180 while fluent in six different languages. How many talented individuals do you know like that that don’t work for NASA? Heard of that recent NASA deployment into Iraq lately? No? Odd.

This is the problem with the gaming industry today and how developers are objectifying men in an unrealistic nature in order to sell video games. Not only that, but they’re creating representations of the sex that heighten women’s expectations of us that are just impossible to replicate. We’re never going to be a 10/10 guy who also just happens to have the underlying talent to face insurmountable, fatal odds in various situations and come out with just minor flesh wounds.

This is all getting out of hand and we’ve only touched briefly on three situations. There are 100’s of examples throughout the industry where men are portrayed in unrealistic ways and therefore giving women unrealistic expectations of our sex. It needs to be stopped. If women think they have it bad by having to watch men feed that Fat Princess cake, they have no clue at all how bad we have it.

It’s making life tough. It’s bad enough that the ratio from women to men is so unbalanced that a lot of guys out there are struggling to find dates as is, but let’s be honest, how much harder is it to net that good looking woman if she’s going out to find her own Nathan Drake but not realizing she’s going to have to settle for Zach Galifianakis instead?

Readers Comments (16)

  1. haha, good read man.

  2. lol interesting read…but im not sure if it really does give them such standards…that is unless theyre totally into games and only games…..or something….i dont think itll do too much on the most part…

  3. @Moogle

    Kind of the underlying point 😉

  4. VofEscaflowne March 30, 2010 @ 08:50

    But women don’t play video games lololo

    Last time I saw a woman in the wild, she said that my biceps aren’t as huge as Chris Redfield’s and ran away crying.

  5. Yeah, but the point applies to almost every form of media. Women are quick to point that men objectify them and yet do not realize that we are objectified as well.

    I don’t really have a problem with videogame characters in general though.

  6. Heavy rain has normal characters apart from the fact they like to have madison half naked most of the time. I suppose games would be rather boring without men/ women who couldnt do amazing things like take on tanks etc

  7. VofEscaflowne March 30, 2010 @ 10:46


    It does fit the context of the game though… and while Madison is naked in a shower scene, people seem to forget that Ethan was as well. Also there is an optional nude scene later on where the player has control on it whether she takes off her clothes or not.

  8. Interesting read.

    I didn’t think of us being objectified as well as women.

  9. Moocows111111 March 30, 2010 @ 15:44

    Lol pretty cool read there XD Good Job Joe XD

  10. Nathan Drake IS hot! You mean, you guys don’t all look like Nathan? damn those developers for giving me that unreal expectation. 🙂

    Nice article. Great comparisons.

  11. Its about time someone writes this stuff up. Female game characters have been giving us unrealistic expectations for all too long. Time to switch it up ^_^

  12. I’m not sure if you understand the word “objectification.” It is “to present or regard as an object.”

    Men in video games tend to be the “heroes,” which in itself I’m sure you could stretch to define as objectification. However, people like Nathan Drake, Solid Snake, and yes, even Batman, have stories and personalities that are fleshed out within the game. These make them register in the mind as people rather than objects (albeit fake people).

    In video games, women tend to be supporting characters with rather 2D personalities. They frequently have oversized breasts and stupid, simpering dialogue. The issue is objectification of women as sex objects, not as unattainable physical or personality standards. In fact, I would argue that it is possible for men to obtain the physique of male heros–naturally, with some serious exercise and weight training. Women are depicted as impossibly thin with oversized boobs, a standard which cannot be obtained in any healthy or natural way.

    I’m not saying videogames don’t provide an unrealistic view of men–they certainly do. But that is because games are a fantasy, and fantasies are no fun if you’re just a normal person. The problem is games are typically a man’s fantasy, where the men are strong and intelligent and witty and the women are super sexy and seductive.

  13. And yes, I understand that this is kind of meant to be a joke or whatever. But despite your writing skill, I don’t really think that belittling the objectification of women is really funny.

  14. Nintendoll, awesome reply, and totally sums up how I was feeling about this article but couldn’t quite put into words. Saying that games predominantly featuring strong, handsome, heroic men creates unrealistic expectations for women is not the same as how games objectify women.

    I would say that video games nearly exclusive portrayal of the optimal male is certainly an interesting topic for discussion, as it exemplifies the general cultural view that as a man you’re less than ideal if you don’t have a buff physique or aren’t strong and capable. Since video games are generally intended to be entertaining and appealing to the mass culture, they generally reflect what the mass male culture wants. And yes, video games are reinforcing the cultural idea that the strong, buff, gorgeous male is the ideal male.

    So yes, interesting topic, but this article smacks of “hey women, stop your complaining, men are ‘objectified’ too!” Whether intentional or not, it’s belittling women’s complaints about the portrayal of women in video games. In video games men are idealized, and surely that is an interesting cultural phenomena that may reinforce women’s perception of the optimal man, but in video games women are usually objectified and reduced to less than a person. I think Samus and the girl from Portal are the only video game females that come to mind as not being sex objects, who are in fact just allowed to be people (strong, kick ass people), and I can’t even say they have that much personality development, so even they’re not the best examples. Most female video game characters are designed with impossible body proportions, skimpy costumes, and serve no purpose but to assist the males, be eye candy, or provide a love interest.

  15. wow, moztletolv nintendoll….beautifully said

  16. Hey, guys are objectified too. Even in girls’ video games. They’re always portrayed as some being hunky to provide eye candy to girls

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