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Women in the Video Game Industry

When I think of women and video games, two stereotypes come to mind – the damsel in distress who needs to be rescued, or vixens with dangerous curves squeezed into a tight outfit.

I’m sure a lot of us never wonder about the women who work in the video game industry. It’s interesting to think about, since most of the images of women in video games definitely reinforce stereotypes about women that we would all like to see go the way of the dinosaur.

An NBC article discusses this very subject here: http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/women-use-twitter-expose-video-game-industry-sexism-1C7283842

The women discuss what it’s like to be one of few – or even the only – women in an office full of men who either don’t want to draw women in video games at all, or want them to look like prostitutes if they do.

One woman says that when her desk was near the door, visitors assumed that she was the receptionist. Others describe getting groped at conferences, and being required to justify why a female character would “make sense” in a video game.

Lara Croft – a video game designer’s fantasy

I think video games have had this issue from the beginning. Even when the first Nintendo came out, the Mario and Legend of Zelda games require the players to rescue a princess in a fairy tale castle. Video games have evolved – REALLY evolved – into being something closer to a live action movie that a player actively participates in. From some of the games I have seen, women’s roles – when they are included – follow the same standard.

I’ve had concerns before about the effect this has on kids, as more and more of them play video games and are exposed to these ideas. I remember a friend’s 10 year old son who was allowed to play all of the violent, shoot first video games and the way his behavior began to change after a year. He was a very sweet, helpful boy who became violent, and so disrespectful to women that a complete stranger once stepped in to put him in his place because of a comment he made about a female cashier. His mother blew it off and said that it was “just a phase,” but I know other people who have the same concerns about the way video games are affecting their kids’ development.

After seeing that happen with my friend’s son, I can only imagine what the women working in the video game industry have to put up with. I hope they find a solution to this issue that allows them to stay in a field they love while avoiding the BS. Maybe they should start their own video game company.

I’ll go tweet them the idea right now     🙂

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