I guess video games didn't contain enough violence. So the fantasy world includes doses of degradation of females for those moments when men want to take a break from shooting drug dealers and blowing things up.
I have always thought of Japanese people as well-mannered, cultured and intellectual. And of course, their technological advances are known world-wide as far beyond all the rest. But when I read about one of their contributions to the video gaming world, I was shocked and disappointed.
Shown on the left are a few of the characters the video gamer can choose from in "RapeLay," in which the gamer plays a rapist whose ultimate goal, after stalking and raping a variety of females in many scenarios, is to make a mother and her daughters (shown below) into his sex slaves.
The game that was taken off the developer's site soon after it was introduced in 2006. It never made it to America's stores, but got international attention after it was discovered on Amazon.com last year. I'm wondering what kind of appeal there is here: cartoon females with such sorrow-filled facial expressions. Even the developer couldn't find it in him/herself to make these characters smile.
Next, I considered Grand Theft Auto, a very popular game in the US. I have never been an avid video game player. But an article in Jezebel quoted a blogger who gave me a new perspective:
"Samhita Mukhopadhyay of the blog Feministing, spoke out against the misogynistic imbalance in Grand Theft Auto IV based on a now retracted montage posted on IGN showing Nico killing different women after having sex with them. 'If you could kill male prostitutes in the game, then it would be different, but you can only kill female prostitutes. It's clearly a fantasy. [the video game world] is not the real world, and you have the right to fantasize about what you want to fantasize about. I'm more interested in what informs that fantasy. It's not coming out of nowhere.'"
The Jezebel article discusses that women also play Grand Theft Auto, a game that gives the gamer a world of "moral ambiguity," so the gamer can choose to or choose not to take part in a variety of violent crimes. And killing prostitutes is another choice. The author, a gamer herself, explains, "My fantasies don't involve causing harm to other women, so it isn't something I do in the game."
Aside from prostitute rape, female characters in these games are never the focus. It tends to be murder, theft, and every other form of crime and violence. Yet the women are constantly sprinkled throughout, almost like hyper-sexualized props, to be used for sex at the gamer's discretion. The Escapist's Michael Thomsem sums it up in his article, "Vaginaphobia: Fear of Women in Gaming:" "When sex does appear in games, it is almost always connected to phallocentric displays of male prowess." So any feminist gamers can pretty much forget about a strong, positive female character.
Photo credits: Huffington Post, Techland.com