An Alternative to Sexualizing Game Characters
Sex sells, we’ve all seen the sexually charged perfume ads, the male models in underwear ads, and the scantily clad female game characters who slay ninjas, zombies, or any other miscellaneous henchmen they fight against. In recent years, there has been a movement to stop sexualizing female characters because some might argue that it is degrading to women. Instead of going complete ham on the situation, why not just make it both ways and sexualize male characters just as much as we do the female ones? I don’t mean to sexualize every single character by having them walk around in their underwear or have six packs seeing as there are also obviously female characters who are strong and armored (Lightning from FFXIII for example) but there are multiple reasons this could be beneficial.
For one thing, this would enable straight women and gay men to have eye candy they could enjoy while they murder and massacre zombies. Maybe the whole discussion on sexualizing female characters started because there are not enough eye candy for women on the scene! On another note, considering a recent study in 2014 revealed that 48% of people who play video games are female; this tactic would market video games (visually speaking) to almost half of the gaming population that would enjoy a bit of man-candy. It could be interesting to see a role reversal of a strong female character that has to save the male equivalent of a damsel in distress. Where are the stories of the female knights saving princes from female dragons? Surely the female dragons want some male role-model to teach their dragonlings right?
Sexualizing female game characters and male characters equally could send a better message to the younger generation (maybe not the best message to teach our kids but in this world, what can you do?). Implying that any gender could be the sexy damsel or the scantily clad seductress/seducer might encourage young girls to strive to be heroes like the strong female role-models they might see. It would show less of an emphasis on “Girls need to be pretty to be strong” and more of an emphasis on “regardless of what you look like or what gender you are, you can fight evil and also need rescuing from time to time.”
As a gay man myself, even if it didn’t tackle the social issues of the day regarding gender imbalance and equality, it would still be somewhat hilarious (and appealing) to see an all-male equivalent of Dead Or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball where the jiggle physics might need to be located a little further south, with characters in swim trunks or speedos, rather than the sea of bikinis in the standard Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball titles.
There honestly seems to be a misconception amongst people, that only men (straight men in particular) want characters to be sexualized but truthfully that isn’t the case. Women like eye candy and wouldn’t mind a muscular, scantily clad protagonist, or a suave female secret agent that gets to be the hero, and put the moves on “Bond boys”. Alternately, gay men would enjoy playing games that don’t have a sea of ditzy, scantily clad women who only serve as scenery. We like the strong female characters too!
Balancing out the playing field honestly can’t hurt; the heterosexual romances and the scantily clad women have their place (a very prominent place in fact) in gaming history, but maybe now it is time to mix things up a bit and provide new characters and twists on the time-tested tropes we’ve come to know. The world is changing and nowadays you can identify as a cat if you’d really like. It would do the gaming industry some good to see a male character that gets more armor and defense with the more scantily clad armor.