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Post Column: Gamer Girl: Games use male, female nudity differently

I like men. Lucky for me, they make up about half our population, a little less than half of Ohio University and a little more than half of the gaming world, so there is no escaping them.

Even though girls run the world in my mind, men make up a significant proportion of our CEOs and politicians, the people who actually run the world we live in. They also are behind most of our media, including movies and video games.

Having so much testosterone in the creation of our games is probably one of the main reasons for large amounts of sexualization of women. Girls are shown in most games as sex objects, just there for gamers to gawk at. But when a male is shirtless, there is a very different response.

The simple answer for that? Male nudity in games shows power.

I’m not saying that having all of our male characters walking around butt naked would show any power — please don’t do this to us, game creators. What I’m saying is that a man without his shirt on in a game evokes a much different response than a woman without her shirt on.

Take a character like Duke Nukem. He’s beefy and is usually shown with his muscles busting out of his red tank top. Most images show him wearing his signature black sunglasses, holding a gun pointed at nothing and a cigar hanging lazily out of his mouth. Other times he has a string of bullets hung around his neck and his hands are shown looking like they’re about to throw a few punches.

Maybe I’m not like most girls, but I don’t find this to be very sexy. Sure, he could really protect me, but between his drug use and the way he treats women, I lose any interest.

But for a male, it might be a little different. His muscles and attitude symbolize power, not sex. Games are still made for the heterosexual male demographic. While many groups other than just men play, many characters have the “big and strong” feel that most gamers don’t get in real life. The men that are less muscular and more feminine tend to be characters such as elves or something similar, portrayed less like humans and more like a creature.

Now take a woman character like Lara Croft, whom I wrote about last week. Most images show her typical tank top and shorts outfit, but many show her standing with her shoulders back, legs spread in her stance and her arms at her side with her guns. She looks like she could both kill her attacker and seduce him at the same time.

While Duke and Lara are in similar outfits, they are there for very different reasons. Duke is there for players to identify with, while Lara is there for players to control.

Duke Nukem is supposed to represent power. Video games are meant to be fun, but are also there to let us act out our fantasies in the most real way we can. While I dream of joining the FBI and catching all the criminals — operative word: dream — I can’t.

But I can play games like L.A. Noire and pretend all I want. Games are here for us to get out of our own worlds. The days I don’t want to be a nerdy journalism major? Video games.

Many women characters, though, are just thrown in on the side for a bit of sexualization and maybe some fighting assistance. They aren’t there for us to carry out our fantasy — they’re put there to be part of it.

I’ve written about the sexualization of women time and time again. It’s something that probably will never end, but we could do something: realize video games are a fantasy world that we’re just living in.

 

Sophie Kruse is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. Why do you think there is so much sexualization in video games? Email Sophie at sk139011@ohiou.edu.

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