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Sorry Mario, but our princess is in another castle- Gender and identity in gaming # 2

In my journey in finding more essays and journals talking about gender and identity in gaming, I found another essay which was an interesting read. This essay entitled: ‘Level up- A case for female gamers’ by Kuljit Brar, female gamers and their role in the gaming world. The author identifies what he calls the gender wars on videogames, and how in the past female gamers were a minority, which is now changing. Asking an important question: How is gender construed in a medium which is though of as genderless? Brar states that contemporary video games are not genderless, but is similar to society which defines gender in every form.

Video games, Brar states, define females as either sexual objects or as meek submissive. He uses the example of Super Mario, which is built around the concept of the hero saving the damsel in distress. He deems that because of the gender identities as dictated by social norms are so prevalent in gaming, it becomes hazardous, and so there is a need for more female gamers in the gaming world.

Brar does state that the gaming world has changed since the 80s and the 90s, with more female characters in games, yet the characters are shown as either to placate the male gaze or are seen as fairy tale characters (the more traditional approach). Lara Croft serves as an example of sexualised female character, whose main audience are young teenage boys.

In my next post I will be focusing on research and essays talking about people who belong to ‘non- normative’ or belonging to other sexual identities. I would like to find out what role they play in the gaming world.



5 thoughts on “Sorry Mario, but our princess is in another castle- Gender and identity in gaming # 2

  1. Interestingly enough, despite the ‘genderless-ness’ of video games, these companies are targeting games towards men or women. Nintendo is one of the largest recruiters of women gamers; I am pretty sure that most men are not playing cooking mama or harvest moon. This is not a bad thing, in fact Nintendo has allowed the female gaming population to peak to its highest point ever, and is still growing. There is much more of an appeal in FPS and MMO’s for female companions and male protagonists, focusing on the younger male audience, similarly to Lara Croft. It is funny how there used to be a phenomenon when there was a girl playing Call of Duty, but now, maybe to appeal to a boyfriend or conform to the new ‘in’ in teens and gaming houses, they are playing more action and shooters.

    Posted by jbort94 | June 13, 2013, 7:59 am
  2. Gamers in general hardly bring up main character who are women up into a conversation. So this is a real interesting piece to bring up let alone. What is the will of a main character within games? what is their objective. Sometimes their goal is to seek vengeance, take down an evil doer, or one of the biggest tasks that the main character must save a damsel in distress (as you stated before). I agree with JBORT94 about gamers generally are not too interested on playing a female based video game, however look at some of today’s biggest games today that Nintendo or other game systems have brought out with the biggest characters in games. You have Mario and Peach, Link and Zelda, and I’m sure that the list can keep going on and on. One video game that I really know of that a gamer plays as a female is Metroid, where the main character is Samus. Other than that I’m unsure where else there is really a big video game that the main character is a female.

    Posted by ecflyer91 | June 13, 2013, 8:32 am
    • In my earlier post on my games research, I mentioned Princess Peach and Mario as a reflection of gender boundaries seen in real life. The role of the female in both Zelda and Mario is to be the damsel in distress, a goal which the Hero (a man) has to achieve. This is the problem which I want to tackle and answer in my paper. The limited roles of females in games such as Mario and Zelda. Male gamers also identify with Link and Mario since they are the hero archetype. The gender Male, in this society is honed to become masculine and this is reflected the the characters of popular video games

      Posted by aditipre | June 13, 2013, 1:22 pm
  3. I am a tall, fully functional white male and therefore obviously see fit to judge everyone. Naturally, I don’t see all the fuss over females in gaming–games are like FUBU for little boys. That’s “for us, by us” for those of you not familiar with streetwear label. Let boys have their toys, am I right?

    On a less sarcastic note, what about Samus? I see someone else mentioned her and I just spoke on her a minute ago in a different post about perspective, so I’ve got homegirl on my mind, but she works great in this conversation. Samus is badass, saving worlds, all alone, and yes, beautiful–but that beauty is hidden behind a super awesome spacesuit. She’s not sexualized in any way, really. She’s one of the most powerful characters in any game and could easily kick princess savers like Mario and Link’s ass (anyone who disagrees can talk to me about it in a game of Smash Bros.).

    Japanese RPGs are often considered the most guilty of fetishizing women in kooky ways (those crazy Japanese!) but one of the pinnacles of the genre actually offers perhaps an even better example of a powerful female protagonist. Terra Branford in Final Fantasy VI is one of the better written and beloved female characters in gaming, and she’s damn powerful to boot. Her story is one of perseverance, strength, self-discovery, tragedy and friendship–a profound tale that champions her to the utmost. She saves herself and then the world, and does it all in the face of both the deepest of personal wounds and a terrifying power that threatens both her realm and others beyond it. If that’s not an ass-kicking gal, I don’t know what is.

    While there are always going to be chicks like the big-boobed Lara Croft, heroine’s like Samus and Terra are out there representing for all the real ladies, too.

    Posted by bretth2 | June 14, 2013, 8:08 pm
    • I do agree that there are female character that represent women in games. I will now post a quote from the essay I am using in my research paper which specifically talks about Metroid games and the main female character:

      “In Metroid, the heroic character is female, but the boys did not find that
      strange, perhaps because she is an alien. “She has green hair, I think,” said
      one. The other remarked, “I picture it as an it.” Despite the game booklet’s
      description of the character as female, girls thought the character was male.
      “He’s got an astronaut thing, a helmet.” Thus, the same game is dis-
      cerned differently-the female becomes a green-haired monster for boys
      and a male action figure for girls. Girl heroines seem to be mere twins of
      the male in adventure games”

      Perils of the Princess: Gender and Genre in Video Games
      Sharon R. Sherman
      Western Folklore , Vol. 56, No. 3/4 (Summer – Autumn, 1997), pp. 243-258

      I would also like to add that Samus is quite sexualised when she is not in a suit, which is one of my points, female characters are made appealing to male gamers. Male characters are also stereotyped into the desired male body, big and muscular,this also appeals to men as a stronger physique means more power.

      Posted by aditipre | June 17, 2013, 2:10 pm

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