Video Realities

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful…

Back again! I hope everyone in the Northeast is enjoying the Winter Wonderland we have outside ūüôā I think it’s nice to finally have some snow for December, although I could do without the freezing temperatures.

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With the recent releases of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, consoles and the video games to play on them are definitely in the spotlight this holiday season. I usually¬†stay up to date with the latest games and technology (even though I can’t really indulge due to money/time constraints – but I like to keep posted) because of an interest that developed back when I was young child. My father bought a PC so he could use an architectural program for his work, and we had to load the program up through DOS. Does anybody else here remember DOS? Please tell me I’m not the only who’s that old. (For people who might not know what that is, DOS was the way to use a computer before there was¬†Windows). Then we got Windows 3.1 (came out in 1992; needed to be started through the DOS prompt) and things just took off from there.

I’ve always been interested in computer technology and video games, but I’ve noticed some examples lately of a trend that just doesn’t go away in video games – the hypersexualization of female characters.

Now I understand that we’re talking about the realm of fantasy, make-believe, and pretend here, but I am still shocked and taken aback by the gross, objectifying displays of the female form in everything from blockbuster AAA titles to mobile apps. What’s distressing about the mobile apps is that the majority of the time the imagery used to sell and market the game has virtually nothing in common with the actual gameplay.

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(this is for a 3D action role-playing game. I’m not sure how the character holding her breasts factors in¬†though)

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(this is an advertisement for another action role-playing game, not a XXX cartoon. By the way, the gameplay looks like this…)

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Is it just me, or are those pictures completely unrelated? I understand that they might be characters in the game, but c’mon. I doubt there’s any¬†“hey-do-you-think-we-should-back-up-a-little” posing on¬†those intense battlefields.

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(again, just another action role-playing game with the requisite scantily clad female character showing side-breast to sell the product)

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(this is for a side-scrolling 2D action game. Granted these are actual characters from the game, but there’s nothing like a¬†provocative pose to catch pubescent boys’ eyes, right?)

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(this is just one example of the many, many card games there are that feature inappropriate and pornographic pictures of female characters from the game. I even know of a iOS game with all female “monsters” that lose more and more clothing as the player upgrades them! Really!)

What I find most disturbing about this whole issue is that these mobile games are marketed to kids. These games have recommendations that they’re for ages 9+, but isn’t that too young to be bombarded with all this hypersexualized imagery? There are¬†no filters or anti-virus programs; all this is available right on the App Store while looking through games. There is little¬†doubt that it sets the seed for further exploration into this kind of stuff, and that will only lead to bad things.

While the above issue is certainly concerning in its own right, the overarching problem exists in other age brackets as well. There are video games on “big kid” consoles that depict the same imagery, but worse because the budgets are bigger. Dragon’s Crown, a popular 2D side-scrolling action game, contains the following characters:
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(and yes, these are their actual, exact proportions within the game)

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This is only one game, however. Another is Ultra Street Fighter, with characters like this:

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Notice the lack of clothes? Yeah, so did I. I’ll again repeat myself – I understand that we’re talking about the realm of make-believe and fantasy here with these games, but I think a disturbing message is being sent out. With the above two games (especially the last one), the female characters are made to dance, hop, jump around, bend, kick, flex, gyrate, writhe in pain, stretch, spread their legs, raise their arms, bounce, and jiggle across the screen in an embarrassing display of immodesty all at the prompting of the player. I’m a man, here, and I’m saying the reason I think this stuff is sexist is because it demonstrates/perpetuates the belief (or more like the belief in a fantasy)¬†that women are under the control of men, should be at the beck and call of men, and should do whatever a man likes, all while dressed extremely provocatively and shamefully. It seems the developers craft these characters, saying, “We’re going to have this female character wear an extremely revealing and morally compromising outfit, in the sense that¬†were a¬†real woman were to wear it she would be embarrassed and feel exposed and humiliated, we’re going to program her to have all these moves that showcase the proportions and attire we’ve created her in, and we’ll have the player be able to command her to do whatever they want within the game.”

This then transfers down to the individual player. Having this seductive female character in front of him, a young, male player can control her at his wish and command her to do anything he likes (within the scope of the game, at least). However much he wants to stare and have her perform the same actions over and over again, she’ll never complain or never voice any displeasure it being on display. And I think that’s the root of the problem – putting the female form on display. I’m just as much a sucker for the female form as the next guy, I’ll admit it (everyone has desires, it’s¬†just about keeping them in check); but I do not think it is tasteful, respectful, tactful, or appropriate to have these kinds of displays saturating our society.

Concerning objectification, I think the female form itself is what is objectified and is what male developers portray here with video-game females in an attempt to own. It’s not so much women; real-world females are actual human beings with thoughts and feelings and for the most part they won’t put up with that degradation. It’s more just the female form; breasts, hips, curves, legs, hair, facial beauty, attractive attire – these things. This is what is objectified and what certain male developers/players desire to own. Through the continued use of this imagery in this form of media, the message will continue to be propagated¬†that an acceptable¬†male fantasy involves undressed, subservient¬†women being commanded by men. Sadly, this has even become the standard. To even garner a baseline recognition these companies have to include the token half-naked female character, and if they didn’t, they know they would be losing a great deal of customer attention and notice. Isn’t this the same thing with advertising for other companies as well? The car campaigns, cologne advertisements, Swiffer commercials – how many “regular” companies include an attractive female as part of their advertisements? I know from seeing commercials on a local TV news station that there are two small businesses (one an electronics and appliance dealer, one a car dealer) that used to have ads¬†with strictly men talking about the company which now have attractive female employees delivering the sales pitch on TV. I think it leads men to remember the girl¬†more than the company, but hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy.

Purity belongs to You, O Allah, with Your praises. I bear witness there is none worthy of worship except You. I seek forgiveness from You and I repent to You.

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In the Beginning…

This is quick introduction, more just a test to see how this whole blog-thing will work out. My name is AbdulRaheem (or Ron McLagan – either one will work) and this blog will run the course of this course and perhaps longer, of course. CUL-224114 Women, Girls, and the Media at SUNY Empire State College has required me to start it, and as I have tried to express in the blog title and tag line, this blog will contain reflections, critiques, expressions, thoughts, analyses, musings, and perceptions on the state of our society, the condition of our culture, and the problems of our populace from a Generation Y-er who began practicing Islam 8 years ago.

Because I live, breathe, eat, and sleep Islam, it comprises my entire being and shapes the way I view the nature of my neighbors and the status of my self. From the foundation just mentioned, this blog will contain writings related to the course topics of women, girls, and the media.