Feminist Critic: Video Games 'Reinforce the Deeply Entrenched Cultural Notion that Heroes are Male'

By Mark Judge | June 20, 2016 | 10:56am EDT
(AP Photo)

There are not enough female heroes in video games.

That's the conclusion of a study done by Feminist Frequency, a feminist advocacy group.

Feminist Frequency recently attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. They studies 59 video games showcased by Sony, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft and Nintendo.

The result, according to Feminist Frequency, was that "only a paltry two [games] feature exclusively female protagonists, and both of these games were returns from last year’s E3... Meanwhile, 12 times as many featured games–24 in all–are centered on defined male protagonists or groups of men. These games include the newly announced titles 'Days Gone,' 'God of War,' 'Dead Rising 4,' and 'Death Stranding.'

24 games, or 41 percent, have male protagonists. 29 games, or 49 percent, offer the option of playing as either male or female characters. Two games, or 3 percent, have female main characters.

A 2015 Pew survey found that a higher percentage of women own gaming consoles than men, 42 to 37 percent.

Feminist Frequency is the brainchild of Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian, 33, launched the website in 2009 while she was a student at New York University. In 2012 she raised over $158,000 on Kickstarter to produce a series of videos, "Tropes Against Women in Video Games."

In its report on the games at the E3, Feminist Frequency concludes:

This massive discrepancy [between male and female heroes] means that for now, games continue to reinforce the deeply entrenched cultural notion that heroes are male by default. We live in a culture that regularly encourages girls and women to project themselves onto and fully empathize with male characters, but rarely encourages boys and men to fully project themselves onto female characters. When players are encouraged to see a game universe exclusively through the eyes of a humanized female character, it helps challenge the idea that men can’t or shouldn’t identify with women as full human beings.

Games can be a powerful tool for generating empathy. But as long as games continue to give us significantly more stories centered on men than on women, they will continue to reinforce the idea that female experiences are secondary to male ones.


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