Hey guys, gals, and non-binary pals! It’s Mod Zan, back with another article for you all to enjoy! In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the most irritating anti-feminist tropes in gaming. There are many, many more anti-feminist tropes in media and gaming than the 5 I’m going to mention in this list, but these are some that I see most frequently and that irritate me a bit more than the usual. Without further ado, here’s my list for you to enjoy!
5. Unrealistic Armor
This is one of the most discussed issues in feminist gaming that is commonly discussed in feminist gaming circles, and the fact that it’s still relevant enough to be put on the list today says everything that I could possibly say. Particularly relevant in fantasy games, armor that barely covers the female form in games is definitely a major distraction from a video game that might have many other merits to it. It detracts from both the design of the character and their story, and contributes to the prevalent issue of the sexualization of female characters in gaming that continually reappears no matter how far we progress socially. There are many culprits of this, including Quiet from Metal Gear, Morrigan from Dragon Age, any woman from Mortal Kombat, etc. This issue should have already been solved, and the fact that it still exists is what makes it so difficult.
4. The Chick (or One Token Girl)
I believe that this is also one of the most frequently discussed issues in feminist critique of games. There are quite a few games with a cast, or a team, that only has one girl and her only purpose appears to exist as her gender, and to take care of the rest of the team. This is slightly less prevalent than most other tropes in video games, but the existence of a single female character (unintentionally or not) is yet another trope that reduces the character to her gender identity and usually forces her into feminine or mother-like stereotypes. Even if she is an action girl.
3. Shallow Woman
I’m using the Shallow Woman for the purposes of this article to encompass a few different tropes that I tend to see frequently. She’s the trophy wife, the gold digger, the empty-headed adversary of the teenage girl and the evil stepmother. Any woman who is presented as having interests in things that are stereotypically feminine like shopping, makeup, acting, etc. is usually presented as being without purpose and existing to be shrill, catty, and an annoyance to the main character. Michael’s family in GTA V is the perfect example of this, as well as even some of the pre-made Sims (Dina Caliente, anyone?) in the Sims 2 and 3, and even 4.
We certainly can’t talk about irritating tropes in games without talking about Fridging. Mod Knight wrote an entire article dedicated to breaking down this trope, which you should certainly check out if you have more to say about this! But regardless, fridging is something that we see far too often in video games. Women are constantly thrown under the metaphorical bus in order to further the development of the male characters in the game that are considered to be more important. Some examples of this are prevalent in many AAA games, such as in Arkham Knight with Barbara Gordon, Aerith in Final Fantasy 7, and Talion’s wife in Shadow of Mordor.
1. Prize to be Won (Also known as Standard Hero Reward)
There’s a lot of games that push this classic trope in ways that may not be obvious at first, but since this trope is older than time, it makes it harder to stomach now. Donkey Kong, Mario, and Legend of Zelda are some examples of the trope in its rawest sense, with princesses available for the protagonist to date or marry at the conclusion of the game. Unlockable outfits go back to the first trope that I discussed with unrealistic clothes, but also imply something more sinister about the female characters in games. It insinuates that their bodies are on display for the voyeuristic gaze of the player as an award, and thus that women’s bodies are an object to be earned with enough work.
Overall, these are all tropes that present harmful views about women, sexuality and their relationship to men. Objectification, sexualization, and in Anita Sarkeesian’s own words, trophisim is prevalent in all of the above discussed. The patriarchal nature of video games is what influences the existence of these tropes in the first place, and discussing them is integral to ensuring that we can make better games in the future that don’t involve these. Each trope I mentioned is likely to receive a full article about it in the future if it does not already have one, and I look forward to analyzing them all in greater detail with all of you!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!.