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have been generally considered to be male, white, American and straight.
But gaming in and of itself has always been considered somewhat
subversive in nature. Just like "punk culture" and "Invader Zim,"
gaming has generally been co-opted by the mainstream, but there is still
a pretty good amount of stigma on people who game for extended periods
of time, enjoy certain "niche" titles (such as pretty much anything
strange that comes from Japan), or who has an entire wardrobe of
game-themed shirts (not that I'm knocking that fashion statement-I've
laughed hard enough to make milk come out my nose with some of the witty
and humorous game shirts I've seen out there).
Case in point...XD
there are large swaths of gamer culture that don't even closely fit
into the dominant stereotype of white/male/heterosexual (although we
love you guys too), but it's interesting to see that especially when
games come from the Land of the Rising Sun, you tend to see a whole lot
more variety in characters (although boring two dimensional 2D anime
heroes make Oni cry).
on, you know you played as Samus in Smash Brothers just so you could
see her naked through her suit. Well, that and being able to roll
around in a little, physics-defying ball.
Samus is one example of a character whose gender is completely
irrelevant to the playing of the game. Far from the age of Dead or
Alive bouncing breasts or Tomb Raider's Laura Croft's "shapely buns,"
Samus's character wears a no-frills non-form-fitting metallic suit that
kicks butt. Samus is described as one of the most capable and expert
bounty hunters ever. And generally, when someone is purported to be the
best, especially in a game that was largely marketed to males (as
gaming was generally seen as a "guy" thing), the assumption is that the
person is male. After all, it was well known at the time that the only
thing female gamers were good for was waiting around in a different
castle. As far as those who know Samus are concerned, though, her
"ambiguous gender" is one of the things that will enshrine the Metroid
series in gaming history forever. "Samus is a girl" is such a
culturally recognizable game phenomenon that it is actually the name of
an official trope!
"Named for Samus Aran from Metroid.
In the first two games, the player doesn't learn she's female until
after guiding her through an army of alien baddies. Later games in the
series still play with this trope. The Prime series, however, does not
play with this, and gives her a rather feminine figure considering she's
in armor. Other M
completely throws away this trope, however, because you see Samus
without her suit in the opening sequence, in many cutscenes (sometimes
this is just a shot of her face through her visor), and in the death
Because obviously, besides being the best bounty hunter, Samus also moonlights as the best pin-up model ever.
course, now that we've seen Samus in her (ridiculously not leaving
anything to the imagination) form fitting zero suit, no one seems to
want to see her in anything BUT that blue spandex nightmare.
Google search will show you more pictures of her in the zero suit than
in her traditional outfit, and the "related searches" will include
"samus no clothes" and "samus sexy" as some of the most common
searches. Once her gender is well known, Samus becomes little more than
another sexy lady for gamer nerds to drool over, which does frustrate
me a bit. While I do like sexy ladies (and boobies, of course), I think
that there is a problem when it seems like whenever a character is
female, she is almost always gets turned into a sex object, which often
detracts from her innate abilities and character. When her gender is
ambiguous, this is not a problem. When her gender is known, this all
Before the reveal:
"Samus is the best, most accomplished amazing bounty hunter ever."
a HUGE BREASTED SUPER SEXY WOMAN who also happens to be the most
accomplished amazing bounty....oh who cares!?" *DROOL!!*
someone like myself, it's fairly easy to see a sexy character and like
her style without being overly objectification-like about it, but I hear
that's pretty dang hard (no pun intended) for the average guy.
Which brings me to my next point.
Or at least, that's basically what every guy who has ever heard of Bridget seems to think...
If you haven't heard about Bridget, then you're about to...
According to TV Tropes (yet again!) there is a commonly known trope called "Dropped a Bridget on him":
Just because the (nearly always Male-to-Female) Transsexual character, Wholesome Crossdresser or victim of Gender Bending
has worked things out doesn't mean everyone else has. Fair chance one
of his or her friends never seems quite able to deal with it, and is
stuck between trying to maintain a standard friendship and having really
inopportune bouts of vaguely rationalized attraction if they get stuck in compromising positions. You can expect at least one person, or maybe even the rest of the cast to continue to deny this person is anything but the "perceived" gender (see note below).
This is often a comedic trope, possibly because the idea of being
'fooled' makes the attraction seem less genuine. Is usually followed by
a Stupid Sexy Flanders moment. This can also open up the opportunity for the creator to let loose insensitivity.
Yes, Bridget is biologically male. Yes, he dresses up like a female
character. And yes, he sounds like a cute girl (and acts like one
too). He also plays into a lot of the stereotypes of femininity, such
as having toys and stuffed animals as the main ways he kicks your butt
all over the screen. Plenty of guys seem to have the opposite reaction
to Bridget's true identity as when they find out that Samus is female.
It kind of reminds me to the video someone once linked in regards to the
"reactions to 2 girls 1 cup"-not actually showing the (purportedly)
disgusting footage, but simply looking at how people reacted. Most
women, when faced with the footage looked unimpressed or covered their
mouth and pointed in disbelief. But most of the guys that were shown
reacting to the footage started out looking at it like they were
interested and somewhat aroused, only to suddenly start retching and
running from the room.
But as far as Japan is concerned, this idea of the "passing" gender
bender is MUCH more common than the "guy in a dress" or other somewhat
(to incredibly mean) insensitive takes on crossdressing or genderqueer
To some extent, this is largely because the culture in Japan is
actually pretty welcoming towards people who crossdress, are gay, or
conform to "non-normative" sexual identities. And even though I am a
normative heterosexual woman who, other than being a pretty hardcore
tomboy as a kid has had no real gender dysphoria, that's pretty cool.
Even though I personally don't necessarily fall into this category of
being, it's pretty dang nice to see people being accepted for who they
are (because we all have stuff about ourselves that we secretly or not
so secretly think we will not be accepted if "people only knew").
If you try to look at characters in American made games, though,
there are few (if any) positive characterizations of characters that are
either androgynous or transgendered. The few that come to mind are
either fairly shallow or they tend to have trauma/bad pasts that
"explain" why they are the way they are.
Androgynous Game Character Rule 1: You get one Tattoo and/or body
modification for every traumatic experience you've had in your whole
But beyond that, let's talk about an even MORE common situation:
This tends to
be a situation that you will encounter on MMMORPGs, but it also happens
in games such as Mass Effect, Fallout, Elder Scrolls and Fable (or any
game where you have a high level of customization available to you). A
lot of people decide to play a character who is the opposite sex of
has done this several times, and while he's not a transgendered person,
he enjoys playing as female characters, and he's not alone. Many men
actually enjoy playing opposite sex characters, and even though many of
them will (if asked) say that they do it just because of the "T&A
factor," the truth is that it is much more complicated than that.
Male outfits=boring armor and pants
Female outfits=DIFFERENT, CUTE AND UNQUE
female characters tend to have the best outfits. I'm not just talking
about sexy outfits, it's just a fact that female clothing tends to be
more varied and interesting in style. Men, on the other hand, get some
combination of shirt/jacket and shorts/pants. Perhaps this is because
of the fact that women are expected to be more into "fashion" than men.
But I also think that this is largely because the female form is more
likely to be accentuated in an attractive way by clothing, while male
forms are a lot more boring in comparison due to the simpler male
shape. Plus, females tend to have really different or interesting
dialogue options that are often not mirrored by male character dialogue
"Dude, it's just me, Mary. I decided to play as a male avatar today..."
don't forget the women who play as men! Being able to choose a different
body and shape than the one you have is really fun, and can be a very
exciting way to role play, just for the sake of being different than you
are in real life (although it can also provide solace for someone who
is transgender and feels that they are in the "wrong body." In addition
to gender, a man who is balding can play a character with a full head
of luxurious hair A woman who has very small breasts can play as a
woman with major endowments in the chest department. And so on. Even
though a game often doesn't get nearly as detailed in the role play
experience as it might be in your imagination, if you decide to do what
my husband does and construct a complicated character background and
personality system during his gaming experiences, it can enhance your
entire role playing experience.
Who says that men can't learn how to make their own dang sammiches?
Next, Mama learns to shoot grenade launchers!
SO ANYWAY, after this wall 'o' text, what
are your thoughts on "alternative" groups of people being represented
in games as accepted characters who aren't totally screwed up?
about playing as the opposite gender as yourself or playing a character
who has physical characteristics that are completely unlike your own?
Until next time!
Note: I'm dealing with some hand and wrist pain right now, so I might
not post tomorrow, but I'm reading each and every one of your comments
and I'm loving the blogs I've been seeing on the page this week!)