This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.
The video game industry, being a newer form of media, has consistently been under fire by outside parties that have tried to associate the entire trade, its workers, and its fans, to various derogatory claims and misnomers.
First it was that video games would make you lose your faith in God and become a satanist (or gasp, an agnostic or atheist), which later got disproved. Next came the politicians and naysayers alike that proclaimed violent games would breed sociopaths and or serial killers (also disproved), and finally third wave feminists and ignoramuses that claimed sexualized video games would make you sexist, misogynistic, or even worse – a rapist.
Now, we have a study published over on the National Institutes of Health, which asked this very same question: can video games make you sexist, or any of the aforementioned horrors? The study was conducted over three years, instead of previous studies which only focused on cross-sectional or experimental work, typically up to one month at best. The study also makes a note of similar studies done in the past being focused on violent content.
The new study confirmed the following:
“It was found that sexist attitudes-measured with a brief scale assessing beliefs about gender roles in society-were not related to the amount of daily video game use or preference for specific genres for both female and male players.”
So while this isn’t the end-all results that we need to stop the incessant yammering that says looking at bouncing anime breasts will make you a serial rapist, or that playing Hitman: Absolution will automatically make you a misogynistic woman hater/murderer, it’s certainly something. Most of us just want to play video games, regardless of our gender, race, or preferred genre – and we simply want “good” games, games that cater to our interests.
It’s worth mentioning this study was addressing these concerns through the ever-hilarious cultivation theory lens, meaning the very same people that believe fiction can literally warp your perception of reality. These are the same people that say watching Dennis the Menace will lead to us wanting to murder children (because who doesn’t get worked up at Mr. Wilson yelling), or that gangster rap with lyrics about shooting people will make us want to go murder our enemies.
Case in point:
This is the latest form of Daidōji, one of the older kunoichi from the Senran Kagura series, whose above design will be seen in Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (when she is added as downloadable content). The girls in Senran Kagura aren’t meant to be realistic in the same way that commentators praised Lara from the Tomb Raider reboot, they’re just meant to be fun, and enjoyable characters. What’s more, they’re all well written, have their own stories, loves, hopes, and dreams.
Most uneducated gamers or non-gamers alike could very well easily look at Daidōji and instantly think her disgusting, or even worse, her creators and fans as disgusting simply for how she is designed. Going back to that insane cultivation theory, these very same people might turn around and say that simply enjoying her as a character will make you a misogynist, without you even realizing it! Don’t you realize how completely insane this is?
It’s so very strange to me, when I see the very same games journalists who proudly fought and championed the right for gamers to enjoy violent games without repercussions do an about face and say games like Senran Kagura automatically make you sexist. They champion the words of Jonathon McIntosh filtered through Anita Sarkeesian’s mouth, but I don’t think they fully realize what they’re saying. I don’t think they realize just how crazy their entire methodology really is.
Now, when you see games like Mortal Kombat X revel in its embrace of mutilation, blood, and gore – the same “outrage police” won’t bat an eyelash. That battle was won ten years ago, and it came at the cost of almost nothing, save those death threats lobbed at vocal anti-violent game activist Jack Thompson. The irony is that people like Jack simply wanted better ratings enforcement, while the new wave of outraged commentators use deceptive tactics to shame, bully, and ultimately censor their opponents.
I want to make it clear that I am one hundred percent behind the ratings system – it’s there for a reason, to help both the underage’s caretakers and the of-age to educate themselves prior to buying a game. The issue here is that former opponents of video games simply wanted to make it harder for kids to get their hands on Grand Theft Auto, while the new blood simply wants to keep screaming about what they don’t like in Grand Theft Auto until the game is changed. See the difference?
We now live in an era where people no longer respect the vision of the author or creator. The end result of a creator’s passion is surely open to criticism and debate, but what we’re seeing here is an honest to goodness lobbying to fundamentally change an industry whose consumer base is wildly different in taste and behavior to conform to the needs of an outspoken few. We now continually hear about how game X is sexist, game Y is degrading to women, game B has an inappropriate rape scene, etc. Who cares?
If we let these people have their way, we’ll no longer need a rating system because we’ll have replaced it with a cultural committee – you know, people who are going to completely analyze every piece of every game, before the public is even able to consume it. Let’s not forget that this cultural committee is harboring their own biases, so don’t even think you’ll be getting a fair judgement on a game you were interested in!
This is a minor victory – hopefully we have more of them in the future. Never give up hope, never stop enjoying the video games that you can enjoy, and please – never let anyone tell you that you’re wrong for enjoying a video game, just because they don’t approve of it.