Sunday, April 9, 2017

For Honor of Women

Video games need to appeal to their target audiences to sell. This usually means men, a larger percentage of whom play video games. To do this, game developers make sure to add extra amounts of violence, gore and swearing to their games to appeal to males. To add to this, women in these games are often portrayed as sexual objects. These women are shown as weak, feminine, and overly sexified. They rarely add anything important to the conversations and dialogue of the overall story, and are put in the game just to appeal to the male sex drives. While these extras are applied to many other genres of games, fighting games are likely the most oriented towards male appeal.  However, recently more and more games have been getting better in portraying women as more than just a pretty face. An example of this can be seen in a new game called For Honor, a new fighting game released February 14, 2017. By giving the female characters in the game realistic armor, classifying them as more than sexual objects, and by passing the Bechdel test, For Honor breathes new life into feminine portrayal in fighting games.

One of the more common ways video games portray women as sexual objects is through the armor that they are given. This involves the males of the game getting the more realistic and normal pieces of armor in the early game, and getting these cool looking sets of armor later on in the game. Women on the other hand, receive semi-revealing sets of armor early game, and very revealing sets late game. These pieces of armor are not only very unrealistic, and would provide no more armor than wearing a real life bikini, but is insulting to all the women who end up spending large amounts of time into the game to receive what they think are the cool sets of armor the males get, but instead get bikinis. An example of this can be seen in the game Terra, a fantasy themed mmorpg released in 2011, of which had 1.4 million users registered in 2013:

In contrast, For Honor takes a much different approach. The game gives the player a chance to pick which gender he/she would like to play in the roster of characters. Doing so however will not change the type of armor given to each of the opposite sexes, but gives both of them the exact same armor, of which is very realistic and does not try to objectify the sex at all.

For Honor also gives players the chance to play as male or female exclusive characters. While the two female exclusive characters are portrayed as the typically fast and agile, they in no way exceed realistic standards to portray sexually to men, or to make them seem feminine. Mortal Kombat is an example of a game which exceeds the realistic standards. One such character called Cassie Cage, is also shown as fast and agile. However, not only does she portray a sexual object through the way she is dressed (mentioned above), but is also portrayed through the way she is used in game. For example, a move in which she splits to punch the other character in the crotch.

Lastly, For Honors campaign passes the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk to each other about something other than a man or boy. As it happens, the main villain of the game happens to be female. Thus, there are a good deal of cutscenes in which the villain is addressing another female and does not talk about another male character, but instead of the plot of the overall story arc.

In conclusion, for a fighting game that is undoubtedly oriented towards a male audience (the violence, gore, vikings), For Honor does a very good job challenging the typical portrayal of women in video games.

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