We’ve all seen it – a video game with a half naked girl on it. A picture of a barbarian holding her up, as she looks suggestively at the viewer, in distress. Whether it’s a chain mail bikini or a slave girl outfit, it’s a well known fact – there are a lot of books, tv shows, games and movies which seem to cater to what is perceived as the typical “gamer” – single heterosexual cisgendered Caucasian males.
I, the author, am one of these people, a heterosexual cisgendered caucasian male – and in the following article, I will present 3 concrete reason why it is better for EVERYONE that we ditch this almost comical sexualization of our preferred medium of enjoyment.
It’s Perpetuating a Stereotype and Keeping Self Destructive Attitudes Alive in the Gaming Community
All one needs to do is ask someone who does not consider themselves gamers what they think of ‘traditional gamers’ and typically you will get the same general description, misogynistic, socially awkward, individuals who collect toys with occasional half naked girls on them.
It doesn’t take much for those of us who are actually involved in the hobby to disprove that this is all gamers. In fact, the broad majority of us are fully functioning adults who have an awesome hobby and use it to form great connections with great people!
But, to an outside observer, when they ask you about Magic the Gathering and find a variety of half naked harpy girls in your deck, they are going to assume that, the hobby is, as a whole, a bunch of perverted mysogenistic guys sitting around. And then, when they walk into a game store and see a blown up picture of a popular girl in an anime show in her lingerie, their assumptions will be confirmed and they will never come back.
So, there is case 1: Let’s reduce this pornization because it makes us all look like creepy pervs.
2. It’s Alienating a Variety of People Who Would Be Alot of Fun to Play With
You know who would be really fun to play Dungeons and Dragons with? Your girlfriend. Or your wife. Or your sister. Or your daughter. Or your trans friend. Or your gay friend. Or your friend of any minority.
It’s a common request from a lot of lonely guys: “I want to find a gamer girlfriend!”. Well, excluding all the obvious problems with the phrasology in many of their statements which typically treat these so-called gamer girls as trophies(another, corrosive topic and problem which has been addressed at length by a variety of bloggers, notably Dr Nerdlove), you know what would highly increase the average board gamers chance of meeting a nice girl who also happens to enjoy games like he does?
Making Gaming Culture Safe and Comfortable for everyone – and therefore appealing to people of all walks of life.
At Pawn and Pint, we have already had a great interest in our RPG games from people of all walks of life – and things like Harmon Quest and Tabletop have done a great job of taking it out of the shadows and making it something cool and comfortable for anyone to get involved in. This is a GOOD THING. This means more people to play with, more money making our hobby cooler – so let’s rejoice!
It’s Utterly Useless
Let’s be brutally honest. What purpose does making things more “male marketed” in terms of games actually serve? Do guys really benefit from a half naked girl on the cover of an article? I would argue not in the least. Sure, the aesthetic may be exciting for a moment, but at the cost of alienating people who we want to play with and perpetuating a stereotype that we don’t want? I’d say absolutely not worth it.
But Ed, we want to have a more ADULT adventure!
Sure. Do it. At all the morbid dark themes you want. With the consent of your whole party, play the adventure with all those things that make other people uncomfortable, in the privacy of your game room. That’s part of the magic of RPGs – you can LITERALLY make the world you want. But, as a forewarning, I’d caution you about needlessly adding certain dark themes like rape – does the depth you perceive it will add to your story actually help the story proportionally to the discomfort it may place some of your players in? I’m going to heavily guess it doesn’t.
But… I want to see sexy art pictures of half naked elves!
Google it. Seriously, if you want to appreciate the artistic value of a naked elf, I’m sure it’s on google – but it’s highly unneccessary in a book that’s meant for a mass audience.
That being said, by all means, this post won’t change the world, but hopefully it presents a clear case of why it is in the best interest of traditional gamers to open their hearts and tables and make a concerted effort to be more inclusive.
In addition to posting rants that make people uncomfortable on his blog, Edward runs Pawn and Pint, Kansas City’s First Board Game Cafe. He’s also written on how to run an enjoyable horror campaign in an RPG and how to play an evil character without having the party kill you.