How Developers can make a negative Cultural Impact - Women as Background Decoration in Games

In this video from Feminist Frequency (site) host Anita Sarkeesian takes notice how game developers tend to create non-playable sexualized female characters whose only function is to add some substance to the background of these games and to keep presumably straight-white males interested.

I highly recommend you take 30 minutes of your time and watch this video, even if you're not into games. I promise, it will remind you how we as developers and human beings take some things too lightly, without thinking them through. It might even make you stop and think before you snicker at the idea of a female developer. And if it helps to do that, I'd say it's 30 minutes well spent.

Let me just repeat author's warning before the video. Content Warning: This educational episode contains graphic sexual and violent game footage.

So, did you watch it? If you found this video interesting, I suggest you to visit Feminist Frequency YouTUbe channel where you can find other great videos - not only game related ones. There's also part 2, I suggest you check it out as well.

Even if you don't agree with the video, I think you'll have to agree it makes some good points and it is thought provoking. As author says, it is possible to enjoy something while being critical of it's problematic aspects. If there are aspects in our beloved games or other media that CAN send the "this should be your place" message to girls - and to boys that women are there for their entertainment, I would say this is problematic. If another book or a TV series also does this, that doesn't mean it's right. One bad thing from someone else or his show does not excuse a bad thing from you or your favorite show.

I suggest you from now on at least take a moment and think about the ideas we expose our family and friends to. I would hope that people who come to this site are somewhat sophisticated and are able to understand this - and will point out to their younger brothers and sons - that some representations of women in the media and/or games are just wrong and should not exist.

Today's culture is indeed very male-oriented, which is not good for the society, especially in the long run. I can't speak for all fields, but I do know that the development community need more women. Women may think and solve problems differently - and that is a good thing. You want to have different approaches when solving a problem and then you can decide which is best. One woman or a man can't know everything and be always right. So, we need to encourage women to go into development and tech in general and this kind of content in our favorite games and media doesn't do that. Instead it reinforces age-old stereotypes - and this can't be good for anybody.

We as developers and designers are content creators. What we do does affect the world we live in. Of course, it helps our clients and our employers make money and it enables us to pay for food, but sometimes it can have a cultural significance, even if we don't think so. So, when you go out there and create or say something, try to stop for the moment and think how it may affect others. Have an open mind and courage to say the unpopular opinion. I will certainly try.

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