So, this series of video games was brought to my attention just now, and I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The name doesn’t even signify something that terrible, but look at the cover, and then read the description, and you’ll understand. I’d like to say, as it was released in 2003, that we’ve advanced on from making games where the sole attraction is that you get to watch computerised breasts jiggle, but this game had a sequel in 2006, and I know for a fact that there are heaps of games available now that also exploit women for the enjoyment of straight men.
Video gaming is traditionally, and has an image of being, very male-orientated and dominated. Of course, there are many girls who like to play games (myself included), and there are many games in existence that are deep, challenging, fun, and beautiful. However, while games like DOAXBV are being made, with little more to them than the ability to ogle scantily-clad women, the industry is never going to be able to shake that image (and it is a negative image), and the industry is never going to be taken seriously. Just like comic books, video games are often characterised by rampant sexualisation and sexism, and the female gender is suffering for it. Sure, there are without doubt plenty of girls who won’t complain about it, maybe even support it, and that’s up to them. But for women on the whole, it is incredibly damaging, because women are not objects simply to provide entertainment and arousal, and the makers of these media need to understand that. If you are going to make female characters, they should have depth, they should further the plot in meaningful ways, and they should have a range of emotions, no different to male characters. They should not just be a body or a face.
Also, it’s kind of weird. This review describes the female characters in DOAXBV as “totally mouthwatering”. But these aren’t real girls we’re talking about. It can’t be just me that finds that a bit creepy, can it? Of course, if it was real girls we were talking about, it would be much worse, because that would be true objectification and sexualisation of women for the entertainment and appraisal of men. Saying that, animation doesn’t really hide the fact that this is what we’re dealing with. For example, it is possible at almost all times to “zoom in with the game’s camera and examine the girls”, including during routines of “slinking, rolling, wiggling, dancing, running, posing, and even doing push ups for your gratification”. The key words there are “for your gratification”, obviously. That’s all these games are. Really, the worst part of it is that it’s trying to pass itself off as a genuine, respectable video game.
Although, the fact that many people were angry when it turned out that the code that enabled topless gameplay in DOAXBV was actually an April Fools hoax probably sums up the kind of people playing this game. It’s terrifying that they exist, but these people are, as the review says, “the lowest common denominator”. The problem is, we shouldn’t be pandering to them, we should be challenging them.