Sexism on the gaming scene: a woman's perspective

Posted by Audrey Wells.
First posted on 16 December 1999. Last updated on 21 February 2007.
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It seems that there is much heated discussion about sexism on the gaming scene these days. Though many people may not even care or pay attention to gender equality (or lack thereof), others work themselves into raging fits over the issue. In my opinion, it is important to remember that there are all types of people and all kinds of tastes.

It has been once a popular idea that women do not play…

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Oh, and one more thing. Hate to break it to ya, but Tomb Raider is true to life, in that in the real world, women use sex as a weapon, it is their advantage over men, Men have physical strength and wits (:p that one's a jab, not serious) as their advantage, and women have sex to use as their advantage, it's quite simply the way the world works and Lara is wise to take advantage of that weapon she has at her disposal, if you have an issue with it, take it up with Earth's population, NOT the game designers which depict a strong feminine character in an accurate manner.

Canada By Jade • On 17 April 2011 • From Vancouver, Canada


I appreciate your attempt at objectivity, however I disagree with your assessment, almost entirely.

I would agree with you on the the manner in which Lara Dresses in the mountains, on a rational level, HOWEVER having grown up in the Kootenays (home to some of the best high elevation hiking in the world), I have been on MANY a "wintery mountain" hike, and, guess what? Nearly EVERY female in athletic shape who has joined me on those hikes, has dressed EXACTLY like Lara does in most of the games, skimpy shorts (allows better freedom of movement), Tank top (same reasons). Having said that, they do bring a backpack with them, that contains other clothing (in case weather conditions turn harsh), but generally speaking, they will go deep into "the wintery mountains" dressed much the same as Lara. Furthermore, I have been gaming for 25 years (I am 30), and I can assure you that there are people well into their 30's that liked the Tomb Raider Franchise, MANY of which are female, most women I know consider Lara to be an excellent female role model. I do agree that she could have remained in the shape that she was in for the first games in the series (she was sexier in that shape, she was more realistic, as opposed to the cartoonish look she took on in the latter games of the series). On the other hand, female characters in games, NEED to be physically attractive, alongside their intelligence, agility, and skill. You NEVER see a fat male protagonist, they are always athletic (why shouldn't they be? they are more capable of performing the necessary tasks). One commonly overlooked prominent female role model in gaming (and quite widely regarded as one of the most powerful and kick ass), is Samus Aran (the chick behind the suit in the Metroid Series). Personally, I think you need to reconsider your view on the subject. LOL, I bet you'd consider Leisure Suit Larry (one of the most entertaining games in history)to be sexist.

Canada By Jade • On 16 April 2011 • From Vancouver, Canada


I think "sexism" is a moot point to bring up in games. Yes women are usaully scantily clad but "male characters" are often made to appeal to teen girl fantasies. Game guys are always well muscled in videogames or have the efeminite goth features that are all the craze right now. Are you implying characters such as Sephiroth,Testament, and any final fantasy lead hero are not designed to be attractive to the female gender? Worse these "male depictions" build up equally impossible expectations for the "average real guy" to live up to. I know star struck dillusional women that always expect their boy friends to be completly perfect and aesthetically pleasing in every way.

However the point of games is they are "fantasies". We are not supposed to use them as a tool to measure attractive traits in real people. We are supposed to use them to have fun and as a short spurt of escapism. Is it a crime to make characters sexaully appealing? Last time I checked erotic musings are a healthy part of the human psyche.

All I'm saying is if you are going to say games are "sexist" against women you have to go one step further and say they are sexist against guys too. Whereas most women cannot have the bust size of Laura Croft most guys cannot look like Sephiroth no matter how much they dye their hair and shop at hot topic for angsty goth apparel.

United States By BrokenHierophant • On 04 February 2008 • From Asheville NC USA


No we do not play cuz we're confused or we want to be her you idiot
we play it cuz we like her and she makes us feel strong about ourself and she is hard core and awesome and we wish we've tha guts to gress like her in tha game!

United States By mags • On 03 August 2007 • From Somewhere

Well.. I have to agree and disagree to this... Yes, Lara is a sex symbol, and that shouldn't have been... Yes it's aimed toward the male gamers.... But the part I have to argue on is this: I know more women that play tomb raider than men just because Lara is smokin hot.... In my area, I haven't met one single woman that doesn't like Lara, because she has guts, she's got a great body, and they know she's not real. They play either because they are sexually confused, or because they want to be her. - an unknown game modeler.

United States By Game object modeler • On 19 March 2006 • From can't tell you

I agree, it took nintendo about two years after the first pokemon game to bring out an option where you can play as a girl. But like in tomb raider she is where very short clothes! I mean come on. I think I will study in game designing and come up with a game that is not so male orientated. My favourite games are all like that; spyro, zelda, Jet Set Radio Future! They all suck. damm them damm them damm them. that is all I have to say. Thank you for helping us to see what needs to be done to further womans equality. But in 40 years time that will be no worry as scientists are finding that maybe women might rule the world! become a complete women based society! as ment are dying otu (evil luagh) haahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha whoops rambled on

Great Britain (UK) By ****** • On 25 April 2004 • From Felixstowe/England

I`ve read similar articles before but its funny how no one mentions that back in the day people who played games were mostly men and mostly mocked,geek etc, so i guess its a case of you reap what you sow.
As for big boobs lara its not like there hasn`t been any male characters who are,how should i put it, physicaly superior to the average male.

Interesting site though

Europe By Jesus Christicles • On 06 January 2004 • From Somewhere

I know she's written this quite some time ago, but Audrey Well's article about sexism in computer games is today as true and interesting as it was in 1999.

By Sabine • On 09 August 2002 • From Aotearoa/NZ

I agree with you, won't sell games until woman gamers make their presence known. Female game programmers are probably the answer.

By Anonymous • On 05 November 2001 • From Somewhere

I heartily agree! As a male, I quickly noticed that Lara Croft was going to be used as a sex object to attract young teen boys. I hated that she was going to be used that way. At first I thought there would have been some potential, but alas Eidos failed in this.

BTW, Didn't Lara look that way from the very first game? That's how I remember it...

I enjoy strong female leads in games and await for when the industry wakes up to this and includes better examples.


By Joe Christl • On 09 February 2000 • From Pittsburgh
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