Anita Sarkeesian’s 8 ways to make games more representative

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Anita Sarkeesian is the woman angry people who play games love to hate – because she’s out to change the games you play. What she wants, is better representation of women in games, which I think is a noble pursuit – even if I don’t necessarily agree with many of her outcomes. Still, I do agree with her that women are poorly represented in games. In a rather long lecture at New York University, media critic Anita Sarkeesian outlined how that can change.

She outlined “8 things devs can do to make games less shitty for women,” and if you’re interested, there’s a great article on it by Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo. In the comments of that same article, he breaks those 8 things down in to an easily digestible, handy bullet list of points – that I think shows that Sarkeesian isn’t out to ruin your games. I find the distilled list a rather reasonable set of requests, that really wouldn’t be hard to implement, nor would they be of detriment. If anything, they’d lead to games have better, more realistic characters, and be more immersive as a result.

Here’s that list, verbatim.

  • Avoid the Smurfette principle (don’t have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less “girl” or “woman.”)
  • “Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
  • Have female characters of various body types
  • Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.
  • Include more female characters of color.
  • Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
  • Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
  • Include female enemies, but don’t sexualize those enemies

This is more than reasonable – and would be relatively easy for devs other than Ubisoft to implement. Half of those changes should rightly apply to males in games too; I’d love to see more people of colour of both sexes in games, and I’m tired of men almost invariably being great big muscly dudes, or great bulging fat ones for comic effect. People come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and we should be seeing more of that in our games.

Last Updated: February 27, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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