Pixel Females: Their Role in Games and Economy Part One
While it may not seem very obvious point blank, the women that are featured in video games have a large affect on the gaming business. Afterall, would the Dead or Alive games ever sell if it weren't for the girls' scant outfits? Why was Tomb Raider able to crank out so many sequels? Wasn't it Chun-li who forced hordes of gamers to spend loads of quarters in the arcade? These pixelated vixens hold a lot more weight in game sales than most gamers take note of. So, the question isn't their importance in games, but their portrayal. Would games sell if the girls were in normal outfits? Would the Mario have had nearly as much success if the roles were reversed? In this an analyzation of women's roles in games as well as their affect on the industry, we will see how they have come, and if they really do help sell games .
The typical idea of women in games is that they are objectified, used as sexual objects. I used to feel this way too, and I always used to question things like why Jill Valentine would be fighting zombies and Nemesis in a tube top and mini skirt. I mean, the more skin she shows, the more likely she is to get bitten, right?? Yes, this is the thing you often hear feminist gamers talking about, and although I do agree with them for the most part, I don't think women in games are treated nearly as poorly as made out. A look at gaming history over the past twenty-five years, the female counterparts of games have really come a long way from what they were to begin with. Although they are still used as a ploy to sell games (Rumble Roses anyone), there has been a definite increase in the usage of females in games, almost to the point where lack of a main female character may result in a loss of sales.
Remember the days of the Damsel in Distress, save the princess? For the longest time, the women in games were mainly plot devices to give a purpose to the game. How about the game Custer's Revenge, in which the only female character was a nekkid Native American woman tied to a post. What really did Princess Peach do in the original Mario games? Is sitting around waiting for the knight in shining armor really helping at all? These women were treated more as a hinderance/annoyance for the main male characters. This is the general feeling of the females in the 80's era of games. Sure, there was Ms. Pacman, who was really just Pacman done in drag, as well as the girls in the Final Fantasy games, but those didn't hit stateside until the 90's. Although these games still did sell, the ones with a more positive treatment of their females tended to sell better. Who is still around today, Custer or Mario? Ms. Pacman is considered one of the most popular games of all time, even more popular than....Pacman perhaps?
In the next part, a look at the 90's surge of female characters and how they helped the home console sell will be talked about. Also, the number one female icon of games will make her first appearance in the gaming world.