This post is partially a rant and partially a transcription of a conversation I had with a friend of mine regarding this post on an LGBT blog about a man who complained on a forum about BioWare (a video game company’s) lack of concern for their “straight male” demographic. The game in question allows for a wider variety of gender and sexual preference choices than the man was comfortable with. To quote him:
To summarize, in the case of Dragon Age 2, BioWare neglected their main demographic: The Straight Male Gamer.
I don’t think many would argue with the fact that the overwhelming majority of RPG gamers are indeed straight and male. Sure, there are a substantial amount of women who play video games, but they’re usually gamers who play games like The Sims, rather than games like Dragon Age. That’s not to say there isn’t a significant number of women who play Dragon Age and that BioWare should forgo the option of playing as a women altogether, but there should have been much more focus in on making sure us male gamers were happy…
…Its ridiculous that I even have to use a term like Straight Male Gamer, when in the past I would only have to say fans…
If you read the article I linked to above, you will see that this post garnered a reply from David Gaider, who works for Bioware, who basically told the guy to get over himself and accept the reality that the game is made to appeal to a wide variety of people.
You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want. –David Gaider
His response is amazingly well-worded, worth a read and I respect the strength of his reply, but the original sentiment still irked me. What follows is a short exchange between my friend, Chris, and I about the article:
Chris: A friend mailed this to me. It’s nifty. As a straight white male, I particularly thought the focus on privilege was well done. As I wrote back to my friend, video games have long been, and to degrees still are, the domain of straight white males; having one’s assumed privileges challenged can be unsettling but is ultimately productive; or to sum up, it’s about time.
Me: Yup! Also, noted in the comments on the site I linked to was the fact that if there is a discrepancy between the number of “straight males” who play video games and um, OTHER PEOPLE, it’s likely in part due to the fact that often (thankfully less often now), video games are MADE FOR straight males. I’ve sucked it up for years and played games as a man because that was my only choice (every FF I ever played, Red Dead, etc.) However, I’m less invested in the storyline if I’m a man and my love interest is a woman, I feel less connection with my character. I’d LIKE my character to reflect who I am–and I’m a woman, dammit! The alternative in many cases also is creating a female character but really only for the ogling purposes of the straight males, and that’s not really what I’m looking for, either. I want a strong, awesome female lead that I can identify with.
That is of course not the main issue, I realize. The guy was complaining primarily about homosexual elements being in the game…but being female, I do tend to take the misogyny a little more personally I guess. I have always kind of hated how video games are seemingly made for straight men. I’m happy that that’s (kind of) changing though. ….I do wish I could play Red Dead as a woman, though.
Basically, I’m tired of living in a world where it’s assumed that women don’t play games or if they do, it’s only games like The Sims and Farmville. There are plenty of us out there who want to play on a more “serious” level just as much as the guys do, and the fact that we are so often forced to play as men is a little off-putting. It’s like being told you’re not supposed to be there, and knowing that there are guys out there who feel like this guy does makes it even worse.
After I read this, I read an article (I forget where, unfortunately) about how companies are trying harder to make games that appeal to women. Except…they were making different kinds of games. They weren’t understanding that there is a good number of women who want to play the same game as men are playing, we just want to play them as women (and not the bouncy, eye-candy Lara Croft variety, either. Women we can identify with and put ourselves in their shoes.) Is it really that much to ask for that one little option?