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It's Complicated - My Feelings Towards the Gaming Industry

As much as I love the gaming industry, it hurts me to think about all the bullshit it continues to pull in terms of the representation of women in games.

It’s Valentine’s Day! And in honor of the mushiest day of the year, I think it’s appropriate to take a moment to reflect on one of the most important relationships in my life – my love for video games. Obviously I wouldn’t be writing for GameSkinny if I didn’t love games but today I want to talk more specifically about the gaming industry itself. It’s an industry I have the utmost respect for and hope to be a part of someday, but if this were Facebook, our relationship status would be ‘It’s Complicated’. 

When you really love something, it can be hard to recognize its flaws.

And for as much as I love the gaming industry, it hurts me to think about all the bullshit it continues to pull in terms of the representation of women in games.  

It’s no secret that the gaming industry is predominately run by and catered towards men. Its been discussed a lot lately but for some reason it doesn’t seem like we’re really getting anywhere. Women in games are still sexualized and weak, and for some reason female gamers are often treated like they don’t exist.  

I don’t think the industry is actively trying to oppress women, but it’s not quite doing enough to change either. The industry should be doing everything in its power to make women feel welcome, both in the field and through the games they put out.  Women are 50% of the gaming population so why are we still being treated like the minority?

That’s not to say we aren’t making progress. This year was actually a pretty good year for women in video games. We had Ellie in the Last of Us, Elizabeth in Bioshock: Infinite and the return of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. These characters are part of the best games of 2013 and it just proves that the industry could be headed in the right direction. 

Which brings me to what I love about the gaming industry – the way it tells stories.

In addition to being a good year for women in video games, it was also a good year for storytelling. It used to be that movies could achieve a level of emotional engagement unmatched by video games, but this most recent generation of games has proved that’s no longer the case.  Narrative-driven games like Gone Home, Broken Age and The Stanley Parable prove that video games are much more than sex and violence and actually have the capability to tell great stories. 

I think the rise of indie developers like Telltale have definitely attributed to this but even bigger name developers like Naughty Dog are putting out content worthy of Oscar-level praise. This makes me so happy, not only because I get to play a ton of amazing games, but because I think it’s finally time that video games are treated like the art form they are and no longer like a “lower” form of entertainment.

Compared to the film and television industries, the gaming industry is still fairly young. This also means it has room to grow. The industry seems to be getting more and more progressive each year so I have hope that some of the things I take issue with will eventually be resolved.

I love you, video games. Let’s make this work. 

Published Feb. 14th 2014
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