I bought a new game because Steam had a sale and we all love to see the numbers get crossed off. Not even go down, we just like seeing that it used to be some other price and now it’s a SALE!
At any rate, I am relatively new to gaming, and though you hear about the sexism of the video game industry (cough*Ubisoft*cough*) I hadn’t actually realized how unfortunate it was first hand.
Here’s what I’ve found so far:
1. That an otherwise decent female character (a powerful mage with adequate dialogue) was dressed in a low cut leather vest and miniskirt combo, and only otherwise covered in mesh. Mesh. In a medieval world. In a northern castle. It was not necessary to make this character an object of sexual desire, and, in fact, severely detracted from the experience of playing the game.
2. That when the mage character above was wounded in a fight, that when I stayed to comfort her, my character has sex with her. Consensual, thankfully, but unnecessary, irrelevant to the plot, and completely out of character. It also further sexually objectifies this character.
3. That ninety percent of the female NPCs have very low cut dresses for no explained reason.
4. That the one female NPC who I thought was going to be cool because she had a practical, Robin Hood-like shirt on and some weaponry was wearing a really short dress, again for no reason because she is a hunter. Also because she was the second named female NPC of the game (after at least seven named male ones, with more to come).
5. That the witch I intend to protect offers to sleep with me.
6. That the three plot-relevant women are young and pretty, because naturally only hot chicks are important.
7. That, in light of this blinding dearth of well-written, not-sexually-objectified female characters, the city area is freaking filled with prostitutes. Which, to be clear, in the real world is a completely legitimate professional choice, but, in the context of a game where these are not women but female characters, this is an artistic choice which perpetuates the concept of women as either decorative or functional – which is to say, objects.
Update: Ended up uninstalling the game. It wasn’t good enough of a game to look past the blinding crappiness. Instead I installed Skyrim, in which I am a female dark elf who dual wields fire spells, and I have yet to observe any sexist behavior on the part of the game. (I have encountered sexist characters, but the game actively works to point out that they’re wrong. It’s amazing. For instance, a woman asks you, an intimidating adventurer, to talk to a bard who is pursuing her romantically after she’s made it clear that she is uninterested in his advances. The bard talks about how he enjoys chasing women in a display of dominance, but your character puts him in his place by pointing out that she’s not something to be won, and that he needs to stop. And then he agrees to stop, and apologizes for it, and this is treated as a victory. It’s a small thing, but it made me so happy.)