Women in video games – Metroid: Other M

So, when Metroid: Other M came out I was excited because Metroid is a great video game series with one of the most bad ass female lead characters ever.  And, she is not objectified as being only a sex object.  I didn’t think that’s too much to ask for, and for the most part, this series proves that it is not too much to ask for.

I’ve loved all of the previous games and was initially worried about team ninja’s involvement. (Since they are notorious for the objectification of women in dead or alive.)  But, since it came out, I’ve seen lots of it, and I don’t see anything wrong with the game.  For me that’s a success, not only is the game good, but they didn’t go and fuck up one of my favorite characters so they can have a sales boost from gape jawed men.  So, all is fine and well, right?  Nope.

I just saw a G4 review of the game and they complained about the portrayal of the lead (female) character, Samus Aran.  For one thing, the reviewer (a woman herself) complains that Samus is too emotional.  But actually, the character is no more emotional than any male character in a similar story.  It’s not annoying or unrealistic, it’s just humanizing.  Also factor in that in the story, she loses more than one close friend and you’ll find that her reaction is not too strong at all.  Also, the reviewer complains that the lead character is sexualized and takes opportunities to show her body for no reason.  Honestly, I saw no such thing.

I understand, though, that I am not a woman myself and maybe I don’t quite understand the problem here.  But I can say that as a male, if the point of the game design is to excite men sexually, they didn’t do a very good job at that.  And finally, the sickest and most disturbing thing that the reviewer claimed is wrong with the game is that the main character’s story mostly revolves around her being in love romantically with one of the male characters.  The problem with that argument, though, is that that particular male is in no way ever implied to have any potential of romantic relationship with the main character.  As a matter of fact, he is a great deal older than her and partially raised her.  She sees him as a father figure and caretaker/friend.  Claiming that their relationship is sexual really upsets me.

And the repeating theme in all of the reviewer’s complaints is that she argues that their are sexist stereotypes, but I don’t see any of her arguments from the same point.  I think that perhaps that is a result of her looking for these sexist cliche’s and not taking all the details for what they are.  Their are surely better examples of female characters (especially in video games) being objectified or not being as good/strong as their male peers.  A great example that comes to mind is Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.  Sure she’s tough, but they gotta make her super-sexualized with double D breasts.  Why?  And as I mentioned already, Dead Or Alive does the objectifying, which also confuses me because the game would be good with or without exploiting women’s bodies, the only difference is that I’m upset by the game because of something that has nothing to do with how well it plays.

I really have no idea why people are as okay as they are with the games that have females as sex objects, but the one female character that I feel is treated the most equally with men gets called out on being a sexist stereotype.  I just don’t fucking get this.  If there’s anyone here who has suggestions about why the worse things are overlooked, I would love to hear that.  Or if anyone does have a problem with Other M, I would also really like to hear that.  Maybe women can see something wrong with it because they have experienced certain things and I have not.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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