With the rise of technology, video games have become an increasingly favorite pastime for many people, trumping over other forms of media entertainment. In the 1990s, most people spent their leisure time watching television, but ever since the introduction of video games, there has been a “decrease usage of TV as well as other forms of media entertainment” (Rajkowska 2014). In today’s society, companies advertise their video games by use of over-sexualized women characters in game,
appealing more to males rather than females. Research by Williams et al. (2009) has shown that “male characters are vastly more likely to appear than female character in general. The overall difference of 85.23/14.77 percent is also a large contrast with the 50.9/49.1 percent distribution in the actual population” (as cited in Zorrilla). There is almost an equal ratio between men and women who play video games, yet there is a 17:3 ratio between men and women characters who appeared within video games. Women are almost always depicted as playthings and victims in video games. In the 1986 advertisement for the Cinemaware computer game The Defender of the Crown, we can see why video games have always been seen as a male-dominated source of media.
The company Cinemaware was founded by Bob and Phyllis Jacob in 1985 and their “Hollywood- and TV-inspired games are some of the most memorable ever designed for the Commodore Amiga and other platforms of the era”(Barton 2010). In an interview with Bob Jacob, Barton questions him on how the usage of sex scenes added to the success of his games, such as The Defender of the Crown. Jacob goes on to say, “The whole idea of adding sex was new. No one had ever pulled it off before. But I think it helped the vibe of the game; it was something I was interested in doing, and you know what? I always liked chesty women, so we just went for it”(Barton). Busty women is sure to catch a man’s eye.
The first thing that catches our eye in the advertisement is the woman in the center. She is a beautiful, blonde, white woman, wearing a very revealing dress, reaching her hand out, signifying that she is in distress and she needs your (the main character’s) help. Judging from the advertisement, it appears that the main objective of this game will be to save this damsel in distress from evil. She is no different from many other female characters in video games which, according to Provenzo (2000),
are depicted as “females in submissive, sexually exploitive roles—as busty, brainless, victims of aggression”(as cited in Larsen, 2014). Moreover, she is a “non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds”(Larsen). The woman adds a sense of excitement and incentive for someone, specifically a male, to play the game. Her large breasts push that incentive even further and make the players feel like they absolutely must save her in hopes that they will get a rewarding prize at the end of the game.
Furthermore, the brightness and lighting of the advertisement plays a key-role in emphasizing the woman. The lighting is centered around the woman’s face, mostly around her head, making her golden blonde hair shine. In media today, a blonde woman usually symbolizes beauty and/or sexiness, which is why many companies utilize blonde women to appeal to the male gender. The gold color also catches the audience’s eye. The lighting then gets darker around her breasts. This is most likely
a strategy that advertisers use in hopes that it will catch audience’s eye. Her breasts are not fully lit, possibly to tease the audience into buying the game, in hopes that they will be able to see her full figure in the game. It is clear that the target audience for this advertisement is for men. Many video game companies will oversexualize women “with the object of titillating presumed straight male players”(Larsen). This plays into the stereotypical man’s fantasy of finding a beautiful woman,
saving her from evil, and eventually having sex with the woman. This also goes along with Craig’s idea that men like to find ways to escape their everyday life, including their marriage. Similar to sports, video games also “offer a chance to escape from the growing ambiguity of masculinity in daily life”(Craig), and they find pleasure in women who “are eager for sex without commitment”(Craig). Some men may even feel “stuck” in their marriage and need a chance to get away from their wives and children to have non-committed affairs with other women.
In the background we see a fit man, with a sharp jawline, wielding a longsword, fighting a knight with a flaming helmet. The man is most likely to be the protagonist of this game, whereas the knight will be one of the antagonists. One can assume that the knight is evil by the burning flames around his helmet, which could connote the fires of hell. Miller & Summers (2007) and Jansz & Martis (2007) found that “males represented as more muscular, while women were more sexy” (as cited in Zorrilla).
The man is seen as strong and able, and he is willing to risk his life to save the sexy and helpless woman.
The lack of depth in female characters has long been the norm. Women have always been portrayed as sexual objects for men, in every different form of media. Because of the large influence video games have on people’s everyday lives, companies do whatever they can to make sure their game sells well, and they do this by their advertisements. These advertisements usually include a beautiful, young, sexy woman character in the game that will grab a man’s attention and make him want to buy that game
in hopes to see more of that woman. Women are used as incentives or even prizes for men in video games, which adds more to the stereotype that sex really does sell.