The popularity of video games is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the medium has managed to offer countless problematic representations of women in its short history. As an ever expanding component of the media landscape, video games are increasingly contributing to the epidemic of rape culture. Images and player-controlled instances of violence are a common occurrence in video games. Oftentimes, this violence in perpetrated in the name of rescuing or otherwise acquiring a female character as a reward. In this way, many video games reduce their female characters to mere objects or achievements - entities without agency for the (mostly male) player character to claim. This objectification in games reflects how our society condones the treatment of women as objects in the “real world.”
- Gone Home - This unique throwback to the adventure-style games of the late 1980’s and 1990’s explores themes of family, dark pasts, assassinations and a ton more. Here is how one reviewer described it: "this is a game that some will hold up as forward-thinking evidence in the ongoing debate of games-as-art", adding that the game was made to "plumb the depths of experience outside of gaming’s typically targeted white, male, youthful core." Frustratingly, the developers at the Fullbright Company pulled the exhibition of Gone Home from the major gaming expo known as PAX after video game webcomic Penny Arcade mocked it’s queer themes.
- Depression Quest - Created by independent game developer Zoe Quinn, this game strives to put players into the shoes of a person suffering from deep depression. Quinn hoped to create awareness about depression in an attempt to remove its stigma. In another example of the misogyny found in video game culture, Quinn was subjected to gender-based harassment on gaming forums. In the words of her anonymous attackers, “women cannot relate to anyone with depression,” and "have no right to be depressed." Depression Quest is free to play so give it a shot - but the subject matter could be triggering for folks who have suffered from depression.
- Mass Effect - A departure from the indie games mentioned above, Mass Effect is a game series released by big-name publisher Electronic Arts. From the outset of this space epic, players have the choice of picking a female or male main character, either way named "Commander Shepard." However, there is zero difference between the dialogue, story choices, or character options for each. The female Shepard (annoyingly distinguished from the male version with the moniker “FemShep” by some members of the audience) ends up being a strong leader - something you don't see much of when it comes to women in games. However, only 18% of players chose to play as the female version of Shepard, even though many critics and reviewers considered voice actor Jennifer Hale’s performance to be superior to Mark Meer’s, her male counterpart. Regardless, check out this video of Commander Shepard in action: http://youtu.be/oOVB14kUqCo