The Full Scope

The Full Scope is a Film and Video game blog specifically designated to the topic of Gender and how it is portrayed in the media

Inspired and Utilized by my Senior Seminar MASCULINITY (And Gender) in Film

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rough around the edges - A Lightbulb of an Idea

In recent years video-games have come to fascinate me - not as a way to simply spend my time and get away from the world but as an art form in general. Up until a few years ago, I had done very little to play first person shooter style games and I had no inclination to- The systems I had did not support them and I enjoyed seeing specific character designs on screen. Much like watching a film, I associated with the character in the game through a more removed lens. They were one being and I was another.
        It took several years until I decided to really get into the world of the first person video-game (And yes, not all first person games are shooting games, though a vast number of them are). I had played Halo and a little Call of Duty but could not get very engulfed in them because I felt like they lacked character depth when played (as I was playing them) in multiplayer mode. Then I found Bioshock. Bioshock became my first big experience into the world of First Person story line gaming.
The plot was tight and when you move through the world in bioshock, you move through the story, picking up on characterization and plot details more subtly. Bioshock also did away with the cutscene cinematic almost entirely. You are allowed free range of camera movement even during explanatory sections.
     Despite Jack being unable or unwilling to speak, as a player I began to understand things about him as a character and I eventually realized that many of the characteristics I attributed to him in my head were really characteristics I used to play him. I, a small female teenager, succeeded in playing a hardened noir-level antihero strongman. I realized I was associating freely as this character, this tall mysterious man (who is, in my own vision of him, a straight male), despite associating in the real world as a straight cys-gender female.
     It was this that sparked my interest in how others play such games. Many women who play video-games are forced to play as male characters often. Some videogame designers (*ahem* Assassin's Creed *ahem*) site a doubled workload for animators would be required to design female playable characters as reasons for not giving players choice, despite having enough time and MANpower to create almost overdetailed worlds.

Look, men doing manly killing amid three million different blades of grass, but creating a female avatar is too much effort

But I digress. For now. The fact of the matter is, with few exceptions, such as Tomb-raider, Portal, and now even Bioshock Infinite (although only the DLC), most gamer-girls are often subject to playing as male characters anyway.
     I wish to learn more about how these women play as men, and if they find a gender diaspora between themselves and the characters on screen or if they play into this role of masculinity and cross the gender divide. In addition I wish to understand why some women choose, when given the choice, to play as men, and why some men choose or refuse to play as a female character. From unofficial conversations the reasons seem varied: Some play as opposite gender characters because they prefer the method of game-play. Some do it because they have some voyeuristic attachment to the character. Some refuse to play as women because of this voyeurism and their discomfort at watching a women get hurt, even in a virtual setting. I want to explore whether we can call this free association as an opposite gendered character a type of Transgendered game play or if we should be calling it something entirely different, such as a cross-gendered game play.

I believe it is worth exploring. 

Some playable female characters:
Do not turn off the power while your progress is saving.
LEX saved the Game



    1. The actual characters listed in your comment are good and accurate but there are still so many games that do not have an option for that kind of game play. I like playing male centric games as much as the next person, but the list still consists of a small representative sample of games over all. But beyond anything else the blog isn't meant to sit around and complain about the lack of female characters but to discover if and how people play across the gender spectrum.

      Oh and:

  2. Is just a "fellow gamer"
    Runs blogs dedicated to why characters don't have vaginas.

    Oh and nice meme. Really looking forward to the rest of 2012.

    1. Pretty sure the blog is about the psychological diaspora between both genders and the characters they play. Did you read it or just see the word "gamer" and "girl" and get defensive?

      Nice comeback. Good to see that "That is so last year" has found a way to look more intelligent.

  3. Thanks Anon- unfortunately I don't think many people will actually take the step to read what the blog is about and jump to conclusions about the actual topic. I do appreciate that you seem to have grasped where it is headed in terms of how people associate with the avatar they play- female playing male, female playing female, male playing male and male playing female. I don't think its the concept that's that hard to grasp, I think it is much more likely that the gamer community is very quick to judge women who "claim" to be gamers.
    On another note, Video gamers want to be taken seriously as video games can be a serious art form. So why not support attempts to create academic theories that will give it some standing among scholarly circles?


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