Guest Issue #05 – WaR

Posted by WaR on October 23rd, 2004

Pixelated Women, Why Not?

As gamers mature, technology advances, and freedom of creativity faces harsh criticism we, as gamers, prepare to engage in another battle for the sake of one of our favorite hobbies, video games. This time around the “pixelated women” are causing quite a stir. All over the internet you will read that the giant empire of Playboy has decided to open its doors and welcome some of the most popular game’s female characters and has extended an invitation to have them featured in their magazine -you guessed it- nude or almost nude. In fact, it is in this month of October that the issue featuring this computer generated imagery (CGI) will be appearing in newsstands around the US. Have they gone too far? Is it sick? Let’s try to find an answer.

After such an announcement the internet was filled with hundreds of people posting their views on the subject. Some encouraged the move, other’s repudiated it. But what’s of more importance is the view that us gamers, have on the subject. For years we have struggled and fought against those that categorize video games as a waste of time (mainly those who haven’t played a game ever), for a chance at gaining the same respect and recognition as other activities have. Gamers are always put below movie fanatics, book readers, etc. We are simply not taken seriously enough. And in this particular case, it’s mainly our fault.

The fact is that on this subject our biggest adversaries are gamers themselves. The opposition to this matter is rather strong on the part of hardcore, as well as occasional gamers. How can we fight and demand others for respect when it is us who attack each other? In detail, in most game sites and forums there are people that think the idea of finding images of video game characters sexy is “sick” or “pathetic.” I find this very disappointing, nonetheless.

Our main problem is that when a tragic event occurs, the media immediately attacks video games, i.e. labels violence in games as the cause for such behavior. Grand Theft Auto is usually the most targeted. Politicians, and anti-videogame groups rely on the misconception that gamers cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy and that’s why they commit acts such as theft, shootings, etc. By completely opposing to the idea of pixelated women and making fun of those who find it interesting to have female characters in magazines like Playboy we are, in a way, implying that we cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and that is not a good thing. This is because those who oppose do not see this event objectively and clearly fail to understand what others do: that these erotic images are meant for entertainment purposes only. It’s unlikely that someone will fall in love with one of those characters. We [i]can[/i] tell the difference between reality and fantasy, it is simply a matter of appreciation. So why oppose it?

Also, the giant leaps that graphic design has taken cannot go unnoticed since this is what has set the starting point for this event. With the creation of better stories, comes the creation of better graphics which seem to blur the line that separates illusion from reality. What makes movies like Armageddon, Matrix, or The Lord of the Rings sell? Aside from having a great story line, and intense action sequences, among others, they attract our attention due to two main factors: 1) they are not real and 2) they are wonderfully created visually and make them seem real. Like Mortal Kombat’s Ed Boom once said in an interview, “people don’t want to pay for reality”, and we know how well the franchise is doing today. The same principles apply to female characters; the great efforts put in by the programmers and artists have caught the attention of the multimillion dollar business of adult magazines for its realism. If Playboy saw the real potential behind these characters, why can’t we? Moreover, Playboy has even announced the future launch its own video game.

And just when other industries different from the video game scene seem to be acknowledging that gamers form a real community and take this into account as they develop their new products we oppose their efforts and, consequently, we only achieve to damage our own reputation and leave us looking like video-game enthusiasts that cannot be taken seriously.

Obviously different opinions are welcome on the subject. In fact, you are encouraged to disagree, but at least do so with valid reasons that don’t ultimately affect the gaming community. You can, for example, object this with opinions on woman degradation if you oppose publications like Playboy (but that’s another story). We must keep our minds open to the imminent evolution that the video game industry is experiencing. Just as those that aren’t anime fans don’t condone its appreciation neither must we condone this new chapter in the video game world. For it is just now that some understand that video games aren’t only for kids, but instead, include a much broader set of individuals that are not necessarily “sick”, on the contrary, posses a very decent common sense.

Note: I am by no means advertising indecency or anything alike, I am simply realizing that we are finally being taken seriously and base my case on such a controversial issue.