The gaming world has never been more divided over the issue of gender.
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One trailer featuring women in a game centred on World War II gets endless trolling. Just one trailer. This is against a backdrop where a community launched a hate campaign against women in gaming and while it is several years on, things haven’t really gotten any better.
The content for women in video games is sparse. That’s not to say that there aren’t great women in games, but it’s just rare and most women only exist to further the plot of men (especially if they happen to feature in a David Cage game). But gender is also almost always treated in a binary manner. It isn’t even enough to get women’s representation right – we need good representation of the genders across the spectrum.
“It isn’t even enough to get women’s representation right – we need good representation of the genders across the spectrum”
The only game that has ever come close to getting this absolutely bang on is The Sims 4. The franchise has long been one of the gaming world’s most progressive titles around. It’s had same sex marriage and adoption before most countries. But the fourth game in the series allows users to choose whether their characters prefer masculine or feminine clothes (or both), whether they have a masculine or feminine frame, whether they can be pregnant or get pregnant and whether they can stand up to go to the loo. All of these choices are made independently so you can get a variety of characteristics. ‘Man’ and ‘woman’ aren’t spoken about. It’s way more diverse than that.
It’s still the only game – and the only role playing game – that really goes to such lengths and even though it is a few years old now, it is still the game leading the industry in that way. This is despite the fact that we have some amazing role playing titles out in the next year – as well as games which aren’t strictly role playing, but allow great character narratives and/or customisation. It takes the hype away from these games because the options within them already feel quite limiting before they’ve even been played.
The Sims 4 is awesome for its diversity and games should pay attention and embrace the challenge of continuously evolving. That’s so much more important than graphics or even cool game mechanics.