Gender Signifiers in Video Games

Let the flames of disagreement begin...

by on 2nd Nov, 2012

In going along with the academic article generated yesterday about box art and its relation to game sales comes a companion article that was published over at howtonotsuckatgamedesign.com: Significant Other - Gender Signifiers in Video Games. This article examines a very important criticism within video games - how gender works within them. In the author's words: 

"Depictions of gender in video games generally don’t work. Actually in most of geek culture they suck – yeah, I’m looking at you comic book industry. Why? Because they create hostility between two parties who really don’t need to be at each other’s throats."

This article argues an important point, a similar one to the article on box art, gendered depictions are mostly unnecessary, and harmful. While the article on box art went one step further to explain that the image perpetuates because it sells and is thus worthy of emulation because the need to generate capital is so high, this article approaches the same subject through the methods and reasons that game designers depict certain characters in certain ways. 

For example, take this picture of birdo and yoshi: 

The need to finally close the ambiguous gender loop that birdo represented, the addition of a bow allowed for Nintendo to create a means through which Yoshi, also an ambiguous creature, could seem more masculine. It should be noted that the ironic part of this particular relationship is that Yoshi is typically seen as female and Birdo as male.

This, and more, follow over at howtonotsuckatgamedesign.com. This article is important and very worth your time if you are thinking about heading out into the world of game design. 

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