Body Representation in Games.

Monday 14 January 2019

Body image is something I have struggled with for years, it's something I find hard to talk about especially when I hate the way I look, I tend to escape to the world of gaming in order to try to feel a little better about myself but sometimes it's not that easy because even in the gaming world we are with false representations of ALL body types. Most people look past body types, they have no interest in what a character looks like so long as they enjoy a game and that's fine but my main issue is why is there that lack of care?

As a child growing I have to admit I would have loved to have been Lara Croft, she is kind of an exception to all this because the changes in her body type over the years have been drastic, the original Lara came to life with the least flattering face and very pointy boobs but many people were still able to sexualise her even when she was far from realistic, as the games went on her character wore sexier outfits and they dropped the triangle boobs. Now years on she isn't sexualised as much, in fact, the games focus more on what she is capable of and gave her a whole new style, so many young women look up to her and she opened the eyes of many of them.

It's not just female game characters who have unrealistic body types, men do too. The buff man type of character is always going to be popular because many many people would love to look like that, male characters tend to look covered in muscles and can often look ridiculous due to this. Males also seem to be allowed more armour then female characters in games which to this day I still find baffling, a bra and a skimpy skirt isn't going to protect them very well whilst the male characters are covered head to toe in protective gear. I do think that men are also affected by this unrealistic type in games mainly due to the fact that they're not very relatable and that's something I would like to see more of, games such as Grand Theft Auto portray a lot of different body types and races, yes it's very violent but they managed to include what a lot of games don't and that is realistic body types.

One thing I have learned over the years is by sexualising a character and making them look a certain way it tends to appeal more to male gamers, they get to have the ability to control a female protagonist and be in ore over the way she looks, the better they look the better the game sells, sex sells and I doubt that will ever change. I play games as male protagonists a lot but there are more games where a male is a protagonist rather than a female anyways so when releasing a game with a female protagonist they need to make it stand out more amoung the sea of men, if that means a skin-tight suit or any skin showing with the perfect slim body they're going to do it whether we like it or not.

Characters who are overweight are used to portray enemies a lot of the time, it's like saying someone who is bigger is evil and needs to be defeated, demonizing larger people isn't fair, they're seen as the type of person to overpower others and cause havoc when in reality this isn't the truth. I have met little dogs who are more vicious than big dogs so just from that example, it's clear that dogs of any size can be violent and scary which is the same for the human race. What started this notion that larger people are seen more as an enemy than an ally? From what I gather, using someone bigger who looks scary leads to someone having less empathy for them, they feel more accomplished being able to defeat an enemy larger than them.

But it's not all bad because there are a fair few games out there that allow you to choose how you want your character to look and wear, Skyrim is one of those games, you can make your character as big or as small as you want in fact you can spend ages when it comes to creating the type of character you feel represents you realistic or be as unrealistic as you want. This kind of option in games is welcomed by me, I would love to see more games implementing the option to change the weight of a character and even the option to give your character more clothes!

I'm fully aware that games are used as an escape mechanism and a way for people to pretend to be someone else but that doesn't mean that they can have an impact on those who don't look a certain way. I've spoken about how disabled people are portrayed in games before and body realism is the same kind of issue, there just isn't enough diversity in games, perhaps one day that will all change who knows.


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