California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    We need to start treating our female nerds better

    Being a female nerd has to be hard.

    It’s a path few women have taken and if you take it at some point you’re going to be the only female crammed into a game room that smells like old cabbage.

    Still, I think it’s safe to say that video game fandom is probably the worst kind out there for the fairer sex.

    The most obvious example of this is the games themselves. Just about every fighting game in existence has at least five female characters wrapped in skintight dominatrix gear with breasts that defy every law of physics.

    The same rule applies for every other game excluding sports, where video game dogma dictates that all in-game cheerleaders must resemble terrifying plastic zombie men.

    It goes a bit further than that though. Take a look at any male video game character. Let’s use Ryu from “Street Fighter” as an example because the example you were thinking of was weird. You can be weird sometimes, CLU reader.

    Anyway, everything about Ryu from his outfit to his stance is meant to convey an emotion or theme. For him it’s a sense of power held in check by discipline, the classic Kung Fu movie motif.

    Now let’s look at Cammy from “Street Fighter.” Her most distinguishing feature is a thong leotard and a battle pose that screams “Hey everyone, LOOK AT ME!”

    Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete, the art director for the recent game “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” pretty much confirmed that most female characters are created to appeal to a 14-year-old boy’s ideal of sex when he spoke at the “East Meets West, Art Direction for a Worldwide Audience” panel at the New York Comic Con, as reported on by

    If you take a step back and try to list all the well-defined female characters in games that eschew the traditional nerd eye candy, you end up with a pathetically small number.

    Only include the ones who are actually playable and that list gets cut in half.

    Sadly, this environment directly affects female gamers.

    If you want to lose just a bit more faith in the human race, take a gander at It’s a collection of the typical insults a girl gamer receives when she tips off her gender to the ravenous hordes of the Internet.

    Most of them aren’t suitable for print, but they usually include the three words in the title of the website.

    That’s possibly because the video game community is so unaccustomed to the concept of women playing games that it reacts negatively when it actually encounters one.

    Aviana Kase, a CLU sophomore, says that while she never encountered any sexism while playing online, she has noticed a boys’ club mentality.

    “Mostly people think that everybody who is playing is a guy,” Kase said. “Especially if you can only make a male character, which happens a lot in games.”

    This is important to me because I really, really love video games. I love them as escapism entertainment as well as an honest to god art form.

    I believe in the persuasive game, a concept practically invented by author and independent game designer Ian Bogost, in that games can tackle issues and themes in a way that rivals other media.

    It’s because of this love, then, that I’m disgusted with the way the video game community reacts when anyone actually tries to address sexism in the industry.

    Over the last few months this issue has been discussed more in depth on websites such as, the and

    Every one of those articles has spawned a sea of Internet commentary that always boils down to the same arguments. Why should I care about this? How is this related to anything? How will this help anyone?

    Leigh Alexander, a video game journalist who has written for publications such as The Escapist and Wired, recently wrote on her blog and Kotaku that she was tired of having to explain why diversity was important to the video game industry or why sexism was even important.

    “It’s just that I’m shocked that grade-school concepts like ‘diversity is constructive’ and ‘treat human beings equitably’ are concepts that somehow still need championing, still need arguing for,” Alexander wrote.

    I’m hoping that one day she won’t have to.

    Brennan Whitmore
    Opinion Editor
    Published Nov. 9, 2011

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