A character like a woman Senua would hardly be found in a mainstream video game just 15 years ago but now the gender norms have changed dramatically.
The fragile but brave women become the normal characters in modern video games, they throw themselves into the battle without hesitation. This totally new type gans more and more popularity thanks to changing the social norms, making them more flexible and comfortable for women. But if we look at video games from a historical perspective, female characters have been oversexualized if not downright absent.
Yet, even though mainstream games are still dominated by bulky, muscular men, recent years have brought us female game characters that are noteworthy because of their personality and backstory, rather than the size of their bust. In order to understand how women are represented in video games, we can look into several different parameters like roles and functions.
In order to explain body visualization, researchers have focused on how the body is sexualized, for example by equipping characters with enormous breasts and skimpy outfits. Moreover, the limited graphics technology of the early days of video games, for example, often necessitated simple and crude graphics compared to modern video games.
Studies have also found significantly more male than female playable characters. That said, even in early video games we find notable female characters.
Lara Croft, the most prominent female character in video games
Video games is a complex phenomenon and research has not yet systematically looked at all aspects of gender representation in games. In 1996, Lara Croft became the first superstar in video games, the experts often call it even a feminist icon.
On one hand, Lara is the playable character and protagonist of the game, and she is represented as a strong, independent and decisive woman. That is the point of her popularity, isn’t it? She marks a departure from the secondary, victimized roles that women all too often have been assigned in video games.
On the other hand, Lara is also an example of the sexualization of the female body in video games. Whatever it is, Lara Croft has changed the vision of female characters in video games. And maybe we are now seeing the consequences of this as more game companies brand themselves on social responsibility and promote games with strong, intelligent and decisive women. Like Lara.