â€œfantastic!â€ ( â™ª theme music â™ª ) this episode comes with a content warningfor game footage involving hypersexualized female charactersand is not recommended for children. as always, remember that it is bothpossible and even necessary
to be critical of the media we enjoy. thatâ€™s going to be especiallyimportant to keep in mind given the video game franchisewe are about to discussâ€¦ in 1987 nintendo released a 2daction adventure game for their
nintendo entertainment systemwhich departed from traditional video game conventions. metroid starred a bounty hunternamed samus aran who is covered head to toe in thenow iconic cybernetic â€œpower suitâ€. the gameâ€™s manual referred to theprotagonist with male pronouns and described his identity asâ€œshrouded in mysteryâ€. metroid was notable as anearly example of a game that employed multiple alternativeendings which could be unlocked based on the playerâ€™s gamingskill and performance.
if the player is able to completethe game in under five hours a short cutscene will play featuring theprotagonist without their armored helmet, revealing that samus aran is, in fact,a woman. this was a significant momentin gaming history, especially for many female gaming fans,because, at the time, nearly all protagonists were justassumed to be male by default. remember this was backbefore the internet, when you couldnâ€™t just hop online to findout about all the secrets and spoilers, so for many players, the ending ofmetroid came as a genuine surprise.
still, the subversion only workedprovided players were skilled enough to achieve the surprise ending. in retrospect, samusâ€™ gender reveal perhapsshould not have been as shocking as it was, considering that metroid isheavily influenced by the alien films. sadly the alternate endingsdid not stop there the two â€œbestâ€ endings make metroidone of the first games to exploit the women as reward trope, as both reveal samusin various states of undress. the better a player does,the more clothing is removed.
if the player completes the game in under3 hours samus is shown without her armor and in a leotard. if the player finishes in under 1 hourthey are treated to samus in a bikini. so yes, samus wasnâ€™t a damselâ€™ed womanwaiting at the end of the game as a trophy rather, her body itself became the prizeawarded to players for a job well done. later games in the metroid seriescontinued the convention of rewarding players with endings featuringsamus in various states of undress. in one sense samus aran definitely didsubvert traditional gender tropes of the 1980s by taking on the roleof intrepid hero.
however she and her body were stillpresented to players as prizes to be won. the convention, of earning access tocutscenes or ending vignettes with eroticized female bodies can be foundin many titles over the past 30 years. â€œapolloâ€ â€œwhoa! whoa!â€ (audience laughter) â€œoh!â€ we can trace the roots of thewomen as reward trope all the way back to the beginnings of the medium itself.
as we discussed in ourdamsel in distress mini-series, upon successful completionof many arcade games players were rewarded with therelated smooch of victory trope, so named for the kiss the hero received as a rewardfor rescuing a kidnapped princess. sometimes the prize is blatant as with thestandard hero reward in which a king will give hisdaughter to the hero. on other occasions, itâ€™s taken a step furtherby employing the parallel sex of victory or rescue sex trope.yes, itâ€™s exactly what you think it is: instead of a kiss, sex with the rescuedvictim is the playerâ€™s reward.
â€œthat was gonna get ugly. you saved us!â€ â€œmy pleasure, ladies.â€ â€œthank you, thank you. thank you.â€ â€œyou saved my life. a bit of joy asrecumpence is not too much to ask.â€ â€œiâ€™m intrigued. itâ€™s been a tough day.i think some joy might do me good.â€ (moaning) weâ€™ve coined the women as reward tropeto describe a long-running pattern found in interactive media. it occurs when womenor more often womenâ€™s bodies
are employed as rewards forplayer actions in video games. the trope frames female bodies ascollectible, as tractable or as consumable and positions women as status symbols designed to validate the masculinityof presumed straight male players. thereâ€™s some overlap between thedamsel in distress and women as reward but they function differently. while the damsel in distresstrope uses women as a plot device to motivate male heroes, the women as reward trope presents womenas a formalized reward mechanism,
meaning that the reward is codedinto the game system itself. the result of this incentive structure isthat access to womenâ€™s bodies, womenâ€™s affection or womenâ€™s sexuality isreduced to a simple equation that guarantees delivery as long as the correct set ofinputs are entered into the system. in this way the women as reward tropehelps foster a sense of entitlement where players are encouraged to view womenas something theyâ€™ve earned the right to by virtue of their gaming actions,skills or accomplishments. this is illustrated in arcade classicslike joe and mac and teenage mutant ninja turtles
after players save the damselin both games, she will bestow a kiss on the characterwho earned the most points on that stage. â€œi owe you one.â€ entitlement to women is made even moreexplicit in many versions of double dragon. at the end of the game, after thefinal boss has been defeated and the damsel in distress saved, playerone and player two must fight each other over who â€œgetsâ€ to â€œhaveâ€ marian andwith her, the smooch of victory. notice that marianâ€™s desires are not partof the equation, she has no say in the matter she simply fills the role of a trophy forwhichever player is ultimately victorious.
this scene serves as inspirationfor similar scenarios in more contemporary gameslike castle crashers. weâ€™ve identified 6 primary ways the womenas reward trope manifests in video games. over the course of this episodewe will examine each in turn. in addition to the â€œearned cinematicsâ€weâ€™ve already discussed, we will cover the trope as it relates toeaster eggs, unlockable costumes, experience points, collectibles,and achievements. easter eggs are intentionallyhidden secrets or jokes which developers concealinside of their games.
like the eggs at achildrenâ€™s easter egg hunt, these secrets are usually difficult to findbut are meant to be discovered as rewards for particularly industrious gamers. easter eggs can be hidden messages, items,secret characters or random events, and their inclusion encouragesexperimentation with the gameâ€™s systems and mechanics in order touncover these extra treasures. some can be foundinside game environments, while others require acheat code to unlock. for example, if players input a specificbutton sequence while starting up
the 1991 role-playing game rings of powerthe title screen would change. by pressing down, right, a, b, c and thestart button, players were rewarded with an image of a topless womannext to the naughty dog logo. easter eggs are, of course,not inherently problematic, and gaming history is filled withexamples of neat secrets that designers have hiddenaway for players to discover. but too frequently, easter eggsare used as another way to reward players with womenâ€™s bodies. tony hawk pro skater 4 included a secretunlockable character named daisy,
who bore the likeness ofporn star jenna jameson. daisyâ€™s sexualized appearance andskateboard tricks are designed as a reward for those players who unlocked her. one way to do that isby entering this code probably one of the most famouswomen as reward easter eggs brings us back to samus aran. the original metroid used a passwordsystem to save progress. by inputting the secret codeâ€œjustin baileyâ€ into this system, gamers would unlock a powered-upplayable version of samus
wearing only herleotard-style bathing suit. incidentally this is the same outfit wecovered earlier as an end-game reward, only here she has the powers of the variasuit and its associated color pallete swap which changes her hair color to green. players can then play the entire game assamus without her space armor. so she ends up exploringa hostile alien world and fighting off deadly monstersin her underwear. â€œwelcome to the hovercon intergalactichoverboard competition!â€ thereâ€™s a bizarre easter eggin the original ratchet & clank:
if the player does a series of side-flipsin front of a green-skinned alien, the womanâ€™s breasts willsuddenly begin to inflate. the more gymnastics stunts performed,the larger her boobs will become. there are so many women as reward-styleeaster eggs in the metal gear solid series that it would take several hoursto go over them all. first released for the playstation in 1998and then remade for the gamecube in 2004, metal gear solid featured not onebut two separate easter eggs that allow players to seemeryl silverburgh in her underwear. the second of these easter eggs requiresplayers to follow meryl into the ladies room
and interrupt her while she is changing.if this is done quickly enough the next cutscene will play withmeryl in her underwear. â€œanyway, how did you recognize me in disguise?â€ â€œi never forget a ladyâ€ jumping ahead to the fourth game, the protagonist is assigned a psychologistfor ptsd counseling. during these remote sessions, ifplayers shake their playstation controller the psychologistâ€™s breasts willbounce and jiggle in response. â€œmemories began to resurfacefrom his childhood,"
"when he fought for solidusin the liberian civil war.â€ keep in mind that easter eggsare not accidents or glitches. they are intentionally put into the gameby the designers,and as a result, indicate the value that the designers themselvesplace on these female characters. they communicate to players that yes,these women exist for players to exploit or experiment withfor their own amusement. unlockable outfits are additionalcostumes earned during gameplay which allow gamers to play dress up withplayer characters or party members. alternative â€œskinsâ€ as they are sometimescalled come in all shapes and sizes
and are typically just cosmetic changesto the characterâ€™s appearance, although sometimes theyadd special abilities. many unlockable costumesare cool, wacky or bizarre. but when applied to female characterswe see a distinct pattern of revealing, hypersexualized outfits. fetishized bunny, cat, maid or nursecostumes are commonly used by developers as a way to pander to an assumedstraight male player base. itâ€™s important to remember thatsexualization is not necessarily just about the amount of skin showing,but is instead connected to the question
of whether or not a costume is eroticizedfor the express purpose of titillation. â€œhey, why were you wearingthat stuffy-looking suit of armor?â€ â€œoh? you didnâ€™t like it? itâ€™s pretty sturdyand protects my body quite nicely... see? look at this beautiful skin,free of bruises and blemishes!â€ â€œvery niceâ€¦ iâ€™m actually worriedwhere my eyes might wander.â€ â€œyou donâ€™t look all that worried to me.â€ â€œiâ€™ve just got a good poker face.so, youâ€™re okay?... you donâ€™t mind leaving your armor behind?â€ â€œitâ€™s sturdy, but itâ€™s heavy. walkingaround with that on tires me out.â€
â€œhey, no complaints here. i prefereye candy to scary armor any day.â€ these types of unlockable outfitscan be especially pernicious since they often end upundermining women who are otherwise appropriately dressedfor active or professional roles. the resident evil franchise has beenparticularly guilty of this over the years. almost every major release in the serieshas included the women as reward trope. resident evil is a bit unusual in that,since its beginnings in the mid 90s, the franchise has featured a largenumber of playable female protagonists most of whom are skilled zombie fighters
and have impressive professionalresumã©s, to say the least. rebecca chambers is a police officer and medicin the special tactics and rescue service. players can dress her up in â€œsexy nurseâ€and cheerleader costumes. jill valentine is a high-rankingspecial operations agent in the bioterrorism security assessmentalliance, and also the master of unlocking. she can be placed in sexy police womanand sexy pirate outfits. claire redfield is a member of ahuman rights organization that provides aid duringbioterrorism incidents. she can be turned into amotorsport umbrella girl.
sherry birkin is a us government agent workingwith the division of security operations. and here sheâ€™s wearinga schoolgirl outfit. helena harper is a secret service agentand a former member of the cia. her unlockable costumes includeanother â€œsexyâ€ police woman complete with mini skirt and garter belt. sheva alomar is an agent for thebioterrorism security assessment alliance, operating in the west african branch. the tribal print bikini outfit isespecially disconcerting, because it combines the sexualizationof a female character
with the racist tradition ofexotifying women of color, particularly women of african ancestry. more on that topic in an upcoming video. as a reward for completing themain game under specific conditions, players gain the ability to shove thesefemale police and special agents into the digital equivalent of thosepatronizing â€œsexyâ€ halloween costumes we see mass produced every year. these ensembles are not only completelyinappropriate for the mission at hand, but also reduce otherwise capablecharacters to sexual objects
for the voyeuristic enjoyment of players. â€œnone of this makes any sense.what did we do?â€ â€œi wish i could tell ya.â€ the latest game in the series, 2015â€™sresident evil: revelations 2 continues this condescendingtradition by offering dlc that puts claire redfield into asexualized cowgirl outfit and forces moira into whateverthe hell that is supposed to beâ€¦? the developers call it anâ€œurban ninjaâ€ costume? [sigh.]
meanwhile, the maleplayable character barry gets a gentlemanâ€™s commandantalternative costume. alternative costumes for menare rarely objectifying. theyâ€™re instead presentedas â€œtough guyâ€ power fantasies for other straight men to identify with. and when men are strippeddown to their beachwear itâ€™s most often meantas a lighthearted joke. shifting to an example of a game thatdoes alternative female costumes right, alice: madness returns features a wideassortment of imaginative unlockable dresses.
and if you must go theâ€œbunnygirlâ€ or â€œcatgirlâ€ route, this right here is definitelythe way to do it. in many games experience points,or xp, are earned by completing tasks like defeating monstersor finishing quests. once enough experience pointshave been accumulated player characters canperiodically level up, making them stronger or givingthem access to new abilities. unfortunately designers sometimestie the awarding of experience points directly to sexual interactionswith female characters,
effectively transforming women intoconduits which players can utilize to become more powerful warriors. in the 2007 game conan, for example, dozens of half naked â€œmaidensâ€are chained up throughout the game. â€œtake me and crush me with your love!â€ when rescued they essentially functionas sexualized treasure chests rewarding the playerwith experience points which are then used to unlockmore powerful fighting moves. â€œâ€¦just a bit longerâ€
â€œweâ€™ve reached athens.get your things and get out.â€ a number of other games tieexperience points directly to sex. the god of war games, for instance,established a tradition of including mini-games that reward the player for successfullyhaving sex with one or more women. completing these little quick-timeevents earn players red orbs that are used to upgradeattacks and magic. beginning with the 3rd game,the grand theft auto series allows players to buysex from prostitutesâ€¦ â€œget in the car.â€
â€¦and rewards them byrestoring their health meter. in grand theft auto 5, players aregiven additional encouragement to solicit prostitutes, in theform of an increase to their characterâ€™s stamina rating, whichenables those characters to sprint, swim, or ride a bike faster forlonger periods of time. similarly, in the witcher 3, geralt earnsa handful of experience points for buying sex from prostitutes, and he earnsmore points for sex with the â€œcourtesansâ€ in the wealthier districts than with theâ€œstrumpetsâ€ in the poor parts of the city. â€œgreetings to the honorable gentleman.welcome, make yourself at home...
what have you come for? weâ€™reprepared to fulfill your every whim.â€ â€œi like you. like how you look,like how you smell.â€ when women are used as sexualizedexperience point dispensers, the sexual scenarios arethemselves a reward designed to validate the masculinity ofpresumed straight male players. but thereâ€™s a dual reward here: absorbingthese expressions of female sexuality carries with it the ability for malecharacters to grow stronger, faster, and more capable, reducing the womento points in a mathematical equation that directly links the flippantconsumption of female sexuality
to an increase in male power. note that, while the consumption ofwomen makes male characters more powerful it has nothing to do with mutualrelationship building. the â€œrelationship,â€ such as it is, endswith sex, or rescuing the woman. at that point, she hasserved her purpose. players have reaped the benefitsand her value has been depleted. like an empty energy drink container, sheis simply cast aside after being consumed. â€œthat was nice!â€ thatâ€™s hardly the onlyproblem with female npcs
who are designed to function assexually objectified set dressing. for more on the myriad of issueswith these types of characters, see our two videos on thewomen as background decoration trope. collectibles are virtualitems placed or hidden throughout a gameworld for players to find. some collectible objects haveeffects on gameplay, such as boosting player stats orserving as score multipliers. other collectibles are designedsimply to be accumulated to provide a sense of accomplishment.
once acquired, some collectibles unlockconcept art or other media fragments that can be viewed later in galleriesselected from the gameâ€™s menu screen. when done well, collectibles inspireexploration and replayability. however, when theyâ€™re designed tofunction as an extension of the women as reward trope, playersare encouraged to view womenâ€™s bodies as souvenirs of their adventures. in the 2010 remake of splatterhouseplayers are encouraged to collect ripped-up pieces of photographsof the protagonistâ€™s girlfriend which are strewn around each level.
once the player pieces them together, the completed images consist mostly ofprivate, personal sexual photos. â€œi swear to god, you put this on theinternet, and your ass is grass, buster.â€ sometimes the women as reward trope takes the form of corporate-brandedproduct placement. for instance 2k games officiallypartnered with playboy to include 50 hidden magazines scattered throughoutmafia 2â€™s open world environment. once found, each collectible opensto reveal vintage centerfolds from real 1950s playboy issues.
the discovered magazines are thenstored in the gameâ€™s inventory and are available to be perusedat the playerâ€™s whim. konamiâ€™s metal gear solid seriestook this trend a step further by actually turning pornographyinto a weapon. in metal gear solid 4,there are playboy magazines scattered throughout the game worldfor players to find. when acquired, the magazines arestored in the gameâ€™s weapons inventory alongside rifles and handguns,and serve a dual purpose. players can look through the images at theirleisure, and also use them to set traps
by laying the centerfolds open on thebattlefield to distract enemies. â€œooh, whatâ€™s this?heh heh hehâ€¦heh heh hehâ€¦â€ in the first witcher game, players areawarded â€œromance cardsâ€ for successfully seducing each of over two dozen differentnon-playable female characters. â€œletâ€™s take our relationship further.â€ â€œcome home with me. let me thank youâ€ â€œletâ€™s go.â€ like other examples weâ€™ve talked about,these pornographic collectibles are saved in the playerâ€™s inventory andare available to be ogled at anytime.
the souvenirs function as aprivate trophy collection, encouraging players to view these femalecharacters as sexual conquests and acquire as many different flavors ofwomen as possible during their playthrough. if collectibles in the playerâ€™s inventorywork as a private trophy collection, then achievements serve as a publictrophy case, on display for all to see. achievements, or trophies,are meta-goal award systems built into most popular gaming platforms. unlike collectibles, achievements areearned through in-game actions but awarded outside of the game environmentitself and have no effect on gameplay.
some achievements are rewardedfor skill or completion of tasks while others are arbitrarychallenges set up by developers. â€œoh, please. are you really justdoing this for the achievement?... click a door five times? is that all thatyou think an achievement is worth?... no, no, no, no, no. i canâ€™t just givethese merits away for such little effort.â€ these systems encourage â€œreplayabilityâ€and provide players with incentives to spend more time inside thegame space experimenting with its environments and characters. by default, your achievements are visibleto anyone who views your profile
on a gaming platform and thus they allowplayers to show off their gaming skill or dedication to their friends. in other words, achievements are designedto function as status symbols for gamers. a whole host of games rewardplayers with trophies for successfully having sex withone or more female characters. a suspicious number of thoseachievements are called â€œladies manâ€. (giggling.)â€œthe gods have truly blessed you, kratosâ€ other games in the god of war series use a variety of euphemisticnaming schemes for this.
in the ps3 version of the original gamethe trophy is titled â€œrockinâ€™ the boat.â€ in ghosts of sparta players receive theâ€œa heroâ€™s welcomeâ€ trophy and in chains of olympus the awardis called â€œtwo girls one spartan.â€ â€œoh, nico! i really like you!â€ some games in the grand theft auto seriesoffer achievements for bedding a â€œgirlfriend.â€ â€œi think she likes me.â€ just so weâ€™re clear onwhatâ€™s happening here, players are receiving a literal trophyfor â€œachieving sexâ€ with a woman. when games such as these awardplayers with achievements or trophies
for sexual conquests they are directlyreinforcing negative ways of thinking about the dynamics between menand women in our society. by presenting sex as an end goal of menâ€™sinteractions or relationships with women, these games frame sexual encountersas challenges to be overcome. let me emphasize that the problem here is not necessarily that sexis included in these games. by presenting sex as a goal andthen presenting players with an award for accomplishing that goal, these achievements functionas a form of trophyism.
simply put, trophyism is the tendencyfor men to view women as objects to be collected and displayed as statussymbols of their sexual prowess or virility. these â€œtrophy womenâ€ thenserve as a way for men to assert their social status amongand relative to other men. the â€œfame pointsâ€ system in the2004 version of sid meierâ€™s pirates! provides us with a starkillustration of trophyism. in the game, romancing and then rescuingany of the gameâ€™s many governorsâ€™ daughters not only rewards your pirate withthe option to marry her, but also wins him extra fame points.
the daughters are largely interchangeable;they donâ€™t even have names, and their value as a reward istied directly to their appearance. courting and marrying a â€œplainâ€daughter earns fewer fame points than marrying an â€œattractiveâ€ one,and marrying a â€œbeautifulâ€ daughter earns the most points of all. fame points then directlycontribute to the social status your character achievesat the end of the game. depending on the amount of points accrued,you could end up as anything from a lowly pauperto a powerful governor.
other ways to earn fame points includeacquiring wealth and defeating rivals. like all your swashbuckling escapades,acquiring a woman becomes just another featherin your proverbial cap, functioning to elevate yourprestige and renown in society. and since, in the gameâ€™s xbox live arcaderelease, there are achievements there are achievements for getting married,and for courting governorsâ€™ daughters from all four nations at once,these accomplishments also increase your gaming status. achievements on sony playstationplatforms are called â€œtrophiesâ€
but back when they were first introducedthey were called â€œentitlements,â€ which is a fitting name for those thatfall into the women as reward trope. since entitlement, or morespecifically â€œmale entitlement,â€ is the crux of much of what weâ€™vebeen discussing in this video, letâ€™s take a moment to define whatâ€œmale entitlementâ€ actually means. first, the word â€œentitlementâ€ refers to theconviction that someone deserves something, that they are owed it,that they have a right to it. by extension, â€œmale entitlementâ€is the conviction that men are owed somethingby virtue of their gender.
itâ€™s the belief structure that tells men theydeserve to have their whims catered to, both culturally and interpersonally. one of the most harmful aspectsof male entitlement is the false belief that men have a rightto survey and use womenâ€™s bodies. this mentality carries with it acorresponding set of expectations about what women should provide for men. itâ€™s a worldview that primarily defineswomenâ€™s social role as vessels of sexuality, and menâ€™s roles as consumersor patrons of that sexuality. unlike access to clean wateror health care, which should be
considered human rights that all peopledeserve simply for being human, access to a womanâ€™s affections,her body or her sexuality is not a right owed toanyone, except herself. this should be obvious, but unfortunately male entitlement is a pervasiveproblem in our culture today. the male entitlement mindsethas a profound impact on how men relate toand interact with women. we see it manifest whenever a man ordersa woman to show him her â€œtits,â€ or makes demands during an online game
that a woman send himnude or sexual photos. we see it in real-world spaces whenevermen catcall women on the street. we see it whenever a man gropes awoman at an event or convention. we see it whenever a man expects sexin return for buying a woman dinner. at its most serious, male entitlement isthe mentality that serves as the foundation for the epidemics of date rapeand sexual assault in our society. to be clear, this doesnâ€™t mean thatevery individual man consciously thinks thinks that he has a right to the bodyof every individual woman he sees. rather, male entitlement operatesin the background of our culture;
itâ€™s a socially constructed mentalitythat is so deeply ingrained that itâ€™s often invisible, operating asan unquestioned base assumption. the critical thing toremember here is that men are not born with this sense ofentitlement; itâ€™s a learned way of thinking that shapes the ways menrelate to women and womenâ€™s bodies. "fantastic!" this attitude is taught througha complex socialization process impacted by a whole host of factors. families, religions, peer groups,movies, pop-music,
mainstream pornography andvideo games can all play a part in the construction andperpetuation of this mentality. so of course video gameson their own are not responsible for singlehandedly creatingâ€œmale entitlementâ€; however, because games are interactivesystems, they can be programmed to reinforce male entitlement in some uniqueways not found in other forms of media. for instance in asuraâ€™s wrath, when theplayer stares at a maidenâ€™s breasts, sheâ€™ll try to cover herself up.but if the player keeps staring they will unlock an achievementcalled â€œview of the valleyâ€.
similarly, in lollipop chainsawthe player can unlock the â€œi swear! i did it by mistake!â€achievement for using the game-camera to look up julietteâ€™s skirt foran extended period of time despite her coy efforts toblock players from doing so. the â€œcasanovaâ€ achievement inthe saboteur can be unlocked for utilizing a mechanic in which playerskiss 50 random women on the street without their consent as a form ofcamouflage to evade pursuing nazis. â€œthatâ€™s what iâ€™m looking for.â€ these achievements aredirectly rewarding players
for in-game behavior thatamounts to sexual harassment. players are actively being encouragedto think of womenâ€™s bodies as something they areentitled to interact with. that fact, in and of itself, is troublingbut itâ€™s just another example of the core problem withthe women as reward trope. game systems are designed to providefeedback mechanisms that either punish or reward players for the ways theyinteract with virtual environments. because video games are constructedaround these formal input/output systems, they can be an especially powerful toolfor reinforcing cognitive patterns
by modeling and rewardingplayer behavior. in a game, youâ€™re not just watching someoneelse being rewarded with a woman. you, the player, are earning awoman as a reward yourself for the actions youyourself have performed. players make the correctinputs into the game; a womanâ€™s affection or her bodyis the corresponding output. players go through the process of savingthe princess, and the gameâ€™s algorithm dutifully rewards them with what they thinkthey are rightfully owed for doing so: whether it be a kiss,a girlfriend, or sexual attention.
social science indicates that one of theprimary ways we learn about the world and our relationships to each other, is through a process ofobservation and imitation. human beings also learn byseeing something modeled for us, especially when the modeled actions areaccompanied by rewards or punishments. video games are uniquely positioned to provideexperiences that do all of these things, because in most games, the playeroccupies both the role of participant, and the role of spectatorto their own actions. in this way the women asreward trope in video games
becomes a mechanism throughwhich male entitlement is taught and reinforcedin our wider culture. cognitively, itâ€™s strikinglysimilar to the expectation that if a man buys a woman afew drinks, then he is owed sex. the money and time for the alcoholand conversation are the inputs, the sexual gratification is the output. when menâ€™s entitlement-basedexpectations are not fulfilled they sometimes lash out in resentmentor aggression towards women. this is clearly illustrated in thecatcalling scenarios i mentioned earlier:
street harassers feel entitled towomenâ€™s time and womenâ€™s attention. if they donâ€™t get the response theyfeel they are owed, they can become increasingly angry, following their targets,insulting them, groping them, or otherwise aggressivelydemanding to be acknowledged. in the gaming community, we seethis entitlement-fueled outrage bubble to the surface when somegamers encounter indications that games arenâ€™t made exclusivelywith their fantasies in mind. angry public temper tantrums from straightmale players have occurred when role-playing games have forced themto interact with gay male characters,
or presented them with lesbian characters who were not available asromance options to male avatars. angry backlash from straightmale players also materializes when western releases of japanese games placewomen in slightly less revealing outfits, or increase the age of youngsexualized female characters to 18. in the same vein, when presentedwith critical analyses of the poor representations of womenin many popular games, this intense male entitlement manifestsin aggression, abuse and threats. as weâ€™ve demonstrated in this episode,the women as reward trope
is set up to fulfill a very specificmale entitlement-oriented fantasy. in many cases game creators maynot even realize their mechanics are working to cement thismentality, but when games use a womanâ€™s affection, her body, or hersexuality as a carrot on a stick, theyâ€™re actively encouraging men to think of women as objects,prizes, and status symbols. and itâ€™s not just men who are affected. this ideology of male entitlementseeps into the wider social consciousness of everyone, regardless of gender, abyproduct of which can negatively impact
the ways women relate toone another and the ways we think about our relationships to ourown bodies, and our own sexuality. the good news is that because maleentitlement is a learned attitude, it can, through education andconscious effort, be unlearned. and game systems are capable ofbeing part of that transformative process.
female to female sexuality,just as their interactivity makes them apowerful tool for reinforcing male entitlement, so too could that interactivity be harnessedto disrupt antiquated gender dynamics and engage us with game mechanicsthat explore more equitable interactions between people of all genders.