Video Games Might Have A Butt Problem

A new video gets to the bottom of this.
A butt in "Batman: Arkham City."
A butt in "Batman: Arkham City."
Feminist Frequency

Not every butt is made equal in the video game world, it turns out.

Games often emphasize the rumps of female characters while male characters have their posteriors hidden. That's according to a new video published to YouTube on Tuesday by Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency channel, which has been a major source of controversy for some people rallying under the #GamerGate banner.

Feminist Frequency devotes itself to lancing the most sexist tropes in video games. Critics allege that Sarkeesian cherrypicks arguments and advocates censorship in the media.

The latest video spotlights marketing materials and gameplay footage from several video games to illustrate how female characters are often sexualized. The camera focuses on their butts, their movements are sultry, et cetera. Meanwhile, the video alleges that male characters frequently have "strategic butt coverings" -- presumably so that stereotypical heterosexual boy gamers don't have to see icky man-cheeks. Some video games don't let you look at the bottoms of male characters at all! Rude.

The video will no doubt have its critics. Not all of the examples within are totally airtight: Sarkeesian criticizes former "Tomb Raider" games, but newer entries de-emphasize hero Lara Croft's butt and put her in marginally more realistic clothing.

This butt, from "Rise of the Tomb Raider," looks a bit more like a human butt.
This butt, from "Rise of the Tomb Raider," looks a bit more like a human butt.
Square Enix

Video games last for a long time, though -- especially now that high-definition re-releases are so popular. If a youngster wants to play the original "Tomb Raider," the one with bad butts, it's a couple of mouse-clicks and $7 away.

And the sexualization of characters continues to be a major issue even in new games. In November, there was an uproar over a cancelled beach volleyball game that featured buxom women in ripped bikinis.

Beyond that, real-life women continue to be overlooked even for the fluffiest roles in the video game industry. The most recent Game Awards originally featured just one female judge on a panel of 32 people. Meanwhile, men and women are enjoying games in equal measure, but most women won't self-identify as "gamers."

In other words, you can agree or disagree with Sarkeesian's assessment of video game butts, but the overall point -- that men and women are not made equal in this incredibly profitable realm of media -- can't and shouldn't be ignored.

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