Girls, Girls, Girls…

It is that time of year again. Yes, the annual Play Magazine GIrls of Gaming issue has come out. The last time I talked about it, I got more comments than just about any other post I’ve made. Guess what? I still don’t get it. However, that isn’t the topic of my post. It is just a coincidence that I saw this magazine on the stands the same week I saw another story related to gaming.

The game Left Behind: Eternal Forces has been getting a ton of criticism, including groups calling for the game to be taken off the shelves because apparently, if you can’t convert people, you can kill them. While that sounds pretty inflammatory, context is everything. After all, this is supposed to take place after the rapture, right? So arguments about a game showing a religious group killing non-beleivers aside, within the game, the presence of a creator has already been made apparent. I don’t know about you, but if it became clear which religion was correct through some incident like the disappearance of those who follow that religion, I’d have to start thinking about converting.

If there are things that the mainstream media loves to report, they are religion and those darn evil videogames. So it should come as no surprise that this story has been picked up both far and wide. However, I’m not going to chastise the media for once again playing the “What about the children?” card. No, I’m writing this because there is something even more insidious about the themes of the Left Behind games: sexism.

Apparently, for all the press that the game has received, only the gaming media has actually played the game because according to a post called, The Difference, by Dan Stapleton, Assistant Editor at PC Gamer in the game characters can be converted and become your friend. But on the other hand, there is another group of characters who you can convert who are called, “friend woman.” So right off the bat we have the fact that if you are a man, you are in effect genderless. You are just a friend. If you are a woman, then you are marked as a different class and your difference is marked by the really odd term “friend woman.”

However, it doesn’t end there. You can train your friends and friend women. These friends “can be trained to pursue a number of careers, including soldier, medic, musician, builder, or recruiter/evangelist.” The friend women can be trained to have a medical or musical career.

Apparently, after the rapture not only will we be killing people we can’t convert, but we will also be limiting the career choices of women….

(click on the link to the column for screen shots and some interesting commentary about this)

One Comment Showing 50 most recent
  1. zach

    I think Dan is correct that the (mis)use of gender roles is probably the most problematic issue this game presents. It’s either that, or the fact that all Christians are white and that any appearances of ethnicity (i.e. by a character having an ethnic-sounding name or dressing in “urban” fashions) is erased when that unit gets converted into a “friend” who is uniformly white (and nerdy).

    I wrote about this a while ago when the demo came out, but if I remember correctly the inequity of gender portrayal goes even deeper. I don’t think, for example, that friend women can be worship leaders — they can just sing in the choir and look pretty.

    Anyway, I’m sure Dan elaborates some of these themes, but these were my thoughts just based on playing the demo:

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