Games have long featured sexist elements in their character settings. The gaming industry was stirred once again when severe sexual objectification occurred in the new game IDLE Princess, from a domestic game development company, I&V Games. I&V Games announced an apology on their homepage on Oct. 5, acknowledging their wrongful sexual objectification of children, and on Oct. 7, changed the age restriction for the game from 15 to 18. The incident of IDLE Princess has resurfaced the misogyny portrayed in games.
In IDLE Princess, the players are set as the father of a child in the game, and they embark on a long adventure together. Despite being a “child nurturing game,” the child was put in erotic poses and shared sexual conversations with the “father.” As the child grew older, she wore clothes that revealed her body figure which sexualized her.
The Game Rating and Administration Committee stated that they oversee age restrictions for games. However, the committee lacks labor to evaluate the approximately 700,000 games which apply for evaluation each year. Therefore, individual corporations, upon accepting around four sessions of education yearly, may rate their own age restriction.
“IDLE Princess was the same, I&V Games rated the game to 15, but upon further monitoring, the committee decided to change the age restriction as it was deemed inappropriate,” the committee stated in an interview with Ewha Voice.
Ewha Game Geeks (E.G.G), a central club which holds educational discussions and debates about games, shared their experiences of encountering misogyny in the gaming industry. Kim Da-yeoun, a junior of Department of Political Science & International relations, Kim Ha-jun (Jun), a junior from History of Education, and Lee Ji-yoon, a senior from Food Science and Engineering expressed their opinions.
Kim gave examples of game companies deleting content created by illustrators who encourage feminism without notice. Early this year an illustration from the game ArKnights was deleted because the creator uploaded a feminist Twitter post. In February, an illustrator’s contract was pre-terminated because she had uploaded an article related to feminism on her social media account the year before.
“The fact that supporting feminism could penalize one’s career makes it difficult for people to speak up about these issues,” Kim said.
Kim and Jun agreed that the sexual objectification of female characters made many users uncomfortable. Kim gave the example of the character Bari from the game Destiny Child, who was scantily dressed and purposely illustrated in extremely sexual poses. Jun added that she was shocked when the prize of a game event was a bunny girl costume, and it could be worn by girls aged 10 to 12 in the game.
Lee stated that misogyny not only took place in the characters but also the players.
“As many game players are male, they degrade female players, and make sexual comments and harass female characters,” Lee said. “At one point, I was afraid that the majority of game users had similar thoughts and attitudes and stopped playing games all together.”
Ewha Voice interviewed Dilute, a gamer and author of the book “I am a gamer and a woman, so what?” She stated her short posts of her gaming experience on SNS developed into a formal webpage on the platform :Pinch, and the accumulation of these posts became a book. She shared her experiences of misogyny portrayed in games.
“There is a separate genre for ‘porn games’ or ‘erotic games,’ which sexualizes female characters,” Dilute said. “Porn has always been a part of the cultural entertainment, but the difference between movies and games is that games allow the user to interpret the female subject in their own way.”
She also expressed her concern for people who circumvented community guidelines. For some games, it is possible to access the un-censored version by entering a certain code. This code can be easily distributed through the internet for adolescents or children to use. Dilute stated that this sort of sexual education has yet to catch up to technological advancement.
Dilute stated that positive change was happening in games. Depending on the sex of the selected game character and the style of game, games are providing much more diverse experiences for players. She stated that as games provide meaningful second-hand experience, she hopes to see more female characters who unleash their full potential.