The topic of gender stereotypes in video games almost always creates heated debates. The unrealistic portrayal of women is the one that gets most of the lime light, but you rarely hear concern for the depiction of males. This could be because men aren’t too bothered what the character looks like or how realistic they are. Although most gamers, male or female, don’t particularly care what characters look like and it does not affect their enjoyment of the game. This is not a debate about changing the way genders are portrayed, as there are plenty of those, this is just showing some extremely unrealistic male characters. These impossible standards are not just in games but are everywhere, from fashion to movies. There was the reverse Photoshopping of some famous female characters which saw them put on a few pounds, but why were no male characters included, where is Cloud with a beer belly, or a chubby Dante?
Most men in games have the typical chiseled abs and bulging biceps but Ryu is something special. No matter how much time a man spends in the gym they are never going to be as toned as this guy, even if he got remotely close the chances are he is will probably be quite repulsive. Like most beat ’em up games Street Fighter chooses an unrealistic character designs for both genders, it’s just their particular style.
Chris originally looked like a normal male, being not overtly muscular but not weak. When Resident Evil 5 came along it appeared Chris had spent every day in the gym, but like many men forgot leg day. By the time Resident Evil 6 came out his legs caught up but now he was pretty much just one walking muscle. Chris is one of my favourite characters with him being the cool and level headed guy every zombie game needs. The way he has looks has made no impact on my opinion of him.
Marcus is a man’s man, having the muscle, the shooting expertise, the bromance with his partner Dom, is this the standard men should aim for? In Gears of War everyone is built like a tank, men and women alike, even the locust are bursting out of their clothes. But like most games realism isn’t the most important aspect with it being more centered around the fun of chainsawing through as many things as possible.
Not all male characters are unrealistic because they have more muscle than ammo, as many are very feminine. Even when Raiden is half cyborg he is still lady like, his feet are basically high hills now. Raiden has split opinions with most people coming to accept him in his new form, but everything about him speaks femininity if you give him longer hair he could pass as a woman. But who will ever forget running around as him naked, its like they were trying to prove he is actually a man.
Final Fantasy loves having male characters that have feminine facial features and Vaan is no exception. He is even highly sexualised in this artwork, lying down with his waist coat falling off and a shiny/oily body. He is by far the only well built street thief I know of, maybe this is what Charles Dickens thought the Artful Dodger would look like.
Video games are filled with unrealistic situations: regaining health quickly, respawning and carrying hundreds of weapons. Gamers don’t play games for realism in the same way we don’t watch films or read books for it, we do these to escape harsh realities. We are not dumb enough to think that everything we see in games is what the world should be like. There will be people who want their men or women to always be an impossible standard in games but the majority do not care if the characters are fat, thin, strong, weak, male or female they are playing it for the game.