Mario Kart

Mario Kart is based off of the original game series Super Mario. There are so many different Mario series but for this blog we will be focusing on the MarioKart series. Mario Kart is a go-kart style racing game series where players can choose a character from the Super Mario World and race through different races in order to unlock the much harder levels.

You might be thinking – Mario Kart, negative female perceptions, really? You would be right – the two don’t really mix however, after spending some time on the web – I have discovered a few examples of how Mario Kart could actually be portraying female characters negatively.

First, a little bit about Mario Kart itself. Released on Nintendo consoles only – Mario Kart has been a huge franchise branching out from the original Super Mario Bros. franchise. It is essentially a racing game where players can choose characters from the Super Mario Bros. franchise to race round tracks. Seems easy right? As you race round the track, there are a few tricky obstacles that can get into your way such as the red shells, banana peels or the dreaded first place hitter blue shell.

Shell

Target Audience

The target audience of Mario Kart would be of a younger generation and families. It is a family game with the use of local multiplayer and it is really fun to play with other people. The mechanics of the game are also easy for the little ones to come play too so fun for all the family. Both genders tend to play Mario Kart and quite a few females play the game too.

Public Perception

The public’s perception of Mario Kart is overall very good. Many families play Mario Kart and enjoy it without having the negative perceptions of characters revealed infront of children. However, after some research there is some evidence to suggest that Mario Kart does have negative perceptions of the female characters within the game. Some people have suggested that if they choose the famous character Princess Peach that she rarely comes first in any race despite any way that they place whereas 9 out of 10 times a male character wins.

MKChar

Others have mentioned that the way that Princess Peach is dressed is stereotypically feminine with her pink dress, blonde hair and pink high heel shoes. On the other hand, others have said that it is to show differentiation between male and female genders within the game. In response to this though, with the recent light of different genders within society and the acceptance of the way people portray themselves in public – should Nintendo switch it up and make adaptations within their video game to show that just because Peach is a Princess she doesn’t have to be shown in a pink dress with pink shoes all the time? Or should Nintendo keep it original with the standard Princess Peach classic look?

Peach

In my personal opinion, I feel that Mario Kart is not portraying females in a negative way. I feel because the Mario franchise has been going on for so long, they have decided to keep it as original as possible as it works for the Nintendo company. Yes, I feel Princess Peach could have different outfits which portrays her in a different way such as “punkier” Princess Peach would be awesome to have. I feel it would show different variations of her character and adds personality to her.

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto is an action-adventure game franchise where players control a character who attempts to rise up in the criminal underworld.

Set in different states in the USA, Grand Theft Auto allows players to control a character and do missions in order to go through the story and obtain cash to buy guns, clothes, vehicles, houses and many more different aspects which would help make gameplay much easier. There are several different main characters and this varies throughout different releases of the game. The most recent release GTA V had 3 main characters where the player can switch from one character to the next.

There has not been an influential female character within the GTA series and the acts towards females has caused controversy over the years. Acts towards females include the ability to pick up prostitutes, being mugged, killed and shouted at. The game is one of the most violent games released but still remains popular. It is not just the acts towards women in the game that has caused controversy, it is also the way that the women in the game are dressed. You often see these women out in revealing clothing and are usually designed with a super model like figure. As you can see GTA has been a shocking game in the terms of portraying females within the video game but it still doesn’t stop it from being one of the best-selling games in the industry…

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Target Audience

The target audience for GTA would be adults aged 18+ due to the extreme mature content involving drugs, sex and extreme violence amongst other aspects of the game. I think that Rockstar targets mainly males because it has all the aspects that males stereotypically like – guns, cars etc. I don’t think that they target females as much because stereotypically females don’t like to do these types of missions – it’s just something they are not interested in.

Public’s Perception

The public’s perception is highly varied with lots of different responses and opinions. Although GTA in itself is a great game with awesome graphics and great gameplay – many think that the game does go a little bit too far on the offensive front in some parts of the game. Some people feel it is the freedom of the game which is kind of scary to think about – meaning that it allows them to act differently than they would do in public and they are free to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Scary, right?

Although, in the game’s defense – players in online mode can create a different character and can choose between a female or male character.

For me though, having played GTA for a while now – I never really focused on the characters which is strange because I normally do. I am not the biggest fan of GTA and often found it quite boring after a while. I think if they had more influential female characters I feel that the game wouldn’t come under so much controversy and claims of being misogynistic.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty is a first person shooter game franchise where players usually control a soldier set in different wartime scenarios. Originally released on PC and then later expanding to consoles Call of Duty has been one of the most well-known video games in the 21st Century. In the early years of Call of Duty, with its WWII scenery the game showed the huge fight soldiers had in their hands and the reality of war. Call of Duty then flipped back and forth between modern times and World War era. Releasing the first modern era Call of Duty with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare which is the fourth instalment of the franchise. After the fifth instalment of the franchise (and my favourite video game out of the franchise – World at War) the more modern wartimes started to become a popular setting for Call of Duty.

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Before this gets too repetitive – Call of Duty has now moved onto more futuristic times with jetpacks and robot men going about destroying everything in its wake and even venturing into space having dog fights with other armies that are trying to take over the world (literally). Hey, at least they haven’t added aliens yet… oh wait, they did as a “zombie mode” equivalent of the game in Call of Duty: Ghosts.

That’s another thing – Call of Duty Zombie mode seems to be one of the main selling point of Call of Duty. ZOMBIES!

Zombies which was originally a side mode of Call of Duty: World at War where zombies (who were originally Nazi soldiers in World War II) try to eat the brains of Dr Edward Richtofen – a German scientist and he is partially at fault of the zombie outbreak, Tank Dempsey – an American soldier, Nikolai Belinski – a drunk Russian soldier and finally Takeo Masaki – a Japanese soldier. Originally the first map of Zombies had 4 unknown soldiers but when the Zombies mode took off unexpectedly, the developers decided to create a whole side story with the future releases of Zombies – with a few somewhat disastrous releases because they tried to do something different introducing an Alien mode and Exo-Zombies.

To learn more about the Zombies story: Click Here 

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Although, mainly the characters within the game are male, the more recent releases of the Call of Duty franchise has introduced more female characters within the game. There have been options in multiplayer to change the gender of the character you play as well as limited character customisation. I think Call of Duty is trying to take the stereotype that a soldier is a man’s job and maybe by introducing influential female characters this helps reinforce the idea that males and females can be in the army.

Call-of-Duty-Female-Characters

Target Audience:

With the mature audience rating on most of the Call of Duty video games, the target audience should be 18+. However, many people under 18 play Call of Duty and do annoy a lot of the players on the microphones on multiplayer. It is advertised on all major television channels and there is a lot of online advertising to try and attract video gamers to purchase. With the rise of YouTube and Twitch TV, many people like to watch others play video games on these platforms to see the game before they buy it so it is crucial that these games are well liked in order for those watching these streamers/YouTube stars to purchase the game.

I think the target audience is targeted towards mainly a male audience however, with the futuristic adaptations there has been more female characters throughout the game this might lead to an increase in female players.

Public’s Perception:

Where to start… well to start off with, the game is super popular with the most copies sold reaching 30 million. However, that was in 2011.

Since then, the amount of copies sold has slowly decreased with the whole futuristic look – people find this unrealistic and to put it in better words – silly. There are silly jumps and people can run on walls without falling off with weird powers which can help put you to the top of the leaderboard. That’s all well and good but it’s just unrealistic. Another thing people dislike about the game is the price – the price of the game in 2016 was £50 which is standard but with other editions of the game – one being priced at £110, people were not too pleased. That with the DLC (downloadable content) or map packs of the game coming in at £15.99 or £37.99 for the season pass, it is quite an expensive game overall. Many people thought that the game would be worth the price if there was more content in the initial game.

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In my opinion, I am pretty neutral towards Call of Duty. Where characters are concerned, I never really felt that Call of Duty discriminated against females and I think that they are trying to introduce females into the campaign and multiplayer modes as well as the side modes of the game. I do think the price is quite expensive for DLC and I think the game should come with more content initially. I am not into unrealistic futuristic space type games either but with the leaked images of the next instalment in the franchise going back to the World War II roots I think I will definitely give it a shot. I also wonder with going back to the World War II roots, will they still add females within the video game? If  so, will the next game be enough for Call of Duty to make a comeback or is it a dead franchise?

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot is a platform game franchise where players control a bandicoot character called Crash (funnily enough!) who lives peacefully on the Wumpa Islands however, the peace is usually interrupted by the games main antagonist Doctor Neo Cortex who originally created Crash but now wants him gone.

Ever since I first played Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex, I instantly fell in love with the game. It was quite a simplistic game which was quite normal for games at the time but there was something different about this game to me which other games didn’t make me feel. I mean, I was only about 4 or something so I didn’t really look into the possible issues and controversies of society but even now when I hear the news of the Crash Bandicoot Remaster for the current generation games consoles – I get that same nostalgic feel that I felt when I was younger still humming the theme tune…

Crash Bandicoot is also another one of those games that tends to come up in conversation about classic games – although I feel it would be much lower down the list than Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers – I still feel for its time it was quite unique.

Target Audience

I feel Crash Bandicoot was originally targeted at a much younger audience – the style of their adverts and the way Crash and other characters are portrayed within the advert seems to make it more of a fun loving game and the younger audience would instantly be attracted to that type of advertisement. However with the newly announced remaster, I feel this will be targeted towards an audience older than 16 years old because this is a remaster – this will give the nostalgic feel to those who played it when they were younger and to get those same feelings that they did when the first played it I would imagine would be pretty important to them (I for one feel I will be one of these people!)

Public’s Perception

Quite a lot of people think that Crash Bandicoot is not a sexist game, however others may think the opposite because the characters are portrayed as male and these are the strongest characters in the game. Whereas Tawna who is Crash’s girlfriend is portrayed as defenceless and doesn’t really do much in the game itself. Of course, this is very subtle and it all depends how in-depth people really look into it. However, despite Crash trying to save himself and others from Dr. Neo Cortex he really doesn’t seem the strong type. I mean he is of course a bandicoot but usually creators tend to over emphasize their characters by adding muscles and making them extraordinarily big but Crash isn’t – he is just a simple bandicoot.

Crash
Little cheeky but simple Crash Bandicoot

Tawna is not the only important woman in Crash Bandicoot’s life. Coco Bandicoot, the younger sister of Crash helps him out by building gadgets and sometimes even coming along during the levels. She also has defence tactics against enemies and even becomes a playable character in some levels throughout the series.

In my opinion, I feel Crash is an all-time classic game in which gamers can play and enjoy its simplicity. Crash and other characters (including meanie Dr. Neo Cortex) are easy to look at and helps the game quite easy to understand without being too complex – making it fun for all ages. Despite Tawna not having a big role within the game, it helps develop Crash as a character. Plus with the introduction of Coco Bandicoot who is seen as an equal throughout the game series I feel that Naughty Dog (the developers of Crash Bandicoot and many other games) take consideration in their character development. This shows that female characterisation is important within the game as well as male characterisation and I think that is why it is still a much loved game to date.

 

The Sims

All about those Sims!

The Sims is a life simulation game franchise where players can create their own person (Sim) and create their own families. They can play out in whichever way they want as well as the ability in building and design your own house within the game.

The Sims released early 2000 by Maxis studios and later changed hands to The Sims Studios from 2006-2008. Currently both Maxis studio and The Sims Studios work on the games together. The Sims can be classed as large sandbox games. If you don’t know what a sandbox game is, it is a game that does not follow a specific goal and allows the players freedom to do what they what, how they want and when they want within the video game. The Sims game is initially released and in future years, there are expansion packs released with new items and new ways of making the video fame feel realistic.

Throughout the years, the game has improved by adding features such as aging, aspiration meter where the Sims can show their interests and players can make their Sims have a personality by adding their lifetime goals and their likes/dislikes.

Essentially the game was like a virtual dollhouse (watch out Barbie 🙂 )

Target Audience

The main target audience for Sims would be mostly females aged 9-16. However, many males and adults play the Sims and enjoy it just the same. Most have noticed that their playstyle has changed from when they played Sims before. Most adults who play the game tend to enjoy actually creating the houses and designing houses the way they want to rather than playing happy families in the Live Mode of the game. Overall the audience has quite a wide range due to the versatility of the game.

Public’s Perception

Although Sims allows players to use their imagination to create their story, some people may find in earlier Sims games that technological restrictions made it slightly difficult to get the true representation of the players “new life” within the video game. Despite this, with new technological advancements the recently released Sims 4 has allowed players to alter their Sims appearances by adding even more in-depth characterisation to allow players to truly live their “new lives”.

The Sims games are quite diverse compared to other video games that have been released and that’s maybe what makes the Sims so different and popular. From same-sex marriage to avoiding racist remarks by allowing players to create Sims of different ethnicities making it quite an enjoyable game and actually avoids the huge controversy surrounding characterisation in particular, female characterisation within video games. Players can enjoy a video game without feeling judged by what they choose to do and how they go about doing it.

For me, I love Sims – I am like most people where when they were younger they focused on family life whereas now I like building different houses and designing them. It’s ace and I love the diversity of what you can really do within the game – its interesting with what you can do with your virtual life and I think it is an important part of the video games industry. Being one of the most important and unique video games within the industry is quite an achievement and helps them avoid many negative responses by allowing players to be so creative is a very important factor. It is important to note that stereotypically little girls like to play with dolls and doll houses and little boys also likes to play with sort of Action Man figures or wrestling figures – essentially Sims is the electronic version of that. Allowing equal characterisation with both genders and allowing players creativity to go wild helps increase popularity and avoid bad press. It’s quite hard to completely focus on female characterisation in Sims because of the diversity and that it depends on the players virtual life itself but the game is quite varied within the characterisation and the control players have over their virtual lives – making it that little bit more enjoyable and unique. 🙂

Happy Simming!

Legend of Zelda

Legend of Zelda is a fantasy action-adventure game franchise featuring a playable male protagonist (main character) called Link who is generally given the task to save Princess Zelda and the Kingdom of Hyrule from the main antagonist Ganon. The game also involves the Triforce – a relic which is a set of 3 golden triangles. The Triforce is quite a recognisable symbol for the Legend of Zelda series and is usually one of the first things that comes up through word association.

Legend of Zelda has been in our lives for since 1986 (almost 31 years! :o) and has stayed in a pretty high spot in the list for classic video games of all time. The series improves every time a new Legend of Zelda video game releases especially due to new technology. The video game series has been lasted for a long time and continues to this day with a new Legend of Zelda game releasing on the 3rd of March and because it has been around for so long, when someone mentions the words “video games” Legend of Zelda is always one that gets mentioned in conversation.

Target Audience

Miyamoto – one of the creators of Legend of Zelda as well as other Nintendo video games – stated that Legend of Zelda was intended to be enjoyed by all. Both a younger audience and a mature audience can play Zelda and enjoy or appreciate the video game. There is also the point that both males and females play the Legend of Zelda and appreciate the game with the possibility that the video game series is inspirational to all. To attract this audience, Nintendo use various media platforms to advertise their product including TV, promotion on social media and magazines.

Public’s Perception

Legend of Zelda has been mentioned to be one of those games that are solely focused on a male character saving a female character from trouble. With Link being the main, playable character taking over the titular character of Zelda this can possibly mean that players are more focused and interested in Link rather than both characters. Also, Link having to help save Zelda from trouble and without Link’s help, Zelda couldn’t save her kingdom showing that the main female character always needs help and is not courageous in any way.

Although the series might be seen by some people as a Damsel in Distress video game, others see Legend of Zelda as a video game which is based around female empowerment – the exact opposite. The Triforce is actually central to the game as it is a sacred relic of three Golden Goddesses – hence the 3 golden triangles. Other characters within the series are shown to be lesser than these three Goddesses emphasizing the point of female empowerment. There is also the Goddess Hylia who is the bridge between the world and these three Goddesses which helps show the representation of females within the game.

Coming away from the Goddesses within the game series, it is also important to note that the game is named after the character Princess Zelda. She can be portrayed as a role model for those playing the game as she is a princess who contains power within her and senses when there is evil nearby. Although Zelda might possibly need saved from situations within the game, it shows that she makes rational decisions for her kingdom and she shows courage throughout the series – sometimes helping Link by fighting at his side against enemies within the game.

My opinion of Legend of Zelda is that it is a truly amazing video game and the gameplay is truly an art form in itself. I think that the game developers and creators targets male, female, young and mature audiences and the video game is created to be fun and imaginative. I don’t think that the characterisation of Zelda or any other female character demeans female empowerment and does show both male and female characters as equal within the video game.

Plus Zelda and Link are awesome 🙂

Introduction to my blog!

Hi there!

I will be publishing posts about my investigation into female characterisation in video games and how this affects their target audience reach.

Being a female gamer myself, I found this topic very interesting about this quite controversial topic and it is interesting to me finding out other peoples opinions on this topic. I am going to research both sides of the argument and introduce my own opinion throughout this investigation. I will also look into video games that are perceived to be targeted towards women such as dress up games as well as looking into more popular games which are perceived to be targeted to a more predominately male market such as first-person shooter games.

What’s to come:

  • Legend of Zelda
  • The Sims
  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Call of Duty
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • MarioKart

Here is just a small introduction to the games I will be looking at!

Legend of Zelda Series: 

Legend of Zelda is a fantasy action-adventure game franchise featuring a playable male protagonist (main character) called Link who is generally given the task to save Princess Zelda and the Kingdom of Hyrule from the main antagonist Ganon.

The Sims:

The Sims is a life simulation game franchise where players can create their own person (Sim) and create their own families. They can play out in whichever way they want as well as the ability in building and design your own house within the game.

Crash Bandicoot Series:

Crash Bandicoot is a platform game franchise where players control a bandicoot character called Crash (funnily enough!) who lives peacefully on the Wumpa Islands however, the peace is usually interrupted by the games main antagonist Doctor Neo Cortex who originally created Crash but now wants him gone.

Call of Duty Series:

Call of Duty is a first person shooter game franchise where players usually control a soldier set in different wartime scenarios.

Grand Theft Auto:

Grand Theft Auto is an action-adventure game franchise where players control a character who attempts to rise up in the criminal underworld.

MarioKart:

Mario Kart is based off of the original game series Super Mario. There are so many different Mario series but for this blog we will be focusing on the MarioKart series. Mario Kart is a go-kart style racing game series where players can choose a character from the Super Mario World and race through different races in order to unlock the much harder levels.

For this blog specifically, I will be breaking down the video games above and going in depth from what the game is including parts of the story, what their intended target market is, and what the public’s perception of the games are.

I am so excited to be sharing my journey through my blog and hopefully I find some interesting things! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Ashleigh