As Thanksgiving approaches for my American friends, and as we Canadians celebrated last moth, I can’t help but count my blessings.

I admit I was a little shaken when Tomb Raider came out. Here was a woman! I was controlling a woman!

A roof over my head, food in my belly, and videogames catered to my age, race and sexual preference. If you asked me to name even a single, major videogame character that challenged my status and worldview, I could name very few. Instead, my personal ideal – the strong, attractive and generally badass with no time for touchy-feely crap machoism – is consistently enforced, encouraged and catered to.

Link, the good-natured, quiet hero is a reflection of myself. He is the boy playing at adventure in the manicured backyard I grew up in. I am so glad I wasn’t born a girl; videogames would’ve been an absolute bore.

As Mario, I understood the utility of wearing overalls (a plumber is a no-nonsense kind of guy) and I knew that one day I would be able to grow a mustache. I wonder what women do while waiting in dungeons. I know Peach likes to bake cakes. It’s just too bad Cooking Mama hadn’t come out back then. Thank goodness I was born a man.

And then there’s Solid Snake, the man I want to grow into: impossibly defined abs, a voice like gravel, and none of those “feelings” that Meryl constantly harboured. But she had a wiggly butt, I remember that. Yes, she was doing crunches and push-ups in her cell, which is pretty cool, but come back later and she’s in her underwear. Girls are sexy!

I’m glad I am a heterosexual male, the person Metal Gear Solid was made for.

I admit I was a little shaken when Tomb Raider came out. Here was a woman! I was controlling a woman! How weird is that, considering I am a man! Thankfully, she had big boobs, an impossibly small waist and perfect butt, so even as a man, I was able to enjoy watching her run around.

It was just as unsettling to realize that Samus was a girl! After all that time, playing as a strong, competent character who I related to on the basis of their selfless actions and tender spot for baby alien parasites, I was really a girl. You see, the irony is I am actually a man, playing a female character.

Thankfully again, Samus has her Zero Suit, which in my mind means zero prohibition and lots of sexiness. Once again, the developer was reassuring me: it was just a prank; the game may safely be played through the perspective of a straight male.

Phew!

Can you imagine playing as a girl, and then suddenly realizing, “haha joke’s on you! You thought you were playing as a strong female character, but look how sexy she is!”

Thankfully, from the prying and uncomfortable question-asking show Extra Creditz, we learn of The Bechdel Test, and its ability to quickly root out any female perspectives:

  • Is there a playable female character?
  • Does she talk to other women?
  • Do they talk to each other about anything other than men?

No? Thank goodness, then this game was made for me.

I can’t imagine what non-white, English speaking gamers play. Sure they have their place as hilarious support characters, (I loved Barrett!) but I know Final Fantasy 7 was made for a young, white man. Cloud was the hero, and I was like Cloud. But we’re not racist! Many different cultures and ethnicities are represented in games, just as enemies.

Some seem to think this homogenous pandering to my age, sex, ethnicity and sexual preference is a wasted opportunity to grow and expand my worldview. They claim that games are a great way to walk a mile in other’s shoes.

I like my shoes just fine. Like videogames, they fit me perfectly.


Steven Sukkau

 
Steven Sukkau is a reporter at his local newspaper and believes the print medium will never truly die. When he's not uncovering the human stories around town he's writing about videogames. You can follow him on twitter @stevensukkau.