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Thursday, August 22, 2013

How #SaintsRowIV is the Answer to #Sexism in Gaming

Saints Row IV was the last place in the world I expected to find the solution to sexism in gaming. After all, who honestly thought a game about shooting aliens as the President would be so aware of gender equality?

I certainly know I didn't. And I highly doubt you did.

Volition games has eliminated all gender inequalities in Saints Row IV through one simple convention: no boundaries based on sex.

The first thing you do in Saints Row IV is create your character. Of course you have to choose between 'Male' and 'Female', but that's where the distinction ends. You can choose any voice-personality combination you want. Both sexes also have a 'sex appeal' slider which grows their appropriate pieces to absurb sizes (and lengths), and every hairstyle is available to wear.

Even the make-up options are available for both.

I always play as a female character when given the opportunity. There's just something about saving the world as a strong female. Sticking it to the man... literally. One of the first missions of the game is to find some new clothes. I soon realized that you don't have to wear clothes at all. Shooting aliens in the face while completely nude?!

Yes please! That shit's hilarious!

We're going streaking!
It wasn't until I stepped outside and the option to Streak became available that I realized one thing - I made a mistake. I should have been a male. Streaking just isn't as impactful unless you have a shlonger floating about. A little advice to future party animals out there: the helicopter is key to a successful streak.

I considered restarting the game and choosing a male character at this point, of course assuming I was locked into the sex I had chosen.

I was wrong.

One trip to "Image as Designed" and I was able to change everything. My sex, hair, body type, and personality included. This was huge for me. I couldn't wait to go streaking through the quad to the gymnasium!

I finished my tweaks to my new male character (southern belle voice included) and stepped outside. The black dress I had been previously wearing was still on, and "The Boys are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy was blasting throughout. I tell you what, that's a seriously epic moment. Not only does it not matter what sex I have chosen, Saints Row IV doesn't care what I wear while being it.

That's a rare thing in video games. Hell, that's a rare thing in real life. 

 Saints Row IV you run into all kinds of characters. Men and women dressed in bondage, business suits, whacky costumes, dresses on dudes, and everything else in between. The point here is simple: it doesn't matter what sex you are, do whatever the fuck you feel like doing.
Dude looks like a lady
It doesn't stop there mind you. As you cruise around the streets of

For myself, sexism isn't a one-sided gig. Yes, there are clearly more issues in relation to sexism against women in the industry. Yes, video games tend to be built for a male audience and as such carry certain mechanics to appeal to them. Yes, men are sexualized in video games as well.

And no, it's not a "male power fantasy" to look like Nathan Drake, or any of the other ridiculously good-looking, buff men out there. It's sexualizing men, and it's really not a big deal to me. In either case, male or female.

The sexism that Saints Row IV tackles isn't of the "her boobs are huge" and "his abs are ridiculously cut" fashion. It's the dress how you want, act like you want, and be who you want fashion. There is no slut-shaming. There is no male power fantasy. Every person is equal, and every person can be who they want.

That is the key to solving sexism in gaming. It's to stop worrying about a Sorceress with large breasts and start realizing what the real issue is: condemning someone for showing off their body. Sexism isn't creating a character with large breasts, abs, biceps, or buttocks. Sexism is noticing these things and automatically pinning it as an issue.

Saints Row IV doesn't do that. I can run around the world as a naked woman with bigger gajungas than the world has ever seen, and no one gives a shit. On the same note, I can hang out in a group of people as a male with a tanktop, no pants on, a massive bulge, and a female voice - and still, no one has any fucks to give.

Saints Row IV is the shining beacon to gender equality and sexism in gaming. It should be looked at as the next step to solving the real issue - chastising a character or individual for behaving or looking a certain way.

I just wish the real world was this way. A summer dress would be a blessing in those hot summer months...

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