With the rise of technology, video games have become an increasingly favorite pastime for many people. In our society, companies advertise their video games by use of over-sexualized women characters, appealing more to males than females. Research by Williams has shown that “male characters are vastly more likely to appear than the female character in general”. There is almost an equal ratio between men and women who play video games, yet there is a 17:3 ratio between men and women characters who appear within video games.
Women are almost always depicted as playthings and victims in video games. In the 1986 advertisement for the computer game The Defender of the Crown, we can see how the company, Cinemaware, uses different strategies to advertise their game effectively and grab the attention of their intended target audience, men.
The company Cinemaware was founded by Bob and Phyllis Jacob in 1985 and their “Hollywood- and TV-inspired games are some of the most memorable ever designed for the Commodore Amiga and other platforms of the era”.
In an interview with Bob Jacob, Barton questions him on how the usage of sex and romance contributed to the success of his games, such as The Defender of the Crown.
Jacob goes on to say, “…it helped the vibe of the game; it was something I was interested in doing, and you know what? I always liked chesty women, so we just went for it”. Because of his, and many other men’s liking towards busty women, Jacob’s uses this in his advertisement for The Defender of the Crown. The woman on the front is the star of the advertisement, while the lighting and background characters also play an essential role in highlighting the sexuality and the qualities of the woman.
The first thing that catches our eye in the advertisement is the woman in the center. She is a beautiful, blonde, white, woman, wearing a very revealing dress, reaching her hand out, signifying that she is in distress and she needs your help. Judging from the advertisement, it appears that the main objective of this game will be to save this damsel in distress from evil. She is no different from many other female characters in video games which, according to province.
Are depicted as “females submissive, sexually exploitive roles—as busty, brainless, victims of aggression”. The woman is no less than a plaything for men. She is portrayed as a piece of meat for men to have sexual desires with. Moreover, she is a “non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds”. The woman adds a sense of excitement and incentive for someone, specifically a male, to play the game. Her large breasts push that incentive even further and make the players feel like they absolutely must save her in hopes that they will get a rewarding prize at the end of the game.
Furthermore, the brightness and lighting of the advertisement play a key-role in emphasizing the woman. The lighting is centered around the woman’s face, mostly around her head, making her golden blonde hair shine. In the media today, a blonde woman usually symbolizes beauty and sexiness, which is why many companies utilize blonde women in their advertisements to appeal to the male gender. The gold color also catches the audience’s eye. The lighting then gets darker around her breasts. This is most likely a strategy that the advertiser uses in hopes that it will catch audience’s attention. Her breasts are not fully lit, possibly to tease people into buying the game, in hopes that they will be able to see her full figure in the game. It is clear that the target audience for this advertisement is for men. Many video game companies will oversexualize women “with the object of titillating presumed straight male players”. This plays into the stereotypical man’s fantasy of finding a beautiful woman, saving her from evil, and eventually having sex with the woman.
This also goes along with Craig’s idea that men like to find ways to escape their everyday life, including their marriage. Similar to sports, video games also “offer a chance to escape from the growing ambiguity of masculinity in daily life”, and they find pleasure in women who “are eager for sex without commitment”. Some men may even feel “stuck” in their marriage and need a chance to get away from their wives and children to have non-committed affairs with other women. Video games like The Defender of the Crown help men escape to a fantasy world where they can find these beautiful women who are seeking sex, and have their desires fulfilled in the virtual world.
In the background we see a fit man, with a sharp jawline, wielding a longsword, fighting a knight with a flaming helmet. The man is most likely to be the protagonist of this game, whereas the knight will be one of the antagonists. One can assume that the knight is evil by the burning flames around his helmet, which could connote the fires of hell. Miller & Summers and Jansz & Martis found that “males represented as more muscular, while women were more sexy”.
The man is seen as strong and able, hence why he is most likely to be the protagonist in the game, just from looking at the advertisement. He is willing to risk his life to save the sexy and helpless woman.
Women have always been portrayed as sexual objects for men, in every different form of media. Because of the large influence video games have on people’s everyday lives, companies do whatever they can to make sure their game sells well, and they do this by their advertisements. These advertisements usually include a beautiful, young, sexy woman character in the game that will grab a man’s attention and make him want to buy that game, and as we can see with the success of The Defender of the Crown, these tactics truly do work. These women lack depth and character. They are used as incentives or even prizes for men in video games, which adds more to the idea that sex really does sell.