Thursday, 8 January 2009

Our Princess is In Another Gift Box

So, I was reading this post regarding a Japanese dating sim on the DS (which I have not played, and can't comment much on specifically.)

And while there's a whole 'nother issue primarily being discussed there, there was also the line I've heard before, about how wickedly un-feminist dating sims are because of the way they objectify women, and therefore they are unspeakably awful and everyone who plays them should be ashamed. But are they really?

In an awful lot of classic video games, there was a Damsel In Distress standing around in the background. She often never spoke, other than to say "HELP!", or to express love for the hero when he finally saved her. Rescuing damsels is usually rewarded by a kiss, or an immediate offer of marriage. Sometimes the damsel is the hero's pre-existing girlfriend. Sometimes she's just a random girl (especially if she's a princess). It doesn't particularly matter. She doesn't care who the hero is or what he's like, he's a HERO. He stomped baddies. He is rewarded with sex and love.

Similarly, the hero may have no idea who this chick is, but he's stuck with her anyway. You can't choose not to marry the princess, or try to get to know her first. You stomped baddies, you get the prize.

Now compare this with a dating sim. Even in the worst (Newgrounds, I'm looking at you!) you have to make some effort to make the girl of your dreams like you. Sometimes that just means loading her up with presents until she finally consents to go out with you (or rather more than that, depending on the game). Other times, you have to carefully pay attention to her likes and dislikes in order to impress her... or spend time with her and help her through life experiences so that the two of you grow closer together.

Is this really a less-feminist, more-degrading representation of women?


XXLA said...

You definitely bring up some good points about the dating sims. For the record though, I didn't speak all too poorly about dating sims, but I'll admit flat out that I hadn't even looked at them from the perspective you have here. Thanks for writing about this and linking to me ;P I'm happy to have had a part in giving you a great idea for a post. I'll keep your ideas in mind next time I feel like bad mouthing dating sims XD

Whiner said...

Yeah, you weren't really that mean about them, it was more that it inspired me to comment on a general trend of people saying such things about games. :)