Now think of how many of those female characters and protagonists are oversexed, created for the male gaze, or put in an inactive damsel role for the plot of the game. Representation matters. A Study last year proved that exposure to tv shows increased the self esteem of young white boys and markedly decreased the confidence and self esteem of girls across the board (and we haven’t even started on the representation of characters of color and the effect it has on children’s self perception). 

Video games are a different media, and even more concerning if representation metrics are changing how our kids think of themselves. Especially knowing that 67% of American Households have video game consoles and 91% of Children play video games regularly,how do you think the portrayal (and lack of portrayals) of women and girls in these games is affecting little girls – or influencing how little boys view their importance and/or influence over them? 

Comics. Movies. Lit. Pop Culture. The Smash Survey is an upcoming podcast project that will critically explore the representation of race, gender, and queer identity in media and pop culture in a fun and engaging format. 

thenightmarerider recently asked us if we had some information on the importance of representation:

Do you have any good resources to explain why equal representation is important? I keep coming accross the annoying argument that criticizing poor female armour double standards is pointless because representation isn’t important as long as (Insert media here) is good. It’s an irritating variation on the “It’s just entertainment, stop thinking about it!” argument, which I’ve heard from far too many people (including a ridiculous amount of females!).

Many people don’t want to recognize that the media we consume influences us. Firstly they don’t want to admit they’re swayed by what they watch. They also don’t want to diminish their favorites by admitting they have some seriously problems.

If we weren’t swayed by what we see in media, then the fashion industry simply wouldn’t exist.  We wouldn’t have cartoons, ancient fairy tales and special television for children or the concept of good role models.  We wouldn’t have product placement or celebrity endorsements.  Video game developers like David Gaider and Manveer Heir certainly believe it’s important.

The other thing to keep in mind and reassure people is that it’s actually okay to like something that has problematic content (assuming you’re not specifically celebrating the problems).  But liking it shouldn’t stop you from acknowledging it’s problematic and supporting the media being less problematic and more inclusive.  It’s also okay to take a break and not analyse media while you’re enjoying it.

Of course, if they’re still skeptical about the importance of representation – it might be worth telling them that Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, has repeatedly said she was inspired by Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek.  

If an astronaut turned college professor says that representation matters and inspired her to achieve, who are we to argue?

– wincenworks

That’s why there are “Why do you even care? It’s just for fun!” and “Great story makes up for those ridiculous designs!” squares on the rhetoric bingo: cause people tend to think that entertainment exists in a vacuum as if it wasn’t part of our culture as a whole. Which, of course, is entirely untrue.

As for additional resources, here are some from my personal representation matters tag: