The representation of women in video games has been a big issue over the last year or so. From the small pool of lead female characters to the absurd attire of women in action-based games, the debate has been a hot one with supporters and detractors loud on both sides of the coin. Several issues have really highlighted the debate, with merely the mention of gaming feminist, Anita Sarkeesian, bringing comment sections collapsing upon themselves.
Another footnote in the debate of late has been the discussion of women in modern military games. It all started when it was revealed Battlefield 4 would – like its predecessors – would not include playable female soldiers in multiplayer. The excuse by developer DICE was rather confusing and unclear but focused on “geo-politics” and the relationship with “actors.” It was all very odd considering how the single player campaign includes a female character and it the issue got more attention when it was revealed that Call of Duty: Ghosts would include playable female soldiers.
The people at DICE retorted that while they wanted to include women soldiers, their dialogue workload would double and they want to do it right instead of just to “tick a box.” Regardless, the debate might rage on a little longer thanks to their partnership with Axe body spray and the new commercial releasing in conjunction with the launch of Battlefield 4, the contents of which are… interesting.
While Axe has always released adverts about machismo and male empowerment, almost a satirical degree, this commercial is an intriguing addition to the wider debate since the game it is promoting doesn’t actually feature a playable female model. That reality doesn’t work for Axe’s advertising campaign, so instead of looking at how the rest of the environment bred a macho power fantasy, they just added in a female character for the purposes of giving the male avatar a sense of completion.
It is important to point out that it isn’t certain or even likely that the creative minds at DICE or EA had anything to do with the creation of the advert, but it is at least an interesting case study of how women are depicted in both advertising and games. What side of the argument you land on is up to every individual reader and talking about these kinds of issues can be healthy for the community. Just be nice to each other in the comments.