The main objective of the essay is to identify gender representation in video games and to talk about the issue in general. The essay will take the specific case of grand theft auto 5 and will analyze gender representation with the help of various media articles and journals. In terms of marketing audience, character representation and player base, video games have been identified as a male dominated area (Egenfeldt, 2013). Most of the research concerning representation of gender in video game has stressed on how female and male characters are portrayed in a video game. A female characters role in the game, physical representation and physical abilities are scrutinized to get a correct picture of how a female character is represented in a game ("Video Games and Gender: Game Representation", 2018). It is a well established fact that most gamers are still male and research has been conducted to find out the reasons on why there is a lack of female gamers.
Since, the game that will analyzed is Grand theft auto 5, there is a need to know what type of game it is and what is the main storyline. GTA 5 was released in 2013 for consoles only and in April 2015, it was released for Windows. GTA 5 is an action adventure role playing game which was developed by Rockstar North. This game was published by Rockstar games. The story is based on a fictional state of San Andreas which can be compared to the real South California. The single player storyline consists of three characters namely Trevor Philips, Michael de Santa and Franklin Clinton. It is an open world game which means players allowed to roam freely is the fictional state. In this single player mode, a player will be able to control three characters and complete their individual storyline. Now, there is a need to look into instances in grand theft auto 5 where a gender has been discriminated upon. A player might be able to locate a ditch in southbound and northbound lanes and in that ditch a crashed car lies. When pulled near that crashed car, a woman asks for help and the mission is to take her to a nearby medical clinic. ‘Taliana Martinez’ is the women’s name. Although she is the strongest female character is GTA 5, she only gets a handful of dialogues. The female character was a getaway driver for few gang members who screwed up. A player later on in the game will be able to choose this gateway driver for future heists. One thing that can be noticed by observing the stats of the female character in the game, her cut for a heist is extremely low when compared to other member participating in the heist ("Grand Theft Auto V And Women", 2018). This was the first instance that showed how a woman is portrayed. This meant that a talented women like her will work for a lot less bucks. It can be depicted as a signal from game designers that picking her was the most cost efficient choice.
Apart from this, a player in this game can hire a prostitute and then kill her and take the money. These types of incidents have generated lot of talk about how women are treated in this game. The game was labeled ‘profoundly misogynistic’ by a critic of GameSpot. The game also faced severe backlash since it reinforced and celebrated sexism ("Forbes Welcome", 2018). The game only supports playable male characters as there is a lack of playable female characters. Additionally, during the interview of Dan Houser, who is the game’s lead writer told a newspaper that the concept of GTA 5 was being masculine and that is the reason why there is a lack of playable female characters in the game? The whole GTA series is known for sexist gender portrayal and violence. The main characters are men who perform illegal activities while women are portrayed as sexualized characters. The game grand theft auto 5 does provide a subject a subject of gender portrayal since it is one of the popular games ever published and the representation of women in the game has been a subject of immense criticism for years (Hoggins, 2018). The studies that had been done to analyze gender representation in games have used content analysis as one of the methods. Multi modal discourse analysis approach can be used nowadays to study gender representation in video games. In its defense Grand theft Auto 5 argued that the game makes fun of everyone irrespective of their gender. That is sort of true since the game makes fun of bankers, politicians, waiters and marijuana legalization activists. There is one scene that proves this fact. There was a scene where Michael’s son was playing a video game and making fun of worst versions of people. The overall portrayal of female characters in the game is bad. However there are few instances in the game where women are seen to be mocking men and this can be refreshingly progressive. There is a scene where a jogger named Mary Ann who is a fitness freak challenges Michael to a race. She mocks Michael and discusses how men and women do not get along. Now, this essay will talk about multimodal discourse analysis. Digital games like Grand theft auto 5 consists of variety of representational modes such as still and moving images, spoken language, music and sound and this modes should be analyzed multimodally. The meaning of multimodality means multiple means are there to make a decision. When analyzing a video game a game aesthetics should also be taken into account which includes interactive nature of the game, tactile sensations and actions and audio visual aspect of the game. Grand theft auto 5 being one of the best selling games has also been controversial.
Through its year of existence, this game has increased panic in the media because of the violent contents and how the game would psychologically affect the young generation (Stoff, 2018). Although the game is rated M which means it is for mature users but the lower age limit defined for M category is 17+ and that age group can be termed as fairly young (Bryce & Rutter, 2002). In this game consisting of three players, the main objective is to commit crime and to be successful the three protagonist need to work together. For extensive analysis of the game few cut scenes were taken in which mainly female characters are represented in some form. There is major reason on why cut scenes are chosen. Cut scenes are prioritized over interactive game play since cut scenes are known to reveal ideologies of game makers and how the game is supposed to be understood. Thus, it can be said that by analyzing the cut scenes of Grand theft auto 5, the narrative, visual and linguistic portrayal of characters are understood. In the multi modal discourse analysis, the main theories which are used are denotational, connotational and social semiotic theory (Turtiainen, 2017). Upon analysis of the videogame it was seen that Grand theft auto 5 has 77 main story lines. In only 27 missions that have cut scenes, at least one female character appears. There are only nine female characters that appear in the story line but out of them only four are prominent. Most shown female characters in the game Amanda and Tracey and they are Michael’s wife and daughter. They are seen to appear constantly in the game Grand theft auto 5. When visual portrayal is considered, majority of characters that appear are adults and only exception is Tracey who is a teenager. Amanda’s clothing choice for various occasions are deemed to be perfect whereas Tracey is scantily dressed. Most notable cut scene being here is depiction of Tracey as a model and her audition for reality TV show. In that audition she wore a revealing shirt and thus the conduct of Tracy is considered more sexual than Amanda. This is how teenager girls are represented in grand theft auto 5 game. Amanda can also be seen cheating on her husband in the game. Linguistic portrayal of characters in the game is tied to situations and personalities and most of the time the characters speak negative things (Richard, 2013). It was always seen that Tracey and Amanda are complaining to Michael and this again generalizes the gender.
It can be concluded from the above essay that although the visual portrayals appear to be realistic considering clothing appropriateness and body proportions. However, there is no denying that character in Grand theft auto 5 are generalized and sexualized. In this game most notable character is Tracey, who always wears transparent clothing and acts in a lewd and sexual manner. A female character cannot be generalized in that manner and this tells about the ideologies of the game writers. In this male dominated society, it can be ascertained that the gaming domain is male dominated. However, the way female are represented cannot be justified and the thinking is fundamentally flawed and it needs major changes.
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Stoff, M. (2018). Grand Theft Auto V's grand gender problem. Retrieved from https://overland.org.au/2015/07/grand-theft-auto-vs-grand-gender-problem/
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