At a point in our development we begin to become self aware to the point that we wonder who we are as individuals and become concerned with how we are represented, now more than ever this introspective exploration is being influenced in all direction as well as aided and hindered by media and technology. The ways the groups we belong to are represented in modern media has come to represent ourselves on a more personal level than previously, who and what we belong to and with is also being challenged with the branding of evolving technologies that are just about extra limbs to the modern consumer.
Girls On (Film) Games
Early forms of media was sparse and rudimentary; images, written books and spoken stories did little to explore it’s characters and their gender or race, etc. Contemporary media has a greater focus on the narrative and the personalisation of characters, particularly video games. The history of race and gender representation in the gaming industry has been controversial to say the least, featuring games in poor taste that have been universally panned such as Custer’s Revenge on the Atari 2600 and on going events such as gamergate. In Keza MacDonalds article on The Guardian she outlines 5 main excuses often cited as to why there aren’t enough fairly represented females in video games. A couple that stand out to me in this article are that pressure to add female characters will lead to tokenism and that the pressure for developers to write excellent female characters is so great that there is a fear of backlash but these only make sense if females aren’t being represented at all. All we are asking is that female characters are not so often made to be unnecessary sex objects. Take the E3 trailer for Hitman 5 for example.
How on earth would the female outfits in this trailer make any sense on assassins. Curvaceous, ridiculously leather clad, it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t just senseless sex appeal. Bioshock Inifinite’s character Elizabeth Comstock is a shining example of how a female character can be done well.
Elizabeth isn’t physically strong and she’s only playable in downloadable content but the role she plays in the main game is substantial to the plot, she is coded well as player support, she grows as a character throughout the game and isn’t a love interest or most importantly an object of explicit sexual desire, simply because she doesn’t need to be. Females make up 48% of gamers, it’s about time they are shown the respect they deserve by the games we all love to play.
All Hail (Insert Major Corporation Here)
As well as being divided amongst ourselves by our own identities, we are divided by the identities we adopt from our technologies. Personally, I have owned every PlayStation console and consider myself somewhat loyal to PlayStation as that is what I have grown up with, as well as that I currently have a Samsung smart TV a Samsung smart phone and a Samsung Tablet (and to be honest if they made Samsung food, I’d probably eat it). Why? Well, on one hand it’s the convenience, I’m fairly comfortable with a PlayStation controller and all my Samsung devices can connect wirelessly, but on the other hand, it’s kind of like picking a side, I can’t charge my phone with an Apple iPhone charger so I won’t get Apple’s products. I am aware that Samsung and Google (from the android OS) probably have a decent data profile on me but that generally comes with being connected to the network.
Common tropes in cyberpunk works such as William Gibson’s ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ include the glorification of one’s image and the near omnipotent power of large corporations. The reality of this is reflected in the discourse of today’s media. Struggles with identity and representation in the media and the idea of being affiliated with specific companies are ongoing issues and phenomenon that I suggest we continue to monitor closely, whether through reflection on our own action or looking at people’s predictions of the not so distant future, as how we come out of this technical evolution may determine whether we live in a cyber utopia or dystopia.