On Gettin Ladies… in Games

Critical Distance is running a “blogs of the round table” challenge for people who pontificate about games, and I thought I’d jump in, because it seems like good times. The topic this month is “Being Other.” The idea is to discuss moments that a game made you feel like someone you are not.

You can view the other blogs here:
At first when I saw the prompt, I thought, well, this doesn’t really work for me. I’m a straight, white woman. When I have the opportunity in a game to create a woman, I do (though I don’t always create a straight one). Most other games cast me as a straight, white man. This is rarely a profoundly embodied experience.
Except, well, okay. I kind of act differently when I’m roleplaying a straight man. I really should force myself to analyse this behavior.
If sexuality isn’t part of the question, or, if there’s no choice in the matter, then it’s not really relevant. But if there’s an opportunity for a romance in a game, and I’m playing as a man (white or otherwise), I have a tendency to play as the biggest possible sleazeball. I flirt constantly, with everyone. Can I sleep with every woman? Awesome. Do I just have to pick one? Well, okay, but she’d better put out. I am that jerk who is thinking about sex with girls while they are talking. I pick any dialog choice that I hope will lead me in to a relationship.
I guess this pattern behavior started with the Leisure Suit Larry series, which, I’ve always liked. The point of those games is generally to have as much sex as possible (though usually it only ends up being the one time, after a series of comical mishaps). It may also have something to do with something I’ve written about before: JRPGs that often stuck my male avatar with a milquetoast love interest I didn’t much care for. Or maybe it’s just really fun to roleplay as the suave, sophisticated James Bond guy who gets all the ladies. Maybe it’s fun to imagine about that guy.
Or maybe I flirt for a nicer reason. If a game has more than one choice for a female love interest, that means the game has more than one woman in it. And the women are bound to have somewhat different personalities. It’s an opportunity to see and talk to female characters, and see how they’re written and portrayed. A little romance, maybe a little skin, is a nice bonus on top of that.
This is profoundly different from how I act and believe in real life. I wouldn’t want to be manipulated in that way or treated like a number on a score card. But in a lot of video games, I would like to “score as many chicks” as possible. I don’t know if this gives me any real insight at all in to how a straight man thinks. I do know that it’s kind of perversely fun, though.
I’ve heard I’m not alone, and there are other women that do this when playing as a straight guy. So who else is with me? 
I have been told that “The Witcher” is probably the game for me in this regard. So I will play it soon and write some kind of trip report. Hopefully with sexy results.
…But I really am a straight woman, honest.

7 thoughts on “On Gettin Ladies… in Games”

  1. I’ve never tried playing the womanizer. However, I have a hard time being immoral in video games lately. My Skyrim character is a female by the name of Windswept Toof. She’s one classy lady. I haven’t really pursued the limited romantic options yet but I’m considering marrying Temba Wide-Arms entirely for her name.

    A question though…are your womanizers immoral besides the womanizing?

  2. Yeah, I’ve fallen in to a “sort of new” habit of playing generally immoral characters in video games. This is, as long as the game supports that playstyle in a way that’s rewarding. It isn’t even fun in Fable II, so forget it. I’m just a bully picking on mindless AIs and being good is immensely more rewarded. But in Mass Effect, Renegade is where the party is.

    Honestly, being evil really seems to be the only way to get all the content in Skyrim. (Although I also play that as a female.) I haven’t decided who to marry yet. I’ll probably do it after I beat the main quest and just for the achievement, then retire! But honestly, if you aren’t being evil in Skyrim, you’re probably missing out on the best content in the game. The Dark Brotherhood is easily the best-written story arc.

  3. Yeah I’m missing out on the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood on purpose. I wish to destroy them both, but I don’t think it’s possible with the thieves. I did kill the dark brotherhood leading lady when she tried forcing me to kill one of three captives. Windswept Toof is a classy lady, she does not kill captives. I was excited to see “Quest Failed” followed by “Quest Started: Destroy the Dark Brotherhood!” I wish it was possible to subvert more quests like that. Instead, I’m stuck with the Imperial Army wishing I could play both sides against each other. Ooooh well. Anyway, Miss Toof isn’t interested in the beaten path. She’s the archmage of the College at Winterhold and is just trying to survive, buy property, fill bookcases, and help people out whenever possible. She’s really a great gal, you should meet her.

  4. You know, it’s interesting that you play as a straight man and try to bag all the ladies, because as an actual straight man myself, I’ve never done this in a game. I think that’s because I could never get past the artificiality and (to me) creepy feeling of serenading women programmed into the game for my “perusal” and such. I think I tried it once for kicks, but it felt a bit too forced on my part and I never felt natural acting that way. Also, though I did like your reasoning for flirting in terms of getting to know the female cast better, I got a little depressed when I realized that any conversation a player has with female party members is essentially calculated as +1 or -1 romance points, at least in the games that I can recall. There’s almost no conversations that aren’t secretly about succeeding or failing to get into a woman’s pants. Maybe I’m just in the minority here, because these games remain extremely popular.

  5. @ Adam: I exactly have the same experience.
    I not-so-secretly would love to interact with a female (or male) in a game on a romantic level that goes further than a linear progress towards the bedroom. Relationships are so much more than that.

    I wonder if it’s the way games are structured that Amanda turns into the “stereotypical male”. I wonder if she becomes the “stereotypical female that will become totally obsessed by a cute guy” if the game is structured like that (as are many of those dating sims made for female players).

  6. You know…. I don’t know, because no game I’ve played has ever REALLY been structured like this. I played Princess Debut, which is a female-oriented dating sim (in a light childhood sort of way). But in that game you are really expected to pick one guy and stick with him. I haven’t played a game with an “I have a crush on EVERY BOY” mode.

    If anything, my trend with female characters is to be bisexual.

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