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Video: Tackling male sexualization in games
May 28, 2014 | By Staff

"If you decide against sexualizing your male characters, be very honest about what's going on with your female characters."
- GDC 2014 speaker Michelle Clough exhorts developers to critically examine how they design their male and female characters.

The sexualization of female characters is a controversial topic in the game industry, but their counterparts, sexualized male characters are rarely discussed, and even more rarely created. Writer Michelle Clough gave an excellent talk addressing the subject during the GDC 2014 Narrative Summit in which she examines desirable men in video games, how they contrast with current trends in male character design, and how they can create a more welcoming atmosphere for straight women, gay men and others.

Clough also delved into non-Western cultural standards and shared practical advice on how developers can move beyond "male gaze" when writing male characters while avoiding "equal objectification" in an effort to better equip writers and designers to make exciting, evocative games.

It's a fun talk so we've gone ahead and embedded the free video of "Fewer Tifas, or More Sephiroths? Male Sexualization in Games " above, but you can also watch it here on the GDC Vault.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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Emeka Enubuzor
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I actually liked this talk a lot.

Joel Davis
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As a white straight male, this talk was needed so badly. I love John Marston. I love Max Payne. I love these badass dudes but I am not the only voice.

Kyle Redd
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If feminism would focus on goals like these (upping the number of sexualized male characters in games) instead of for fewer sexualized women (and less overtly sexual content in general), I would proudly reclaim the title of "feminist" for myself again.

Michael Konczak
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When you say it like that, it kind of sounds like you're saying the only equality worth having is equality on your own terms. Perhaps that's not what you mean, but if it is, I think it's also worth noting that "feminists" as a group, movement, or organization, aren't going to be concerning themselves much with what they need to change to once again include you among their numbers.