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Star Wars: Outlaws Backlash Reinforces Sexism In The Video Game Community

The recently released trailer for Disney’s upcoming “Star Wars” game has sparked discussions regarding sexism within gaming communities, prompting a range of responses and opinions.

By Jenna DeedyPublished 30 days ago Updated 30 days ago 3 min read

On April 9th, 2024, Ubisoft released an intriguing trailer for its upcoming Star Wars game titled Outlaws via YouTube and other social media platforms. Set between the events of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Outlaws centers around Kay Vess, a young, determined, and intrepid character seeking freedom to embark on a new chapter in her life alongside her trusted companion, Nix. However, to achieve this, she must navigate the treacherous underworld of the galaxy's criminal syndicate, relying on her wit, cunning, and combat skills to become one of the most notorious figures in the galaxy.

While the storyline appears captivating and offers a fresh perspective by placing a young female protagonist at the forefront of a canonical Star Wars narrative, independent of Jedi or rebel affiliations, a certain segment of the gaming community has expressed skepticism and disapproval. Notably, their objections stem not from the storyline but from their negative attitudes towards the main character's physical appearance.

Some male gamers, particularly those with conservative views, have criticized female characters in games like Outlaws and The Last of Us. These criticisms focus on appearance, with comments like Kay being “too ugly” because the game is “woke” or “feminist”. This suggests that, for these gamers, a female-led game is only appealing if the protagonist is hyper-sexualized and unrealistic.

The Last of Us also faced backlash because the main character didn’t conform to some players’ expectations of femininity. This went so far that some speculated she was transgender or a reflection of a developer’s own appearance. These critics even manipulated screenshots to alter the character’s features and demanded the developers to hire fans to design characters.

I was pleasantly surprised by Kay’s design. It felt refreshingly realistic, with a unique style that reflects her personality. Unlike many female video game characters, she’s not portrayed in a sexualized way. Thanks to motion capture technology, her appearance is grounded and natural, mirroring the actress who portrays her.

However, in our image-conscious world, even a well-designed character can be unfairly criticized. Some gamers hold narrow beauty standards and believe a character needs to look a specific way to be attractive. This is unfortunate, as it ignores the value of realistic and diverse character portrayals.

The concept of the “male gaze” describes how media often portrays women from a heterosexual male perspective, emphasizing their attractiveness to the male viewer. This is seen in video games through sexualized character designs in which female characters walk with exaggerated strides, and wear revealing clothing such as evening gowns or impractical armor. This can also include camera angles that linger on women’s bodies, focusing on breasts, butts, or outfits in cut scenes. In addition, these close-ups highlight characters’ voices, clothing, or walk cycles that turn them into sex objects to be admired. This approach reinforces the idea that women exist for male attention, both in games and in real life. However, the male gaze isn’t exclusive to video games. It’s a broader cultural phenomenon present in advertising, movies, music videos, books, and comics. It subtly shapes media and reinforces traditional gender roles in our society.

Dislike of a character’s design shouldn’t prevent anyone from exploring the game’s potential. While some may not be drawn to Kay’s appearance at first glance, Star Wars: Outlaws offers a unique story and a chance to experience the Star Wars universe through a fresh perspective. The game could delve into criminal syndicates hinted at in previous movies and shows, filling in plot gaps for fans of the lore.

Please give Star Wars: Outlaws a chance to surprise you. You might discover an interesting story and a new favorite character in Kay Vess.

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About the Creator

Jenna Deedy

Zoo and Aquarium Professional, Educator, Cosplayer, Writer and B.A. in Psychology whose got a lot to share when it comes to animals, zoos, aquariums, conservation, and more.

Instagram: @jennacostadeedy

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