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 Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women 

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Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women Uxacpr
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PostSubject: Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women   Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women EmptyTue Nov 29, 2011 11:37 pm

It's a strange thing to say about a game that features a gigantic
purple dildo as a weapon, showcases prostitution, and allows the player
to amend female characters' bust-size, but I'll just go ahead and say it
-- Saints Row: The Third actually deserves kudos for the way it portrays women.

On the face of it, this game is a puerile, adolescent male fantasy,
crammed with silly jokes and saucy imagery. So how can it be a positive
for women gamers? Mostly, because it's entirely blind to gender-roles, a
rarity in the game world.

Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women Saints-row-the-third-20111129020221306Girl power?

First, you can play as a male or female and create your own character
from a mind-boggling array of customisation options. It's amazing how
often games won't let female players experience a game within their own
gender. All outfits, makeup, and hair styles are available to both
genders, so there's nothing stopping you from, say, being a girl with a
beard or a fella with pigtails, lip gloss, and high heels. You can wear a
sexy dress. You can wear a power suit. You can be androgynous. No one
in Steelport is going to take the slightest bit of notice. While it's
true that one of the many options is a 'sex appeal meter' which
increases or decreases the size of your curves, it works for men, too,
increasing or decreasing the size of their package. This game is, at
least, consistent in how it treats the sexes.

Emma Boyes

Has touched on the issues of gender equality in other games, like her recent piece on sexism in LA Noire.

In this world, there are lots of strong female characters. In
fact, the world of Saint's Row is, sadly, probably more fiercely equal
than the world of real life. You, the boss of the Third Street Saints,
can be a woman. There's your homie Shaundie, a tough gangster girl who
can easily pull her weight alongside your male team members. She's a
little highly strung and constantly seems to be pissed off, but she's
certainly no silly little girl. (The closest the game has to a bimbo is
Josh Birk – the narcissistic actor who plays vampire hunter turned
vampire in the Nyte Blayde TV show). There are the DeWynter twins, who
run prostitution and human trafficking in the city, showing that women
can be just as ruthless and evil as men. There's Kinzie Kensington, a
former FBI agent and serious computer geek, who takes care of all your
hacking and nerd needs. Kinzie lives in an area of town known as
Salander, a nod to the hacker heroine of Stieg Larsson's Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo. It would have been easy enough to have one or two token
women, but instead the developers of Saints Row The Third went ahead and
created a full house of major female characters. Women in Steelport are
your friends, gang bangers, journalists, senators, and military
officers. They're everywhere, doing everything; they aren't just eye
candy, love interests, or victims.

Sure, Saints Row The Third is no pious angel of video games. There are
many things that will likely offend many people, not least of which is
'the penetrator' – a cross between a giant baseball bat and a purple
dildo. But the silliness isn't just sex related. One of your missions
involves having to drive without taking your foot off the accelerator
because there's an angry tiger in your backseat. At one point, you are
turned into a toilet. You kind of feel like you're playing Naked Gun.
It's hard to take anything seriously. There's nothing ever really
titillating or sexist about the game – it's just that everything is
very, very dumb.

It's true that women are also sex workers and sexual objects – in some
of your cribs, you'll see scantily clad dancers lap dancing for men. But
men don't have it any better – in the red light district you can also
see clubs where men work and in one mission you descend into a BDSM club
with rooms filled with he-whores in gimp suits to rescue a man who has
been forced to work there. It's a bit off the wall, but rescuing a pimp
from a life as a human pony beats rescuing another kidnapped princess
from the castle.

But the best thing about the way women are depicted in Saints Row is the
fact that it never seems to occur to anyone to treat them any
differently. Women and men both spawn as endless cannon fodder, and no
one stops and says that they can't shoot a woman, it just wouldn't be
right. When the Saints clash against a female senator who is strongly
against gang culture, and doesn't seem to grasp that the guys she's
supporting are just as bad, no one blames her poor judgement on her
gender. No one is surprised to see that a senior member of a military
group is a woman or challenges her authority.

Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women Saints-row-the-third-20111129020221689Damsels in distress they aint.

I was surprised to be so impressed by the depiction of women in this
game when I was sure from playing other sandbox games like Grand Theft
Auto IV and LA Noire that the exact opposite would be the case. It seems
an extremely unlikely advocate for girl power, but girl power it is.

The first Saints Row game went head to head with Grand Theft Auto San
Andreas, and we all know who came out on top of that fight. For the
third game, the producers decided on a complete reboot -- making
everything ridiculously over the top, focusing on fun, and likely
looking at how they could appeal to a wider audience. Even casual gamers
should have no problem completing the game – not only is there a
difficulty meter, but you can spend cash that is paid periodically into
your bank account on abilities to help you along.

It could have gone even further and done even more to appeal to a female
audience – perhaps letting you customise your crib, having a music
playlist that boasts more than a handful of songs by female artists,
perhaps a romantic interest or two and side missions where you can get
to know the members of your entourage a little better. There are a
couple of slip-ups, too. For example, in a wrestling cut scene, my
female character is constantly referred to by the commentator as a 'he'.
But, hey, nothing's perfect.

Whether the whole gangster genre where you play as a crime lord
wrestling to take control of a city, fighting other gangs, stealing
cars, and spend a lot of time shooting people is something that women
would find appealing is another argument entirely. Saints Row The Third
is a step in the right direction and Volition deserves to be applauded.

End Transmission ....Why Saints Row: The Third is Good for Women Th_batch112_zpsb57e8c3c
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