PlayStation Magazine Discussed Women in Gaming Way Back in 1997

Women in Video Games

There’s this pervasive idea that issues like sexism and representation weren’t talked about — or cared about — until fairly recently, that the discussion surrounding women in gaming is a fairly modern conversation. In the old days, video game magazines talked about video games, and that was that.

However, the December 1997 issue of PlayStation Magazine proves that people have been debating the role of women in video games for quite some time.

In an article aptly titled “Girls & Games,” the magazine looks at everything from what keeps women away from video games to problems with female character design. The article occasionally feels dated — it cites the Tamagotchi craze as one of the things drawing girls into the world of video games — but for the most part, it’s surprisingly current. Many of the points they make are regularly brought up by gamers today.

double standard

Interestingly, the article frequently separate games into two categories: guy games, and girl games. They mention the works of Purple Moon, and complain that most of the best female characters are in games intended for male audiences.

girls in games

I’d like to think we’ve come a long way since the article was written, that video games are no longer separated into rigid pink and blue categories. While games are still primarily aimed at males, the biggest titles seem designed to be universally appealing. Most of the games I play have prominent female characters, and the majority of those characters are pretty fantastic.

But when I read comments praising the Resident Evil series for not putting Jill Valentine in a skimpy outfit, it seems like we’re in the exact same place we were almost two decades ago. Today’s female characters are competent and well-written, but they’re still plagued by the same issues they were back in the 90s

I don’t mind sexualized characters — I’m a huge fan of the Dead or Alive series — and I don’t want to see a dramatic change to the gaming landscape. I have complaints, sure, but I’m pretty happy with gaming as a whole.

But that PSM issue was released back in 1997, when Toonami had just debuted and gas was less than $2.00 a gallon. The world has changed dramatically since then, and it’d be nice if I could truly believe the culture of gaming had made a little more progress than it has.

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