Updating the Bechdel Test for video games

If you are not familiar with the Bechdel Test, it is a simple test to apply to films; (i) there must be at least two women in it, (ii) who talk to each other, (iii) about something besides a man.

Many films still fail this test, though it was made popular back in 1985. The test only goes as far to look at the visibility of women in film, and to examine that they are defined by more than their relationship to a man. It doesn’t examine how the women are portrayed and a film that passes the test may in no way be a feminist film. It’s simplicity is both it’s strength and it’s weakness.

I’m interested in how this could be applied to the context of video games. But in order for it to work I think there needs to be some changes. So here is my version:

(i)There must be a female character with whom you can interact, (ii) who doesn’t need rescuing, (iii) and isn’t a prostitute.

Such a test comes with the assumption that there are gendered characters within the game. Some games, such as Flow or Space Invaders, do not have any characters of gender.

Samus Aran from Metroid

Samus Aran from Metroid by Ivan Flores

Conversation vs. Interaction

In film, the story is conveyed to a passive audience primarily through the dialogue of the cast. But in gaming, the game is defined by interactions that the player controls. Whether it is shooting, fighting, flying, walking or talking, different games draw on different actions, but it is the the player that performs these actions.

So in creating a test suitable for video games, I am less concerned about women talking to each other, but rather the actions performed to, with or by them. As it’s through these actions that we experience the game. Read More

Blaine Fontana

Long overdue is a post on another of my favourite artists, Blaine Fontana. His work is beautiful and mixes two of my favourite styles of art; Japaese prints and graffiti. I discovered his work at the same time as Samuel Flores in San Francisco's Upper Playground gallary: Fifty 24SF.

The Last Koi Chapter #1 • 48

The Last Koi Chapter #1 • 48″ x 48″ acrylic on canvas

The print is also available as a Gelaskin for the geeks out there who like to customise and protect their laptops and iPhones.

Puddnhead (Kevin Llewelyn)

Puddnhead is the 'secret' identity that artist Kevin Llewelyn uses for his commercial work. But both his commercial work and his personal work are amazing and worth checking out. He is an amazing figure and creature artist and I love his use of colour. Be warned though his work is dark, offbeat and are almost exclusively NSFW.

Artwork from Puddnhead.com

If you want to see more of Kevin's work then take a peak at his website. If you want a walk on the weirder darker side, Puddnhead's website is offline at the moment, but he has a profile and is often found on ConceptArt.org. Gnomon Workshop also sell DVDs from Puddnhead where he walks through his process from start to finish.