When it comes to gaming, sexism isn't isolated to Gamergate or sexist players. The games themselves often feature hypersexualized female protagonists; sure, male characters also have unattainable bodies, but the bodies of their female counterparts sport overly sexual bodies that seem to defy any sense of reality.
It's a problem that Bulimia.com, an eating disorder awareness and information hub, is pushing back on. Given the impressive, realistic technology employed by game creators, the site poses the question, "Why can't they accurately portray the female body?"
"If video game creators are going to pride themselves on accurate digital representations," the site declares, "then it's time for them to get real about women."
That's why Bulimia.com altered some fan-favorite female video game characters to represent the average American woman's measurements — and the results are a welcome, refreshing change.
Realistic images like these should be normalized not only because they are more accurate, but because this accuracy has a crucial effect on female gamers. "The perpetuation of unrealistic body imagery in the media can have decidedly negative repercussions," Bulimia.com states. "Girl gamers – especially young ones – could develop a skewed image of how the female body should look. This might mark the beginning of obsessive thoughts about their own bodies, and self-questioning as to why they don't align with their perceived ideal."
Who makes up the gaming community? Studies demonstrate media representation can affect the way women see themselves. Considering that more gamers are actually female than male, this is especially crucial, but studies also show that witnessing powerful female characters rather than denigrated ones can positively shape audiences of all genders' perceptions of women.
These depictions may not just be what young female and male gamers alike need to see, though. It's what they want to see as well. More than half of teen boys who identify as gamers think games should have more women as protagonists and that, when present, female characters are too frequently oversexualized, according to a recent survey reported by Time.
Ultimately, creating alternative images like these is about much more than sexism in gaming specifically. "The scope of impact goes way beyond the people playing the games," a Bulimia.com representative told Motherboard. "Every doll-like character they design is harming cultural perception of the female body, and in turn the women they care about."