Psychosexual Terror, or Why Xenomorphs Are Scary

Hey kids, remember me?

Hey kids, remember me?

If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you share a common fear with your peers: xenomorphs. The infamous aliens of the Alien franchise burst onto the silver screen in 1979,  and subsequently struck terror into the hearts of both men and women. HR Giger, known for his phallic art, really struck a nerve with science fiction fans across the globe – but why?

Surely, xenomorphs are frightening in their capacity for violence. The species is first introduced when a face-hugger violates one of the crewmembers, who later expires in a rather well-known scene, in which a fledgeling xenomorph bursts from his chest cavity. This alone would be reason enough to fear xenomorphs, but there’s more to it than that.

Hello my baby, hello my darling!

Hello my baby, hello my darling!

What truly sets xenomorphs apart from any other alien horror – aside from the obvious – is their ability to equally victimize women and men. It’s no secret that the means by which xenomorphs reproduce is, in itself, a rape motif. However, the motif differs from the norm in that sex is disregarded: it doesn’t matter who or what you are, you can be violated and impregnated.

In most creature-features, the antagonizing entity stops at death. At worst, you’ll suffer before expiring, but there is no prolonged torture beyond this. With xenomorphs, the individual is not only traumatized and assaulted, but, in seemingly random cases, is also forced to carry the monster’s offspring. The random nature of this selection adds to the terror, as one can never tell when the victim is going to be lunch or a baby (xeno)momma.

As far as similar examples go, Deliverance of 1972 explored rape as it applies to males as well, but without the potential pregnancy. Those of you who, like me, were traumatized by The Thing as children may draw similar conclusions to Alien; the alien organism in The Thing violates its victims in that it, too, prolongs death, but it refrains from truly fermenting the aforementioned rape motif.

The Thing is bringing sexy back.

The Thing is bringing sexy back.

All three films are effective as examples of media that tap into some of humanity’s baser fears, but it’s Alien that runs the full mile with the theme. As was mentioned earlier, a xenomorph does not care who or what you are – all it wants is to feed and, in the case of facehuggers, to reproduce. Man, woman, dog or otherwise, Giger’s xenomorphs are apex predators with no discretion: something you’d do well to remember if you ever find yourself drifting quietly amongst the stars.


Adam or Eve: Diablo As A Feminine Representation of Evil

Eve. Delilah. Athaliah. Jezebel.

The common link between these names is obvious – each belongs to a biblical woman who either is evil or is often interpreted as such. We all know the story of Eve; Delilah was a Hebrew temptress, Athaliah a murderous worshipper of Ba’al, and Jezebel a false propet.

Added to the list of female evils based on religion is a new (and, at first, bewildering) character – Diablo. While Diablo of Diablo III fame is a much less significant figure in terms of culture, the pixelated devil has taken on the role of feminine evil in the latest installment to the Diablo series. Traditionally, Diablo has manifested itself as a male when infiltrating the mortal plane, but in 2012’s sequel, the devil took on a new form in the possession of Leah. Assisting the development of a female Diablo is the fact that it also consumed the soul of Andariel, who, up until Diablo III, was the sole female evil in the Diablo universe. These two factors resulted in the first manifestation of Diablo as a woman, which can be seen in the screenshot below.

Those hips don't lie, girl.

Those hips don’t lie, girl.

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A Fine Line: Sex Appeal vs. Gratuity

With the maturation of the gaming community at large, sex has become a much more influential factor in modern video games. Once upon a time, Colonal Custard’s Revenge was considered racey (and remains controversial to this day, for obvious reasons), but many games now feature sex scenes as cinematics – The Witcher 2: Assassination of Kings, The Secret World, and the Grand Theft Auto series are just a few of such titles. In terms of just how graphic these instances are,the scenes range from mere implication (the oral scene in The Secret World) to softcore pornography (every sex scene in The Witcher 2 – one of my all time favorite games, but the fact still stands).

Now, I’m not one to judge sexual content. Everyone likes sex. It sells. It’s fun. But what do we, the gamers, get out of having these racy scenes? Do they really add to the finished product?

Personally, I feel that there’s a very fine line between acceptable sexual content in video games and gratuity. A tasteful implication, which is difficult enough to manage on its own, can say so much more than a graphic cinematic. I have never found myself offended by sex scenes, but I feel oftentimes that the video game industry could take a hint from daytime television and instill limits on what sort of content makes it into their games. There’s a difference between sex appeal and fan service: the former can be subtle but powerful, whereas the latter is better suited for less mature venues. All that is required to make this transition is a little more effort on the developers’ part.

“Show, don’t tell,” is a cliche for a reason. We, the gaming community, don’t need our hands held to know what’s going on; treat us like adults, and the industry as a whole will benefit.

What do you think? Do you feel that graphic sex scenes have a place in games, or should we as gamers endeavor for a more conservative angle? Keep in mind that games with these scenes are rated “MA” and will not fall into the hands of a minor unless illegally obtained or through parental consent.

Finding Self-Confidence in a Previously Male-Dominated Industry

Women have been creeping slowly into the video game industry since its infancy. While it originally was a boy’s playground, women now comprise 47% of all gamers (thanks to ESA for the statistics), a fairly respectable number. Unfortunately, the time it took us to invade the lockers of gaming has resulted in a conflicted response from the pre-existing player base, particularly in MMOs.

The aforementioned is the focus of countless social studies, many of which I’ll admit are much more in-depth and informative than what I’m writing to you today. However, I write this not out of study, but of experience, like many female gamers do today. What we discuss is a common trend that needs to stop, and it will on two conditions: that women begin to stand up for themselves when harassed online, and also that the male playerbase raises their voice against the boys that initiate such interations. An excellent article written by Ernest W. Adams (an employee of EA) takes on a male perspective of sexual harassment online, and I feel what the author states therein is all too true for the opposite sex.

That said, there are plenty of men online who behave with dignity and respect towards women. Out of the many conversations I’ve had in MMOs over the year, the majority have (fortunately) been nothing but pleasant. However, there remain to this day the players that never truly got beyond the stage where the gaming industry was a men’s clubhouse.

The worst experience I’ve had, personally, was in a guild I briefly joined in World of Warcraft. The guild attracted a number of men from the latter faction; they would repeatedly harass women in the guild for naked pictures and digital sexual favors until they caved and provided them. This is exactly what we need to avoid doing. Women, if you’re reading this, don’t ever devalue yourself to these children – at the end of the day, they’re just faces on the Internet, and they certainly aren’t worth your dignity.

What have your experiences been? Opinions from either side of the fence are welcome here; although this blog focuses primarily on the female experience, it would be excellent to hear from men as well.


Hello, everyone!

Welcome to my blog, Frag Girl (guuuuuuuuuuuuuurl). I think the title says it all, but just in case, this blog is about all things gaming. I’ve loved video games since I was able to hold a controller; some of my childhood memories include racing my father in Mario Kart on the Nintendo. But while I’ve always enjoyed gaming, I haven’t really done anything with it until now.

A few months ago, I joined DualShockers (an online gaming column found here) and discovered that it’s possible to combine work with play. Since then, I’ve become more and more interested in the industry, which eventually led to the page you’re reading now. Like many women out there, I intend to cover games from a female perspective – and I’d be delighted if you’d join me for the ride to come.