8 comments on “A Note on Objectification (In Video Games, and in General)

  1. Any attempt to throw video characters under the umbrella of “not real” completely ignores the value in virtual characters.

    • However we must remember that they are indeed not real. To place too high a value in virtual characters is to lose touch with reality, if only slightly. That’s the same mentality needed to make someone attempt to marry a video game character. It’s also the same mentality that can tilt too far and illicit violence, in extremely rare cases of which video games are not the root cause.

      We must be careful when placing value in a fictional character as this creates a scenario in which some individuals may truly believe the characters are human. To put this into perspective – imagine if someone told you that their cell phone is human and has rights just like you and I. A rather silly idea, no?

      • I would agree that it is a silly idea to suggest that a cell phone is human, but I would also say that no one would suggest that, barring certain psychological conditions. Even if, say, a person were to attempt such a suggestion, they would surely fail. In fact, some time last year, a Florida man attempted to marry his computer. Of course, he didn’t want to marry his computer because he believed it to have rights, he wanted to as a rejection to gay marriage. Nonetheless, the judge pointed out that inanimate objects, indeed, even animals and kids, can’t get married, and lack certain rights because they lack the ability to “consent.”

        Regardless, I don’t think we have to worry about people attempting to give rights to inanimate objects. Of the small number of instances in which “rights” fall into video games, tends to be about property rights. Say you hack into my World of Warcraft account, and steal all of my equipment, etc. The question then becomes “did you steal my property.” It’s a valid question in the legal realm, too. But it has little to do with virtual characters, and more to do with real people, and the concept of property. Which, needless to say, is a complex topic as a whole.

        I would say that there’s little harm in escaping from reality. In many cases, those individuals who prefer virtual life, still have a life. They still socialize, albeit differently, are still capable of emotions, etc. Moreover, just because their preference is to socialize through a video game, does not mean that they “lose touch with reality”. They’ve fully capable of participating in “real life”, they simply choose not to. This of course delves into differing ideas of how best to live one’s life and such.

        In any case, I appreciate the comment!

      • Your first sentence essentially sums up my entire theory and I believe this idea extends to video game characters. However there have been actual cases of people marrying inanimate objects. In Japan a man married a character from a hand held video game (pretty sure it was on the psp). Now that is Japan and whether or not that sorry is legitimate is up for discussion. One man, in the UK I think, known only as davecat married two anatomically correct dolls. He even claims that he rejects “organic women” in favor of synthetic women as they will never cheat on you. He was successful in his attempt to marry them and now lives happily with his synthetic wife and mistress. Will we hear stories of men marrying Laura croft or people getting engaged to their Xbox? Only time will tell.

      • It is certainly an interesting conversation to be had, albeit outside of the context of objectification.

        Although I understand your point, I would say that anyone attempting to marry Lara Croft would surely have to have permission from Square Enix, considering that her “bits of data” are their property.

        I cannot verify the story either, but I would say that the marriage is likely not one recognized by a legal system.

      • Indeed, although it is often drawing the line between what can be imitated and what cannot. Yes it can reflect people, sound like a person and act like a person is many mannerisms but it doesn’t possess an opinion of its own beyond a writers words, it doesn’t feel apart from what it is told to feel. It cannot give warmth in an embrace and many other things, they have value as imitations of life as all artistic creations that do have, however they do not possess things like say rights.

        It’s quite a fun topic to explore, finding a line between what separates us by defining what is a human experience or at least the experience of a person rather than a “thing”.

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