n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - Virtual babes : gender, archetypes and computer games

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0250-0167



With the advent of new technologies expectations of new gender relations and (de)constructions also came. How is gender constructed in the age of the cyborgism? Do old gender traits and hierarchies prevail or do the fluid ether and augmentations of body parts allow for a move toward transgenderism or postgenderism? In fact, can we and should we move beyond gender? With the occurrence of phenomena such as gender swapping, virtual sex, virtual stalking and virtual rape online, gender as a construction, is still high on the electronic agenda. As Theresa Senft explains "You may not believe in gender, but gender believes in you''. This article will focus on the gender construction of selected virtual game characters, by implementing an archetypal psychological approach. The "virtual babes'' that will be discussed are Lara Croft of Tomb Raiders, Elexis Sinclaire of Sin and All New Gen(der) from the Bad Code game. These virtual characters will provide interesting visual clues about the state of gender identity online. Without simplifying or predicting, most of these virtual characters are still handicapped by problematic fin de millennium femme fatale traits, whereas only a few playfully deconstructs traditional gender identities. Furthermore, the fact that most of these "virtual babes'' are mainly created and absorbed at this stage by an adolescent male audience, contribute greatly to their specific gender characteristics. In fact, it seems as if the promise of experimental and interesting gender relations are not always realised and that the greatest part of virtual female characters are still portrayed with the same gender prejudices intact. It's gender as usual for most "virtual babes''.

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