Games.net has an eye-opening video up about sexy female avatars (particularly DOA) and women's responses to them (Warning: Link has no nudity, but still might not be WS). Predictably, most of the women are disappointed by such tendencies, but do point out positive female avatars like Jade and Nancy Drew (I might add Kate from Syberia and April from The Longest Journey). Unfortunately, most developers seem determined to reduce games to the status of soft porn--even though more and more male as well as female gamers are demanding more mature content (and not in the x-rated sense!).
I'll have more to say about in my upcoming review of the game, but I was embarrassed when I realized I'd be playing Zoe in a bra and panties for much of the beginning of Dreamfall, the sequel of The Longest Journey. Other than that one scene, the rest of the game is very positive about women and doesn't attempt to cheapen the game by putting boobs/butts in your face. I'm really not sure if that part of the game really helped--it might have stimulated a few teenage males, but did it come at the cost of alienating potentially thousands (tens of thousands?) of female gamers who would otherwise have enjoyed the game immensely?
It's odd how games have actually regressed. Back in the early 80's, console games were for children, most of your more adult-type games were on microcomputer. Since graphics were fairly abstract, (I.E. blocky pixels) there wasn't a lot to get excited about. The late 80's/early 90's were probably the heyday of the "adult" computer game, games that didn't insult your intelligence and actually had some real innovation. Consoles were still just for kids, and Nintendo kept that market clean.
But now, it seems games on both ends, console and computer, have regressed to an audience of 12-year old boys. It's no wonder I get treated like a leper by my co-workers when I say I like gaming, because THESE are the kind of games they think of.
For the record, though, Tomb Raider is a lot of fun to play, and the TR:L has managed to recapture a lot of what made the first three good.