“Might as well have been just a guy”- A Female Gamer’s Protest
I was browsing Game Revolution today, looking to see what new stuff is coming out so on and so forth. (Mr. I is pretty excited about the new Ghost Busters let me tell you.) And I saw a Preview for a fairly awesome looking game called Wet. And so I read it. And it was interesting, the game sounds cool, Tarantino esque , graphically cool, they gushed.
I am posting only on the last paragraph of this preview:
WET looks to be more than just your standard third-person shooter with a buxom bombshell who might as well have been just a guy (but wasn’t because that wouldn’t be new or boobilicious or something like that).
Now, the guy who wrote this review isn’t wrong about the new edgy boobliciousness. I’m pretty over super hot video gaming heroines whose main purpose is to be super hot while killing people. I’m tired of feeling like every time there actually is a playable female character in a game they have at least one if not more of the following characteristics:
- Near Nudity
- Total Bountifulness
- Annoying qualities that are mere stereotypes of actual women (Not to say that the male characters are particularly nuanced…)
- Shitty Abilities, No Abilities, or Terrible Controls
- “Different” skills from male characters
- Random periods of helplessness
Some types of games are worse about some parts of this than others. For instance RPGS are generally better about having better abilities, but worse about the annoying characters. (Which is extra annoying because these are ROLE PLAYING GAMES and who wants to play the role of the most annoying individual in virtual existence. See: The incredibly patronizing Final Fanasy X-2 which was obviously written and designed by a group of men who have never spoken or interacted with an actual woman. I’m still offended.) But in general this is a really REALLY annoying phenomenon.
What he is wrong about is that the characters “might as well be just a guy.” It really ISN’T just as well that every character ever be a guy. The same argument can be made in reverse, that most of the characters in a lot of awesome games might as well have been female.
Most recently I became incredibly frustrated while playing Infamous because I felt like there was very little actual reason that character had to be a guy. Additionally there was very little actual reason that the two female characters in the game basically served as 1. a shrew and 2. something that had to die to drive his character forward.
All the enemies appear to be male (Or perhaps that is just my assumption since they may well have been genderless.) There was a male side kick and a male villain and blah blah blah blah lots of dudes.
And I suppose on its own, this wouldn’t be so bad. But it’s not like this is the only (really awesome) game where you have no choice but to be a dude surrounded by annoying women who serve only to further the plot (See also Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, Assassins Creed, God of War I’m sure I’ll think of more.)
There already are a shit load of games where the protagonist is a dude, (Max Payne, Hitman, FarCry, both .hack series, I”m just going to stop listing these now, GTA!) and there are some games where you can choose to be a chick (Fallout 3, any mmorpg). But there are not a lot of games where you get to be an ass kicking heroine.
So it isn’t, in my opinion, all the same. I would like more games that focus on a female protagonists. I mean look at all those awesome games I listed with dudes as the hero, I didn’t even do any research, those were just off the top of my head. So it would be nice to see more awesome, epic games with awesome epic female characters kicking some ass. Women are, after all, over half of the population, is it so trying that they might represent half of the population of video game heroes?
In a world that fits my internal ideal, the gender of any game’s main character would be decided by coin flip, since they might as well be one or the other. (Ideally we’d always have the option, but then one runs into plot issues.)
In this world it is decided by whether a gaming studio thinks guys would rather play a game about a guy, or play as someone they would like to fuck. Unfortunately that is a decision that leaves female gamers completely out in the cold.