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April 18, 2013

So Why Not Make a Female Protagonist?


Yep.  This topic. 

I didn’t really want to make a post on this topic, because the point has been argued elsewhere, and probably argued far better than I ever could (or am about to).  But the thought’s been on my mind for a while now, and I figure it’s as good a time as any to discuss it while it’s still a fresh topic.  So here we go.  Bear with me here.

Not too long ago, I did a post arguing that Princess Peach is actually some sort of fearsome titaness who spends her days trying to reconcile her regal persona with the belligerent beast that hides within.  While it’s not a post to be taken TOO seriously (though it’s become one of my favorites), there are some kernels of truth in there.  I stand by what I said at that post’s outset -- that I actually enjoy playing as Peach in Smash Bros.  And frankly, I don’t mind playing her in other games -- Super Paper Mario, Mario Kart Double Dash, and even SSX On Tour.  She’s like a big pink ball of fun and murder.


But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she wasn’t the only character I liked to play as.  At my brother’s suggestion, I tried playing as Fat Princess in PlayStation All-Stars, and took the fight online to prove my worth.  It didn’t go well -- at all -- but I had fun with the character, even if I didn’t know how to unlock even a tenth of her potential.  I certainly wouldn’t mind picking her up a bit more seriously in the future.

I guess that’s the strength of fighting games -- in an effort to cater to every possible play style imaginable, characters of varying shapes and sizes go on parade before your eyes.  Plenty of folks have been yup-yup-yupping with Chun-Li for years, but I personally prefer Tekken’s Julia Chang -- who I’m pretty sure I’ve already described as not only attractive, but smart, capable, confident, determined, having a clear and noble goal in her aims for forest rejuvenation, and managing to work as both a talented martial artist and a suplex-happy wrestler.  There’s an argument to be made that the female characters in fighting games exist to cater to archetypes and fetishes rather than martial arts observers -- let’s take the high road for now and NOT just pick on Dead or Alive -- but effort has been put in to even the playing field, more or less.  (And given the existence of Rule 34, you can expect everyone to have some eyebrow-raising fan art out there.)


The reason I bring up fighting games is to find a way to segue into Persona 4 Arena as circuitously as possible.  I can’t say that I was any good at the game, but I had a blast playing as Yukiko.  Was she feminine?  Of course, and unabashedly so -- not just in comparison with half her comrades, but by virtue of tossing paper fans, letting loose with cherry blossoms, and having a frilly, flowery, cheerleader-esque alter ego.  And I’d say that’s a part of her charm.  Part of her character.  And I stress “part”; those familiar with Persona 4 know her as someone who may start out as dainty and passive, but has multiple edges to her -- goofy, thoughtful, and of course violent.  It’s the combination of those elements and the presence of those two games that made me realize that out of the whole bunch, Yukiko had been my favorite character all along.  And I feel no shame in admitting I like playing as a so-called princess.  Or a real princess, for that matter.

This should be pretty obvious, but I’ll go ahead and say it: in terms of interesting (maybe not necessarily “strong”, but interesting at the very least) female characters, we’re not left wanting.  The girls of Persona 4 are intriguing and entertaining, and can bring deeper meaning to their archetypes, defy them, or evolve past them; the Yukiko at the start of the game is a fantastically-different person from the one at the end.  If it wasn’t for the presence -- or need, arguably -- for the silent protagonist, I’d argue that I wouldn’t mind Yukiko being the star player of the plot.  The same goes for Devil Survivor 2; playing from the perspective of soldier Makoto Sako would be like a dream come true.  The same goes for a lot of game characters; I’ve already made it clear that I usually prefer side characters to the lead, but when I think about the hefty number of ladies who deserve the spotlight, it only proves what I’ve felt for a while now.

So why aren’t they regularly in the spotlight?


Well, you could say that it’s for the reason we have “boring” protagonists.  The audience -- the player, for now -- needs someone to project onto, and help him/her get better acquainted with the world.  Or maybe they need to feel like the chief decision-maker, and as such a character that’s a bit more well-defined might clash with the player’s desires and immersion.  I have my issues, but I recognize that games like Persona 4 and Devil Survivor 2 wouldn’t work without a silent, player-controlled protagonist.  And similarly, I recognize that Mass Effect would be a lot different if not for a highly-moldable Shepard to control.  But Mass Effect (and more recently Persona 3 Portable) allowed you to be a female “blank slate” as well as a male one, so it’s not entirely impossible to have the option.  Fable allowed it.  Pokémon allowed it.  I’m pretty sure a couple of Harvest Moon games allowed it.  So what’s the problem?

Well, it might be because of the one thing we keep clamoring for -- good stories.

Create a scripted experience, and the level of freedom from the player wanes.  Games with customizable avatars may allow some insertion and immersion, but throw an inflexible story into the mix and suddenly options start getting axed.  Play as Nathan Drake and go on an adventure!  Find romance along the way!  Almost immediately, plenty of options get shot down.  It’s his story and his adventure, so everyone else by default has to support him, up to and including female characters (and potential/arguable love interests).  It doesn’t quite allow for variety when we’re playing as a heterosexual male.  Everyone has a role to play, and everyone will play it…under punishment of death.  Or maybe they’ll just die because of the plot.  Who’s to say, really?


That said, it’s far from impossible to make a leading lady.  I won’t pretend like there aren’t any challenges, but then again there are challenges writing a character period, regardless of gender.  Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw may not be redefining storytelling, but as a lead character -- as someone who defines the story with her presence, style, and actions -- she does a remarkable job.  Likewise, no discussion on female protagonists is complete without mentioning Jade of Beyond Good and Evil; she works on a similar axis (good main character equals good story), but does so with a style, seriousness, and sincerity matched only by her creators’.  And again, it’s not like we have a dearth of female characters, and certainly not good ones; opinions may vary on that point, but I still think there are side characters worthy of time spent center stage. 

I’ll gladly and readily admit that BioShock Infinite is a great game -- but even so, I constantly find myself wishing that things were to my preference.  You know what I’m about to say, don’t you?


Ever since I first learned about her, I kept saying to myself “I wish I could play as Elizabeth.”  Or maybe “Why can’t I play as Elizabeth?”  Or even “Booker had better be a good enough character to steal the lead role from Elizabeth.”  Whether or not those thoughts hold true today will have to wait for a future post, but for now I’m willing to admit that my first instincts were right.  This is (mostly) Elizabeth’s story, and the fact that we play as someone else -- someone who doesn’t have the same energy, thoughtfulness, and passion as The Lamb -- comes very close to being a detriment.  It’s the same deal as with Cortana from Halo; the latest game very quickly and successfully made her out to be the best character, but the fact that she’s bootstrapped to a gun-toting tin can not only feels like a disservice to her character, but a detriment to the game as well.  There is absolutely no reason for games to keep locking off their potential just so we can play as hardened non-entities. 

But even with that in mind, I keep coming back to that same question: why aren’t there more female protagonists? It is a complex issue with no shortage of related factors (many of which I’m REALLY wary about getting into), but part of the problem may lie within a simple term: stagnation.  In my eyes, telling a story requires the ability to explore possibilities -- considering what you can do on a canvas, considering what sort of world you want to create, considering the effects of character actions and world-building elements…the list goes on and on.  It’s getting more and more obvious that video games in their current state are getting worse and worse at exploring the possibilities.  Why try something new when people will lap up games with grizzled super soldiers?  Why take a risk when a single bad release can put an entire company in jeopardy?  Why put effort into a mode no one will ever notice?  Small-minded thinking is the enemy of us all. 


It’s getting to the point where I’m afraid developers don’t even know how to make leading ladies.  Now, not having played the new Tomb Raider for myself I can’t speak about its quality.  Even so, I can still get a little pensive about what the developers have put forth.  In the grand scheme of things, I wonder, what is the purpose of Lara Croft going through a gauntlet of bodily harm and horrors?  I would think -- or at least hope -- that it’s there as a sort of audiovisual shortcut to signal how bad things have gotten (triple-A games have a handle on excess and bombast, but subtlety and restraint, not so much).  If it were up to me, I would have only a few gruesome and death-goading moments.  If the emphasis is on survival, then I’d have Lara all alone for the whole game, pitted against the elements and forced to adapt; it’d be the perfect way to not only make for a tense and original game, but allow for a level of quiet introspection that could redefine her character, AND potentially lead to her realizing that exploring the wild and finding its secrets -- preferably in tombs -- is a pretty good life to live.  Forcing her through shootouts and set pieces may have their uses, but they aren’t the only tool worth using, especially if the idea is to develop her character.  Then again, triple-A games probably aren’t too good at being quiet, either. 

What I’m getting at here is that while writing a character (and consistently, at that) isn’t easy, I suspect that the games industry is making it a LOT harder than it needs to be.  Making a female character doesn’t require ancient magicks and a sacrificed goat; all it takes is a little ingenuity, reason, and vision.  And of course, one has to be willing to give it a shot.  Figure out what you want to do, adjust in regards to what needs to be done, and then, finally, do it.  It’s as simple as that.
  


…Is what I would like to say.  But I can’t.  If it was that easy, then obviously developers would have been doing that for years, and I could spend this post prattling on and on about the best side dish for hot dogs.  But it’s not that simple.  The inability to explore possibilities is an issue.  The risks of putting out a game are an issue.  The business savvy (or lack thereof) is an issue.  But I think that one of the biggest issues, the one that needs sorting out, is incredibly obvious.  And in order to explain it, I’ll have to momentarily turn things over to Newsday sports writer Ray Barone.

Do you see?  Sometimes -- not always, but sometimes -- the developers are the put-upon sitcom leads.  And thus, we are the old men and women.  We are the old men and women.


It’s easy to blame others for the problems of the industry -- and most certainly justified.  But before we can start blaming others, maybe we have to be willing to blame ourselves first.  The higher-ups believe that we don’t want games with female protagonists, with evidence no doubt bred from sales figures.  But they’re not always taking the other elements into consideration; we want games with female protagonists, but we want GOOD games.  We want effort and talent put in, but if nobody’s willing to offer it thanks to poor sales of bad games scaring them off, it creates a vicious cycle.  “Because there are no games with female protagonists, people don’t want games with female protagonists” -- it’s a stupid line of reasoning, but I’d bet there are people who genuinely believe that.  You know, the people in charge who shouldn’t be thinking nonsense like that.

Even so, if there were more games with female protagonists, would it be for the best?  If you’ll let me play devil’s advocate for a minute -- or just use a bit of reasoning here -- I can see why there’s some resistance to the idea.  And it’s because of that reasoning that I say blaming ourselves is a course of action.


I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before (if not here, then elsewhere), but I’ll go ahead and repeat it.  Back when I played Fable II, I decided to opt for making a female protagonist of my own.  It was pretty much on a whim, and while I suspected that it wouldn’t make too big a difference in the narrative or the world, it was a choice I made for myself without a second thought.  I didn’t have any problems with it, but apparently, my brother did; he seemed confused and outright annoyed that I was being a girl; he’d heckle me if I played the game in his presence, scoffing at the idea of dressing up my heroine.  

When it came time to do a quest that involved a relationship with a male character, his response was an ever-erudite “So gay.”  It’s hard to say if that was directed at me or the game, but after that I pretty much stopped playing when he was around or awake.  I’d even switch out the disk with another one when I’d finished playing for the day.  And as a result, I pretty much stopped playing it entirely once our original 360 started red-ringing; I didn’t want to risk the console shutting down on me and leaving the evidence locked inside -- and the repercussions to follow.


I can’t say for sure if my brother -- my older brother -- was just giving me trouble, or genuinely thought the idea of a male playing as a female was ridiculous.  (Considering that he went on to play C. Viper almost exclusively for a while in Street Fighter 4, I’d assume it was the former.)  But no matter what the case, the possibility that there are people that genuinely believe something like that is a real one.  There are gamers like me that have been lucky enough to get exposure to titles across the gamut -- in terms of genre and style -- but a part of me is worried that there are others being solely influenced by the games of today.  

I wouldn’t blame everything on Call of Duty and the fact that the guns are better-developed characters (though let’s face it -- the franchise is a real troublemaker), but my fear is that there are those who look at the gaming landscape today and think, “Nope!  No problems here!”  There are those who might think that the titles we have now are top-quality, unwilling to reason critically and realize that there’s something missing -- the “feminine touch” well among them.


And I’m starting to get increasingly worried about what the lack of said touch means -- not just for stories, but for gamers at large.  I’m more than willing to assume that my brother was just making some abrasive and tasteless jokes when it came to me and Fable II, but there’s always a possibility that others aren’t so open-minded when it comes to ladies.  Let’s go back to PlayStation All-Stars for a second.  According to recent statistics, Fat Princess is by far the least-used character amongst the cast.  The most popular?  Kratos, of course.  That’s a bit of an issue, to be sure, but I bring up the game to focus on a certain…incident.  When I was using Fat Princess before, I didn’t have a LOT of success, but I did have some.  I got a few points, and even a win here and there.  One of those was against a particularly-spazzy Kratos player; Kratos may be an extremely powerful character, but it’s extremely easy to take advantage of some of his moves -- especially if the player behind him is rolling his face across the pad.

So as you’d expect it wasn’t that hard for me to exploit his silliness and gain the upper hand.  After landing more than a few hits, he did something he hadn’t done before: stand still.  At first I thought he’d decided to take a moment to assess the situation…and about a picosecond later I figured he had some connection issues.  But to my surprise, he was actually busy with something.  Apparently, he had to take time out from the match -- and leave himself wide open -- to send me a message.  “BITCH”.  One word, all caps, with no reasoning for his claim.  Well, except for one that I could guess.  Either it was because I was beating him and he’d assumed that I’d cheated his majestic self out of a victory…or because I was playing as Fat Princess, and the mere consideration of that character is a crime. 

PSN, come on.  I’d expect stuff like that from Xbox Live, but not you.  Not you.


But you know what?  As easy as it is to blame some semi-imaginary dudebro audience that loves male-centric power fantasies (and the developers that make those dreams come true), maybe we all need to take a good, hard look at ourselves.  From what I’ve heard, only 18% of Mass Effect players played with a female Shepard from start to finish.  Bad or not, games with female leads apparently went untouched -- and in exchange, terrible titles could have been bought instead.  It seems all too common for a “discussion” on gender politics to take place every time a scintillating piece of art or a trailer goes up -- and in the end, comments just end up fizzling out before a consensus is reached.  I don’t think I need to remind anyone game-savvy about what happened with Cross Assault, and the mere fact that I even have to think about it makes me frustrated.  We know what we want, but actions -- and wallets -- speak louder than words.  And as it stands, I wonder if we know how to even begin making a change.

I say this because not only am I at a loss in terms of offering a “call to action”, but I probably deserve some blame as well.  My brother might have been the one to raise hell over Fable II, but I didn’t do much to set him straight.  Rather than take a stand and keep playing regardless, I felt like I had to try and sneak around him to get something as trivial as some unhindered play time.  It’s as if he implanted the idea that there’s some stigma in playing as a female character -- that I can only play as MANLY MAN MEN and turn a cold shoulder to the fairer sex.  


It’s something I didn’t bother raising trouble about, because there were plenty of games that would gladly convince me that, yes, being a man is the only way to go.  Don’t even get me started on creating female characters.  Ignoring the fact that I have many issues about whether or not I can write them successfully, there’s still a stigma involved.  “Because I am a man, I can only write male leads.”  Or “Because I am a man, I can never understand -- let alone create -- a good female lead.”  Much as I hate to admit it, they’re thoughts that have passed through the back of my head.  I feel like just by going as far as I have -- just by thinking -- I’m taking a huge risk.     


I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better about it in recent years (at least if my writing adventures are taken seriously), but even so I have to wonder if there’s a real issue in us gamers that’s preventing leading ladies from becoming a real possibility.  A part of me’s even annoyed that I have to say “possibility”; considering that the world is half-comprised of those mysterious beings we call women, I’d say that it’s only natural for more female characters to make an appearance and get their dues.  Seriously, it should not be THIS hard to get women in games.

Unfortunately, it is.  The perceived risks, the narrative demands, the expectations of the audience -- all these things and more   And right now, there’s only so much we can do about it.  I already have my answer via a theoretically-freer creative outlet, but in terms of games this is going to be a problem that persists for a while.  What do we do?  Grin and bear it?  Rally in the streets?  Write scathing letters?  Make our own games?  I don’t know.  Seems like a lot of work to make a game, and with increasingly-diminishing returns in terms of intellectual satisfaction.  Also tedious.  And full of bald men for some reason.


A guess that for the time being, there are only a couple of things we can do: we can stay informed, and stay open-minded.  It’ll take thought and effort from every level of the industry ladder to change even the average game into something remarkable.  And in order to encourage that thought, we as gamers should at least make ourselves able to think for ourselves about what we play and how we play it.  What possibilities are there to explore?  How do we explore them?  Why favor one outcome, one thread over another?  What makes us so expertly-suited to reject the possibilities that don’t suit us?  There are a lot of questions that everyone needs to start asking; the sooner we do -- the sooner we start thinking, and thinking up answers -- the better off we’ll all be.

Well.  Guess I’ll go ahead and step off the soapbox for now.  See you guys around…and try and keep an open mind about things, yeah?         

Good.  Now we can discuss BioShock Infinite.


6 comments:

  1. Had to try and skim through the BioShock Infinite nods, since I haven't played it as of yet. My boyfriend and my brother have been trying to tell me the ending, both of which were really let down by it, but I'll reserve judgement until I have played it myself! That said, the good old other half did tell me that he was happy Elizabeth was a character in the story, a woman that actually holds her own and defends herself - not someone who is a burden, but an asset. Finally, it's good to see that in 2013 we're moving somewhere when it comes to female characters in games.

    What your brother said, I think, seems like a passing comment that people generally don't realise at first, but when you come back to it in your head it seems more than it actually is. There is the difference between just disliking females in games and believing it is something odd because you don't see it very often. It's like being surprised by someone who is of a different race in predominately white country or city, I'd imagine. It's not a racist/sexist jibe, it's just not knowing anything else apart from the world you're brought up in, and to an extent I guess, the media - games, films, etc. - do have some kind of underlying affect when it comes to the perception of women/race/sexuality.

    Honestly, though, even being someone who supports gender equality in all forms, I never really notice when there is a male/female lead unless there is some massive emphasise on the character differences (that are written in anyway) between men and women, after which that becomes frustrating.

    I just completed the new Tomb Raider today (being off work does give you good time to play solid finishing hours) and I can say that Lara Croft, though battered and bruised throughout the game, is the real heroine of the story - like she should be. She uses her wits, is pretty bad ass with a bow and arrow, and takes no prisoners.

    There are some nice cut scenes on a video camera that she plays early on in the game which gives good back story not just for her, but for all the other characters there, too - it felt like everyone of them, the men and women, were actually human beings with quarrels and issues which was cool to see.

    You've raised some good points on it, and yeah, it is a topic that has been discussed to death, but I really do think there have been changes over the last 10/20 years in gaming that has made for better characters, both men and women.

    Since gaming has become the dominate media industry in the world, they should be putting aside fossilised views and start looking at the bigger pitcher, making characters who can relate to, whatever gender they are from. (And that's what I think is important - to have engaging characters who you are rooting for every step of the way!)



    Great article, btw.

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  2. This is probably leading onto another branch of sex and gender in regard to video games, but there is one thing that always pissed me off. Some magazines, when talking about the industry as a whole, like to scream with joy that more and more women are playing video games! ...and guess where do the numbers point to? Mobile and Facebook apps. Now, I'm pretty darn sure that a fairly good number of female gamers exist now than a decade or two ago (hell, I'm one), but it's amazing how people collect data and what they chose to omit. What would be nice is to calculate three things: all "games" in general, mobile and online apps, and console/PC gaming. Maybe that kind of data might provide a slightly clearer idea of what the face of the consumer is like.


    But more onto what you've said.


    The more and more I think of how many self-incert protagonists we have in games, more and more angry I get, especially when gender choice is allowed. One of the greatest gripes I have is particularly with romance options. (For the sake of simplifying this point, I will be referring to heterosexual options.) It always seems that male protagonists have a much larger pool with very delicate, safe options. Most times the options are more defined by their personalities rather than plot significance.


    I kinda have to reference Mass Effect... again. MaleShep has at least four heterosexual options (not including Liara), and nearly all of them could die, but you'd have to work pretty hard to do so. Otherwise, they could last and remain close for the rest of the trilogy (unless you dump them.) FemShep gets the short end of the stick. She has about four heterosexual options, and she technically loses all but one. One guy cheats on her no matter what - the plot demands it, another dies no matter what - the plot demands it, and the third suddenly becomes bisexual - the developers and fans demanded it. At the end of the game, FemShep is left with one loyal, faithful partner... MaleShep has everyone possible. What. The. Crap.


    I am all for having different experiences based on the sex of the protagonist, but for crying out loud! Why is it okay for male romance options to be active in the story and walk on a tight rope above a sea of butcher knives they might or will fall into, while female romance options just stand there and look pretty, with low or nonexistent chances or leaving or kicking the bucket?


    If this is done to appeal to a guy's fantasy... this industry is more f$%#ed than I thought. Not beyond saving, but just... sad.


    *sigh*


    That being said, great post. I'm sorry your brother and that one jerk on PSN were like that. I have no problems playing as a male protagonist, but maybe that's the "girls can do guy things, but guys can't do girl things" mentality that persists. It's annoying. Gamers at large need to ask a lot more out of the developers. Easier said than done, but things have to change soon. I'm getting tired of this stagnation.


    At the very least, if we can't get more great female protagonists, we can at least ask for good protagonists in general. Storytelling - as you mentioned before - needs to improve as a whole before fixing one specific point.


    ...But it sure would be nice if some pieces of fan service have more personality than providing fetish fuel.

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  3. This is the first I've heard of that Cross Assault incident, and damn that's depressing. Sure, the news is more than a year old now, and I'm not even a fan of competitive fighting, but grown men embracing such... "part of the culture?"... why...

    Nope! Not gonna stress over ancient history. Anywho, your post! There was a certain point you brought up that really hit me.

    "...but my fear is that there are those who look at the gaming landscape today and think, “Nope! No problems here!” There are those who might think that the titles we have now are top-quality, unwilling to reason critically and realize that there’s something missing -- the 'feminine touch' well among them."

    This. This is the very reason I've been so disconnected with many of my gaming friends, who have all but submitted to the sway of today's mainstream gaming culture. But in a way, I don't blame them (too much, at least). A particular Halo fan friend of mine fully acknowledges the crappiness of the latest installment, and he when he's not bragging about his online killfests, he's ranting about how 343's ruined his beloved franchise. I ask him, "Friend, why do you torment yourself so?" He tells me it's what he knows, his element, like it's the only thing in the industry he has to look forward to.

    Perhaps it's not just developers that are afraid of change. Lately, it seems like the entire industry seems unwilling to change, happy to wallow in stagnant mediocrity. And ass-backwards "cultures."

    Gah... I've got to think positive. Devil Survivor 2 is getting a 3DS port... that's positive, right?

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  4. Anything related to Devil Survivor is positive. Anything. More Makoto, more glory.


    But yeah, that Cross Assault stuff is one of several ways that some gamers have more recently outed themselves as...well, let's go with "less than savory" and leave it at that. The news may be old and a part of history, but it's one of the darkest chapters in the story of the medium -- and those who enjoy it -- so far. Stuff like that is why I say we need to blame ourselves before we start blaming others.


    That aside, your friend's behavior is interesting. Interesting, but in a way, I understand it. My brother is constantly, constantly hating on Capcom's more recent fighting games -- Street Fighter 4, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, AND Street Fighter X Tekken -- and can't go a single session without bringing up one of its faults or saying that the earlier games were better. And yet guess which games he's put hundreds, maybe thousands of hours into?


    I admit that I don't know much about how Halo games differ from one installment to the next, but in the case of Capcom's fighters I think I can make a more confident statement. In their case, outside of one or two examples Capcom fighters rule the roost. Even though there are games that are significantly better out there, the online competition -- and tournaments, as I understand it -- shriveled up. Soul Calibur 5 has a flawless netcode, but from what I've heard the game's a barren wasteland. Same goes for Persona 4 Arena. And yet people constantly flock to SF4 and the like in spite of an incredibly-unstable connection. (I speak from experience. And in light of evidence.)


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkQCJdfdIVM



    Complacency is a hell of a thing. And we ALL have to address it in one way or another...sooner rather than later.

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  5. Hey, thanks for the praise. I was thinking it was a little rant-y, and I'd prefer to avoid that if I can -- especially on a topic that's not just played out, but because this isn't a conversation we should even be having in a perfect world. But alas...

    In any case, Tomb Raider. I was worried about the game prior to release, but I'll gladly admit that even now I'm interested in seeing it for myself -- maybe a YouTube playthrough or something. I've heard the argument that the only reason we have a big game with a female lead is because of the classic appeal of Lara Croft, buuuuuuuuut in this case, a win is a win. (Fun fact: after getting and presumably being disappointed by God of War: Ascension, my brother expressed regret in not grabbing Tomb Raider instead. Score one for the good guys, maybe!)

    You've got it right, though: as long as the lead is interesting, it doesn't matter whether or not said lead is male or female. But that's the clincher: they have to be INTERESTING. That's the stumbling block games have had recently, and it's one they need to get over. Fast.

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  6. Jeez Louise, I didn't know FemShep had it so bad. I mean...really? Seriously? I know that adversity builds character and all that, but that seems a little excessive. Isn't that just a perfect way to invalidate all but the correct choice? In a game ostensibly about choices?

    WHAT GOOD DECISIONS!

    Ahem. From what I can gather, this (for lack of a better phrase) "gender inequality" is something that's hurting everyone, male or female, gamer or developer. It's a shame that things have gotten this bad -- and may even get worse -- but I'm starting to think that this is becoming more than just a matter of good story/bad story, or even good game/bad game...or even just having the will to explore possibilities. Art introduces new ideas and new ways of thought -- perspectives and paths we wouldn't have considered before. If games start becoming limited in that regard, then so do the perspectives we can gain. Games are more popular than ever, and they're being accepted into the consciousness of those who play them (and even then, plenty who don't).

    I'm pretty damn sure that a society consistently fed a diet of space marines, straight white brown-haired/bald males, and floating guns is NOT going to be a pleasant one.

    This is making me sad and tired. I'm gonna go to YouTube and listen to some BlazBlue music. That always cheers me up.

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