One of my friends posted this while I was looking for something interesting to blog about. (I mean, come on, we’ve all more than enough about high-speed rail and salmon the past two days—no need for me to blog about that!)
Anyways, I was excited to read this post because it’s absolutely true, and because Abernathy explains his opinion without a lot of lofty idealism—he just wants some good games with female protagonists for his daughter to enjoy. And so do I. (But for me to enjoy. Cause I don’t have a daughter yet.)
One of the things I enjoyed about Halo: Reach was being able to choose a gender for my character and customize her. (She has purple armor, btw. And small rockets on her shoulders.) I was also excited that one of the members of Noble Team was a female, and she’s a total badass. I feel like Reach took a step towards making sure that women have someone to relate to in games, but it was only a baby step. A lot has to happen before I (and Abernathy’s daughter) have the chance to play as female protagonists in a plethora of games.
Allowing players to customize their character (including gender) is a great step. Some games do require a gendered character in order to fit the plot, but not all of them do. I mean, why did the protagonist in Psychonauts have to be male? Why couldn’t that have been customizable? Some games, though, understand that they have a female audience, and are taking care to cater to them. For example, when my friend and I were playing through Little Big Planet 2 last week, we were SO excited to see that a lot of the unlockable costumes are girly—lots of dresses, long-haired wigs, sparkly fabrics, etc. It was more fun to dress up my Sackgirl when I had more options on what she could wear, and these new options made it easier to play because I wasn’t constantly confusing my Sackgirl with my friend’s because they didn’t look almost exactly the same.
I can think of a couple of games with female protagonists—Portal and Mirror’s Edge come to mind—but neither of those seem to appeal to mainstream gamers. Portal, which is probably my favorite game of all time, is a puzzle game that requires an elementary understanding of physics, and Mirror’s Edge has that weird Urban Ninja style that can be pretty nauseating. And some of the Final Fantasy games have female protagonists, too, but those games are huge time sucks. No, I’d like to see some moderate-length RPGs or FPSs with badass female protagonists. I’ll even take a badass female sidekick or an Atlas-style narrator (and boss…) guiding you through the world if I have to.
It’s great to see developers and writers speaking up about the need not to ignore half their audience, but it would be even greater to see these ideas come to fruition in their games. A lot of people pay lip service to female gamers, or female comic readers, but not many of them put their money where their mouths are. Until that happens, though, I’ll be customizing my Purple Lady-Spartan and incinerating my faithful Companion Cube.