The idea started the very first day during Bethesda’s showcase. A little ole game called Fallout 4 was put on display and one of its early features? You can play as male or female, it’s up to you! Now when watching this I didn’t think much of it, that was cool, it’s Fallout, we get the choice. It’s an awesome RPG title.
What followed though is what became remarkable. Game after game we saw an emphasis by studios to include female characters in some way. More importantly, it came in positive ways. We saw female characters take the lead in Guerrilla Games new IP Horizon, Mirror’s Edge, Tomb Raider, and a new Xbox exclusive in Recore. It was subtle, but there was a mention of ID play testing Doom and one of the players was a female player, and guess what, the gameplay we saw was her gameplay. If it wasn’t females taking the stage to represent massive companies, then it was subtle additions to games. Call of Duty showcased a female avatar online, Assassin’s Creed has a female assassin, and Ubisoft showed off the extremely hyped The Division with a female player and character. Hell even Madden decided to finally add female audience members. This week all this kicks off with Batman Arkham Knight and Harley Quinn being a total badass.
In all of these games, the female characters were not weak. They were not a danzel in distress and they were not being “saved” all the time by a male characters. In every single instance these characters were strong and had leadership qualities, but a subtle touch of being a female.
When the “issue” first started, there was a divide. The video game industry is a male driven industry, it simply is. So game companies make games for that crowd, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another audience standing by. Female players wanted to be heard, they wanted some characters to connect with, and I’d say they got them. Perfect timing too because the female audience is expanding and male audiences are becoming more accepting.
To me, as a writer, it doesn’t really make a difference. If the story is great and the character fits the world, and we can get behind the character emotionally, I don’t see the issue. Sony supposedly debated allowing Guerilla Games to use a female protagonist in a new game, but they did anyways. I can see it from a business perspective being an issue because there is still a widespread theory of people not wanting to play as female characters. However E3 showed us that perhaps that theory is dying.
Are there still stereotypes that people may hate? Yes, but hardly any were highlighted at E3. There was only one hiccup during the Metal Gear presentation where the trailer randomly zoomed into some boobs, but luckily that was only there for the stream and not a conference. (But guess what, it’ll probably be a hot topic when the game releases…) There are stereotypes and issues on both sides. Trust me I agree. There are just as many extremely muscular guys with no shirts as there are girls with big bouncing boobs. It’s true, and sorry ladies some of those muscles simply don’t exist.
I’m not here to bring politics to the table or push the industry to force feed us female characters, or to make games that utilize them correctly against their will. I feel that, for a while now, we have highlighted time and time again that the industry hasn’t exactly been accepting to female fans. We see posts about it all the time. Every time a scantily dressed female character shows up in a game there are dozens of articles talking about how it’s wrong and how the industry needs to “grow up.” Well guess what? E3 just showed that it did!
It’s important to highlight good things when they happen, and it just happened. If people want to sit there and talk about how negative the industry is, why is nobody talking about how great this past E3 was in the same topic? So that is what I’m doing.
Next time you hear or read people complaining about MGS or Bayonetta, ask them how they feel about Recore, Horizon, and Mirrors Edge. This past E3 just gave us a glorious opportunity to support something people have supposedly been wanting for ages, so support it. Otherwise don’t complain when they flip that switch back off. One comment from all of E3 is important. That is Sony saying they were doubtful of a female lead in Horizon, but guess what? They let it go, it happened, now prove to them it was a good decision. So far we are, Horizon check out the 5 games we are most excited for out of E3.
With that, I’m not saying the issue is entirely fixed, but the issue will always exist (as it does for both male and female). What I’m saying is this past E3 changed things, female leads were put in a spotlight. You know not even Hollywood would do that, so take this opportunity and showcase support for it. Perhaps it’ll help it grow.