Awhile ago, I asked on our Facebook page if there were any blog posts that our fans wanted to see. One fan mentioned the representation of female heroes in video games. Considering that I made that post months ago, I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. I’ve kept it in the back of my mind. You see, this one particular thing stuck out in my mind so well for a very specific reason; a reason I haven’t shared with our fans or followers until now. Well, now I’m sure you are very curious as to that reason, so I’ll tell you. I’m 8 months pregnant and I’m going to have a baby girl.
So, now I am sure you were going to go into this post with one mind set, but shift gears with me for a moment. I love video games, obviously. I have played games where the female character wanted to be a supermodel or an actress. She was the damsel in distress. She was raped at some point in her past. Funny thing is, I’ve never played a game where a male character wanted to be a supermodel, an actor, was in distress or raped in his past.
Now, to point out how I think about it. I want to share my love and passion for this amazing art form with my daughter, eventually. As does her father. Do I want her think that the only way she can become a hero is if she wants to be a supermodel or an actor? That she needs to play the damsel in distress to win? I can’t even think of the last part.
What does a male character have to do to become a hero? Very little, if anything at all. Fight the good fight? Actually there are several times I can’t recall an actual backstory for the male main character. I’ve never heard any of my male friends struggling to relate to a male character or upset about how their backstory was played out. Now, I can’t sit here and believe that with as many men that play video games, that it is possible they don’t care for story lines. I know that isn’t true from personal experience and the obvious evolution of storytelling in video games.
Of course, all of this isn’t touching on the over-sexualized appearance of female characters. It doesn’t touch on the female character’s desperate need to lean on the male main character, as if they couldn’t survive without them.
So, let’s create a female character, put her in the sluttiest clothing possible, with a desperate need for the male lead character. Oh and, by the way, her entire family was killed by some crazed group who raped her and left her for dead by the side of the road. She’s not a playable character, but she is someone with some serious issues who needs therapy, not to be flinging fireballs at your enemies. Doing so, hoping that one day your goals might give her to opportunity to exact some revenge, but only if that’s ok with you first.
Did I miss something? There are so few games out there that portray women in a light that makes them an actual role model. It’s hard enough that we have to deal with the divas of reality TV teaching our daughters that it’s ok to strive towards an unrealistic version of beauty and have no intelligence to fall back on. There are so few women out there that just kick ass for a good damn reason. How about honor, loyalty or simply just wanting to be the hero? Just wanting to help someone, save some people, a planet, a galaxy?
I hope that by the time she is old enough, video games catch up to the century we are actually living in. I hope I don’t have to explain to her that a girl can be anything a boy can be. I hope she can play characters that are reasonably dressed, have good solid backstories that aren’t based on their woman parts. I hope she doesn’t get harassed for playing games, in either a sexual or abusive manner. I hope she never walks into any kind of nerd shop only to be asked, ‘Who’s girlfriend are you?’ I have so many hopes for the changes that need to be made in not only this industry, but also so many industries surrounding this nerd/geek/gamer culture that we live in.
I have so many hopes for her. I hope you have hopes for her, for all of us, too.