Lunchtime Discussion: It’s A Chromosome Thing

Although Bayonetta is generating hype and criticism, it is one of only a handful of games that feature a female in the leading role. In fact, when you look at video games in general, the male/female characters begin to take on a rather stereotypical pattern. Here’s a list of games with leading ladies that I can remember:

  • Tomb Raider
  • Heavenly Sword
  • Bayonetta
  • Resident Evil (some)
  • BloodRayne

5! Is that it? Now whilst I’m sure you’ll be able to name some more, it goes to show that females aren’t high on the list when it comes to video game leads. Of course there are other ladies within male-driven games such as Uncharted’s Elena & Chloe, Elika, Chun-Li, Princesses of various description and Tails (you’re all thinking it), but these are only used as a method of advancing the story from a male point of view. They seem to all fall into a certain category:

  • The love interest
  • The plot’s goal (Princess/Wife/Sister/Mum/Second Cousin are taken hostage; rescue them)
  • The ball-busting enemy
  • Traitor
  • Sidekick (who generally can’t do anything other than get in the way)
  • Eye-candy (for those who find CG ladies attractive)

If they are a leading lady like the 5 I listed above, then they all fall into another category: Skilled Killers. Why is that they all become gun or sword-weilding acrobats? Heavenly Sword is the only game on the list that I can think of that actually needs to be a woman; In order to fulfill the father’s disappointment and a seemingly incorrect prophecy, then it was a necessity.

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On the flip side, why are the majority of male leads stereotyped? Eight times out of ten you are bound to play a soldier, explorer, assassin, warrior or policeman. Why? Why aren’t we getting more realistic male and female figures within games? This is one of the reasons that Heavy Rain appeals to me; its inclusion of some ‘ordinary’ yet captivating (from what I’ve seen) people. This, believe it or not, is seen as innovative and original.

There is of course the argument that the video game industry is dominated by men and therefore we get the testosterone fuelled content that we are used to, but would playing a female put you off a game? There was one hell of an uproar from ignorant bigots when The Ballad of Gay Tony was released due to the fact that (for the first time that I can recall) a game/DLC was focused around someone who was gay. Surely we live in a more liberal society that these type of things shouldn’t matter. As long as the game is of good enough quality, who cares whether you play a woman, and are women put off gaming because of the lack of choice over their character type?

Discuss!

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