There are plenty of female video game characters for all to enjoy. And you don’t have to look hard to find them.
The Twitter video game community was up in arms today, and I figured that it was just something silly that someone had said. Being the person that I am, I decided (bad idea, I know) to see what the big deal was and what I found out shocked me. Well, not really, but it did bother me due to the amount of misinformation that I had noticed.
A recent article from Bloomberg of all places had been released, one that talks about video games and apparently for reason believes there’s a lack of positive female representation in gaming. After tracking it down and giving it a read, the piece is all over the place. There’s talk about the toxic nature of Activision-Blizzard, which I co-sign with. But then the piece seems to jump into a completely different subject and jumps the shark completely.
Now, I’m not one to try and put a fellow gaming journalist on blast. At the same time, I won’t let misinformation such as this get pushed out there, as I know just how damaging that can be. I’ve been involved with many debates on the internet regarding females if they belong in video games, and believe me when I say; those were some bad conversations. Those are conversations that I’m more than happy to argue that they do belong in gaming and how gaming is all the better for them being included. Sure, I’m a guy, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about representation in video games, whether it be gender, race, or nationality.
So this piece, to be blunt, really frustrated me. I’d imagine that anyone working for Bloomberg would at the very least vet the piece and have it peer-reviewed. There’s no way that someone who’s claiming that video games lack more female characters actually believes this. Can they? To me, it is disrespectful to those who pushed and fought to have those female characters created that we’ve all encountered while gaming in the first place.
Honestly, the entire article reads more like a fluff piece for PlayStation’s Horizon Zero Dawn and the upcoming sequel, Horizon Forbidden West. Games that feature a well-known female character, Aloy. A character who has been celebrated due to her design and her positive influence. She’s great, and I’m not trying to take anything away from Aloy, but it seems that this Bloomberg piece was written by someone who either doesn’t play many video games or someone who chooses to ignore the large (and still growing) list of positive and popular female characters in the video games.
Instead, they choose to mention one in a positive light while bringing up several others and prompting dismissing them because they do have some sexualization. One character, in particular, is the popular Umbra Witch Bayonetta — a character that was designed by a woman, nonetheless; Mari Shimazaki. If you don’t know who she is, look her up.
As for the lack of female character representation in video games, I can’t see it. There are lots, and I’ve experienced quite a few of them throughout my long gaming history. Here are just a few of those characters.
This is a very small list of female video game characters that we’ve all enjoyed at one point or another. Female characters that either being the main character of a game, a major character or a character that made such a lasting impression that we’d never forget them. I made sure I left off characters who people would argue are too sexy to be on the list — and I know that’s a strong positivity. Yet, every name on the list rejects the “Damsel in Distress” trope and can easily replace any strong guy in a line-up.
It also bothers me that the author of the said piece completely disrespected the gaming icon, Lara Croft. Sure, the original character did push the line of being sexy, but she also helped usher in a new age of gaming. The Tomb Raider games featured a British, no-nonsense-taking character that was big on action and provided us with some damned good gaming experiences. Of all of the gaming characters in the world, Lara Croft is one that demands respect for everything that the character and the Tomb Raider series have accomplished.
Damn it, Lara Croft is one of the most iconic female game characters of all time. – we’re not even going to argue this. I’d even say that without Lara Croft, we wouldn’t have seen as many female characters in our video games. This includes Aloy, a character that shares several similarities to Lara Croft outside of wielding a bow. To disrespect Lara Croft only shows me that this particular author is quite ignorant of gaming — or is fishing for clicks.
For this author to say that “Characters like Aloy remain too rare among mainstream games. As a video-game enthusiast, I find it uncomfortable playing leading titles like Tomb Raider, Genshin Impact or Bayonetta, all of which feature female characters in skimpy outfits.” It reconfirms my original thoughts. For starters, they have not played any of the Tomb Raider games. Including the reboots — unless wearing shorts or cargo pants is now considered skimpy. I mean, where’s the last time Lara Croft wore anything remotely skimpy?
As for mainstream gaming, I suppose he hasn’t heard of any of the games I already mentioned. Including the award-winning Returnal that featured a strong-willed female protagonist who finds herself stuck on an alien planet. Battling not just the planet, but her own mind in a test of wits and survival. Or Metroid Dead, or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, or Deathloop.
You can see where I’m going here.
Speaking about looks, I have an issue with that as well. Where is it said that female video game characters can’t be powerful, demanding, encouraging, and have the ability to save the world because they do look like a model? It’s a reoccurring theme, yet when it comes to men it’s fine. So why does it have to be different than females? I got news for you, not all of us are six 6’3 with 2% body fat and abs of steel. Yet, that is how much males are presented.
This conversation comes up way too much, and it’s high time that we get over it. People come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I’ve seen drop-dead gorgeous females that are police officers, paramedics, cashiers, lawyers, teachers, boxers, and MMA fighters. That notion is outdated and no longer has any place in gaming or life. Heroes, saviors, and complete badasses can be anyone. However, I do agree that going overboard, as we’ve seen in several games, is a problem as well. What is ironic is that this Bloomberg piece pushes Aloy and frowns on sexualization and body types. Yet the character’s facial features are based on the actress and model, Hannah Hoekstra.
As for Aloy, again, she’s great, but she’s hardly the first, and that’s perfectly ok. She’s one of the gaming icons that people can relate to over the past few years, but she’s hardly alone. Instead, she has joined a long list of female gaming icons that I’ve already enjoyed the company of while gaming. Female gaming icons have made video games a better place for everyone, and we’re blessed to see that gaming has matured to the point where companies are willing to include female characters in their video games.
If you’re convinced that it’s rare to find a worthwhile female character in mainstream and indie video games, then perhaps there’s a reason for this. That being that either you are playing the wrong games or that you aren’t playing video games at all. Because I find it highly suspect that anyone who does video games in this day age hasn’t encountered the list of characters I’ve already mentioned. If this happens to be the case, it’s a damned shame and one that needs to be course-corrected immediately.
Lastly, I’m always down and ready to talk about this important gaming conversation. Or any gaming conversation that needs to be had. You can reach me here or on Twitter – I welcome the discourse.