By BRIAN MARTIN
Although the appearances of diverse characters have been featured in video games over the past few years, one group of characters has had a hard time finding a place in the video game industry: women.
Lately developers have been giving gamers characters to play that are mostly male. This could be a potential indication that games are targeted toward the male audience.
“I guess that’s the way culture perceives women, especially these days,” said Charlotte Muriel, Coordinator of the Women’s Center. “For example, women don’t make as much as men.”
There are other factors for a lack of relevant female characters.
The way characters are written in video games can influence what kind of a role they have in the story and how gamers perceive them. Women are either depicted in games as action or side characters with no meaningful role to the plot.
However, there are rare games in which a female character is the protagonist.
“Tomb Raider” is an action-adventure game with Lara Kroft, a female lead.
“I think that women can play the role of the main character in a video game,” said Rebecca Freeman, senior. “They can take on the same roles as men.”
This game acts as a reboot for a character whose physical appearance has been discussed widely.
This brings up the issue of the character’s physical appearance.
“Mortal Kombat” is an example of a franchise that usually gives its characters unrealistic body proportions. The female characters are no exception as they are usually depicted as strong women that are very muscular.
Clothing can be another factor in a character’s reception. Females can be given certain outfits depending on what the game is about.
“Mortal Kombat” also dresses their characters in outfits that match with each character’s personality. Female characters are given outfits that are flashy or very tough and intimidating.
“I feel that besides the obvious ‘lack of creativity,’ the other is the industry finds it hard to market a video game with a decent female lead without sex appeal,” said Matthew Mendisana, junior.
Game sales are the ultimate deciding factor if a game or game franchise hopes to earn sequels, but the demand for being able to play as a female character has been shown by both male and female gamers alike.
Some developers have begun to embrace the call for female leads. Developer Ninja Theory is currently developing a new game called Hellblade, a game set in a fantastical Celtic world where players take on the role of Senua, a female Celtic warrior trying to stay alive in what is described as a dark and dangerous world.
Since the game is being made independently, the developer is free to use its creativity to make a female character.
But there are AAA developers that have used playable female characters to help bring diversity to their games. Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series features a wide range of characters both male and female.
Square Enix is an example of a studio that isn’t afraid to develop diverse characters of both genders.
But for now, the issue of getting better female characters continues to be a subject of debate in the gaming community.