header women

In the games media at large, there has been an ongo­ing dis­cus­sion about inclu­siv­i­ty, espe­cial­ly of wom­en in video games and gam­ing cul­ture. While I can’t speak on behalf of any oth­er “gamer girls,” I can say, from my expe­ri­ences, I’ve seen inclu­siv­i­ty in gam­ing for years, lit­er­al­ly as long as I can remem­ber. Women have always played an impor­tant part in video games for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons. Despite tropes such as the “damsel in dis­tress” or “fight­ing f**k toy,” the­se wom­en have agen­cy; They always have and they always will. Although wom­en have con­sis­tent­ly had a role in video games, either as a playable char­ac­ter a la Lara Croft in Tomb Raider or as a par­tial NPC like Nei in Phantasy Star II, we are being told that the amount of wom­en that were shown in games and on stage at E3 2015 is a gigan­tic tri­umph for wom­en in gam­ing. Supposedly, this will make the indus­try seem more approach­able, espe­cial­ly for younger girls who may be shy about get­ting into gam­ing. I’m here to tell you my con­tro­ver­sial opin­ion on this sub­ject: Young girls and wom­en do not need female game char­ac­ters. Young girls and wom­en need well writ­ten game char­ac­ters.

Let me tell you a sto­ry, I have a very speci­fic rea­son I bring up Nei from Phantasy Star II. When I was very young, before I could prop­er­ly hold a con­troller, I watched my broth­er play Phantasy Star II on the Sega Genesis. I would watch in amaze­ment, cheer when he won, and give him a hug and a “try again!” when he lost (I was so nice when I was like, four). When he start­ed to near the end of the game, it became very omi­nous. *SPOILER ALERT, ENDING OF PHANTASY STAR II* In the final boss bat­tle, before the fight­ing starts, Nei is killed in a final moment of true evil from the ene­my. Little me lost her damn mind.


BRING NEI BACK!” I yelled at my broth­er, grab­bing his sleeve and yank­ing him from side to side while he scrolled through bat­tle options.

I can’t! Now get off of me!” He yelled while try­ing to com­bat both the final boss and a pissed off lit­tle sis­ter.

I even­tu­al­ly went to my mom, sob­bing. I explained that my favorite char­ac­ter (the girl with the pur­ple hair) was killed and my broth­er had to have done it on pur­pose just to be mean to me. My broth­er came out and explained that was how the game was writ­ten, which was then sup­port­ed by my mom. She explained it’s just like a sto­ry in a book, it couldn’t be changed because that’s how it was writ­ten.

Why go into this long wind­ed detail about how ridicu­lous I was at a young age? Because it proves a point; Games are able to cre­ate sto­ries and tales that draw us in, and in ways we would nev­er imag­ine. They take us to places we nev­er knew exist­ed or could only vis­it in our dreams. They are engag­ing in a way that no oth­er media is, and that engage­ment tran­scends many bound­aries. After watch­ing my broth­er play Phantasy Star II, I became obsessed with video games. How could some­thing like that make some­one feel so much emo­tion? How could we get so attached to char­ac­ters?

2511451-banjo+(1)As time went on and I played more games with more var­ied pro­tag­o­nists, male and female, human and not, I start­ed to real­ly learn some­thing about video games. The gen­der, race, or any oth­er fea­ture of that type real­ly does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mat­ter to a char­ac­ter, what mat­ters is how well writ­ten the char­ac­ters are. This has even been found by Adrienne Shaw of DiGRA, in her study “He Could Be a Bunny Rabbit For All I Care.” In this study, it was found that play­ing as a char­ac­ter who was dif­fer­ent than the play­er, like in gen­der, did not change or detract from the enjoy­ment of the game. Young girls and wom­en can find role mod­els in any type of per­son, regard­less of gen­der, in video games. All it takes is to not judge a game before you play it, and you’ll see the vast amount of pos­i­tive char­ac­ters who have been cre­at­ed. These char­ac­ters are indi­vid­u­als who are all the good things we look for in oth­ers; Brave, noble, hon­est, and fierce­ly pro­tec­tive of their friends and fam­i­ly. Even non-human char­ac­ters like Banjo Kazooie show the­se traits, which is why he has become such an icon­ic and beloved char­ac­ter. Lessons such as love, loss, for­give­ness, and even how to deal with death are dis­cussed in games, by char­ac­ters of all types and walks of life. Well writ­ten char­ac­ters can teach even the tough­est of lessons in the most approach­able ways, such as why peo­ple sac­ri­fice their life for oth­ers, in Final Fantasy VII.

All in all, wom­en don’t need female game char­ac­ters to feel as though a sto­ry is inclu­sive and “for them”. All the­se char­ac­ters need is to be well writ­ten, show­ing the full range of emo­tions, moti­va­tion, and even their wants and needs. There are many sto­ries that are told that have valu­able lessons in which you play as a male pro­tag­o­nist. There is no rea­son why a young girl could not learn the­se lessons from pos­i­tive role mod­els of any gen­der in games. Gender does not play a role in how inher­ent­ly good or evil some­one is. Women do not need to see wom­en doing good things to under­stand they’re good things. Thinking wom­en need to see a wom­an doing some­thing to grasp that it is a good thing is, quite frankly, an insult to wom­en.

At the end of the day, great writ­ing will always trump out tokenism. Great role mod­els exist in all forms, male or female, and they should be embraced for their char­ac­ter, not their gen­der.

https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/header-women.pnghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/header-women-150x150.pngMartyrOpinionWomen in GamesIn the games media at large, there has been an ongo­ing dis­cus­sion about inclu­siv­i­ty, espe­cial­ly of wom­en in video games and gam­ing cul­ture. While I can’t speak on behalf of any oth­er “gamer girls,” I can say, from my expe­ri­ences, I’ve seen inclu­siv­i­ty in gam­ing for years, lit­er­al­ly as…
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Lover of video games, met­al, and hard cider. Amateur video game music com­poser and YouTuber at Video Culture Replay. Armed with a degree in psy­chol­o­gy, she thinks she knows it all (and some­times actu­al­ly gets it right). Also skilled with the oboe and wran­gling chil­dren.