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Female Protagonist

Should There be Female Protaganists?

  • Yes

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  • No

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  • Don't Care

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  • No Comment

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amaterasu

Writer
Joined
May 21, 2011
Location
FL, USA
Gender
Female
I didn't find a thread like this, and kinda wondered why.
It seems in games that it's always the female getting stolen and the male has to save her. Well, why can't we have female heros? In a couple of games there are female heros *cough okami cough* but not as many as i feel they should be.
call it sexist, call it what you want, but still. (i pretty much feel this way because i AM female... :dry:) so... comment i guess.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2011
i agree to this because of the way females are portrayed in the media most of the time, i want to see something done right with them as much as possible, video games or not because while two different genders exist we are still humans and we are to be treated as humans at all times
 

misskitten

Hello Sweetie!
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Location
Norway
That's what I liked about Fable when the sequels came out, they expanded their concept of "the hero" and you could choose to play a female character instead of a male. I don't understand why they didn't do this already from the get-go, though... considering the hero was a nameless character and there was no particular reason he had to be male.

It does annoy me when game protagonists constantly are male and you don't even get the option to choose something else. And usually when we do get female protagonists, it's usually a game where you could choose between male and female. I can only think of a few game series where we get a specified female protagonist (and not a choose who you want to play game), like Tomb Raider with Lara Croft, Bloodrayne with Rayne (we do have the Buffy-games, too, but they were based on a TV-show so I don't think they count, plus in the sequel we end up playing several male characters from the show as well), both of which where the character design heavily focuses on making them sex symbols for the nerdboys. I'm not complaining, but I do think the gaming industry tend to forget their female customers.
 

NorthApple

GIVE ME THE APPLE!!
Joined
Jul 15, 2009
Location
UK :D
It's funny, I stumbled on an article relating to this the other day... it's worth a read if you have time.

It is true the industry still needs some work in regards to its general portrayal of females... but it's gotten better. True, some female protagonists are like Lara Croft of Princess Peach, but I'd like to point out I can probably think of a handful that aren't, and to me that's some progress. Faith from Mirror's Edge especially springs to mind... gameplay issues aside, the developers of Mirror's Edge specifically stated they wanted to make Faith seem more approachable and real. If you find an image of her, you can see she isn't some weak, helpless maiden only fit for kidnapping, nor is she especially feminine, and she isn't some kinda of supermodel in revealing clothing either. She's pretty fierce and persistent in a way that her backstory justifies, but underneath that she's also caring and worries about her sister's safety, like any sibling would.

There's also Chell from Portal, who again, isn't weak and isn't meant to be eyecandy. True, Portal is in 1st person perspective (rather than 3rd person, so you only really get glimpses of her if you set two portals up near each other). But Chell's been trapped in the Aperture Science Testing Facility for god-knows how long, and rightfully she looks pretty dishevelled and wild because of it. It's also stated at one point she was originally rejected for testing since she was unnaturally stubborn (which would have skewed the averages etc if they had used her). It's also implied she's pretty darn intelligent, considering the fact the "testing" involves working your way through a variety of puzzle rooms with only the portal gun to aid you... puzzles that require really good spatial awareness and something many players, both male and female, struggle with at some point.

Anyway... personally it actually doesn't bother me that there's not that many female protagonists in games. If the gameplay is challenging, or the story is intriguing and the characters are nice and developed... then that's what determines if I enjoy the game or not, regardless of the gender of the player character. And this is coming from a female c:

Ohh, and for the record... there have been a few threads along these lines in the past, but it's about time for another one since they seem to have been buried XDD
 
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LolGames4U

Viceroy of Area 11
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
Location
USA
I really hate how females are portrayed. Samus Aran is a pretty awesome character, but look at Other M; Team Ninja wanted to use every opportunity to show of her body and...assets. That's not going to help boys treat women better and not look at them as just sex toys. Chell from Portal is an awesome example, as she looks like a regular girl! Peach REALLY bugs me, as did Zelda in the older days, but now she does her fair part, like in Spirit Tracks, being Sheik in OoT, and assisting Link in Twilight Princess.
 

Norisom

Hero of Something...
Joined
May 21, 2010
Location
Canada
It all depends on the game in my opinion, when it comes to Zelda, I think they should definitely stick with a male Link.
 

amaterasu

Writer
Joined
May 21, 2011
Location
FL, USA
Gender
Female
^ I agree with you on male link, because that's how its been done since Miyamoto started Zelda. Though if they come out with a brandy new series, i'd like to see some female protagonists.
 

GanonSlayr

Vermin Supreme 2012!!!
The truth is, most gamers are male. so they would want to play as a male protagonist.i'm not saying female gamers don't exist, i'm just saying there are more male gamers. I don't think a game should add in a choice to be a girl if its unecessary. also, this is done in media all the time. i do think that they should be portrayed a little more realistically, though.
 

amaterasu

Writer
Joined
May 21, 2011
Location
FL, USA
Gender
Female
Mrs. Pacman was about as close as we got in Retro Gaming as far as I can remember. Even one of the ghosts was a female
Blue: Inky
Red: Blinky
Pink: Pinky
Orange: WAIT FOR IT....
Clyde!
 

misskitten

Hello Sweetie!
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Location
Norway
The truth is, most gamers are male. so they would want to play as a male protagonist.i'm not saying female gamers don't exist, i'm just saying there are more male gamers. I don't think a game should add in a choice to be a girl if its unecessary. also, this is done in media all the time. i do think that they should be portrayed a little more realistically, though.
Just because "most gamers are male" doesn't mean the female gamers should be virtually ignored. It is kinda insulting that even when there are female protagonists it's so obvious they're designed for the male demographic with the way they are shaped and clothed... And why is it so wrong to add the choice to be a girl in games? Sure, it doesn't work in all games, but there are many games out there where there is no specific story demand that the character is male. There is virtually nothing a man can do that a woman can't do. Adding the choice helps not to alienate a group of customers. I honestly prefer games that give you the choice, because you can identify with the character you play so much more. It's not like we're suggesting a revolution here and put in the choice in every single game, so that we'll get to play "Harriet Potter" or "Lars Croft" (just for the sake of equality)... but more female protagonists (that isn't designed to be a nerdboy's wet dream) and especially more choice in games can only be a good thing...
 

Linknerd09

Luigi Fan
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Apr 20, 2010
Location
Hyrule Castle
Gender
Hylian
Aside that Samus is the only Female Protagonist I've seen, I think we could use some more Female Protagonist. They do rightfully deserve to be a heroine or something like that. Just because women are women and be kipnapped by a villain always, doesn't mean they can be heroes, right?
 

NorthApple

GIVE ME THE APPLE!!
Joined
Jul 15, 2009
Location
UK :D
Did a bit of digging back through the archives to find my old argument for this... (was in response to a question the BBC posed on this). I apologise in advance for any sarcasm, and if I step on anyones toes at any point in this post ._.

Maybe I've misinterpreted it, but when I looked at the various articles on the BBC's site the broadcast suggested, it seems to indicating that more 'games should have a female character inserted into them to instantly make them more appealing to "girl gamers".'

Yes, because that would work [/sarcasm]. That's the impression I got, but regardless of whether that's what they're really getting at, I wanted to bring it up... since I don't know about you, but I find a major issue with that logic. Inserting a playable female character into say, your typical FPS seems pretty pointless to me, since from what I've seen, the females who enjoy that genre don't usually feel the need for a female character, they're perfectly find playing as a dude (for various reasons, from not wanting to face the cry of T!TS OR GTFO to just not being bothered about it). And that leads me rather long-windedly to the main thing that's been bothering me: Do females really need female characters to enjoy 'hardcore' games to the full? Do things need to change?

Now, I'm not exactly your 'typical' female, but I know what my answer to that is. Presumably that logic is based around the thought that females are able to connect better with female characters, and thus the experience will be more immersive for us/them... but to be honest, the only times I've ever felt I couldn't properly connect with a male protagonist is when they were engaging with female NPCs. More specifically, when they were flirting and so on, for obvious reasons. But even then, actions on the more loving/caring/romantic/fraternal end of the spectrum don't pull me out of the experience at all, things like that don't stop me from empathising with the male character.

And then during fighting/battling... it's just a game, and I find the gender of the character matters little when you're in the middle of beating the crap out of enemies... when horde of them are coming at you I find I have much more important things to concentrate on than what equipment the character has in their pants (to put it bluntly), you know, like not being killed by the enemies for one.

Besides, I'm a big believer in the fact that games great because they are windows to experiences you could never have in real life... and for females, when it actually comes up in gameplay, seeing the world through the eyes of a dude is one of them.
I'm aware it doesn't excuse the fact that there's still a good proportion of games that have rather stereotypical female NPCs, and the fact that a few more female protagonists certainly wouldn't do anyone any harm... misskitten, you make a good point about that. However, I repost this just to bring up some of the positives that can come from having male protagonists and to point out that there are a good number of cases where having a female option would be unnecessary, and wouldn't really add anything to the game. I assume this is one of the reasons why there aren't that many female protagonists- because to developers it's more effort that it's worth. As I mentioned, the lack of a female option does not always alienate a section of the audience, it depends of the genre of the game, because often (allow me to make a rather broad statement) the people who think the game requires a female option in order for them to be able to enjoy that game fully are often the section of the audience that game would not appeal to in the first place, regardless of whether you can pick the gender of the player character. In those cases the argument that the game would appeal to a larger audience if it had a female option is rather null-and-void (as per the example above). I'm aware that isn't always the case with every person or every game, but point remains that it quite frequently is the case, and it's something to think about if you're ever tempted to say "Developers should do, or else they are alienating half their audience". As touched on in the quote above, there are various genres (any of the more action/gameplay driven ones) where a female option is unnecessary, and irrelevant to the amount of enjoyment a player gets out of a game- and in some online FPS circles where female players may wish to conceal their gender and not stand out from the guys, a female option could actually detract from enjoyment should players choose to use it because it can be a magnet for harassment. (Of course, that's not technically the fault of the female option and more the fact there's some rather sexist players out there, and I'm aware that you don't have to take advantage of the option just because it's there... but if no one is going to take advantage of it why should developers bother putting it in? Answer: they often don't.)

In the end, althought it's unfair Developers are in it for the money, and burly men and curvy women sell, so that's what they're gonna make. Remember the saying saying: Sex Sell. Even so, at the same time it's also in their best interests to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, in order to make more sales. Developers do know what they are doing, and they've probably considered all of this a lot more than what many people seem to give them credit for. They already understand to some extent where to draw the line... for example, a lot of RPGs do offer the option to play as a female, because RPGs tend to be a lot more story driven, and thus the player's emotions towards the characters and the situations come into play a lot more. Because of this, it's a lot more likely for the player to encounter emotional dissonance with the character if they are of opposite genders, and developers realise this, and so it makes sense for them to put in the extra effort to design and e.g. record voices for a wider range of protagonists, and tweak the narrative (when not done properly, it can end up clunky) in order to make sure more players have as good an experience with their game as possible. However, in games that are more action oriented, you'll find the female option is a lot less common, since in games that are action oriented the player is less likely to experience emotional dissonance with the character (because of their gender, at least), because the player is too engaged in the action to notice (as I put rather bluntly above). And so developers have noticed there isn't much point spending extra money adding a feature that won't help them shift a significant amount more copies of their game.

That doesn't mean they've got the line in exactly the right place yet, and it doesn't mean that they couldn't do with a little work in regards to the portrayal of female characters. It'd be nice if they'd be a little more daring and have another genuine female protagonist one in a while, just for the sake of it, without them having to factor in how it would affect their sales first. My apologies if I'm going over something you, the reader, already knows, but I'm just pointing out that there is in fact method to it, and there is genuine reasoning behind why they don't always give the option for females. It isn't that developers are just being thoughtless and/or sexist (at least, not all the time :\ ).

Final point: I do still sometimes get emotional dissonance in some more story-driven games with female protagonists, and not because female isn't realistic but because I just don't agree with what they're doing/saying/thinking. Changing the gender of character doesn't solve that though, that's usually just bad writing XD
 

insanity76

I don't suffer from it ..
Joined
Jun 17, 2010
Location
Texas
I've played a few games with a female protagonist: Metroid (Samus, though you don't discover your character's female until the end), Perfect Dark (Joanna), Phantasy Star (Alis). There's also Silent Hill 3 (Heather) but I haven't played it. I like the diversity that some companies will go to as far as protagonist genders, though I agree with those who mentioned concern with them being designed with more of an intention to be a sex object than to be diverse. The 3 games I played didn't cater to that ... Joanna from PD maybe to a very mild extent (and a much bigger extent in the Xbox 360 PD Zero debacle), but in the original one, Rare put much more emphasis on her toughness and heroism as the protagonist than they did her sex appeal.
 
M

Mak

Guest
Grass is always greener. There are plenty of things wrong with how men and women are portrayed in games and the media in general.

Though the problem here is that most game developers are male, and women are far more 'visual' in the way they appeal to the opposite sex than men are. That, and sex sells. So most developers arn't going to create unsexy or unstereotypical female characters any time soon. You could name some exceptions, but you'd be hard pressed to find many major female gaming characters that are not young-looking, do not have immaculate skin, not relegated to a standard gender role, and so on.
 

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