Something That I’ve Wanted To Write About For A While…

…but just haven’t quite gotten around to it. That topic? The dearth of female main characters in video games.

We’ve all heard this excuse, I’m sure: games with female main characters simply do not sell well. I would like to posit that this is bullshit. Silent Hill 3’s main character is a young woman, and it’s considered to be one of the best games in the franchise. The latest Tomb Raider game was released in March to critical acclaim. Even if Parasite Eve isn’t one of Square Enix’s most lucrative properties it still did well enough to warrant a couple of sequels.

I think that the main reason is that game companies are afraid of alienating men, who they still see as their core audience. Even though an increasingly large number of women are getting into gaming. They think that men aren’t going to be able to relate to a female character.

Well, here’s the answer I have to that: why should I, as a woman who happens to game, be expected to relate to male characters?  Because there are male characters (not just in video games, but across all media) that I do relate to, and I’m sure that there are many men out there who are capable of relating to female characters as well. Why can’t our media landscape reflect the gender diversity of the real world?

I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

2 thoughts on “Something That I’ve Wanted To Write About For A While…

  1. I actually agree with you. Interestingly enough, some of my favorite games of all time are games where women are the main characters. The Resident Evil Series, Parasite Eve, Tomb Raider and more recetly… Bayoneta. A lot of these popular games with female main characters seem to sale very well and it actually kind of baffles me that there aren’t more games with a female protagonist. Most guys (that I know at least) have a thing for a woman that can kick ass and hold her own. I think it’s the reason so many people love movies like Kill-Bill. Well, I’ve rambled long enough. Good read.

  2. It’s a slightly tricky issue. Publishers insist that games with female protagonists don’t sell as well, but market research has also shown that games with female protagonists only get half the marketing budget of games with male main characters. As it stands, there is no objective apples-to-apples comparison in the industry, and nobody wants to be the one to take on that risk.

    You might be interested in checking out Remember Me, which is coming out in a month. The developer, Dontnod, has mentioned in interviews that several publishers rejected the game on the basis that the main character, Nilin, is female. It’ll be an interesting case study, even if it too lacks a large marketing budget.

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