Mar 18, 2013

The One Where Video Games Can't Have Female Main Characters

In my previous review of Tomb Raider, I mentioned how there's a difference, I believe, in how men and women experience a video game based on the gender of the character they are playing.  I pointed out how due to Lara Croft being a female, that when she was put in extreme danger, including a scene where it appeared that she was in danger of being raped, that it puts some men in a position of wanting to protect her.  I don't view that as "sexist" or "misogynist", just a matter of fact.

I posited that if any man could see something like that and not want to do something about it, then they're a sociopath and possibly worse.  I understand that there are many women who find it unfortunate, and infuriating, that there are men who feel the need to protect them, as those women feel they are perfectly able to save themselves.  As if the idea of a man being protective, somehow lessens the woman's image of being able to be anything but a Damsel in Distress.

I disagree, obviously, and think taken to it's logical conclusion, would that also mean that if someone WAS attacking a woman, that the man shouldn't step in?  They should just keep on going, because the woman is independent and doesn't need rescuing?  Maybe that sounds absurd, I don't know.

I do acknowledge though that there is a lot of sexism out there, especially in the gamer community as it relates to women.   And as if we needed more examples of that, we have one that came out today where Capcom's upcoming third person action game "Remember Me" was rejected by multiple publishers because the main character, Nilin, is a woman.

                                               MORE AFTER THE BREAK

Via Penny-Arcade:

“It was not a decision,” he said. “It was something that just felt right from the beginning. It's one of those things that we never looked at from a pure, cold marketing perspective because that would have endangered the consistency of the whole game.”

That doesn't mean Nilin's sex wasn't on other people's minds, though. By the time Remember Me was shown to prospective publishers, it was too late to change Nilin from a woman to a man, and this was enough to cause potential backers to abstain from publishing the game. “We had some that said, 'Well, we don't want to publish it because that's not going to succeed. You can't have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that,'” Morris told the Report.

So this goes back to a very real, unfortunately, situation where there are many male gamers who flat out refuse to play a game if the main character is a woman.  Whether the sexism is conscious or subconscious, they just won't do it because they feel they can't relate to the character, or due to just flat out misogyny.

Oh but the discrimination and ignorance doesn't stop at simply sexism, folks, we have a little homophobia to throw in there too.

Even if Morris had changed Nilin to be male, that solution produced its own drama. “We wanted to be able to tease on Nilin's private life, and that means for instance, at one point, we wanted a scene where she was kissing a guy,” Morris said. “We had people tell us, 'You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward.'”

Morris chuckled. “I'm like, 'If you think like that, there's no way the medium's going to mature,'” he said. “There's a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it's not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game. I don't know, that's extremely weird to me.”

Now that's not the worst example of homophobia out there, but it's still there.  This fear that if you have two males kissing in a game (one of them being the main character that gamers will play as) that will somehow remix their memories and make them gay or something?  I dunno. I think it DOES clue you in that these people don't quite understand that being gay is not a choice or something that is going to occur due to playing a video game or watching a movie or whatever.  It's something that you are born as and is your identity.

Personally if a game is good, I don't care what character gender it is.  I've enjoyed playing as Lara Croft just as much as I've enjoyed as a male character such as Nathan Drake, or Kratos or Sackboy.  I mean, as I pointed out in my review of Tomb Raider, there's a different emotional attachment, I believe, but as far as sitting down and enjoying it, who gives a shit what gender the character is?

It almost reminds me of hard core racist that I knew once who lived in my apartment building who when I showed him a copy of the movie "Three Kings" (starring George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg) refused to watch it saying "I don't think black people should be in main roles in movies.".  That's a paraphrase, as he used a different descriptor for black people, but yeah.  Other than that it's a direct quote.

I'll never understand people like that, but I'd like to think they are in the small minority in this world.  Yeah, I'm blissfully hopeful like that.

As for "Remember Me" I've been looking forward to this for a few months now since I first heard about it.  The concept is intriguing to me, and I've had it pre-ordered for a month now on Amazon.  Just a few more months before the release.

For all the shit I give Capcom about their treating their customer base as an ATM with their games, I give them props for at least not towing the line of a lot of other publishers, and ignoring the sexism.  Kind of sad we give props now for something that should be just a regular thing, huh?


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