This week’s column is a response to the “Females on Female Characters” panel we attended at PAX East. (The video of that panel is now available. Fun fact: That’s the back of my head, right in the middle, wearing the green shirt. To my left is Greg Tito.)
We’ve had a few new female leads introduced in the past couple of years, and they’ve unfortunately failed. (For reasons outside of their gender.) Faith from Mirror’s Edge was interesting and visually distinct, but her story was an afterthought and her gameplay didn’t resonate with most gamers. Rubi Malone from Wet was another hopeful, but both her and her game were so unlikeable that Susan Arendt (the host of the panel and obviously someone hankering for a kick-ass female protagonist) had to pan the game. Violette Summer from Velvet Assassin was a worthwhile try. Like a lot of male protagonists, she was bland and empty, which is usually a safe way to keep the protagonist out of the way and let the player focus on the gameplay. Unfortunately the gameplay sucked and I don’t think we’ll be seeing Violette again.
Making matters worse is that Metroid: Other M took the established and well-liked Samus Aran and re-imagined her into a moody dunce who couldn’t use her powers without getting permission from a man, which sounds like hyperbole but isn’t. That’s apparently a real thing in the game.
Anyway, if publishers won’t give us different characters for the sake of diversity, they should at least do it for the sake of variety.
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