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 Post subject: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 10:39 am 
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I was going to link this great article to a few people, but I think everyone interested in the subject (and not Sarkeesian herself) should read it:

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So the Anita Sarkeesian debate is a thing that's been going on. If you somehow missed it then Jim Sterling did a summary of the exchange in his Jimquisition show a couple of weeks back: Anita Sarkeesian - The Monster Gamers Created. And just because I'm trying to be super-careful about tone here; I'm not actually endorsing the idea that she's a monster. Jim does a lot of exaggerated bombast in his show, my column doesn't, and I don't want anyone getting confused that I'm calling her a monster.

Okay? Cool. Moving on...

I've wanted to write this since she did her Kickstarter back in June, but the backlash was so stupid and vile that I didn't want anything to do with it. I have a few minor objections to the video series she's proposed, but I didn't want my talking points to get picked up and recycled by the crazed ankle-biting murlocs that have been screaming insults and threats at her since day one. Behaving like civilized human beings is way more important than the gender of any particular videogame character. To put it another way: I don't care what your views are, once you're throwing around threats of violence and rape, I am never on your side. Not even if you're just "joking," you wacky internet rapist funnyman.

The idea of Sarkeesian's web series is to look at the various tropes of how women are portrayed in games. The splash image on the Kickstarter page says it all - a bunch of female characters who are half-naked, ditzy, helpless, and weak. This is how the hobby looks to a lot of women. It would be like if all male characters were rip-offs of Fabio, Justin Bieber, or Edward Cullen. It's not that I think those guys shouldn't exist, but they're obviously here to entertain women. If all male characters were like them, I'd spend a lot of my gaming time rolling my eyes and sighing. Can't I play as a badass once in a while? What, ANOTHER spineless boy-toy? Come on! Why do all the characters exist for women?

My wife and my two daughters are gamers, and they run into this a lot. They get excited when they find out a game has a female character, and then disappointed when she turns out to be nothing more than a stepping stone for THE MAN to showcase his badassery.

And that's what this all comes down to. Your typical AAA action game is a power fantasy designed to allow the player to feel strong, smart, clever, or noble. They can save the girl, get revenge, help the people, enforce justice, or blow things up. Whatever. It's usually aimed at guys and you're usually doing stuff that guys fantasize about doing. And that's fine. I love those games as much as any guy. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with the fantasy itself, or that games should stop trying to please the male audience. I'm just saying there are a lot of women who also enjoy a good power fantasy, and they want to play too. There's room for everyone in this hobby, and we can do better than we're doing now.

But the focus of the Tropes vs. Women series seems to be missing the point. It's not that the premise is inherently invalid, it's just that focusing on secondary characters when we have so few protagonists is like arguing over the thermostat during a house fire.

In your bog-standard action story, you've got the protagonist, the antagonist, and everyone else. As mentioned, the protagonist is almost always male. If you've got a male protagonist, then the antagonist is probably male as well. (Not saying man hero vs. woman villain can't work, but I'm sure you can see how that could go horribly wrong for everyone.) So if we're going to have women in our story, they get relegated to the secondary roles as victims, prisoners, peasants, romance interests, exposition vessels, plot devices, oracles, mentors, adoring admirers, and so on. These tropes aren't some sort of conspiracy to keep women down and convince them they can't be heroic, they're just a byproduct of stories where all of the strength and wit goes to the player's avatar, who is a guy. Listing tropes is just listing all the ways in which a woman is not the hero of the story.

As a way of moving forward and having a productive conversation, I'm much more interested in talking about the central issue: Women want to play too. Right now, games are failing them. Sure, we get the odd female lead, but they are few and far between, and too many of them wind up in bad games that are bad for reasons completely unrelated to gender. Velvet Assassin, Wet, and Mirror's Edge come to mind.

You might hold up Bayonetta or Lollipop Chainsaw as games with strong female leads. I might respond by pointing out that the heroines of those titles exist to titillate males, and don't really look much like the idealized hero women want to inhabit. You'll probably respond by pointing out that the cheesecake and fanservice are done ironically. Ok, fine. I won't even debate that point. But it doesn't matter, because your average power-fantasy-seeking female player isn't likely to want to "ironically" stare at another girl's bouncing tits for six hours. It's still not really a game for them in the same way that Max Payne 3 is a game for guys.

So what should a proper female lead look like? Where do you draw the line between "attractive" and "cheap pandering cheesecake"? Which female leads resonate with women? Which ones repel them? Is it better to have a variable gender protagonist like in Fable II where you can choose a gender that basically doesn't matter, or is it better to have a protagonist with a specifically crafted character? What genres of action-type badassery are most attractive to females, and would make a good starting point for a developer looking to court a female audience?

These are all good questions, and they don't have simple answers. More importantly, they can really only be answered by talking to women - preferably in a safe forum away from the screaming murlocs. It's a conversation that should be launched by a woman. I hope that if Sarkeesian doesn't, someone else will.


I might just duck out of the topic now like a devishly handsome forum Zorro leaving articles on the corpse of murdered subject matter.

Have fun.

Edit: Forgot to link to article and give Shamus his well deserved credit.

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 10:50 am 
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Whenever this topic comes up I point to these youtube videos.







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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 2:27 pm 
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you know what i get enf of these

i know that these site where EC talk about itwrong to use Stereotype characters

but you know what it ok to use Stereotype characters same times

i know it big NO NO from evry one here but hear me out

Super mario (and i use the games i find in the title card of these kickstarter project )
yes peach is just there to be saved , and May from king of fighters and most the others are so Stereotype characters.

you know i love stories alot i love good story and if a game have good story ill love it alot , but i know the fact is
games not about story :shock:

story is secondary thing in games

game play , control , graphics and lots other you can;t make a game with out any of them but story you can.

titres
imposply game
minecraft

all great game and there more with no story what so ever

exapet if the game you make is RPG or adventure it better to have as less story as you can

COD players don't even know there are story in there game

so why i support Stereotype characters in video game but not any other media (movies,TV,anime)

like i stayed you need to make the story as less as you can , most gamers want to go for action so they want simply story (these is bad guy, these is good guy .go)

so how you do that Stereotype characters
and Stereotype Stories

Super meat boy,Super mario,final fight,Art of fightings,Dubel dragon (Badguys kidnap you girl go after them)
MK,SF,KOF,FF(there are a tournament)

and it's the same for characters

after all these media start so small that you can't gave that mach diloge to a character
and you can now but that will make the player bored

and anther thing thy do the same in movies , anime and tv
when the make action movies so you save more time for action

if you sale fighting game of childish platform why you gave gone with the wind

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 3:51 pm 
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A well-spoken counter-point without a hint of bile. I like it. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 4:21 pm 
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Characterization and Stories go hand in hand - I can think of one *strong* main character (out of a group) and it would be Raquel from Wild Arms 4 - actually she was the team's bruiser - but not only that, as the story opens up there are chinks in the armor, and it does end up with her pairing with another male character in the end but it doesn't seem at all like it would be in most cases.

I don't want to spoil anything, I actually consider Wild Arms 4 one of the best RPGs I've played.

And you have, I don't know - Lightning, and maybe Terra. I'm trying really hard to think of strong female characters that aren't in a game where you choose the character's sex. Marona (Phantom Brave)? Well she's like....what, 13 years old? Segregation of what "counts" and what doesn't.

Probably Virginia from Wild Arms 3, but I haven't finished the game so that might change.

Generally stories are male-centric, even if the main character is female - and this is usually attributed to the gender of the person writing the story - Women in some of these creative fields are still more often the exception than the standard.

Maybe the way we perceive men and women figures into it - psychologically speaking - its generally shown that women are the more emotionally aware of the sexes - notice that I didn't say "Emotional" but another stereotype - especially in American-like cultures, is that the man is supposed to take the lead.

Oh and that we're as emotionally sensitive as a Rock.

I wonder if the characterization would be different if the story and game came from a country with a higher cultural dimension of matriarchy?
------------------
I guess when you think about it there are just culturally, at least in America, certain things we ind believable for women to do and for men to do.

Taking it to an extreme - In the Narmy sort of Fable II manner - seeing a female character start to take on the physical characteristics of a steroid-taking trans-sexual, burping and farting was a bit um....different. I'm going to go with "different"

Though all of that was for some reason ok with a male character - including being the proverbial slut which I guess means maybe, men have less shame and more to be ashamed of '_'


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 4:36 pm 
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Kaitensatsuma wrote:
And you have, I don't know - Lightning, and maybe Terra. I'm trying really hard to think of strong female characters that aren't in a game where you choose the character's sex. Marona (Phantom Brave)? Well she's like....what, 13 years old? Segregation of what "counts" and what doesn't.


Don't forget Yuna.

But yeah, JRPGs are pretty good at portraying both genders as protagonists.

Also Shamus makes a point in saying that there are some great female protagonists out there, they just happen to be featured in unfortunate games (though I personally count Mirror's Edge as being amazing from start to finish).

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 5:02 pm 
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Studio Ghibli has a fine roster of female characters who could easily fill the roll of protagonist in a video game. Granted film to video game conversions usually suck, but it doesn't mean we can't use the character archetypes frmo Studio Ghibli films. Basically what I am saying is that the world needs a "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" game badly.


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 5:21 pm 
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88Chaz88 wrote:
[
Don't forget Yuna.

But yeah, JRPGs are pretty good at portraying both genders as protagonists.

Also Shamus makes a point in saying that there are some great female protagonists out there, they just happen to be featured in unfortunate games (though I personally count Mirror's Edge as being amazing from start to finish).


I'm not totally convinced that Yuna counts, maybe if you (kind of) throw in FFX-2 - I know people hated the game but its less pandering and cheesecake and more "Yay they brought back a FFT style job system that didn't suck"

and I really liked Mirror's Edge too,

Hm...The Rhapsody or "The Puppet Princess" series generally had a fairly well developed female main. And musicals, awesome, awesome musical bits, but again - Japan.

Why are we (American Developers) so terrible at making strong female characters for aaaalll of the gender equality we seem to want to push as a culture? '_'


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 5:39 pm 
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hamstermk4 wrote:
Studio Ghibli has a fine roster of female characters who could easily fill the roll of protagonist in a video game. Granted film to video game conversions usually suck, but it doesn't mean we can't use the character archetypes frmo Studio Ghibli films. Basically what I am saying is that the world needs a "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" game badly.


Disney characters, as well. Walt Disney, for whatever other faults he had, was willing to put women in relatively empowered roles in ways that were ahead of their time. For all the princesses in Disney, most Disney leads are proactive female main characters. In the original Beauty and the Beast, the focus certainly wasn't on the Beauty. The prince is largely incidental to Cinderella's story. In fact, he's practically a human McGuffin.

I've also said this in some of the other threads, but as much as some of the worst examples of objectification of females occur in Japanese media, I actually see much better portrayals of women in JRPGs and mangas and anime than in much of Western media.

This owes an awful lot to the fact that there are just plain more women writers and women who will buy female-focused games. (Of course, in the case of JRPGs, that owes a lot to the simple fact that they focus upon characterization at all than WRPGs.) The thing is, these games are rarely the ones made by the biggest-name companies.

The recent Squeenix focus on female characters is fairly shallow, but so is their general way of handling storytelling recently. Compare Terra/Tina Branford to Yuna or Lightning. Terra wasn't showy or stylized, and she certainly had a deep feminine side that was as explored as the generally light focus on any given character could be - she would have outright preferred to have been a complete pacifist than save the world, but couldn't refuse the call. Lightning just starts killing things because GRRRR! tough female lead! No time for human emotion!

------------

Oh, and for proactive female leads...

Anything with "Atelier" in the title from Gust. (with a couple exceptions in the Iris series). I've gushed about Atelier Rorona and the rest of the Arland series plenty on this forum, and won't be ashamed to do so, again.
The before-mentioned Puppet Princess series (released as Rhapsody in America, but its sequels weren't released)
Fortune Summoners
Recettear and Chantelise (Crepe Fulgar is pretty much on a roll...)
A few of the Fire Emblem games
Yggdra Union

Even though the fanworks can severely undercut that message, the general theme of canon Touhou is that the fate of the world is in the hands of a handful of women and goddesses with world-busting powers holding back while they whump each other for shits and giggles.

There's even the somewhat dubious/amusing example of My World, My Way, which is about a spoiled princess whose superpower is whining so hard that it alters reality to her whims. The main plot revolves around how she's got a crush on a handsome adventurer who doesn't want anything to do with her since he thinks she's too weak and prissy, so she goes adventuring to kill something so powerful that he'd have to recognize her. Once she winds up saving the world from a demon princess, she comes back to realize he's just an insecure jerk that puts others down to make himself seem better, and she's too good for him, anyway. (But still... her superpower is "pouting", and she has a supply of "pout points" with which she can remodel the world to her liking per day.)

I'd even say that some games with male leads let females play a major enough role to qualify, as well.

Atelier Iris 2, for example, switches focus between the male (swordsman) lead who focuses on the combat, and the female (staff chick) childhood friend who focuses on the alchemy/crafting, but then, 2/3rds of the way through, the male lead gets petrified by the main baddie, and the female lead has to take a crash course in adventuring to go off and rescue him so they can take on the baddie together.

The female lead is obviously in a more passive role, but much more proactive than the norm.


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 6:34 pm 
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88Chaz88 wrote:
Kaitensatsuma wrote:
And you have, I don't know - Lightning, and maybe Terra. I'm trying really hard to think of strong female characters that aren't in a game where you choose the character's sex. Marona (Phantom Brave)? Well she's like....what, 13 years old? Segregation of what "counts" and what doesn't.


Don't forget Yuna.

But yeah, JRPGs are pretty good at portraying both genders as protagonists.

Also Shamus makes a point in saying that there are some great female protagonists out there, they just happen to be featured in unfortunate games (though I personally count Mirror's Edge as being amazing from start to finish).


games that use long stories do it right most the time

but if you have game that gave you 1-2 minet of cut secens each 2 level i think you need to make it simple

you can't have good charcters in all kind of games
fast pace games need faster story so the player go in short to the action :D

if the game have opining that longer thin 5 minet the player may just skip it (and if he can't that a bad move)

and anther things

why women mad that mach , we as men are Stereotyped as mach as thy do

TF2 are Stereotype have for all the men there are Stereotype
the big guy , the spy ,,,,,,
even MGS have Stereotypical military guy

fighting games didn't Stereotyped the girls only you know
look at Guile he is from USA and military guy if i didnt read it in wikipidea i will never know
and it go to all fighting games meal and femeal characters all are Stereotype
except for Guilty Gear these game just so weird
no one can say a cross-dressing boy in Catholic nuns cloth is Stereotype and he is hot

but i still think that a races and sexiest Stereotype is totly bad
i can under stand the military chick or evil queen or any thing but what thy make the girl from X-Blead and bleads of time wear is wrong
i'm ok with sexy cloth if it make sence in the story
but why the guys wear full armors and the girls wear bikini

if the story was on the beach ill be ok with bikini

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 12:32 am 
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Kaitensatsuma wrote:
Characterization and Stories go hand in hand - I can think of one *strong* main character (out of a group) and it would be Raquel from Wild Arms 4 - actually she was the team's bruiser - but not only that, as the story opens up there are chinks in the armor, and it does end up with her pairing with another male character in the end but it doesn't seem at all like it would be in most cases.

I don't want to spoil anything, I actually consider Wild Arms 4 one of the best RPGs I've played.

And you have, I don't know - Lightning, and maybe Terra. I'm trying really hard to think of strong female characters that aren't in a game where you choose the character's sex. Marona (Phantom Brave)? Well she's like....what, 13 years old? Segregation of what "counts" and what doesn't.

Probably Virginia from Wild Arms 3, but I haven't finished the game so that might change.


It's been aaages since I played WA3, and I played it before I started caring about all this other stuff, so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but from what I remember, Virginia was a really great example of a female protagonist. Thanks for reminding me about this, I'd totally forgotten! I really need to get around to play WA4, although that's hard when I no longer have a PS2 :(


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 1:30 am 
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There are....ways. '_'
<.<
>.>

I just took my PS2 games and made ISO copies of them for PCSX2 when my PS2 started clicking REALLY loud and froze randomly.


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 2:14 am 
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I've been looking into ways, but my computer doesn't take kindly to that kind of stress.

Back on topic, the article makes a valid point, but I don't think it's a case of lack of female protagonists being more important than female tropes in games, or vice versa. They're both symptoms of the same problem, which is poor female representation in video games.
Anita Sarkeesian is looking at one side of the problem, cool (although I imagine she will touch on the lack of female protagonists as well, at least a little bit). The solution I think just comes down to better game writing overall, with less focus on the male gaze (more female writers would help here).


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 5:32 am 
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A well-spoken counter-point without a hint of bile. I like it. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 12:13 pm 
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Kaitensatsuma wrote:
88Chaz88 wrote:
[
Don't forget Yuna.

But yeah, JRPGs are pretty good at portraying both genders as protagonists.

Also Shamus makes a point in saying that there are some great female protagonists out there, they just happen to be featured in unfortunate games (though I personally count Mirror's Edge as being amazing from start to finish).


I'm not totally convinced that Yuna counts, maybe if you (kind of) throw in FFX-2 - I know people hated the game but its less pandering and cheesecake and more "Yay they brought back a FFT style job system that didn't suck"

and I really liked Mirror's Edge too,


Yuna in FF X definitely counts as well.

Maybe it's easy to miss because Tidus is the point of view and the player's avatar, but if we talk about roles in the story, I say Yuna and Tidus were pretty equal in terms of prominence and pro-activity. Actually, the game's marketing focused a lot in both characters at the same time. They even released a special music tribute album to both of them.

The same could be said about plenty of other J-RPG female leads.

Now, if we talk about female leads who are ALSO the player's avatar and/or the point of view, then yes, the list grows thinner...

PS: Yes, I think "Mirror's Edge" was pretty great too. It's not like the game explores much of Faith's femininity, but the story doesn't call for it either. She was a fine lead for the game in any case.

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 12:34 pm 
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Xander wrote:
Yuna in FF X definitely counts as well.


No idea about FFX-2 but in FFX Yuna is the de-facto strongest character in the game and the only one who shows any meaningful development. She trumps every single protagonist in every FF game ever.

Spoiler: show
She starts the game as, what we expect to be, a dainty girl. She's soft spoken and her role in the world is pretty submissive overall. For lack of a better term she seems "pussy whipped" by practically everyone around her. When you enter the game she looks to be the stereotypical damsel in distress. Then she turns that sterotype completely around.

First off, she's believed to be marrying Seymour out of sheer duty, but no, she tries to effing assasinate him! How hardcore is that? Next the temple forbids her to go on her pilgrimage (a deadly quest that is ultimately fatal every time) and she breaks out of jail and does it anyway, throwing going against the wishes of everything she's ever known becoming the most wanted criminal in Spira!

Tidus isn't the White Knight of the series, Yuna is. All Tidus is there for is support. He's "Dom's Wife" to Yuna's "Dom".

There is no character that's ever been as badass in a Final Fantasy game as Yuna.

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 2:13 pm 
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88Chaz88 wrote:
Xander wrote:
Yuna in FF X definitely counts as well.


No idea about FFX-2 but in FFX Yuna is the de-facto strongest character in the game and the only one who shows any meaningful development. She trumps every single protagonist in every FF game ever.


Thanks! I was thinking this, but couldn't figure out how to turn thoughts into words to post here. Older FFs have some great female characters in secondary/minor roles (Beatrix!), it's a shame the writing has gone so far downhill.


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 4:15 am 
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This got me thinking, not trying to devise some new Bechdel Test or anything, but. . .

Are there any female video game characters that:
1. Are the primary protagonist of multiple games (e.g. a Master Chief, Kratos, Marcus Fenix, etc.)
2. Are NOT blatantly exploitative/titillating in their dress or actions for a majority of their screen time
and
3. Are not imported from an established IP in another medium (i.e. they're an original video game character)

I find that this really cuts out an overwhelming majority of female characters in video games:
-Oft-cited examples of great female characters get disqualified, such as The Boss (antagonist, albeit a very sympathetic one), Alyx Vance (supporting character) and Jade (only in one game. . . thus far).
-Lara Croft and Bayonetta get DQed on #2, not much explanation needed there.
-A lot of the JRPG women characters fail #1 (either they're not the lead character, or only exist in one title) or #2 (which is highly subjective, I'll concede - but YRL's dress in Final Fantasy X-2 definitely had some titillating elements to it.)

And what's one character that passes the three criteria? Samus Aran, who debuted in 1986. And lately there's been some damage to her qualifications as well - apologies for bringing my favorite punching bag Other M into the discussion - but the incessant Zero Suit T&A shots really started to skew the ratio for criterion #2 in the wrong direction.

There's some other candidates that I can think that may qualify: Jill Valentine and Claire Redfield from the Resident Evil series (again, YMMV on how much #2 applies to Jill), Aya Brea from the Parasite Eve games, and the Valkyrie sisters from Valkyrie Profile (games that haven't had much mainstream exposure, unfortunately).

Maybe I'm missing a few because my knowledge of games is a bit limited breadth-wise (please chime in on anyone I've missed), but it really seems to me that there's a wealth of male characters who have no problem meeting the three criteria, but the list of female video game protagonists who meet them is quite limited and somewhat dubious.

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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 5:21 am 
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Holy on there smokey, I don't think its fair to eliminate characters who are only in one game - most games only get the one incarnation and they're done afterwards - even if you look at male characters you cut that swath down to a handful.


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 5:53 am 
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That's what makes his criteria interesting, since I've been thinking for a bit and can't really think of anyone beyond Samus, Aya and the two Resident Evil characters he mentioned. Jade could join the list if they release Beyond Good & Evil 2 with her in the starring role.

Plus, durandal already said he wasn't trying to make a Bechdel test and the feel of the post made it seem more like a "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" type thing.

Also who calls people smokey these days?


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 6:02 am 
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BadSamaritan wrote:
Plus, durandal already said he wasn't trying to make a Bechdel test and the feel of the post made it seem more like a "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" type thing.

Also who calls people smokey these days?


You also get Jennifer Mui from Mercenaries and Mercenaries 2, but since its a choice of 3 characters that play virtually the same, I guess...eh.

Oh, and Fear Factor Girl, whatsherface. The one with the black hair.

I just feel that if we had the same sort of critique for male characters - No obviously out of proportion "Big Burly Dudes", at least two games as a main and original characters we'd end up with um...

Drake I guess.

I just also realized - are we counting fighting games?


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 6:59 am 
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durandal1707 wrote:
Maybe I'm missing a few because my knowledge of games is a bit limited breadth-wise (please chime in on anyone I've missed), but it really seems to me that there's a wealth of male characters who have no problem meeting the three criteria, but the list of female video game protagonists who meet them is quite limited and somewhat dubious.

I definitely don't think you're wrong here. Part of me wants to point out some recent games that do a good job with female characters without having the sort of "protagonist" that you're looking for, though. Borderlands 2 has, as far as my experience has been, some fantastic female characters - including one that's playable that doesn't really play too heavily to titillation. But it's still not any sort of defining moment for female characterization in games. It's a step in the right direction that I hope won't just be swept away as an exception to the rule in this industry.

EDIT: Definitely forgot that Lyn from Fire Emblem (the first GBA release in North America, i.e. FE7 for those of you who care) was a pretty good female protagonist - at least for the first 10 missions of the game in which she was the protagonist. Then we got handed off to a rather lame lordling named Eliwood, but in my mind Lyn and Hector shared protagonist duties for the bulk of that game... And to that effect, I seem to recall that Lyn was a pretty darn good protagonist. Much better than Micaiah from the Fire Emblem release on Wii (who wasn't bad, per se, but definitely didn't seem like a strong enough personality given her quasi-protagonist role).


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 7:36 am 
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durandal1707 wrote:
Are there any female video game characters that:
1. Are the primary protagonist of multiple games (e.g. a Master Chief, Kratos, Marcus Fenix, etc.)
2. Are NOT blatantly exploitative/titillating in their dress or actions for a majority of their screen time
and
3. Are not imported from an established IP in another medium (i.e. they're an original video game character)


I'm going to have to ask, like the others, why they have to be recurring characters?

A lot of JRPG heroines get bumped off the list just because, by nature of RPG narratives, they get new characters in virtually every game unless the game was originally meant to be an arc. Likewise, WRPGs are select-your-gender and fill-in-your-backstory heroes. Strategy games tend to have nameless, faceless protagonists.

So basically, you're rewriting the rules to virtually only include brawlers, platformers, and FPS franchises... And because those are the genres that focus least upon character and character development (which is why they don't have to switch characters so that they can start character growth over from the starting point again) those are the games with the most exploitatively designed games.

And RPGs are where most of those female writers are working, and where the gender disparity among players is much more even.

Basically, it's rigging the rules to exclude all the best examples...

Again, I'll push this list out, which is notably rather RPG-heavy.

Anything with "Atelier" in the title from Gust. (with a couple exceptions in the Iris series).
The Puppet Princess series (released as Rhapsody in America, but its sequels weren't released)
Fortune Summoners
Recettear
Chantelise
A few of the Fire Emblem games
Yggdra Union
My World, My Way
Basically every WRPG where you can choose your character's face and gender.

Actually, no, I do have a recurring (in that she has two games) FPS heroine - Kate Archer.

=========

peregrin wrote:
EDIT: Definitely forgot that Lyn from Fire Emblem (the first GBA release in North America, i.e. FE7 for those of you who care) was a pretty good female protagonist - at least for the first 10 missions of the game in which she was the protagonist. Then we got handed off to a rather lame lordling named Eliwood, but in my mind Lyn and Hector shared protagonist duties for the bulk of that game... And to that effect, I seem to recall that Lyn was a pretty darn good protagonist. Much better than Micaiah from the Fire Emblem release on Wii (who wasn't bad, per se, but definitely didn't seem like a strong enough personality given her quasi-protagonist role).


Eirika in Sacred Stones is much the same, but you can choose to keep her the main character instead of switching off to her brother.


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 7:53 am 
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WraithMagus wrote:
Eirika in Sacred Stones is much the same, but you can choose to keep her the main character instead of switching off to her brother.

The thing I didn't like about Eirika (and it's similar to my gripes about Micaiah) is that the fact that she has her brother around sort of shunts her into a more traditional gender role in which the brother is the stoic, supportive type to her more sensitive, emotional personality. Honestly, Fire Emblem games tend to be pretty good about not bashing you over the head with those sorts of dichotomies (unlike so many other JRPGs), but it's still a gripe of mine. Lyn was great because she ultimately didn't have that sort of co-protagonist dependence in the same way and it just helped make her feel more... I dunno, independent?

I honestly have to say, though, that I've never appreciated character writing and development in retrospect for a series more than I have for Fire Emblem. For all its high-fantasy elements and traditional JRPG trappings that might suggest standard gender roles and the like, it usually throws enough personalities and characters traits in the mix that you end up with somethings pretty diverse and engaging. Unless this is me wearing rose-colored glasses and completely filtering out any and all problematic dialogues in the games I've played from the series...


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 Post subject: Re: Tropes vs. Women Protagonists
PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 9:14 am 
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You know what guys, we can clearly find tons of great female protagonists out there. One tiny problem though. It's not the recurring game issue, it's the fact that whenever there's a well written female protagonist, they're never the main focus of the game (unless they're scantily clad).

Exception being Samus Aran ofc.

Videogames have yet to have a Buffy or Ripley.

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