There’s a complaint among video game players that female characters are nothing but sex objects or the reward for the male hero to receive after he rescues her from Bowser. Valid points, but I’ve noticed a relatively new trend popping up in games that seems to not only address the problem but catapult it to the other side of the spectrum.
Let me explain: I recently bought Diablo 3 for X Box 360. Now having grown up with the Diablo series, I was always perturbed that in order to be a sorcerer or an assassin I had to either be a scantily clad Storm knock off or a sassy Catwoman knock off respectively. Diablo 3 addressed this issue by making every character either male or female based off an option in character creation. The only thing this changes in gameplay is how the character looks and sounds.
This isn’t the first game I’ve seen this in. I first saw it in Knights of the Old Republic, but I’ve seen it in the Mass Effect series, the Elder Scrolls series and Saints Row. These games keep the stories the same, even though the gender of the character is changed.
I’m not sure if this is really a good thing or not. It seems to me that this makes the statement that gender is a purely cosmetic differentiation and has no sociological differentiations or differences in how different genders react to situations.
Before you start screaming that I’m some sort of misogynist, I’m not saying that female characters should run around in hysterics just because they’re facing a dragon. Take Korra from the Legend of Korra series. Korra’s gender has never come into play in the series, except with her interaction with the Fire Ferrets. Korra’s not out to prove that she’s tough for a girl, or a good female Avatar, she’s out to prove that she’s tough, and that she’s a good Avatar. Yet if her character were to be replaced with a male character, aside from the romantic aspect, would anyone be able to tell? And is that a bad thing?
I guess that’s really the interesting question here: While female characters shouldn’t be dressed up as Playboy bunnies, can these societies really exist? If we didn’t have years of gender oppression or gender stereotyping, would men and women react exactly the same if they were put into the exact same situation?
Of course, this could all just be that it’s easier to make a different skin and voice for a character rather than write and animate two completely different stories based on gender, all to please insufferable fans who prefer playing male characters when it really doesn’t matter to the story, but it’s an interesting thought none the less.
What do you think?