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  • Avatar ImageMichael Cook, a level 4 monster with 9 posts — 1 year, 3 months ago:

    I really enjoy playing a good character in videogames. I guess that’s something of an obvious one, right? That’s not to say that stupid characters make me enjoy the game less, but it makes me more comfortable and I’m more likely to play along with the game when I’m in control of someone I believe in.

    When I look at female characters on a selection screen, I think of them as being too easily pigeonholed. There’s the ‘sassy’ one, the ‘brainy’ one, et cetera. But oddly, I don’t think of the male characters in that way, even though it’s often the same story.

    So here’s a question for those interested, in this here forum. When you think ‘Great female characters in a videogame!’ do you think of them as firmly designed character stereotypes, that just happen to be well written? Or do you see them as just natural, normal people that are women?

    And does that extend to male characters too?

  • Avatar ImageKatie D, a level 7 monster with 11 posts — 1 year, 3 months ago:

    Excellent topic.

    I think that for myself, I can think of male characters I pigeonhole as much as female ones. The chivalrous one, the not-so-bright muscleman, the mysterious cloaked guy.

    I may give female ones a little more leeway, perhaps because I don’t want to give up liking characters that have a little more (possibly somewhat superficial?) identity in common with myself. But even though I acknowledged Yuffie in FF7 as “the annoying one” along with my male gamer friends, I still used her in my party, and I later on I enjoyed finding a fancomic — http://growth.smackjeeves.com/ — expanding on her story, and presenting her as a more well-rounded, interesting, and strong character.

    My objective criteria for what makes a great female character in a videogame isn’t much different from what makes a great character, period: realistic, complex, not a flat character, someone I can identify with. I’m not 100% sure what else may sneak into my opinions via my subconscious.

    I do, however, find that it’s easier to see a male character as a “default”, all-around average normal hero guy. I think this is true in a lot of media, because there are already so many stories in our culture and history about men being heroes, or pioneers in whatever they do, that when a woman is a hero in the same kind of capacity, it is noteworthy, and that is how you describe her: a FEMALE hero.

    It’s in our language, too, whenever we refer to “he” as a default pronoun without thinking about it. Choosing “she” as the anonymous hypothetical person makes the readers notice, whether they appreciate the effort or not: here is someone trying to mix up the status quo in their writing.

    Of course, the “someday” goal I’d like to shoot for is to see female heroes being as normal to encounter as male ones.

    I think a tough, related question is this: what does it mean to say, “Here is a strong woman”? Is it one who does everything a man does, and better than the average man? Or is it a woman whose strength is tied up in her female-ness? To use examples that are slightly too complex to completely show a distinct difference (but I can’t think of better, offhand): a Zoe (Firefly), or a Sarah Connor (from the chronicles thereof)? Maybe it can be both…

  • Avatar ImageCK, a level 3 monster with 1 posts — 17 hours, 19 minutes ago:

    One of the advantages of being wretchedly old (56) is delving into the past while venturing into the future. 90 years ago, D.H. Lawrence (the “Lady Chatterly” author), while reading Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure” and contemplating his own book “The Rainbow” wrote a “Study of Thomas Hardy” that soon morphed into a wild concept that even now is only beginning to be explored: The idea of identifying/exploring/liberating the “male” attributes hidden in every female and the “female” attributes hidden in every male. Perhaps game characters might be the ultimate medium through which to get this idea airborne and into orbit as never before.

  • Avatar ImageInksprout, a level 7 monster with 23 posts — 15 hours, 35 minutes ago:

    Perhaps the extent to which you pigeon hole a character you play as actually depends some what on your own gender, as I would also agree with Katie in saying that I find male characters just as easy to fit into stereotypes as female ones.
    I think that the reason this tends to be so easy to do in video game characters especially is tied up in the actual mechanics; where each character has a specific play type, ie thief, or fighter. They look like they are matching a stereotype because that is exactly what they are doing. In games like Skyrim where you can mix and match any appearance with any abilities you want it probably becomes much harder to look at someone’s character and pigeon hole them. I always find it interesting to see what my friend’s character’s look like in those games.

    As far as strong female characters go I think I would again agree with what Katie said, they should be ‘realistic, complex, not a flat character, someone I can identify with.’
    The heroine is usually able to do whatever the hero does, so maybe the trick to writing a good heroine story is one where the female hero doesn’t make any note of the difference in her gender, gender is irrelevant to her actions. Its not so interesting to play a game/read a story with a female hero who spends the whole time lamenting about not being a man. My favourite female video game character at the moment is Female Captain Shepard from the Mass Effect series. The vocals are amazing and give the character great depth. Although the actions she performs are the same as the male version of the character her voice gives everything this strong feminine over tone. Having seen parts of the game with the make character I am of the opinion that FemShep is way better. To me Mass Effect will always be about a female heroine.

 

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Replies to This Discussion

My daughter is currently educating me about gender and the fact that it is nothing more than a social construct - that certain characteristics are assigned maleness and certain characteristics are assigned femaleness...THAT being said, I do think that stereotypes often have some grain of truth - women tend to be more global in their thinking about problems, men tend to take action more quickly, in mho. So, maybe it isn't being gender blind so much as building characters that have depth and mirror things we see in ourselves? OR mirror what we think we'd like to see in ourselves?

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