The Weekly Geek: Women in video games grow some backbones


If you are a gamer, there’s no doubt that you have plenty of feelings on the topic of sexism in games. While the industry as a whole has come a long way in terms of being inclusive for women (with strong female protagonists or supporting characters, and the ability in many games to play as a female character), there’s one genre that hasn’t really gotten the memo yet – the J-RPG.

In a fantastic feature that goes into the social, cultural and societal reasons why Japanese RPG’s feature lame, helpless ladies, writer Eileen Stahl effectively highlights new progress without excusing the prevalence of what she calls the “Wussy RPG Girl.”

From the piece:

If you’ve ever played a JRPG, particularly one from before the early 2000s, chances are you’ve encountered the Wussy RPG Girl. Meek and doe-eyed, these healer characters double as the love interest and are usually billed as the “heroine,” though they seem to possess little power of their own. In fact, it’s rare that they do anything more heroic than grappling with low self-esteem or getting kidnapped — which tends to happen a minimum of twice.

She also gets major points for the following line, which actually made me guffaw at work:

Happily, ladies with spines are finally starting to outnumber the wusses. Nevertheless, writers should keep in mind that giving Mike Tyson breasts and a sword might not be the best way to go about doing it.

When I play games of any sort, I always pick a female avatar (if I can) and like to play as a badass. I grew up watching Aliens and Terminator 2 and later, Xena and Buffy, so I (thankfully) had plenty of awesome ass-kicking ladies to model my fantasy behavior on.

This is one reason why the recent Metroid: Other M was so disappointing. The protagonist, Samus, has starred in the Metroid series since 1988. She’s a complete, stoic badass – a bounty hunter who takes on planets’ worth of space monsters for breakfast. However, in the new game, she’s presented as an immature little girl who gushes into her diary and needs a strong male figure to guide her on her way. It’s a major bummer to see this iconic woman reduced to a teenybopper caricature, especially one who has “special feelings” for her father figure and military commander.

I vote to just make her a super badass butch lesbian in the next game. She can have a hot girlfriend that she teams up with to defeat alien scum, then they go home and have wild zero gravity sex in their spaceship to celebrate.

OK, so maybe Nintendo won’t go for it.

Readers, I’d like to hear your input – do you play JRPG’s? Did you love/hate the latest Metroid game and need to vent? Let’s talk sexism in games.

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