Equality Now - a Counter Argument
This e-mail was sent to me by Mewd, and it's a good discussion of female characters that break the stereotypes portrayed by videogames.
I'd like to pose an arguement to you on the subject, I'm not going to deny that there is a problem with gaming and almost every media exploiting the female form for the sake of profit, but you're excluding some important counter points to your examples!
The Gender Equality area is severely lacking in a few of the better examples of females in gaming, What about Lenneth Valkyrie for example?
Lenneth plays the part of a near emotionless Grim Reaper of sorts in a world based on Norse Mythology, if anything, she is cold and unfeeling, she is never rescued, and plays a dominate part in the game as the main character. She looks on in half sympathy as the tradgies of humanity unfold, and she gathers souls to fight in a losing battle in Midgard. She is the antithesis of the examples you have listed in the section. She is never pandered with, and is never seated in an ivory tower to be glossed by her knight in shining armor. Instead, she has a bittersweet romance with the man she gathers from death, only to have him die by the hands of Loki. The villian. She, in the best ending of the game, manages to rebirth the destruction of Midgard, and revive her love interest. She infact, becomes the hero of the male.
Suikoden had tons of female characters, and none that were exploited. They all played passive and active roles, some were required to rescue, some were active party members, but so were the males. There may have been a fair more male warriors the female, but is still a prime example of a game that in no way panders or portrays females unfairly.
Tron Bonne from the Mega Man Legends series? A villianous, if not lovable woman. At no point while she is controlling giant robots in an attempt to squash Megaman into a sauce like paste, is she portrayed as the stereotype we're accustomed to. While she has a ditzy romance for Megaman, it is more earnest than an excuse to have the lead have females swooning over him. She is comandeering and blunt, leading a troop of servbots to pillage and destroy towns, she is not to be taken lightly. In her spinoff game, 'Misadventures of TronBonne' she even goes as far to prove to her male siblings that she's not the useless child they think she is, as she rescues them from being kidnapped and held for ransom by their debtor.
Mint from Threads of Fate? Rude, blunt, obnoxious, and violent. This may be bad traits to show for a female character as an example of fair treatment, but when we start treating story telling as characters poliTIcally correct, we lose alot to the story. Mint is easily the most endearing attraction to the game. Her attempts to take over the world single handedly in order to get back at her older sister are as petty as they are amusing.
Females are always pandered, abused, stereo typed, and treated poorly as characters. Sometimes, earnestly, designers honestly make females that aren't made to just attract male gamers for profits, not every story teller is corrupt! Females in gaming get fair portrayals along with the abuse!
Silhouette Mirage, the female lead is a three inch tall, doll like little girl, who kicks some serrious heinny. She wades through mountains upon mountains of enemies and titanous bosses with an adorable smirk and increasing mayhem. The dialogue is ripe with honest story telling, and not a hint of pandering. She even proceeds to beat up a bunny girl cardboard cutout to reveal the boss is secretly a frumpy little bug of a purse monster. She saves the world single handedly, and doesn't even have any cleavage to speak of. A prime example.
Maribal from Dragon Warrior Seven? She starts out being stereotypical enough, a little village girl who seems more then likely to be kidnapped before the opening credits finish. But, she turns out to be a total tomboy who is twice as forward as the brash prince who is best friends with the main character, and manages to sneak her way into trouble more then once in an attempt to get a share of adventure. She struggles against characters who would rather she sit at home and be a good girl. Instead, she obnoxiously forces her way into the party and plays a dominate part until her father gets sick. Later she returns completely and proceeds to help crack some skulls.
Let's try some bigger franchises, how about Final Fantasy? A personal favorite of mine.
The female cast of FFtactics, while the majority are as faceless as the men, a female Paladin plays the part of a very powerful ally, who, while being rescued at one plot point is even outweighed by the number of males in the story you have to rescue!
Freya from FF9! A lone warrioress seeking out her male counterpart. A reverse of roles, as it were. Terra, and Celes play dominate rolls in FF6 as alternating main chartacters. While the brothers Figaro may have swooned over Terra near the beginning, they are both treated respectfully.
The cast of FF5 was mostly female! Five main characters, and by the end of the game, the main character was overwhelmed as three females took up the rest of the party space. All equals on the battlefield. The pirate boss may have felt insecure that her crew would not take her serriously if she had revealed she was a women, but in the end, the crew treated her no differently!
All of these games were produced from the depths of Japan, where a culture that defines women as a secondary class. Can it be truly saId that females get an unfair hand of gaming when they even rise above that culture to have defined characters that break stereo types?
Can a game still be good when a female is needed to be rescued? Can a female still have bits of the stereo type personality of being demure and passive still be part of a great story? Yes. They can, and have. Not every female needs to break the bonds of stereotypes to be real and fair. Blatant pandering is bad, of course, but I don't want it being said that females aren't given any sort of fair role in gaming.
My point is, females are not always treated as stereotypical faceless objects to propel a shallow plot or get more sales from horney teenagers. That doesn't mean they AREN'T, but they aren't all the time. Simple, see? One can't condemn a media as there are always the diamonds in the rough.