The Internet has been simmering as of late about the lack of female characters in video games, with titles like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 being the subject of unexpected (unexpected by Ubisoft at least) backlash at this year’s E3. The lack of female characters in video games is a touchy subject for a lot of reasons, but for many gamers the absence of female characters in a title like Assassin’s Creed Unity is disappointing for a pretty simple reason — female video game characters are better than male characters.
90 percent of video game characters may be male, but if you were to list the 100 best video game characters of all time, far more than a tenth of them would be ladies. Most female video game characters are at least semi-redeemable, while a pretty decent portion of male characters are intolerable, or barely characters at all. It’s the reason why myself, and a lot of other not-lady gamers play as Jill before Chris, always have more girls than guys in their RPG parties and have played most of the Tomb Raider games even though triangular boobs have never done anything for them. It’s nothing to be ashamed of guys, you just know a well-wrought character when you see one. Here’s a few reasons female video game characters are where it’s at…
Female Characters Are Allowed To Be Vulnerable
We have very specific ideas about what a male hero should be — tough, invulnerable, emotionless and unflappable to a fault. Sometimes a male hero may start a game a bit unsure of himself, but the end goal is always to become an invincible badass. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s tried to read a Superman comic without falling asleep knows, being the coolest, toughest, baddest dude on the planet isn’t actually all that exciting. Drama comes from conflict and there’s no drama if your hero is too rad to be fussed by anything.
For whatever reason, video game developers seem to feel freer to create characters with vulnerabilities and real human emotions when they’re working with female characters. There’s a reason survival horror games, which, traditionally, are all about making the player feel vulnerable, have an unusually high number of female protagonists. The Last of Us had to add a female tag-a-long character in Ellie in order to give the game an emotional, human core, because they knew damn well male protagonist Joel wouldn’t be allowed to do anything but brood while maintaining his beautiful stubble beard.
There’s a Greater Variety of Roles Available to Female Characters
Expanding on the ideas from the last point, male characters aren’t just limited in the personality department, they’re limited in what they’re allowed to do. The drive is always toward giving male characters bigger guns, more fancy attack combos and longer life bars. Female characters, on the other hand, often seem to have more nuanced, unique abilities. In most RPGs you can count on the ladies being the most complex characters in your party, and it’s no surprise that Mirror’s Edge — a game that’s mostly about graceful acrobatics and limiting direct conflict — stars a woman.
Check out the character page for the new anticipated multiplayer shooter Evolve. All the male characters have to be wielding some form of giant bazooka. Now, let’s look at the female characters — one’s an interesting sniper/medic combo, and the other is a trapper that uses a pet alien to track prey. I would play as trapper Maggie a dozen times before I bother to try bland looking tank, Markov.