When Did “Female Protagonist” Become Code for “Creative Ambition”?
Apparently, at E3 2015 the industry listened and we finally had more female protagonists in video games.
But did we really?
E3 2015 was the best year for female characters yet.
After years of being told that female characters don’t sell games or are too time-consuming to draw, E3 2015 provided a heartening influx of women in leading roles.
It seems the Electronic Entertainment Expo is no longer a man’s world. During this year’s video game extravaganza, a variety of women — virtual and otherwise — have been featured more prominently than in past years of the annual trade show where game makers highlight their forthcoming creations.
For the first time, women appeared on stage in the majority of major press events, and as playable characters in many games. […] There’s plenty of room for improvement in inclusivity, from the scope to the breadth of representation — minorities still get little to no public recognition at the conference — but we witnessed progress in an industry that more often than not behaves like a petulant child, kicking and screaming and refusing to grow-up. […] After much encouragement, publishers are coming together to take ginger steps into adulthood.
But this year we counted a far healthier number of women onstage presenting games and tech, as well as a stronger number of women featured as playable or central characters in the games themselves.
What is encouraging, however, is that this isn’t just a few scattered games, but a noticeable shift within the industry.
EA and Ubisoft are also championing a new push for diversity. The trailer for Rainbow Six: Siege starred actress Angela Bassett, while Mirror’s Edge returned with Catalyst, again led by protagonist Faith.
Meanwhile, They have all agreed that E3 2014 was a disaster.
At E3 2014, a call for more diverse video game characters. […] NPR’s Laura Sydell has a report today on the dismal state of character diversity in video games:not enough non-sex-object women, not enough non-white-guys as protagonists.
Video Games Lack Female Characters; Interactive Entertainment Officials Discuss Gender at E3 2014.
At E3, we saw the same male protagonists — but women’s representation is still lacking.
Why does sexism persist in the video games industry? Is creating female video game characters too much work?
The Games At E3 2014 Sure Had A Lot Of Dudes (Like Always). […] There were, of course, some games with women protagonists in them this year, too! The new Tomb Raider, Splatoon, Bayonetta — just to name a few. But they’re outliers.
E3 2014 and the Playable Female Character Conundrum. Why the games industry still has a lot of growing up to do. […] Not all of E3 this year was positive and exciting. The uglier side of the games industry reappeared to show that it still cannot comfortably deal with women.
There were more severed heads than women presenters at E3 2014. […] It’s time to stop pandering to our own stereotypes, and stop placing more importance on severed heads than women and people of color in the industry.
But let’s really look at what they have misses out or what they’d like us to ignore entirely, shall we.
Big productions with a female lead only
At E3 2015 we have seen Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Horizon.
At E3 2014 we have seen Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Alien: Isolation, and Bayonetta 2.
Smaller productions with a female lead only
At E3 2015 we got Michonne (we’ve seen nothing but I’ll count it), Recore,Nier, Beyond Eyes, Adr1ft, Tacoma, and possibly a few others.
At E3 2014 we got Infamous: First Light, Life is Strange, Dreamfall Chapters, Murasaki Baby, Night in the Woods, Roundabout, Velocity 2X, A Hat in Time, and possibly a few others that I can’t remember.
Games with selectable gender of the protagonist
At E3 2015 we had Fable Legends, Battlecry, The Division, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Dishonored 2, FIFA 16, Fallout 4, Halo 5: Guardians, XCOM 2 and I’m sure many others as this is the most popular solution to include both genders.
At E3 2014 we had Fable Legends, Battlecry, The Division, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Evolve, Bloodborne, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Dead Island 2, Destiny, Splatoon, Sunset Overdrive,Project Spark, Hyrule Warriors, Fantasy Life, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and so, so many others.
So, when we look at the data, the question is, when it comes to female protagonists did this years E3 rock out the females leads, as they claim it did?
I would say no…. they are about the same.
All I hope is that at E3 2016 we have reached a point when we simply celebrate games, great story-telling and great characters without the faux outrage bull shit.