Gender in Games and Bandicoots

The presence of women in video games often designed with high sexappeal to entice male gamers. These female characters are designed by men formen. There were few notable female video game characters that emerged in thelate 1990s to early 2000s that carry over to present day. The most recognizedfemale video game character to come out of this era was Lara Croft from theTomb Raider series beginning in 1996. From the introduction the character 22years ago, the Tomb Raider had 12 games that had their success tied to LaraCroft and her assets. Nintendo introducing Super Mario 64 in 1996 also added toa damsel in distress stereotype of female characters like Princess Peach. Oftenseen as the objective and nothing more, hardly ever seeing any form ofcharacter development other than falling in love with the video gameprotagonist for rescuing her. Interestingly enough, Halo: Combat Evolvedreleasing in 2001 introduced a female character with a vital role to our mainSpartan John 117, or better known as Master Chief. Cortana is an ArtificialIntelligence onboard a ship when given to our protagonist for protection. Overthe course of 5 games, Master Chief and Cortana fight enemies all whiledeveloping an interesting romantic relationship. This role of a female character can also be compared to that of a tool and character foil. Cortana isonly contacted when our protagonist needs help with his missions and developingher character allowed personality developments to unfold for players to feelmore connected with Master Chief.

A closer look at a popular platform game from this era was Sony’s Crash Bandicoot franchise.

In 1998’s Crash Bandicoot Warped, brought the introduction to being able to play as Crash’s sister, Coco, in a total of 6 levels out of 25 that includes a boss fight playing as Coco. In these levels she is not given the full opportunity to walk, spin, jump and complete levels as Crash’s character can. Her character’s game mechanic was limited to levels that had her riding a tiger, Jet-ski or airplane and simply navigating through the level with a vehicle to possibly make her character more interesting to male gamers.

Flash forward to the 2017 Crash remastered collection, players can now play as Coco in Crash Bandicoot warped and play every level Crash can with the same skill set, but the levels designated for Coco cannot be played with Crash. Coco was not designed with sex appeal in mind, rather just Crash’s younger unskilled sister. The simple and wholesome reason for this change was simply to acknowledge Crash’s female fans that now have the chance to play as their beloved hero’s sister.

Battlefield 1 Critique

Battlefield 1 by EA DICE is approaching its two-year anniversary since its initial debut on October 21st, 2016. The release came at a time where its World War 1 setting was a breath of fresh air in the first-person shooter space that were trending around a futuristic fantasy military combat experience. The campaign is derived of five war stories. Each told from the perspective of soldiers of allied powers throughout WWI. They provide the player with several aspects of WWI combat used at the time and along with each of the soldier’s narrative, sought to humanize the Great War.

DICE’s time and efforts to create an authentic WWI experience through Battlefield 1’s campaign can be seen as one of the most interactive methods to learn about 20th century military technology and weapons, but not about infantry warfare. The argument that Battlefield 1 can simulate authentic trench warfare falls flat, but it does create opportunity to discuss other aspects of WWI. Adam Chapman’s “Is Sid Meier’s Civilization History?” validates the use of video games as a type of ludonarrative capable of leading historical discourse as a counter to the empirical-analytical approach that rules out history-based games as being apart from history all-together.

When compared to the readings found in part 2 anthology of Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History, the readings focused more on the cultural and ethnic representations of the characters within history-based games. Battlefield 1’s campaign characters are as followed; a British tank driver, an American pilot, an Italian Arditi, an Australian message runner and an Arabain Bedouin female rebel. The most notable generalization was that of the American pilot who comes across as a young, arrogant hotshot for his ability to fly a fighter plane. There was an absence of a war story from the central powers perspective. The addition of a war story from the central powers would have been able to add a unique humanizing perspective of WWI, leaving the player with some food for thought after having completed a sincere war story like those of the allied powers.

Battlefield 1 being a Triple-A title, the priority revolves around the first-person shooter gameplay entertainment and less on the history behind WW1. The loading screens before each mission provide brief historical context to the mission the player is about to partake in. It would leave a superficial understanding to the colonialism and imperialism taking place during the war, but nevertheless its knowledge proven unnecessary complete mission objectives. The game could deliver more political contextual background via character dialogue that could be incorporated in theatrical cut scenes or as background dialogue between two non-playable characters. Leaving out the political turmoil of the central and allied powers did not stop people from playing, as just earlier this year EA announced Battlefield 1 has over 25 million users.

Oregon Trail

The narrative of Oregon Trail is an adventure game set in 19th century America, with the protagonist and his crew making their way across uncharted territory with hopes to find a better way of life at the end of the journey. The primary protagonist would have their occupation chosen out of a list available to the player at the start of the game. Each occupation would provide its own benefits to the crew, protagonist and player.

The primary historical argument of the game is to display the unknown chances of survival many travelers faced as they made their way across America on cattle driven wagons. The game allows players to gather food and supplies to prepare the crew for their voyage but, almost at random, the player’s crew will encounter fatigue, illness and injury. These game elements made the risks of traveling across America more evident as the players encountered them “firsthand”.

Looking closer at the game’s characters, Woman and people of color are not essential to the gameplay. With little importance their only purpose is to be themselves, or at least what women, Native Americans and African Americans were thought to be in 19th century America. The dialogue of these characters are generalizations of their culture and they play a passive role in the game, just as some were seen to have in real life in early United States history.