Gender: From Indie to AAA

In the games we’ve seen in class, women have been shown in differing lights compared to AAA titles. The Twine based games have a more artistic and emotional basis. Her Pound of Flesh, for example, doesn’t describe the player character giving a more common feeling of “what would I do” for the player. Like a god creating life, we put undescribed character in our image as these games are making us choose. It shows  a creation in a lab recreating a woman who’s long gone (by death or other meansseems unknown) but the character’s feeling of longing for them drives the game.The game is described as horror, but the horror is heartache, a fear we allhave but won’t all admit. Moving on, Queersin Love at the End of the World had a profound concept of being timed. Onlyten seconds to get as far into the story as you can. All the options I playedwere tender and close. None of the violence and other themes that we’ve grownup playing while never batting an eye at them. The frantic nature of the gamecaptures those last seconds of the world before the end and asking what youwould do in that situation. It’s a question that passes through our minds andnot experience that a AAA studio normally would present.

Contrasting these small, open sourced projects is the corporate AAA market. Focusing on the word market as that is what drives the space forward. Not projects of passion not beholden to share-holders and some lawyers. As a AAA studio is run by big corporations who see art and message as secondary to sales. The art will normally take a back seat to something more for the common consumer. A great example is the Assassin’s Creed series and their recent installment. Kassandra from AC: Odyssey is viewed as a manifest of representation, but she is just a masculine representation of what a corporation thinks a strong woman is. She’s attractive, muscular, and fearless. Fighting mythical creatures, government and thousands of soldiers just for a good amount of money. She swears and acts tough with no real moment of weakness. Basically, she’s Lara Croft. How she looks and acts, is more appealing to men than women. It’s a female skin over Alexios, her story doesn’t change because she’s a woman in the highly misogynist Ancient Greece it just stays static. I’d argue that a stronger female character is not physically strong but instead strengthen by his or her experiences. This plays into games like Queers in Love at the End of the World, those who already have a struggle in life just because they express a human emotion of love. Leading to it all ending in a moment’s notice and knowing it will happen. Other games focus completely on masculinity and put the player in almost an action movie like setting. Characters with strength that is unreal and mental fortitude that is even more impossible. Normally adding moments of feeling that are more of a plot point than acting as a catalyst for actual human feeling.

In gaming, women are normally created to appeal to men. Normally they are designed in a masculine sense and have little if no real femininity. While the recent influx of women in game studios is slowly helping that, we have a long way to go. Characters like Max from Life Is Strange is a start but for every Max there are 4 Lara Crofts. The stigma of a beautiful badass is giving an illusion of feminism in a world that fears looking weak. However, weakness is what makes us stronger, Celeste shows that. We don’t need stronger female leads, we need more people overcoming “weakness” in gaming.

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