Women and Gender in Games

In twine and non-AAA games women are subjected to the same types of generalizations.As “Unmanned”  so boldly displayed in its portrayal of military man struggling with different aspects of life, the same stereotypical characterizations are used. On the one hand the playable character has his wife, at home with his child, and on the other he is being tempted by his female co-worker in a not so subtle way. Two overused and played out caricatures for women in video game can be seen here. Their story arcs are entirely dependent on what the white male character does in the game. These trends have remained as a pervasive strand in all games, and their effects should not be underestimated. Games that tend to do poor jobs of inserting stereotypical characters such as Grand Theft Auto, especially the older editions, but GTA V is pretty bad as well. Portray women sometimes as prostitutes and in other variously degrading roles. While the overuse of stereotypical women in games largely stems from an earlier time it still exists. Though progress does seem to be moving away from such notions.

            In “Against All Odds” another non-AAA title that does a much better job at portraying a female character. The player at least has the option to choose a female character. Truthfully, upon play through of the game it makes no difference whether one chooses the male or female character. The seriousness of this game creates a feeling of equal disdain and suffering for either gender. In providing a number of scenarios that could befall anyone, or any society the player can choose to be a female in any of them. Providing a welcome relief as too many games restrict the player to a single male character. It does seem like real progress has been made in this area though in the past few years with games such as Assassin’sCreed: Odyssey and even Battlefield V. By inserting females into the battlefield arena, the creators of Battlefield are taking some historical license for sure, but why should that really matter? These games are meant to be fun too, and many women play them. There is not claimed intent by DICE that the game is even meant to be accurate historically.

            Assassin’s Creed similarly in bothOrigins and Odyssey installments have increased female agency to some degree.Origins pushes the narrative of the Assassins further back in time than it had before, and attributed the establishment of the Assassin’s as an entity through Aya, and not Bayek; spoiler alert. Odyssey pushes the story back even further to the time of Athens and Sparta. The game begins though with the choice of a female or male lead. So it does appear that the times are changing in regards to both AAA as well as non-AAA games. Though a game such as Odyssey has the option to be a female character she ultimately does not play any differently than her male counterpart. But why should she? Can the game not be just as enjoyable as a female character that can run, jump, and assassinate all the same? It certainly should be, but as aforementioned, the awareness of a need for female agency and depiction in games seems to be growing.

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