Red Head Redemption: Red Heads in Gaming

KSD: Given that red hair occurs naturally in 1-2% of the population, it makes sense the MC1R protein mutation enjoys a mystique denied its arguably more prosaic cousins. Triss (The Witcher series), Ellie (The Last of Us), Black Widow (Avengers)—within comics and videogames especially, red-headed women are even more disproportionately prevalent. It could be argued that their perilous roles to blame, given those with the genes for red hair are proven to have higher pain thresholds across a number of stimuli. But these works’ appropriation and refinement of the follicular “other” might also be a little more nuanced and significant than that.

Triss Merigold, aforementioned tritagonist of forthcoming grimdark fantasy videogame The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is emblematic of the good work videogames are doing in recasting geeky redheads in a still feisty but more balanced light. It’s a representation that’s come a long way since the earliest records of red hair, dating back to c. 1500. At this time—the twilight of the Middle Ages—Mary Magdalene, the apostle of apostles, was occasionally depicted more as a repentant prostitute with long red hair, than one of Jesus' most influential advisors. Judas too was supposedly of light red hair—adding deceitfulness and bad luck to the list of traits those of the copper locks had attributed to them.

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