zerocrossing (User)

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"Video game journalist and gamer enthusiast."

Two of the greatest female protagonists in the history of gaming.

zerocrossing | 488d ago
User blog

A fair warning, this blog is probably going to contain some mild spoilers.

Since Anita Sarkeesian has yet again taken it upon herself to make all males who play games look bad, this time through a series of feminist videos apparently showing how women have been wrongly misrepresented over the years, I feel as a male gamer who has considerable knowledge of the medium that extends over 20 plus years, that I must set the record straight.

I've compiled here a list detailing two characters from games I have personally played and who I feel are very strong female leads.

First up. Samus Arran, from the critically acclaimed Metrod franchise.

Now, it is fair to say that Samus is pretty much always wearing her Chozo suit, except for in more recent games that for some reason over sexualise her, put her in a skin tight suit and have her looking like a blond barby doll... But I digress, throughout most of the games she stars in Samus is in the full body Chozo suit, that may seem to undermine the fact that she is in fact female, however (and stay with me on this) it actually does just the opposite and here's why, back when metroid was first released on the NES it was pretty much unheard of for a female character to be the main lead in any game and as far as metroid I can't personally remember a female lead character dating back as far as Samus Arran.

The things that are important to note here are that Samus is wearing full body armour, you can't see any of her feminine attributes, and the suit in no way try's to enhance or bring attention to, errm... Them, anyway the next thing we should all be completely aware of regarding Samus, is that she is in fact a total bad ass, disregarding her rather controversial portrayal in Metroid other M, she has for the most part been portrayed as a cool, calm and collected bounty hunter, she works alone (for the most part) and hunts one of the biggest known threats in the galaxy, Metroids.

Samus also has a long standing nemesis in the form of Ridley, a Space dragon, bird thingy... It breathes fire and it's cool so, anyway Ridley is arguably one of the best recurring bosses in any game franchise to date IMO, as well as a nemesis that simply refuses to die Samus also has to deal with the Space Pirates, who are trying to cultivate Metroids and turn them into bio weapons they can then use to gain dominance over the galaxy, and of course the Space pirates are lead by one of the all time best final bosses in video game history, Mother brain, which is a brain with legs, but not always, and that one time it was an android... But that's not important, what is important though is that "Mother" brain is also female, even if she is of an alien species she is the big baddy in control of everything, the two most important characters in Metroid are both female and for a game that was released all the way back on the NES that is a pretty big deal, and considering the popularity of the Metroid franchise it all goes to show that not only are strong, non submissive Women not absent in video games as far back as the NES they also have a very special place in gamers hearts male or female.

Next up. Lara Croft, from the critically acclaimed Tomb Raider franchise.

I'll get this out of the way first, I never really considered Lara Croft to be a sex object, at least not in my eyes, now you could probably attribute this to my age at the time of the 1st games release but even as I got older and Lara's chest became less triangular, the fact she had huge boobs and short shorts was never the reason I enjoyed playing Tomb Raider games.

When we first meet Lara she is a no nonsense, quick on the draw, bad ass archaeologist who is willing to do just about anything in order to explore tombs and get her hands on some rare artefacts, this is where Natla comes in, she makes Lara an offer she can't refuse by asking her to find a lost artefact known as the Scion, Natla inevitably turns out to be the villain and is after the Scion only to further her own evil schemes.

It is worth a mention that again both the main character and villain are of the female gender, maybe more research is needed to be done as to why this is such a common occurrence in video games with female leads, but not right now.

As well as being a great source of inspiration for many 3D action, adventure and/or platform games that followed on from its success, Tomb Raider may very well be the very first open world 3D action adventure platformer, it revolutionised level design, 3D platforming and set the standard for auto aim gun wielding mechanics which was quite a big deal back in the day, there are many other reasons why Tomb Raider was ground breaking back when it was originally released all those years ago, but for the sake of staying on topic, Lara Croft was and is still for many, the definitive video game heroine, whether or not Lara's sex appeal helped in solidifying her as (the) video game girl icon is debatable, what is not though is just how incredibly good many, if not most of the games she stared in where.

The original Tomb Raider had everything you could have asked for in a game, the fact that a strong female character like Lara Croft was the star truly made the whole game complete and sparked a love for an Icon that goes far beyond her physique.

I do plan to revisit this topic in the future as their are so many more great female characters to choose from, but for now I have rounded it down to the two I feel are most iconic and have really helped to usher in some truly great, strong female leads.

Im not really sure if I managed to get my point across, but what Im really trying to say here is regardless of all the negative tropes towards women in video games, many gamers have a lot of respect towards the opposite sex and we don't all see princesses and damsels in distress as an object that needs to be saved.

Considering how male dominated this medium tends to be and the sheer amount of sexist abuse some girl gamers tend to go through while playing online it's understandable why these issues of sexism and discrimination come up, but I would honestly like to believe those people offering only abuse are the vocal minority and I can tell you without a doubt they don't speak for everyone.

My next blog will probably be about great female characters who weren't necessarily the main characters but where just as integral to the plot of the games they are in if not more so.

Thanks for reading my blog and as always please feel free to leave a comment, thanks.

DragonKnight  +   488d ago
Excellent blog. I love the fact that you touched on the fact that Anita (and she's not the only one) ignores the positives of women in gaming and games. I've always wondered why it is that the strong women in games are being ignore in favour of spouting of the buzzwords of misogyny and sexism.
Godmars290  +   488d ago
She got her followers to give her over 150k when she asked for 6k to make this supposed video series. A video series on YouTube which is likely paying her that already based on traffic alone.
zerocrossing  +   487d ago
Thanks, after watching Anita's vid I just had to put something together to show the best of female video game characters.

Oh she is nothing but buzzwords and spreading misinformation, I know she still has more vids to go but it'll probably be more tired arguments with no real helpful resolution given.
HonestDragon  +   487d ago
Nicely done, zerocrossing. I think you pretty much sum up the voice of those of us who think that Anita is missing a lot of key moments in video games that reflect on the best roles of women. I would very much like to see what you have to nominate as some of the best protagonist female characters or supporting female characters.
zerocrossing  +   487d ago
Thanks!

My next blog is probably going to be a little controversial considering the subject matter, but I hope you will enjoy it all the same.
HonestDragon  +   487d ago
Knowing myself and others like DragonKnight, coolbeans, and Godmars290, I'm pretty sure we would enjoy it. Keep up the good work!
SilentNegotiator  +   487d ago
LOL, yes, definitely disregarding Other M.
coolbeans  +   487d ago
It's a shame too.
Examining an awesome character who's minimalist story through gameplay is pretty cool, but only hinting at how Other M is said to have completely dismantled that character with a sentence feels a tad disingenuous. Examining just how submissive Other M paints Samus and how it juxtaposes her other titles shouldn't be avoided because "evil feminists can make a point here," if anything it shows everyone just how precipitous writing so much back story can be.

Note: I'll admit I haven't played the game. My understanding of the situation is from what spoiler stuff I've seen.

Edit: Still a fine examination of those two characters, overall.
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zerocrossing  +   487d ago
I disregard other M because it really does a great disservice to Samus not only as female character but as a video game girl Icon.

There are great many opinions and viewpoints regarding just exactly what Samus's personality is, the problem with other M though, is that it chooses to ignore them and portrays Samus as a submissive, whiney, daddy's girl, who wouldn't act to save her own life unless given the OK to by the dominant male figure portrayed by Adam.

Other M simply does not represent the Samus we all know and love, so I chose to disregard it, it's not an awful game and if you're a big Metroid fan you should probably play it since the gameplay is fun, but as for fleshing out a character with a huge fan following who have a lot of preconceptions, it does a poor job IMO.
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TuxedoMoon  +   487d ago
I hate to say this, but Anita's video did show a huge amount of proof of women just being trophies for males. There are just more women in games that get kidnapped than legit female leads. Bioshock Infinite has that girl, who Anita might describe, as a helpful damsel. Kat from DmC:dmc got kidnapped at one point too...That negative "trophy for males stigma" is still lingering in games.

I agree with her that females shouldn't just be a mans prize. Why can't a girl go save a princess WITHOUT being called a lesbian (Revolutionary girl: Utena was a pretty cool concept of this)? Females SHOULD be leads in games. Same goes for characters of other races. We need more diversity over all.

Her first video is suppose to be 1 of many and I would want to see if she'll get to the good women characters rather than just show all the bad stuff. Samus and Lara did pave the way for more female roles. Though I'd argue more for Alis Landale from Phantasy Star 1 as being just as influential as Samus and Lara...Too bad not a lot of people play the original Phantasy star games.

Anyway, wait for Anita to finish all her videos on this subject before jumping the gun and disproving her incomplete arguments. If she's as smart as she believes, then she will have to talk about the good women and increase in good women characters in games these days. Lightning, Kos-mos and Shion, Joanna Dark, Mirrors edge lady, woman in assassins creed PSV...probably not the best examples off the top of my head but it's an improvement.
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zerocrossing  +   487d ago
Im honestly really interested in where Anita will go with her next vids.

My problem is Anita is notoriously biased, she plays off of being the victim and drags up tired old arguments about problems that the industry is tackling even now.

A great many of her points she made were regarding games from over 10 years ago, yes they are still using certain tropes in both Mario and Zelda to this day but is that really bad? Who objectifies Peach and Zelda as purely objects that need saving anyway? she is trying to speak for everyone in regards to how we perceive these princesses and she putting words in our mouths,

first of all Peach and Zelda are characters who's creators are Japanese, even now the way Women in Japan are portrayed and regarded is a little backwards, so I'd that's much more of a cultural problem than it is a bad video game trope.

Japan was leading the way back when both Zelda and Mario came about, in order to appeal to the west they adopted popular movie tropes that were about at the time, you can even see this with the original arcade classic Donkey kong.

Princesses being captured was a plot device popular movies used, it made a lot of sense for games to follow suit if they wanted to also be popular at the time.

Getting back to today, yes the tropes are still there but in the case of Mario games it has become a running gag the Princess peach gets captured all the time, nobody sees Peach as there property she is integral to the mushroom Kingdom and needs to be rescued, Mario is the Hero so it makes sense that he rescue her, remember he is putting his life on the line to save the Princess everytime she is captured because Peach is so special.

The same goes for Zelda when she is captured by Gannon, it's simply a plot device to bring the 3 central characters together, they each posses a piece of the triforce so Gannon kidnaps Zelda in order to lure Link to him so he can steal both the Triforce of Wisdom and Courage away.

There are reasons these tropes are ongoing in pretty much every Mario and Zelda game, and many of them were ignored and overlooked by Anita.
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TuxedoMoon  +   487d ago
That is true too. I'd really rather her finish her video thing before we all gang up on her.

The moment she brought up Miyamoto, I became really interested to see how she was going to attack him. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as I was expecting her attack to be. Miyamoto's influences are from western media and he did love Disney...Disney has princesses all over the place! The tech back then didn't allow much for characterization either. So all you had where the character's name and their actions on screen (early NES days). Hero, villain, victim(s).

When it comes to Peach as a character, I do agree with Anita....to some extent of course. Every game, she just seems more and more ditsy. I know it's suppose to cute, but at this point it's just annoying. I think the last time she seemed intelligent was probably Mario 64's opening where she read the letter. After that, her voice's pitch became higher and her quotes...questionable. Peach just seems like a complete idiot. Daisy is just as bad as Peach. "Hi! I'm Daisy!" <-- Why would you give her that as a taunt?!

BUT! Mario has never been really a story centric game. There is little character development in the main games. Mario just does what he has to do. It's like Tom and Jerry or Road runner. They're just characters doing funny things in different scenarios. Plus, GOD is a female (Rosalina) in the Mario games.

One thing that bugged me about her video was how she said that male characters could easily get out of prison while females were always stuck there. Some of the guys in that video had combat experience as opposed to the person they're trying to save. IIRC, when Link gets caught in WW, he's has 2 bosses beat under his belt.

Imagine going through the first Mario game, seeing the famous quote of "Our princess is in another castle" so many times, and then finally beating the real Bowser. It would be messed up if she wasn't even there because she escaped on her own. Mario's entire adventure would feel pointless since she got out on her own.

Tough girls are great, but there are people out there who like playing the role of the victim. Male or female, they want to be rescued because that makes them feel special. So as tired as the trope may be, it is a popular fantasy. Just look at Twilight...
masteroftheclaw  +   486d ago
Considering there are at least 10 more videos in Anita's series to go, she is probably going to speak about Samus and Lara Croft at some point. Since they are such massive names, how could she not? However, I do expect the focus will be on the vast changing of Samus' character for Other M and then the original Tomb Raider games (focusing on the marketing).

The thing is though that over the span of gaming as a whole, women protagonists are there in much smaller quantities than men protagonists. This might make sense if women were a minority, such as gays, but they are not and instead are half the population. Men and women have written stories and produced films about genders and characters far different from themselves for ages. It's called creativity and makes things interesting to see characters who are nothing like ourselves.

As such, it is striking that the video game medium has far fewer representations of women as protagonists then films, books, and tv shows. Men can watch or read women in those, so why not games as well?
zerocrossing  +   486d ago
Gaming for a long time had been a male dominated medium, it's a solid fact that can't be ignored, so honestly it's not really suspiring to me to see fewer female leads.

Im not saying we don't have a problem, Im just proud of the positives and wanted to highlight some of them here.

Anyway thanks for commenting.

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