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Thread: Female characters in video games

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    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Female characters in video games

    My roommates are playing a first person shooter game. The violence doesn't bother me much. What does bother me is that there seems to be a female character that just follows the shooter around and serves no other purpose than to follow him around, occasionally cry out and get told to "wait here."

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    Ciao for now jamesgold's Avatar
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    Is she short with big tits and wearing a blue dress?

    Or a kinda cute teen brunette in dirty teen clothes?

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    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Brunette, plaid miniskirt?

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    That reminds me of what was always the worst part of much of Dr. Who--especially classic DW. The newer stuff has more pro-active companions, but there were an awful lot of classic DW companions who spent 90% of their screen time running around shouting "Doctor?" in plaintive tones. Really grating once your attention was drawn to it--which is why Leela was my favorite companion next to K9. Funny how my two favorite companions had the highest bodycounts too.

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gator View Post
    My roommates are playing a first person shooter game. The violence doesn't bother me much. What does bother me is that there seems to be a female character that just follows the shooter around and serves no other purpose than to follow him around, occasionally cry out and get told to "wait here."
    Is this Duke Nukem Forever, perchance?
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Member Stigmata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gator View Post
    My roommates are playing a first person shooter game. The violence doesn't bother me much. What does bother me is that there seems to be a female character that just follows the shooter around and serves no other purpose than to follow him around, occasionally cry out and get told to "wait here."
    What is Bioshock Infinite.




    Of course everyone on the forum is more interested in finding out what game it is rather than the message about the role female characters in video games.

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    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stigmata View Post
    Of course everyone on the forum is more interested in finding out what game it is rather than the message about the role female characters in video games.
    I was about to mention Samus but then realised that she passes as male most of the time.

    My hot air: can meaning be said to be inherent if it needs to be decoded in a way? Do my words have inherent meaning even if you have to read and understand them to get them? What is meaning anyway? Maybe meaning is only relative and appears in the relation between two objects. Hm.

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    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    *puts classic Ptah hat on*
    Eh... the though of Samus and first person shooters together reminds of Prime....

    *puts madmin hat back on*
    Resume.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stigmata View Post
    Of course everyone on the forum is more interested in finding out what game it is rather than the message about the role female characters in video games.
    Disagree. I think it's interesting because sometimes, that sort of thing still works out, but it most of the time, it fails.

    Ok, I can think of one time it worked out. Most games, having a dependent following character fails because something about the sheer uselessness of the character leads to resentment. It fails because the design and story fail to cause any attachment to the dependent character. This is disturbing because it breeds a certain animosity towards dependents, or rather, it starts the brain into such patterns--which is made more disturbing by how commonly these games are played by the young.

    On the other hand, Ico manages to have a helpless damsel who can do little but be led and saved by the player, but managed to invoke even my care bear button--and very very completely. In some games, having a fail condition where you automatically lose if party member X dies is a real drag and burden. (I played a tactical turn based strategy game that should have been awesome [Werewolve vs. Vampires in WWII!!!] that ended up being a hideous slog because every mission had like 6 people who couldn't be allowed to die--when it could have been made great by allowing them to be protected casualties.) In Ico, if the girl dies, the world is destroyed. To make matters worse, she's a monster magnet. Everything just wants to kill her. The end result is, you not only want to save her to keep yourself alive, you also feel bad for her predicament.

    But for my money, I think the real key was how the characters interacted. With one brilliant touch, the motivation of the player as caring guarding was sealed: you lead her by holding her hand. Consequently, the first time I called her to jump across a gap, and it's too wide for her to make, and I saved her by barely catching her outstretched hand--I literally gasped, dropped my controller and put my hand to my mouth to keep my heart from leaping out. I soon realized it was a canned animation that I would come to see again and again--objectively it was just the puzzle piece for that particular type of problem--but it never lost it's charm. It no longer made my heart race, but each leap of faith slathered on a little more attachment to the bravery and trust of that little NPC.

    So when she died at the end I was a bit upset.

    Similarly brilliant, but with a greater appearance of agency, Farah from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It's been years since I played it, so I don't really remember that much of how often or to what extent the Prince and Farah fought side by side--but I do clearly remember a moment of resentment at her bossyness early on. And I remember that just as my inner monologue was snarling about it, the Prince's monologue echoed my thoughts. I also remember after a mental high five, Farah suddenly became very important, pulled her own weight, and it was clear we were interdependent. The ensuing dialog was equally natural and in line with my own thoughts on the matter. All in all, I've rarely seen a male/female adventure romance played out in game so well.

    Those are two high points--but much of everything else is terrible. About the only way you reliably get strong female characters is if they are player controlled, functionally men with boobs, or have the depth of a cardboard cut-out. To make matters worse, most of the time, they get non-functional armour/clothing. Chainmail string bikinis for the ladies have long been a facepalm trope. To date, I've yet to see the game where your best armor for a gent was a barely adequate loin cloth and sweat bands.

    But all this aside, I have a question for the understandably agitated female gamer/observer of gamers. While I understand the annoyance of portrayals of women where they simply follow and cower--would it change your attitude toward the game if the dependent follower were male?

    I ask because I think the problem isn't the gender, but the mechanic itself. That it is commonly made female is, well... Mario has always been out to save the princess right? I mean, that's just a hook men get: save the girl. I don't think that's a bad thing in and of itself.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  10. #10
    know nothing pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Just what the internet needs: more discussion of female video game characters.

    Personally, I'm all for sexualized female characters in video games and I would like to see more of them, as well as a lot more sexualized male characters to even things out. I would also love to play a game where I have to rescue/protect a twinky, waifish young man who's helpless and completely dependent on me. And eventually there should be at least as much sex in video games as there is violence, instead of brutal murder being seen as something that's okay for teens fourteen and up whereas accurate representations of an activity normal and healthy people engage in daily being something that nobody should be allowed to buy regardless of age.

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