Posted by : Wendy B Monday, 23 April 2012
|Um. No. Moving on.|
What has been niggling at me lately, though, is this need for my characters to prove themselves as females in the three games I’ve been playing: SWTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. These are all Bioware games, so this may be common to them only, but I’ll venture to assume that it is not so. It’s not a prominent point of stress for me. The notion only comes up in dialogue briefly and usually towards the beginning of game play. But it keeps happening enough to garner my bloggy attention.
- In SWTOR, my Trooper enters her early mission area and is greeted by a young private who stammers his message in surprise at meeting her for the first time. The dialogue options include defensively asking if he’s never seen a woman in the military before.
- In Dragon Age, there are a few moments during the Grey Warden introduction and initiations where being a female is specifically questioned in surprise.
- In Mass Effect, FemShep has a similar conversation with someone. I don’t remember where or when this occurred, but having dealt with the other examples, it reminded me that FemShep did have such a moment and it irked me then, too.
What is the reasoning behind including this dialogue? Who is it for? I know some guys play female characters, but I'd wager a lot of women choose female characters, so I can only assume those moments of GRRL POWAH! are for me.
These stories take place in fantastic new worlds, not entirely related to our own, but women are still considered the lesser of the species. There is an opportunity to move past the prejudices of our current times, but we don’t. We’ve managed to excise human vs. human racism by transferring it onto aliens and fae creatures. But sexism? That’s gotta stay true!
Now we all know George Lucas is a sexist bastard and that the Star Wars universe he made doesn’t have room for too many ladies, but I would hope that, under someone else’s reigns, that attitude wouldn’t need to persist. Yet one major NPC specifically disguises herself as a male because she (believes) she wouldn’t have been taken seriously in her role otherwise.
Gaming companies are finally realizing that women play and have always played video games. And now they are learning how to lure in more of us. Hint: We know we belong here. We don’t require reaffirming moments in video games to remind us of this. We know. Because. Vagina.