Gaming Is Witnessing A Female Revolution
First, let me just say one thing:
In all forms of fantasy, there is exaggeration based on deeply entrenched ideas of desire and beauty.
While it's certainly true that females are objectified far more often in all walks of life, including entertainment, it'd be wrong to think male characters are immune. The Duke Nukem character model was just as impossible and insulting as the original Lara Croft model, and grizzled lantern-jawed, ridiculously muscular men dominated gaming heroes for decades.
That being said, let's focus on the strides female characters have taken in the world of interactive entertainment. There are countless examples it seems. The revamped Lara arguably leads the charge but there are many, many other women characters that are starting to break all previous molds. So, what are we seeing now? Women that are admittedly pretty, even beautiful, but they're not impossibly built; the new Lara and other characters don't look like the DoA girls. These new ladies are young and healthy but otherwise, they're not absurdly proportioned. Most importantly, they exist to help drive a solid narrative; they're important characters with brains, ambition, and interesting personalities.
Think about the great female characters we've seen over the past six or seven years. There's Elena in the Uncharted series, in my memory one of the first women in games that actually seemed real. That really got the ball rolling; now, we've got Elise from Assassin's Creed Unity, Faith in Mirror's Edge (the new adventure is coming soon), the amazing women of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and more are coming down the pike. For example, we'll be able to play as Emily in Dishonored 2. Ellie in The Last Of Us? Amanda Ripley in Alien: Isolation? Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite? The list goes on and on.
In The Witcher 3, there are several hugely important female characters that are amazing in more ways than one. I don't remember playing a major game with so many integral women and even more incredibly, they all have distinctly different personalities, they all add something meaningful to the narrative, and yeah, they're all gorgeous. But again, not in a way that makes you roll your eyes. It's more of an exotic accessibility in my estimation and besides, their personalities are what you remember. The bottom line is that I don't think this is a time for complaining; I think it's a time for celebration.
7/17/2015 Ben Dutka