It's also a strange feeling to play the many games in which groups of enemies are entirely male. It's a sign of lazy design, and also speaks to the fact that female characters are often not placed in games unless they're meant to be the love interest of a male character. I'm sick to death of games in which the only women to be found are prostitutes or girlfriends. We criticize books, movies, and TV shows in which women are relegated solely to those roles, and it's time to level that same criticism at video games.
Women are not and should not be portrayed as "special" people who only show up in cases where they appeal sexually to men. We are an ordinary part of everyday life. If a game features men of varying sizes, ages, and physiques, it should feature a similar diversity of women. That's not to say there's anything wrong with creating "attractive" female characters in games—attractive male and female characters will always be a part of the entertainment landscape for a multitude of reasons. It's to say that having a diversity of women, plenty of whom aren't in the game for the purposes of being love or sex interests, shouldn't be something unusual in the game industry. It should be a part of world design that is so pervasive that it's taken for granted.
What's the takeaway from this discussion? My challenge to gamers, male and female, is not to accept the "we ran out of money for women" excuse from developers. We need to hold developers to account and pressure them to create more diverse, realistic casts of characters in order to advance gaming as an artistic and entertainment medium. Games are more interesting and fun when they include many different kinds of characters, and that involves a diverse selection of women.
My challenge to developers who have used this excuse in the past is as follows: In your next game, try developing the female character models first. Make a few of them; some thicker, some thinner, some older and younger. Once the female characters have been modeled and animated, decide whether the team has the resources to create and animate male character models. I have a sneaking suspicion that in this case, the time and money will materialize.
Date: September 10, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. *