We should all embrace and encourage diversity in gaming protagonists. These characters stand at the center of our interactive experiences. If they all came from the same mold, we would have no point to play.
Crystal Dynamics’ recent reboot of the Tomb Raider series does everything right.
Shockingly, this release was the first one I had ever played in the franchise. It’s a great place to start, considering that the title starts at the very beginning of protagonist Lara Croft’s journey.
I just completed Tomb Raider, and, as a female, I’m overwhelmed with pride.
In most games, the hero is a white male. Any game that challenges this convention always captures my attention. Unfortunately, a lot of females in games serve as eye candy for players. They are always sexed up, ditzy girls who don’t represent the majority of women. Lara Croft, however, is different.
She’s strong. She’s sensitive. She’s real.
At PAX East, I saw a little girl dressed as Lara Croft, and this put a big smile on my face. It’s great that young girls have a female video game character to look up to who is a positive influence.
I wish more developers would shed a more positive light on women in their titles. I have much respect for studios and publishers who feature strong female characters in their releases.
Naughty Dog, my favorite developer, put Ellie, a female lead character, right in the front of the cover art for The Last of Us. Outside forces pressured the studio to push Ellie to the back, or possibly leave her off of the cover entirely, because of the misconception that featuring a female on the cover of a game will decrease sales.
This isn’t just happening with Naughty Dog, either.
Jean-Max Moris, creative director of the upcoming cyberpunk title Remember Me, had this to say in an interview with The Penny Arcade Report:
“We had some [prospective publishers] that said, ‘Well, we don’t want to publish it because that’s not going to succeed. You can’t have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that.’”
It’s 2013, guys. This blows my mind that people still think that you need a white, male lead character in a game in order for it to succeed. Do they assume that every gamer is a white male?! I would love to see more experiences with female leads and more efforts with African-American, Hispanic, and, yes, even gay leads. If you keep making games with white males as main characters, how will the industry ever grow?