The State of Female Characters in AAA Games

Header Art by Zakurarain.

This time last year I was ecstatic over all the amazing 2016 games showcasing female protagonists. It seemed like things were starting to look up for those who’ve been demanding more diversity from the mainstream, AAA video games. Unfortunately, I realised after this year’s E3 and looking at the Fall to early 2017 lineup I was being a little too optimistic. Not only is there a lack of women, but big games and publishers are actively avoiding putting women in their games. In an industry where more than half of those who play games are women, it’s frustrating that sexism and misogyny keep pushing women to the sides or entirely exclude them from AAA games. From the typical oversexualized portrayal to a more subtle misrepresentation to outright exclusion, there are different ways in which the AAA games in this article (and many others we couldn’t get into here) are a disservice to the potential of video games and the players who love them. Continue reading →

Severed Review

Severed is a first person, touch-based dungeon crawler released for the PlayStation Vita on April 26, 2016. It was developed and published by @DrinkBoxStudios. For more info check out the game’s gorgeous site. Screenshots taken by myself.

First person dungeon crawlers are a rare breed of game. It’s a genre that had its heydey in the late 90s and hasn’t really been heard from since. But the opportunity for immersion that comes with this sort of game is quite high if it’s done right. It’s even rarer to see a game from a high profile studio release exclusively on the slowly dying PlayStation Vita. What’s rarest of all is for one of these types of games release on the Vita AND be an incredible experience from start to finish. This recipe for success is what makes Severed a marvellous game and a must play for Vita owners and fans of the genre. Continue reading →

Am I a part of the problem?

HEADER IMAGE: MASHABLE/VICKY LETA

There’s a studio in Finland called Housemarque. Founded in 1995, Housemarque has made several outstanding games like Dead NationSuper Stardust and most recently Alienation. The thing that stands out to me the most about Housemarque is not their roster of outstanding games and excellent design tendencies. It isn’t that they’re the oldest game studio in Finland or that they’ve won countless awards and nominations for their work. It’s that in the year 2016 there is only one female employee in the whole team and she was hired fairly recently. If you watched the credits for Dead Nation (which came out in 2010) you’ll see there’s only one female listed in the entire credits and she’s a voice actress. Sadly this isn’t a situation unique to Housemarque but reflects the industry as a whole. Continue reading →

Legend of Zelda Wii U might have Gender Selection

According to a report from NintendoLife the new Legend of Zelda game for Wii U may finally let players select their character’s gender. Every instalment in the Legend of Zelda series has always starred Link, the green tunic clad elf. But according to a some tweets from Nintendo employees the new game may let players choose the gender of the longtime male series protagonist.

This rumour fits with what seasoned series designer Eiji Anuma has said in previous interviews about the upcoming Wii U exclusive. Anuma has stated that the new Zelda game will shake things up and hopefully prevent the tried and true Zelda formula from becoming stale. In an interview with Famitsu, relayed by Kotaku, Anuma likened the new changes to “going from Japanese food to Western style food.” This is possibly a reference to stepping away from the sparring, desolate worlds traditionally found in Japanese games and moving towards the more dense, populated worlds found in Western RPGs. Western RPGs like Fallout, Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect all let players select their character’s gender. Whether this change Anuma talked about will bring with it the choice to play as someone other than Link remains to be seen. Continue reading →

The “Whitey McStubbly” Concept

I realized that I had been using a phrase in my posts that a lot of people are unfamiliar with, so I decided you all deserve an explanation. It’s one of my favourite phrases when discussing characters in video games:”Whitey McStubbly”. I first heard the phrase in an interview with Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett and started using it immediately. You’ve seen countless of them, but when you really stop to think about the protagonists in popular video games it’s quite startling how many of them are white, middle-aged men with that five-o-clock shadow and a slight scowl. Continue reading →

About that VGA jury…

The annual Video Game Awards (VGAs) have been around since 2014 and existed as the Spike Video Game Awards (VGX) since 2003. It’s an award show that aims to celebrate the industry and honour the games that came out that year. But as the industry has grown and matured over the past decade and a bit, gender diversity in games has become an increasingly prominent issue. An issue that has been poorly handled as evidenced by events like “Gamergate” in late 2014 as well as the blatant under representation of women in games media, the industry and in games themselves. The latest development of this issue came with the announcement that the jury for the 2015 VGAs would have one — yes ONE — woman on a panel of thirty-two judges. How is this an acceptable practice in a world where the majority of gamers are women? How is this an accurate representation of the industry? The answer is simple: it isn’t. Continue reading →