These two articles came out in the last few days, and they examine how children’s gaming is gendered, and ask the question “what are games teaching or not teaching our daughters”. The authors ask how video games can be used to teach young girls the attributes and qualities that young women often lack (like the drive to be the financial breadwinner) that young men seemingly gain. They evaluate video games as tools of socialization that are instilling these qualities in boys, and not girls.
Super Princess Peach teaches young girls to save the day by using their emotions.
Media at large paints women as the damsel in distress much more often than as a strong female lead, and video games are no different. The princess role is as old as writing itself, and characters like Peach and Zelda are certainly only modern interpretation. Even though we’ve seen Peach take the reigns in games like Super Princess Peach, Super Paper Mario, and every Mario Sports title ever (SHE CHEATS IN MARIO STRIKERS. YOU KNOW IT. I KNOW IT), lead female roles in video games are still rare. Certain franchises have been more progressive than others, enabling players to choose between genders (See Mass Effect, Pokemon, etc) but the majority of story driven games are often centered around males; there’s some, but not too many. Likewise, games with female main characters tend to have their protagonist silent (see Metroid, Portal 2)
Final Fantasy XIII Prominently features Lightning as the main character…A lot of male gamers..didn’t like her (Then again they hated everyone in the game)
But is their hypothesis true? Can video games be used to make young girls more ambitious? Certainly. Why not. Hey, ok. Video games are inevitably a tool of socialization in today’s world; young boys and girls are learning lessons and characters from their on screen personas ( I learned how to be a battle toad from Battle Toads). Thus, it’s important that young girls have strong role models in their games, rather than merely pushing gender roles upon our young. Likewise, it’s up to us to monitor and know about the games our kids our playing and to choose games and stories that reflect the ideas and attributes we want to instill in our kids.
Some awesome games with strong female characters:
- Beyond Good and Evil
- Mirror’s Edge
- Tomb Raider (Eh)
- Portal 2
- Metroid Prime Triology
Please comment or share your thoughts, favorite games with female leads, or anything!