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A Female Discusses Female Protagonists

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Let me say this upfront: I don’t have a problem with male leading characters. Go ahead, condemn this female for saying that I’m perfectly okay with a male main character. I can imagine the negative comments already, and I’m smirking. But the truth is, if a game I like doesn’t have a female as the main character, I’m not going to sit there and bitch and moan. Why? Because I just want to play a damn game, and not make it some male vs. female issue.

I see it all the time. Both men and women getting their panties in a bunch. The chicks are pissed because female main characters are “rare” or too sexualized, and dudes are split down the middle. And then there is me, among many others, who just don’t care as long as the game is good.

cidney ffxvPeople were up in arms when Ubisoft didn’t include a female assassin. People complained because Final Fantasy XV seems more bromantic than anything, and complained that despite the fact that Cid(ney) is now female, she is unplayable. And then people got pissy over the fact that protagonists of upcoming Life is Strange were almost male. (For the record I’m glad they are female, otherwise I think it wouldn’t fit the story correctly.)

My response to any and all of these types of complaints is always the same. Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I need to play as a female. If a female protagonist does not fit the storyline then I would rather play as a male. Simply making the main character female “just because” is not going to be conducive to a more equitable gaming environment. Making a main character female just to appease people is downright ridiculous. From a writer’s perspective, I never think you should pander to your fans. Do what feels right for the story.

When done correctly, female main characters can be wonderful. I always play as a female in Dragon Age, because the dialogue just seems to milla maxwellbe a bit more open. Milla Maxwell, albeit one of two main protagonists in Tales of Xillia, was the first female main in a Tales game, and it refreshingly worked perfectly with the story. However, picture a female protagonist in the sequel, and it simply doesn’t make sense. If Ludger had been a chick, the dynamic relationship between Elle and him would have changed completely. Something would have been lost.

I feel similar about the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Sure, right now it seems that it’s going to be mostly male dominated, but look at the four of them. It is certainly a bromance. Throw in a female and the group loses a piece of the dynamic. Instead, we should be celebrating that Cid is now a female, and freaking adorable for that matter. She’s still a strong female in a typically more masculine job, she just isn’t going to be a playable character. And let’s not forget that the last time Final Fantasy tried to main a female, the series fell somewhat flat. Final Fantasy XIII, although equipped with an incredibly badass female version of Cloud, just couldn’t hold up to the hype. So why blame them for going back to the formula they are more familiar with?

What it all comes down to is that it shouldn’t matter whether a character is male or female. Whether the female is playable or not. What we should be focusing on are the games as a whole. Is the gameplay fun, new and exciting? Is the story captivating? Can I see myself in the characters, despite what they have between their legs? Can I identify with the characters’ problems? These are the core questions we should be asking instead of nitpicking over the sex of a videogame character.

We should celebrate a successful videogame for what it is, not for what it is lacking. And really, is a game truly lacking just because a female main character doesn’t fit the bill? They aren’t trying to discriminate, and nor should we. Videogames are meant to be fun entertainment. I just don’t see how a lack of female protagonists gets twisted into commentary on a lack of female progression. I’ll continue to stand by my male protagonists when it works well for the story of a game, and I’ll also praise games with a female protagonist that melds perfectly with the game.

About Emily Horton

Emily is just your average twenty something girl who discovered her love for gaming at the age of three or four, all thanks to her older brothers. Mario, The Lion King, Aladdin, Zelda were her first loves, but Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Tales, and pretty much all Japanese games eventually fell into that category. She has an unhealthy obsession with Pikachu, hoodies, her 3DS, t-shirts, plushies, and purses. She may also fancy herself as an excellent lawyer due to number of times she has played through the Ace Attorney series. Outside of videogames, she is a Disney, Harry Potter, and Tolkien fanatic, while also recently discovering that she is now a hardcore fan of Supernatural thanks to Netflix allowing her to watch eight seasons rapid fire. She has elvish writing, the Deathly Hallows, a rather large Tinkerbelle and a large Yuna from Final Fantasy X all tattooed on her body, with only more geeky stuff to be added. Currently working on her own fantasy novel, she hopes to publish it eventually once all the kinks are worked out.

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