Females need more representation in video games

By Magdalayna Drivas | Reporter

Growing up, I wanted to be just like my brother. When he got a Game Boy for Christmas, I made sure I got one too. Hours would pass by as we battled each other in “Mario Kart” and traded Pokemon. But once we started playing more advanced games, I immediately felt left out, as nearly all major role-playing games are dominated by male characters. If, as the Wall Street Journal reports, nearly half of all video game players are female, why is the entire gender excluded from most games?

Developers have been using the same excuses for not including women in games for years. The infamous excuse that female characters are “a lot of extra production work” is untrue. In reality, incorporating females into a game only takes a day or two of extra work. With modern game design technology, there is no reason why female and male representation should be held at different standards.

The argument that female combatants aren’t believable to male players is also invalid. Female characters are as believable to players as games make them out to be. When women aren’t hyper-sexualized and have equal skill sets as men, players have no problem embracing them. Female combatants exist in real life, so it should not be an issue for developers to include them in their games.

Including a female sidekick in games is not enough. More often than not, a female companion character serves as a damsel in distress and is more of a burden than an equal player in the story. A prime example is Ashley Graham in “Resident Evil 4,” who is a helpless girl the player must protect, who cannot even use a ladder without a man’s help. Studios should model female companions after characters like Ellie in “The Last of Us” and Evie Frye in “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate,” who fight side by side on equal footing with their male counterparts. With the video game industry being one of America’s fastest-growing economic sectors, it is important now more than ever to portray men and women as equals.

Not only does adding female characters promote gender equality, but women also add diversity to game storylines. The plot of a male soldier’s struggles while at war is stale and overdone. The unexplored realm of female storylines provides an endless supply of fresh, new game ideas. The 2013 reboot of “Tomb Raider” tells the story of Lara Croft, who overcomes adversity in an empowering action-adventure tale. It is important for girls to be exposed to more characters like Croft.

Progress has certainly been made in recent years. Many series, including “Call of Duty,” “Assassin’s Creed” and “FIFA” are becoming more inclusive and incorporating playable females in their latest releases. Decades full of male-centric games will take more than a quick fix to undo, but this is a step in the right direction.

Game developers create worlds where characters can carry infinite numbers of weapons, survive deadly wounds and travel across continents within seconds. So why is it so hard to believe a female hero can exist?

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