Women and the video game industry does not get along with each other, let's face it. And I don't mean that women don't in it, I mean that women, in the context of video games or the video game industry, is almost always something controversial. I bet some may even call this blog controversial. But I still wanted to share my views on the matter and I thought hopefully on Giant Bomb someone might find it interesting.
How many women have you heard that has ever genuinely felt violated and offended by a video game? How many Dudes have you heard saying "this and this is offensive to women."? Video games with female protagonists is fine, if and only if the characters aren't overly sexualized, subjected to extreme violence, stereotyped or showing weakness. That's a lot of ifs.
Tomb Raider is getting released soon, and it has apparently had the most controversial marketing ever. "Gross", and "disgusting" marketing. When the developers said "We wanted to create a character you felt like you wanted to protect", everyone went crazy. What if the character had been a 6 year old boy and the dev had said the same thing? What if it was a man the same age as Lara? Or if it was a little bunny? Would that have been "weird", "gross" and "disgusting"? Is the simple truth that any attempt to convey personal care and protection in a video game is inherently "disgusting"?
Or is it the fact that Lara is a woman that makes it disgusting? Does that make sense to anybody? We can make games about whatever we want, and we can make the game depict whatever we want, as long as it doesn't involve women, then we have to be careful. Isn't that sexist to exclude women in that sort of way?
The video game industry is obviously male-dominated, that is a cold fact women just have to deal with. But that doesn't explain why most video game protagonists are male. We can all have our reasons as to why or why not we want to play as a female character, what matters is, why aren't developers developing games with female protagonists? It's not because they don't sell obviously (Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II was among the best selling games for one of the most sold consoles ever).
I believe the reason for the low count of female main protagonists is the developers are scared of making them. You can't deny that this outcry about Tomb Raider didn't hurt somebody's business. Media has now told you that the pole piercing in Tomb Raider, and the fact that Lara moans is distasteful and you should be disgusted by it, if you think of it the same way you would if the protagonist had been male, you're weird. Some people may even think Crystal Dynamics is full of women haters and weirdos. Why would developers want to risk getting that reputation?
And for the record, I'm talking about games that forces you to play as a female character, not those that lets you choose. I believe there is a difference to be made because in the former case, the developers are more set out to allow their creative work to rest on their idea, whereas in the latter it's usually up to the player to create their own story.
To the two of you reading this; how many games with a female main protagonist can you think of and not even in the far back of your subconscious mind think that "those devs must be a little perverted"? The media has taught us that women in games exists only because the industry is male-dominated and every time it happens, it's to make boobs move an extra few copies.
Remember that getting offended, is a choice you make. Nobody can tell you what you should be offended by.
EDIT: Everyone interested should read http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RyanCreighton/20130101/184227/White_as_a_Sheet.php