Breaking the Narrative Episode 6: 2012 to Present, What Have We Stepped In? It Reeks.

Now we’ve come to where we are now: This era of gaming which started with the Wii U, and the mere proposition of Anita Sarkeesian’s original campaign. The rumblings that would lead to the Quinnspiracy and #GamerGate proper were already visible. By this point, a lot of gamers I knew at the time were starting to question the validity of outlets like Kotaku and Polygon due to some obviously off reviews and what not, and the shift towards Lets Plays and YouTube reviewers had begun. We have shown already through the previous articles that the lines about ‘sexist gamers’ is all but bullshit by this point. But what about this era of games? Well, even though it started earlier, this is an era where most games have custom character creators.  So you can, in essence, make any reasonable type of character you want. In fact, some games even took this concept beyond reason, and not just in MMOs, either, like it was in the last two eras.

But what of single player campaigns? What sort of women could we find in games of today? SJWs would say they are the only ones with minority main characters but I have to question the validity of this. Last time I checked, SJWs did not create Ellie from The Last of Us. They also did not create the first in our list here, Cassie Cage of the recent Mortal Kombat X. As the daughter of series veteran Johnny Cage, Cassie does have a pedigree behind her but she is not a “Miss Male” trope as our self-styled ‘critics’ would call her. For one, while she is headstrong, she doesn’t show the same type of bravado her father does and is actually a Special Forces sergeant.  She takes after her mother Sonya Blade in that regard. Where Cassie differs from her mother is that she thinks more on her feet, since she inherited her father’s wit. She commands her own unit to protect Earth from the Outworld forces. As such, some of these ‘critics’ have questioned her gender representation, proving overall that they are the true sexists, don’t comprehend any aspect of growing up in a military family, or even what it means to be ‘imperfect’ as a character. (Source: http://mortalkombat.wikia.com/wiki/Cassie_Cage)

Now, how about a character first revealed in Dishonored that we are going to be able to play in the game’s sequel? Emily Kaldwin is the daughter of this world’s Empress and the main character Corvo. While she was kidnapped as a baby, you eventually help retrieve her and she starts to become your character’s moral compass in the first game. However since her mother was assassinated, she has become as part of this world, the heir to her mother’s throne. She takes the reigns fairly soon afterward and begins to plot revenge against her mother’s killer. In the sequel set 15 years after the first, she not only has made the day her mother died a memorial day for her but has trained with her father to become capable of defending herself and others. When a potential usurper comes to take the throne you can choose at the beginning to be the equal but different forces of either her father or her. If you choose her you have greater momentum and the ability to use teleporting movements to get around. People have tried to say she is part of a growing trend in the industry. However, I think we’ve shown already that she is more of the same. (Source: http://dishonored.wikia.com/wiki/Emily_Kaldwin)

To follow this up we have Shield Knight from the indie game powerhouse Shovel Knight. In interviews, the developers admitted that she was initially planned from a trope stage. However, they had decided it would make the player more invested in the story of saving this close companion of your character if she were an equal and as powerful to the main character.  Not only would this set the tone of the entire game to show the seriousness of the villain, but to the developers (and it was intended to make the player feel this too,) Shield Knight wasn’t some ‘object to be won,’ some ‘prize.’ She was a loved one and a companion you wished to have by your side again as an ally in battle. You aren’t simply saving a love interest, you are saving a friend. (Source: http://shovelknight.wikia.com/wiki/Shield_Knight)

The next one is from a lesser known series developed under the watchful eye of Square Enix. Drakengard III’s Zero. In a prequel novella you find out that this character was sold into prostitution by her own mother at a young age and fought hard to escape the hellish situation, getting to the point where killing was second nature to her and was a necessity along with stealing to be able to eat. This continued until she had caught a terminal illness and died while in custody. Upon her demise, she was immediately resurrected and turned into an Intoner, a god-like being whose songs could create either miracles or disasters, a flower of all things turning her into such with the intent of destroying the world. She went as far as to attempt suicide to prevent this outcome but the flower wouldn’t let her die. (Source: http://drakengard.wikia.com/wiki/Zero)

To tie this all into a very entertaining little bow we’ll end with another licensed game, one in which you play as one of the most badass descendants of all time. Aliens: Isolation starring none other than Amanda “Amy” Ripley, daughter of the series main protagonist Ellen Ripley. The original movie Aliens only touched upon Amy slightly. In this game, you get to see the traits she inherited from her mother and more, taking her and making her just as strong and unique of a character as her mother is. Even Polygon has had to admit that this character lives up to her mother’s standard. In fact, a lot of this character as conceptualized in the original film was actually supposed to be depicted by Weaver’s own mother Elizabeth Inglis, but the scene was deleted, much to Weaver’s chagrin. In the end, Amy is her own character with her own motivations and overall was designed using Weaver and her mother’s images as a base to develop her into the great character she was. (Source: http://alienanthology.wikia.com/wiki/Amanda_Ripley)

Now it looks like the future is set to have more female characters in leading roles. However, at the same time we do appear to be shifting to a full circle situation by the day. This is evidenced with how Hideo Kojima approached Venom Snake in Phantom Pain, where we can put ourselves in as the main character again. As such, this whole argument of ‘representation’ is becoming more and more moot by the day. So how do we compare in the current era with female game developers? Well we can obviously count out the Literally Whos that keep complaining about their treatment in the industry because we haven’t seen them actually making any games, just complaining about trolls and invisible boogeymen while spouting about their own paranoid delusions.

In the real world however the strong devs of the past have been mentoring the strong devs of today. The industry has become such a collaborative environment that it would be silly to name anyone specific, particularly when development tools such as the Unity Engine, RPG Maker Engine, Adventure Games Studio among many others are so easy to come by. Even systems like the 3DS have coding software you can commercially download and develop with, and resources to aid in game construction without much trouble.

In essence, today more than ever, anyone can become a game developer if they so wish. Even you, reading this article, can make your own game. Male or female, if you really want to become a game developer, then do it. Get some friends together make it fun if you want. Then get it greenlit on Steam, GOG. Even EA is hinting at options through Origin to do this. Or if you want promote it on your own site, talk about it on twitter. The limits are practically gone now, the only one left is your own will. SJWs can’t stop you from making the games you want made. The publishers can’t stop you either. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a degree to do it.

Now that we’ve caught up historically, we can have fun by breaking multiple narratives at once. How about we start with talking about Samus Aran? She is not only the archetype most look at when it comes to female leads…but even Other M shows her as a strong woman. Until next time, please remember to game freely.

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

2 thoughts on “Breaking the Narrative Episode 6: 2012 to Present, What Have We Stepped In? It Reeks.”

  1. Being a male nerd gamer for near half a century now, I have played so many games. Looking at some of the recent games, there are so many choices when playing local or online co-op games with my boys. Divinity Original Sin, Zombie Vikings, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, there’s simply so much choice in male or female characters and I was actually rather oblivious to identity politics until this year. I remember playing female characters in Bioware’s Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, simply because I had a choice.

    1. Wait until you see me tackle Samus Aran and how Other M actually shows why people have trouble with male emotions.

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