After last year’s E3, the giant video game expo that takes place in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time railing at the misogyny of the whole thing, from the way women were treated on stage (if they were there at all) to Ubisoft’s response to the outcry about the lack of a female playable character. (It was too hard, you see. Ladies are hard to draw, you guys!) This year, however, things were very different.
We actually got a slew of games with female leads or the ability to play as one. We got a new “Mirror’s Edge,” with the return of Faith Conners. You can play as a man or a woman in “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” “The Rise of the Tomb Raider” looks like it might not be torture porn like the last one. (The game play was great. Just didn’t dig the story.) “Horizon Zero Dawn” has a female lead and it looks seriously badass. Guys, the game has robot dinosaurs. I highly doubt dudes are going to pass that up just because the main character has lady parts.
The female-led “ReCore” has robots as well, and the trailer makes me want a robot dog. Well, OK, I always wanted a robot dog. Now I want one with a shiny ball inside that I can transfer to other robot dogs. There are playable women’s teams in “FIFA 16.” We’re even getting a Michonne-lead “Walking Dead” game. In addition, we saw a bunch of women on stage, and they weren’t treated any differently than their male counterparts.
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What’s even cooler is that, aside from the obnoxious anti-Anita Sarkeesian posters outside the con (and that is no small thing), the reaction has been largely positive. I’m on the Internet all day and I really haven’t seen much of a backlash about the female leads. It’s as if it’s really not a big deal. Huh. Would any movie companies like to take a look at that? You know, the ones who think that men are going to boycott lady-led films.
It seems like things are changing, and lo and behold, it isn’t ruining the gaming industry. See, that’s the thing. No one is taking away the games you know and love. No one is replacing anything. Being able to play as a woman in “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” isn’t sprinkling the industry with hearts and flowers. Like Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a kickass character is a kickass character, no matter what the gender, race or sexual orientation. Now, who wants to play a game?