The evolution of female characters in games was a very long process that developed in parallel with modern trends. They have gone from those who need to be saved to those who save themselves. And now, to paraphrase a well-known proverb, many male gamers can stand behind the backs of great women, playing for them in many cool titles. How did it come to this? Now let's find out by looking in detail at how female characters have changed in video games.
Pixels and only
Initially, there were no female characters as such, and if they appeared in the game, then only as a reward for your efforts. Were just targets to be saved This was due to the fact that the video game market was only targeting men. Some of the more classic examples are Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros or Zelda from The Legend of Zelda.
Then the games did not yet endow women with any external features due to the weak drawing and low power of the consoles of that time. Thus, they were ordinary NPCs.
In the history of gaming, Mrs. Pacman became the first female protagonist in the 1981 game of the same name. She differed from her husband with a bow on her head and painted lips. The game was more successful, like the original Pac-man, and it even had a love story in the finale of which, the stork brings a baby to the Pac-man family [can you say that?].
The next iconic character is Samus Aran, the heroine of the Metroid Pride game. However, she turned out to be female for the reason that the developer decided: it would be cool if the player thinks that he is playing for a man all the time, and in the end it turns out that the character is a woman when he takes off his costume.
Sexuality sells everything
Over time, as technology became more powerful and 3D graphics appeared, marketing began to introduce sexuality into games as a way to attract male audiences. Moreover, a similar argument is that the men will fall for the large rounded shapes of the heads. the heroine appeared by accident due to a mistake by the artist Tony Garda.
He was the one who designed Lara Croft for the very first part of Tomb Raider. During the design, he accidentally screwed Lara's model to the maximum breast volume. Colleagues looked at the whole thing and decided to leave this puncture. I don't know what was in the minds of the gamers of those times, who were turned on by the low-poly, triangular chest, but apparently then everything was really bad with this, and many fell for this. Eh, those crazy 90s ...
This is how the fashion for sexy female characters was born. If you observe all the girls, both heroines and NPCs of that time, then they all had this distinctive feature, as an example, remember the same Rain from Bloodrayne or April Ryan from The Longest Journey.
The most remarkable thing is that these heroines had cool skills, characters, their own history and great strength [in fact, they did not differ from male characters], but also had great indicative sexuality. And a dissonance arises: how can such elaboration and such sexism exist simultaneously?
It's simple, by the beginning of the 2000s, the industry, or rather the marketers who ran it, had clear standards for characters. Since the majority of the audience is men, it means that male characters should be cool and pumped up, such that men want to see themselves, and female characters should be sexy, graceful and flexible, such that they want to be with.
The apogee of this "logic" of the 2000s was various MMORPGs and games of the hack & slash genre, where it was possible to create such a sexy heroine [moreover, covered with armor only in piquant places] that the existence of such a body is impossible in reality purely physically. Various fighting games, such as Dead or Alive, fall into this category, where the point was to watch sexy girls fight in spicy outfits.
Valve broke this vicious circle by releasing Half Life 2. While the first part of the game made it clear that a male hero doesn't have to be a bouncer, the second part showed that players are very interested in Alex Vance - a deep and elaborate character without a hint of sexuality ... Yes, she was not the main character, but she showed that there is a demand for such things.
The era of realism and morals
With the development of technology and time, the first attempts to create realistic female characters appeared. Of course, the fashion for sexy characters has not disappeared anywhere, and as a result we get projects like Lollipop Chainsaw or even Nier Atomata. However, at the present time, they have simply gone into a separate, not dominant vector of development.
We started to get realistic female characters, where the emphasis was absolutely not on their appearance, but on their story. This is how we got Faith from Mirror's Edge, an updated Lara Croft, Alice from Alice Madness Returns, Clementine from The Walking Dead, Emily Kaldwin - the heroine of Dishonored 2. If we're talking about NPCs, it's Glados from Portal, Elizabeth from the last Bioshock, Sarah Kerigan, and so on.
Yes, pretty faces are as they were, but looking the truth, outwardly attractive protagonists are just a technique when creating a character, and not the main factor. Quite often, images are copied from famous actors or models.
Everything is as it should be
As a result, we came to the conclusion that today, although there are games that try to attract the male part of the game community with sexuality, in parallel with this there are a lot of worthy examples where there is no such thing. And do not forget that although men make up the majority of gamers, women today also actively play games and there are many of them.
Today, the evolution of girls in games has come to the conclusion that they should be what they are, what the context requires without excesses. Max from Life is Stange looks like a teenage girl, Ellie from The Last of Us - like a man living in the ruins of an old civilization. Senua from Helldlade: Senua's Sacrifice as a Scandinavian warrior. And the fact that today such an approach is normal is the crown of the evolution of women in games.
Also, we want to devote this month to gamers, and we will continue to release thematic articles in the [Women and Games] series.
The Topic of Article: Women and Games. Evolution of female characters in games.