So, another E3 has come and gone and there’s been time for examination, follow up by developers, etc. As you may have guessed, there’s a lot going on and a lot to unpack.
For a general overview of gender and the theme of games, I recommend checking out the breakdown of this year’s E3 by @femfreq. The general gist, there’s a lot more gender incorporation than last year, but still more than three times with male protagonists as female.
For the representation of the female characters in the violent games, well as you’d expect there’s wild variation but way too much of it is still in the bikini armor or other worrying trope zone.
In the interests of not ruining your feed, the positive examples will be on the front post and the rest below the cut.
I also highly recommend checking out Tauriq Moosa’s article at @ineeddiversegames:
Anthem by Bioware
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 by EA DICE
Due to the history of the property and the nature of the game, there’s better odds of generally getting to play an adorkable robot with a gun than a woman in the multi-player. However, seeing Iden Versio as the single player lead was a very pleasant and welcome surprise. Also the multiplayer will allow opportunities to play as Rey.
(Gameplay Trailer) (Official Site)
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider by Arkane Studios
Badass black lady assassin with a mechanical eye, mechanical arm and excellent suit! And Harvey Smith talking with @femfreq about how criticism helped Dishonored come so far.
(Gameplay trailer) (Official site)
Absolver by Sloclap
Overland by Finji
Ni no Kuni 2 by Studio Gibli
Adorable production from Gibli Studios that demonstrates how much personality, actual creativity and expression you can fit into a production when you don’t handcuff yourself to tired tropes born of old myths.
(Developer interview and gameplay video) (Official Site)
Metroid: Samus Returns by Nintendo
A tentative status as a positive example. Samus’ armor is significantly more form fitting than it was in the original Metroid 2 – but it’s great to see her back in a game that’s about her kicking ass in her power armor, with a bunch of enhancements to the gameplay experience.
(Game Reveal Video) (Official Site)
Not bad, but not great
Far Cry 5 by Ubisoft
Announced it will use a character creator, but traditionally Far Cry games have shown you precious little of your player character since they take place entirely through first person perspective. But, it’s definitely worth mentioning Grace Armstrong, a woman of color who will aid you as a well clad sniper.
Monster Hunter by Capcom
The new game was announced but there’s not enough info to know how many of their costumes will be great and how many will be terrible. Particularly since they only showed gameplay with a male character.
Games that depicted amazing action with no female protagonists:
- God of War: Be A Warrior
- Assassin’s Creed: Origins,
Beyond Good and Evil 2 by Ubisoft
The original Beyond Good and Evil starred Jade, a heroic, well dressed woman of color with a pig as her sidekick. The trailer for the sequel has no Jade, but rather a trend of women as the decorative sidekick to animals who seem to parody cultures. And well, this happens in it.
It’s kind of a shame since the game is amazing at depicting black hair.
Uncharted 4: The Lost Legacy
I was really hoping to be able to include this one as a positive example, but honestly it’s hard to given that the extended gameplay trailer features a nonsensical twist that results in a minute and a half sequence of an Indian man glorifying human sacrifice while, in the background, a pair of generic guards beat on Nadine and hold her down like she’s a generic civilian in the background. No gif because I very, very sincerely hope none of our followers want to watch a black woman beaten and humiliated for cheap dramatic effect.
The pants and t-shits combinations of the protagonists are uninspired at best and seem to be trying to hedge in on sex appeal. Overall though, I’m not in any way convinced this is going to give either character the same opportunities that Nate and Sully got in every previous Uncharted game.
Vampyr by Dontnod
The trailer looks so good for the first three minutes, Victorian vampires without any detours into the male gaze or manipulation of the setting to get more skin in… then this shows up on the screen:
No female combatants in the gameplay displayed. Given the female character that does appear and Dontnod’s history, I can only assume this was a concession to the publisher.
Predictable Usual Suspects
Bloodstained: Ritual of Night by Koji Igarashi
Seems to be drifting away from being a gender-flipped love letter to the Castlevania and looking more and more like a cheap game hacked together with generic store-bought assets and all the creative focus on sexy outfits and sexy scenarios for the female characters.
Agents of Mayhem by Violition
The standard issue fair of the guys get big coats, body armor, etc and the female playable characters get weird harnesses to frame their boobs. Combine that with your demo target is a male performer who incorporates his sex appeal and this is pretty generic nonsense in denial.
Call of Duty: WWII by Sledgehammer Games
You may be surprised at this mention since there is quite a bit of buzz about how the Multiplayer will allow character customization that incorporates race and gender etc. Well that’s because the only way we know about this is 2nd hand reports from people who got to trial it and a tweet.
Blade Strangers by Studio Saizensen
Blade Strangers was already featured on BABD as perhaps the worst game, though perhaps we should have proposed an alternative title: “Did ANYONE ask for this?” Sadly it appears we were optimistic in this assessment.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash by Tamsoft
Okay so a game about young girls in bikinis running around shooting each other with water guns is kind of questionable to begin with, but when one of the bosses is defeated by blasting bubbles off her nude body and the trailer highlights a “soak their white bikini” mini-game you’ve gone past “I can’t believe it’s not porn” and into “disturbing and creepy” territory.