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JaakkoP

Good female characters

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Since we're going for a Good Adventure Game, how about some discussion about what makes a Good Female Character. We sure could use some more of those in gaming generally. Adventure games seem to interest women more than other video game genres, so why wouldn't we have some strong female characters for this audience to identify within this game?

The most obvious character from past games to reference is Governor Marley from Monkey Island. She's definitely strong and independent, but also kind of a one-note character. She's just there to snub Threepwood down, when it's funny.

I personally like Nicole Collard from the Broken Sword series. Yes, she's an obvious love interest for the protagonist, and a sidekick, but she still does things on her own. She's an active character in the adventure.

What do you think makes a good female character?

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I don't see why being "strong and independent" have anything to do with how good a female character is. Those are trait real women should have, but characters just need to have that, character. Be it strong and independent, lazy and needy. Or whatever.

What makes a good female character? The same thing that makes a good black, white, male or non-human character. Treating it by more than what is on its outer shell.

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"Strong and independent" in video games sadly tends to end up being used as short hand for "Sassy shoe-horned-in love interest". Or, more specifically, as a substitute for character depth. More than one note is required to make a good character.

I don't claim to know how to create a good female protagonist in particular, but for what it's worth Lily from Psychonauts was possibly my favorite female character ever in a video game.

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Yeah a female character can be anything in a game, it's just that SO MANY end up being enormously chested mannequins to make the game more appealing to teenage boys. I like to think that since DF doesn't have to worry about publishers interfering, we can trust them to create well rounded characters, male or female. Or Dog. Or appendage.

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I think good female characters are made out of the same stuff that good male characters are. I also think there is a separation between a good character and character that has good character. Meaning... there are plenty of good characters that you really wouldn't want to run into in real life.

While on the topic of female characters, I think it's really interesting that there are so few adventure games with female main characters.

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I really loved April Ryan in the first The Longest Journey game, though I didn't really like her that much in Dreamfall (though she was kind of a secondary character there, with Zoe Castillo the "primary" character, although at times she was playable). But she was pretty stron and independent in the first game already, I really liked that a lot.

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Given that Schabert* make light-hearted comedy games I don't know if this is the most appropriate or useful ground to try and overturn the phallocracy.

*'Gilfer' sounded worse.

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While on the topic of female characters, I think it's really interesting that there are so few adventure games with female main characters.

Same reason there are so few female protagonists in movies (if it's not a relationship movie to begin with). It's because more boys play video games and they usually want to play boys (as society tells you girls are weak, wear pink stuff and in general don't have much to aspire to). When girls play they usually don't mind male protagonists. Ergo: you sell more games with the least amount of effort/investment.

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I really loved April Ryan in the first The Longest Journey game, though I didn't really like her that much in Dreamfall (though she was kind of a secondary character there, with Zoe Castillo the "primary" character, although at times she was playable). But she was pretty stron and independent in the first game already, I really liked that a lot.

Quoted for truth. April Ryan is my favourite female games character so far, since she's one of the only ones that felt like a real person - of course it being a fantastic game/story helped.

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I guess as long as it's a character other women can relate to, rather than a character solely designed to appeal to teenage boys, then it's a good female character.

Obviously, I can't speak for any women when I say this, but I don't think anyone can relate well to what is essentially (and designed to be) a walking stick with 2 melons stapled to the front, wearing the least amount of clothing possible.

e.g. Ivy from SoulCalibur.

A good female character?

2nd Lt Mira: Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine.

Probably not the best example, but the first that came to mind, she is strong and independent, she leads her men in battle (even though she isn't technically the commanding officer) and she even earns the respect of the Space Marines themselves, but most importantly, she actually looks like a normal human being, not some weird proto-human with anti-gravity breasts.

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I'll be happy as long as each important character, regardless of gender, species, or preference between watermelon or cantaloupe, has more than just a single thought going around in their head. i.e. defeat villain, marry hero, eat pizza.

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I think it is far too general a question. Asking what makes a good female character is not much different than asking what makes a good character. Your search returned too many results! I suggest refining your query!

But I've always liked DF's lady characters, and DF has never really had a problem in this department that I'm aware of, so I'm not especially worried.

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What makes a female character good? The same that makes a male character good.

Although it's true that female characters are usually not deep or really interesting in most games, I think DF's record is good on this.

Also, two more examples from classic adventure games: Sofia in Indiana Jones and Maggie in The Dig.

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Okay, what many of you responded about the "strong and independent" thing is definitely a fair cop, and actually reveals some of my personal conceptions. I definitely don't want any characters shoehorned in to that mold, since removing existing molds is what I'm looking for.

The same things make both male and female characters good? Yes, definitely, but there are some complications here. I'll just refer to this Extra Credits video, because it deals with that stuff very eloquently:

http://extra-credits.net/episodes/true-female-characters/

Anyway, please keep posting about positive experiences you've had about female characters in games.

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I'm one of those "Femme-Shep" players of Mass Effect, so I definitely appreciate a well-imagined female character, leading role or not. However, I'm no fan of those games that present an amazonian ninja warrior magus sex-slave-turned-rogue impossible 14-year-old-boy's-fantasy chicks. You know the sort of thing: impossible proportions and barely covered.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a sexy girl as much as anybody, but Hollywood invented sexy girls for mud wrestling and increased ticket sales. Ultimately, so long as her physique is believable and her dialog rings true, then I'm on board. (Unless, you know, the game/movie is terrible, in which case she should run away from explosions in slow motion, Mr Bay.)

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I guess as long as it's a character other women can relate to, rather than a character solely designed to appeal to teenage boys, then it's a good female character.

I think that's an interesting point, I remember a friend of mine saying something similar recently. If we set aside the idea that female protagonists are numerically under-represented for a moment, should we encourage or accept the idea that people can only relate to (or aspire to be like, etc) people of their own gender?

The promotion of women's rights or perspective in the game might be better done more indirectly, through the general attitude expressed by the game or what have you.

Edit: sorry, I made a mistake here; I thought the thread was about having a female protagonist, not good female characters generally.

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@ JaakkoP: That is one AMAZING video, thank you for sharing!

I liked the girls, especially Faith, in Mirror's Edge, even though the game itself wasn't "my" kind of game. Even kept playing a lot longer than I would have done (and may even pick it up again) just because of Faith.

One of the best female characters will forever be Assassin's Creed's Caterina Sforza:

(Real person, btw., the game made me read up on her: http://www.badassoftheweek.com/sforza.html)

A shame she only appears in a few scenes.

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I think a good female character would be any that adds to the entertainment value of whatever scenes they occupy. If the scene itself is crappy, it helps to have a female character that is scenic to compensate but I would not play a game with crappy scenes.

I really hope the game only has great scenes and puzzles and that the extra budget they got from the unexpected support doesn't go to unnecessarily bloating the production by adding in crappy scenes, characters, puzzles, or whatever "filler" material.

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I don't think there needs to be a definitively strong-willed female or male presence in the foreground. Many games have run pretty well with hapless protagonists. As long as the overall balance of characters is neither ludicrously sexist nor painfully tokenised, I don't think there's a great deal to worry about, and I'm more than confident that Double Fine won't fall into those gutters.

Does this game need to be targetted at teenage boys? Given that Double Fine aren't going to be making a loss unless a serious misappropriation of funds occurs, I don't think they need to target a specific demographic. Perhaps this is an opportunity for them to do something different without fear of fiscal reprisals.

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What makes a female character good? The same that makes a male character good.

I disagree, big ole titties don't always make a male character good.

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I would like to see female charakters that don't need to be taken care of all the time (yes, I am looking at you Resident Evil 4) and are whiney all the time (yes Ashley Graham, you again!) but instead can be quiet tough but also have a emotional side to them (Elaine from Monkey Island, Ashley in Mass Effect 1) which in the end makes them human.

I don't want to see giagantic boobs (yes I am looking at you random japanese game), oversexualized proportions (yes, youMass Effect 3 and almost all western AAA titles) or even more stupid things like camel-toes (yes Mass Effect 3, I am looking at you. Again!)

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2 awesome female characters - Alyx Vance from Half Life 2 and Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. Both are really well fleshed out, they rely on character development over ridiculously skimpy outfits, they're both just really well designed and fleshed out characters. Governor Marley is also pretty awesome and fits pretty much everything I said up there too.

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What I would like to see is a variety of female characters with an important role to play in the story who have a complex backstory and motivation. There is no list of things that will make a female character good. Even "strong and independent" won't make a bit of difference if she's deep as a puddle. Because women come in all shapes and sizes, so too should female characters! I'm all okay with a damsel in distress as long as they're realistic about it.

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My favorite heroines in fiction and real life are ones who don't make a big deal out of their gender and would never utter the phrase "Girl power!". They're people who are amazing at what they do, and don't try boast about their successes/make excuses when they fail- basically, I like the same qualities in a person whether they're male or female (minus certain, erm... physical characteristics).

When it comes to good female characters in video games, hmm... She wouldn't need to be some amazing athlete or know five billion ways to kill an enemy, but being self-sufficient would be good. I can't stand when I'm watching a film and the male lead is struggling with an attacker and the female, five feet away, just stands there and quivers/screams/stares. That being said, I agree that depth of character is really important and showing moments of vulnerability does make an individual easier to relate to. In video games, a female character doesn't necessarily have to be someone I admire to be someone I enjoy playing as or working with.

/aimless rambles, now begins the quest for breakfast.

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I'll add my voice in agreement to the wailing throng: yes, what makes a good female character is the same thing that makes a good character, general.

But then the question breaks down to: what makes a good character?

The general rule of thumb is that a good character is one who fits well (if not perfectly) with the story. Subject Zero would be a terrible character in, say, Monkey Island. But she's a good character in Mass Effect.

As a writer, let me say that it is -censored- easy to write a mindless, soulless love interest for an already fleshed out main character. And, to be honest, after building an entire world in conflict and populating it with people, it's extraordinarily tempting to just throw in a "look at me, I'm attractive and give the MC a reason to do stuff that's relatable to the human condition" chick and be done with it.

So, therefore, I think what a good female character needs is a writer that's willing to suffer the extra mile.

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I wrote something about female characters on my FB page: (w/ a great fem character photo)

On the Importance of Female Protagonists: I want, as a player, to feel wanted by the company that designed and developed the game that they want me to buy and play. The most direct way to convey to me that they want my favor and participation is via a strong playable female character, not just a healer or a nurse, but a fully participating character that has equal potential to every other character and is no less fun to play. The Borderlands Siren is an awesome representation of that contract, and one of my all time favorites.

Conversely, a game developer who presents me with a game that is either absent any strong playable female characters, or strong female characters at all.... OR the female character they have created is a bad joke... a gross stereotype, a flimsy token character, or a weakling dullard... Those companies achieve precisely the opposite. They convey BOLDLY that they have no respect for their market, and to me, if they assume I don't exist, how am I to conclude that they are intelligent? And I question the quality of a game made without an intelligent foundation or force behind it. I'm not hardcore about it, there are some old school games that have a modest stamp of ignorance in their creation... I forgive that. But TODAY, they ought to know better.

Female characters should be just as awesome, funny, strong, intelligent, ...even entertaining as any of your favorite male characters... that basically sums it up. They should NOT be lacking without a reason... being female is NOT a reason.

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I'm surprised that nobody cited Jill Valentine and Claire Redfield.

Those are imho two strong female characters.

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Surprised this character hasn't been brought up yet, since she's usually used as a good example of a female protagonist, but Jade from Beyond Good and Evil was an excellent female main character.

Edit: Ah, she was brought up! I just didn't read the thread well enough. My point still stands, though. She's an excellent example of a female main character done right.

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