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Lead protagonists who are female! (The White Birch, Black Lake)

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Can I just say, I'm really excited to see people at Double Fine considering making female characters the sole playable leads of their respective video games. Especially after reading this article:

Games with exclusively female heroes don’t sell (because publishers don’t support them)

There are so few representations of women and girls as characters in video games who aren't ridiculously sexualized or relegated to "support" roles. It's nice to know that Double Fine doesn't feel that female characters can only play the male lead's love interest!

I can't wait to see The White Birch and Black Lake!

Good luck, everyone!

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Between DFA and AF, we're gonna have all KINDS of awesome ladies coming out of Double Fine in the next year-ish.

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You're right! That's pretty awesome! I forget that aspect sometimes myself, considering most of my game-gender related discussions are often about the developer, not the in-game protagonist. I'll be working on the white birch and am rather excited about it.

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I can't personally think of any non-DF games with a female protagonist, other than the Nancy Drew series, but it's all first person so maybe it doesn't count...

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I can't personally think of any non-DF games with a female protagonist, other than the Nancy Drew series, but it's all first person so maybe it doesn't count...

Excluding games that let you choose either a male or a female, and ignoring games that merely have female party members, sticking EXCLUSIVELY to games where the only option is a singular female protagonist that cannot be swapped out at any time for a male character and is never partied with any male characters...

There actually aren't a whole lot. Here's my best attempt at a list.

Tomb Raider

Portal

Beyond Good & Evil

Mirror's Edge

Metroid

Dreamfall

Syberia

They Bleed Pixels

Final Fantasy X-2

Okami (if girl dogs count)

Bayonetta

Bloodrayne

Alice (game of the same name)

Recettear

Chantelise

Fortune Summoners

Aquaria

You're more likely to get that sort of thing in indie or japanese games. Much less likely to get it in AAA space.

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Yeah i read that article and was actualy suprised the situation was even worse then i always imagined. I never understand why that has happened, because the thing i find the most important is that the character is believable. And for example, i connected more to Jade from beyond good and evil then i do with the standard male action protagonist.

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I can't personally think of any non-DF games with a female protagonist, other than the Nancy Drew series, but it's all first person so maybe it doesn't count...

Excluding games that let you choose either a male or a female, and ignoring games that merely have female party members, sticking EXCLUSIVELY to games where the only option is a singular female protagonist that cannot be swapped out at any time for a male character and is never partied with any male characters...

There actually aren't a whole lot. Here's my best attempt at a list.

Tomb Raider

Portal

Beyond Good & Evil

Mirror's Edge

Metroid

Dreamfall

Syberia

They Bleed Pixels

Final Fantasy X-2

Okami (if girl dogs count)

Bayonetta

Bloodrayne

Alice (game of the same name)

Recettear

Chantelise

Fortune Summoners

Aquaria

Lollipop Chainsaw

Final Fantasy XIII

You're more likely to get that sort of thing in indie or japanese games. Much less likely to get it in AAA space.

Fixed.

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Female Shepard in Mass Effect too.

I really like seeing a non-sexualized, thoughtful, intelligent, multilayered female lead character. Also, it serves to help break up the hegemony of only having white male protagonists, which only serves to make it seem appropriate to make more games with white male protagonists and the cycle continues. But beyond that massive perspective, they can make for some really interesting characters (as mentioned, Jade from Beyond Good and Evil), and a nice refreshing change.

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I didn't count femshep or FFXIII, per the criteria I mentioned before my list.

Femshep I didn't count because it's a game where you can choose your sex. FFXIII I didn't count, because it's a game where you have a party comprised of both males and females.

I would count Lollipop Chainsaw, though.

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I didn't count femshep or FFXIII, per the criteria I mentioned before my list.

Femshep I didn't count because it's a game where you can choose your sex. FFXIII I didn't count, because it's a game where you have a party comprised of both males and females.

True, but you start the game as Lightning, she's the only one on the box art, and she's the most interesting character in the game. Just because you don't control her 100% of the time, doesn't mean she's not the protagonist.

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I didn't count femshep or FFXIII, per the criteria I mentioned before my list.

Femshep I didn't count because it's a game where you can choose your sex. FFXIII I didn't count, because it's a game where you have a party comprised of both males and females.

True, but you start the game as Lightning, she's the only one on the box art, and she's the most interesting character in the game. Just because you don't control her 100% of the time, doesn't mean she's not the protagonist.

She's definitely the protagonist of the story. I don't object to that at all. But I don't think having a female OPTION (even if it's the default option) is the same as having a single, fixed female character that the gameplay and story are exclusively about.

I mean, the main character of Final Fantasy X is technically Tidus, but it's also everyone else's story, and you don't necessarily have to play with Tidus. Mechanically, he's no more or less important than the rest of the party members. In terms of story, he's the primary focus. In terms of the game, he's more of an option.

Compare to Beyond Good & Evil. This is a story exclusively about Jade. You control Jade and only Jade through the entire story. There are no options as to who you get to be in this story. You get to be Jade and only Jade. She has AI characters assist her sometimes, but you never get to control them, and the narrative never gives those characters their own arc. It is 100% Jade's story and game.

So, yeah, Lightning is the protagonist of the story, but I just consider her a weaker example of a female protagonist. Not because she's a weaker character or anything. Just because her role as the *lead* is more diluted.

Same thing with femshep. Yeah, she's great. And if you pick her, she's the main character in terms of story and gameplay. But because you had the option to choose a male shephard, that dilutes her strength as an example. The game isn't really hers. She shares it.

I'm only counting the females that don't share at all, story or gameplay. But that's my own choice.

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Glad you mentioned Alice. That is a great example. :) For those that have played the sequel to Alice called " Alice Madness Returns" did you see the Raz Easter egg?

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Glad you mentioned Alice. That is a great example. :) For those that have played the sequel to Alice called " Alice Madness Returns" did you see the Raz Easter egg?

I DID SEE THAT.

I still can't make sense of why Psychonauts would have such a huge easter egg in the game, other than the fact that it is objectively awesome and universally adored by all good-looking people with excellent taste.

Very surprising.

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It's something I like to see, considering that most game genre's are dominated by male protagonists I think by making the protagonist a female it's already something fresh and interesting.

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I just started thinking about these female-protagonist games and noticed that quite a few are quite passive (for want of a better word); with combat either non-existent or secondary to the main game mechanics.

Interesting realisation or utter rubbish? :)

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God the Penny Arcade Report is so depressing. I stopped reading it when they linked me to Critical Path, and then squeezed it into a really cynical, sensationalist headline about white people strangling creativity, as if Will Wright and Ken Levine are some kind of secret millitant racists and you should click here to find out more. (EDIT- it was also their OUYA article I didn't like, but I'll leave it)

Marketing departments of big game publishers aren't the illuminati who are secretly phasing out women, PA Report. Marketing is about statistics and numbers, and there's more statistics and numbers telling you to make a game about men than there are to make one about women. When you're designing the next Call of Duty, you have to make billions and billions of dollars, so it literally is "a risk". That's not them being idiotic Dick-Dastardly boneheads, it's them being financial analysts. Less humongous games like Bayonetta or Alice have more freedom to do what they want, and by the way Bayonetta and Portal and Final Fantasy 13 are A BIG DEAL for those developers. Nobody's spending 3 years on a game and then throwing it in the garbage at the end like you're making out here.

YES it's a weird problem that only facebook developers are making games targeted at women, and the stuff about gender bias in development studios this week is a big deal and something worth talking about, but give me some respect and just tell it straight! Don't-- put a picture of Mirror's Edge girl ontop of a pile of money next to Infamous man on stacks o dollars, I'm not a baby who needs this in the shape of a heroes and villains story, cos that's not real life. Mirror's Edge is a game about running and inFamous was a PS3 exclusive about a SUPER-POWERS, OPEN-WORLD, published by Sony Computer Entertainment...

Anyway yeah, after that rant: Yes it's great that Double-Fine pretty much goes with the most interesting and creative thing they have. Russian nesting dolls: Not really a big trend.

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Symbolic annihilation of women & minorities is a pervasive problem in all of our media. It is arguably the worst in video games, so it's great to see some progress being made and that all the titles with female leads did really well in voting.

Isn't Hack n Slash going to have a female protagonist too or did they change this? If they did, I am disappoint.

BumIt2pIRuw

Now if only we could get some minority characters next.

Yes please!

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I just started thinking about these female-protagonist games and noticed that quite a few are quite passive (for want of a better word); with combat either non-existent or secondary to the main game mechanics.

Interesting realisation or utter rubbish? :)

I believe some of the ones anemone listed are adventure games so there wouldn't be much combat in those. Then there's Tomb Raider, Metroid, Bayonetta, and Lollipop Chainsaw which are all combat heavy. Beyond Good & Evil has plenty of combat, though it's primarily a stealth game. Final Fantasy is arguably combat heavy even though it's turn based combat. Maybe the rest have passive combat, but I'm not familiar enough to know.

On a side note I just remembered a few more games with female protagonists Super Princess Peach, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, and Gravity Rush.

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As a female gamer, I'm honestly much more interested in games that allow me to choose male/female characters. When playing online games interacting with other people I'll often choose a female character, as I use mostly unisex names so it's not a huge surprise to people who I've made friends with. But for single player games, I'd actually rather play as a male character, for several reasons,

1. The shallow reason, eye candy, if I'm playing a 3rd person game and have to stare at an arse for 15 hours, I'd like it to be an attractive one

2. Role play, isn't the whole point of games to experience being something your not? I'm a girl all the time, I'd have more fun pretending to be a boy for a while, than simply a different girl.

3. When you have the option to choose, the actual character tends to simply be a person, rather than overly stereotyped to one gender or another as it's too much work to rebuild the game around 2 different personalties.

So for those reasons, I'm not a huge fan of making girls the lead in games, I am however, very much in favour of more representation of females in the industry. I was studying games design myself before being forced to stop due to ill health, but I try and keep my hand in by making small games every now and again for my own amusement. I'd love to see more girls being encouraged to take up programming by introducing it in schools, rather then making it an optional subject once you hit college level.

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So for those reasons, I'm not a huge fan of making girls the lead in games...

Are you arguing against these games having female protagonists?

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As a female gamer, I'm honestly much more interested in games that allow me to choose male/female characters. .

That works great for certain type of games like rpg's, but certainly not in every game. Once the story gets more important it works better if the character is predefined. If you want a character to feel real and relatable you have to embrace all the things up that make a person, this includes things like gender, sexuality and relations between persons.

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well, the thing is that mostly guys have played games as kids. even though there certainly are girls that have played them as well (my sister for example), quite a lot of them gave up on them when they became adults (again, my sister). furthermore, appropriate schools or nerdy interests required for making a game are still seen as a "nerdy GUY thing" by most people, including girls. thus one cannot be surprised that the vast majority devs, or wannabe devs are guys. then, you want games with female protagonists and that is kinda difficult for guys (especially for guys like this) to do...right. i personally wasnt all that happy that weve had only 3 girls in my sophomore year at university in my program (computer science/programming) out of like 300 ppl (cut in half after the first year ;). the thing is that i dont really believe that girls are incapable of doing it, theyre just scared and dont consider it to be appropriate for them. ive even managed to stumble on one girl on the internet in her late high school years contemplating on going for the same university and program. so ive been encouraging her...and she still gave it. it was quite infuriating and frustrating at the same time :(.

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I can think only about "Scary girl", a psp mini, to add to the list of games with girl protagonists.

That works great for certain type of games like rpg’s, but certainly not in every game.

It works for any game, which has storyline, and has personages in sense of person/character. It's just easier and cheeper to say "nope", that's impossible.

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I can think only about "Scary girl", a psp mini, to add to the list of games with girl protagonists.

That works great for certain type of games like rpg’s, but certainly not in every game.

It works for any game, which has storyline, and has personages in sense of person/character. It's just easier and cheeper to say "nope", that's impossible.

Well it wouldn't work for every game. You couldn't very well play as a girl in Batman: Arkham Asylum for instance.

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Well it wouldn't work for every game. You couldn't very well play as a girl in Batman: Arkham Asylum for instance.

Well, You are trying to show Your point with "pre set" character, which actually exists, not one made for game. So what bad about playing as Catwomen? Why You assume that girl couldn't kick some psychos.

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Catwoman kicks ass, but she's not the main protagonist. It's called Batman: Arkham City, not Catwoman. Her segments are really awesome though.

Although if you want to use original characters as an example, God of War would be an entirely different game if the protagonist was a woman. It might have had the same gameplay elements, but it would feel drastically different.

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God the Penny Arcade Report is so depressing. I stopped reading it when they linked me to Critical Path, and then squeezed it into a really cynical, sensationalist headline about white people strangling creativity, as if Will Wright and Ken Levine are some kind of secret millitant racists and you should click here to find out more.

Am I missing something? I didn't read anything cynical in the article, and there was nothing about "white people strangling creativity" in the article or hinted at in the headline. It merely pointed out that most of the positions of creative power in the video game industry are held by white men, which, unfortunately, mirrors how things are in almost every job field. White guys have a lot of power and privilege that non-whites or non-guys don't. Now, this isn't because Will Wright made it this way, and it isn't because video games are evil or because white men are evil. But it's all a slice of a much larger inequality problem that exists almost everywhere in the world. You don't think it's a good idea to address it?

Marketing departments of big game publishers aren't the illuminati who are secretly phasing out women, PA Report. Marketing is about statistics and numbers, and there's more statistics and numbers telling you to make a game about men than there are to make one about women.

Don't you think this is a problem, though? That, statistically, games with exclusively male protagonists do 25% better in sales than games with an optional female protagonist, and 75% better than games with an exclusively female protagonist?

... give me some respect and just tell it straight! Don't-- put a picture of Mirror's Edge girl ontop of a pile of money next to Infamous man on stacks o dollars, I'm not a baby who needs this in the shape of a heroes and villains story, cos that's not real life. Mirror's Edge is a game about running and inFamous was a PS3 exclusive about a SUPER-POWERS, OPEN-WORLD, published by Sony Computer Entertainment...

I think the problem you're having here is you think that, merely by addressing the state of unequal gender representation in games, we're automatically villainizing people. Articles like this shouldn't be written off because they're "blaming" any specific person or persons for the problem -- they're not. They're merely addressing that there is a pervasive state of inequality and inspire us to ask questions about why this exists. And I think you'll find that it's a pattern that runs through most of society.

But even when we just focus on video games (global society is admittedly a bigger problem), we should all be inspired to ask questions after reading articles like this. Why does inFamous, and so many other AAA games, star a light-skinned guy with a shaved head and stubble? Why do games lead by male characters sell so much better? And, when something like 40% of people who play games are women, shouldn't there be more of an attempt to have an equal representation of women in games?

Try not to get so frustrated by reading articles like this. I think it's a mistake to think that their purpose is to blame people or be sensationalist. It should be an opportunity to become aware of the state of things and ask questions.

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well, the thing is that mostly guys have played games as kids. even though there certainly are girls that have played them as well (my sister for example), quite a lot of them gave up on them when they became adults (again, my sister). furthermore, appropriate schools or nerdy interests required for making a game are still seen as a "nerdy GUY thing" by most people, including girls. thus one cannot be surprised that the vast majority devs, or wannabe devs are guys. then, you want games with female protagonists and that is kinda difficult for guys (especially for guys like this) to do...right. i personally wasnt all that happy that weve had only 3 girls in my sophomore year at university in my program (computer science/programming) out of like 300 ppl (cut in half after the first year ;). the thing is that i dont really believe that girls are incapable of doing it, theyre just scared and dont consider it to be appropriate for them. ive even managed to stumble on one girl on the internet in her late high school years contemplating on going for the same university and program. so ive been encouraging her...and she still gave it. it was quite infuriating and frustrating at the same time :(.

I'm a guy, and I played games as a kid, but I always like to play as female characters. Then again, in addition to playing with G.I. Joe and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, my childhood was filled with leading ladies. I had the huuuuuuuuugest crush on Alex Mack, to say the least.

Also, my mom's favorite way of getting her kids to fall asleep was to make them watch musicals. We didn't always fall asleep though. Wanna hear a song? Fiddler On the Roof? Seven Brides For Seven Brothers? The Sound of Music? Hello Dolly? I could sing you a song from any of them.

I just find female protagonists more interesting a lot of times, but oddly enough, I think the way that society treats them differently than men is part of the reason I enjoy it. A man and a woman can do literally the exact same thing, and people will perceive it differently and explain it to themselves differently. I live as a man every day. When I do what I do, I have a pretty good understanding of how people are perceiving what I'm doing and the stories they are telling themselves about my actions, be they stories about my capabilities or my morals or whatever.

But I don't get to feel what it's like to be on the women's side of those kinds of perceptions. If I'm a woman and I punch a dude in the face or help an old woman cross the street or come home drunk or shave my head, what stories do people immediately start telling each other about what happened? Different stories than if a man had done it. Whether that turns out to be a good thing or a bad thing, that's interesting.

That's part of the reason why a game like Beyond Good & Evil is more interesting to me than playing as a female in Elder Scrolls. I prefer purposefully authored women over asexual mannequins that you can dress in whatever clothes you like.

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