I’ve started listening to the Weekend Confirmed podcast which is run by the folks at Shack News, a gaming news site / blog from back before blogging was even a noun/verb. The podcast is run by game reviewer/illuminati Garnett Lee, and I began listening after the Totally Rad Show’s Jeff Cannata mentioned it as another podcast he did that focuses solely on games and gaming culture.
I enjoy niche podcasts as they tend to represent discussions that would be best described as being like dialog penned by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin – that is, intelligent people speaking quickly about things they are passionate about. Confirmed is no different. The discussion from two weeks ago zeroed in on speculation about the next Grand Theft Auto game – GTA 5. Xav de Matos, one of the show’s other frontrunners, brought up a point detailing the disruptive nature of GTA games in general, highlighting how interesting it might be if this next GTA game had a woman as the central character. It occurred to me how amazing this would have been. (We now know that this is not the case, as a trailer for GTA 5 was recently released.) A further sad realization is that the gaming industry is taking a page from Hollywood with a surprising dearth of gaming experiences driven by strong, complex female characters.
This is a shame, as I believe that Rockstar (makers of the GTA series) does have the talent and audacity to do something like that and do it well. And before you cite the somewhat tired examples of GTA games highlighting violence against women (such as assaulting prostitutes), I would counter that being an open world game means that people can make morally despicable choices, but can just as easily not do those things. Secondly, the strength of supporting female roles in the more recent Rockstar games Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire suggests that this is something that they are giving serious thought to.
Seriously though, other than Faith from DICE’s ambitious but slightly flawed Mirror’s Edge, what other games have had substantial female lead characters?