At the age of two I became a gamer. I could label myself a girmer (read: wtf?) or a girl who plays video games but those titles seem a little on the inane side of things. At the age of two I fell in love with the NES and everything it had to offer. For hours I indulged in Mario Golf, Ninja Turtles, Link/Zelda games, Mario, and even a few rounds with that rotten, laughing dog in Duck Hunt. In all those hours of time spent in fantasy worlds I never really considered the fact that I wasn't seeing or playing any female characters. The hero was simply and hero and I was just the player – no gender attached. As I grew older this shifted somewhat.
When you grow older you learn things. You learn that maybe the world isn't so black and white. There are gray patches here and there which throw you for a loop. I met this loop during my 8th grade year. I had been talking about a game with a friend during a break between classes. I don't even remember the name of the game to be honest. A guy passing overheard the conversation and stopped to inject his wisdom – I wasn't a gamer, I was a girl. I told him the two weren't mutually exclusive. So he quizzed me on games and I answered and argued even though I should have just quit. But the last words he said to me really made an impact for one reason or another. "If games were meant for girls then there would be more girls in them." I didn't have an answer for that.
I didn't let his words impact my gaming for quite some time. I went on with my routine of game nights with friends and spending my free time writing stories about fantasy worlds and honing my skills in said worlds. Near the end of high school I remember thinking about his words years later. Why weren't there more girls in video games? I knew many girls who played games. I knew those who drew fan art. Heck, I even knew some girls and guys who cosplayed. So why weren't more of these hardcore girls reflected in games? From that time forward I felt a little…funny. I had enough selflessness at that point to stop thinking of myself and think a little more of the world around me. I grew up in a bubble and that bubble had finally burst as far as gaming went.
So why did I even really care? Why am I even really writing about this?
I've read about the issue for a good bit now. Sometimes I'll scroll down to the comments and a big line that vines through most of them is simple question – Who cares?
Well, I do. I might not be the kind to step onto a box and start screaming about it. I don't even have a Twitter and my Facebook was updated several weeks ago with a picture of my dog. Needless to say my social media habits aren't on par with the greats. Even so, I keep up with what goes on.
I care because, whether people like to admit it or not, women should be reflected more in video games. We constantly talk about empowering women. #yesallwomen was a big hit, right? Women were able to tell how they feel in daily life. #Yesiwantwomeningames. Maybe it doesn't matter to some people. That's how life is. Your passion is a dull subject to some. Do you enjoy studying ancient Scottish literature and listing words by their importance and appearance? No? I do. That's my Friday night! So you can't down someone else for what stirs them.
Video games aren't devoid of female leads. No gamer is likely to use that excuse. The fact is that these females are so few and far between. Yes, females take time to animate. They take time to program and aren't like men. We get it. Men and women are not the same to draw or design. I'm not an artist but I do know that much. The fact of the matter remains that game companies have deep enough pockets to get it done. Ubisoft is not on their last leg. Look how many people have bought AC over the years? Look how many people are excited to play Unity. Money isn't the issue when you get right down to it. I doubt a single issue is to blame.
I'm not currently involved in the video game industry. I did play a role for a short stint of time. I was a writer for games. I wrote for large games and small games, dull shooters and quirky indie games where text created most of the imagery. Most people refer to my profession as ghost writing. It makes it sound more mysterious than it actually is. I wrote for games because I loved games. I never felt…ostracized over being a female during that time. Males that made comments were often cut down quick with a finely tuned email from yours truly. I wrote for both male and female characters. I enjoyed writing for each gender but I still held a soft spot when companies included female leads. I left because I found a better job and it is as simple as that.
What would my guess be about why female leads aren't seen often enough? A female lead changes the tone of the game. Let's be honest about that one. Look how upset people got over Lara Croft? Some male gamers may feel a bit odd about playing a female lead. Programmers may feel more comfortable working with a male. A male protagonist is typically, historically a good selling point in demos. I honestly don't know. All I know is that it matters to a lot of people – male and female.
I do believe games will change eventually. I'm not a male-hater or anything like that, just in case someone has an issue with the article. While I wish there were more diversity in games, I still love playing. I'm always going to love playing games no matter what. My simple wish is this: include more women to play in games. Take extra time to include them. It will take extra time and money to create them but think of how much of an impact you'll make. It's such a small thing compared to larger issues in the world, I know, but everyone has their vain wishes, right?
I'm optimistic that if gamers are civil and voice their wants to companies then eventually, and I do mean eventually, companies will change and we'll get some more kickass women. My dad always told me to measure twice and cut once. Big companies could learn something from my dad. Measure the want of your consumers and fans more than once (more females as the lead) and make the game we all want.