The video game Metroid was released in the United States in the late ‘80s. It featured a masked and armored hero named Samus Aran and was one of the first adventure games of its time. However, at the end of the game, the hero is revealed to be a heroine - also a first for its time. Back then, women were damsels in video games, not lead adventurers and warriors.
Times appear to be changing. Sam Maggs, a game journalist and author of “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy,” noted that, “There are more female-led titles than ever in games, and I think that’s in large part due to social media.”
She further notes that due to the Internet, women are allowed to “form our own communities and given us a platform from which our voices can be heard - and it’s hard for companies to ignore nearly 50 percent of their customers demanding better representation in games.”
While PC game developers have generally had a larger gender mix of protagonists in their games, big-budget console games have not been so progressive.
Maggs points out that, “Women have always played games, but we’ve been largely ignored by the market.”
The creator of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft, was criticized in the past for not creating any playable female characters. But, in a franchise-first, the recently released Assassin’s Creed Syndicate introduces Evie Frye and her twin brother, Jacob, as the protagonist assassins.
Marc-Alexis Cote, the game’s creative director, said that “[Evie is] more intelligent, in that she thinks more about the consequences of her actions. She wants to strike at the heart of the Templars’ power. She is more surgical.”
It appears that changes are also taking place with respect to young players as well. In March at the largest professionals-only gaming industry event, Rosalind Wiseman presented results of a study regarding the role of gender in a player’s favorite video games - according to middle- and high-school students.
More than 50% of the girls indicated they would like to play a game with a female lead; and a little more than 50% of the boys cared more about a character’s abilities rather than gender. Move over Lara Croft, more women are arriving on the gamer scene.