I have been playing video games for a long time. I started out playing games on my family’s Atari 2600. My mom was really good at Ms. Pac-Man. After that, for reasons unknown to me, there was a video game hiatus, until we acquired an Apple IIGS sometime around 1988. Thus began my enthusiasm for Sierra games, which survived our platform switch to a Gateway 2000 486 DX2 in 1993.
The last video game that Sierra Entertainment produced before it was sold in 1996 was Phantasmagoria, an “interactive movie” thriller, with, wonder of wonders, a female protagonist. This appealed to my teenage feminist sensibilities, except for, well, the rather over the top violence depicted in the game, including a scene with an attempted rape.
I’ll try to channel my fake teenage angst with this archive from my internal monologue: “I finally get to play a character in a game that isn’t a guy, but I have to endure virtual abuse. What a load of crap!” (I didn’t really swear until I started writing computer software.)
Fast forward 17 – 18 years, to the following 3 games:
Each of these games have 2 things in common: Female Protagonist (playable only part of the time in The Last of Us), and… attempted rape.
Here’s my adult outrage: “What the Fuck!?! Video Game writers have had my entire lifetime to come up with less oppressive plot devices, but they keep coming back to this!”
I realize that most successful modern video games are violent (that’s a topic for another blog post), but here is the basic difference between games with a male protagonist and those with a female one:
Male: I am a total bad ass, and I’m going to kill all of these bad people/monsters/aliens (and maybe solve some puzzles) to save the world!
Female: I am a total bad ass, and I’m going to kill all of these bad people/monsters/aliens (and maybe solve some puzzles), to save the world! Oh, and by the way, at least one of the bad people/monsters/aliens is going to try to rape me.
Video game writers, you can do better than this. As video games become more cinematic, please refer to the following examples of awesomeness from Hollywood: