I recently watched a video that was inspired by Dragon Age II and its flexibility with gender and sexuality. The main theme of the video was that straight, white males don’t enjoy media featuring other characters in the main role (whether it be female, non-white, or homosexual, or anything other than straight, white, and male), because they can’t relate to those non-self characters. This concept has long been an excuse in the media, and especially in video games, for why we don’t see more minority or female lead characters. The majority of gamers (and consumers, it is argued) are straight, white males, and we don’t want to make something they won’t like.
Regardless of whether you agree with this point or not, it got me thinking. As a woman and as a gamer, I am always delighted to see a game that allows me to play as a female character, especially if it is a role-playing game. While I don’t always elect to play as a female (for example, my first playthrough of Dragon Age II was as a male Hawke), it’s nice to have the option. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Persona 3 Portable so much was because I was able to play as a female protagonist instead of a male, and I’m still a bit disappointed that Persona 4 The Golden didn’t introduce a female option. I particularly enjoy when the female doesn’t fit the typical male-fantasy stereotypes. For example, one reason I loved my version of Shepard in Mass Effect was the fact that she was a strong, no-nonsense female lead. She was who you would expect someone with her experience to be. She just happened to be female.
Interestingly, when I brought up the issue on twitter, most of my female followers responded with a resounding conviction: they always (or almost) always elect to play as a female character when given the choice. Many of my male followers also admitted they would play as women. So do the “big media moguls” have it wrong?
I’m curious to know what you think–if you’re female, do you prefer to play as a female character if given the choice? If you’re male, do you prefer males, or are you equally comfortable playing a woman? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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