Yes, I Will Always Play Zoey

Francis, Bill, Zoey, and Louis from Left 4 Dead

Francis, Bill, Zoey, and Louis from Left 4 Dead

My ex is into all things zombie, so when Left 4 Dead came out last year, he jumped on it and brought it over for us to play together.  I had to admit, for a game whose entire premise is simply running down one hallway after another, killing zombies as you go, it was really entertaining.  So it’s become a staple of our times spent hanging out.

In Left 4 Dead, you play as one of four Survivors, basically the last non-zombified humans in whatever city or environment you’re in, trying to reach a point where you can call for rescue.  You can choose which Survivor you play as, or you can just leave it on random and the game will assign you to one of the four.  In the first L4D, you had Louis (the token black man), Bill (a white man), Francis (another white man), and Zoey (the token woman; white, of course) to choose from.  Every time I played, I chose to play as Zoey.  After a few times of playing together, my ex turned to me and asked why I kept choosing Zoey, if it really mattered.  The AI handles Zoey really well, he pointed out; it might make things easier for us if I took one of the other characters.

How do you explain, to a man who has always and will always be represented on-screen for as long as there are playable human characters, what a difference it makes to be able to play a character that actually resembles oneself in some major way? I know gamers, both men and women, who choose to play as a gender other than their own in games like Mass Effect or Fallout, where you can choose the gender of your character.  But in games where you don’t get a choice, where there’s a limited number of playable characters – or only one – how often do male gamers have to immerse themselves as a female character?  Well, there’s Mirror’s Edge, where you play Faith, an Asian-American woman.  And there’s Wet, which just came out recently and features female protagonist Rubi.  Heavenly Sword had Nariko and Kai.  Going a bit more old-school, there was Samus from the Metroid games.  (I’m sorry, the Tomb Raider series doesn’t count, given that Lara Croft was designed specifically to make male gamers go “omg tits!”; you were never supposed to identify with her, only stare at her.)  But that’s four games I can think of, versus uncounted dozens or hundreds with male protagonists.  An article on Forbes.com cites research firm Electronic Entertainment Design and Research’s numbers on the subject: of the games on current generation consoles, female characters star in only 3% of games, versus 46% with male protagonists (the remaining are games with a customizable lead character or none).  In action games specifically, it’s 3% female, 51% male, and if you venture into shooters, it drops to an abysmal 1%-73%.

Games by genre/gender of character

Games by genre/gender of character

Representation matters.  The overwhelming hordes of male protagonists send female gamers a clear message: This Is A Boys Club.  You Do Not Belong Here.  It makes of women intruders into a male world, where the only way we get to play is by erasing our gender and pretending to be men.  So I don’t care if AI-Zoey is a great sniper.  I’m going to play as Zoey anyway, because she’s the only woman.  Because that’s what I am, too.  And I’m tired of having to pretend otherwise.

74 thoughts on “Yes, I Will Always Play Zoey”

  1. “The AI handles Zoey really well, he pointed out; it might make things easier for us if I took one of the other characters.”

    A point of order: The AI survivors make their weapon choices based on what the PC survivors select. If nobody else grabs a sniper rifle, more than likely one of the bots will. All of them are equally proficient at aiming.

    The second map on Death Toll is a good place to test since you can usually get to the second weapons cache (on crates at the bottom of the drain ladder) before the bots do.

    1. Ah. Well, for whatever reason, he was convinced that Zoey would always take the rifle and pick off zombies with headshots better than either he or I could. So that was his rationale for suggesting I play one of the other characters. Good to know, though, thank you.

  2. I can definitely relate to this. I’m playing Borderlands right now, and I don’t even really like Lilith’s ability (the phasewalking thing). But I went straight to her and picked her anyway, out of the 4. (Same breakdown of the 4 playable characters: two white guys, black guy, woman.)

    P.S. Although you don’t see yourself much, you can add Portal to the (short) list of default female characters.

    1. That’s pretty much the standard group-of-four layout, innit? Two white men, token black man, token white woman. You see it all over the place. I was pleasantly surprised when the token woman character in L4D2 turned out to be, le gasp, a WoC. And by “pleasantly surprised” I mean I think I said “Holy shit, they’ve included a WoC! That’s fucking awesome!”

      I thought about adding Portal, but since it was done so subtly – you only see yourself once, for like a glimpse, as I recall – I wasn’t sure it really counted the way I was considering.

      1. In the earlier levels at least, it was very easy to rig up a sort of full length mirror by opening portals at ninety degrees to each other and view ‘yourself’. Chell and Portal were noteworthy because most single player, first-person games don’t bother to render the player’s avatar.

        On the other hand, Chell was a cipher from start to finish. There were hints at a back story for her, but despite that a lot of people misunderstood comments made by the AI in a ‘detour’ level to mean that she was actually a robot. Though she wasn’t sexualized, she had about as much personality as Lara Croft did in the original Tomb Raider.

        1. Gordon Freeman is about as thick of a character as a sheet of tissue paper, so husks of main characters is not a new concept coming from Valve. Every other support character in Half-Life 2 is more developed than Gordon Freeman. Valve even pokes fun at his emptiness of character in-game.

          Although, if anyone ever tells me Alyx is an empty and/or undeveloped character, you are going to get a very stern ear-full.

  3. Nice post, I totally feel the same way! I always gravitate to the female characters. It’s wonderful being able to play as a woman on the rare chances I get.

    I had a coworker once talking about his son playing Mirror’s Edge, and I’m pretty sure he was teasing me, but he asked why he had to play as a woman and why didn’t they have the option of playing as a guy? I think I said something like “Well you’ll just have to try playing as someone else for once!” I wasn’t amused!

    1. Well cause we all know man=default and woman=special, therefore it’s no big deal to have women playing as men, but asking a man to play as a woman? Quelle horreur! Oy, I wouldn’t have been amused either. Teasing or no.

    2. And men don’t understand why women get upset when, 90% of the time, we don’t even _get_ the option to choose which sex to play.

      I probably would have said something like, “Well now you know how annoying it feels for me when I have to play a man all the time in games”.

      1. And then you get the dudes that say “no men, no buy”. OH WHAT A BURDEN THAT YOU DONT WANT TO PLAY **ONE GAME** IN WHICH YOU ARENT REPRESENTED.
        What a terrible life!

        1. Oh, to be able to have a rule like that and still have decent games available to you…if I instituted a “no women, no buy” policy, I’d have a half-dozen games to my name total.

  4. “How do you explain, to a man who has always and will always be represented on-screen for as long as there are playable human characters, what a difference it makes to be able to play a character that actually resembles oneself in some major way?”

    I think you explained it pretty well right there in this post. Though I cannot relate to your situation I can definitely listen.

  5. It never feels right playing a male character if I have the option to play as a woman. I try occasionally — I did in Mass Effect World of Warcraft and Age of Conan — and I ran a male DMPC when I was taking my Exalted group through Keep on the Shadowfell. It doesn’t last long; I think my blood elf hunter in WoW got to all of level 9 before I couldn’t deal any more and deleted him. (In Age of Conan I was trying to find out if a male NPC in the bar on the starting island would flirt with a male PC but I never got that far either. If anyone knows one way or the other I’d be grateful for the tip.)

    Even in console RPGs I find myself building parties of all women when I can. It’s usually not the most efficient way to play it but that’s not why I’m playing.

    And yes I’m unhappy that I’ll never be able to beat God of War II on Titan (I’m just not that good) and get to play as Athena. Weep sniffle.

    1. I’m the same way in MMOs and other RPGs. My Fallout 3 chars were both female, all my GW chars are female, my Mass Effect chars were both female…Anytime there’s a choice, I create a female character.

      Anecdotally, I find that’s the pattern with most female gamers, and that gender-switching is more common among male gamers. Just among my own group, anyway, I have no hard data on this. But when there’s a choice of gender, my female gamer friends create female characters, and my male gamer friends create either depending on their mood.

  6. I disagree with your characterization of Zoey and Louis as “token” characters. They both take important roles and have non-stereotyped personalities. Additionally, they’re important members of the group, not just tacked-on additions for the sake of having a black guy or a woman. To call them “token” doesn’t give Valve enough credit for their characterization.

    There definitely aren’t enough non-sexual-object female main characters in games. Some great examples you didn’t mention: Jade from Beyond Good and Evil, April from The Longest Journey, Kate from Syberia (women are more common in adventure games, it seems), Alice from American McGee’s Alice, Mara Jade from the Jedi Knight expansion, Cate from No One Lives Forever (sexy, but presented in a very well-handled way).

    1. My characterization of Louis and Zoey as token characters has less to do with the characters themselves – although I would argue that the cute college girl as personified in Zoey is a bit of a stereotype – given that L4D isn’t really into deep character development or anything. It’s more to do with the fact that, as ticktock6 mentioned above, that’s a super-common group layout. The black man and the woman are there to create the appearance of diversity more than anything else.

      Thank you for the additional examples of female protags, though. Mara Jade was always my favorite character from the Star Wars universe, but I hadn’t known she was ever inserted into a game.

      1. I’m not sure I see evidence that they’re there to create the appearance of diversity; not in the text, and not in any public statements of Valve. Yes, the game uses the classic group layout, but by giving the non-white-male characters personalities other than “black guy from the ghetto” and “woman who’s not good with killing things,” I think they subvert tokenism.

        Mysteries of the Sith, the JK expansion with Mara Jade is an interesting historical curiosity: it was among the first wave of games to use in-engine cutscenes instead of full motion video, and is doubly interesting because the game it was expanding used FMV for its cutscenes.

        1. I’ll believe that women and POC aren’t tokens in games like L4D when they outnumber the white men and tell a story that is supposed to be universal.

        2. Even though their characters are something other than the usual stereotypes they still represent the status quo of group diversification. Like oliemoon pointed out, they’ll lack a feeling tokenism when they outnumber the perceived default in a group.

    2. Just because they are fairly well-developed (which they are, for the kind of game that L4D is) doesn’t mean they aren’t tokens.

    3. I disagree with you. The only way I wouldn’t consider them to be tokens is if there was more than one person of colour, more than one woman, and if not all of the people of colour were women. As a person of colour, I’m pretty sensitive to tokenism, and this feels like a clear case. That the black man and the woman in L4D are well-developed (for an FPS) is great; it doesn’t mean they not tokens. The fact that Zoey and Louis are always described as “the girl” or “the black guy” is one evidence of tokenism–they’re being defined by the audience in terms of their sex and race–when they could just as easily be described in terms of their professions, their interests, or any other characteristic of their personality. And yet, they’re not. Many mainstream gaming communities say that criticism of race and gender don’t belong in gaming conversations, and yet they are the ones bringing up race and gender issues by choosing to define characters by their race or gender.

      Furthermore, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want non-token characters. I don’t think we should have to be satisfied that, just because there happens to be a couple of well-developed FPS characters who belong to marginalised groups, that Valve or any company gets a free pass from critique. It’s great that they’ve done this. Well done, but there’s still progress to be made.

  7. I have to respectfully disagree on this.

    I think the reason video games feature men instead of women as the main characters is all about the power of a man vs. a woman. I don’t feel that is meant in a discriminatory way, but rather the fact that men are generally stronger physically than women. It makes it more likely that they’ll be carrying around a gun that’s half their size.

    As for L4D, I always play as Bill. He looks awesome and says the most fantastic things. I always steered away from Zoey because she’s not a good representation of a woman in video games. She’s generally annoying, I found her AI to be less helpful with the sniper (thought none of the AI is very good), and she doesn’t make me feel empowered in the game. She always just looked like she was along for the ride.

    Plus, when playing with my male comrades online, one of them ALWAYS prefers her.

    I would love to see more female main characters in gaming, but I’m not sure this is a good example.

    We need more females like Samus. That is a chick that knows how to handle a gun, and empowers you regardless of your gender.

    1. So it’s ok that women are underrepresented, because women are the weaker sex? Really? First of all, we’re discussing video games here. It’s a fictional media. Especially with the number of scifi- and fantasy-themed games out there, there is no reason to cling to realism as an excuse for gender imbalance. Secondly, we’ve got a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem here in terms of the “weaker sex” argument. Men trend physically stronger than women, yes, but it’s actually just that it’s *easier* for men to develop physical strength. Women who choose to devote the time and effort to it can be just as strong, pound for pound, as a man in their same weight class. However, women are definitely not encouraged to be strong in the same way that men are; most workout guides for women actually emphasize NOT developing visible muscles or “bulking up”. So women are discouraged from visible displays of physical strength, reinforcing the perception that men are always stronger than women, reinforcing gender norms that paint women as weaker, leading back to discouraging women from developing physical strength, etc. You end up with a self-enforcing perception of women as weaker than men, which makes a great justification for keeping women out of male-dominated professions and the representations thereof, as in video games. That doesn’t make it right.

      Re: L4D, I didn’t necessarily like Zoey all that much either as a character – although I liked her line about “calling zombie bullshit” because the zombies moved too damn fast. But she *is* a female playable character, which is all too rare, so mentioned she must be.

      I’ll agree though that I’d love to see more characters like Samus. She’s awesome. Period.

      1. Hmm, I think you took my meaning a little too far. I actually discussed this with someone earlier, and I thought they came up with a good point, though it will probably offend a lot of you.

        No one asks for more male barbie dolls. There are more men characters in gaming, because more men game. Period. There just aren’t as many women gamers. Does that make it OK to discriminate against female characters or women? No, but it does make it OK to try and market your game to the audience that’s buying it.

        If you want more female characters, get more female gamers.

        But yes, I am saying women are *physically* the weaker sex, which in general makes them mages in games rather than gun wielders. There’s no getting around biology.

        1. Congratulations, way to completely miss the point. Let’s try this again, in simple format this time:

          Women who are interested in video games find that they seldom, if ever (depending on preferred genre) have the opportunity to see themselves represented in a positive fashion, much less play a female protagonist. This creates an alienating environment for many women. They therefore find other hobbies or switch to genres of games where women are slightly less ignored. Game developers – and people like yourself – use this as a justification for not including more female characters, citing a lack of interest, when the perceived “lack of interest” was in fact caused by the dearth of reasonable female characters in mainstream games to begin with.

          The solution here is not “find more female gamers, and then we’ll think about representing them.” The solution here is “start representing women in your games and more women will be interested in playing them.” See how that works?

          Oh, and of course there’s no getting around biology…unless it’s not actually biology, and what you’re referring to as “biology” is mostly social constructions anyway.

          1. I completely disagree. I am a female gamer and I take video games as they should be taken: I judge them on game play, graphics, story, and length. I don’t look at a game and immediately dismiss it because the main character has a penis.

            I think you’re the one being discriminatory, looking only at the surface: race, sex, etc, instead of looking at the game.

            I’m a gamer, regardless of gender and developers market to me just fine.

          2. 1: I said “for many women” not “for all women”. If sexism in gaming created an alienating environment for all women, this blog wouldn’t be here, because there would be no women gamers. Don’t put words in my mouth.

            2: Who are you to declare how games *should* be taken? Yes, graphics, gameplay mechanics, etc. are all vitally important to a game. That does not mean it gets a pass on issues of sexism, and, in the context of this post, representation.

            3: OFFS. When did I ever say I dismissed a game for having a male protag? Way to make assumptions. If you’re going to put words in my mouth, don’t get upset when you feel people have done the same to you.

            4: I’m far from “only” looking at the surface. I focused on one particular element in this particular post. Would you like to at least let me get a couple more posts out before you make snap judgments about what I’m really looking at in a game?

        2. If you want more female characters, get more female gamers.

          According to the Electronic Software Association, women already make up approximately 40% of gamers in the States. So the argument that women aren’t represented in numbers even passingly comparable to men in games because women aren’t playing enough is not really accurate. There’s something else at play here that can’t be explained away by a lack of female gamers.

          1. And quite often some of the head-desking counter arguments revolve around women not playing the “right” type of games to make the study legitimate and/or “casual games don’t/shouldn’t count”.

            So yeah, there most certainly is something else at play even when someone is presented with researched information.

            Ani8

      1. If you remember the L4D introduction video Zoey is pretty awesome and saves all their asses. Lewis is kind of a fuck-up.

        1. Wasn’t Louis the one who had the monologue about his coworkers making fun of him for going to the shooting range, and who’s laughing now? XD

    2. I don’t feel that is meant in a discriminatory way, but rather the fact that men are generally stronger physically than women. It makes it more likely that they’ll be carrying around a gun that’s half their size.

      But in a world where zombies roam the cities (or space aliens are attacking, or any number of completely unrealistic, made up video game scenarios), how much of a priority does “making sense” really have and how necessary is it for immersion and the telling of a good story with good, fun gameplay?

        1. In any given game I don’t necessarily care about having characters to play that are the same gender as me (some of my favorite games are Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid, the Zelda series and numerous JRPGs where the main protags are men), but the overwhelming trend (that is, the lack of meaningful female characters and protagonists across the board) bothers me because I think it negatively reflects, contributes to and reinforces existing sexism IRL.

  8. eye-shuh :I think the reason video games feature men instead of women as the main characters is all about the power of a man vs. a woman. I don’t feel that is meant in a discriminatory way, but rather the fact that men are generally stronger physically than women. It makes it more likely that they’ll be carrying around a gun that’s half their size.

    You’d be wrong. Sexual dimorphism is not profound in humans. That there is a sex/gender binary and not a wider recognition that sex and gender exist on distinct though related spectrums is due to social structures that privilege certain types of bodies and certain types of gender roles. There are differences in hormone production and muscle-fiber types and nervous-system transmission and oxygen-throughput pathways but they are not strictly linked to either sex or gender. Reproduction aside there aren’t large differences between people at one end of the sex spectrum and people at the other as intersex people and trans people and nonbinary people prove daily by living our lives.

    As for guns: For all that men are supposed to be vastly superior at physical stuff, there’s at least one category Olympic-level sport where gender segregation meant that the men stopped getting the pants beat off them by women atheles. Rifle and pistol shooting.

    1. Perhaps. But those social structures remain, so I think the “men are generally stronger than women” holds true even if theoretically women could be as strong or stronger than men.

      As for guns: That’s why Zoey uses the sniper. Maybe she’s just a better shot.

      1. So because historical discrimination exists no one should do anything to challenge it? Oh well it’s just the way things are we should just keep eating the tasty tasty shit we get served? Is that it? There are social structures that give white people advantages by putting obstacles in the way of brown people. We saw social structures that give straight people advantages by making queer folk less equal citizens in action this week.

        It’s just a game sure. But media and art and pop culture reinforce attitudes and social structures that harm people. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you feel like they don’t harm you that much but there’s a lot of people don’t have that luxury.

        1. You’re getting a bit angry for no reason and putting words in my mouth. At no point did I say anything about keeping discrimination because it’s historically been there. I said that because that history exists, what I said about male and female body types is true today.

          Also, I am a brown middle-class female. If you’re just looking to attack someone without context, take it elsewhere. I’m looking for a discussion.

          1. No. I’m getting angry for very good reasons. You keep stating that you don’t see reason to be offended at things that are offensive. There is plenty of context. I am only reading what you have said. You say that men really are stronger than women. This is not only discriminatory and offensive but demonstrably false.

            So you want a discussion? Deal with what the discussion brings and that includes people being angry with you for what you say.

          2. It’s not false. Today, in our society, as it stands, on average, men are stronger than women. If women want to change that, I’m all for it. But today, that is true in a physical sense.

      2. Wow. So, “because society says so” is sufficient reason to hold up offensive stereotypes, then, regardless of the factual inaccuracy behind them? So it would be ok to have any game set in “nice” neighborhoods have all white characters, and any game set in “bad” neighborhoods have all PoC characters, based on the fact that, due to institutionalized racism, PoC suffer poverty at a much higher rate than do white people? It’s not that PoC are inherently poorer, of course. But because the social structures that make it harder for PoC to be wealthy remain, it’s okay to portray all PoC as poor and white people as rich, even if theoretically PoC could be as rich or richer than white people.

        Because that’s what you’re saying. You’re saying that it’s fine to uphold and reproduce the status quo simply because it is the status quo. And if that’s the only justification you can offer for your viewpoint…well, I don’t think I have to point out any further what a weak argument that makes.

        1. Again, I’m using the “status quo” to back-up my point about male and female body types and how they are today. I’m not inferring anything about how they should or shouldn’t change in the future.

          Read and comprehend.

          1. And this hypothetical change in the future will happen…how, exactly? Spontaneously people will decide, “You know, we’ve been wrong all these centuries about women being physically weaker. Silly us! Let’s change this now.”

            The problem with using the status quo to support your arguments is that, as feminists, the status quo (wrt gender specifically) is something we are trying to change, not reinforce. One of the tools of this change is representation. Feminist theory 101, ye gods. When women are continually represented in a particular way – in this case, as physically weak – this informs attitudes and perceptions and is a subtle way of enforcing gender norms that *require* women to be physically weaker. And round and round it goes again.

            So using the socially-enforced status quo to back up a point about how women *should be* represented as weaker is circular logic and inherently anti-feminist.

            Read and comprehend.

          2. So how do you propose we change the culture, if not by changing the elements which make up our culture? Media has a huge impact.

          3. Your blog isn’t letting me hit ‘reply’ to below, so here it is: You’re arguing against an imaginary person and not even comprehending my comment. It’s actually kind of amazing.

            I’m saying that because of these societal norms, women generally have weaker bodies than men….and you’re bringing up all this nonsense about how I think the status quo and societal norms should remain the same.

          4. And before you get in a huff, I’m not saying your opinion is nonsense I’m saying you bringing it up in response to me saying nothing of the sort is nonsense.

  9. I am a male and I really don’t mind playing as a female character. In games where you can customize your character, I will generally do multiple playthroughs, with at least one playthrough with each gender to get the full experience. In fact for Mass Effect, I found playing through as a female to be more satisfying than playing as a male because it further showed that women can fight and excel in the military if given the chance.

    As for Left 4 Dead, I actually play as Zoey a lot because, for some reason, she is lucky. My survival record is highest when I am Zoey. I don’t know why, but it is.

    1. It’s nice that you don’t but being male and not minding playing as a woman character isn’t the same experience as being a woman and often not having the option as playing as anyone but a man. It’s still marketed for people broadly like you and designed for your perspective. My perspective is considered to be incidental and can be discarded if time or money get to be problems.

    2. Congratulations, have a cookie. But as kaninchenzero said, you are rarely if ever *forced* to play as other than your gender. Having and making the *choice* to play as a woman, as a male gamer, is an entirely different thing than a female gamer *having* to play as a man 90% of the time.

      1. Why thank you, I love cookies. I understand where you are coming from ( no, I don’t mean that I’ve been in a similar situation, I just agree that you definitely have a different experience there as a woman). One thing I’m wondering is how you feel about playing as a set female protagonist, but one who is sexualized (like Laura Croft)?

        1. As I said in my post, the TR series doesn’t count for decent female protag purposes. Lara Croft was designed purely as a hormonal prod to the boys and men who played the original game. I still play the game because I enjoy the puzzles aspect sometimes, but I pretty much have to turn off the feminist, critical side of my brain to do so. I have to go back and take the blue pill, as it were.

    3. Wow. The fact that you lot attacked this guy just shows who you really are. You don’t give a crap about equality. You’re just looking to play victim rather than accept the support of anyone who you don’t define in your tiny list of minorities.

      Way to go Mantheos! It’s people like you who will lead the way to equality. Someday we’ll be able to take a few steps forward with the people from this blog trying to drag us back.

      Well, have fun with your blog ladies, and go ahead and have the last word. I’m done giving you hits, and rest assured I won’t see your biased, discriminatory replies.

      1. eye-shuh: I think you may need to do a little 101-level self-education about anti-oppression and feminism to understand why they reacted the way they did to Mantheos.

        The commenters here were posting in good faith, and going out of their way to try and clarify why certain perceptions you had were problematic and discriminatory. Obviously, it’s difficult to be faced with multiple people telling you these things. I understand that. But your experience would have been more productive and you would have gotten a lot more out of it if you had been willing to question your own perceptions a bit more and if you had been more open to having your positions challenged.

        Thanks for visiting.

  10. Meg :
    So how do you propose we change the culture, if not by changing the elements which make up our culture? Media has a huge impact.

    Ah Meg, now that is a good and reasonable point. I do think media has a big impact, but I don’t think video games helps with that impact. A video game world is thought to be non-real/imaginary/fake. I don’t think changing women in games and in this context helps to make an impact.

    1. Given that you don’t think changing women in games will make any impact on real world sexism/discrimination, I have to say that I am a little confused as to what you think the purpose of this blog is and why you are reading it?

      1. Why, to be a concern troll, of course! To lecture us on our tone and tell us we hate men and that we “can’t escape biology”…actually, I think I’ve got bingo over here! ;-)

    2. Oliemoon said this one the best. This blog exists BECAUSE we feel that gaming is an often-overlooked player in the continual objectifying and discrimination against marginalized groups. We do think that raising awareness of this might actually make a difference. This is why we engage in mature discussions here about it!

      I don’t think this is the blog for you eye-shuh, because its clear that your views do not align with the reasons this blog exists.

  11. I think this post properly identifies the issue I had recently while playing the game Heroes of Newerth (a DOTA clone). I was surprised when I found that there were no female characters at all in the Strength category of the hero selection. Both female and male characters showed up in the Agility and Intelligence sections, but it seemed only male characters were allowed in the Strength category. This really bothered me. I could think of no reason why they would be excluded from being identified with the Strength stat. The developers even patched in a Valkyrie character later and threw her in Agility, which is rather absurd considering the lore surrounding them. I just stopped playing, even though I was enjoying the game up until that point. I wanted to try playing with a Strength build but didn’t like that I was being force to play a man.

  12. I certainly agree that there is the serious issue with unrepresentation of women as protagonists in games, i can’t help thinking that there are is more then just gender sterotypes in action. There is some issue (definietly connected with sterotypes) with media itself, generally speaking protagonists and characters in most games are terrible written, as was mentioned : white males – boring and dull. So in fact if someone breaks through this cliche eg. Mirror’s edge and make a protagonists a female is often indicator that creator at least try to do something interesting. So all in all i would definietly want to see more female characters in games as it would in my opinions bring more well written stories in games.

  13. Louis is in no way the “token black man”. He is the most fully realized and deep character in all of gaming. I say this as a fellow fan of white dress shirts and poly blend red ties.

    (btw, we need more female characters in gaming, my daughter for one will not touch something without female avatars, hence why her habits are limited to Dora and KOF11. Of course she’s also 5.)

  14. Having a larger, more diverse set of female characters in games is good for concrete reasons, too.

    Often, the easiest character to play in a game is the big, dumb white male. But women, in my experience, always want to try out the female character first, who is usually the “weak but tricky” or “weak but fast” character. This is frustrating, and needlessly raises the learning curve.

    I’m another man who always picks female characters, either because they have more personality or they fit my preferred support role better. I really appreciate having the choice of genders, though, and more importantly the choice to pick someone of my gender who isn’t a total sex object. Go Zoey!

  15. @Thefremen: Louis’ wardrobe is actually a reference to the hilarious British zombie romantic comedy Shaun of the Dead. Louis’ wardrobe is identical to the lead character in that movie.

    For zombie movie fans, L4D is chock full of subtle genre references, not the least of which is setting; George A. Romero’s first zombie flicks were all set in the Pittsburgh area, just for starters. And then there are the news helicopters (a tip of the hat to Dawn of The Dead), the zombie soliders in ACUs (a nod to 28 Weeks Later), and I could go on…

    As for character selection in L4D, none of the Survivors are any different from each other in terms of capabilities. As an aside, the age diversity in L4D characters is also interesting; my 73-year-old father took to L4D like a duck to water as a first-time FPS player. For some reason he prefers to play Bill.

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