Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Thoughts On Women in Gaming

Right on the heels of my last post about there not being any decent female characters for younger girl gamers, along comes the demo for the XBLA and PSN Scarygirl. It's a cute little 2d platformer with a sort of Tim Burton for kids aesthetic. I'm not surprised at all to find out that it is based on a graphic novel. I'm contemplating purchasing it for the sole purpose of giving a detailed review.

What I do know so far is that it is adorable. It features a little orphan girl who is basically raised by an octopus. She has a tentacle for an arm and wears an eyepatch like a pirate. This tentacle is used to grapple onto things and generally beat the daylights out of enemies. It's not an overly violent game - no much more than Super Mario Bros or Sonic the Hedgehog. Consider my interest piqued. When I clear my plate a little, it's definitely on the agenda.

I also discovered another really strong female character - though definitely out of the ESRB's recommendations for young gamers. I'm a little late to the game, but I've had Uncharted and Uncharted 2 sitting around for ages. I was about 30% through Uncharted and got sidetracked by things... other shiny game type things. This is a common occurrence for me. At any given moment, I am in the middle of ten different games with two or three I haven't even touched yet. 

I'm going to come right out and say it. I've got a little bit of a girl crush on Elena Fisher. She's tough, but still gets to be vulnerable in little ways. Drake still does that manly "gotta protect the girl" thing and she calls him on it. In a scene where he says he doesn't want her "bullet riddled corpse on his conscience", she turns around and basically tells him to quit if he wants to but not to blame it on her. She pops up and gets injured and is definitely used for a little emotional manipulation, but what is interesting is Drake's reaction. Whatever happens to Elena, the response is meant to fill in more of Drake's character. It's meant to humanize him and show that he isn't just a ruthless treasure hunter. It's meant to show that he has a softer side; underneath that scruffy shell, he's got *gasp* emotions. She's not a pawn to get the audience to react or cry. Watching her drive a jeep along the edge of a cliff in the jungle got me cheering on my couch. Their banter makes the games so much better, but the dialogue in the games is amazing. They got real voice actors to do it. It's very much like playing a very long action movie. Like National Treasure if Nicolas Cage hadn't been replaced by one of those animatronic Disney robots about a decade ago.

Chloe is another great character in the Uncharted franchise, but I've always been a fan of the girls that get to actually be one of the boys. She gets to have her twists and turns and bits of character development. I'm really waiting to see how this whole thing shakes out since Elena and Chloe both make appearances in Uncharted 3. I do find it interesting that they imply a sexual relationship between Chloe and Drake, but I don't find his romantic entanglements to be central to the characters. They are motivated by things other than how dreamy they find Drake. They get to be real people with dimensions and all. The Uncharted games have definitely been a pleasant surprise.

I'm about 40% through Uncharted 3, so I'll have to see how I feel when it is all said and done. Last thought, the graphics were amazing. In one cut scene, I may have actually been able to count the hairs on the back of Nathan Drake's neck - which of course lead my crazy brain down the path of how often he gets his haircut and how hard it must be to find a proper barber out in the middle of nowhere.

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