No, this isn’t going to be a detailed or insightful analysis of male dominance in the gaming industry. I’m just a bit peeved that there are so few computer games about women out there. Yes, I know that making up differences between men and women isn’t PC, but one has to consider that historically speaking, it has been, which has consequences for historically based games. When you are making up your own story line, you can let your characters do whatever you want, regardless of sex, but if you are making a game that is trying to stay true to a historical context doing so can be hard, especially if you’re conforming to romanocentric historical teachings, which pretty much every game that deals with antiquity in some way does. At best we might get som token women like Boudica or Joan of Arc who get do to men’s stuff, which is to say fight, but rarely do we see games portray historical games portraying people doing what has traditionally been known as women’s work.
Because let’s face it: Most character driven games are about fighting. Yeah, there are a few exceptions, like Dragon Age, which have fairly sophisticated systems for cultivating social relations and such, but even they including the letting of blood as a fairly central element of gameplay. Another exception would be Adventure games, but that is a genre which, sadly, is largely defunct today. By and large, games with character driven storylines tend to revolve around fighting one way or another; Age of Kings let us reenact the campaigns of Joan of Arc in an otherwise male-dominated medieval Europe, but nobody wants to make a game about the legendary effeminacy of Assurbanipal of Assyria. This is disappointing.
I would like to see story driven games with strong character developement that focus on something other than fighting. The Roman Empire (and Republic and Kingdom) is a very popular historical era with a large following, yet most games about it revolve around its male-dominated sides of politics and warfare. Why no games about its women? Like a game about one or more influential noblewomen running their households.
And I’m not talking about a cooking- and sewingsimulator here, but something more along the lines of a game where you raise children to shoulder the burdens of statesmanship, manage the economy of the household, maintain diplomatic relations with other families, and make sure your husband doesn’t do anything stupid. Attia, Livia, Valeria Messalina, Aggripina the Younger – The JulioClaudian dynasty alone has enough influential women to fill an entire series of games. I don’t know about anybody else, I could totally play a game about the Augusta guiding the most powerful men of Rome through the final collapse of the Republic and rise of the Empire.
Personally, I find the lack of independent women in computer games, historical computer games especially, not only an unnecessary obstacle in the diversification of the gamer demographic, but a sad detriment to the computer game pallette as both a medium of entertainment and an artform.