Alternate title: Am I the only one around here that is tired of playing as a 30 something white cisgender male with a gun?
I have played video games for as long as I can remember, which is over 20 years, and for all of those years a majority of the games have starred middle aged white cisgender males with some form of gun. Retro consoles are just as "guilty" of this as modern consoles, from Mario Bros. (compare the original Mario sprite to modern day Mario) to Megaman to Uncharted and Grand Theft Auto. There is nothing inherently wrong with making a game starring a white male character holding a gun, just isn't there SOMETHING else?
Obviously there are games out there that feature different types of characters as leads, Princess Tomato in Salad Kingdom, Metroid, Mirror's Edge, Heavenly Sword and Okami for example, just not nearly enough. During the recent expos and cons I sat on my couch watching live streams of the big reveals and trailers and I couldn't help but be disappointed time and time again when I found out the cool looking game starred a straight white cisgender male.
Imagine my excitement when I saw the announcements of Muraski Baby
and Lily Bergamo
, two new games that feature leading ladies. I felt sad after watching the live reveal of Lily Bergamo because I was excited by the fact that the main character and game title were assumed to be female. No gameplay was really shown, no real story elements explained, just an enemy, a main character and a title. And here I was, excited by the fact I could play as a female or anything outside the "norm".
Heck, I even got excited when the trailer for Call of Duty: Ghosts confirmed female soldiers were finally in the game. If given the chance in multiplayer games to play as a female character, I do, having played as a female spartan in every Halo game that offers it, Evelynn in League of Legends, Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2, etc. It is not that I want to be a women, but I crave variety and something different. I have played so many games as a man, it just feels good to play as ANYTHING different. I posted an article about Natural Selection 2 adding a female soldier on my site and the response was very positive. Someone also pointed out it is sad that the fact you could play as a female was such a big deal in this day and age. I have to say I agree.
Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy many games with a white cisgender male lead, and I don't feel like you should shoehorn in different types of characters just to please the masses. That being said, isn't there a ton of possibilities when you think of all the types of people in the world publishers and game designers aren't using? Women, children, elders, LGBTQ people, handicapped people, and people of others races all could make interesting characters with interesting stories. There are even tons of openings in current series to include female characters, Super Mario Brothers for example, Who are the Mario parents? Bowser Jr.'s mom? Just think of the possibilities.
So how will this ever change? Currently I'm planning a video series called Diversity and Inclusivity in Gaming or DIG for short, which is going to be short (hopefully) animated examples of hypothetical games featuring a variety of characters in a variety of different game genres. I've been working with my team from Tomodom
along with people gathered from various places to conceptualize said video series. Our team consists of many females, LGBTQ people and even a few cisgender white males (gasp! though they are a minority). Right now we have 5 concepts started for episodes that we are working on developing, and without giving away too much detail I'll say one stars a transgender mayor.
Some teaser artwork done by Alicia Weninger (check out her artwork here
) for one of our hypothetical game concepts. Just imagine them on horses. (Yes I'm being cryptic on purpose.) And the following is a rough sketch of another heroine from a different concept we have in the works, also drawn by Alicia, presented without comment.
Currently DIG, while having been being worked on for a few months, is still in its infancy. We have a lot of work to do before we launch, and we would like to run a Kickstarter for it, as animation isn't cheap. Thus far everyone working on it is doing so as a passion project, unpaid and on their own time, because we all agree this is something that needs to happen and needs to be talked about. We are always looking for talented people to help if anyone is interested (and no I didn't make this post to recruit people) so if that is you let me know.
So what do you think Destructoid? "Can you DIG it!?" Do you think this is something that needs to happen and/or is a good concept? You are the first people I've mentioned the project to outside of close friends and colleagues. I'll be revealing more as work continues in anticipation of launching the Kickstarter.