With all of the recent hubub surrounding women in the games industry, a lot of blogs have been focusing on the real-world politics of the issue. I, on the other hand, found myself immediately excited by the prospect of seeing more well-crafted, playable women in future entries of some of my favorite series.
In a time where burly space marines and manly-man adventurers are becoming old-hat, female protagonists are poised to become a more prominent presence in the changing face of video games. These are the top 10 franchises that need to make that possibility a reality. Fast.
10. Deus Ex
He didn't ask for this, so why not relieve Human Revolution's protagonist Adam Jensen of his burden as a playable character in the next game of the series? Gender has little correlation with physical strength in a world where augments can semi-believably make a young woman hit like a truck, as seen with antagonist Yelena Fedorova. Give us a complex female protagonist with a strong backstory like Jensen's and an equal number of cool abilities, and it's hard to see how things could go wrong.
Far from the traditional male power fantasy, Corvo Attano's journey of revenge was a fantastic, self-contained story that rewarded restraint and patience in favor of ruthless violence. Since Bethesda recently confirmed that Dishonored will be a continuing franchise for the company, and Corvo's story is wrapped up with little room for continuation, having a mysterious woman take his place as one of the Outsider's chosen would be a great next step for the series. The Outsider doesn't discriminate who receives his gift based on gender, as seen with Vera Moray (Granny Rags), so perhaps a lone female rogue is what the City of Dunwall needs to solve its reliance on the despicable practice of whaling.
Infamous 2 introduced players to Nix and Kuo, two female conduits with powers that rival those of series protagonist Cole MacGrath. While the game's conclusion wraps things up pretty definitively, there's no reason why developer Sucker Punch couldn't follow up Cole's story with that of a super-powered young woman in an equally thrilling situation. Infamous 2's story went in some bold directions, and a female protagonist backed by an equally compelling narrative would breath new life into a series that could just as easily be forgotten after this generation.
7. Metal Gear
From Big Boss to Raiden, the Metal Gear series is hard at work filling the void left by Solid Snake's retirement after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. Before she was marrying men with severe bowel issues, Meryl Silverburgh was a pretty cool character. A competent soldier and the capable commander of Rat Patrol , Meryl would be an ideal protagonist for a more action-focused, squad-based game. Alternatively, Snake and Ocelot's adopted daughter, Sunny would be an interesting character to develop into a badass agent. And she makes some mean eggs.
6. Dead Space
Isaac Clarke is no space marine. The engineer became an unlikely hero during the events of the original Dead Space, and his arc looks to be coming to a close in Dead Space 3. It's easy to see how a female protagonist could take up his mantle in future entries of the series. Survival horror prioritizes a feeling of vulnerability that makes it a poor environment for the male power fantasy hero, but an Average Jill protagonist would be just as well suited to the frightening and claustrophobic corridors of a derelict spacecraft as an Average Joe like Clarke was.
5. Assassin's Creed
No, Liberation doesn't count. I don't care how cool Aveline is, Ubisoft needs to have a female Assassin headline a game in the main series. With the gripes about Connor's character being fairly forgettable, next year's inevitable release in the annual series is the perfect opportunity to place Aveline (or another female assassin) in the starring role. With Ezio, we've seen how well the Assassin's team can craft a memorable protagonist who relies more on guile and charm that brute force. Seeing them put an equal amount of creative effort into a female protagonist would undoubtedly be something special.
4. The Legend of Zelda
It's the most glaring mistake a person who is new to the series can make: "Oh, looking at the title, I guess that blond boy with the droopy hat must be Zelda." Link may be the protagonist of every game in the series so far, but the title makes it clear legend is still about the Princess. In a series desperately needing change, there's no time like the present to find out what makes Zelda herself so damn title-worthy. She took some definite steps towards cool in Wind Waker, showing her aptitude with the Hero's Bow, so I'm convinced she has what it takes to shoulder a full adventure on her own.
3. Grand Theft Auto
When Game Informer first revealed GTA V's three protagonists, one question kept popping up over and over again: "Where's the woman?" Don't get me wrong, each of V's playable characters has an interesting premise backing their role in the game, but I can't help being a bit disappointed that rumors of a central female criminal (dating back to leaked pictures pre-GTA 4's announcement) were so far off the mark.
There was nothing in the first Bioshock that really necessitated the main character being male. Being trapped in Rapture is a nightmare regardless of gender, and the audio logs of Andrew Ryan's many opponents (and eventual victims), clearly make the player aware of that a number of determined, capable women tried to take the madman down years before you even arrived in the city. When Bioshock Infinite was announced, Elizabeth's character stood out as one of the most compelling parts of the game's prospective narrative. So much so that I was left wondering: "Why aren't we just playing as her?"
1. Red Dead
Bonnie MacFarlane is arguably one of the best written and most well-rounded female characters in all of gaming and deserves her own game. I could just leave it at that, but the fact is that Rockstar is one of the few publishers who stands to make a real, groundbreaking impact by having a female playable character star in one of their massive, multi-million-selling titles. While GTA certainly has room for such a character, Bonnie's performance in Red Dead Redemption all but necessitates the eventual inclusion of one. She is every bit as capable as John, and remains a tasteful character in combat, competition and romance throughout the game.