In the end, the concrete factors behind the relative prevalence of females in the shmups of old versus the prevalent shooting games of the present are likely to remain largely a mystery – of course, one doesn’t need a documented reason for their existence to be glad to have them around, just as they are. While my deepest id’s inner chauvinist pig (all guys have one, even if they won’t admit it) scoffs at the notion, I have to say that all the chest-thumping among certain self-important gamers about how “manly” this game or that one is has long worn out its welcome – this unfortunately underscores the fact that shooters, like most types of video games, haven’t always treated the female demographic with the respect it deserves. The genre’s long history undeniably holds out hope for the future, however – even with things as they are now, I’m willing to bet that if gender equality ever does become a true-blue reality for gamers, the humble shmup will be the one leading the way once more: if some of the more recently-popular “shooter” factions decide to follow in its footsteps, so much the better. To Elsa and any other somewhat frustrated girl gamers out there, while I must apologize for this article’s lack of concrete “answers” to what ails you, hopefully it’s a little bit of reassurance that even this ancient genre, at its best, has been a driving force in advancing the cause of women onscreen. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but there is encouragement to be found in gaming’s past as well as its future.
To the fictional females of yore, meanwhile, who have helped to make this hallowed, historically-rich corner of gaming what it is, I hope to be seeing you again, someday soon.
Allow me to offer one last word of thanks to my compadres at the shmups.com forum, who helped make this article as wide-ranging as it is. Always glad to know that you folks have my back!
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