As usual you should read the introduction
to this series to see what is up, then if you want scroll down to the bottom and check out some of the other heroes covered. With the great debate on girl gamers constantly raging around us it makes sense to tackle a female hero. It is always strange to me to consider female heroes in videogames since they are so clearly marketed towards and designed by men. Are they reshaping our stereotypes of heroes by being women in the first place or are they just conforming to a norm despite their sex? Do we learn about what a female hero should
be or what we want
them to be? More importantly what do girls who are playing these games learn about being a hero, for that matter what do guys learn from it? Lotís of questions and Iím not sure that Iíll even answer them with this but if there is a place to start talking about it itís with the original female video game hero: Samus.
However, Samus does not suppress her compassion and in the end it saves her life. For all her gruff silence and solitary action when Samus is confronted with taking a life that is not threatening hers, a life that has attached itself to her, she can not do it. It is compassion that saves her in the end, not killing, not anger, not a quest, but her care for another creature. Iím not sure that there is a more powerful statement of what is a hero in all of video games than this. It is only emphasized by the fact that Samus has been alone on her adventures, solitary and isolated and yet it is an outside force that makes her stronger and it is her care for that outside force, who she is supposed to kill, that truly makes her a hero. The one thing Samus doesnít shoot down is the one thing that saves her. We can only learn from this that a heroís compassionate acts far out weigh the power of their violent ones.
This is not all the Metroid saving Samus from Mother Brain teaches us though. Samus and her games are known for their feelings of isolation, claustrophobia and confinement. Itís Samus against an entire planet and no one is coming to help (this of course is ignoring Corruptions more complete universe which if you want to read my opinion of you can here
). The logical conclusion would be that Samus teaches us that heroes are loners that donít depend on anyone else. But, as noted above, it is not her alone that finally defeats Mother Brain and it is this fact, in a series of games completely dominated by their solitary nature, that makes Samusí lesson about heroism not one of introverted actions but of support and caring. Unlike Sonic who shoves friendship down our throat Samus has one single solitary instance of being helped and it is about 500 times more powerful.
Early on in gaming history Samus taught us that heroes arenít all men, unfortunately the gaming industry and society in general didnít listen all that well. They didnít really listen to the compassion lesson either. Metroid is one of the few games where an enemy becomes a friend, where compassion is the savior not who has the biggest gun. Maybe then it is fitting that Samus turned out to be a woman, since compassion and caring are traits more often applied to women then men. Either way it is important to realize, at least in Samusí case, that gaming heroines arenít just mock ups of what men wish women would be like but are actually strong lessons in how we should all act.
Link Solid Snake Mario Sonic