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Feminisms Again... w/ Nihil: Steal My Idea For A Protagonist

It's kind of like riding a bike, where the keyboard stands in for wheels and this analogy broke down really fucking quick, but there you have it.

I don't have new things to say about feminism, because once I say something about something, I tend to dislike repeating myself. But there's a thing in my brain that I find interesting and thought I would share it with you, in this impromptu blog entry, if you don't mind. It's possible you might have heard something akin to this somewhere else on the internet, or perhaps in these very cblogs. But I haven't (or can't remember it), hence this post.

First off, I want to give Vexingaura props for at least her approach in starting another discussion. The vibe is one that I can admire because it takes more into consideration than the agenda at hand, and as a byproduct, exposes the humanity of the propagator. Which is kind of novel, when you think about someone trying to make an argument over the internet.

Secondly, I want to note that I will make a feeble attempt at following the releases of Remember Me and Two Souls, because I haven't seen anything yet to make me dismiss them like I did Tomb Raider. It wasn't that it was a AAA game that had me shrug apathetically (as I do most of the time) (yes, I'm one of those assholes), or even the PR nightmare. Despite even the OMGRAPEZZORS assumptions, what disinterested me was that I didn't see anything interesting. And what I saw was exactly what I got. And I say "I" specifically, because I know a lot of people enjoyed the game. And you know what? I don't hold it against them at all, because gameplay-wise, the mechanics are damn solid, like most TR titles of yore.

But I didn't want to play Tomb Raider for the mechanics. Because I played Tomb Raider Anniversary and said, "This is it. I don't need to play another TR game. I get it. I really get it. I mean, I got it before, but now I'm over it."

They're fun puzzle/platformers where you run and jump and shoot things in gorgeous locales. You get more of the same in the latest title, except you get a new Lara Croft who you're suppose to empathize with. I may be stroking my own ego here, but I can't empathize with bland-ass characters who don't really develop over time. I couldn't even use her as a conduit to interject personality into, because every other cutscene would remind me how much of a SURVIVOR Lara is. She's a Croft, you guys. Crofts are legit.

"You're a Croft" What the fuck does that even mean? That doesn't explain how she is able to kill every goddamn thing on an entire island, all the while the island itself is literally trying to kill her. That's not survivor's luck, it's just plain luck, and too fucking much of it, especially if we're to consider that at her core, she's an average jane-shmo turned hardcore survivalist. This new Lara is bound by morality, until dudes force her to kill them, viciously.

Which is fine. I guess.

Narratively speaking, though, it doesn't hold up. I don't see the Lara in those cutscenes being the same Lara that's surviving all those crazy-ass QTE's, mainly because there's never a point where she's like, "HOLY FUCK, DID I JUST DO THAT? THAT JUST HAPPENED. I AM THE MOTHERFUCKING CHAMPION. BITCHES CAN'T TOUCH ME."

I would've been grateful to hear some kind of commentary akin to that, and then watch her make a grave mistake that gets one of her crewmates killed, effectively knocking her off her pedestal. That's a Lara I can fucking empathize with. Instead, we get a Lara that's perpetually level-headed in every scenario. Sure, she goes through the motions of "shock" and "despair" and yadda-yadda-yadda before saving the day, again. Why don't I care? Because she's being a normal person, aside from all the second-degree murder? Maybe.

You see? It's not like I don't get it. I get it. But I'm over it. Show me something that isn't by-the-numbers if you want me to care. Maybe some backstory about her narcissistic, alcoholic father beating her, which subsequently reinforces her sense of self-preservation? No, that would be playing the tragic backstory card, which, as everyone knows, is played-out. And boy, is that dark. Too dark.

But being almost raped and sold into sex slavery? That card is totally fine. That never happens in real life. Why would we be concerned at all about that little detail? She's a Croft, you guys. Fuck the haters.

Nah, fuck the writers. Shit is sloppy. I gave it a chance, you can't ask much more of me. And I'm not saying I don't expect Remember Me or Two Souls to do the same. I'm a cynic. It's in my nature to be disappointed before you even get a word in. But I don't mind giving something the benefit of the doubt when it mildly impresses me in some regard, as those two games have done with their female leads. And those female leads have superpowers. Would Lara be cooler if she had superpowers? That's a trick question; Crofts don't need superpowers, they just shoot you in the face and maybe feel bad about it.

she's a croft, you know

Alright, so barring the apparent fact that big publishers are afraid of female leads because they don't sell well with any male demographic unless they're overtly attractive, you want a compelling female protagonist in a video game. Good for you. Now what?

Now you sit there and wait for it to happen, because you don't make video games for a living. OR, if you're like me, you imagine that it already happened and wait for the actual industry to catch up to your idea of a compelling female lead. What's my idea of a compelling female lead? Well, first off, she's a drug addict. And, wait for it.

Wait, for it.

And she has brain damage. AND, her first mission is to escape the fog of a psychedelic hallucination. No, I'm serious.

But WHY is that compelling? WHY? You can't empathize with that either!

Shut your mouth, I'm not done.

We later find out that she is bearing a child that may or may not be the anti-christ. You're probably hoping that it's the anti-christ, so that things get really interesting. You're not alone.

AND, as a mini-game, you can try to convince doctors to abort it, but of course, something forces them to think her giving birth to it would be for the best. Still not compelled? She's British, so she has a soothing accent to downplay her patent mania.

For extra mind-fuckery shits n giggles, no one ever says her name. And when they're about to, they're interrupted.

See what I did there? Compelled yet? No? Good, 'cause there's more.

Everyone loves a good moral choice simulator. But if you're like me, you never go outside, which means you like to explore every option. Well guess what, every option, is never a dialogue choice or obvious action, like stabbing a kitten to death. They will be the simplest mundane things, from what style you put her hair in, to making her show up early for her appointments, and they will be the deciding factors that splinter the mysterious mystery. I'm still debating whether you could have her pop pills or not.

Fuck it, if Max Payne can do it, so can she.

At the end of the day: 3.1 million dollar budget, call it a spiritual successor to that one game people liked, tell IGN to say that it blew them away or you'll never advertise with them again, and boom, you have your blockbuster game with a compelling female lead that doesn't make boys question their sexuality.

Until it does.

You're fucking welcome.

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About Nihilone of us since 6:11 AM on 12.19.2009

Hi. I'm Dan, an admin in the forums. Come down and say things to us. You'll float, too.

"Nihil" is the pseudonym I use for writing and gaming on the internet. I came across Destructoid by searching for information on Way of the Samurai 3. Tubatic had the most comprehensive coverage on it I'd seen anywhere.

For that, and for leading me to this extraordinary community, I thank him.

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