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[personal profile] gilana
I went to PAX on Sunday -- decided it was about time I see what Aaron's been doing there as an Enforcer for the past 6 years.  It was a little overwhelming, but a fun time.  I spent most of the time on the show floor, wandering around, but they have a Diversity Lounge, so I made it a point to stop by there.  One of the people there was an ethicist who was asking people to write on sticky notes what they think made a good female charpacter in games, and what made a good male character.  I found it an interesting exercise, trying to find specific qualities that were meaningful to me.

So I'm curious -- what qualities do you think make for an interesting female character?  What about a male character?  Do you find one easier to define than the other?  Do you think there's a different in what qualities matter in video games versus in other media, such as fiction?

(I'm deliberately not putting my own answers in yet -- I'll share after some other folks have posted, if anyone does.)

Date: 2015-03-10 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not actually sure what to make of (the subtext of) the main question, in that I don't think - either gut-check or after pondering for a while, that I have any gender-biased qualities for what makes a character interesting/well-written. I am accustomed to various archetypes and stereotypes, so on a meta-level, breaking those patterns is more interesting than following them... and those -types are gender biased.

On the media question, I think it makes a huge difference. In passive flow - movies and to a large extent books, I have a much broader scope of "interesting" than I do in more dynamic storytelling - it does not, for example, necessarily mean "likeable" in a book or a movie. In most if not all games I've played, the world is cast in us-vs-them terms, so you want noble traits on your side, and who cares about the others?

Date: 2015-03-10 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What I want out of female characters is agency. I want them to take action, and have those actions be effective and consequential.

It's relatively little to ask, yet painfully rare in video games.
Edited Date: 2015-03-10 03:53 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-03-10 04:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Since I don't play games with characters, I don't have answers, but I find the question interesting and wanted you to know I'm reading and watching :)

Date: 2015-03-10 01:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, agency is a big one. Unfortunately, "Doesn't piss me off" is kind of a vague metric, but an important one for me.

Of course, most of my gaming involves silent protagonists - Chelle from Portal and Portal 2, and Gordon Freeman from the Half Life series. So they kind of end up reflecting what I want them to reflect at a given time.

Somewhat relatedly, there's an incredibly adorable fun game called "Costume Quest", where you play a kid whose twin has been abducted by goblins on halloween and you have to run around and wear costumes with special powers to battle them and get your sibling back. (Seriously, it's great fun.) You can play as either a boy or a girl (they're fraternal twins), and whichever you choose, your sibling is the one abducted.

Everything else - dialogue, gameplay, etc - is exactly the same regardless of which character you pick. But I was surprised to see how different some of the dialogue feels to me depending on the gender of my character. Which is weird and kind of surprising.

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