#InternationalWomensDay2017 is upon us and my Twitter has been alight with women supporting women all morning. From those praising their mothers, sisters, and other important women in their private lives to those working in the gaming industry helping boost the work and reputation of those just starting out, the sense of empowerment and connection between the women on my timeline has been inspiring. With the shadow of Gamergate ebbing away, women have emerged victorious as more new games feature a female lead as well various female co-stars, with games passing the Bechdel test far more often than its cinematic counterparts; in 2017, I would expect nothing less.
Whilst the video game industry is still relatively young, the role of women within it is even younger, though our role is no longer in its infancy. Women are lead editors and CEO’s of gaming sites and our contributions to the industry are valued and respected. With the help of STEM education and an overall acceptance than women enjoy AAA games, shooters and RPG’s just as much as the next man, astounding achievements have been made in the technology business, from game design and development to those in the press and of course the fans.
The female canon or lead is no longer a taboo subject; female leads such as Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, Chell from Portal, Samas Aran from Metroid and even pseudo-leads such as Cortana from the Halo series have been well received and appreciated by players, with many stating that a male lead would have impeded their success. Many RPG’s such as The Elder Scrolls games, Mass Effect and Bloodborne allow the player to pick and customise whichever gender they like, with many men suggesting that they play as female characters “just to see what it’s like”, or because they too are bored of the Caucasian male with the muscles and short, back and sides haircut. Whilst gender fluidity isn’t particularly prevalent in games, many games allow the player to choose a love interest of any gender – or in some cases, race – to allow for a modern and inclusive gaming experience. While we may still face sexism, racism or even fascism in every-day life, it is enabling and empowering to know that I can be the baddest bitch in the galaxy and can romance whoever the fuck I want without fear of judgement or reprisal, even if it is behind closed doors.
Jennifer Hale is my favourite voice actress, with her voice acting for the Female Commander Shepard from Mass Effect being my favourite performance. FemShep was the canon lead for the original game, but the decision was made to put BroShep on the cover and make him the default as Bioware were worried what the reception would be all the way back in the dark ages of 2007. They needn’t have worried, however, as FemShep was an instant favourite, which is mostly due to Hale’s outstanding work. The same can be said for Courtenay Taylor’s performance as The Lone Survivor in Fallout 4 or Tara Strong’s enticing portrayal of Harley Quinn, or even Ashly Burch’s voice that gives Aloy her resilient, Ygritte-esque demeanour; the female voice acting far surpasses the male with more fluctuations in tone, easily heard compassion and a whole other level of sarcasm and wit.
Of course, these are just my opinions; that’s not to say that the men involved in producing these games deserve any less credit or recognition, but today is about celebrating women and our achievements. I can walk into any shop and buy a video game of any genre and feel no shame; I can attend gaming events like Glesgames and share my opinions and skills (or lack thereof) with other gamers and have such sentiments reciprocated. I try endlessly to support other women around me in the hope that we can achieve the success we dream of, whatever those goals may be, particularly within the gaming community. It’s harder than ever to break into video game journalism, not at least because there are so many new and engaging female voices out there. Congratulations to all who have entered into the industry so far and for continuing to inspire me to try harder, pitch harder and, at the very centre of it all, love myself more.