by Jessica Gregory
|The armor doesn’t even protect her from the wind she’s making|
I willingly admit that some of the free time I have between work, clubs, and class is spent playing video games. I love them. I have lots of them. They are great. What’s even better is that many video games in this day and age have strong female characters. We’re still working on bringing women to the forefront as the main character instead of what I like to call the ‘powerful sidekick’, but we’re making steps in the right direction.
However, it’s kind of difficult to appreciate our feminine heroes if they are clad in little more than a gold plated bikini. Take Janna from League of Legends. League of Legends, developed by Riot, is rife with powerful women with not so powerful clothing choices, and Janna is no different. This formidable wind-sorceress would probably be my character of choice, if she were clad more like her male counterpart who actually gets to wear an outfit as opposed to, say, a loincloth that frames his nether regions perfectly. He looks like the warrior he is, while she looks like eye candy. Though there are multiple ladies in League who do seem to have clothing as badass as their persona, the game often provides extra “skins” for the character that strip them right back down to basics. I should also add that the first black character added to League of Legends comes with a skin that makes him white.
Let’s also consider Cortana, an advanced AI character from the Halo series. Cortana displays extreme intelligence and has the ability to take control of large space vessels, and she is viewed as one of the most important assets humanity has for survival. You’d think Bungie, Halo’s developer, would put Cortana in a full body suit made of computer-ey things or in the same armor that the player gets to wear, but no, she gets to wear what my boyfriend called ‘lines’ that draw the eye directly to her cleavage and her ‘digital down there’.
On the other hand, we have a relatively progressive video game called Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, developed by Bethesda. I. LOVE. THIS. GAME. Aside from the ability to marry someone of either gender, Skyrim provides an environment where the female characters not only get the same amount of power as the males, but they have the ability to be ‘sexy’ while still wearing a full suit of protective armor. You know, one in which you can avoid getting flamed to ash or blasted to oblivion? The game tried hard (and succeeded) to make even the skintight Nightingale Armor fit like clothing and less like an accessory for private parts. Sure, you CAN walk around in your underwear, but in Skyrim that is your choice and not something the character design forces on you. In addition to the superb armor choices, Bethesda did a great job of allowing full character customization, providing multiple skin tones, hair designs, and eye colors so that characters can be beautiful in whatever skin we want.
Hopefully we keep pushing forward. Soon, perhaps, the gaming universe will understand that women are more than just eye candy for players, and focus more on their development as characters and give them their place in the spotlight.
Jessica Gregory is a sophomore at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing
Image courtesy of League of Legends