Historically, video game developers have shyed away from having very much female representation. This can probably be explained by two very reasonable facts;
- Demographically speaking, video games have only recently, in the last decade or so, started to become a popular product with female audiences. I remember a time when it was very rare to find that a girl had played video games on a regular basis. Nowadays it’s quite the opposite. It’s very rare to find anyone at all who doesn’t play video games in some form.
- Writers write what they know. It might be somewhat hard to write a game with female lead characters if 99% of the staff involved are males. With the expansion of the video game industry comes new creative people, introducing their ideas and writing their own stories.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of guys picked up these games too, they weren’t engineered specifically for girls or anything, it just so happened that now was the right time, and these were the right games.
Nintendo has definately realized what they’ve stumbled upon. The gears have shifted, and wave after wave of first party titles are feeling a lot more acceptable to both genders, not by changing how the games are made or play, but simply by including more accessible and relatable female characters, and by not being afraid to include more traditionally feminine and cute imagery.
Two recent examples of this are the latest installment in some of Nintendo’s flagship games, Super Smash Brothers 4, and Mario Kart 8. Both of these games included a lot more female characters than the previous games in the respective series.
Females and their role in pop culture and specifically video games have been a hot topic lately, with stories such as #GamerGate and Ubisoft’s Female Assassin Cuts making big stories and top headlines. This cry for equality in video games is probably the result of the incredible boom in population in female gamers, and it’s not without justification, but in my personal opinion, developers can and should develop whatever games they want to. When someone is upset that they don’t relate to the stories and characters in video games or popular media, I want to tell them that they should just create some of their own and share it with the world!
Nintendo is one of the most serious video game console companies in the industry, and they’re definitely taking steps to make sure even your sisters feel safe playing Smash Brothers, and I for one have high hopes that in doing that, girls are inspired to take part more in the video game industry itself. With the broadening of the demographic, what we’re seeing is not just a few more characters in a video game or two, but the beginnings of a new world, where anyone can write and develop in the video game industry without fear of creating a product that won’t sell just because 8-20 year old males won’t relate to it.