Friday, January 27th, 2012
27
JAN
Feature: The role of women and the future of the franchise

GTAGaming.com - General News | @ 10:30 AM MDT | By victim
In the past, men have dominated the video-game industry. Not only are most game-designers and developers men, but most of the market has been male as well. Yet, times are changing. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has calculated that forty-two percent of gamers are in fact women, also stating that women over the age of 18 is the industry's fastest growing demographic.

This information comes with the inevitable questioning on my part; just how far away from seeing a female protagonist in a Grand Theft Auto game are we?

Rockstar have been experimenting with the idea of strong female characters for a few years now. GTA IV had Michelle, Mallory and Elizabeta, while Red Dead Redemption had Bonnie, Luisa and Abigail. Although these characters never sat in the driver's seat in any kind of way, they were all given major roles as vital cogs in the stories of our leading males, as opposed to acting as the traditional love interests which film and video-games have long-since exhausted.

Even with a long way to come, the role of women in Rockstar's more recent blockbusters is expanding and guessing that we'll (eventually) be playing as a woman is a pretty safe guess to make. How soon this will be is not clear right now as even I have major doubts it will happen in V. Even with the Ned Luke lookalike all but confirmed to be our playable character, a few fans and industry figures alike have warmed to the notion of playing as a female and have expressed a desire for it to finally happen.



The industry calling for female leads doesn't strike me as a particularly odd thing though. More and more females are being worked into games as the lead -- though more often than not only in games with some form of create-a-character type set-up. Mass Effect springs to mind, where I far preferred playing through with a female Sheppard, if only because of Jennifer Hale's outstanding voice-work, which was leaps and bounds better than her male counterparts.

Then there's the Saints Row series, the only franchise to break-away from the inevitable "GTA clone" label that the industry dumps on any games with guns, cars and freedom. Like many other modern games, players get the choice of which sex to play as, though either way, what you get is mostly an androgynous experience. The male and female characters are quite indistinguishable due to the same clothing/hair options, and the fact that the player, if they wish, can have their female character voiced by a male actor and vice versa.

The create-a-character model can give players aesthetically unique experiences, making the player feel like it is their character and their's alone. With that being said though, it generally destroys any notion of a character driven narrative, a notion which Rockstar have been expanding with every title for over a decade.

A true feminist would have you believe that playing as a female should have no affect on gameplay and I would tend to agree. In terms of story this is definitely true; nothing will change, in fact, a strong portrayal of a female lead could do leaps and bounds for some of the games more subtle themes. As long as the character is not just a female to be a female, other gameplay will also go unchanged. Gamers would probably have to give up on being serviced by prostitutes and going to "titty-bars" with Roman and Brucie though -- in other words, no big loss.

I was raised primarily by my mother and I've always been told that women can do exactly what men can, so why should this be different in video-games? It really is quite an amazing thought, if only for the step-forward it would bring for the series. Lara, Samus and Chell should look out, a strong-female GTA protagonist could be joining their ranks sooner rather than later.



As always, we at GTAGaming love to hear your thoughts and demand you share them with us. Whether you love or hate the idea of playing as a female, make sure you comment til your heart's content and your opinion is heard.
Viewer Comments
gtaperson
Registered User

Registered: Nov 2004
Posts: 309
Other video games always make the girl characters into pornstars (enormous breasts, exposed cleavage, and "special" effects for their body parts), and I absolutely HATE THAT. Nothing ruins a game faster than that. If R* could make a non-sexual strong female character, I would be completely fine with that.
01-27-2012 10:52 AM
Lukeyy19
Sophisticated Silliness

Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,221
I don't know, I think it might take something away from the GTA experience, but then maybe thats just because the protagonist has always been male and change is scary.

I like to immerse myself in the GTA story when I play, and it'd kinda be like becoming a woman... don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Lara, and Chell etc, and i'll sometimes use a female character in games like Skate or whatever, but with GTA its a different experience and I think i'd rather keep it the way it is...
01-27-2012 10:56 AM
thenotsogoodtrickster
late on the feels

Registered: Jun 2006
Posts: 886
I think if the female character lead was based off Michelle Rodriguez's character in the fact and the furious series (or, heck, every person she's ever played) then it could work.

I know of a lot of people who think a girl character in GTA would become a running gag about periods, but I think Rockstar would do it perfectly.
01-27-2012 11:12 AM
Zee
Registered User

Registered: May 2003
Posts: 45
GTA is actually anti-women. there are a lot of misogynist jokes and women are viewed as weak. There is an especially large amount of misogny in The Ballad of Gay Tony.
01-27-2012 11:23 AM
Megafast13
Registered User

Registered: Mar 2008
Posts: 12
Would be interesting if they changed how other characters and pedestrians reacted to the main character if it was female vs male. Like Peds would "check her out" as they walk by her, or big mobsters suck up to her or get into her pants. Where as a male character would get into fights, be called a "pussy", etc.
01-27-2012 11:58 AM
bennifer3000
Registered User

Registered: Jan 2008
Posts: 251
When it comes to having a female main character, the question becomes "Why"?

Are you going to explore issues that are pertinent to women? Are you going to make your crime drama an exploration about "beauty"? Is it going to be lesson about what a "real woman" truly is? Will it appeal to a large segment of women? Doubtful.

I can't speak for women but as a man, I can speak for some of us. A lot of the stuff in GTA appeals directly to men. And no I'm not talking about the killing people or picking up hookers.

Men like to lead, like to be in charge of their future, and like to provide. These are things deeply ingrained into men and a part of things you do in GTA.

Also while, yes, women play video games I'd bet you all the money in my bank account, the male-to-female ratio of GTA players is largely skewed towards men. So now it becomes a matter of dollars and cents; of demographics and finance. GTA is a massive franchise. I think GTA IV had a $100 million dollar budget. Are you going to maximize sales creating, marketing, and selling a game with a female main character to a predominantly male audience? I'm not so sure.

I'm not anti-women in GTA, I just am not sure it makes sense from a creative or financial standpoint.

But if they do end up making a GTA with a female main character, I trust they'll do it right. Too many video games have women as more or less purely sexual objects. The giant butts/boobs in games like Mass Effect for example are highly offensive.

I think Rockstar is taking things in the right direction with the Elizabeta's, the Bonnie's, and Mallory's, and for now that's enough.
01-27-2012 04:10 PM
Bigbeats23
Registered User

Registered: Sep 2004
Posts: 116
When I first read this article I was thinking, "why would I want to play a female character?", but I quickly started thinking about some cool chicks who would work well in a GTA game. Like thenotsogoodtrickster said, a character like the roles Michelle Rodriguez plays would be perfect.

I could easily imagine a woman who lived a life a crime, and then turned to mixed martial arts(so it will makes sense why she can fight men) and then she gets back into crime for money. As long as she's a real badass it could easily work.
01-27-2012 10:00 PM
jwrebholz
Cola-addled Smartass

Registered: Jun 2004
Posts: 454
I'm OK with a female lead in GTA, as long as the story is written well. Bottom line that's all I care about. If the story and gameplay are there, everything else is gravy.
01-27-2012 11:00 PM
Jaytow
Registered User

Registered: Jul 2007
Posts: 369
The only way i would be happy with this is if she was a dlc lead not a major release (like IV). Nothing against women i just don't think thats a great idea.
01-28-2012 05:28 AM
victim


Registered: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,305
I should also point out how Rockstar have been going with untraditional protagonists in their current-gen GTA titles. We have an immigrant and a family man so far.

What other protag could stir that pot as well as a female? hmm.
01-28-2012 10:07 AM
Lukeyy19
Sophisticated Silliness

Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,221
I saw the movie Columbiana the other day, that has a strong but feminine lead, that sort of thing, as somebody said also like Michelle Rodriguez could work.

but maybe, as Jaytow said, as a shorter DLC part to begin with
01-28-2012 10:33 AM
TheBearPaw
Soldato

Registered: Apr 2011
Posts: 0
It's about damn realism, how many female gangsters are there really in the world? Hardly 1%, much less I'd guess. Make a single female lead in GTA 100 and it will be realistic. Otherwise, it'd just be bullshit.
01-29-2012 06:42 AM
thenotsogoodtrickster
late on the feels

Registered: Jun 2006
Posts: 886
I'd like to point out that the last realistic GTA was GTA IV, TLaD, and in some sense TBoGT (although that tried to bring back some unrealistic natures of previous games).
01-29-2012 07:42 AM
Bigbeats23
Registered User

Registered: Sep 2004
Posts: 116
@TheBearPaw, there are some serious flaws in your argument. If it's about "damn realism", why don't we think about the percentage of all gangsters in the world (male & female). Probably less than a third of 1%. The main character doesn't need to be a gangster anyways, and many times isn't.

Anyways, people need to see Haywire with Gina Carano. That film is a perfect example of how a female lead can work in GTA.
01-29-2012 10:43 AM
thenotsogoodtrickster
late on the feels

Registered: Jun 2006
Posts: 886
While risking de-railing this comments section, Haywire was brilliant.
01-29-2012 03:46 PM
matt__jon
Registered User

Registered: Oct 2004
Posts: 83
Even though realism is stupid in games, going by your argument, there is less than 1% female gangsters/criminals.... uh, thats still a few people, therefore realistic.

And while we're on that subject, people who say flying jets and shooting bazookas isn't realistic need to watch a war documentary. Jets and bazookas do exist, and people do use them, therefore they are realistic. A game should be the place where we can blow shit up with no consequences, not being limited to only a pistol and two rounds of ammo, and not being able to drive a semi truck because its double clutch

Realism nerds need to stop ruining games
01-30-2012 10:17 AM
Lukeyy19
Sophisticated Silliness

Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,221
I like realism in at least GTA, not to the point of having a double clutch, but Guns that shoot octopuses and hover bikes (saints row) are stupid, i still want to blow sh*t up, and have crazy car chases, just with more realism.
01-30-2012 10:50 AM
matt__jon
Registered User

Registered: Oct 2004
Posts: 83
I can understand that, though hoverbikes would be a nice cheat code. Realism should be in the physics, but they should also remember to keep the driving fun, where with a little bit of skill you can handle the car like a pro, and drifting around a corner doesn't make your car slow down to 20mph, but still some skill involved.

I don't want double clutch either. I drive a manual car, and I don't even want manual transmissions, unless its an option because some people likely do want that.
01-31-2012 09:16 AM
TheBearPaw
Soldato

Registered: Apr 2011
Posts: 0
Alright, I said some little thought-out shit about those realism percentages, I deserve flak there. I also forgot I was talking about GTA when I instinctively mentioned realism. GTA was always intended to be a light-hearted comedy and parody, so I guess I can be less strict with it.
01-31-2012 10:41 AM
 

Post Comment
Comments have been locked/disabled on this news post. 

Login to GTAGaming
Not a GTAGaming member yet?
Sign up now!

Username:
Password: 
Total Members: 181,449
20 Online, 1,433 Guests





Poll
Will you join the GTAGaming Crew and play GTA Online with us?

Yes, I am already in the GTAG crew. (34%)
Yes, I will join when GTA Online comes out. (27%)
No, I hate the GTAG crew. (18%)
Maybe, I have not fully decided. (12%)
No, I will play with a different crew. (8%)
Total Votes: 2,479
[ Hide | Poll Archive ]
Advertisement