Magazine article Variety

Breaking the Software Ceiling

Magazine article Variety

Breaking the Software Ceiling

Article excerpt

The most formidable protagonist in videogames is a 21-year-old woman who must protect her friends and fight off well-armed enemies hell-bent on dispatching her.

The game is "Tomb Raider," launched March 5, and critics are already singing its praises as a masterful reboot of the 17-year-old franchise. In the relatively short history of videogames, that series, perhaps more than any other, has shown that players are more than willing to accept a female lead character in a fantasy action game.

But when it comes to games that are set in more realistic scenarios, women are rare - and they're never cast as the primary hero.

Series like "Call of Duty," "Medal of Honor" and "Battlefield" are largely male-oriented, and feature male lead characters. Women, if they make an appearance at all, are largely in unplayable supporting roles, appearing just briefly.

Moreover, considering the Pentagon is ending its longstanding ban on women in combat roles, developers are at a crossroads, and trying to decide how to proceed. How do they use this new reality of combat in their games? And can it help them bring in more women players?

Neither EA nor Activision is saying much about how this policy change will affect their games at the moment. Since the genre is so competitive and so lucrative, both publishers jealously guard any information about their upcoming projects. Activision declined to be interviewed for this story, and EA agreed to release only a one paragraph statement.

"Women play an important role serving in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces," said Lincoln Hershberger, VP of Marketing at Electronic Arts, Dice. "Our games strive to reflect real world events and military conditions. As such, women in our military games have appeared in a variety of combat and support roles."

A female protag won't be in EA's "Medal of Honor" series - at least anytime soon. The franchise, which was meticulous in detailing real world military conditions with a focus on the soldier, was put on the shelf last year after disappointing sales. The "Battlefield games, while also set in the real world, focus more on big themes like tanks and jets.

2011's "Battlefield 3" included a female fighter pilot, though, and Hershberger noted he expects to see more appearing in future combat roles. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.