I recently received Morning’s Wrath to review for Game Tunnel. I won’t talk about it much here, but I will say that it may be the first game I’ve played in which I had to take on the role of a female character.
If anything, it led to some interesting conversations. I was telling a friend of mine about the peculiar way non-player characters give you items. Someone overheard the following statements:
“So my boyfriend has locked himself in a room, and he’s casting a spell to let the Ashidians invade the castle. So I go to the Royal Engineer to get the key to the room, and he says that he is giving me the key. I start to walk away when I notice the key on the ground. For some reason, people don’t give you items. They throw them on the ground as if to say, ‘Hah! Go get it!’
I’m thinking, ‘You can’t treat me like this! I’m a princess!'”
I got a strange look from a nearby friend who walked into that part of the conversation.
On a more serious note, I find it interesting that I’ve never played a female protagonist until now. Specifically, I’ve never played a game in which the story revolved around being a heroine. Immediately, I’m introduced to my secret lover, and my character has a secret tryst with him to discuss their plans for the future together.
It reminded me of an article I read. In a past issue of The Escapist, Julianne Greer wrote about playing Dragon Warrior and her encounter with Princess Gwaelin. If you don’t know about that part of the game, you save the princess, and when you talk to her in the throne room, she asks if you love her. If you say no, she says the famous line, “But thou must!” and repeats the question. There is no getting out of it. You must love her. Fanfare plays. In fact, Gwaelin’s Love is actually an item you can use to communicate with her no matter where you are in the world.
When I played it, I didn’t even blink. When a heterosexual woman played the role of the hero, however, the response can be a bit different and awkward.
Now, I realize that videogames have been traditionally created for males. That has been the bread and butter demographic for games. But, with instances like the above, isn’t it a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Yes, girls like romance and love and all that gooey stuff, but can’t there be a “Female Hero” button? Where you rescue Prince Gunther?
Playing the role of a female in Morning’s Wrath is interesting. It’s different. It was a new experience. It was fun.
But if all of the games I played required me to be a female, I can imagine being frustrated and unwanted. Clearly games wouldn’t be meant for me.
I remember as a child coming up with a game in which you can pick any of a number of characters to start out with, and depending upon who you picked, you would start your adventure in a different part of the world. Eventually, no matter who you picked, you would end up involved in the main story arc of the game. You would just do so from different points of view. You can start out as a thief in a big city or a poor farmer living with your parents. The thief may hear about some strange activities in a nearby village involving guild members getting shaken down. The farmer may just live too close for comfort to those same activities. Either way, the character you pick is now personally involved in the story, and throughout the game, the game caters to your chosen role.
Are there any games that already do what my childish creativity imagined years ago? If not, wouldn’t it be rather simple to make a game with a “Male Hero” and “Female Hero” button?