I love this discussion, especially as one of the things I feel needs to change in the gaming industry is the depth of female personalities. Even in games where there is a strong story, the female characters often seem as if they were written by a guy with no clue how real women think or act. I also find it a bit ironic that I just wrote up an editorial on GameTrailers.com's latest "top ten gamer babes" video, basically ranting on how every single "top ten female game characters" lists degenerate into nothing but "which one is sexiest".
First thing I want to note is that I find the "if I'm going to look at something, it may as well be hot" argument. I'm sorry, but I never tossed my Ninja Turtles or G.I.Joes aside and picked up my sister's Barbie dolls simply so I could be looking at some fake sex appeal instead. At least polygons in recent years don't look so much like cheap plastic as they used to, though. And yes, I grew out of toys around when I hit puberty, but I feel the argument still stands. :P
Second thing, on the whole "you see ugly male protagonists but not ugly female ones", well, this has been true for years. I mean, look at Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I haven't read any sort of book looked upon as good literature written by a woman where her female protagonists became ugly monsters. In fact, the only "ugly" female protagonist I can think of from a book written by a female is Hermione from Harry Potter, and she was never really described as ugly. Simply described as having bushy hair and large front teeth (but not enough to be bucktoothed). Granted I've read more novels written by males, but even when you look to film and television the fact remains the same: female writers rarely write their protagonists as ugly. I'm sure some of them do, but far less than you'll find a man writing about a male hero that is made ugly.
In some cases, such as, say, Blanka from Street Fighter II, it's just easier to imagine such a character being male when coming up with the premise. However, I think another part of it is simply differences of the sexes. I've known far more female artists than I have males, and they would always draw attractive female characters. Non-human female characters always wound up looking human in the end. They were fairy characters, mermaid characters, Elvish, vampires, etc. They were always beautiful, and possibly eclipsed a form of beauty unreachable by man.
However, the male artists I have known, including myself, never drew non-humans in such a manner. While our humanoids were always bipedal, they were also constantly alien. Lizard men, werewolves, ogres, orcs and just anything we could think of. Of course, my male artist friends would constantly draw hero characters with muscle, whereas my characters were, well, incredibly covered. I don't like muscle bound heros, but more realistic ones with either a balanced value of muscle or even a lankey appearance. Usually they are either covered like ninjas or completely covered head to toe in sci-fi armor, like the nameless rookie who gets shot in the head in Gears of War. The only time I go bulky is full power suits like those described in the book Starship Troopers.
Now, I reference my own tastes because they seem to be popular among many other game designers and artists. You'll find muscle bound Terminators, but also lanky ninjas, and simply realistic looking men as well. Further, a designer may want to represent someone's personally in a beast form, such as the Lizard Man from Soul Calibur. Why are these things common? Well, because it's easy to look at male characters as being ugly, and part of it is because men are certainly NOT the image of beauty.
Think about it. Men are not curvy or smooth. They are covered in hair. They are big blocks. They cannot sway and move their bodies in a way that entices you because it suggests sexuality. Women, on the other hand, are not bulky. Everything is a smooth curve, and body hairs tend to be so short and unnoticeable you'd swear it's just skin. They can sway and move their hips in a way that can give a guy naughty thoughts. So, it's only natural that, if you're going to represent something as being ugly, do it to something that's not beautiful: man.
Of course, women still find the male physique attractive, but a lot of it has to do with what these things represent about personality as well as digging into primal instincts. However, that wouldn't answer the question of "why no ugly female protagonists". That's right, all this jibber jabber and I AM still on topic!
It really all is psychology, though. I mean, how many people do you know that are ugly compared to those that are attractive? I don't care if they are playboy material or not, just attractive? Me, I see TONS on campus every day. There are far more attractive people than there are ugly ones, and plenty of them have a good physique anyway. So, why should it matter if someone makes a character attractive? I don't think that's the problem, and I don't think it's a problem that you rarely, if ever, see an ugly female protagonist.
My problem is more in how they are dressed. Mai Shiranui, anyone? From King of Fighters? I mean, Jesus. Also, the Dead or Alive girls. I actually find interviews with Itagaki on the topic interesting, because he believes the female body is incredibly beautiful. That is why he makes his girls beautiful. Why does he dress them as he does? Because he believes such clothing is quite enticing. I mean, he doesn't lie about it. The interesting part, however, is that he can't stand nude patches. He thinks that no longer makes it sexy or enticing. To him, part of sexiness is the mystery, and honestly, I agree (though the Xtreme Beach series is complete trash).
Nonetheless, while I agree with him on those ideas, I do find it irritating that all his female characters are dressed to be giving something off. Even Akane's most conservative outfit shows the sides of her boobs. However, we are also discussing a Japanese game.
Uh oh, now we have to hit cultural issues. Which is where I end this post, because discussing Japanese culture is something completely different. I mean, the video games are just ONE example of their entire entertainment industry. You're not just tackling gamer culture, but Japanese culture, when it comes to how women are portrayed in a Japanese game.
Nonetheless, when it comes to Western games, there's not so much an excuse. Why no personality yet so much cleavage? Well, we need better writers is why.
I have more to say on the matter, but think I should save it for a later time.
Ultimately, though, dude killed a lot of stuff but also went around behind his friend's back to sleep with his wife, so I'm not sure he's exactly a classic hero.
Simply put, because Lancelot isn't a hero. He's the friend of the hero. He's meant to represent several ideas, one of them being that even the best of men can fall to temptation. Going with this, he represents the caution that, no matter how well you know someone, there is always the possibility they may betray you. Yet continuing with THAT, he also represents redemption and that, no matter what, a friend should be forgiven. In the legend, Arthur sought to forgive Lancelot, and in the end Lancelot came to Arthur's aid to fight alongside him one last time. They never actually stopped being friends. And then Lancelot dies.
So, Lancelot isn't meant to be interpreted as the hero, but as many other things.