Rhianna Pratchett says female representation is important in videogames, and the diversity of characters in videogames should match the diversity of the gaming audience.
2013 brought a reboot of Tomb Raider, a series known for its main character, Lara Croft, the most recognized female character in videogames. Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett said in an interview with IGN that last year saw some interesting female characters and hopes media represent a broader spectrum of people.
“I think 2013 was a pretty good year for female characters both NPCs and protagonists,” Pratchett said. “Although in gaming terms ‘pretty good year’ means that there were some, and they were cool, interesting and well thought out, rather than anything approximating equality.”
Pratchett added that while it’s great to see more varied female protagonists and antagonists, there still needs to be more representation in age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender orientation, and ability to represent “real life.” She pointed to shows like Breaking Bad, Luther, and Orange is the New Black as examples of popular shows with diversity.
“It’s nuts that we’ve reached a situation where representing female characters (let alone minorities) is considered ‘social responsibility’ and not, you know, depicting half the world’s population,” Pratchett said. “We’re lagging behind all other entertainment mediums in this regard, and we really need to step up to the plate rather than curmudgeonly defending our piece of lawn from the pesky kids.”
The representation of women in videogames isn’t the only thing that could use some work. Pratchett calls videogames’ depictions of masculinity “extremely narrow in scope. It would be nice to see a panel about gender in videogames and it not just be about one gender!”
The bottom line is that videogames – and media as a whole – need more interesting, varied characters rather than relying on well-known tropes of the physically powerful, gruff male character with a grudge. Pratchett suggests hiring writers and integrate them into teams earlier on, as well as getting all developers more involved in storytelling in order to bring in a “new generation” of videogame writing. If this becomes industry standard, we should expect well-written characters with intriguing, diversifying stories.