Stop Making Women A Side Quest
Welcome to Everything is Gaming, we’re discussing the intersection of life and video games. And hoo baby, it’s time to talk about sexism in video games a bit. I’m not a scholar, just a freak for RPG’s who is inhabiting a body my culture has devalued time and time again. The gaming industry has a storied history of being absolutely terrible to women. The vast majority of stakeholders in almost any given gaming company are dudes, and many of them, through willful ignorance or actively hateful bigotry, think of women as second class citizens. As a different species.
While there’s plenty of blame to go around, we’re all products of this wacky society we call America. Our puritanical roots are doing us no favors when it comes to women’s rights. Human rights. It’s not wholly surprising that we’re so sexually and emotionally repressed considering some of the original cultural founders came to the new world because 17th century Europe was too liberal for them. They wanted somewhere they could outlaw dancing and groom their beards in peace. Ok let’s talk about Ciri from The Witcher 3.
Ciri is the adopted daughter/ward/magical fairy princess of Geralt of Rivia. I was absolutely devastated that she didn’t make a side quest cameo CD Projekt Red basically promised us in Cyberpunk 2077. But that’s not relevant here. She’s the heart of The Witcher’s story. But when The Witcher 3 throws you into her leathern boots as Geralt pieces together her flight from the Wild Hunt, she’s lackluster. Gone are pretty much all the power ups, gear customizations, everything that makes the game fun to play. “She’s on the run,” you say, “she hasn’t been on ‘The Path’ for as long as Geralt, she wouldn’t have the same amount of powers or gear.” Just stop. Don’t try to apply gear logic to a game where you can eat 5 loaves of bread and carry around dozens and dozens of weapons. Ciri is underpowered.
She’s a delicate, object of lusty sexual desire (even though we the player are made to feel like we are Geralt and she’s clearly his daughter figure) she’s weaker, smaller, less fully realized versions of her male counterparts. She doesn’t get the best storylines like the Baron and worse, the scenes where you play as Ciri aren’t all that fun. Just like Assassin’s Creed forces you to slog through the modern day Abstergo bits. It’s not strictly a side quest since it’s part of the main story, but it feels like it should be. It feels like a lesser part of the story.
Speaking of Assassin’s Creed, we encounter the exact same problem in AC Origins the few times when you play as the main character’s wife Aya. She’s bereft of the powers and senses that Bayek has, despite seeming like his equal or better in every way. Customizing your gear and weapons is a big draw for many Witcher and AC fans. Stripping away the ability to customize Ciri and Aya at all makes us instantly identify with them less. Despite the developers apparent intentions to bring us into their world by putting us in their shoes.
The sexual proclivity of women who have just suffered an attack in gaming is also, pardon my French, not cool. I can't speak for everyone but getting horny after an attack... that’s like getting kicked in the nuts and then holding your legs open for another round; only the guys from Jackass would do it. And on a petty note, devs, don’t pat yourself on the back too much for making game characters with “smaller” titties. They’re still ridiculously big when compared to almost every single person with breasts on the planet. Maybe instead of spending all that time examining a horse's junk so you could get its testicles to look right, you could have studied some human anatomy too. And for the love of Arceus if you’re going to make a character with back-achingly big breasts, at least make her have some thick thighs and some cushion around her stomach. We definitely need more thicc representation in gaming, but that’s a rant for another day.
In side quests where women are quest givers, it seems like a vast majority of them are giving you a quest because their husband is gone. Taken by bandits, killed by a wild animal, imprisoned by local forces. Someone who is barely a person at all, they’re not even a mini game. All we know is that she is distraught and so our view of women characters in games becomes an echo chamber that’s become so far removed from reality it’s tired and the narratives suffer from it. It’s much simpler, quicker to write a story that has a woman without any dimension or backstory. These are easy stories to tell, because they’re tropes we all know.