Here’s a challenge for you: name three current-generation console games with a key female protagonist where you can’t see her cleavage at any point.
Take a few minutes and see what you come up with. I threw this at Twitter yesterday and the answers I got back are down below our classic Strong Female Character contorting wildly so you can see her arse and her tits in a single shot, so y’know – try it yourself before you get to the spoilers.
“My spine!” yells Lara as she hits the floor. Sorry Lara; you’ll be in hospital for the next few weeks.
Here’s what we got – highlight the blocks below to see the answers so far.
Alice: Madness Returns; Amy; FFXIII; Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility; House of the Dead 4; Hydrophobia; Left 4 Dead 2; Mass Effect 1&2; Metroid Prime 2&3; Metroid Other M; Mirror’s Edge; Portal 1&2; Valkyria Chronicles.
Qualifying remakes include Silent Hill 3 HD and Tomb Raider Anniversary (seriously!), possibly Beyond Good and Evil HD, but I’m not gonna count remakes at this point. Mass Effect 3 shows cleavage in a dress and in romance scenes. Female Skyrim characters can obviously be stripped down to their underwear whenever you like, so that doesn’t qualify either.
All told that’s 16 games with female protagonists (six of them optional or sharing the spotlight) who aren’t objectified in a fairly basic way. Now, the current console gen started in 2005. If this is the kind of character you’d like to play and all of the above appeal, then you’re still limited to two a year. That’s two games a year managing a basic level of respect for playable characters drawn from half the population.
And we’ve only been discussing one basic kind of objectification. Final Fantasy XIII practically has a panty shot on the cover, and for all of Mass Effect’s good work with Shepard some of its female NPCs are essentially targets. (Remember the Consort?)
Sheva Alomar is a highly experienced soldier, a veteran of African guerrilla warfare who studied in America and was further trained by an elite international counter-terrorism organisation. Thanks to her degree-level education and military expertise, she knows this is the perfect outfit in which to fight zombies if she wants to dress casual.
If you’re not sure whether this is a problem, scroll through the profile photos of your female friends and family on Facebook and see how many choose low-cut tops when defining the image they want to project.