Rosliyne Bean writes for Bleeding Cool:
I can always tell when a big video game is about to be released. My fiance will start to gush about a new game months before it is actually released. He will go on and on about the graphics, the gameplay, and which studio is releasing it. This was the case when Resident Evil 7 was coming out. My only question was the same one I always ask.
"Can you play it as a girl?"
To my disappointment the answer was no. Not only could I not play as a girl but I was once again a man running off to rescue another helpless girl. I still played through Resident Evil, it was a great game, but it would have been nice to see the franchise return to a strong female lead like it had done in the past.
It was not too much longer until I started to hear about Horizon: Zero Dawn for PS4. My fiance was going on and on again about all the usual stuff. This time he threw in an extra tidbit that got me excited.
"And you get to play as a girl. In fact, that's the only option."
If you have not played the game yet, there are some mild spoilers ahead. I was really excited to check out Horizon from Guerrilla Games. When I first started the game I was a bit apprehensive about how the main character was going to be handled. Knowing she is the main character in the game, I knew she was going to be a badass. I mean, she is fighting giant robot/dinosaur creatures. What I did not expect was the level of respect this character received from the world she was in. Usually in a game with a female lead you are constantly berated by NPCs. A lot of times one of the plot points is you being told that you cannot accomplish something because you are a girl. This is so damaging because even though you are making the hero a female you are also saying that being a female is one of her struggles to overcome. In Horizon you are never treated that way. Instead you gain the title of "The Seeker" and you hold the respect that comes with that title. No one scoffs at you for being a woman seeker. You are simply a seeker, and a badass. Gender in general seems to be a non-issue in Horizon, almost as if they have evolved past this argument.
There are other refreshing things to like:
- Not having to avenge the loss of your lover.
- Many areas are ruled by strong women.
- Enemies are not threatening to rape you.
- Armor that is actual armor and not a bathing suit.
Aloy is a great role model for women gamers. I know there have been plenty of female leads, and I am not trying to disrespect the Lara Croft's and the Jill Valentine's that came before. They paved the way, and now Aloy is the next step in the evolution of what a female lead should be in a video game.