Equality in Gaming Means More Female Enemies
Stick with me here, because I promise there's a real point to this. Don't just head to the comments and call me names. Hell, for all you know, there's not only a worthy discussion on video game culture but a damned treasure map in the middle of the article.
I got Tomb Raider back from my brother this weekend, and decided a speed run through the game would be the perfect thing for the lull I've got in review titles at the moment. The game still holds up incredibly well, not just as a storytelling experience but as a damn fine game. In fact, I loved it even more the second time around without quite so much insistence on 100 percent completion. The fights are really well done, and Lara Croft is a gift of a protagonist. I live for the moment after she nets the grenade launcher and screams, "That's right! Run, you bastards! I'm coming for you all!"
It occurred to me as I played through the game that it had been a very long time since I'd seen female soldiers come after me in a video game, which is something I'd like to see more of.
See also: Reviews for the Lazy Gamer: Tomb Raider
A long, long time ago, there was a game called Final Fight and a character named Poison, who recently showed up again thanks to Street Fighter X Tekken. When Capcom was developing the character for the original Final Fight in Japan, she was always intended to be female. However, they were worried about how American audiences would respond to hitting women and wondered if feminist groups would sue.
"Hitting women was considered rude," according to All About Capcom Head to Head Fighting Games. So the character was made a transvestite. Playtesters for the SNES did indeed express dislike of hitting girls, and the explanation that Poison was secretly a dude was not exactly met with the greatest of enthusiasm. She was replaced with a male character named Sid.
With the exception of fighting games, which have always been oddly very equal-opportunity, it's remained fairly rare to see female minions in the wave of enemies. If they are present, they're almost always some form of dominatrix. Regular shock troops in the rank and file? Not so much.
Now, admittedly, this makes some sense in the context of Tomb Raider. The cultists who inhabit Yamatai have been searching for decades for a suitable female candidate whose body their Sun Queen can inhabit, and ultimately allow them to escape. The test for worthiness, as shown in one scene, is to try and burn the girl alive. Presumably this means that any women stranded in wrecks on the island are tested, and the failures are allowed to burn or otherwise killed.