I want to discuss a very annoying, poorly-explained idea: the White Male Hero Archetype. In most games, the hero is a white, handsome, heterosexual man, and this really gets SJWs’ knickers in a knot. Why do they get so upset over positive portrayals of straight white men?
For most of gaming’s existence, it’s been a boys’ club. We can’t ignore this when talking about hero archetypes. Men made games for men who bought games, resulting in gaming being very male-centric. This is why no one should be surprised that games tend to cater to men, just like how Cosmo or Lucky cater to women: they are made by women, for women. But curiously, you never see anyone complaining about that.
The idea that woman now make up 48 percent of the gaming market is a half-truth. This is only true if you include mobile gaming. The vast majority of the gaming market, in terms of PC and console software sales, is still dominated by men. The mobile market is not the same market, nor is anyone talking about Candy Crush when the likes of Anita Sarkeesian are discussing sexist tropes in video games.
The reason the White Male Hero Archetype exists is twofold: knowing your audience, and knowing your critics.
1. Knowing Your Audience
Knowing your audience is as simple as knowing not only who plays games, but what games they play. If you’re marketing a game toward women, it’s going to be a simple or casual game. That’s why you can get your wife/girlfriend/sister/mom/grandma/daughter to play Angry Birds or last generation’s money printing machine, the Wii. A modern controller has nearly a dozen buttons, two joysticks and D pad. Wii remote? Three buttons and motion controls, appealing to the uninitiated.
The idea that men only want sex and violence in games is utter bullshit. Boys want sex and violence. It wasn’t men slamming quarters into Mortal Kombat, it was boys. Then those boys became men (or man-children, either way), and now they want tools. Load-out customization in Call of Duty is nothing more than a big toolbox. As you play, the toolbox gets bigger. Then it tells you, “Want to dump out the toolbox and put it all back in? We’ll give you a sticker showing the other men you had to dump it out.” It’s tools and meritocracy in one explosive package.
With that in mind, knowing what each sex wants, you need to create characters that appeal to them. Saying your character is white because your audience is white doesn’t really hold weight. Men play games, not just white men. So why does the protagonist have to be a white man? As I said above, it’s partly because video games began as a hobby for white men, but that’s only part of the explanation. This is where knowing your critics comes in.
2. Knowing Your Critics
To delve further into this, recall how the usual suspects reacted the usual way when Square Enix announced that in the Tomb Raider reboot, Lara Croft was going to survive an attempted rape.
My problem with Lara Croft is not that she’s a sexualized female character, it’s that she’s a bad character. She’s a Mary Sue killing machine, the same exact character who would be called an immature power fantasy if she were a man. Female power fantasy characters are worse than men because they attempt to masquerade without self-aware irony. Rubi Malone from Wet is a good example of doing a female character right.
The main issue with most female game characters is that they are always at one of two extremes: passivity or inhuman aggression. Developers are afraid of showing women not even necessarily as victims, but showing them in peril period. The handful of times they chuck this stupid fear, you get remarkable works such as Silent Hill 3 and Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
The moment in Tomb Raider where Lara is dropped into a kill or be killed situation is the crucial ingredient that makes her a complete character. Up until that point, she probably didn’t believe she could ever kill another human. Lara’s wrists are bound behind her back as she runs from her pursuers. One man sees her hiding and forces her out at gunpoint. He runs his hands down her sides and presses her back against the wall. He was probably licking her neck before she bit his.
Lara knocks him to the ground, making him drop the gun. After a struggle, she snaps her ropes and dives to get the gun first. Missing several times in a panic, he jumps on her and they struggle for supremacy. She wins, aiming the gun at his face and blowing half of it off.
Lara’s assailant hangs on just long enough for her to watch him die. His blood is splattered on her, he’s missing half of his face and she watches the light fade from the eye he still has. Lara reacts by falling to her knees in tears and dry heaving, but ultimately takes the gun with her. This reaction is not because she’s a woman, it’s because she’s not a sociopath. Every kill she commits in the game is because she needs to kill, not because she wants to.
SJWs argue that Lara was the victim in this scene. How anyone can come to that conclusion is beyond me. She’s not even the winner, she’s just the survivor. This scene didn’t play out the way it did because Lara was the victim; it played out because she refused to be the victim.
Let’s talk about the opening of a similar title, starring a white male: Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2: Amongst Thieves.
The game opens with a bullet in Nate’s gut. He’s scraped, battered, bruised, and just regaining consciousness. He’s sitting in a train car that’s dangling off a cliff. He barely manages to reach the top before it falls, and is battered even more as pieces of the train are still exploding and crashing into each other. He’s tossed around like a rag doll, and the blow that knocks him out again begins a flashback.
Not once does anyone think, “How terrible! Who would ever do this to a white man?”
That absence of an outcry is why the White Male Hero Archetype exists. You can do anything to that guy, and no one will call you a racist, or sexist, or what have you. If being called those things is the alternative, why would anyone ever create a character not in that mold and get rewarded for it by being called “hateful” by SJWs? Some developers are keeping their game’s target demographic in mind, and they’re smart to do so, but by in large, it’s just safer. Why risk creating a woman they’ll hate for anything?
Feminists, do you want to know why game developers don’t make more female characters?
Well, the reason is simple: it’s you.
Read More: True Equality Still Exists In Gaming