As a male gamer, I tend to explore areas where power in games feels great. The challenge becomes less of a hassle, and I can breeze through all the gritty fluff every 2 or 3 minutes I progress through the game. There’s something that certain players feel when they can dominate the space and proclaim victory by the merit of their skills. They’re the top man of the hour or session.
So how come with games like The Last of Us Part II, Bayonetta 2, and Metroid: Other M some male gamers want to crucify and scream about the women in these games in a negative way? They classify Samus as a monotonous, weak bounty hunter who followed her ex-captain’s orders. They focus on Bayonetta’s sexualized movements in the game as being overexaggerated to the point where the title “stripper” was applied. This year with Abby in The Last of Us Part II, some players hated her build and attacked the voice actor and other actors in the game because of their displeasure and discomfort that a woman can have a body shape built like that.
It’s weird to me because these fictional ladies have developed and own their power. It’s confusing to hear the arguments about Abby but not a word about Estel in Streets of Rage 4 (I love her design and way of fighting). Some male gamers still have the belief that a male protagonist should have overall power and a small number of females should not be able to showcase any power unless it’s an unexpected rescue/heal plot point twist.
This gets a little more confusing when males dress up like Princess Peach/Toadstool. They have that right and freedom, and she is an icon when it comes to this community. Doing it just for laughs, however, or just thinking this is an idea of supporting women may lead to some discussion. Don’t get me wrong: if they have a love for Peach and dressing up as her in various ways expresses their creativity, they should go for it. Even Samus and Bayonetta cosplays are welcome for anyone. I just hope when it is executed, the power these ladies have is appreciated and valued.
The LGBTQ community (and this bisexual gamer himself) sees feeling powerful as feeling free. It erases our fears and worries and sometimes awakens something within us. Seeing Abby break necks, being fearless, and doing what she does showcases how believing in a goal will take work—and not just with death and stealth. It’s feeling fearless to let no one take you down. It’s that kind of power.
Samus Aran, who has been on countless bounty missions, finally was given some humanity in Metroid: Other M. Regardless of how you feel about the game itself, overcoming the fear and trials when it’s time to whoop tail while taking the task head on is powerful. Team Ninja helped that visualization. Staying silent like she used to with only a little text here and there doesn’t help bring that power. Yes, the gameplay and fighting are the focus, but allowing her to show personality made her even more excellent. Zero Suit Samus in Smash is my main because of how she seems more alive due to Other M.
Bayonetta herself just owns. With her devil-may-care attitude and naughtiness with the angels and demons, she doesn’t care about what people think. To really understand her nature outside of cutscenes, learn her move set and see if you can destroy enemies. Her power comes from your learning her move list with various weapons and how you inflict that pain. By the time you try to cry about her swinging around and posing, you’ll be too busy dodging, jumping, inserting combo button presses, timing, shooting, juggling, and more. All that work to be powerful? Yes. A lot of us claimed her as an icon due to Bayonetta 2.
In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Young Impa is a force to be reckoned with. Tifa in Final Fantasy VII bodies fools. Claire and Jill cap zombies with the best of them in the Resident Evil series. Kait packs a punch in Gears 5. You also have Gris bringing beauty to the land. Toadette solves puzzles to progress. Katrielle Layton does detective work, and many other females display their powers in multiple games.
As we soon head into 2021, let us celebrate more female empowerment and hope that more women and women of color in games show that your gender shouldn’t hinder how strong you are and can become. It should be influential and accepted. That’s a power worth owning.