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Why are game devs so much more creative when making female protagonists than male ones?

Gamingtodaynews1f - Why are game devs so much more creative when making female protagonists than male ones?
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I was reading an article on Ubisoft saying female protagonists are risky to make, and there were commenters pointing out all the female characters which have been successful, and I noticed that they were all really varied. I then looked at the recent male characters and noticed that they were often… kind of samey.

I've listed all of the protagonists of games I've played where the character of that protagonist is significantly developed – mostly from the last five years or so. This list is not exhaustive, mainly because I haven't played every game. I also didn't include games where you can play either gender and the character is the same.

Here are our women

– Ellie – The Last of Us 2

– Abby – The Last of Us 2

– Jessie Faden – Control

– Amicia – A Plague Tale

– Senua – Hellblade

– Aloy – Horizon

– B2 – NieR Automata

– Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

– Max and Chloe – Life is Strange

– Evie Frye – Syndicate

– Kat – Gravity Rush 2

– Billie Lurk and Emily – Dishonored

– Nadine Ross and Chloe Frazer – Uncharted

When we look at this list, we have characters at a variety of age ranges and nationalities. They have extreme variety in their design and personalities. There is no set of traits which can be seen consistently throughout the list.

Now let's look at the men. And what we see is that a number of traits seem to appear over and over and over. In some cases, it's basically the same character. I've boiled down this character archetype to a number of traits – witty, tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, dismissive of personal care/looks/health. They also all seem to have one of three hair styles –
the classic crew cut 500x625 - Why are game devs so much more creative when making female protagonists than male ones?


a crew cut, shoulder length scraggly hair, or they're bald. Let's see how many male protagonists they apply to.

– Nathan Drake – Uncharted (witty, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, maverick, crew cut)

– Sam – Death Stranding (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, shoulder length scraggly hair)

– Kal – Fallen Order (masculine, square jawed, handsome, wants to escape his past, maverick, prefers to solve problems through violence, crew cut)

– BJ Blastowicz – Wolfenstein (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, prefers to solve problems through violence, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, crew cut)

– Arthur Morgan – Red Dead 2 (gruff, masculine, square jawed, middle aged, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, shoulder length scraggly hair)

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– Joel – The Last of Us (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, crew cut)

– Noctis – Final Fantasy XV (witty, maverick) probably one of the more deviant characters here

– Adam Jensen – Deus Ex (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, cold exterior with a heart of gold, solitary, maverick, bearded, crew cut)

– Geralt – Witcher 3 (witty, tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, shoulder length scraggly hair)

– Batman – Arkham games (witty, tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, prefers to solve problems through violence, crew cut)

– Booker Dewitt – Bioshock Infinite (witty, tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, crew cut)

– Captain Price and Alex – Modern Warfare 2019 (I haven't played this game but from the little I've seen, these two characters hit more than a few of those points, crew cut)

– Peter Parker – Spider Man (witty, masculine, square jawed, handsome, muscular, maverick, crew cut) one of the few explicitly 'nice' characters on this list

– Talion – Middle Earth (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, shoulder length scraggly hair)

– Sean – Life is Strange 2 (probably the most unconventional protagonist on this list)

– Corvo – Dishonored (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, solitary, maverick, prefers to solve problems through violence, dismissive of personal care/looks/health, shoulder length scraggly hair)

– Kratos – God of War (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, bald)

– Bayek – AC Origins (tight lipped, gruff, masculine, square jawed, handsome, middle aged, muscular, father, wants to escape his past, cold exterior with a heart of gold, easily angered, solitary, maverick, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, shoulder length scraggly hair AND bald)

– Jacob Frye – Syndicate (witty, masculine, square jawed, handsome, muscular, easily angered, maverick, bearded, prefers to solve problems through violence, shoulder length scraggly hair)

There are outliers, but a lot of them share a lot of their core character traits, in a way that female characters don't.

Why is this? Why are video game writers so much less creative with their male leads? You would expect that since it's seen as 'less risky' to have a male lead, they would feel more free to vary them up. But it seems to be the opposite.

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