By Davyon Johnson
So recently I bumped into a thought when I was asked a question by a friend while playing the video game Assassin's Creed Valhalla. During the prologue of the game you begin as a kid named Eivor, who is the default character of choice during this specific segment of the game. But after completing the introduction of the game, unlike most games, you are given 3 choices: female Eivor, male Eivor, and the Animus option. I proceeded with the male Eivor, and then my friend asked me if I always choose the male option. My response was something along the lines of, “yea I guess...?”
Not long after, I thought about what is that makes me choose the male option most of the time when given the option. But more importantly, how sexist is the gaming world? If I were not given the choice to be male Eivor and instead only had the option of the female Eivor, would I have had the same immersive experience in this game? And vice versa, if a female is only given the option to be the male Eivor, does this affect the immersion and experience for that person?
So before getting deeper into the evolution of sexism in the video game industry, I want to first talk a bit about why I choose the male option almost 100% of the time, if given the option. So as a male I see it as me being as immersive and creative with my gaming experience based on my background in gaming. Some of my favorite childhood games Like Tak, Star Fox, and Dragonball Sagas, were pretty much the games I was introduced to, and of course the default character was mostly males or an animal of some sort.
Although over time more games were being published with females as the main character, games like Wet, Mirror's Edge, and Tomb Raider were all games that I fell in love with as well, but I’d assume that those earlier games really set a tone as to what I’d expect from a main protagonist. Now don’t get me wrong here, I love playing some of our best games yet with female protagonists, like Hellblade, Nier Automata, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, which are all games I highly enjoy. But if given the option I will most likely choose the male protagonist.
Now setting all that aside, I believe the gaming industry has had an extremely positive impact against sexism in the past few years. Especially in 2020, many new games gave a lot of control to the player’s character creation and choosing their gender in game. In fact there were so many games that gave that freedom, like Fall Guys, Bless Unleashed, Genshin Impact, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Nioh 2, and even if it was an extreme disappointment, Cyberpunk 2077. This game gave you full control over every aspect of your character and I would have to place this as one of the most in depth character creations ever made in gaming history.
The gaming industry is constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to including the community. The same goes with sexism; it has evolved in a way that diminishes any possible accusations that one could give in the state that the current generation of games are in. Even when games are focused on one gender alone, female or male, the gaming community and the immersiveness of these games makes anyone who is playing video games feeling so welcomed and appreciated.