Creating character: customisation in video games

Each of us are attracted to different things in video games. Whether it’s open-world exploration in RPGs, massive weapons in FPS releases or special moves in fighting games, there’s always an element unique to a genre which draws us towards our preferred type.

But there’s one feature which has gradually been introduced across many of them over the years and is now a staple of gaming: the character-creation screen. Customisation options now seem to be available in most new releases regardless of genre. They might be simple decisions such as hair-style and t-shirt colour; or they could be at the other end of the spectrum, where a long list of sliders allow you to adjust every aspect of your protagonist’s appearance.

So why do we make the choices we do? Sometimes it has nothing to with visuals at all and our decisions are instead based on the fact that being a High Elf gives you increased magika regeneration and destructive powers. But it’s interesting to look at those options which are purely cosmetic and have no effect on gameplay to find out why people have picked them. Research has shown that it’s often about building a representation of a ‘better’ version of ourselves, whatever we perceive that to be.

The subject of character creation came up in one of our streams a couple of weeks ago. My other-half is currently taking part in a series of ‘master classes’, where a friend joins him each week to guide him through a game he has never played before. In Twitch chat one evening, Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes suggested he prepare for their upcoming Monster Hunter: World session by getting his avatar ready beforehand in case he wanted to spend some time looking at the various customisation options.

I had to laugh when Frosti said this. It’s very rare that Pete throws anything more than a cursory glance at such things; he’s more likely to click on the ‘randomise appearance’ button and go with whatever comes up first so he can get into the gameplay as quickly as possible. When he does spend any amount of time on his character, he’ll choose an appearance which is very different to his own – although he’ll usually pick a male human protagonist, unless another race gives him a desired buff.

I’ve noticed that this affects how he handles his character in-game too. He’s one of the kindest people I know in real-life, is very protective of his family and friends, and has a soft-spot when it comes to animals. Stick him in a video game however and that all goes out the window. His character will be the most likely to double-cross the NPCs, blow up their spouse and hunt down defenceless creatures for fun (regular viewers of our streams will all be aware of Rubbish Dog).

I’m the total opposite of Pete when it comes to the character creation screen. I’ll spend ages getting each slider just right and trying to make my avatar look as much like me as possible (but with a post-lockdown haircut rather than the mop I’m currently sporting). I’ll always choose a female protagonist when I get the option and can’t think of anything worse than the ‘randomise appearance’ button or having to resort to picking an outfit which doesn’t conform to my taste in clothes.

As for my in-game behaviour, that’s different to how my other-half acts too. I’ll always try to imagine myself in each situation and base my choices on what I would do in real-life. Performing a completely aggressive or reckless action in a video game is rare because I’ll always think about what the consequences could be first and I prefer to stick to the paragon route. The only time I can remember doing something ‘bad’ was in Life is Strange, where I made a certain choice at the end because Chloe was annoying me.

DJ from Overpowered replied to my recent Twitter poll saying that they make their characters as different from themselves as possible, and don’t understand why some players want their protagonist to represent themselves. I guess everyone has their own reasons but it’s to do with both challenge and escapism for me. I want to see what I would do when confronted with an end-of-world scenario and whether I’d be up to the test – as well as experiencing a situation I’m never going to see in the real world.

Whereas Pete and I will always pick someone who’s of the same sex as ourselves, friend-of-the-blog Phil usually chooses female characters. He wrote in a post back in August 2019 that male leads are more typical and, in his opinion, ‘the boring option when it comes to creating compelling protagonists’. This point-of-view filters through to his race class too: I’ve played a lot of World of Warcraft (WoW) and The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) with Phil and I’ve never once seen him select a human.

Asked whether his character preferences affected his in-game behaviour, he said: “I continue to make choices I would in real-life, definitely. Character choice appeals to me more in games where they play an active role in the story and cutscenes, such as in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with Eivor because she’s a fully voiced and developed character. I find it more interesting to pick that option over the decades-long stereotype of the macho male hero. With a game such as ESO, I don’t really care because it’s purely visual and the avatar has no character in the game, if that makes sense?”

The most popular answer in my Twitter poll was ‘somewhere in the middle’ with almost 40% of the votes (at the time of writing). The people who responded tend to make characters who are somewhere between looking like themselves and being completely different, with several friends telling me they go for visuals over anything else. This goes back to what was mentioned at the start of this post: research has shown that we like to make protagonists who we perceive to be a ‘better’ version.

In an interview with Game Informer in June 2015, former research scientist Nick Yee explained that players create idealised versions of themselves by minimising their physical flaws and maintaining the illusion of themselves as the game’s protagonist. He also talked about ‘the Proteus effect’, a phenomenon which occurs when someone is assigned an avatar that looks different from themselves: “They conform to that avatar’s stereotypical behaviour and attitude.”

Regardless of what type of protagonist you wish to create, research has proven that being able to customise your appearance within a video game leads to increased satisfaction and a willingness to play it again. That’s good news for developers who need to attract people to their game, publishers who want to sell it and players who are looking to lose themselves in a digital world. This probably explains why character creation screens are now popping up in all sorts of genres.

What about you? What type of protagonist do you want to be?

VA11 Hall-A: a story within a story

After COVID-19 scuppered my plans to meet up with Luke from Hundstrasse in March, we decided to send each other the most bizarre retro games we could find. This was the start of the game-swap and I went on to complete more exchanges with other bloggers.

I recently finished my fourth and although our choices weren’t entirely to each other’s taste, it’s been a pleasure collaborating with Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes. I found this the hardest game-swap so far in terms of picking a title for him because his gaming preferences are quite far removed from my own. In the end, Pete wanted to send him Maize because he thought Frosti would find it funny; but I also gifted him Paradigm as a little extra, because I thought he’d enjoy its offensive humour. You can find out what he thought about the games here.

In return I received VA11 Hall-A (pronounced ‘Valhalla’), described as a ‘booze-‘em-up about waifus, technology and post-dystopia life’ by Sukeban Games. It was a release I vaguely recognised from an appearance in my Steam discovery queue but hadn’t played before and so was up for giving it a go. Pete on the other hand wasn’t so enthusiastic: although he can appreciate a good story, he prefers more action than visual novels provide and so I took the controls for this game-swap.

It takes place in a future where corporations reign supreme, all human life is infected with nanomachines designed to control, and the terrifying White Knights ensure that everyone obeys the law. But it’s not about these people and is a far more personal tale: players step into the shoes of a 27-year old bartender named Jill who works at VA11 Hall-A in Glitch City. Although it’s just a small bar downtown, it attracts some of the most fascinating clientele who may be willing to share their stories if you keep them lubricated.

Instead of steering the direction of the narrative through dialogue in the way that normally happens in visual novels, here you do so by selecting which drinks to serve to your clients. They’ll directly tell you what they want most of the time but at others, it’s a puzzle: they might ask for something sweet or cold, or even a cocktail that uses a certain amount of ingredients. All recipes can be found in your handy tablet at the top of the screen where drinks are sorted by name, flavour and type.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to serve them their exact order though. For example, if a character is feeling down and asks for a certain drink, you can decide to serve them their favourite cocktail instead in the hope of getting a better reaction. You can also add more Karmotrine to the mix to get them drunk quicker (even though a bartender giving someone more alcohol than they asked for does seem a bit questionable). As you get to know your clients well enough to know what to serve, the experience becomes more intimate.

VA11 Hall-A, video game, bar, Streaming-chan, Dorothy Haze

Is it fun though? Well, it is for a few hours at least. The intervals at which these drink-mixing sections came up felt natural and didn’t interfere with the flow of the conversations, but I eventually found myself trying to get through the orders as quickly as possible because the gameplay was starting to become routine. The same drinks were being requested by different clients repeatedly – so frequently in fact that I can still remember their recipes several weeks later.

I’m not ashamed to say that I ended up turning to a walkthrough, but it wasn’t just to help me speed though the sections I didn’t enjoy. As I got to know my clients, I wanted to make sure I served the right drink to the right person at the right time so they would tell me their troubles because these are the parts of VA11 Hall-A which are the most interesting. The post-dystopian world that the bar exists in and the characters who frequent it are far more engrossing than the drink-mixing itself.

Let’s start with Dorothy. She’s a DFC-72 class Lilim, an autonomous humanoid robot designed to be highly modifiable and classified for specialising in ‘social interactions’. It’s immediately obvious from talking to her just what kind of interactions these are because she isn’t embarrassed by her profession and makes no attempt to hide it. The fact that she’s a prostitute who looks far younger than she is can be rather off-putting, but there’s more to this character than it first seems.

Then there’s Streaming-chan, a minor online celebrity who hasn’t have any qualms with streaming the entirety of her life 24-hours a day – and that includes ‘bathroom time and naughty moments’ for Premium subscribers who are happy to pay $99.99 a month. This character is used to provide social commentary but it’s done in a way where it’s not shoved in your face, and there’s an interesting moment towards the end of the game where she’s asked to consider why her viewers watch her.

You can probably tell from these two clients alone that a lot of innuendo and suggestive remarks are used throughout VA11 Hall-A. These come from characters of all genders and orientations so there’s a good deal of representation here and, because such conversations are taking place in a bar which serves alcohol, they don’t feel completely out of place. I can see how some of the discussions and the frequency at which sex is mentioned could make some players feel uncomfortable though.

For example, the subject changed abruptly during one conversation and a friend’s breast size started being compared to others. Then in another, it’s discovered that another customer has been hiring Dorothy to pretend to be his daughter once a year (although it’s not confirmed whether this contract is sexual in nature). And then there’s the moment where we find out a friend celebrated her 21st birthday by going to a bar with her father and pretending to date him. These were all moments that caught me off-guard and left me scratching my head.

But persevere through the drink-mixing puzzles and sexual innuendos, and you’ll find a game with plenty of heart and personality. I loved the atmosphere inside VA11 Hall-A, helping Jill overcome her inner demons and getting to know the people on the other side of the bar. Despite the situations described in that last paragraph, their lines are almost always incredibly natural – it feels as though you could be talking to a real person rather than a video game character.

What the title doesn’t have though is a clear story-arc and the lack of a definitive climax may leave those who enjoy a good narrative unfulfilled (no pun intended). Imagine an action-packed science-fiction tale set in a dystopian future, about a corrupt police-force who are destroyed when their secrets are leaked from the servers of a bank after a raid. Then imagine that around the corner from that bank is a small bar which serves cocktails. That’s VA11 Hall-A, a story within a story.

VA11 Hall-A, video game, bedroom, phone, Jo

As Frosti said himself: “It’s more about the journey than the ending.” Because you’re not involved in the bigger situation going on in Glitch City, it feels more personal and realistic. You don’t need to save the world – you just need to go to work, pay your bills and take care of your cat. And maybe make a few lives a bit brighter by serving drinks and having a conversation.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)

Competition and curses: a parents’ responsibility

Video games have been a positive force during the COVID-19 lockdown here in the UK. As well as being entertainment during additional free hours, they’ve given me the chance to keep in touch with friends and hang out with them online.

Because of this, any negative aspects hadn’t crossed my mind and so receiving an email with the subject THESE Gamers Are The Most Antagonistic recently was something of a comedown. Commissioned by a resource for fans of online slot machines (I have absolutely no idea how I ended up on that random distribution list), the report tried to discover which gamers were the most aggressive and unfriendly according to their platform of choice and preferred multiplayer title.

I’m going to point out here that I’m not entirely comfortable with this company’s business or how they collected their data and so I’ve chosen not to link to them. They utilised Google search volume tools to find the number of people looking to report users in connection with the 42 most popular online games over the past 12 months, before asking almost 2,000 gamers around the world a series of somewhat leading questions: for example, ‘Have you had your day ruined by other online gamers?’

Despite my reservations and the fact the findings should be taken with a pinch of salt, they’re interesting. It appears Xbox users are more hostile than PlayStation owners as there are 1,080 more searches annually from them looking to report others for bad behaviour. To quote the report: “There are hundreds of online complaints about users who seek to anger others through Xbox Live chats. On average, each year there are 166,920 searches from players looking to complain or report other Xbox Live accounts.”

The thing that caught my attention though was the list of top-ten titles with the most antagonistic players. Somewhat unsurprisingly thanks to it being free and attracting huge fan-base, in first place was Fortnite: “There are countless stories from innocent users who claim that fellow Fortnite players ruin the game by citing abusive and toxic language. Each month there are 3,750 searches from players looking to report one another for hostile behaviour – that’s equivalent to 45,000 each year!”

Other releases that made the list included Roblox, Overwatch, Minecraft and Rocket League. These are all games either previously or currently played by my teenaged stepson and, according to Ethan, most of the boys in his year at school spend their free time hanging out with each other in them online. Regardless of whether these kids are the ones doing the reporting or contributing to the vitriol, I wonder how involved the parents are in their gaming lives and to what extent they’re aware of what’s going on.

We had a recent experience ourselves, which some people may already know about after we shared the story during a stream. Ethan doesn’t realise how loud he gets when he’s on his Xbox but the bonus of this is that Pete and I can hear everything going on without having to snoop on him. One evening while playing Overwatch with his friends, we caught him using the term ‘slut’ to refer to who he believed to be a female player on the opposite team – and he was busted for it over dinner.

He mentioned their handle when we asked why he thought this other player was female, so we explained to him that judging someone on their name was wrong and could lead to discrimination. Ethan’s excuse for his conduct was that he ‘only said it so his team could hear’ and ‘everyone else was saying it’ but we told him this wasn’t any sort of justification. Saying derogatory things like that wouldn’t only cause others to look at him in a certain light but could also encourage them to adopt or continue the same inappropriate behaviour.

It was when I asked him how he’d feel if someone online called me a slut that the point really hit home and he apologised. We then went on to discuss how trash-talking is often a part of online gaming, but you can be competitive and still be respective of the people you’re playing with. Personal attacks are just a nasty reflection of your own poor skills and, if you see a player struggling with the game, isn’t it better to offer them some friendly advice to help them improve?

Duane from Bar Harikuya published a great post last month which, while being about a different subject, contains a point which is very relevant here. He said: “It only becomes a problem because of poor education, and by that, I don’t mean at school (though there’s still room for improvement there), I mean the education that they receive from the environment they live in… You might say kids will be kids, but if I’d have ever heard any of my kids use homophonic, sexist or racist slurs I would be sure to educate them on why that’s not acceptable.”

If you have young children and decide to let them play video games, it’s your responsibility to educate them on how to use them responsibly. This includes teaching your kids that games don’t always have to be about violence and explosions; that it isn’t necessary to be a ‘perfect gamer’ in terms of skill if you’re having fun; and why inclusivity in gaming can only be a good thing. And it most certainly covers how to behave respectfully towards others in online multiplayer games.

I can’t in good conscience say that the findings of the report above are accurate, but they do show that an awful lot of people have tried to find out how to report others for toxic behaviour over the past year. Whether that’s because they’ve been the subject of hostility themselves or they’re considering making a fake report out of aggression, it doesn’t really matter: what’s important here is that none of us need that kind of negativity in our lives right now.

We’ve been in and out of lockdown for almost nine months in the UK, and our nerves are frayed due to how tired we are with the situation. We’re all looking for ways to pick ourselves back up by bringing positive moments into our lives and for many of us, that involves gaming. Video games should always be a source of entertainment, relaxation, joy and friendship – not an online world someone is afraid to enter because they’re worried about the sort of treatment they’ll find there.

The next time you or your kid pick up the controller for a match, remind them and yourself that it’s within your power to put a smile on the face of someone else online through your behaviour. And if we can all achieve that, then these current times will be a little bit easier for everyone.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)

Insomnia: male and pale

My first time at the Insomnia Gaming Festival was I61 in August 2017. My stepson had an excellent time as he had the chance to see one of his favourite YouTubers back then, but my other-half and I were left feeling slightly uncomfortable.

The entire hour that DanTDM was on stage was nothing but a merch-fest, with the constant plugs for tickets for his tour, his DVD, his book, his exclusive Insomnia t-shirts and stationery – and just how awesome all this stuff was – becoming draining.

Insomnia63, video games, Fortnite

Ethan wanted to go again because he’d enjoyed himself so much, so it was with some apprehension that we returned for I63 in August 2018. The thing that struck us this time was just how young all the ‘special guests’ were; the meet-and-greet stands we passed seemed to be manned by kids who were barely into their teens and should probably have been sorting out homework ready for a return to school the following month. There was also the fact that if you weren’t interested in playing Fortnite, there wasn’t an awful lot to do.

Despite not liking battle-royale games, not being interested in any of the YouTubers there, and not particularly enjoying the six-hour round-trip to the NEC in Birmingham, it’s highly likely my stepkid would say yes when asked if he wanted to go to the next event in April. But I think we’ll be giving the upcoming I64 a miss after seeing Insomnia’s announcement about their lineup earlier this month, and I’m not sure we’ll be going back for at least a few years.

On 03 February 2019, the following message appeared on the Facebook page: “FINAL YOUTUBER ANNOUNCEMENT! We are thrilled to announce our final YouTuber to appear at Insomnia this April will be DAGames! Are you just as excited as we are to welcome all these amazing YouTubers to the festival?!” In case you haven’t already seen the stars that make up the headline, let’s take a quick look at their stats and see if we can see any similarities.

Name Age Sex Ethnic origin Subscribers
Pyrocynical 21 Male White British 2.9M
Syndicate 24 Male White British 9.9M
NerdOut! Music Unable to confirm Male Unable to confirm 2.3M
Dangthatsalongname 23 Male White British 505K
ImAllexx 20 Male White British 1.2M
James Marriott 21 Male White British 532K
SeaPeeKay 26 Male White British 558K
8-BitGaming 24 and 25 Male White British 1M
DAGames 26 Male White American 1.3M

All men and, for those I could confirm, all in their 20s and almost all white British. So the answer to Insomnia’s question above about whether I’m ‘excited to welcome all these amazing YouTubers to the festival’ is a definite no. Not only do I have no idea who any of these people are except for one (and that’s because he was involved in the CSGO Lotto scandal a couple of years back), there seems to be a distinct lack of stars who aren’t male or pale – and that’s just stale and one big fail.

Right, enough of the bad rhymes and time to wonder if Insomnia has always had such a diversity issue. I can’t say I noticed this at the two events we attended, but we went to I61 solely for DanTDM and didn’t pay attention to any of the stars at I63. I tried to check past years’ lineups for a comparison but couldn’t find a definitive record; however, from the information available online, it does seem as if a lot of the headliners were young white males who had appeared at the event at least once previously.

I know there will be some who read this post and think: “Yeah, but the most popular YouTubers are white men.” Firstly ‘no’, and secondly ‘so?’ Not that I watch any of them myself, but a quick Google search reveals a number of other creators with more followers than some of the stars included in that table above. And even if that wasn’t the case, Insomnia has a huge public presence and voice; it’s the perfect platform for promoting diversity within gaming and offering attendees the chance to see stars from all different backgrounds.

Insomnia, video games, DanTDM

There’ll also be some who read this post and think: “You don’t even go to Insomnia for the headliners so why are you bothering to write this?” I care because I have an 11-year old stepson who’s all about YouTube and has recently started coming to expos with us, as is the case for many other children of a similar age. Taking them to events where they only see young white men up on stage reinforces the incorrect idea that gaming is a male-dominated community and that you have to conform to make it big in the industry.

As mentioned above, we’ve taken the decision to not attend I64 in April and it’s possible we won’t go back for several years. I’ve heard that the event can be fun if you get yourself a BYOC ticket and join in with the LAN party and camping, and it’s something my other-half is keen on doing at some point. However, as you have to be over 16 it’s not possible to bring Ethan right now; and it seems pretty mean to hand him over to one of the grandparents for the weekend while we go and have all the gaming fun without him.

(He probably won’t want to come with us when he reaches age however, because what teenager wants to be seen dead with their parents? But considering the weekend would cost over £400 for the three of us – and that’s without travel or food – that might be a very good thing.)

I’ll leave you now with a quote from the event’s website: “Insomnia Gaming Festival is a diverse and community-led event containing content that is relevant to gamers, millennials and fans of popular culture.” Yeah.

Kitacon 2017: body confidence in cosplay

While my other-half and I were at Kitacon this past weekend, we attended a panel entitled Body Confidence in Cosplay. Neither of us are cosplayers ourselves but after overhearing someone say that ‘cosplay is for skinny girls’, it’s a subject that has resonated with me. We could all do with a little more confidence in ourselves and support from others.

We expected to go to a panel which promoted self-confidence and feeling good about yourself in your costume. We wanted the host to tell us it’s ok to not look like the stick-thin models we see in magazines and on television, and inspire everybody in the audience to feel comfortable in their own skin. We thought we’d leave the room empowered, and believing we could take on any cosplay outfit and absolutely rock it.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. What we got instead was a half-hour session on how to make costumes to hide the bits of your body you don’t like, cover up scars and get skin treatment, and that it’s ok to manipulate your photographs if you feel the need to.

The host deserves respect for being brave enough to step forward when the Kitacon organisers asked for volunteers to host a panel. Public-speaking isn’t something everyone is able to do but he had the balls to stand up in front of a room full of strangers, provide advice and share his personal stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were presenters who pulled out at the last moment due to stage-fright so much kudos to him for doing it.

I’m just not convinced the message above was the right one to send, particularly the presentation slide that included the words ‘don’t be afraid to use Photoshop if you want to’. Alterations made through applications like this can have a negative effect on both the person in the photograph and others who see it, setting unrealistic expectations for body-image and making us all feel horrible in our own skin.

I totally get it: in 2017 we should have finally learnt to be more accepting of one another regardless of our size, shape or sex (or anything else for that matter) but sadly that’s still not the case. Unachievable standards put forward by the beauty industry and hostility from others puts us all under pressure to change the way we look and present a ‘better’ version of ourselves online.

Kitacon, cosplay, masquerade

But diversity is a thing that should be celebrated, not something that’s ridiculed or used for ammunition. Instead of using material, makeup and image-manipulation to cover up our flaws, shouldn’t we learn to embrace our imperfections and reject the standards that push us to edit ourselves? If we begin to do this and encourage those around us to do the same, unachievable definitions of ‘beauty’ will slowly transform into something more positive.

It would have been good to see a panel at Kitacon that promoted diversity and an uplifting message. That’s not to say the host didn’t offer some good advice though and some of his ‘final thoughts’ are definitely worth highlighting here. As said on one of his slides, cosplay is all about having fun and you don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with; and at the end of the day, we’re all amazing just the way we are.

Game on, little sister

At last month’s GEEK expo in Margate, Replay Events converted the Hall by the Sea into a retro gaming heaven. It was good to see older gamers smile at the classics from their childhood while their young kids picked up the controllers with the same level of enthusiasm.

While my stepson was taking on my other-half at Street Fighter, I noticed a family standing nearby. The son was competing in a Halo tournament as his parents looked on; and his younger sister had decided to sit down as a nearby PlayStation while they waited for him. She was happily playing Street Fighter V and had set up a match between R. Mika and Cammy when I saw her.

GEEK, expo, convention, video games, girl, Street Fighter, monitors, PlayStation

On one hand, this was lovely to witness: it was obvious the family had got their GEEK tickets primarily for the son, but the daughter was getting stuck in too. She didn’t care who was watching, or that she was a girl, or any of that other stuff which usually bothers you when you’re eight-years old. She was simply there to play and you could tell she was having a good time doing so.

On the other hand however, it kind of struck me that the only female characters she had to choose from were all of a particular… type. She clearly wanted to play as someone the same sex as herself and her options were limited: did she go for a wrestler whose special moves made her butt the centre of attention; or a member of the British special forces team whose thong looked as if it was about to cut her in half at any moment?

The situation made me realise just how few female role models – and even fewer appropriate ones – we had to choose from in video games when I was a kid. It wasn’t a reflection on Street Fighter alone; the then-iterations of the helpless Princess Peach and triangular Lara Croft weren’t particularly better than the scantily-clad fighters. If girls wanted to game back then, the most they could hope for was a protagonist who either needed a man to rescue her or who showed a certain amount of butt-cheek while wielding her weapon.

There are many gamers out there who say that we haven’t progressed far from this point, and even more bloggers who still write about poor depictions of females in video games and other forms of media. It’s not that I disagree entirely; show me a protagonist like Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, or tell me that a character has been removed from Assassin’s Creed Unity because she’s too hard to animate, and I’m going to get as irate as the next woman.

Horizon Zero Dawn, video game, female, woman, character, warrior, mountain, view

But sometimes you need to take a step back to see what’s been achieved, even when there’s still so far to go. In a recent post about cosplay I wrote that diversity is everywhere in gaming today. Characters such as Krem from Dragon Age: Inquisition, Faith from the Mirror’s Edge series, and Lee Everett from The Walking Dead are pushing the boundaries and giving us ever more to look forward to.

Yes, there’s still work to be done. But knowing that little girl at the GEEK expo will grow up knowing some amazing female protagonists, while depictions like those in Street Fighter V will become relics of the past, is a pretty great thought.

Game on, little sister.