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34 Cliches of Christmas
Women Are Completely Helpless
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 02, 2007   |   Episode 11 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at the video game cliche, the type of thing we've seen time and time again in all generations of gaming. Is this cliche realistic? Does it need to go away? These are the types of questions Defunct Games will be asking over the next month. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 34 Cliches of Christmas!



I have a feeling that this fake Yorda could do a better job of helping this poor and pathetic ICO lookalike!
As Seen In: Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Viewtiful Joe, Hudson's Adventure Island, ICO, Kung Fu, Donkey Kong, Prince of Persia and a lot of other sexist video games.

What Is It? It's the most basic storyline of them all, heroic man saves the damsel in distress and everybody lives happily ever after. The only problem is that it sometimes feels like every game is using that boring old story. Judging from the last thirty years of video games, women are generally regarded as the helpless gender, while their male counterparts has all the coolest weapons and best luck (not to mention unlimited continues). Unfortunately this sexist cliche seems to find its way into just about every adventure game, no matter what part of the world it comes from. And it's not just classic games that are guilty of this misogynistic practice, just look at new entries in the Zelda and Mario franchises, not to mention games like ICO and Viewtiful Joe. The truth is that there are countless examples of game developers taking the lazy way out and just making it a game where you have to save your weakling girlfriend, how passe.


Oh Princess Zelda, while I want to love you as a character I have to wonder if you're worth all the trouble of rescuing you game after game after game!
Is It Realistic? Physically speaking most women are not as muscular than their male counterparts, but then again this is a video game we're talking about. There's no reason that a well-toned female warrior can't do just as much ass-kicking as the male protagonist. Heck, I'll be the first to admit that I've dated a few girls that could probably have beaten me up if they wanted to. Regardless of what that says about me, this cliche is both unrealistic and part of an old way of thinking. There once was a time when men were expected to be dominate and helpful, but today's woman is just as ready to take charge and do the right thing if given the chance. Couple this cliche with the unnaturally large breasts and it's no wonder the average woman doesn't play video games. Nobody is saying that woman have to be the lead of every game, but the world would be a better place if heroic men didn't have to bother themselves with killing some sorcerer to save the fair maiden.

Is It Overused? Thankfully there are some exceptions to the women are weak rule. Games like Tomb Raider, Beyond Good & Evil and Eternal Darkness proved that you could have a fully realized female character that wasn't timid, fussy and always afraid of getting her hands dirty. There's no reason why we can't continue to have these positive female role models in modern games. But this cliche has got to go. Not only is it condescending to the modern woman, but it's also a lazy writing plot that no self-respecting writer should stoop to. The least these writers can do is be creative, so enough with the trite boy saves girl approach to video game plots.

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