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by G. Christopher Williams

14 Dec 2011


The standard hullabaloo has, of course, arrived following the release of the trailer for Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V.  One bit of disappointment that some fans expressed in seeing the video for the first time was the implication that the game will feature a standard male lead in this upcoming GTA.  Just before the trailer was released, rumors swirled around the internet that this iteration of GTA might feature a female protagonist, something that no GTA up to now (and really no other open world crime game, barring Saints Row—sort of—but more on that in a moment) had done. 

Actually the rumors have not abated in some circles that a playable female character may still exist in the forthcoming game, as a number of folks have suggested that the absence of the male protagonist in some scenes in the trailer might suggest that this GTA might also feature the story of multiple protagonists.  Some of these folks are still holding out hope that one of these speculative protagonists might be a woman.

Now, this is a notion that I myself have floated before—that it might be interesting for a GTA game to feature a female protagonist.  However, I am also a little skeptical that a reasonably well defined female protagonist might be written for an open world crime game.  Indeed, the one effort that I can think of to do so, in the Saints Row series, is to me a clear failure of imagination and might speak a bit to the problem of creating a female anti-hero within this particular genre construct.

by G. Christopher Williams

30 Nov 2011


Last year it was 2s.  This year it’s 3s.

Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Saints Row: The Third, Uncharted 3 . . . And then, of course, there’s just a lot of other franchise entries, like Batman: Arkham City or, say, Need for Speed: The Run.

by G. Christopher Williams

23 Nov 2011


A feature abandoned in Grand Theft Auto IV, sex appeal was a quality that was represented by a meter in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  The meter measured the sex appeal of the protagonist of that game, CJ Johnson, which was a quality that the player could alter through the manipulation of various stereotypical representations of his avatar.

The better dressed that CJ was, the higher his sex appeal meter.  Likewise, a sex appeal bonus boosted the stat temporarily when CJ exited cars.  Exiting a pick up truck would fail to impress the opposite sex much.  However, pick up a date in a sports car, and you could expect a favorable response to the character.

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Nov 2011


If video games often tell the story of the boy saving the girl (from another castle, from a very large ape, or whatever) by allowing the player to take on that gendered role of hero and protagonist, it does raise the question of what the end goal of a player taking on the role of the girl in this oft told scenario should be.

And, of course, it might also imply that the role of the girl in this scenario is to be taken.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 Nov 2011


Kirk Hamilton’s article on Batman: Arkham City and his perception that the word “bitch” is overused by the game’s various thugs and villains has (among other essays concerned with Arkham City‘s approach to women) been making the rounds for a couple of weeks now to both positive and negative response.

Hamilton’s essay is thoughtful and not especially knee-jerk in its consideration of the game’s events and dialogue.  For instance, he writes:

As you make your way around Arkham, you’ll overhear goons from the various factions talking about current events, and every time they talk about Harley Quinn, the B-word gets dropped at least once. Often more than once. “That bitch,” “That crazy bitch,” etc.
To those playing the game: it’s weird, right? Batman: Arkham Asylum‘s Weird ‘Bitch’ Fixation”, Kotaku, 19 October 2011).

While Hamilton seems to want to pose a rhetorical question, I think that it is at least a legitimate question and one that is more open for consideration, perhaps, than a rhetorical question should be.  In answering that question for myself: no, I’m not sure that I immediately feel that it is as weird as he does.  While I think that I essentially agree with his point that “there’s a fine line between edgy dialogue and forced, angry overkill” in fiction, I don’t think that those who argue that convicts and super criminals overusing a slur against women has some ring of authenticity to it are entirely crazy either.

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