In the past few months, Anita Sarkeesian (feministfrequency) has made waves in the gaming community
while generating discussion about the role of females in video games. One of the offenders she mentions is none other than the Mario franchise.

In a recent interview with Shigeru Miyamoto,
Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo asked about the inclusion of female characters and the way they are portrayed in video games. Miyamoto points out that, back in the day,

…when we made the first Donkey Kong, that was a game we first made for the arcades, the arcades were not places girls went into often. And so we didn’t even consider making a character that would be playable for girls.

He went on to elaborate that nowadays more females are playing on consoles like the DS, so the inclusion of female characters has expanded along with the demographic. When asked about his own family, he had this to say:

Yeah, I have a daughter … She loves Zelda and she always plays as Link, but she’s actually never asked me why she can’t play as Princess Zelda. [laughs]

He continued, saying that “the structure of the gameplay always comes before the story,” but there are possibilities for new stories in the future:

So, if we end up creating a gameplay structure where it makes sense for, whether it’s a female to go rescue a male or a gay man to rescue a lesbian woman or a lesbian woman to rescue a gay man, we might take that approach. For us it’s less about the story and more about the structure of the gameplay and what makes sense to be presenting to the consumer.

Totilo also considers the fact that age and culture may have an impact (“This has come up more, I think, in America”), but does list numerous games, such as the new Pikmin 3 or Super Mario 3D World, that are starting to break the mold.

Are you happy to see more female characters in video games? What are your thoughts on Miyamoto’s responses? Let us know in the comments below.

Our Verdict

Luke Powers
Luke is a graduate from McGill University (BA '13). He has been a gamer since childhood and enjoys playing, watching, and reading about video games.


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