You know what’s not escapism? Having to wonder if any given game (or movie, or book) you pick up is going to include women primarily as prostitutes, murdered girlfriends, vulnerable daughters, and rape victims. I would love to have been able to play BioShock Infinite as an actual power fantasy instead of a story about a naive woman who, despite having literally world-changing powers, spends the game throwing health potions to a man. When Grand Theft Auto V comes to PC, I’m going to have to decide whether I’ll enjoy playing something where the people who look like me are brutalizable eye candy, not the ones hijacking cars and pulling off heists.
Oddly, when someone raises these issues, the people who have been stridently defending their games as “just games” switch to explaining why having women in other roles is unrealistic. A gritty, stylized world built on the corpses of women is defended as a way for gamers to escape from reality, but if someone points out that it makes them uncomfortable, they’re told that they’resupposed to be uncomfortable — after all, it’s just showing how the world really is. When my colleague Andrew complained that the female characters in GTA V had minor, one-note parts, someone explained that this was natural because “there are no women pulling bank heists or cold killing people on a massive scale in real life.” If your first instinct was to mention Bonnie and Clyde, that’s beside the point. Nobody on earth is randomly hijacking cars in broad daylight and running over hundreds of pedestrians.
–Adi Robertson just wants to have fun.