Women in Combat on the front lines. Who knew games could cause much progress.
the U.S. military will allow women to fight on
the front lines within a few years, I was taken
aback – but not because I have any problem
with the policy change. To be honest, I just
didn’t realize the military had a rule against
women in combat roles to begin with.
It’s probably because I spend too much time
soaking up technology news, and not enough
time reading about everything else. But maybe
some of my dumbfoundedness comes from the
fact that I play video games. In the virtual
warzones of my favorite hobby, it’s totally
normal for men and women to fight alongside
One of my favorite games of 2012 was XCom:
Enemy Unknown , in which you command a
small squad of super soldiers in a fight against
alien invaders. The rank and file of your
paramilitary group hail from both sexes, and on
the battlefield, there’s no tactical difference
between them. A female soldier can aim a
sniper rifle or launch a rocket just as capably
as any male squaddie. She’s entitled to the
same promotions as well, and can rise through
the ranks just as quickly.
XCom is somewhat of an ideal example, but it’s
not the only one. In the Mass Effect series, your
protagonist can be male or female, and so can
the characters who head into battle with you.
In Halo 4 , your Spartan soldier can be either
gender with exactly the same abilities. Gears of
War 3 added female squad members to the
mix, where previous games had relegated them
to support roles away from the action.
The funny thing is that video games aren’t
known for treating women fairly. A lot of
times, women serve primarily as eye candy, or
damsels in distress, or just glorified secretaries
for men doing the real work. That’s assuming
there are any women in the game at all. (And
of course, not all war games include women.
The Call of Duty series, for instance, is almost
entirely bereft of them.)
When games actually do put women on the
battlefield, all those cheap stereotypes fade
away. That’s largely because of mechanics.
Players, given the choice between a man or
woman, don’t want to be penalized for
choosing one or the other. Besides, creating
separate sets of rules for each gender makes
for a messier game.
But I like to think there’s a message implicit in
the mechanics: The women in these games
have proven themselves to be just as capable as their male counterparts. They don’t need
special treatment, and no one second-guesses
their right to be on the front lines. When the
squad is in danger, all that really matters are
the skills and abilities of the soldier. I think
that’s a pretty good way to view things.
Posted on February 2, 2013, in Android Games, Breaking News, Console System News, Disney, Game Releases, Influential people making a move, Uncategorized and tagged video game women, women designers, women in combat, women in video games. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.