Should GTA V have had a female protagonist?

Grand Theft AutoMy sister is just as passionate about playing games as I am.  So when she wrote this post on her blog about one of her favourite game series, Grand Theft Auto, arguing whether one of the main protagonists should be female I had to read it.  I wasn’t pleased to learn that she agreed that not one of the lead characters should be female and that if anything the female lead would better suit DLC rather than be part of the main game.  As I’ve noticed in the comments of this article on her blog I am not the only one who feels this way.  So I decided to voice my own opinions on this subject with an article instead of just commenting on her site.I have never played a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) game before so you will probably dismiss my opinion on this matter but I do know the premise and have watched a lot of friends and family enjoy the series so I couldn’t disagree more with this opinion. I think a female protagonist in the main game of GTA is well overdue.

Eowyn

As my sister correctly put it, women in these games have been shown in a negative light from the early to the most recent installments of the series. Where are the positive and strong take-no-prisoners women? Surely it’s only right to portray both sides?

The reason being used that a woman protagonist wouldn’t fit with the world or setting is no excuse. As Eowyn from Lord of the Rings said “the women of this country learned long ago that those without a sword can still die upon them.” A movie reference yes, and no not a character based on a real person or place but I think it’s a valid point. I’m sure after years of living in a gangster-run, crime-filled city, to protect themselves at least one woman would pick up a gun and retaliate. They may do it for power, greed, lust or even love but at least one would pick up a gun.

The other comment that was made by my sister was that many fans wanted a strong female protagonist and that wouldn’t fit the normal story flow as the male lead usually starts off weak then grows as you progress through the gameplay. I can see how this may upset the usual storyflow but if the writers are looking for weak female characters, I may be mistaken but you have a number of females already weakened by their former lives that are just begging to be developed like the girlfriends, hookers, siblings etc mentioned by my sister.  One of these can simply be chosen or a new character invented. Give them a great story (as Rockstar is capable of delivering) and a gun and make them grow.  I’d imagine the female protagonist of this game to be very much like the Old Town girls in Sin City who end up running a part of the city. Strong clever and trigger happy.

Gail

Another point made was that if there were a female lead that they would kill with techniques like poisons.  I would not expect the female character to use killing techniques as weak as poison. This is GTA! The meer fact that a woman would have to use poison to kill someone in this type is game would be insulting as this immediately suggests to me that this character is weaker or not as physically capable as the previous protagonists and it would also be very out of character for the environment. Doing this, in my mind, would further draw attention to the fact that the character is female and not male like the rest.

Some people have commented on the article saying that these games are mainly developed by males for males so to ensure high or good sales figures the main character would have to be male in order to sell more copies. It’s all about business and not trying to offend those small amount of women who have to endure paying £50 for a game where all the women are shown negatively. Well I am a bit offended.

Gamers like to get more variety in the games they play nowadays and making the main character female will add that bit more variety to the gameplay and give a fresh experience to the player. A number of male players would (and do) actually chose to play as a female given the option in a game with a customisable protagonist. Again, it gives the player a new perspective and especially in this type of game where the franchise has been running for years, player’s may welcome a fresh perspective.

And as there are so little games with strong female protagonists I would go out of my way to buy the game if there was a female lead.

So why not live dangerously Rockstar and give a female the spotlight?

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  • http://nynyonlinex.wordpress.com/ NyNy

    Yay! Good response Kay!

  • squallstories

    Excellent article! I 100% agree with this. If anytime to introduce a strong female into GTA franchise/story it is now. There’s so many strong females on the horizon, it will be good to see one in GTA as well. If they are scared, they have the best contingency plan, 2 other characters to choose from! Just make one of the 3 characters you can choose female!

  • http://obiterocelot.wordpress.com Sarah

    Interesting points and I whole-heartedly agree with most of them. However, although I would usually agree that the “a woman wouldn’t fit the setting” isn’t an excuse, I think GTA could almost make it. The only reason is that GTA is a misogynistic, testosterone fueled video game with fast cars, hookers and drugs. It would be difficult for a game where the only other women in it are scantily dressed ladies of the night to have a strong and believable female protagonist. Maybe baby steps? The two or three characters to choose from idea is kind of cool, but it still feels like Rockstar is throwing us a bone.

    Besides, we don’t need GTA. However, I do notice that Rockstar have not made (or at least none that I am aware of. Please correct me if I’m wrong) any games with any real female protagonists. I’d rather see a sequel to Red Dead Redemption with an awesome cow-girl chick. But I’d rather see them make a strong game with a kick arse lady that stands up on its own merit.

    Rockstar aren’t the only ones guilty of this. I’d love to see way more female gaming action. I mean, do they look at their market? There are a lot of us ladies out there.

  • http://Kalasari.com Martin

    I think it would work if it added variety to the game like the Catwoman levels in Arkham City. GTA is tough place to start though and I actually think the Metal Gear series would be more suited to a strong playable female lead. I thought ‘The Boss’ character also had a lot of potential and a WW2 game based around her would really work as well. It would also make up for some of the more juvenile and flat out sexist moments in the series.

  • http://www.takeinitiative.co.uk Kayleigh

    @Sarah
    As I said in the article, I am guilty of never actually playing a GTA game, so perhaps I’ll pick up a copy of GTA V and see if my opinion on this matter is more aligned to yours. But you’re quite right Sarah. There are a lot of well established game companies also guilty of this. I liked how Epic made Anya and Sam playable characters, but they were only available at certain times during the game and only if you were playing co-op. I think this was a step in the right direction and I hope it’s not just someone dangling the possibility of a female lead in front of us to dance in hope. I think the females in a franchise like Gears are perfectly capable of carrying a lead role.

    There are a lot of female gamers out there, perhaps even more so now if you count the women playing social games too. I think representation is needed.

  • http://videogameshelf.com Nyxus

    Yes, I think it would be interesting to have a female lead. And possible too, they just have to create a convincing character. I have absolutely no problem playing as a woman in a game, as I have no problem watching a movie with a female protagonist.

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  • xNirvana91x

    I agree some what with this I would like to play as a female in a gta game I would think it would be awesome specially with the customization but they would have to limit the weapons style for that protagonist as it would not look realistic with her running around with an rpg lol witch would be a good thing and she would have a flirt option for getting out of situations like speeding tickets haha idk I find it could be very rewarding having a female protagonist