MS4 :Timeline :Evolution of the Female Role in Video Games

Evolution of Females within Video Games
A video game is a game that is electronically played by changing images produced by a computer that is displayed onto a screen. It also involved human interaction and a form of controls e.g. keys on a keyboard or a portable controller.

The very first video game was created in 1947, just after WWII. It was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith and Estle Ray Mann who were inspired by the missile displays used in WWII. Th game is called ‘The Cathode Ray Tube. From then till 1981 video games did not include any female characters, Playable or Non-Playable, mostly because until the 1970’2 video game characters didn’t have a ‘gender’.

In 1981 Nintendo brought out a game; Donkey Kong which featured the very first female character within a video game. The name of this female character was ‘Lady’ and she just served the purpose of the game; for the protagonist to save her.

From 1981-1988 the female character within video games were mostly shown as the ‘Damsel in Distress’ waiting to be saved by the hegemonic male hero. Metroid was the first video game to feature a female protagonist, where she is the hero/saviour of the game instead of the stereotypical male. This happened in 1988 when Nintendo released the game Metroid, which is a very successful franchise. Within the game, the player does not find out that the main protagonist is a woman until the very end of the game.

Since then the gaming industry has created games that have a female protagonist e.g. Jill Valentine in Resident Evil (1996) Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (1996) and Chell in Portal (2007) 

The Evolution of Taki: Soul Calibur
When the character of ‘Taki’ first showed up in the Soul Calibur franchise she was ‘cartooned’ and there was a very big focus within every screenshot on her backside, which was for the benefit of the male audience. Her costume is ‘skin tight’ and has very little armour. Her face is also half covered by a mask, and the weapon is holding has no detail to it. The overall image of the character shows her to be graceful and vulnerable, which hints that she is going to need ‘saving’.

 In the second game within the franchise ‘Taki’ was made 3D however her mouth was covered by a cloth and her arms and top of the chest was bare. In the image the focus is on the front of her body and her breasts. The armour she had previously has been taken away, and another weapon has been added; a blade, to go with the first blade.

The image of ‘Taki’ completely changed in the Soul Calibur II game because the screenshots were mostly focused on her backside and her chest, which has been enhanced to look bigger since the first game. The positioning of ‘Taki’ shows her to be sexualised in the sense that both her chest and her backside can be seen. The colour of the outfit is still the same and is still skin tight, however the armour has changed colour and has also been added to her waist again.   

Soul Calibur III , made in 2005 has a completely different image of ‘Taki’ again. This type her costume has changed from red to navy blue and has more armour around the shoulders and chest. The mask covering her mouth has been added and she also has a second weapon attached to her lower back. The image of ‘Taki’ is still sexualised as the use of the armour highlights the characters breasts. Overall ‘Taki’ does look more realistic, however the colours used still make her look like a cartoon drawing.

Within the 5th installment of the Soul Calibur franchise, ‘Taki’ is shown in a sexualised way, through her positioning that draws attention to the breasts and her thighs, which is stereo-typically to attract a male audience. The image immediately draws the audience’s attention to her breasts because they are drawn bigger and the costume also makes them seem bigger by the use of armour situated around the chest.   The graphics make the costume seem more realistic with the natural lighting added, however the overall image still looks like a cartoon e.g. the upper part of her body, and the shape of the character still looks like someone has drawn her.

In the latest game Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, that was released in 2009 , the character of ‘Taki’ was given a different outfit which is now pink and also allows the character to show more ‘skin’ , by the use of netted material on the sides and around the back of the costume where the rib cage is situated. The image of the character is also very realistic through the use of 3D imagery. The positioning of the character isn't as sexualised as before, but more ‘ready for action’ and ‘no-one messes with her’.

The Evolution of Princess Peach
In 1985 Princess Peach made her first appearance in the original Super Mario Bros. NES game, as Princess Toadstool. She was the damsel in distress and the two protagonists; Mario and Luigi, had to rescue her. However the player had to complete 8 levels to actually find her. In this game the image of Princess Peach is very small and pix-elated.

The Super Mario Bros. 2 game gave the player the option to play as the Princess, even though she was the slowest runner and couldn't collect items as fast as the other characters. Her only real ability was that she was able to float in the air for long distances at a time, with her skills for jumping.

Princess Toadstool provided special items for the main protagonists in Super Mario Bros. 3. But she still gets kidnapped within this game as well by the villain ‘King Koopa’. This was in 1990.

2005 was the year that Princess Peach changed her outfit from the normal long pink dress to a basketball outfit of shorts and a t-shirt.

Princess Peach goes back to being the damsel in distress in the 2006 Nintendo DS game Super Princess Peach/ New Super Mario Bros. DS. Within this game Princess Peach goes back to being 2D, however the drawing makes her look 3D. The coloured used are block colours which, again, shows that she is a cartoon character.

In 2008 Mario Kart WII was introduced and it gave the player two different options concerning Princess Peach. The first option is to play as Princess Peach, and the second option is to play Baby Princess Peach. In this one Princess Peach has her own pink vehicles e.g. Motorbike, cars etc. The image of her within this games shows her to be very realistic, but still have that ‘cartoon feel’ to her.

When the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series was introduced the character of Princess Peach could be played by the audience. In these games she had difference outfits according to the Olympic game e.g. swimming costume, gymnastic costume etc.

However throughout all of the games that Princess Peach has been in, she has still kept her trademark colour Pink. 

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