Please welcome the newest contributor to Post Arcade, the one and only Sam Maggs. Here’s her first story: Why the gaming world still needs more complex female protagonists
Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs is one of the most highly-anticipated games of 2014. Set to be released in May, Watch Dogs puts players in the role of Aiden Pearce, a super-hacker who exists to fulfill every ’90s Jonny Lee Miller/Angelina Jolie-related fantasies.
So when the story trailer for Watch Dogs was recently released, I was just as excited as everyone else.
That is, until I actually sat down and watched it.
Turns out, Pearce’s backstory centers around the tragic murder of his girlfriend, which motivates the protagonist’s revenge storyline for the remainder of the game.
And all I could think about for the duration of the trailer was, “Not again.”
Sadly and unsurprisingly, the dead-ladies-motivate-male-plotlines trope isn’t exclusive to the gaming world.
Back in 1999, comic book writer Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Red Sonja) dubbed this all-too-common phenomenon “Women in Refrigerators.” The name is charmingly drawn from a 1994 issue of Green Lantern, wherein the titular hero returns home to find his girlfriend has been murdered by the supervillain-of-the-week and unceremoniously stuffed into a fridge.
Writers guilty of “fridging” women are multiple offenders – not only is the trope misogynist, reducing women to props for the sake of the male storyline, but it’s also just lazy storytelling.
Want to give Pearce a tragic backstory? Kill his girlfriend!
Need to motivate Thor for the rest of his second film? Better go ahead and kill his mother!
Why is Eva Green so crazy in the new 300 movie? Surprise, she’s been sexually assaulted!
I feel ridiculous even having to say this because it seems like such a simple solution, but the best way to stop fridging women is for writers to take the time to give them full, complete stories that don’t hinge on male violence…
Ridiculous indeed! But still a valid point, and she reminds us to move toward indie games if we want to foster any tangible difference in the mainstream gaming world. Okay, I realize I’m just rehashing the main points of these posts here, but I had a lot of saved stuff to go through.