Saturday, February 28, 2015

General RPGs' AMVs 12

Well, here we are again. You know the drill: if you watch and if you like, give the video a thumbs-up, and maybe even toss a positive comment up there. Let’s see what I’ve got today.


Final Fantasy 10: Invincible, by Armada:
The music used is a cover of Invincible, by Borgeous. The cover itself is done by Celani. Man, I hate dubstep, even its relatively less awful forms such as this song, but this AMV uses it damn well. The real draw of this AMV is just how well edited it is; Armada uses scene skips, slow downs, fast forwards, scene changes, and flashes perfectly to tie the video to the erratic pulse of the music. Beyond the technical aspects of connection, the feel of the game footage connects well with the emotion of the music, and the end result is a very strong and enjoyable AMV.

Final Fantasy 10: SINH, by Mordekhay:
The music used is Rain of Light, by Two Steps From Hell. A little different from the usual AMV, but this is just excellent. It’s slow, quiet, yet so incredibly powerful. I would go so far as to say that this is profound. All I can say is that I love it.


Jade Empire: Tribute, by Armaan Sandhu:
The music used is Idyll's End, Red Warrior, Ronin, and Taken, from The Last Samurai’s soundtrack. Clocking in at roughly 15 minutes, this is definitely the longest AMV I’ve exhibited in these rants. This music video isn’t perfect, and there are some moments which don’t seem to match up as well as they might to the music, but overall, this is an impressive work, telling the story of Jade Empire from start to finish to the compositions of the ever masterful Hans Zimmer. There are some moments in the video that don’t match up perfectly to the music, and it’s not a perfect telling of the game’s story--you wouldn’t understand it all if you didn’t already know the game--but it’s still solid and does the job well for any Jade Empire fan (who are really going to be the only people who watch it anyway). And frankly, any AMV that can manage to stay interesting, coherent, and skillful to any degree, let alone as well as this one does, during its entire 15 minute run, is definitely worth checking out.


Knights of the Old Republic 1 + 2: Star Wars of the Old Republic, by Fightwish:
The music used is Blow Me Away, by Breaking Benjamin. Not sure if that’s meant to actually be the title or whether it’s just titleless, but either way, it’s a rare treat to see a KotOR AMV, let alone one of quality. Good use of KotOR’s limited footage to go with the song’s lyrics and tone, combined with competent editing in general, make this a darned decent AMV. Maybe a little heavy on the battle footage, but it’s never so much that it’s tiresome, and everything else is generally very well done.


Mass Effect 2 + 3: In My Remains, by Aethe:
The music used is In My Remains, by Linkin Park. It really does say something about a game series when the vast majority of AMVs people make for it are meant as tributes, doesn’t it? This is another of the many I’ve shared here, and it does its job well, glorifying Commander Shepard, and reminding the audience of the greatness of the game and setting its tone well with music and video connecting as one entity. This is nothing new, really, but it’s still great.


Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 and 4: Bad Persona, by...uh...刈割放送部員, I think?:
The music used is Bad Apple, by Alstroemeria Records (I think). This is rather neat. Fans of the Touhou series are probably familiar with the original Bad Apple video, which is an artsy, well-animated black-and-white animation using the silhouettes of many Touhou characters. It’s very creative and neat to watch, even if you don’t know anything about Touhou (as is the case for me). Here’s the original video, if you’re interested: The original spawned a few adaptations (I thought the MLPFiM Bad Harmony version was terrific), and Bad Persona is one of those adaptations. It’s not animated as smoothly as the original, but come on, let’s not expect more than is reasonable from fans working in their free time. There’s not much to say here about Bad Persona; it’s neat and interesting much as the original Bad Apple is neat and interesting, and it’s worth watching.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona Series: Lucky Star OP Parody, by 2k11nichirin:
The music used is the opening theme for the anime Lucky Star. Huh, 2 Persona adaptations of another video style in the same rant...strange coincidence. This is an odd little video that basically takes the opening for the anime Lucky Star, and makes it about SMT Persona instead, using the Persona characters and settings instead of the Lucky Star bunch (it also, for some reason, uses Nemissa, who is from Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, not one of the SMT Persona games...and yes, I realize that pointing that out is entering dangerous territory). I’ve never watched Lucky Star so I don’t have a goddamn clue what all is supposed to be happening in this video (and honestly, the opening’s so fast and crazy that I have to wonder if people who HAVE watched the series really could have any better idea than I do), but regardless, this is an impressive bit of fan animation, and damn fun to watch.


Xenogears: Mechanical Emotions, by Jan Kusunagi:
The music used is Break Me Shake Me, by Savage Garden. Good Xenogears AMVs are hard to find (hell, it’s hard to find any Xenogears AMVs, period), so this is a pleasant surprise. Extremely effective editing with highly skillful use of visual techniques like overlays and scene flashes combine with scenes that match the song’s lyrics and tone well to make this a natural, intense AMV that brings the game and the song so well together that it’s almost like the two were made for one another.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest as an Entry-Level RPG

This one's for you, Trippy.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: that infamous black mark on the Final Fantasy legacy, that really shouldn’t be so famous for being the black sheep of the franchise when Final Fantasy also encompasses equally bad titles like Final Fantasy 5 and 12, and even titles that are far worse, like Final Fantasy 8 or 10-2. Ugh, Final Fantasy 10-2. Even after all these years, just remembering it makes my brain start to dry heave. Brains aren’t even supposed to be able to do that, but mine’s trying pretty damn hard.

Anyway, FF Mystic Quest is widely viewed as pretty bad. But not everyone agrees. There are some people who argue that to judge Final Fantasy Mystic Quest poorly is to judge the game unfairly, for Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was not meant so much as a full-fledged RPG in its own right as it was meant to be an entry level game, something that newcomers to RPGs could play and use to get into the genre. It’s meant to be facile. Squaresoft made it with the idea that most of the American audience couldn’t handle the complexities of a regular RPG and needed to be eased into the genre rather than treated as equals to the primary gamer market of Japan. This line of reasoning is also why Square adjusted Final Fantasy 4 at the time (released as FF2, since the actual FF2 and 3 didn’t hit the US until many years later) to be generally simpler, with many battle commands, items, and even an entire version of the battle system removed in order to make the game far less mentally taxing for all us poor, stupid Americans who just couldn’t handle the complexity of a real JRPG.

Never mind, of course, the fact that the Japanese RPG’s origin is that it’s the hugely dumbed-down appropriation of the concept of tabletop RPGs, games which by and large are invented by and played by Americans.

Anyway, putting aside the irony of Square thinking it needed to simplify the genre for the audience that it adapted and dumbed down the genre from to begin with, this argument by FFMQ defenders is kinda bullshit. I mean, what they’re basically saying here is that we shouldn’t judge FFMQ harshly for being stupid because it was designed to be stupid out of the belief that the people playing it would be stupid. So I’m supposed to give the game a break because its entire design concept is an insult to my intelligence? Seriously?

But let’s put the insulting nature of FFMQ aside for a moment. Let’s pretend that the insult is not there, solely for the sake of argument. Should we be more accommodating to Mystic Quest’s simplicity? Should we change our expectations from an RPG if it’s specifically meant to be an entry-level RPG?

I generally try to keep a stern outlook when it comes to quality. I’m very leery of accepting inferior quality in an RPG just because of mitigating circumstances. I mean, circumstantial excuses or not, a bad game’s priced at the same general range as a good game. It may be that much of the reason that Final Fantasy 12 is a boring mess can be summed up by the phrase, “Too many cooks spoil the, it doesn’t help if you let the marketing department defecate in the pot,” but just because there’s a reason for the lack of quality, that doesn’t forgive it. I sure as hell didn’t pay any less for FF12 than I did many other Playstation 2 RPGs that WERE good games.

Still, I can understand that there are times when adjusting one’s expectations is a necessity to being fair. If an RPG comes from the early days of home consoles, I’m less demanding of its plot and cast simply because the idea of video games as a storytelling medium was still in its infancy. Given the time in which it was created, I quite respect the quality of Phantasy Star 1 as an RPG, because back in those days, a story and setting with some depth, and a halfway individualized cast, was an unexpected pushing of the envelope. If PS1 came out today, I would play it and think it was okay, but that would be all. It wouldn’t make much of an impression. Similarly, when I’m playing an RPG clearly made to be a humorous game more than anything else, I forgive a certain amount of nonsense and/or aimlessness, because the purpose is to make the audience laugh more than to convey any deeper message. As long as the game does that well enough, it doesn’t need to do too much more.*

But here’s the problem with softening your expectations for Final Fantasy Mystic Quest due to its status as an entry-level RPG: as an entry-level RPG, it’s still a shitty game.

What is an entry-level RPG supposed to do, exactly? What is this purpose it fulfills that we are meant to judge it more softly in exchange for? It’s supposed to ease a new audience into the RPG genre, get them to like the style of a Role Playing Game and entice them to buy more RPGs in the future. Well, guess what? They’re less likely to want to play more RPGs if the first one they experience bores them out of their minds!

You’re reading this blog, so I’m assuming you’re a fan of RPGs, yes? Well, what was the game that got you into the genre? Was it Chrono Trigger? Final Fantasy 4? Final Fantasy 6? Final Fantasy 7? One of the Fallouts? Dragon Age 1? One of the Kingdom Hearts series? A Phantasy Star title? Maybe it was something a little more obscure--but I’ll bet that it was enjoyable, right? You didn’t become a fan of the RPG genre based on your early experience with an RPG that you didn’t find entertaining.

I know which RPG it was for me that got me completely devoted to the genre. Chrono Trigger, all the way. I’d had some RPGs before it, like Secret of Mana and The Magic of Scheherazade, and I had enjoyed them well enough, but it was Chrono Trigger that completely drew me in with its engaging and wonderful plot, diverse and colorful characters, and terrific creativity. Also, not that it mattered to me, but Chrono Trigger is not a very difficult RPG, gameplay-wise. But that’s not because it was purposefully designed with the idea that the player was dropped as an infant, it’s just that the battle system its developers intended is easy to pick up on and work with.

That’s what makes for a good entry-level RPG: an engaging, fun game that makes you want to come back to the genre. Chrono Trigger showcased the great potential of the RPG, and seeing what good the genre was capable of through this example was what pushed me to sample more. And yes, it’s good if an entry RPG is simple enough that a newcomer can get the hang of it without struggling too much, but most RPGs just naturally are, anyway. But if you dumb down the plot just as much as you dumb down the gameplay, as FFMQ did, you’re just removing anything someone could enjoy from the damn game!

Hell, I actually did own Final Fantasy Mystic Quest before I owned Chrono Trigger, and I had no interest in it. It was easy enough to play, but by the point in the game where you meet Phoebe, I just got too bored of it to continue. I put it away and only bothered to finish the game years later, long after I was on my way to being an RPG fanatic. When I say that Final Fantasy Mystic Quest isn’t even a good entry-level RPG, that isn’t conjecture--I’m a bonafide test case to prove it! If FFMQ had been the only chance the genre had of courting my interests, “The RPGenius” would never have come into being, this rant blog would never have existed, and we’d all be doing something far more productive right now!

Simplicity is less important than just being an entertaining, enjoyable game when you’re trying to hook someone into becoming a regular customer. You have to actually impress them, show your prospective audience the highlights of your product. Think of it this way. Let’s say that you’re taking your friend out to a new restaurant that serves exotic cuisine, with the intent of getting this amigo of yours into this food style. In order to accomplish this, what do you suggest they order? Obviously, you suggest items that you know taste good and exemplify some of the signatures of this style of cuisine. You’re trying to show the unique traits of the food, in a way that’s pleasing and makes your friend want to try more later.

Well, according to Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and people who defend it as an adequate entry-level RPG, that’s doing it wrong. The right way is to order your friend the menu items that are the easiest to chew. In fact, ideally, you’d just skip the eating process altogether by sticking a needle in your friend and feeding him/her intravenously. Because the important thing in hooking a new audience isn’t that you show them that they can enjoy a sample of your product--it’s that it be as simple and mundane as possible so that it does not challenge them in any way.

So that’s why when I say Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is a lousy RPG, I mean it. Being boring, generic, facile, and entirely unengaging are not traits excused by a game being an entry-level RPG; they’re actually more damning because of it!

* It does bear mentioning, though, that a humor RPG may not HAVE to contain any deep story or meaning to be good, but there is absolutely nothing preventing it from possessing those elements. I may find Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden to be a hilarious, fun game and would heartily recommend it, but the comical Okage: Shadow King is easily a superior RPG. Why? Because while Okage: Shadow King keeps you laughing nearly as well as Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden does, it’s OSK that hides within its chuckles a sincere and inspirational story of the need for independence from parental god figures and of the worth and power of individuality. Similarly, Earthbound and Mother 3 both employ the exact same wacky, off-beat style to amuse, but it’s Mother 3 that uses that style as a way to ease you through, and yet at the same time enhance the pain of, a very emotional and difficult story of loss, deep loss of both personal and conceptual things, and so I believe Mother 3 is by far the greater RPG.

It’s like cartoons, really. You can slap together something animated for kids and have it be passable, but as Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Hey! Arnold, Avatar: The Last Airbender, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The Legend of Korra, and several other shows prove, something that is appropriate for children does not have to be something that an adult audience can’t find value and enjoyment in. Being aimed at a young audience never stopped these cartoons I've mentioned from being quality entertainment, works of storytelling art that easily equal and surpass the huge majority of shows specifically targeted to adults.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

General RPGs' Party Member Gender Ratios

Guys, we seriously need to change up how RPGs (and most other game genres (and most other forms of storytelling)) handle gender ratios. It is bad. I mean, it is bad.

Let’s do a little counting. I’m going to list every RPG I’ve played by whether it has more female characters than male, more male than female, or has an even split. Beforehand, though, a couple ground rules. Mascots, party advisors, and other noncombatants who are a major part of the party and contribute to party relationships count. For example, in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 and 4, the characters of Fuuka and Rise don’t actually participate in battle, but they do act as battle advisors to the party, and are inarguably as important to the party dynamic, in terms of story progression, plot relevance, and character interrelationships, as any of the actually controllable party members, so they count. Likewise, Fatima from Anachonox, Midna from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Henpecked Hou from Jade Empire are all characters that count, because they travel with the rest of the major characters and contribute to the plot and the characters’ discussions as a peer for a substantial part of the game, enough that you can’t really say that they’re not party members.

For sake of ease, animals are counted (most RPG animals are sentient, speech-capable individuals anyway, so, like I said in my old rant about them, they’re essentially just human characters for all intents and purposes anyway). Final Fantasy 7’s Red XIII counts as a male party member, Poshul from Chrono Cross counts as a female party member, etc. Similarly, robots and other technically non-gendered beings are counted if they’re referenced to and regarded as being part of a certain gender. So, Robo in Chrono Trigger counts as a male even if he’s not technically anything, while Tio from Grandia 2 and KOS-MOS of the Xenosaga games count as female characters, even if, again, they’re technically not anything. Robots will only not be counted if they’re specifically referred to in a non-gendered way (which pretty much never happens in RPGs).

Transgendered and crossdressing characters would have rules if there were any situations that really required them, but sadly, they’re basically non-entities in RPGs. I mean, they don’t not exist at all, but usually just some common sense will do the trick. Reyna from Eternal Poison, for example, spends the entire game dressed as a woman when he’s a man, but there’s a plot-related reason for this that has nothing to do with what gender Reyna identifies as. It’s just a disguise, and he clearly considers himself a man. Similarly, Faris in Final Fantasy 5 may crossdress as a man and even have lived as a man for the majority of her life, but that’s presented in a way that could easily be taken as another case of disguise more than anything else, and once she’s moved past the point where she needs to maintain that disguise, she doesn’t seem to have any doubt about being identified as a woman. And so on--there aren’t really any significant cases of transgendered individuals and crossdressers that I've encountered, at least not as party members, so there’s no particular rule to mention regarding their presence in this tally.

Lastly, faceless grunts don’t count either way. There are plenty of Einherjar to gather in Valkyrie Profile 2, but since they have no bearing on the story at all and don’t interact with the plot-relevant characters or anything like that, they don’t count. The same goes for the nameless troopers of The Magic of Scheherazade that you can hire, most demons in Shin Megami Tensei games (but story-relevant ones that specially join your party, like Cerberus in SMT1, do count), all Pokemon, random recruits in Final Fantasy Tactics, and so on.

Okay, so first of all, I’m going to list every RPG I’ve played where there have been more female party members than males.

Games With More Female Party Members: Breath of Fire 5; Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia; Disgaea 2; Dragon Quest 9; Embric of Wulfhammer’s Castle; Final Fantasy 5; Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon; Grandia 3; Hero’s Saga: Laevatein Tactics; Izuna 1; Izuna 2; Lunar 2; Lunar: Dragon Song; Magic Knight Rayearth RPG; Mark Leung: Revenge of the Bitch; Monstania; My World, My Way; Parasite Eve 1; Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure; Riviera: The Promised Land; Sailor Moon: Another Story; Sakura Wars 5; Seiken Densetsu 3; Solatorobo: Red the Hunter; Tenchi Muyo RPG

Alright, so that’s 27 RPGs that I’ve played where there have been more female party members than males. Well that’s pretty good, right? 27? Decent number right there, yeah? Sure! So, how many RPGs have I played that star an equal number of males and females?

Games With An Even Split: Arc the Lad 4; Atelier Iris 1; Avalon Code; Baten Kaitos 1; Baten Kaitos 2; Breath of Fire 4; Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin; Children of Mana; Dark Cloud 2; Defender’s Quest 1; Deus Ex 2; Dust: An Elysian Tail; Evoland; Evolution: Worlds; Final Fantasy 8; Final Fantasy 12; Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles 1; Grandia 1; Heroes of Annihilated Empires; Icewind Dale 1; Icewind Dale 2; Legend of Grimrock 1; Legend of Mana; The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks; The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess; Lufia 1; Mana Khemia; Paper Mario 2; Phantasy Star 2; Phantom Brave; Pokemon Generation 2; Pokemon Generation 3; Pokemon Generation 4; Pokemon Generation 5; Pokemon Generation 5-2; Risen 1; The Secret of Mana; Shadowrun Returns; Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers; Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4; Star Ocean 3; Tales of Legendia; Threads of Fate; Torchlight 1; Valkyrie Profile 2; Wild Arms 2; Wild Arms 4; Wild Arms 5; Xenosaga 1

51! Well, that’s a darned good number! Always happy to see a game with equality, or 51 of them. Well, gosh, 27 female-dominated RPGs and 51 evenly split ones, maybe I was getting worked up over noth--

Games With More Male Party Members: The 7th Saga; Alundra 1; Alundra 2; Anachronox; Arc the Lad 1; Arc the Lad 2; Arc the Lad 3; Arc the Lad 5; Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura; Away: Shuffle Dungeon; Bahamut Lagoon; Baldur's Gate 1; Baldur’s Gate 2; Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden; Baroque; Bastion; Betrayal at Krondor; Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled; Boktai 1; Borderlands 1; Breath of Fire 1; Breath of Fire 2; Breath of Fire 3; Castlevania: Lament of Innocence; Castlevania: Symphony of the Night; Chrono Cross; Chrono Trigger; Crimson Shroud; Crystalis; Dark Cloud 1; Deus Ex 1; Disgaea 1; Divinity 1; Dragon Age 1; Dragon Age 2; Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan; Dragon Quest 4; Dragon Quest 5; Dragon Quest 6; Dragon Quest 8; Earthbound; Eternal Poison; Fallout 1; Fallout 2; Fallout 3; Fallout New Vegas; Final Fantasy 3; Final Fantasy 4; Final Fantasy 6; Final Fantasy 7; Final Fantasy 9; Final Fantasy 10; Final Fantasy 12: Revenant Wings; Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates; Final Fantasy Mystic Quest; Final Fantasy Tactics; Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 1; Fire Emblem 1; Fire Emblem 4; Fire Emblem 7; Fire Emblem 9; Geneforge 1; Geneforge 2; Glory of Heracles 5; Golden Sun 1; Golden Sun 2; Golden Sun 3; Gothic 1; Grandia 2; Hoshigami Remix: Ruining Blue Earth; Illusion of Gaia; Infinite Space; Jade Empire; Kingdom Hearts 1; Kingdom Hearts 2; Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories; Knights of the Old Republic 1; Knights of the Old Republic 2; La Pucelle Tactics; Lagoon; The Last Story; Legaia 1; Legaia 2; The Legend of Dragoon; The Legend of Zelda 1; The Legend of Zelda 2; The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past; The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening; The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass; The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker; Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader; Live A Live; Lords of Xulima; Lufia 2; Lunar 1; The Magic of Scheherazade; Magical Starsign; Makai Kingdom; Mario and Luigi 1; Mario and Luigi 2; Mario and Luigi 3; Mass Effect 1; Mass Effect 2; Mass Effect 3; Mega Man Star Force 1; Mega Man Star Force 2; Mother 3; Nox; Okage: Shadow King; Orcs + Elves; Phantasy Star 1; Phantasy Star 4; Phantasy Star Universe; Planescape: Torment; Pokemon Generation 1; Quest 64; Radiant Historia; Return to Krondor; Robocalypse; Robotrek; Rogue Galaxy; Romancing Saga 1; Rune Factory 1; The Secret of Evermore; Shadow Hearts 1; Shadow Hearts 2; Shadow Hearts 3; Shadowrun: Dragonfall; Shadowrun Genesis; Shadowrun SNES; Shin Megami Tensei 1; Shin Megami Tensei 2; Shin Megami Tensei 3; Shin Megami Tensei 4; Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha 1; Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha 2; Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 1; Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2; Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1; Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2; Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3; Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey; Shining Force 1; Shining Force 2; Shining Force EXA; Silver; Skies of Arcadia; Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood; Soulblazer; Star Ocean 1; Star Ocean 2; Startropics 1; Startropics 2; Suikoden 1; Suikoden 2; Suikoden 3; Suikoden 4; Suikoden 5; Suikoden Tactics; Suikoden Tierkreis; Super Mario RPG; Tales of Destiny 1; Tales of Phantasia; Tales of Symphonia 1; Tales of the Abyss; Terranigma; Treasure of the Rudras; Valkyrie Profile 1; Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume; Vandal Hearts 1; Vandal Hearts 2; Weapon Shop de Omasse; Wild Arms 1; Wild Arms 3; The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road; The Witcher 1; The Witcher 2; The World Ends with You; Xenogears; Xenosaga 2; Xenosaga 3; Xenosaga: Pied Piper


Okay, so that’s...that’s 185. That’s almost 7 times more than the count of RPGs with more female members than male. Hell, it’s 3 times more than the female-dominant RPGs and the equal split RPGs put together!

Jeez. That’s just asinine. 185 to 27. The ratio of people by gender on Earth is split almost exactly evenly at 101 Males to every 100 Females, and that’s just going by the whole of Earth--if we break it down more finely, you see that most of the modern, developed countries have a larger female population than male. The countries that actually make RPGs are almost all populated with more women than men, such as the United States, Canada, every significant European nation, and Australia (country, continent, it’s both), and even Japan is an even split. Yet if you were to take a guess at what a natural gender ratio is by going on RPGs, you’d think that men outnumber women 6.8 to 1. Again, for emphasis, actual gender ratio of a global population: 1.01 Males to 1 Female. Gender ratio going by RPG major character populations: 6.8 Males to 1 Female.*

And even that’s before the extenuating circumstances. For example, should we really even count RPGs based on outside media that just lift their casts from the original? Yeah, Sailor Moon: Another Story has a completely female cast, but it’s not like that was the idea of the game developers; they’re working with the cast already determined by the source material. Taking that into consideration, we must remove Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan, the Magic Knight Rayearth RPG, Sailor Moon: Another Story, the Tenchi Muyo RPG, and The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.** That takes 2 games out of the male-dominated list, and 3 out of the female-dominated list, making it 183 to 24. And that jumps our ratio of RPG populations up to 7.6 Male to 1 Female. Things just get better and better.

Look, I don’t want to go too far into the whole gender inequality in video games thing here. Because video games, even the more intelligent genre of RPGs, are seriously ass-backwards in their usage and portrayal of females, so much that there’s no way one rant is going to cover everything that needs to be turned around and corrected in the medium as far as its treatment and perspective of gender. Maybe it’s not as bad with video games as it is with mainstream comic books,*** but it’s bad. There are plenty more avenues to explore on this issue (the number of male-led teams in female-dominant games compared to female-led teams in male-dominant games, for example, is fairly condemning). But I’m just going to keep it basic today.

And that means simply pointing out that there is a huuuuuuuuge gap in gender representation in RPGs. Way, way more than there can be reasonable cause for. I realize that, despite the grossly underestimated female gamer market, video games have a primarily male audience, but that forgives only a small discrepancy in gender representation. It does not forgive a ratio of 6.8 to 1, or anywhere near that!****

Women are half the population, developers. It’s time to wake up and accept that fact. We need more games with an equal number of male and female party members, and we need a lot more games with more female party members than male ones, just to balance out the last 30 years. Video games are one of the newest, most modern medium of artistic expression to date--maybe they should look the part, yeah?

* And this is actually worse than I’m making it out to be. I’m not actually counting each and every party member in all these games in this ratio, but instead just going by a count of which games have more of one gender or the other. But as a general rule, games with more male party members have, on average, a greater disparity in favor of the males than games with more female party members do in favor of females. What I mean is, your average male-dominated RPG is like Final Fantasy 7, in which 6 party members are male (Cloud, Barret, Cid, Red XIII, Cait Sith, and Vincent) and 3 are female (Tifa, Aeris, and Yuffie), while your average female-dominated RPG is more like Final Fantasy 5, in which the the ratio is close to even (3 females and 2 males). If I were to sit down and tabulate all the party members out, a project I’m not willing to sink the time and effort into, I’m dead certain that the male to female ratio would be even higher than 6.8 to 1.

** The Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario RPGs don’t count toward this because they have a larger source cast to pick and choose from, and more freedom to create original game characters to add to those casts (like Mallow and Geno in Super Mario RPG, and Shade from Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood).

*** I really cannot say enough detrimental things about the people who make decisions at DC and Marvel; as a whole they are truly mindless scum firmly lodged in an anachronistic masturbatory mentality that combines every shortsighted and reality-inaccurate vice to be found in spoiled 7-year-olds, chauvinistic horny frat boys, amoral marketing departments from the 1960s, and a cheerful recruitment pamphlet for the Ku Klux Klan.

**** And frankly, I don’t even know why people assume a male player must want to see male characters more than female ones, anyway. Do game developers think we’re all a bunch of xenophobic first graders whose mortal terror of cooties factors heavily into our buying decisions? A halfway intelligent man like myself has no more difficulty relating to and deeply connecting with a female character than with a male one, and a knuckle-dragging moron who hoots in dull-witted approval at T and A sure as hell isn’t going to say no to seeing more females, either. Unless we have a sudden, bizarre population boom of knuckle-dragging morons who just want eye-candy and are gay, I don’t see how putting more women in games could possibly harm your marketability to male gamers.