Another E3, another year of waking up ridiculously early in order to experience the dramatic highs and lows of the most important gaming event of the year.
One thing’s for certain though; this year’s conference had the potential to be the greatest in E3 history.
Part of the reason, of course, was the fact that publishers seemed to favor showing actual games rather than droning on about disappointing gimmicks (I’m looking at you Microsoft live TV), along with their willingness to include far more gameplay footage than usual. But the other reason that this year’s E3 felt so very successful, was the inclusion of a greater diversity of protagonists.
Looking back on last year’s white guy stubble sausage-fest, this year’s E3 was a positive carnival of diversity. Popular gaming websites such as Polygon, counted over 25 games with female protagonists gracing the show-floors of E3. Ranging from massive triple A titles such as Rise of Tomb Raider (SquareEnix) and Dishonoured 2 (Bethesda), to smaller indie titles like Beyond Eyes (Tiger & Squid) and Tacoma (Fullbright Games).
It wasn’t just that the Sony and Microsoft’s conferences revealed so many new IPs (finally), but that so many of these IP’s had female protagonists or had the option to play as a woman. Titles like Sony exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games) and Microsoft exclusive ReCore (Comcept Armature Studios) aren’t just exciting because they’ve got robot dinosaurs and robot dogs, but because you’ll be playing as women who find robot dinosaurs and robot dogs.
Those titles that didn’t feature a primary protagonist, were giving players the option to choose a female; with Ubisoft’s biggest franchise showing off Evie Frye in Assassins Creed: Syndicate, and EA’s sport’s monolith Fifa 16 including female football teams for the very first time. Even mega-franchise Call of Duty revealed that players would be able to select a female character to customize and play as in their new installment Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Treyarch).
Alongside all this virtual gender diversity, viewers were treated to a side-helping of real gender diversity: with this year’s conference featuring more female presenters and developers than ever. Ubisoft’s entire conference was hosted by Aisha Tyler, whose relaxed stage presence and cringe-worthy meme-search stood out from E3’s usual bland-suit business man affair. Likewise Star Wars: Battlefront (Dice), one of EA’s most important upcoming titles, was presented by one of the game’s leading directors Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir.
This year’s E3 conference was one of the clearest indicators of there being a positive gender shift in the games industry in recent memory. Just witnessing the reveal of all of these awesome games, starring or including playable female protagonists, as well as seeing all of these female members of the industry being placed at the forefront of the event, is so encouraging.
If your interest has been peaked, I recommend that you search up all E3’s starring women, both virtual and real.