In an interview with The Guardian, The Evil Within and Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, known in the gaming industry as the ‘Godfather of Horror’ talks about a topic that he’s clearly very passionate about: female characters in video games.
With gender representation in games often swaying heavily toward strong, male lead characters, with females regularly portrayed as the weaker sex or as sexual objects, Mikami takes a refreshing stance as he speaks about why he disagrees with that particular approach.
“I don’t know if I’ve put more emphasis on women characters, but when I do introduce them, it is never as objects,” says Mikami. “In some games, they will be peripheral characters with ridiculous breast physics. I avoid that sort of obvious eroticism. I also don’t like female characters who are submissive to male characters, or to the situation they’re in. I won’t portray women in that way. I write women characters who discover their interdependence as the game progresses, or who already know they are independent but have that tested against a series of challenges.”
Mikami is largely referring to Jill Valentine and Claire Redfield who feature in the Resident Evil games as strong, independent female characters. What’s interesting though is that Mikami then expresses his dislike for one of his own characters, Rebecca Chambers, who was modelled on J-pop star Ayumi Hamasaki. In the first Resident Evil game, she worked for the Special Tactics And Rescue Service, a Raccoon City Police Department branch. She was a portrayed more as a submissive character who was eager to please.
“If I had to name the woman character I most disliked in my games it would be Rebecca Chambers,” said Mikami. “She’s submissive, she’s not independent. I didn’t want to include her but the staff wanted that kind of character in the game, for whatever reason. I’m sure it made sense to them. And in Japan, that character is pretty popular.”
Of course, Rebecca Chambers then went on to star in her own game, Resident Evil Zero where she became a much stronger character, but it’s interesting to hear the conflict between Mikami’s own set of morals when it comes to portraying female characters and the wishes of those around him to create what they deemed to be a “popular” character, possibly with the aim of pleasing male fans and J-pop fantatics in mind.
Who is your favourite female character of all-time? Let us know in the comments below…