The Girls of KINGDOM HEARTS 3 - #Gaming
I loved Jet Set Willy because although it was a platformer I could roam around somewhat freely in the house. I didn’t care much about the gold you were supposed to be collecting. I just wanted to see the next room and then the next.
Now they look like this
There are two things I’ve always been fascinated with in video games through the years – the settings and the characters. I wasn’t an enthusiast until I was in my twenties however and got to experience Final Fantasy VIII and then Final Fantasy X. It took my gaming to a completely new level as I realized there were different reasons for people to play games. Some do it to master the game – I just do it for the story, basically.
Now stories in video games aren’t like stories in books or movies, for the gameplay to work you need to be able to keep the story interesting and relevant while still allowing for some repetition and often alternative storylines. In my mind they are like short stories – and what’s important in those is that you get dropped into the action right away and that you have strong characters.
I recently played Kingdom Hearts 3 with my daughter who is 9 years old. It seemed like a game we could enjoy together. She could play and I could help. It seemed ideal to spend some time together.
Now while my generation (you’ll have to ask if you want to know) of women may not play a lot of video games - I know a few but I’m sure the men are in vast majority, but with the generations in between? I’m sure it’s evening out quite rapidly and yet such games as Kingdom Hearts 3 seem solely made for boys?
Why do I say that? Well – it looks like a game for kids, doesn’t it? (And yes I know there is a generation that played the old games that had to be kept happy) It has the Disney stamp on it and bound together with the Final Fantasy in previous games it seems like game suitable for so many people. Yet in 2019 the developers decide to have not only NO playable women (truthfully only Sora is playable and I can go with that, I won’t protest that) and his cohorts Goofie and Donald are none optional – but in each world he drops into there are women and they are either made completely useless (was I the only one who thought Hercules' Meg went from being a badass in the movies to being a useless damsel in fucking distress in the game?) or they are simply story elements. Only Rapunzel is allowed to join you on your missions and that only while you’re getting her from her tower to town. When you drop down into the world later in the game it’s her love interest that’s with you fighting. In all the other worlds it’s either males, robots, snowmen, male monsters or male toys.
Now Disney has their name on this game which is why this surprised me quite a bit. Japanese game makers may not have come too far in the feminist evolution, but Disney?
And my kid she noticed this.
She mentioned it – several times – “Mom, why are the girls never in the fights?”
So what do I tell her? That mostly boys play the games? That’s bullshit.
There are games with great female characters. Playing through Horizon Zero Dawn was delightful . Aloy isn’t just a great female characters, she is quite unique and not so highly sexualized.
Now don’t get me wrong – I have very little against sexualization in video games. I am sure I enjoyed The Witcher 3 a lot more because Geralt of Riviera is easy on the eyes, but in my opinion you have to EARN it. You can’t just have the characters there solely for the oogling eyes – they have to ACTUALLY be characters, preferably playable and they HAVE to be somehow unique, they have to feel like real “people”. Now thanks to Disney a lot of the characters in Kingdom Hearts 3 feel like real characters, familiar and fun but my nine year old’s interest in the game fell greatly when she realized that there were just NO girls involved in the fight at all and if they were they were at the sidelines, dancing or distressing.
Now I finished Kingdom Hearts 3 and I played for the ultimate weapon and I finished the side things and was disappointed when there was no game+ but as the mom of a little girl who loves playing games I have to say I was greatly disappointed. It didn’t matter that the worlds looked beautiful and that the story was wonderfully complicated and deliciously hard to get your mind into (I kinda loved that). It didn’t matter that the gameplay was fun (they say it’s easy, but I like easy – or at least I used to) and it didn’t matter that the experience of the game was generally better than any of the other Kingdom Hearts I played. That question stuck with me “Mom, why are the girls never in the fights?”
Now WHY is that?