Gender in video games is a hot topic these days. Between Anita Sarkeesian and the various reactions to her work to a panoply of other such discussions going on, the world of video gaming is rapidly changing. While formerly largely the domain of males who either didn't much care for or weren't too gifted at socialization, now, video gaming is becoming a lot more inclusive. That's changing a few things, and challenging a few long-held beliefs. One such effort to do just that came from Pop-Post and its current work “Samurai Bike Messengers.”
Bizarre title, yes, but the folks at Pop-Post actually shot over word about this one, and what caught me was a fairly clever idea. Sure, we've had our share of “guy rescues the princess” games. We've had those attempt to subvert the trope with “girl rescues the prince” games. But with “Samurai Bike Messengers,” Pop-Post has done something a bit uncommon: teaming up a lady by the name of Mona-Star with her best friend, a guy calling himself Merx, and sending the two out—backed up by a collective of other characters, to take back New York City from a mysterious and not at all ominously named group of thugs known as—brace yourself—the Guzzle Thugs.
Sound bonkers? Sure it does. It helps to know that this is the product of an MTV alum, Kathleen Hinaga. But beyond the preposterous names, there's an exciting idea here. We've all seen how massive multi-player online (MMO) titles have drawn in the ladies, who reportedly favor the community aspect of gaming and the ability to work in a team as part of standard gameplay. That's not universal, of course, but it's said to have been a valid selling feature for the players. With something like this, meanwhile, that aspect of gaming can be introduced to a new concept, a more action-oriented game. It's not the first time this has happened, of course; perhaps Pop-Post remembers the Jaleco title for Game Boy known as “Fortified Zone,” in which a pair of mercenaries—heavily-armed Masato Kanzaki and agile, lightly-armed Mizuki Makimura—stormed the titular fortified zone in a bid to destroy the complex located at its heart. Players could switch between characters based on the situation at hand; while Masato had access to the full range of weaponry—which was good because he was both built like and about as maneuverable as a light armored vehicle—Mizuki was the only character able to jump. Thus, the duo worked hand-in-hand, each bringing a particular talent to the table.
Still, while this isn't a brand new concept, it is an unusual one, and one that could certainly stand a little more exposure in our gaming society. Instead of women serving as background objects, prizes, or eye candy, women should have every opportunity to join the gents on the field of battle. Each has a particular set of skills, a particular mindset, that can allow the both of them to represent a serious threat to the various bad guys of the world.
So let's remember Masato and Mizuki, gamers...let's remember Mona-Star and Merx. Let's remember the great team that man and woman can make, and put that to use in our games. There's plenty of room in the gaming market, and the more inclusive we can be about things, well, that means a better chance we'll get more perspectives and more interesting points in our gaming.