Since 1996 gamers have had the privilege of experience the intense video game series that is Resident Evil. Now that the newest Resident Evil game has been released, I thought it would be a good time to talk about one of the things that had made Resident Evil so endearing to me.
I only recently became a fan of Resident Evil. I became invested when they released the PC port of the remastered edition of the first game, but I was immediately drawn into the dark atmosphere of the mansion. Resident Evil gets a lot right in terms of game design and atmosphere design, but the thing that really shines about Resident Evil is the way it treats its female characters.
Secretly, Resident Evil and most of its sequels were games that promoted feminism. Not in a blunt or forward way, but in the way it treats its female characters just like the male ones. I say this because, in almost all of the main Resident Evil games, you had the choice between playing a woman and a man. Each character was unique in some way, but the woman was just as capable as the male character. Feminism, which is in essence, the idea that women are just as capable as men and should be seen as their equal, fits this mold perfectly. The female characters are just as capable and just as awesome as the male characters.
To give you some context as to why this is historically important for video games, this is a game that came out the same year that Duke Nukem 3D did. The whole plot of Duke Nukem 3D is that aliens kidnapped earth's women, and so a buff stereotype of a guy must save a bunch of objectified women. Yet, the very same year, a strong female character co-starred in the first Resident Evil. She wasn't an object to be won, she wasn't someone who needed anymore saving than the men did, and she very much held her own.
That being said, not even Resident Evil is unstained from objectification. Several of the outfits that can be unlocked for the female characters are objectionable, but not over the top. For every outfit that could be seen as "bad," there was one that was just a normal outfit. The female characters basically just wore police style uniforms just like the male characters did.
As a guy who has known a lot of strong women, I think it is wonderful that a game could display female characters so accurately. A female cop isn't weaker than a male cop, and yet we get male heroes more often than we do female ones. To have a game series that eschews that, is wonderful. I don't intend to make the games sound like a political statement, the games themselves don't preach much of anything. It is the fact that they treat having strong female characters like no big deal that makes the games so accurate to feminism.