I’m Sorry, Ms. Raymond, But I Don’t Want to Play as An “Old Lady”

I'm all for protagonist diversity, but there is a limit.

I’m going to be candid. …as GameSkinny readers know, I’m never anything but. 😉

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Let’s begin with the necessary disclaimer:

Jade Raymond is a credit to the video game industry and she knows what she’s talking about. She’s smart, knowledgeable and experienced. I like listening to and reading her interviews because she often has a great deal of insightful – and often very accurate – comments.

That all being said, I have to take issue with one of her most recent statements, uttered during a recent interview with The Grid. She starts out by pointing to the strides we’ve taken in the world of gaming narratives, which is important. Too many people dismiss these strides or flat-out pretend they haven’t happened.

Then she says this:

“There still isn’t a game where you get to play an old lady. That’s my dream.”

Perhaps she was exaggerating, or maybe it’s just a joke. Regardless, it does beg the question: Who the hell wants to play as an old lady?

We need to accept that gaming is best suited for certain things

I loved Heavy Rain. I really enjoyed the character of Madison because she was strong, not overly sexed, and interesting. I will always encourage developers to take risks and try new things in the world of interactive entertainment, which will undoubtedly result in plenty of freshness. At the same time, we’re just going to have to accept that gaming is action-oriented.

I don’t mean “action” in the genre sense; I mean that because it’s interactive, you have to be doing something. Furthermore, most of us want to “do” things in games that we can’t do in real life. I mean, who wants to play a game that involves gardening or building a ship in a bottle? I won’t cast aspersions on such hobbies (I’ve always wanted to try the latter, for instance) but in the realm of interactive entertainment, we want at least some form of action, even if it’s merely choosing dialogue response.

I’m all for cut-scenes, too; always have been. I have no problem sitting still for a few minutes to watch a well-done cut-scene. This isn’t about any impatience on my part, nor my desire to see tons of action. I want less action in many instances, because I think gaming has become too frantic and frenetic.

Doesn’t change the fact that I really don’t want to play as old lady.

Yes, gaming is a fantasy

That’s what it is. It’s a rising form of entertainment with a long way to go. There are so many bridges we have yet to cross, and I’m interested in seeing when and how we cross them. But playing as old lady doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m guessing – if others are being honest – it doesn’t appeal to many gamers out there. It’s not because we have something against female senior citizens. It isn’t because we can’t sit still and we need some hulking, musclebound, lantern-jawed, Type-A hero.

It’s because it just sounds boring.

Sure, you can make her a sorceress or something. But she had better be endowed with otherworldly abilities that don’t make her move like an old lady. Shuffling across the living room floor to get a pen for the crossword puzzle really can’t be in a video game. We want to escape; we want to have fun. I am aware that developers would see the old lady protagonist as a challenge, in that they’d need to find a way to make it interesting for the majority of the gaming public.

But that’s precisely my point: It would be a challenge because it doesn’t fit. An old lady as the protagonist of a novel? Fine. In a TV show? Absolutely, that can work. In a form of entertainment where we control that individual…? Come on, let’s be honest with ourselves a minute.

I think Raymond just said that because she likes a good challenge, and she’d love to try and make such a game appealing. She’s great at what she does, so maybe she could do it. At the same time, we have to admit that while we all play video games for different reasons, there are some things that work, and some thing that just don’t.

For the record, I don’t want to play as a 52-year-old, balding dude with a beer gut, either. I’m sorry if I don’t but I don’t think I should have to apologize for that.


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Author
Fathoms_4209
A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.