Why Ask For Female Led Games Only To Ignore them?

Why Ask For Female Led Games Only To Ignore them?

The last few years has seen a huge push for more female representation in video games. A number of video game journalists, pop culture critics (still not sure what that exactly entails) and industry figures demanded to see well rounded female characters leading video games. It’s a admirable stance, but the issue of practicing what you preach quickly reared it’s head.

A small Brazilian indie developer, named Swordtale, recently released a game by the name of Toren, a puzzle adventure that explores gender roles and the concept of growing up. Toren was reviewed on this very site, and slated for it’s poor mechanics and dated gameplay…but not it’s attempts at exploring a female character. Toren’s main character is a young girl named Moonchild, her role throughout the game is the find her place in the world. Moonchild is neither objectified, sexualised or portrayed as weak. Moonchild, for all intents and purposes, is exactly what a number of people have been asking for…so why have they ignored the game?

It’s hard to pin down exactly why Toren was ignored. Press releases were sent out, both big names and little names were offered review codes along with a link to the trailer. From the small site that is PixelGate.co.uk, to James Rolfe (The Angry Video Game Nerd), Toren’s PR did a good job of offering codes for review across the board. As they say, ignorance is bliss, and that certainly seems true in Toren’s case. For a game that provided what many were asking for, there sure wasn’t a whole lot of support from the people you’d expect.

Toren may not be packing the ‘big’ names behind it, but Swordtale are undoubtedly contributing to the library of female led video games, a library not as small as some would have you believe. The method in which Toren explores it’s character is organic and well woven into the context of the story. There’s no misplaced attitude, no ‘issues’ that some people feel is a requirement for any female character. Moonchild’s journey from young child, to mature young women, happens before the players eyes in well crafted manner.

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Perhaps Toren wasn’t promoted in the right way. If Toren was thrown out into the public space and marketed as a game with the main selling point being a female lead, then perhaps social media would of buzzed with interest. Torren was marketed it as a video game, a video game with interesting themes and art style, and not just a vehicle for a female character. It’s a shame that a game like Toren fulfills the wishes of a vocal majority, yet receives barely any of their backing.

Denying the scent of hypocrisy is a hard feat. When people are making a living off bemoaning the lack of female lead games on the market, should we really be shocked when they chose to ignore games like Toren?



Sean Halliday


    May 21, 2015, 10:39 pm

    Total anecdotal. Doesn’t mean the industry as a whole ignores female leads or is squandering opportunities for female leads. Toren is a very bad game. No one wants to see females in terrible games with shit frame rates,bad screen tearing, and dull gameplay. I beat it and its a huge waste even if it tries to clone Ico. RIME (I think that’s the name) looks more like a Team Ico game than this. Some of Toren’s textures looks straight up PS2 level.

    If people spread word on a crappy game like Toren saying “play it for the strong female lead” some could end up thinking games with female leads are just bad. Its a dumb conclusion to come to but some would think that.

    Simply put, the press and society wants more strong female leads in games but they don’t want bad games. No one is talking about Toren because its pretty bad. A strong female lead can’t overcome that.

    Look at Never Alone. It features a strong little girl character and while its simple, gameplay is pretty solid and it got a lot of buzz recently.

  2. neoryu
    May 22, 2015, 10:05 am

    If a game is dated and with poor mechanics why would I play it… for a good girl/woman back story implementation?… I’ll rather read a book.

  3. Lemon
    May 22, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Two reasons:

    1) the game isn’t very good
    2) the loud voices clamoring for a female lead game are drowned out by the infinitely larger majority that just want to play good games rather than extending their social prejudices into their hobby and sacrificing quality for a statement

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