I’m not sure that I’ll have time for a full writeup this weekend, so I decided to offer up a discussion I posted to my Tumblr last week. In most games that allow male or female character creation, I try to keep the ratio of characters I build fairly even (Mass Effect being a key exception: Jennifer Hale’s FemShep is so much cooler than generic space-marine BroShep). While I tried to keep that balance for Star Wars: the Old Republic, I eventually ended up with heroines straight across the board. The second character I rolled was a beefy Zabrak Republic Trooper, and at different points I had a male Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent as well. But eventually I discarded each of these in favor of fem versions. The reason had less to do with plot or aesthetics and everything to do with character relations, specifically with the characters’ female companions.
My lady Trooper is likely the best example. Though I already had a male trooper, I couldn’t not make a femTrooper after I learned that Jennifer Hale is her voice actress. I deleted a Jedi Sage that I’d recently made in order to free up the character slot, then set about making my buff, scrappy, cyborg Heroine of Havoc Squad. Playing through both the male and female Trooper stories, I preferred my heroine’s interactions with Elara over the big Zabrak dude’s every comment sounding like he’s trying to get into her pants. I guess I didn’t feel like my male Trooper was good enough for the affection Elara kept showing him, and eventually I deleted him. The same fate befell my male Bounty Hunter for much the same reasons regarding Mako.
I find these stories of strong women supporting each other more interesting than turning these well-written heroines into some fluffy, predictable romance for some generic space soldier, white knight, dark lord, space spy, or gunslinger. I haven’t finished my Jedi Shadow’s story, but I like Nadia’s hero-worship of her already. My Sith Warrior leads Jaesa down the path of the Dark Side, even while helping Vette find her long-lost family. My Jedi Sentinel quickly became Kira’s confidante and helps her cope with her trauma at the hands of her former Sith Masters. Mako looks up to my Chiss Bounty Huntress like a big sister and keeps her patched up after a fight, while my Huntress treats Mako as an equal and encourages her crush on Torian. And Kaliyo remains enthusiastic about ‘blasters and girl-talk’ and offers verbal high-fives when my Miraluka Sniper puts a bolt between some Republic soldiers’ eyes. These are smartly written character dynamics that I would love to see more often between women in storytelling in general.
Admittedly, I’m still sometimes disappointed that romances aren’t available between my awesome heroines and their kickass partners-in-crime. I mean, Kaliyo admits to being bi, and Mako flirts far more confidently with my femHunter than with the male one I rolled for a while. And I really feel like any of the female companions could make terrific girlfriends with their respective heroines. But regardless, I like the existing friendship dynamics and remain content with them as kickass sisters-in-arms. (Plus, it helps my Jedi gals stay to the Jedi Code: I think I’d find Kira or Nadia’s advances much harder to resist than Doc or Therin’s.)
Anyway, that’s just my thoughts on the characters and character dynamics. Feel free to agree or disagree. Regardless, thanks so much for reading, folks! Take care, stay awesome!
(Yes, my Imperial Sniper is blind. She’s also huge and buff. All screen caps taken from gameplay.)