Princess Power

The early role of female characters in video games

Wulf's Blog

The roles of female characters, especially in older games, have been greatly misconstrued. Certainly, many older games had male protagonists for the player to identify with, but we must keep in mind that the demographic of players at that time was largely young males. Female roles often took the shape of a princess to be rescued. Think of Princess Peach from the Super Mario Bros. titles and Princess Zelda from the Zelda series. And even though Star Wars began as a movie, games surrounding this franchise were eventually released and are still being made, so we can include the iconic Princess Leia.

Each of these women were taken captive by an enemy and held hostage. The misconception is to view these women simply as damsels in distress that needed a "big strong man" to come rescue them. No, these were leaders of their peoples in conflicts with enemies that sought to dominate their domains. They were not "princess pawns", but rather prisoners of war. They were the first front line heroes before Mario, Luigi, Link and Luke Skywalker came along. They were the symbols of hope and inspiration to their peoples.

When male protagonists enter these stories, it does not detract from the importance of these female characters. It speaks to their humanity in the sense that at some point or another, we all need help. The masculine traits of the protagonists that are exhibited also speaks a clear message to these women: "You are not alone" & "You are worth fighting for". These are women of value. They are women with a place in the world and with an importance to it. Is it any wonder both little girls and grown women want to be princesses? These are very positive messages.

From a spiritual perspective, we see in Genesis that humanity was created in the image of God, both male and female. Each is a reflection of God's nature, each an insight to the other of who God is. Both are as important to the other, yet we get misguided in a worldly perspective of gender rivalry. In this misconceived 'Battle of the Sexes', we lose sight of a simple truth: That we are only best together.

It was the strength of Peach, Zelda, and Leia amidst their captivity that allowed opportunity for Mario, Luigi, Link, and Luke to exhibit their own strength in fighting for what was right to free them. These are truths that should not be overlooked.