Behind every great man...
...is a great woman. That's how the old axiom goes, and it's no more true anywhere than in video games. Yes, the medium might have a reputation for poorly representing female characters, while promoting dull-headed, overly stoic masculinity as its major protagonist trope, but is any of that really true? Of course not! Games are nothing but a bastion of ultra-modern, equality-focused storytelling, you big idiot!
Just think about how important women are to the biggest action game plots. Without them, nothing happens. Okay, so they might be dead, or die during the course of the story, but that doesn't mean that they're not every bit as respected, well-rounded and meaningful as their related men-folk. There's no tokenistic objectification here. No lazy character motivation, or adherence to dated cliche. No, dead female characters (I'm extending the definition to both girlfriends and ambiguous romantic interests, because this is a healthily eclectic group of characters, not limited by simplistic definitions of matrimony) are just as important as anyone else in video games. BECAUSE THIS IS SERIOUS, MATURE, WELL WRITTEN ART, Y'ALL. So let's have a word with them, shall we?
Dom Santiago's dead wife
Killed in: Gears of War 2, by Dom, as a mercy-killing.
Would probably say: "Okay, so I was kidnapped by a race of inhuman monsters, kept underground, hidden away from daylight and all I held dear for years, and eventually tortured into a twisted, mindless husk, residing in a tiny metal coffin before eventually being released only to gasp my first breath of fresh(ish) air in God knows how long immediately before having my brains blown out. But lets face it, the really sad part about all of this is how it caused a few mild problems in Doms friendship with his meat-headed military buddy. Causing frictions in masculine, male friendships. Thats the true tragedy wrought by the Locust.
"Dont worry about me. I was barely even in the story to begin with."
Billy and Jimmy Lee's shared girlfriend
Killed in: Double Dragon 2, right at the start.
Would probably say: "So I get kidnapped. Billy and Jimmy mount a rescue attempt. That was kind of cool of them. But what happens when they arrive? Do they call the police? An ambulance? Even check Im alright? No, they stick their idiot chests out and have a fight to see who gets me. Nice. I mean I only have a couple of cracked ribs, and I dont think there's any internal bleeding, so you guys carry on. Not like I need any say in who I end up with anyway.
"Well, it's not like I get any say in anything any more, seeing as how I got shot dead pretty soon afterwards. It's almost like I'm not actually a real person at all, and more a cheap excuse for Billy and Jimmy to beat people up. "
That flower-girl Cloud liked for a bit
Killed in: Final Fantasy 7, by Sephiroth
Would probably say: "Wow, that sword came out of nowhere. Totally unexpected. I mean I know Sephiroth was a bit of a dick, but that was entirely unwarranted. Come on, Id barely even done anything. Seriously, try to remember anything significant Id said or done at that point. Recall a single line of my dialogue. I was completely inoffensive. Hell, if I was going to get meta about this, Id say it was almost as if I was a barely sketched up clich of submissive, victimised femininity, designed only to elicit sympathetic, protective feelings from male onlookers.
"No, Im being paranoid now. That would make my very existence, and by association my death, only relevant in terms of creating artificial angst and narrative drive for the second part of the story, and thatd just be ridiculousThough I did die about halfway through Hmm... Hang the fuck on a minute"
Kratos' dead wife
Killed in: God of War, by Kratos, in an oblivious war rage.
Would probably say: "You know whats really frustrating about this whole thing? I was about to leave the bald-headed boar anyway. He was just such a tedious, one-dimensional, perpetually angry dickhead. No depth to him at all. Such a self-indulgent grunt. It was like his view of masculinity hadnt evolved since he was a teenager. No way I could raise a family with someone like that. By great Zeus beard, I bet my death was the most interesting thing that had ever happened to him. I mean how notable would he have been, really, if killing me and the kids hadnt set off that little tantrum of his?
"Never mind the plans I had for moving away and setting up my own business, or how excited the kids were about moving to the coast, just as long as Kratos got his foot on the career ladder and had an excuse to not grow the fuck up for another few years. Yeah, thats what we should be focusing on here. As ever."
Dante's dead wife
Killed in: Dante's Inferno, by some middle-eastern assassin, off-camera, because she didn't really matter to the story until she died.
Would probably say: "I was a teacher in the village before I died. I also sat on the town council (while the men were away at the Crusades, naturally), was instrumental in sorting out the new water supply, helped several of the areas poor by creating new jobs through the farmland redevelopment programme I initiated, and was also a dogged environmentalist.
"Of course, all of that happened before Dantes story started, so you wont know any of it. All youll know is that I died with my tits out."
Gabriel Belmont's dead wife
Killed in: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Would probably say: "You think hes a moping, disaffected dick now? Think about this. Pretending my death was reversible was the only way I could persuade him to carry on his quest to save the world. Seriously. Thats why he went all the way to take down Satan. I effectively had to give my life so that millions more could be saved, because he, supposed noble warrior of light, would not get his arse in gear otherwise.
"And he gets the credit. Brilliant."
That bloke from Shadow of Mordor's dead wife
Killed in: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Would probably say: "This is bullshit. Seriously. What the fuck? I was nothing if not dutiful. Cartoonishly so, if you consider my offer to fess up for Talions crimes before I died. And that whole be brave, well be together in the next life schtick. And all that submissive bullshit when we were talking about moving away to build a better life for our son. Sweet crap, who the hell actually behaves like that? That's some just plain unbelievable idealistic bullshit there. I mean theres being selfless, and then theres not even existing except as an appendage of ones husband.
"Did any of those orcs even know my name before I died? Did anyone? Im pretty sure it didnt come up. Not that anyone asked. Like, at all. And its not like things improved afterwards, either. Did I get offered any glowy-eyed vengeance? Nope, thats all for Talion. Apparently this isn't about me. I can actually see why Beatrice - that's her name, by the way - thought about hooking up with Lucifer. Of course it's all about Dante, and Kratos, and Talion, and the rest of those moping pricks. Total horseshit."
See, ladies? See how good you have it video games these days? Hell, some of you even get to fire guns. Truly, we are living in the age of enlightenment.
Christ, I can't carry on with this. Shall we just move onto some links? Good. Have a look at 9 times I slacked off instead of being a hero in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (opens in new tab), and then read Why Sonic should be retired - by the last person who cared (opens in new tab). Because why the hell not?