Earlier this week an off-hand announcement came from Gearbox Software, the folks behind Aliens: Colonial Marines, the upcoming "spiritual sequel" video game based on James Cameron's tour de force of action-film-redefining incredibleness, Aliens - you know, the movie in which Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley goes from being out of her element and beset by anxiety to being one of the angriest BAMFs to ever grace the silver screen - wait, where was I?
Anyway, there's not going to be a single playable female character in the damn game.
Now listen, for most any other franchise, I'd be like "Yeah, that's video games for you, what you gonna do?" It's a frequently-troglodytic industry whose image of women is often...well did you hear about what they did to Samus in Metroid: Other M, or that whole Lara Croft rape thing, or...well, this s--t? But given the Alien franchise's history of pioneering strong female leads - especially the first two films, to which this is supposed to be a spiritual successor, right? - there's really no good reason for Gearbox leave out at least one strong woman. I mean, in one scene Ripley duct tapes a machine gun and grenade launcher to a flame thrower and marches right into the heart of a nest of Lovecraftian monsters that's minutes away from being vapourized by a 30-megatonne nuclear explosion. If you're going to be the spiritual successor to that, even if you're not going to pick up on the maternal rage part, you have to have some nod to the previous protagonist, no? Or how about the not-at-all accidental fact that, by the time Aliens' final epic ass-kicking rolls around, every single male character has been killed, incapacitated, or torn in half? Tell me James Cameron wasn't flipping the bird to stereotypical action movies with that one.
Anyway, I'm apparently not the only person baffled by this. There's a petition on the go to pressure Gearbox and Sega (the game's distributor) to include at least one playable female character in this multiplayer game. From the petition:
We believe ALIENS is the perfect starting pont for developers to start including playable females in more multiplayer shooters. And what better company to start this than Gearbox with the success of Borderlands and the benchmark shooter Brothers in Arms? There are many females that enjoy playing video games and are fans of the films who are tired of playing as a male all the time. Lets let Gearbox Software see how important this is to the ALIENS franchise!
What we want is the ability to create a CUSTOM female to represent ourselves just like the men can, in Multiplayer/Co-op in order for us to "Become a Colonial Marine" as well as accurately represent the other half of the United States Colonial Marine Corps!
As of now, the petition has had over 2700 signatures.
I've had my say. I'm not outraged, but I think that Gearbox has made a pretty stunning oversight. Let us know what you think in the comments section.