Women in Dead Rising.
It has struck me odd that recently there have been quite a few articles about sexism in video games lately. Articles about how female gamers and female writers are people to. Also about how females are depicted in games. Similar topics about a male writer who posed as a female writer for a blog, or how a female comic book fan asked DC the simple question “Where the women at?” Now I can go into discussions about how the female form has been portrayed in comics, or about men posing as women, or about women feeling they are getting a raw deal in the gaming industry in both reputation and representation. But this is called Gaming With Sean. So, instead I’m going to focus this video on one of my FAVORITE X-Box 360 games EVER, DEAD RISING on the X-box, and discuss how it portrays women.
So, how does this game made by the creator of Megaman portray women? As strong role models for women? Damsels in distress? Bad ass biker mama’s with a chip on their shoulder?
For starters, this is going to have spoilers. The first non zombies you can see in Dead Rising are not the protagonist nor the antagonist. Instead if you let the title screen idol long enough, you see a scene about a woman who is desperately trying to get her daughter safely out of Colorado. A very interesting and gripping scene that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot except to show you that Willamette Colorado is completely screwed. While awesome, it tells you as much about Dead Rising, as the trailer of Dead Island did for that game.
Dead Rising stars and ugly man named Frank West. Don’t think Frank’s ugly? Well then Capcom failed. Upon arriving in Willamette, Frank oogles the local talent while an old woman cries out about her lost dog, who is also a woman. A man yells at his wife about how problematic things are every time they go out.
Later, you go to the safe house, and meet Jessie. A beautiful blonde who, despite being a rookie, is a formidable DHS agent… until she twists her ankle and has to spend most of the game sitting down watching tv until her eventual emotional distress. Fortunately, her cleavage can help you gain XP while she unwittingly helps search for survivors, not that Otis will really let her use the walky talky. Oh well, she later gets attacked by a man who’s going zombie. Fun.
You later meet survivors. Some are husbands looking for their wives, others are helpless victims who morn the loss of love ones. The women in the game come in all shapes and sizes. Some need you to hold their hand, while others are quite formidable until they have to go down stairs. Like all of the survivors though, they are just cattle. Cattle to be herded, and cataloged. Getting an Erotic shot is actually a big plot point in the game, thankfully there’s one survivor who requests Frank to photograph her, so she will always be known for her beauty. Man, with a sub plot like that, I can see why Dead Rising 2 sought out a partnership with Playboy.
So, you continue playing, fighting Psycho Paths, one of which has the Hispanic woman previously seen, another is a big fat lesbian cop who’s doing naughty things to survivors, and finally the main antagonists fiery Latin sister even gets into the action. After a fight scene with Isabella shooting her Uzi, and not the Barrett M82 she’s seen with in the manual, you have to save her from a zombie who has only attacked her after her brother Carlito accidentally shoots her. Awesome. Isabella has gone from being known as a beauty, a victim, a bad ass, and now back to victim. How is she going to portray herself next?
So things escalate, Carlito continues to portray himself as a magnificent bastard as Jessie deals with stuff, and Isabella helps frank with more information via the walky talky. They save the day, but shit hits the fan cause the military has decided to ignore things, kill the zombies, and blow the place up. So, distraught Jessie eventually becomes a zombie and eats the bad guys, which while makes me sad to see her die as I actually care about using Jessie for XP, it’s pretty bad ass. Kind of reminds me of John legui-Zombie in that one George A Romero movie. not that George A Romero’s work inspired Dead Rising, or anything.
So. eventually The game ends, frank is ready to live the mall, but shit gets EVEN WORSE. Oh no. But Isabella saves the somehow infected Frank west’s life. The game takes a turn as Isabella uses not her beauty, nor her motorcycle skills, to save Frank’s life by hauling him to her and Carlito’s hideout, but her sheer physical strength and brains. Pfft. Turns out she’s an awesome scientist and creates not only a treatment, but also a way to repel zombies! So you go all Ico on her and drag her around to escape. Awesome. Wait. BOSS Battle! And You are playing as Isabella on the back of a truck using a mounted turret! SHE’S TAKING CARE OF THIS BOSS BATTLE? WHAT?!?!?!? Of course, Frank, not to be out done by this fem fatale, Takes out the military man while poor Isabella watches. Poor Isabella.
In all reality, Isabella makes up for Jessie’s inaction in the game. Over all, this game portrays women pretty damn well. There aren’t any women in swimsuits, even the one you take provocative shots of. So in short, women can be heroes, villains, cattle, victims, lesbians, sex symbols, and well… just normal people. Just like real life. Dead Rising is one of my favorite games, and besides some minor gripes with this early 360 game, I can’t think of many things that are wrong with it except that there’s not enough Frank West in drag.