If I was giving a lecture on the development of female characters in video games, the Final Fantasy games from Square Enix would be a key part of that discussion. In an era where many women in games were relegated to damsel roles, many of the Final Fantasy games gave you female members in your party, and gave them important narrative roles to boot.
Since Final Fantasy has such a rich history of including interesting women in the series – the recently completed FFXIII series was helmed by a lady named Lightning – it’s confusing that the upcoming game Final Fantasy XV features a cast of all-men. In an interview with 4gamer, FFXV director Hajime Tabata confirmed that the party is male only – with no playable female characters in sight.
When unpacking this information, Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft notes that there is a history in Japan of all-male driven games being extremely popular with female players. Instead of alienating female players, he suggests that there is a possibility that the all male party was meant to draw Japanese ladies to the game in droves.
Luckily, with a new interview between IGN and Hajime Tabata, many of our questions are answered surrounding the all-male party, and we see that even the director was uncomfortable with the all-male approach. Tabata explains:
“The party members being all men was something that [former director] Tetsuya Nomura had kept as a very important element of this journey. He wanted to depict a story in which a group of men, a group of friends, journey throughout the world. So that’s something that I kept in Final Fantasy XV”
He also went on to mention that he feels that “gender bias is unhealthy” and that there will be prominent female characters who appear in the game. Considering Ubisoft’s response to questions surrounding female characters was “Um….derrr…they’re too hard to animate” Tabata’s explanation of the FFXV cast sounds more believable and understandable.
Square Enix has already released an all female Final Fantasy game in the critically misunderstood Final Fantasy X-2, so it’s only fair that we’re about to receive an all-male party to journey with. Perhaps without women around, these men will actually be able to say more than “………………..”. Maybe Noctis, the only playable character in FFXV, might break the mold for our stereotypical male Final Fantasy protagonists. BRING IT ON!