A new definition of manhood


Colin Stokes, TEDx:

Another thing that’s really unique about “The Wizard of Oz” to me is that all of the most heroic and wise and even villainous characters are female.

Now I started to notice this when I actually showed “Star Wars” to my daughter, which was years later, and the situation was different. At that point I also had a son. He was only three at the time. He was not invited to the screening. He was too young for that. But he was the second child, and the level of supervision had plummeted. (Laughter) So he wandered in, and it imprinted on him like a mommy duck does to its duckling, and I don’t think he understands what’s going on, but he is sure soaking in it.

And I wonder what he’s soaking in. Is he picking up on the themes of courage and perseverance and loyalty? Is he picking up on the fact that Luke joins an army to overthrow the government? Is he picking up on the fact that there are only boys in the universe except for Aunt Beru, and of course this princess, who’s really cool, but who kind of waits around through most of the movie so that she can award the hero with a medal and a wink to thank him for saving the universe, which he does by the magic that he was born with?

Compare this to 1939 with “The Wizard of Oz.” How does Dorothy win her movie? By making friends with everybody and being a leader. That’s kind of the world I’d rather raise my kids in — Oz, right? — and not the world of dudes fighting, which is where we kind of have to be. Why is there so much Force — capital F, Force — in the movies we have for our kids, and so little yellow brick road?

Take 10 minutes to watch this great TEDx Talk by Colin Stokes. I’m not sure how it escaped me that all Pixar protagonists were male until Merida (Brave). Looking back on my childhood, I am able to recall watching The Wizard of Oz again and again. I don’t think the themes of leadership and friendship completely sunk in at that young age; however, the limited and choice amount of violence certainly made me fear conflict much more than any war story.

During last year’s E3 Expo, I couldn’t help but feel there was an increase in games featuring a female protagonist. Not resting on a hunch, I decided to investigate which new titles featured female protagonists versus the year prior. Looking IGN’s Games of E3 lsts for both 2012 and 2013, I found that the inclusion of female protagonists in games announced at E3 jumped from 2% in 2012 to 6% in 2013.

I’m looking forward to breaking down this year’s data and may be asking for a bit of help with a publicly shared database (via Numbers for iCloud). My early numbers show 18% male, 3% female, 10% multi, 4% n/a, and 65% unknown.

UPDATE: Updated numbers the night before E3 are as follows:

26% male, 4% female, 17% multi, 9% n/a, 44% unknown.

My data (based on IGN’s Games at E3 2014) is publicly available and I encourage readers to reach out on Twitter (@_stateofgaming) or email with any recommended changes. Some “unknown” data can be implied but, without proof, I’ll be waiting until official announcements have been made before I update the chart.