(Sorry for the rapid-fire posting, I just want to make sure I don’t forget the stuff I want to share!)
Borderlands 2’s Ellie (presented here by PC Gamer) is an interesting move by Gearbox (and I guess 2K?) in today’s gaming discussion. Reading the article, it’s very noble of Gearbox to want to present a non-Barbie (for lack of a less cliché term) female character (even an NPC). More respectable still to keep from making her the butt of some kind of joke (especially one relating to her appearance)! I love the idea that she’s strong (stronger, perhaps, than Scooter, is the implication?), and that she gets the job done. I appreciate that PC Gamer shares the development sketches from Gearbox – I personally like the first iteration the best, but I’ll respect their decision to keep her above appearance.
Where things get fishy for me is that we DO have stereotypes about women who look like Ellie does. While again I respect what Gearbox certainly thinks they’re trying to do, the second Ellie is a lesbian, or humorless, or even a little bit stupid, they fail at it. Some women are all these things. Some large women are all these things. Some large women are even all these things at the same time. What we’re in danger of implying here is that Ellie’s size could somehow make her more likely to be any of these things (and just thinking about how to word all this is making me so angry that being a lesbian is considered by some terrible people who invent stereotypes equally undesirable as having no sense of humor). In order to defy stereotypes, Ellie must defy all stereotypes, which makes her character, in my opinion, a pretty big responsibility that Gearbox have shouldered. I really hope they can live up to it.
What do you think about Ellie and her place in a feminist perspective on video games? Alternately, how excited are you for Borderlands 2? With as much as I loved Brick in the first game, I call Salvador all the way this time. Tell us what you think!