How ‘River City Girls’ Properly Dismisses Gender Stereotypes

‘River City Girls’ is a beat-em-up styled game that is a leader in dismissing gender stereotypes in the way they should be dismissed.

In Walker’s article, “Double Dragon’s perpetual damsel isn’t taking any shit in the new River City game”, he argues that WayForward’s game is innovative in the way that it presents women as video game protagonists, more specifically, for the character that initially was a victim of gender stereotypes. Marian Kelly was a video game character that appeared in the 1987 video game Double Dragon, in which she was beaten and kidnapped — a “damsel in distress” trope that has been around for decades. However, the way she is presented in this game is much more reminiscent of a Street Fighter character than anything — having a strong physique and radiating a powerful, independent vibe. In the article, it is mentioned how the creators responded to a fan’s question regarding Marian’s new strength, where they confirmed direct causation from her previously being a damsel in distress to her new, strong look.

The game also presents its main protagonists differently from Double Dragon, in which these main protagonists are women. I wrote previously on why all-female or female-heavy films are important to normalizing equality and feminism, and in this instance, the game has 2 female protagonists, each equally as strong as any male protagonist was in Double Dragon. Even with this, underrepresentation has been extremely prevalent with pushbacks against feminism as a “political ideology” (Gore, Luke 2013), and harmful tropes somehow making appearances, even in our modern age (Thornham, 2007). And, according to Thornham, tropes and stereotypes have not necessarily gotten more prevalent, but with increased access to advertisements, comparative stereotypes of women’s bodies have increased.

That is where Walker’s article comes back in: the increase in positive reinforcement for women and fighting typical gender stereotypes is powerful when pushing against a falsified version of female representation in video games, movies, advertisements, etc. Walker is 100% right about this game not taking anyone’s sh*t when it comes to disregarding female stereotypes within gaming. With their dismissive nature regarding tropes, it is hard to believe River City Girls is anything short of a beautiful, well-crafted piece of art that undoubtedly will do wonders for addressing female representation in video games.

Sources:

Luke, C., & Gore, J. (Eds.). (2013). Feminisms and critical pedagogy [PDF].

Thornham, S. (2007). Women, feminism, and media. Retrieved from
https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dqqBgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP6&dq=feminism+in+media&ots=usdGRlUBa8&sig=-Mb-MdKbwCbQaWQ9JjzMJbXREZU#v=onepage&q&f=false

Media, content creation, and politics.

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