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Stop Using Damsels-In-Distress

Rarely are there tropes in media more utilized and over-done than the damsel-in-distress. Some franchises are built on rescuing a damsel, such Super Mario and Legend of Zelda (though Zelda goes in and out on fitting this trope). Even the new Spider-Man game, Edge of Time, seems to be incorporating it as its main plot. It’s a trope that we all now exists, but taking a step back to really think about just how many games incorporate it, either as a side story or the entire plot, is staggering.

  • Resident Evil 4 (Ashley Graham)
  • inFamous (Trish)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Princess Elise)
  • Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney (Maya)
  • Castlevania series (several)
  • Kingdom Hearts (Kairi, Namine, the Disney princesses)
  • Starfox Adventures (Krystal)
  • Shadow of the Colossus (Mono)
  • Alan Wake (Alice)
  • Legend of Dragoon (Shana)
  • Fire Emblem series (several)
  • Viewtiful Jow (Silvia)
  • Crash Bandicoot (Tawna)
  • MadWorld (Naomi) 
  • Duke Nuken series (any woman ever)

Those are just the ones off the top of my head. All forms of media, have always saturated with the storyline of the hero rescuing the damsel-in-distress. In essence, the reason that Damsels-In-Distress are ridiculous is the fact that damsels are not people; they are tools. They are a force that moves the story along, causes enemies to put aside their differences, and inspire the protagonist to embark on his journey. You never hear about their lives, their family, their wants or their dreams. The damsel rarely has a personality that exists outside of being the love interest of the main hero, even if she becomes a playable character, and is always used a catalyst to engage and even enrage the main hero. This damsel is almost always a girlfriend/wife/love interest of the main hero, and a good portion of the game is spent trying to rescue her. If the main hero has a love interest, you can bet that she’s going to be a damsel.

I find that whenever games incorporate a damsel as a main plot point, it’s a sign of a lack of originality. It’s also particularly belittling to the women that the vast majority of these damsels are, as the proportion of damsels to actual female characters who are powerful and even playable is depressing. For every great female character, I could probably name four or five damsels. It’s just another sign of how male-centered the industry is and how women are used as plot devices than as actual people.

-Aria