Women in Video Games: Alex Roivas

Last week, we talked about Princess Peach: the regularly kidnapped female PC. This week we’ll be talking about strong female PC: Alex Roivas, from Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. Alex’s story takes place in the year 2000. Alex is studying abstract mathematics and number theory at a nameless university in Washington. Her back story alone makes her a change from the overly pink princess with the high voice and well styled hair. Where Peach is soft, Alex is hard. Where Peach is a stereotype of femininity, Alex is a challenge to that.

Peach’s worst experience to date has been getting kidnapped… constantly… but Alex begins her journey by finding her grandfather’s body sprawled out on the library floor. It is typically a man who deals with issues of conflict. Despite this, Alex looks into her grandfather’s mysterious murder. During her exploration of his mansion, Alex finds the Tome of Eternal Darkness and relives the lives of several different characters. Despite these blackouts and nightmares, Alex bravely continues to delve into the overlying mystery in the mansion.

The usual portrayal of women, and the general feminine personality, is weakness and timidity. Then along comes Alex, in Nintendo’s first M rated game ever, to effectively do away with these stereotypes. This is not a woman who will be kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (an outrageous extreme, but you get my point).

Alex goes through a lot during the game. This is not only because of the main story line in which she finds her dead grandfather, constantly passes out upon finding chapters of a skin and bone covered book, and discovers that she has to save the world but also because of the sanity meter, which, if low enough, can cause Alex to have additional hallucinations, like seeing her dead body in a tub of blood (and if you open the inventory you will find that you can’t interact with any of your items… seeing as the character you are playing is dead).

The stereotypical female character would have different reactions to these scenes. Although Alex does occasionally faint and/or vomit, she still carries on in pursuit of the truth.

Alex is among the first female playable characters in video games to demonstrate a strong woman and not a kidnappee. Alex, like Lara Croft and Samus Aran, contest what it means to be a female character in video games. Alex is among the first female characters to not be the the goal.

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