Final Fantasy is my all-time favorite fandom. I have played almost every single game (XI, XIII and XIV being the ones I have yet to play). It has always been my dream to cosplay a Final Fantasy character at a convention, a dream I am finally achieving this year. The character I have chosen is Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII. I haven’t played this high school, so I decided to pick up the game again and reconnect with Tifa’s character. (I downloaded the game on Steam and am happy to report that my new
piece of crap laptop handles the game very well)
From the very beginning, I started to think about who I wanted Tifa to be. When I first played the game, I had no idea of the fate that would befall Aerith (or Aeris in the English version). I took an interest in her character, connecting her personality with that of a healer. As I played through the game, she became a key component to my fighters. I always had her there to heal everyone else. Then….. then….. well, let’s just say the story progressed. Tifa became my next healer. I associated female characters with healers, as opposed to fighters, even though Tifa’s character is familiar with martial arts.
I don’t want to be a healer. I don’t want to dress up as a character that sits on the sideline casting cure while everyone else brandishes swords at the enemy. This time, Tifa is going to be kick ass and one of the male characters will take the role of healer. Even though I love this plan, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve switched the gender roles of my characters.
Final Fantasy has it’s issues in terms of diversity. In the first few games, the graphics weren’t good enough to show gender. It was more or less assumed that characters who had dresses were women and everyone else was men. The original playable characters were known as the Warriors of Light. There were ‘jobs’ these characters could have. Of them, only the white mage (who practices primarily healing a defensive magic) was assumed female. The other jobs were assumed to be female. It is important to know that these gender roles are implied, but not explicitly said.
Having played many Final Fantasy games before I picked up VII, I was familiar with these assumed gender roles. When I first picked up this game, I immediately assumed the women would be healers. I didn’t think anything of it. Now I do.
Why, when it comes to games and many other aspects of our culture, are women associated with healers and men with fighters? Is it just in our biology? Is it in our history of men fighting wars while the women and children wait at home?
I’m done with that. I am done playing these games assuming that the women have to heal and then men have to fight. When I go back and replay the older games, I can give my characters a female name and still have them be fighters, ninjas and knights. One of the greatest things about these characters is the freedom you have to make the characters your own. They still come with their own personality and play their role in the story, but you can decide what role they play in battle. My women are going to kick ass and the big man with all the muscles is going to cast cure (only because there are rarely men without big muscles in video games).
It’s time I respected Tifa Lockhart for the true fighter she is.
Do you see a trend in the roles men and women play in the media we create like games, books and movies? Is there a role you have yet to see a man or women play in fiction stories that you’d like to see? Do you think the gender roles we assign men and women in stories has more to do with biological assumptions about what the genders can handle, or society standards? Any Final Fantasy fans out there?
Have you see Vampire Academy, yet? GO SEE THE MOVIE!!!!!!!!