Earlier today, it was officially confirmed that SQUARE ENIX’s "Final Fantasy XV" will be in some way present at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show. This news was announced amongst ongoing concerns regarding the skewed gender ratio of the game’s cast of characters.
When the main cast of "Final Fantasy XV" was shown at E3 2013, the all-male ensemble sparked online debates regarding the game's apparent lack of female characters. The complaints can be neatly divided into two categories: on the one hand are those who are concerned about gender representation and raise a call for more female protagonists in video games more generally, and on the other hand are those who lament the lack of "eyecandy" for heterosexual males. (Warning: crude language in both links.) The latter complaints exist alongside criticism of the purportedly effeminate character designs of the game's male leads.
These complaints are but one example of a prevailing attitude that is endemic to a much larger subset of gamers. It is an attitude that asks for a female presence in video games, but only if their presence is secondary to that of males. Gamers who bemoan the lack of female characters in a game, yet deride the very idea of a female lead are, in essence, demanding for their games to exist in a hyper-masculine, hyper-heterosexual world in which females primarily exist as sexual objects, not as actual characters.
These demands, and the industry's acquiescence to them, only fuel the narrow-minded belief that white, heterosexual males are and will forever be the only suitable representation of a gamer. The lack of variety amongst video game protagonists is not merely a symptom of the current conditions of the industry; rather, any variance in and of itself is discouraged and systematically barred from the market.
Video games are certainly in great need of prominent female figures. Yet the effort to include females in video games is only truly worthwhile if they are fully-realized characters, not passive objects that exist solely to be scrutinized under the male gaze.