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2D Muse: Alis Landale (Phantasy Star)

This post has been on the back of my mind for a very long time, and it's been sitting in 'draft' for quite sometime now. I'm probably going to regret putting this out but hey, it's the internet and my blog is a dime a dozen, who the hell cares? It's probably good to post it out at least as a form of a vent. 

If you've been following the ever degenerating and declining cesspool that is video game community in the past two years or so, you'll most likely have come across issues that I think have very little to do with video games. At least in the Western hemisphere, as far as I know, the video game community has intertwined far too much with the real world, and for all the wrong reasons. 

Well in my interactions with the Western video game community, the big thing in the past two years or so has been sexism and misogyny (and whatever bloody else) in video games. You have a very loud minority stirring up a widespread reaction, and it's hard not to stumble upon it, why just recently Electronic Gaming Monthly dedicated an entire bloody issue on it...a huge far cry from the 30+ pages of import video game coverage they had during the good old days.

For whatever numerous reasons, video games are now sexist pigs, misrepresenting women, and are misogynist to the extent of being a serious social issue. Above all, all fingers point to men because they apparently 'dominate' the industry (so much for chasing an innocent childhood dream eh?). These are such loaded issues, and in all honesty, I don't think any of those so called issues should even exist in gaming. It's probably not worth me putting myself on the spot like this, but I really need to get this off my chest.

A medium is a canvas, and anyone who has the aspiration and desire can pick up a brush and have a go at exercising their vision. All kinds of visions can be depicted, and there is an audience for each respective vision in some form. If I don't enjoy a certain type of vision, I don't care for it, it's that simple, I'm not going to go out of my way to make sure it ceases to exist. I'm a long time Black Sabbath fan, I can't bear to listen to 30 seconds of something like Justin Bieber, but hell that music has an audience and I don't have to be any part of it. Why should it bother me that it exists, when there's plenty of hard rock music for me to indulge in?

Same goes for video games, you have these feminists groups lashing out against over the top and objectified female characters in video games,and honestly there is a place for over-the-top and sexualized characters, and for strong meaningful leads, and personally I would like to have both archetypes rather than be forced to choose between the two. I enjoy a character like Claire Redfield (Resident Evil) and a character like Juliet Starling (Lollipop Chainsaw) for different reasons, they both have their place and they are both memorable. If I were to look at male characters, there is a place for someone like Dante (Devil May Cry) and someone relatively far less lavish and stylized like Gordon Freeman (Half-Life).

I'm sick to death of video games being accused of being male dominated, no body asked women not to play video games or to not get involved in the industry. I can list so many talented women in the industry, many being involved since the 1980s and building an impressive body of work even till this very day. It shocks me when everyone comes out and says how the involvement and contribution of women in the industry is a rare occurrence, when so many great experiences I've had in my 20 year gaming tenure have featured a talented team, comprising of men and women. It's never something I cared to pay attention to, hell I don't care what the gender of the developer is, I want their work to speak on their behalf.

I hate to single out talented individuals in the industry on the basis of their gender, even if the intention is to praise them and offer a positive perspective on this whole so called sexism and misogyny in video games issue. Their work and talent speaks volumes, and their contribution to the industry is what matters above all. These individuals worked hard and chased a dream, and they were awarded and recognized accordingly for it. Regardless of their gender, I appreciate them for daringly setting out to chase such a risky dream, especially during the 1980s when the industry was so young and most of the individuals involved were pretty much self-taught.

As far as I am concerned, sexism, feminism, misogyny, and whatever the bloody else, does not exist in video games. These people, men and women, had the right to chase their dream and exercise their vision however they wanted to. I have no idea how it ended up being more men who did this, it's no conspiracy, but from what I have observed anyone who set out to legitimately do this and took the hard road, ended up making an impact. If more women want to do this then they'd do well to work hard just like all the other successful individuals in this industry who set out to realize their dream and vision, and not by pointing fingers and making poor excuses. I can list so many examples of women in the industry whose contributions helped define so many of my cherished franchises (Final Fantasy, Xeno, Castlevania, and more), but I'l focus on one example for this post.

Rieko Kodama is someone I consider to be one of my heroes and idols in the video game industry, she worked as the lead designer on the original Phantasy Star, a game that was literally over a decade ahead of its time. She would continue to be involved with two other acclaimed Phantasy Star titles, and as a series it stands as one of the most influential role playing games of the medium. Rieko Kodama would go on to produce Skies of Arcadia, which is considered to be a modern day role playing classic. Needless to say, her resume alone has a legendary status, a kind of resume that has very few peers.

The original Phantasy Star was a truly special and groundbreaking video game, released in 1987 as a futuristic science fiction role playing epic that had you traversing space, exploring rich planets, and surviving grueling 3 dimensional dungeons. You embarked on this odyssey as Alis Landale, a young 15 year old woman who sets out to stand up against oppression and save her world and beyond, this was a strong and well developed protagonist. She was a woman, and no one harped about her gender or glorified it the same way feminist gamers like to sensationalize the female variant of Mass Effect's Commander Shepard (otherwise known as FemShep), instead Alis was celebrated as a true hero of her in-game universe, and in subsequent games she was always celebrated as the original legendary hero of the Phantasy Star universe.

It's a crying shame that there are so many great examples of female representation in video games and in the industry itself, but everyone is going to turn a blind eye. Phantasy Star was Mass Effect two decades before there was even a Mass Effect, and unlike the glorified blank-slate that is FemShep, Alis Landale was a true well defined character, a strong lead protagonist, and an immortalized hero in the Phantasy Star universe. Reiko Kodama is a renowned legend who commands the same respect as Hironobu Sakaguchi of the Final Fantasy fame, it's all about merit here.

May Reiko Kodama and Alis Landale continue to be acknowledged by the gaming community, and positively inspire anyone who wishes to break into the industry and create a compelling experience, and compelling characters, for all gamers to enjoy.


  1. Thank you for writing this article, I got chills reading this. You said everything how it is and it even made me think about my dreams. I will work harder like Rieko to achieve them. What an incredible hard-working woman. Of course the feminists don't ever mention someone like her, because it proves them wrong. This is a beautiful article, thank you Muser.

  2. This article may just be your magnum opus, VirtuaMuser. Fantastic work.


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