What Does it Mean to be a Female Character in “Indie” Game Storytelling? Narrative Framing and Humanization in Independently Developed Video Games

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Video games have long held a spotty history in their narratives regarding women. Most research has examined large budget games and identified issues of simplification, oversexualization, and a general lack of agency among female characters. The present study explores the gaming niche of “indie”—or independent game developer—video games in their representations of women in particular with Never Alone, Gone Home, and Her Story. These games were released around the time frame of the GamerGate controversy—a controversy which drew attention to the treatment of women in gaming culture—and hence, the games are used to reflect on a potential shift in games culture following the controversy. This article argues that these game narratives emphasized multilayered female characterizations, female-to-female interactions, and internal dramas as a way to potentially reach female gamers and present an alternative, humanizing narrative on women.