I participated in beta testing last weekend and can now say, thanks to the lifting of the NDA, that SWTOR features female-friendly characters and scenarios.
While running around on a Trooper last weekend, I encountered a variety of NPCs, both male and female, that had stories that fell under different categories. There was the desperate mother, the angry spy, the ambitious commando and more. I am not going to go into specifics. Why spoil the story for everyone?
It’s not enough to use a variety of male and female characters. If all of the characters fall into particular stereotypes, then they lack the potential to grow. In other words, not every woman is desperately waiting for her husband to return from the fighting and every man can’t be the do or die tough guy. It’s harder to play a female trooper who follows a dark path if every female NPC is cut from the same stereotypical mold. When that does happen, it can feel like a player is playing a male character with the skin of a female.
Feeling as if I was playing a female character was important to me. The game requires a player to maintain some degree of interest in the story. The only way to immerse yourself is to feel comfortable with your character. It’s harder to care about a game if you don’t care about what you’re playing. And as we all know, bored players often quit and subscriptions fall.
So bravo, BioWare, you did what every video game should do: make it appealing to male and female audiences.
Eventually (I hope), this won’t be an anomaly.