[Trigger warning: Abusive behavior & emotional manipulation.]
Let’s be honest: when Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute for her younger sister Prim, we all fell head over heels for dystopias. And why not? Corrupt leaders, crumbling worlds, emotional strife, and an array of incredibly brave young women. Who doesn’t like that story? I love Katniss because she demonstrates kindness, devotion, and ungendered behavior, which is pretty empowering to the millions watching or reading The Hunger Games. And yet, for me, as a lover of dystopias and video games, I am also bummed because while I only ever get to read or watch Katniss, I never get to participate in her narrative.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are a handful of dystopian video games for me to play—even some with characters who are women, so what am I whining about? Yeah, there’s the BioShock series, The Last of Us, Borderlands, etc., but a lot of these games don’t have the lady protagonists who I love and admire. Well, that is, until a few months ago when I struck gold: as fate would have it, I stumbled upon Double Fine’s Broken Age. It’s a fantastic point-and-click adventure game released in 2015, which has a unique focus on women and young girls.
In case you’ve never played it or heard of it, never fear, I’ve got your back! Broken Age follows two teenagers: Shay, a young boy, and Vella, a young girl, both of whom dwell in two totally separate, but actually related dystopian worlds. The game requires players to play from both perspectives. We not only get to experience and participate in two completely different dystopias, but we also witness the ways in which a myriad of women are shaped by their particular dystopian world.