Margaret’s Blight is a modified 2D side-scroller that follows the journey of Princess Margaret, a Badger Warrior locked in battle with The Wizard over control of her Forest Kingdom. When Margaret loses the first battle, The Wizard traps her in a crystal prison and makes his escape. However, Margaret quickly realizes that the crystal doesn’t actually hinder her as much as The Wizard had intended. Margaret gives chase and discovers that – in the very short time she was battling The Wizard – her entire kingdom has fallen apart in her absence. Now she must rally her scattered warrior allies: Otis the Hedgehog, Jill the Possum, and Grumble the pug. With their help, Margaret will lead the charge to defeat the Wizard and bring peace back to her Forest Kingdom. Throughout her quest, Margaret must deal with her own pride and aggression, exhibiting empathy in the face of personal struggle, learning to accept help from others, and working to rely on more than just her strength to solve problems.
Through visual design, game design, and writing, Margaret’s Blight will attempt to address and subvert common and harmful tropes used to define female characters in video games. Every design element of this game works to enforce this concept:
-The character design works outside of common gender signifiers and other common visual denotations of gender.
-Princess Margaret is a character that exhibits feminine qualities, which subverts the notion that female characters can only be strong if they renounce their femininity and adopt masculine qualities.
-Game play is utilized in such a way to challenge the aggressive and masculine ways players have been conditioned to play game.
The foundation of this game extends beyond research into the storytelling devices of video games, and into the research I have done to properly communicate themes of gender representation. This research includes the writings of Tracy L. Deitz and Karen Mentz, the Tropes Vs. Women video series, Kurt Squire’s research on the educational potential of video games, countless articles addressing issues such as Gamergate or skewed gender representation in gaming, and my own lifetime of experiences playing video games. What I hope to achieve is an experience that uses the language of video games to sets up a player’s expectations and, through subversion, hopefully make players aware of how arbitrary preconceived notions about gender representation in video games are. Margaret’s Blight will utilize the process of learning through interactivity, visual design, game design, and writing to create a game that is accessible, fun, and entertaining, all the while promoting positive social change.