In an interview with OXM, Epic Games art director Chris Perna mentions why he thinks the women of Gears of War have been so well received by female fans/players.
“From what we’ve heard, when they play the game they feel empowered and they feel good,” Perna told OXM. “Some of the feedback I’ve heard from women that I talk to is that if we’d made these women more feminine and more stereotypical it wouldn’t have been so nice.”
It’s worth noting the “they” Perna is referring to are the female fans who show up at Gears of War cosplay events. Though, I can’t honestly imagine who else women would show up at a Gears of War cosplay event dressed as—they’ve really only got the two options.
“You see the implants and the blonde hair and pants and you roll your eyes—it’s almost like the game geek’s idealisation of what a woman should be,” Perna said. “I think because we didn’t go that route we have more believability… we’ve got more butch characters.”
“They’re still feminine,” he added. “Anya in Gears 3 comes across as being very feminine, and I think it works.”
I also think it’s worth noting that female characters in non-supporting roles only turned up in Gears of War 3, when Anya and Smantha Byrne armored up to take on the Locusts with the boys instead of talking in their ears from a safe distance. I’m not sure this constitutes stereotype-breaking notability. But I do know that Gears of War has been quite popular with female players for some time—long before Gears of War 3. So I think the allure has more to do with the gameplay than how women are presented in the Gears fiction, since prior to Gears 3 Anya’s role was no less stereotypical than any comm-support female character.
Gears of War: Judgment bursts onto Xbox 360 March 19 in North America, March 22 in Europe. Judgment features a new female Gear, Sofia Hendrik.