Note: This is a cross post from my Tumblr. (And on SH wiki) Spoilers are abound for Silent Hill 1 and 3! It’s also dated, being about 4 years old.
I bring this up because it’s not noted by anyone else and many people in feminism seem to use it to focus on negative rather than some positive examples. While there are many games which have female protags and it’s something that’s been around for awhile I think SH3 was ground breaking in this area for several reasons. Heather, the main character, should be highlighted in the video game arena more for being one of the best written female video game characters.
Many games, when having female protagonists, are still geared towards a male audience. (Yes, SH3 isn’t the exception here, but hear me out.) This usually manifests itself in over-sexualization of the character. At worst the character is portrayed as being too dependent on a male character. Heather is sexualized in some promo-pictures, really notably one, but it’s still very light compared to most games. (She doesn’t exhibit any exaggerated sexualization.)
It’s worth mentioning that in the Making of Silent Hill 3, Heather was going to have less feminine appearance in her correspondence to her character being called a “tomboy”. As a consequence she was supposed to take on wearing a shirt and pants. This is still retained in her alternative outfits.
The women of the team disagreed with this. They wanted her appearance to be more feminine. They suggested adding curls to her hair and adding a skirt design rather than pants. (More like they pressured the male designer into changing it, amirite? ) The resulting look became her default.
This translates that Heather has become less stereotypical of a tomboy, and more normal. She isn’t sexy either. She’s just feminine and casual.
Aesthetics don’t make the game or her character more positive, however. They only add to it as a facet. Moving onto her character. While Heather does come off as very understandably angry about the situation that unreveals itself, she also comes off being assertive. She doesn’t really lose her cool all the time but she won’t tolerate people ordering her around or messing with her loved ones.
Heather’s Personality & Role
Her personality is very realistic, which is a rare thing. (Though it should be noted the game strives for realism in its atmosphere.) Her character is totally believable. Even if she is reckless and the fool, she’s still young and a teenager.
As she develops, she is fighting against the role of a mother. This is very positive and important because Heather is, albeit unintentionally, fighting against the fact that she is to be used only to reproduce. (Even if that role is the “Mother of God”.) She is more than the role of the “Mother of God”. She seeks to empower herself and to maintain her independence. But most of all, she seeks happiness and life, rather than her counterpart Alessa, who seeks an escape from suffering through death. She isn’t afraid of suffering, she is ready to confront it.
Heather fights, she does this, alone. She continues to fight herself and the side that wants to escape through death, while she fights the monsters for survival. She remembers the suffering, in her realistic view, she understands that suffering is a fact of life. She and everyone else will be dealing with it for the rest of their lives, there is no escape. But that doesn’t mean happiness cannot be obtained or that you have to put up with that suffering.
Throughout the game, the characters treat her as an equal in regards to her gender. But “The Mother of God” title should, by logic, give her more privilege but in most cases it doesn’t. Members of the cult conspire to kill her, as to preserve their own lives, while others seek to use her to descend their god through causing her suffering and hatred. Heather realizes this focus on the negative and destructive is wrong. (This can’t be a god if it demands such from it’s followers!) She will not tolerate the harm that it causes and is determined to end this problem. She won’t be their slave only to be used sexually or through suffering to procreate god, either.
Silent Hill 3 is about a girl going through her own struggles within herself, fighting injustice, and fighting the traditional roles that people have put on her based on her sex. She empowers herself and refuses to back down. She refuses to be forced to be a “mother”, while some of that may have to do with being scared of pregnancy, she isn’t willing to sacrifice her independence at this point in her life or sacrifice her life at all. most of all though, she survives through her own skills and abilities. Even if that means surviving herself.