Ever notice that the magazine racks at your local newsstand/bookstore feature predominately pictures of women? Even magazines specifically targeting men will have an attractive female on the cover (or in some cases sharing the spotlight with a muscular alpha male). I always found this a bit odd, but then again video games are drifting toward the opposite extreme.
Now I know what your probably going to say "There are plenty of games out there that let you choose your gender and appearance" to which I would answer "Of course there are, but those characters are very much blank slates devoid of any personality save that which you give them."
No, for the purposes of this observation I'm only interested in game titles where you can play a female protagonist more or less exclusively in which said woman has a distinct personality (or at the very least a set of characteristics which define who she is). So what comes to mind? Samus Aran? Lara Croft? Jill Valentine? Granted female protagonists have always been in the minority, but check the list of women that popped into your head. Notice something most of them have in common? Sexy?...well yes, but I was thinking more about birthdays. Particularly the fact that they're almost entirely products of the 80s and 90s.
So this begs the question (especially when it comes to this console generation of games) "Where have all the ladies gone?" Well...the truth is they don't sell like they used to. One only needs to look at the sales figures for Samus' latest outing on the Wii (or if you want to go back into slightly more dated titles Heavenly Sword) to realize that games staring female protagonists don't exactly make the big bucks. Conversely, short-haired, scruffy faced, gravelly voiced male protagonists seem to be all the rage these days.
Maybe some of you readers are thinking "Good riddance!" and I wont disagree with the sentiment since I too prefer to play characters of my own gender. But I can't help feeling that gaming would be better in general if the sexes were more equally represented. As it stands now only Lara Croft still really holds a place in the limelight of iconic gaming characters. Even then I wonder if she'll be able to keep her place now that her next outing will feature her with a realistic bust size. I guess only time will really tell.