When you think of your favourite gaming characters I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of them are male. If you try and construct a list of good games that have you playing (by default, not by choice) as a female character I'd be willing to bet you think of Metroid and Tomb Raider right off the bat and then struggle to think of many more. It seems to me that there are some big problems here. For starters it potentially excludes a serious slice of potential audience. Secondly it doesn't help the image that many have of gaming being a male past time and finally the characters you can play as are rarely ordinary women, they're usually little more than a pair of oversized breasts and an arse of a goddess strapped onto a personality deprived mannequin struggling to get your attention. Is this a good thing? Surely all this achieves is a negative image for gamers and the industry as a whole, exclusion of many potential gamers and quite often one dimensional stories thanks to the player almost always being a strong and courageous man who saves the day in some way or another.
If more games were to feature female player characters the industry as a whole would benefit. For starters it would be easier for women and girls to relate to gaming, I'm aware that there are many female gamers but they are vastly outnumbered by male gamers and the audience of gaming would widen exponentially if there were to be more women for you to play as. Notice that I say women, not objects.
This isn't to say that games like Tomb Raider aren't good, they are good, it's just that there are too few games that do it and the few that do, such as Tomb Raider, often just use their characters as sex symbols to sell the game to men. If your game is good you shouldn't need a large chest to sell it. This is somewhere where Naughty Dog's example could and should be followed. Though the main player characters of their games are men they have truly nailed how best to depict a good and strong woman without having to sex her up. For those of you who haven't played the Uncharted series I'm talking about a character called Elena. Though you don't play as her she does play a big role in the story and is a key figure on the games and although she is by no means ugly there is never any attempt at using her as a sex symbol. She is a clearly defined and likeable character, not an object.
Naughty Dog's success doesn't end here however, with next years The Last of Us they will likely have yet another successful female character, one who they can't sex up because she is only a child and one who will need to be a strong and memorable character because she is supposed to be key to the entire game. I'd also like to point out, as a terrible indictment of video gaming, that the actress doing her voice, when speaking about it in an interview, said that she was glad to be playing a character and not just "tits and ass".
I have my doubts that women will be represented in a decent way in games anytime soon, the games coming out this year are all about the men so far, even Tomb Raider, allegedly a rebirth for the series, hasn't completely dropped the habit of using women as objects. Perhaps next year or the year after might allow developers the time to introduce some more women into the mix, I would certainly welcome it and I'd bet that there's a few million others out there who would too.