Achievement Unlocked: Video Games
Kick-Ass Women in Video Games: Payday 2's Clover and Bonnie
In this series, I’ll take an in-depth look at some notable female characters in video games. The only rules are that they must kick-ass, and they must be playable. Femme fatales these ladies are not, so strap on your armor and grab your long sword and get ready for battle!
In Payday 2, players band together to rob casinos, steal diamonds, and hack the FBI. On December 16, 2014, Overkill, the company behind the development of the game, raised eyebrows and stirred up some controversy by adding Payday’s first female heister, Clover. For the most part, the main issue with adding her to the game was that she was paid DLC: for $5 on Steam, you could represent your gender in the game, while the original cast of characters was entirely composed of men, and as such afforded male players with a wide variety of choices. Eight months after her release, the issue seems to have died down, as Overkill released more paid DLC characters, as well as a second–this time free–female heister, Bonnie.
What is Payday 2?
Payday 2 is a cooperative first-person-shooter game that throws players into a life of thievery and mischief. Essentially, the players must work together to pull off elaborate heists –such as stealing the inventory of a casino’s vault, or dropping a large piggy bank into the main room of a book – in order to get the payday.
Players can take an in-depth look at planning the heist out, including purchasing perks to help them achieve the heist faster or more stealthy.
At the beginning, Payday 2 had a tight-knit group of four: Wolf, Houston, Chains, and Dallas. Players could participate in a prison-break that would also have them hacking the FBI’s headquarters in order to introduce Hoxton, the supposed leader, to the game. Each of the original characters, save for Houston, were in the previous games in the Payday series. Since the game’s release in August of 2013, Overkill has added six new playable characters– Clover, Bonnie, Dragan, Jacket, John Wick, and Sokol– some of which are free and others are paid DLC.
Who is Clover?
Clover is a mouthy 27-year-old Irish woman, voiced by Aoife Duffin, that originally joins the team due to her connection with Hoxton. At one point in the past, she tried to “pull the pigeon drop” on Hoxton, who had anticipated her move. Rather than take the young woman out, he took her under his wing, teaching her his preferred method of heisting, and soon after they trekked across the UK together pulling off heists. Soon, Clover was able to pull them off on her own, and their story ends with Clover giving Hoxton the two-finger salute while driving away with a truck full of assault weapons.
Clover is fiercely dedicated to her Irish heritage, according to her official character description. She “grew up in a rough house in a rough part of town,” and “her ancestors were fighters in every generation.” Clover is a great addition to thegame, and extremely fun to play, and her attitude and backstory add an interesting element to the game.
Every Payday character has a unique mask that they wear when pulling off a heist (think the opening bank heist scene in The Dark Knight). Clover’s features bright, bold colors and her signature clovers, a symbol of both luck and her heritage. Her mask “represents what Clover both fears and hates most of all – wearing a mask as your normal face. The surgically-shrunken nose, the botox’d lips and the expression of all-consuming vanity and self-obsession – all are symbols of fear and weakness, twisted into a horrifying parody.” Meanwhile, the feminine aspects of her mask, the bold colors, and overdone makeup, add a small element of difference between her and the other heisters.
Most of Payday’s playable characters have no real impact on the game themselves, that is, they won’t give the player extra damage or increased stats simply for playing the character. Instead, each character comes with their own set of perks, that can be used with any character, that fit with their background. In Clover’s case, players receive the Burglar perk deck, which makes them more stealthy and able to pick locks faster. Clover also comes with her own weapons, the Queen’s Wrath, an assault weapon, and a shillelagh as a melee weapon.
Who is Bonnie?
Bonnie was the second female heister released for Payday 2 on March 1, 2015, and while her and Clover have similarities, Bonnie definitely feels like a different character. Seainin Brennan lends her voice to Bonnie’s Scottish accented obscenities, and rumor has it the character was inspired by Lea DeLaria, of Orange is the New Black fame, although nothing official has been stated. Like Clover, Bonnie joins the team due to a previous relationship with Hoxton. She grew up in Thatcher-era Glasgow, and turned to a life of crime due to hard economic times. Not much else is known about her background, although she joins the team after having gotten information about Hoxton from her stint in prison.
Like Clover’s, Bonnie’s mask also has a hint of femininity and features a relic of their nationality. Bonnie’s mask features a prominent blue background with white crossed lines, reminiscent of the Scottish flag. It also features a Glasgow Smile, which not only calls back to her hometown, but also her life of crime.
By the time Bonnie was released, the initial anger over Clover’s release had mostly settled, but Bonnie’s appearance would cause rumbles of discontent as well. The original concept art had Bonnie standing in such a way that made her look overweight, and players were upset that she would become part of the “Payday” gang, stating that she wasn’t physically fit to rob banks. It seems some would rather overlook the chain-smoking male members of the group, rather than admit they didn’t like Bonnie’s appearance because she wasn’t a stereotypical tight pants and bikini-wearing woman in video games.
[pullquote]One of the greatest things about the female heisters in Payday 2 is that they don’t look anything like the stereotypical “bad girl” one finds in games.[/pullquote] Instead, each character brings their own unique grittiness to the game, and their backgrounds are surprisingly well thought out for fairly minor characters. When players slip on their armor in-game, they’ll find that the ladies of Payday look similar to their male counterparts: there’s no exposed midriff or bikini armor here. Also of note is that in stealth mode, both ladies wear suits and buttoned-up blouses, also similar to what their male counterparts wear. They both yell obscenities over the other heisters, and definitely add to the aesthetic of the game, proving for once and for all that women can play dirty too.