A couple years ago, when I reviewed the 2009 IFComp, I Bechdel-tested it. That is, I asked of every work in it, does it have two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? IF tends to have fewer conversations than a lot of other media, but it’s still illuminating to see how many — or how few — works meet the Bechdel test criteria.
(I don’t want to say “pass the Bechdel test” or “fail the Bechdel test” here, because I don’t want people to feel that their work is being judged. For me, the illuminating thing is how rarely the Bechdel test applies across a body of work, not whether it applies or doesn’t in one particular small work. So I’ll say “Bechdelian” or “non-Bechdelian.”)
Anyway, my memories may be hazy, but here’s the works that I recall as unambiguously Bechdelian:
The Play (Henrietta and Erica talk about the dress, in many playthroughs)
How Suzy Got Her Powers
Awake the Mighty Dread (I think the little-girl PC can talk to a robot queen or something; I couldn’t get much of a handle on this game)
There are some works that explicitly let you choose your protagonists’ gender, and are Bechdelian if you choose to play as a woman:
A Comedy of Error Messages (I think; I didn’t play very much after the update that introduced gender selection)
There are some works where the PC’s gender isn’t specified, which would be Bechdelian if the PC is a woman:
The Ship of Whimsy
maaaaayyybe Playing Games (some members of the gaming club may be women, but the main NPC is definitely male)
There are some that probably fall into that category, but where I got a fairly strong vibe that the PC is male:
Beet the Devil
Yow. That’s not very Bechdelian, I think. I get the sense that last year’s Comp was more Bechdelian, and it certainly had more games by women (“Pam Comfite” is a man, so there are only
four five games that I know to be by women in this comp). Disclaimer: There were a few games I didn’t play, my memories may not be entirely accurate (for instance, it’s possible that there’s a conversation between female bureaucratic demons in Beet the Devil), and some of my judgments about PC gender may reflect my own stereotypes and preconceptions.
In case you’re wondering about the gender-reversed version, I count at least ten games that definitely had conversations between men; all the ones listed above as conditional on the PC’s gender had conversations with male NPCs, and there are some others with a PC of unspecified gender that had conversations with male NPCs but not with female NPCs (for instance, Andromeda Awakening and Escape from Santaland).
[UPDATE: On second or third thought, this year wasn’t much worse than the previous two, I don’t think. It might just seem that way because the only two games where interaction between definitely female characters was really the focus were about little kids, and also had very similar scenarios. Last year The Blind House stuck out as a game that was about the relationship between two women, but there may not have been that many more Bechdelian games; though there are a lot of games from last year that I haven’t played.]