I don't see why having a female character who is a criminal would be such a bad move. Women are people, after all, and they can be law-abiding, crooks, good, or evil. They did it in Saints Row, and nobody complained.
That's not what was said though. They wanted a 'positive female lead' in GTA, because all the other ones were stupid/selfish/criminal. Which is the whole point of a GTA game, you're not going against nice people, everyone's annoying in some way otherwise, some people might balk at the idea at actually commiting crimes against them because they can't justify doing it to these characters if they WERE nice (yes, this is a generalization, but for the most part, we take great joy in perpetrating crimes against those we think 'deserve' it.)
Oh wow. You're tired of this? Really? Let me tell you what I'm tired of. I'm tired of games where I have nobody to identify with. I'm tired of games where instead of the hero, I'm the love interest who either dies to give the actual hero a motivation, or gets handed to him as a consolation prize in the end. I'm tired of games where the only reflection of my self is a scantily-clad, posing woman who's just there as masturbation fodder. And God, I'm so damn glad for this turning point that you mention, when games stopped catering to A SINGLE DEMOGRAPHIC and started expanding. Things are still far from perfect, though.
Identify with? I've been into video games since at least 1981, before the Crash of '84, and let me tell you, I've yet to identify with ANY character in ANY video game, male or female. Not Mario, not Link or Zelda, not Kratos, Nathan Drake, Lara Croft, not Raziel nor Kain nor any multitude grunting, grimacing, one dimensional space marine neandrethal archetype we get foisted on. The only reason gaming is catering to us, is because WE were the LOSERS. The one's no one wanted in High School, not the popular kids. Back in the 80's and 90's, you never had a choice to be in the Geek group, that's where all the other kids ostracized you to. So Geeks, like all human beings do, banded together. And gaming companies see that, and exploited that.
But that has nothing to do with being able to identify with a character. I love the Arkham series of video games, for example, but I don't identify with Bruce Wayne or Batman in any way. In fact, anyone who can should have their heads examined because something is wrong with them. So being able to 'identify' is a dream that only certain minorities apparently might have access to. Like this little article from Kotaku:http://kotaku.com/what-sleeping-dogs-gets-so-right-about-being-an-asian-a-1644011008
That's nice that he got to experience a connection of that sort (which by the way, the team is made up mostly of Caucasians, and yet, according to him, they nailed the feeling of being a Chinese American going to Hong Kong. Strange that) but us 'white males' don't get that, because we're GENERIC. When you make a game that's SPECIFIC, I've noticed that you get a lot better story out of it. Which kinda sucks, because frankly, it's a magical moment that most of us reviled White Males will likely never get to experience.
Off topic: A lot of people bemoan the lack of 'Female' protagonists in games, and frankly, I think that lack is a good thing. Because when we do have a female protagonist, it's invariable made better, because it's held to a higher scrutiny. Male protagonists are a dime a dozen, and for ever good, well written male, we get hundreds if not thousands of crappy Doom 1 Marine clones. Where as with the ladies, I can think of a few 'bad' ones, but most of the others are good ones. Not so for us guys.
I don't have that luxury. I don't get to "not care" because when I see sexism in games, it fucking hurts my soul.
Then maybe gaming is not for you. Gaming has ALWAYS been for fun, and if it truly hurts you, then maybe you should find something else that won't. And frankly, having to look for sexism or diversity in the medium is a waste of time that could be better spent enjoying something you love.
You know, that's another issue. We have this subsection of the internet devoted to this battle cry of 'DIVERSITY!', but never have I ever seen any single one of them actually sit down and tell anyone what they want, specifically. And any time someone tries, they get the impression that it will NEVER be enough. It's a lot like the Internet Feminist Movement, it's all shouting and screaming about how women have been victims and there must be reparations made, but no one seems to know what needs to be done. And frankly, I want to know.
What needs to be done so that people are happy. What would you like to see. And I want a definite answer here. Something someone can build and build on. Otherwise, to me, you're no better than those who scream to get attention.