This Week In Girl Geek: Gaming Industry Once Again Refuses to Make Playable Lady Characters

Posted at 5:00 AM Apr 02, 2010

By Kiala Kazebee

ladygame.jpg
This time around the culprit is Ruffian Games' Crackdown 2. In an interview with 1Up, RG spewed forth this line of "reasoning":

"In Crackdown, the amount of memory that it was going to take for it to do all the actual animation, the texture sets and the models for the females -- we would've needed to massively reduce other sections of the game...so rather than do two separate models, we cut it back and gave the player as much customization as we could on the male character and that allowed us to use that extra memory to do other things in the game."

Huh. So in order to do these nebulous "other things in the game," they had to cut out lady animation?  Because designing a lady avatar is SO HARD. I mean, who could even fathom creating a female avatar? God? William Blake? James Cameron? The logistics behind it are so um ... mathematically ... er ... science ... uh ... and TECHNOLOGY ... plus ALGORITHMS and it's all just, you know, the mind boggles.

"It'd be great (to have female characters), but what we were going to lose didn't seem like it'd be worth it. If we had more memory, it'd be okay."

Ahhh ... more memory. That makes sense and sounds familiar. Sorry ladies, it's just not in the budget. Maybe next year.  Still, while you're up, could you get the entire gaming industry some coffee please? You're a doll.

Aaargh. This is total bullshit. They do not want to create female avatars because they don't see the money in female avatars EVEN THOUGH THERE IS MONEY IN FEMALE AVATAR GAMES, and therefore the gaming industry is caught up in this endless cycle of circular logic which leaves no room for a, "But women would like to feel represented in this game just like you guys do."

I'm tired of the excuses. I'm tired of the rhetoric. I just want to immerse myself in the fantasy of playing a kick-ass special ops agent or whatever without having to also fantasize I'm a dude because, contrary to what Freud and Woody Allen might think, I do not wish I had a penis of my very own.

Comments

Andrea said:

Are we seriously expected to swallow that excuse? Like, math and science is hard so the incredibly talented game designers who have all kinds of who knows what funding behind them in their gazillion dollar industry don't have the brains or the wherewithal to figure out how to make a quality female character?

Please.

I don't even play video games, but I am buying a system and the first game that comes out where the developers say, "We are super fucking smart, and we figured out how to make a badass game that ALSO has a female character, and oh how laborious and mind-bending task it was, and oh how we struggled, but in the end, thousands of years of human brain evolution won out over lazy-assed gamerboy sexism."

CTrees said:

See, the really brilliant tactic would be to sell female avatars as additional downloadable content. A nod to the female demographic (as well as that of men who want to play as women), while being a blatant cash grab.

The memory issue is totally understandable, though. I mean games really have to cut and scrimp to keep it to the limitations of the discs. Look at Final Fantasy 13 - can you imagine what that would've been like if they didn't have to stay on one disc oh wait.

Paul said:

Actually, yes, that's a valid reason.

Reason 1) Saving on animation. Men and women move differently. Mainly it's in the hips, due to bone structure, but there is a difference. Most typical NPC's will actually use the same bone structure, and female NPC's will be denoted by two bumps on the chest. Seen for a few seconds, it's noticable, but it doesn't really register. If the main character moves like that for the whole game, it is. This also means that they need to rework any "skins" the character's model will use, so that it looks correct on the female form as well.

Reason 2) They save on voice overs. Okay, take all the lines of dialogue for the main character. Now do them twice. Now take all the NPC lines that refer to the main character using a masculine term, rewrite and re-record them using a feminine term. That takes up a significant amount of space and cost.

Reason 3a) Microsoft HATES switching discs, and that hatred is leveled in the forms of fees and more difficult certification processes. There've been a few high profile titles that used multiple discs. Halo 3, Mass Effect 2, and Blue Dragon. To the best of my knowledge, that was it. Considering that Sony uses the disc switching as an arguement point, MS wants to nullify that point as much as possible.

Reason 3b) The costs for extra discs are more than the cost of the disc. First they need to figure out where to put the break in. They need to figure out how to balance the data between the two discs. And they need to rent time in a factory where they press all those discs. And that time is expensive.

Reason 4) Street date incentives. Some developers are paid a lump sum at the start, with bonuses depending on getting to market by time X. Additionally, the marketing space is circulars and in-store displays is generally paid for two months in advance, so they better damn well be ready by that date, or that money is wasted.

Finally, working in the gaming industry is about as brutal as it gets. I've had crunch last for months, where you're putting in hundred plus hour weeks and working for a salary with no overtime. And that time isn't spent playing, despite what some stupid commercial about tightening up the graphics on level three may lead you to believe. It's spent poring over code, over wire-frames and renders, and over testing. And that's not even getting into the production end of it.

Andrea said:

Paul -

All you're arguing is that designing games is hard. Fine. Saying that designing games is SO HARD that absolutely no one in the industry can figure out how (or be bothered) to execute the creation of and funding for the casting a female character is about the wussiest, most sexist load of crap I've ever heard. If you've only got the money, talent and skills to make one lead character, why not design a female lead character in the first place? If female characters abounded in video games, I might buy the "It's too hard and expensive!" argument in this case or in a few others. But since female characters are the exception, it's pretty clear to me that this is a thinly veiled way to say "Sorry ladies, we just don't give a fuck."

The only reason not to develop female characters is lazy, dude-centric wankery, full stop.

Josie said:

Andrea, go buy Fable II. They somehow managed to figure out the super difficult secret to making a female avatar.

I've stopped buying games that don't offer a female avatar. If they can't put out the effort to market toward me, they don't need my money.

Andrea said:

I like your attitude, Josie.

Transit said:

I'm willing to accept that, in some cases, it takes too much time/memory to include both male and female avatars, for (some of) the reasons Paul noted.

But that only makes it bug me more, because then what you have is developers saying "We couldn't include both genders, so we went with the default State of Being, which is Being a Dude."

Paul said:

Actually, the reasons I pointed to all come down to a profit margin. Not sexism. But hey, some people see an old lady, and some people see a young lady.

Arrika said:

Game design and creation is time consuming, and costs money agreed. As does the playing of said game. I agree with the notion of not investing our time or money in a company that will not do the same. We play games as a family here and nearly always purchase four copies of any pc game that my husband plays - but only once we can see the character creation screen and determine if we three ladies feel like the avatars fit.

Male characters only? Super hard sell to ten andcthirteen year old girls who understand that great games do exist. Tell us that we are too hard program into a game and you will see how hard we are to program to buy that sort of game as well.

Andrea said:

Paul -

What you fail to acknowledge is that that profit margin is driven by (either implicit or explicit) sexism. Game companies are not going to make games they believe can't sell--note here, that there is a difference between "games that won't sell" and "games companies believe will not sell."

This appears to be the game company logic:

1. If game companies will not create female avatars (by and large, they don't) they are probably doing so for business reasons.

2. Those business reasons are, among others: games with male avatars sell the most, and that's a fact. Therefore, we can conclude that games with female avatars will not sell because all we ever made were dude avatars! It must be then true that G=guys don't want to buy games with female avatars, because all our games have male avatars, and they sell! And ladies don't really play video games and are not a big enough part of the market to be worried about. Therefore, all the avatars must be male. (Does any of that logic make sense to you? It shouldn't, because it's bullshit.)

3. The business reasons for making almost exclusively male avatars are couched in ignorance and sexism, and not any kind of real proof that female avatars couldn't improve a "profit margin," as you say.

The "I'm sorry, we just don't have enough money and time and smarts to include you" excuse is patently sexist at worst, and lazy at best.

elly said:

and, paul, some people see no ladies at all.

Paul said:

Andrea:

It seems like you're branching this out to include all games here because while most games feature male leads, sandbox games don't. I'm focusing on the sandbox style of game design. And in that case, Crackdown 2 is in the minority. Most games that allow you to customize your avatar allow you to select between male and female characters. See games done by Bethesda, Lionhead and Bioware for good examples. Games done by THQ, Activision, and EA's Skate series provide weaker examples.

Crackdown, and it's sequal, are to the best of my knowledge the only high profile "Male avatar only" sandbox games out there. The first one was rushed to market. For the second, the reasons they give are valid logistical issues. 360 developers are starting to run into disc space concerns and the cost of supplying that second disc is generally 10 - 15% of the developer's profit from the sales. (That's if costs are similar to when I was still in the industry, and that was with PS2 titles which was the last stand-alone system I worked on that allowed multiple discs.)

As they said, they could've skimped on the rest of the game's graphics to include a female avatar, a decision that would've affected all people that see the game. And in an industry so focused on image, where differences in high res textures between one system and another are seriously compared, how the graphics look directly affects the hype the game receives. Which affects the profit margin more than adding a female character.

I've got a meeting to get to, so I'll continue this more later if you want, but in the meantime, I'll break it and post here.

CTrees said:

Paul: Crackdown is SO not the only sandbox game limited to male avatars. Off the top of my head, there are the various Grand Theft Auto games, the Dead Rising games, Infamous, Prototype (admittedly you can be temporarily female), The Saboteur...

After that, it starts to depend on how much freedom one requires to accept a game as being a "sandbox" game. Do the Just Cause games count? How about the Crysis/Far Cry series? Is it just nonlinear elements over a broad, open world? Well, that could go as far to include things like the Zelda series or at the extreme, even the Mario games (though The New Super Mario is a good example of the problem, with Peach being excluded from being playable because "her dress would have required additional programming").

mizzlizz said:

I'm currently doing my dissertation research on women gamers and I've completed about 15 interviews so far. There is one clear theme among the gamers I've interviewed so far: they want to play female avatars. Systematically, women say they don't like the disconnect they feel when they play male avatars and will often stop playing a game because of it.

So I guess what I would say is that if the game industry is interested in engaging more female gamers, the LARGEST growing demographic, they might want to fix their "memory" issues and include playable female avatars.

Kiala said:

I just got back to the internetland and I am so happy with how this discussion is going!

FACT: I had this argument last night with MY HUSBAND who is a programmer and he still doesn't understand that the sexism lies with the game developers who never even THINK to begin with the assumption that of course there will be female avatars BEFORE creating a budget and timeline.

This kind of thinking is so ingrained in our culture, even dudes like my dude don't think to ask why something is the way it is.

Andrea said:

Paul:

You're just proving my point. Clearly game companies are capable of creating badass games with all manner of crazy crap in them. But fine, let's say you can only manage to develop one lead character. Why, then, does it have to be a male? As I said before, the sexism is evidenced in the fact that game companies do not develop female characters when they do have the option and resources--and therefore blaming a lack of money/skills/technology/time for the lack of female characters doesn't hold water.

comicshopgrl said:

What I think Paul is getting at is that it is cost prohibitive to have male and female avatars in some games. I totally get this for technical reasons. Making software is expensive. What I don't get is what Andrea's main point involved. If you are making a video game with some bad ass avatar running around, why can't it be a woman? Why does the default have to be a man? I'm a lady and I'd like to play a lady avatar.

CTrees said:

You know, thinking about it... Mirror's Edge, Portal, Bayonetta, Perfect Dark, the Tomb Raider series, the Metroid series, Heavenly Sword, Velvet Assassin, Parasite Eve, Silent Hill 3, Wet... Just off the top of my head, there are quite a lot of games that not only allow a female protagonist, but lack the option to play a male. One could argue that some of those are rather sexist in how the main characters are designed, but come on. Look at male protagonists in the vast majority of games and tell me those aren't equally unrealistic, sexist characterizations.

Paul said:

Ctrees: For the games you listed, the most customization you can do for your avatar is a clothes change. Arguably, in San Andreas, your avatar's look can change depending on eating and workout habits, but there is no off the bat customization for how you want your character to look.

Arguably, most games force your into a male avatar, but most games are action games, and similar to action movies, the lead role tends to be male. While there are more than a few female characters in films who kicks copious amounts of ass, the one that gets top billing tends to be male. There's Sigourney Weaver of the Alien movies, the lady from Chocolate, Milla Jovovich... and.... I'm drawing a blank.

And before you say the woman that played Sarah Connor, she didn't get top billing. Arnie did.

Female leads in games suffer from a fair amount of sexism to be sure. Clothes are often skimpy compared to male counterparts (see WoW's chromatic bikini for a great example). Character models as unrealistic as male models, but unlike their male counterparts, who typically look like over-steroided freaks, female characters are designed to exude sex appeal, through unrealistic proportions, ridiculous clothing (see Ivy from Soul Calibur, DoA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and Rumble Roses), and character behavior. The few noteworthy female leads are few and far between. In my opinion you've got April, of The Longest Journey. Faith, of Mirror's Edge, where the developers actually had to argue with EA in regards to the character design for a breast reduction. And Jade of Beyond Good and Evil. A lot of people also list Samus of the Metroid series, but I find it hard to take seriously when gamers are rewarded with seeing her in less clothing the better they play the game.

Ethan Moore said:

My immediate thought: give the consoles enough hard disk space to install game components like you would on a PC, then most of the burden of a second disc occurs once, up front -- end of technical problem. Trying to limit a modern sandbox style game to a single DVD is simply insane. Plus, you could gain a host of other benefits, like leveraging a user modding community. Oblivion, in addition to having good female avatars initially, had several mods that improved the female avatars further (in addition to the usual host of mods that made them bustier, their clothing skimpier, etc.).

[Begin hopeless rant:] Or better yet, dump the damn console game platforms and make the games for PCs like God/Goddess/Nature/The-Universe intended. [Departs to go joust a windmill, humming theme song to "Man of La Mancha".]

CTrees said:

Movies really are a different issue, and limiting it to "top billing" has problems in that spot usually goes to the biggest star, as opposed to, say, Sarah Connor's actress, and that the protagonist often isn't the biggest as kicker (see: Johnny Mnemonic, where Molly was a heck of a lot more badass than the title character, or Firefly/Serenity with River Tam), but even then... Ultraviolet, Underworld, Kill Bill, the Charlie's Angels films, quite a lot of Asian films, though it's arguable whether those count more or less than Western ones, given the connection to video games (so your mention of Jeeja Yanin, star of Chocolate and Raging Phoenix is... arguable).

Tasha said:

If the reason there's not more playable female avatars in games is the memory and design difficulties...how to explain the Mario series? Mario 2... for the old old old NES... had a playable female (and I still play as the Princess)... but never again except for sections of the Paper Mario series has she been a playable character. They had an excellent opportunity with the new Mario Wii game, but instead they chose to use two male Toad characters instead.

Off the top of my head I can think of a couple really excellent games where playing as a female (and not even a scantily clad surgically-enhanced female) was an option, or even a necessity: Eternal Darkness (GREAT!!), several of the Resident Evil series, many older RPGs like Secret of Mana. Is it really that much harder now than it was when those games were made to create a female avatar?

Paul said:

Well, the thing with movies is that we can select a character to emotionally follow if we want to. With games we're generally forced into the avatar designed, hence the "top billing" comment.

Also, I'm disappointed in myself in forgetting Uma Thurman as the Bride. Charlie's Angels and Underworld are completely forgettable though. And I included Milla more for her roles as Alice then as Violet. Man, Ultraviolet got worse and worse as people kept reading dialogue.

Now with games, you've got four basic types.

"Here's your role, play it" This is the most common role, it puts the gamer in a single avatar, and allows the to follow the plotline from A to B with personal decisions having little outcome on the actual plotline. Typically, you'll find this in adventure and action type games.

"Here's a bunch of roles, play the one you like" Typically the province of fighting games, and 'em ups of various kinds. This also used to show up in adventure and action games, but it's use has become quite rare.

"You know what, make your own role!" This is typically what I think of when I say sandbox. You'll see this in action games and Western RPGs.

"How about you direct instead?" This is a situation where you're given either a group of characters to control simultaneously. See strategy games, and Eastern RPGs. The player either has no avatar, or their avatar is a small side character with no real relevance to the plot.

Stan said:

I think it's also worthwhile to note that Oblivion, Fallout 3, Mass Effect 1 & 2, Fable 2, and Dragon Age: Origin all allowed for both male and female avatars and they were all HUGE games that somehow mysteriously managed to get around all the "memory issues" that Crackdown 2 cannot escape.

You don't HAVE to build an entirely new set of animation rigging for female characters, Bethesda never has and Fallout 3 didn't suffer at all for it. It's not undo-able, if you know what you're doing. Also, if you care enough to do it, which they probably don't Microsoft is throwing a huge budget at this game, it's not like they're super hurting.

If anything it probably honestly never even crossed their minds until they were asked about it (note that Ruffian Games is staffed by about 50 dudes and 1 gal working in HR and 1 working in the Testing Dept). At this stage of the development the biggest cost would be going back in all the code to add for the proper dialogue options.

I don't honestly think they were trying to be consciously sexist here. It seems like this came about more from the underlying pervasive subconscious sexism that dominates the gaming industry. That mentality that gaming is "for guys, by guys, and only guys can be badass" which isn't even wholly true anymore, but that's still how gaming is perceived, even by most people making games.

I kind of hate going to the "the solution is for more girls to get involved in game development", it feels like a bit of a cop-out. But honestly that's a great solution. And some ethnic minorities would be great too. Some people just can't, or don't understand what's outside of "their world", and if your office and design team is just a huge sausage cracker fest, then what else would you know?

Megan said:

I loved Fable II. My boyfriend also played the game with the female avatar. I also love the fact that the game didn't just have housewife npcs but househusbands as well.

bobisimo said:

Paul is doing a great job attempting to explain everything here, but I'll see what I can add.

For one... well, for one, the people who don't play video games or understand the science behind them, if you want to criticize them with some authenticity, you really should look into the process and try to learn a little about it. When you don't do that, your rants come off as misguided and even a little flat. It takes the power out of your punch, so to speak.

That said, it's not purely memory, in a hard drive or disc space sense, that is the constraint here. Although all those animations and models take up room on the disc, they also take up room in the RAM -- and that is very significant. And, as Paul also originally stated, a player model takes up a lot of time and employees to develop. That is time and employees that could be sent in any given direction.

I worked at a game developer and quite often this stuff is sent to the publisher for focus testing. A developer might say "we can add multi-player, we can add three new worlds to explore, we can add dual-wielding, or we can add a female avatar. But only one." And then the focus test reports come back citing that the overwhelming majority want three new worlds because the game feels short, and that the other stuff wouldn't impact their purchase decision whereas a longer game makes them more likely to buy. So the other stuff is cut and three new worlds are added in.

Additionally, many of these "hardcore" games are bought and played by men, so developers often feel they are catering to their market with their actions.

So you ask why games don't cut other content to add a female avatar in. Well, there's your answer: money. The money to include that feature isn't there, not to the same degree as for other features.

I'm not going to argue there is no sexism in game development. It exists everywhere. But most of the guys out there making games (there are significantly fewer females in the development ranks) enjoy playing a well-realized female character, just like the guys and girls out there playing the games.

That not all games offer a female avatar is most often a bottom line choice -- but there is a separate category of games where a specific role to play is provided because that's the story the developer wants to tell, ala Prototype or GTA: San Andreas or Infamous or the Saboteur -- and that is no different than playing as the Prince of Persia or as Super Mario or as Faith from Mirror's Edge.

There was a comment about how Mario can do male and female models but Crackdown 2 cannot. Let me say that there is a world of difference between the two games and I assure you that the workload contrast between the two is significant.

Remember, in a game like Mario Brothers, you create the Princess, a few poses, do some VO, and you're done. Maybe you change the color scheme and you have a new model (Daisy). In a game like Crackdown, you need to create the female avatar standing, walking, running, jumping, landing, taking hits, holding a pistol, holding a rifle, holding a semi-automatic weapon, holding a rocket launcher, driving a car, throwing a car, etc. You have to texture each model in each armor, and then duplicate that effort across all the prior animations. And you have to do it to a much, much, much higher graphical fidelity than Mario requires.

Yes, some game devs do the work. BioWare's games always offer a female player. Bethesda is the same. A game like Saints Row allows you to play as both. Stable companies can do the work and re-use their resources in later games.

Lionhead didn't have it in the original Fable, much as they wanted it -- and they explicitly stated all the aforementioned reasons as to why -- but they put the time in and got it ready for Fable 2. And it'll likely show up in all of their subsequent games now that the work is finished. Has it made a huge difference in their sales? Probably not. Has it affected their sales at all? Maybe. Did it help them tell the story they wanted to tell? Yes.

Let me end by saying that I agree with you in a general sense. Female characters are often not well-written and they're often under-represented -- or under-dressed (side note, I have nothing against under-dressed; it *is* sexism but sexism exists in books and movies and that's not a problem provided there are alternatives stories for alternative audiences). But the amount of work to counter that is not at all trivial. Publishers drive the process and smaller developers are doing their best just to keep their head above water. There are a lot of things they'd like to do but cannot. They're really just doing what they can to ensure their financial success and stability so that they can keep making the games they enjoy making. We can only hope, if we're fans of those game devs, that they become stable enough to eventually correct their mistakes as Lionhead did.

Kiala said:

"Sexism Exists" is your argument?

A mighty FEHHHHHH to you, wordy mcworderson.

Once again, I will state that the problem begins at the beginning of the development process. There should be no "adding in" of a female avatar. It should be a fucking GIVEN.

"Women Exist"is my rebuttal.

bobisimo said:

Wordy McWorderson? Nice. :p I'll keep it short this time: sSexism exists isn't my argument; my argument is resources versus cost versus value.

Andrea said:

I would sum up bobismo's thesis thusly: "Sexism exists, but it is expensive to fix, so fuck it. Sorry, ladies."

Lauren said:

Whooooooooo "Women Exist". Unprofundity in 2 words.

Kiala said:

Yes, but resources can be found and allocated once the stupid paradigm shifts.

You know...women didn't used to buy cars either.

CK said:

Good GAWWWD. Seriously? Playing as a guy is really taking away from your enjoyment of a game? You're boycotting games without playable female characters? *LOL*

I'm sorry, this whole "controversy" is just laughable to me. Who gives a shit? A game isn't any more or less fun based on the sex of the main character.

And the fact that people who actually MAKE THE GAMES are commenting and explaining the process and different reasons (besides sexism... god knows there can't possibly be another reason) and you guys are totally dismissing everything they say... well, it's just making you look like a bunch of stupid women, robble-robbling about some shit you know nothing about.

Oh, and I'm a female. So stop it. You're making us all look stupid. Find something worthwhile to bitch about.

Andrea said:

Ah, living proof that women can be sexist, too.

Now, back to my "robble-robbling" about silly, silly sexism. If only I could just get over it and stop being a stupid woman!

Lauren said:

Jeepers golly, now you're really out there in DEEP THINKING LAND. Try as I might, I can't keep up, you wise old crone you.

CK said:

And Kiala, why don't you go get a job at a game company and and allocate these resources you seem to know how to find. Change the world for the better! First, women characters in video games (even though many already exist), next, World Peace.

Ugh.

CK said:

Andrea, all I'm saying is that I really think this is being turned into something it's not. If there were NO FEMALE CHARACTERS IN ANY GAMES, yes, then you can cry sexism. But this isn't the case. I just think it's ridiculous that you guys are raising such a huge stink about something so petty.

There are plenty of things going on in the world that are worthy of pitching a fit about. This is not one of them.

Kiala said:

@CK/Lauren

Sexist troll is sexist.

Your argument is invalid.

CK said:

Well, since we're stooping to *that* level, I'm going to have to say that YOU'RE FACE IS INVALID.

CK said:

*YOUR

Figured I should correct my typo before you decided to jump all over that too.

Kiala said:

HAHAHAHAHA!

"You're"

Thank you.

bobisimo said:

Kiala wrote: "Yes, but resources can be found and allocated once the stupid paradigm shifts."

That's where "value" comes into play. As I wrote in my original post, it's a simple formula that asks "what's the cheapest way we can make a game and get the most sales?"

You're right that resources can be found and allocated. They are. They're just found and allocated toward items that increase sales significantly.

As you yourself said, women didn't used to buy cars. But then they did because they had jobs and money. And then corporations cared about appealing to that market. If huge masses of women buy games with female protagonists and refuse to buy games without, corporations will take notice and it'll become a rule. Not before.

You're reading too much into it if you're thinking that developers are being deliberately sexist. Again, I'm not saying it's right that more games don't allow you to play as an overweight black female or an older white man. I'm saying it's expensive and not enough people care to change that yet.

CK said:

LOL - note that my correction is BEFORE your comment. Funny how I knew you'd pounce on that. Such maturity around here.

bobisimo said:

CK wrote, "Kiala, why don't you go get a job at a game company and and allocate these resources you seem to know how to find."

That's actually what needs to happen. The more females get into making games, the more those games may very well appeal to a female market. The more females are attracted to those games, the more females get into making games. The whole process builds upon itself. But let's face it, women just aren't that interested on the whole. Any given game developer that has 50 programmers is going to have a ratio of 45 men-to-5 women. If that.

CK said:

Why go through all that trouble when you can just cry sexism and bitch about it on a blog somewhere?

Lauren said:

Save it Bobisimo. You'll go right over her head.

Or not? We'll see. Go ahead, Kiala can you debate Bobisimo, or will you default yet again, and resort to your new favorite fetish with calling anyone who challenges you, a troll?

Lauren said:

We're waiting...... oh great "FameBall Gold Star Winner" ( PC term for TROLL, right?).

Teach us....teach us, Kiala, how to be and think like you, great wise one. Lead us to the water on all things bright and gamey.

Paul said:

So, with all this talk about sexism where one game isn't letting you play as a female character, how does that compare to treating a person as a scantily classed object?

Phil said:

CK, so if you ever have a complaint or disagree with a situation you change jobs and move into that field? I don't think you're being very practical there!

bobisimo said:

Personally, I feel that objectification is a much bigger problem, one that can only be addressed by the maturation of developers and the industry -- as well as an injection of female talent into the dev process.

I said before that I would never censor sexism in gaming just like I would never censor Russ Meyer in movies. I'm all for titillation (especially if it's equal opportunity titillation). But right now the industry in general feels like it's being run by 15-year old boys. :\

Paul said:

Stupid autocomplete... that's supposed to be dressed not classed

CK said:

*sigh*

The point was that she has no idea what she's talking about, yet she's banging on about it and claiming to know more about the process than she actually does.

And you don't necessarily have to change careers in order to have your voice heard. There are ways to address an issue such as this that are much more productive than arguing about it in the comments on some random blog. If it's that upsetting to you, why not write the developers? Or post on THEIR message boards?

BelRand said:

Hey guys, I wrote a little blogpost about this after me and a friend started discussing it on twitter. I haven't read through all of the comments here carefully enough to jump into the debate so didn't want to post it here on the site. Link follows if you want to check it out

http://community.watchtheguild.com/profiles/blogs/regarding-kialas-article-about

Soma said:

weird, cus i love METROID.

-s [a dood]

Shoni said:

Honestly I get the point that knowing about the process and why things happen helps, but as a customer you're allowed to say that I don't care, if you want my business then make it work. Now or soon, whenever, but it should be headed in that direction.

And isn't this a blog, where discussion should be encouraged? Isn't it then pointless for any of us to be just talking here since nothing will change because of it? What then are "comments on some random blog" for? It's ridiculously rude to tell someone to stop discussing something and to go elsewhere.

Lauren said:

Good point, Shoni. I keep checking back in to see if at least one of the writers has evolved past her overly sensitive stage. That doesn't seem to be happening.

There was some excellent argument presented here yesterday (Lord knows not mine, but others were on it), and what does the poster or this story do, but go all hysterical with her feelings. If it's not a kiss butt festival, the writer screetches "Troll" and heads for her blankie.

That gets old and boring really fast.

bobisimo said:

I'm all for bitching on a web log. I think it can be great fun. But it really depends on how you shape your argument.

To say "I'm pissed that Crackdown 2 won't have a female playable avatar and now I just may not buy the game" is one way to go about it. And it's a good way. If someone responds with reasons why, you can say "I don't care why, I just care that I can't play as a chick and you can go to Hell."

But, to be honest, that way isn't as likely to attract as many comments as the approach that was actually taken: "game developers are sexist jerks who want to piss off women gamers."

Not only that, but there was a flippant refusal to acknowledge the actual "nebulous" reasons "spewed forth" as to why the development company made their decision with ignorant statements like "Because designing a lady avatar is SO HARD. I mean who could even fathom creating a female avatar? God?"

Those are the types of comments that make readers say "wow, so the truth is that you just don't understand anything about this topic". And when that happens, you can only hope that people would be nice enough to explain why. True, it changes nothing. Game devs certainly aren't going to bend-over-backward to include female avatars because someone made an ignorant post.

But I would argue that the more people who understand the problem, the better people can do to come up with more viable solutions. And that's where blogging is a very useful tool.

CK said:

"And isn't this a blog, where discussion should be encouraged? Isn't it then pointless for any of us to be just talking here since nothing will change because of it? What then are "comments on some random blog" for"

For fuck's sake. It's just not possible to have a discussion here, is it? Let's just completely ignore the actual point of someone's post and overreact and call them rude instead!

There's nothing wrong with talking on a blog, or even arguing, for that matter. My point was that if you are genuinely offended by something and want it to change, there are MORE PRODUCTIVE WAYS to address the problem. You can write a game developer and let them know your concerns and STILL HAVE A BITCH-FEST HERE. You can post on a developer's message board and STILL HAVE A BITCH-FEST HERE. All I was saying that is if you're seriously pissed off and want something to change, simply arguing with people on a site completely unrelated to the industry you want to change isn't going to accomplish anything. If you aren't willing to address the issue with the people who can actually do something about it, then it must not be THAT big of a deal to you after all. It makes it look like all you really want is to just bitch about something.

If I got ripped off at some store, I may very well make a blog post and bitch about it. BUT, I'm also going to go back to the store, or contact their corporate office to address the issue.

A problem will never change if it's not addressed. If developers are suddenly bombarded with complaints from female gamers, maybe they'll take note and eventually do something about it. But it's pretty unlikely they're going to take note of a blog post like this.

How does that not make sense?

CK said:

Also, if you could refrain from the name-calling when addressing an issue, that would help people take you a bit more seriously.

Shoni said:

@CK
I understand your point and I agree, that in addition to maybe venting here if it means that much to you, you should probably also be posting where game developers will see your arguments. However you did come across as abrasive in your very first post so I think that just made some people get defensive.

Overall tho I've played quite a few games and yes I do prefer when I can have a female avatar, it just makes it more fun for me. I won't not play a game tho that is interesting in every other aspect just because of a lack of the option to have a female avatar. I don't think it's so much a 'sexist' issue in that the game developers hate women or anything like that, they just probably don't think there are enough women playing games that would warrant them sinking more time and resources into making female avatars available. Or at least not enough that they can then make back the money they put into that and even make a profit off it. So I think that's basically the point Paul and I forget who else was trying to make.

So I get it I really do. And it doesn't bother me enough to do anything about it, I feel like it'll just get to that point naturally when more women begin playing.

CK said:

Well said, Shoni :)

Kiala said:

It IS a sexist issue, my friends. Just because a person isn't intentionally trying to hurt your feelings doesn't mean they don't sometimes do so anyway.

It's a sin of omission and if we keep making excuses for it, things will never change.

Also, how do you know I haven't written to the game developers? And how do you know I don't have very high up friends in the game industry? FRIENDS WHO READ MY BLOG POSTS?

My point was to bring more awareness to this particular issue and create a conversation around it on this blog. This blog where people come to read about lady issues.

It seemed pretty appropriate to me.

CK said:

If you had friends who are "high up in the gaming industry" who "READ YOUR BLOG POSTS", I don't think you'd be carrying on the way you have been in this thread, completely dismissing the experienced folks' comments. It's also interesting that you could make a post directly addressing your close friends' line of work, yet they don't comment on it. Hmm.

CK said:

"My point was to bring more awareness to this particular issue and create a conversation around it on this blog."

No, you didn't want to create a conversation. You wanted a bunch of people to post in agreement with you, so you could all bitch about it together. If you wanted a conversation, you would have conversed instead of resorting to name-calling as soon as someone said something you disagreed with.

Kiala said:

@CK

You keep saying the same thing over and over again without ever acknowledging my point. The logistics of developing a game should ALWAYS include the possibility of a female avatar.The budget,memory, manpower (heh), etc should then be set accordingly.

And if you insist on using the term "bitching" in order to hijack the comment thread and put the spotlight on you, I will continue to insist on calling you a troll.

theholyfx said:

I know i am late to the party...

But would the reverse be true as well, if a game doesn't allow you play as a man than its sexist?


Also, as game developers go, your dammed if you do and dammed if you dont for women avatars, you can either make them visibly pleasing and be a sexist pig for having what your core demographic wants to see or you can make them "normal" then be bitched at for making an ugly game with ugly avatars. Show me one game with female avatars where the overweight normal looking skin is the most popular one....

CK said:

Using the word "bitching" automatically means I'm a troll trying to "hijack the thread"? Okay.

Bel-Rand said:

Kiala:

Are you saying that you think that all projects should completely ignore differences in the demographic (at least when it comes to gender) when planning for their products? Because that seems odd.

If a company thinks that only 20% of their customers will be women, do they still have to put 50% of their effort in marketing towards them?

Lauren said:

Kiala, get a grip!!

Are you really that out of the new media scene to not know that anybody who follows it, is already following every other blog/twitter/etc. in the area, and sees you spastically jump on to words and ideas of anyone you can, who is healthier, more educated worldly, younger, less neurotic, better traveled, less socially challenged, better read, less of an evil doer, less sold out, WHATever than you?

By the time you regurgitate ideas or words you've finally read and sweat to type out to the world like anything was your own, it's already old news. Who in the hell do you keep selling it to that you are on top of it? The dead?

You are yesterday by a decade or more. Get a clue. You are as phony as a white bread real estate agent.

Bet your roots are in the GOP, right?


Paul said:

"The logistics of developing a game should ALWAYS include the possibility of a female avatar."

No, it shouldn't. That depends on the script that is being written. You have to keep in mind, this is not your story. You did not write the plot. You are simply playing a role in it. Some roles are more flexible than others and allow for some leeway in what you can and can't do as the main character, or even WHO the main character is. But demanding that every game allows you to play as a female character is foolish and disrespectful to the writers of the games.

Pal said:

Paul, you're kind of funny in a funky damp socks in the hamper for 11 days way.

Some of us are wondering if you're a character out of The Manchurian Candidate. Seriously, like with your timing and content. Just a thought, but you don't seem real.

Paul said:

With all due respect Pal, if you should be able to play any game as a female character, you should also be able to play any game as a male character.

That said, can you picture playing the original Metroid but having a way to select your character's gender in the beginning? Wouldn't that lessen the impact of the reveal at the end of the game that, "Hey! All this time you've been playing as a girl! Bet you never thought of that!"

But seriously though, I'm glad to see that your enjoyment is more important than the creative liberties of the designers. That's a horrible idea there. I hope it fails miserably.

Q said:

So tell me, do you refuse to watch television shows if doesn't have a female centric cast? Don't read books if there isn't a female in it? Stopped going to movies because they didn't throw in a quick female to remind us that they can be important too?

Kiala and Andrea, you are the reason that a lot of games today SUCK. You're not real gamers, you're the ones lumped in the mom types who are considered gamers because they play Bejeweled none stop. A real gamer is someone who will sit down and be able to play ANY game, just for the sake of playing it. Instead, you're wanting games to cater to a population that is so fickle and so insecure that they just won't play unless there are people in it that look like that.

Although you know, it's funny, gamers in Korea and Japan are able to play a lot of video games just fine even though a lot of video game characters are made to look Caucasian and not Asian.

Please, those of you who have said you won't play video games or, by extending the logic, consume any form of media, please stop. I'm tired of token females brought in just to make you feel better, because apparently that's all that would really make you happy. I remember why I stopped reading this site.

CK said:

Like I said, their complaints would make sense if there were NO playable female characters in ANY games. But there are plenty of games out there w/ playable females. There are games with no playable MALE characters, and you don't see guys crying sexism. Most seem happy to play as a bad-ass female.

Josie said:

Okay, so, as the one who said that she will no longer buy games that do not let me play a female character (which has never been a problem for me in fighting games, but tends to be in RPGs)...

CK, in response to your last post... First off, I think if there's going to be equality in gaming, it should be across the board. Which means that I think the number of games that have only the option to be male or female should be roughly equal (it isn't), and that many many more games should have the option to choose which gender you wish to play. I do not wish for women to become the stand-in gender, as men are now. That just doesn't fit with my feminist ideals. That said, I think men are less likely to cry sexism over female characters for a few reasons, but mainly because, in the gaming world, being forced to play as a female character is the exception, not the rule.

Q, I'm not going to address most of your points, because your entire comment is so offensive and marginalizing I don't think I can be polite. I would like to say that I am not asking for a "token female," I am asking for a playable character that represents my gender. I am asking for the industry not to pretend that I, a female gamer, do not exist. It is, as someone said in a previous post, terribly disconnecting to play a male character. I don't think that I, as a consumer, am being at all ridiculous in refusing to spend my money on games that don't have a female character. This is part of how I do my small part to change the way things are done...if more female gamers who are opposed to this only bought games with female avatars, then the industry would begin to see that it is worth the money to make playable female characters more prevalent. It is, as I believe was illustrated by a couple of people already, a case of making it worth the cost to the industry. If they can earn more money by bringing in a female avatar, they will be far more likely to do so.

fraggle said:

OMG what a rant about nothing!! feminazis everwhere bras burning and all, as someone said earlier you get games with guy only roles and there are games with girl only roles should i stop playing the tomb raiders because i think its weird my toon has breasts? lol, "i cant get into this im a guy and my imaginary host for this game is a girl OH NO!!!!!" jeeezus someone said earlier and i agree you think theres not enough girls as leads in games?? go make some, get off your lazy loud mouthed asses and do something about the problem, which quite frankly is guys outnumber girls on the developement side of things, guys are making the damn games why shouldnt they make them into games that theyd want to pretend to be in?? the whole point in a game is to lose yourself in it, you want to get lost in a game for the fun of being someone different then who you are... right? so you want to be a girl in a game? make a game, actually i dare you girls to make a game that features only girl avatars, and see how many guys complain, lol and i dont mean they have to be scantily clad or disproportionate, guys generally dont care, neither should you and before you ask i play almost always as a female in all my RPG's :P so there

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