Stolen Pixels #258: Where the Boys Are

By Shamus Posted Friday May 13, 2011

Filed under: Column 239 comments


My latest comic is about Brink, and its endlessly malleable yet critically restrictive avatar builder.

While I don’t want to defend the decision to leave out females, I do want us to go into the discussion with our eyes open. As I said:

I've said in the past that diversity is expensive. More expensive than most people realize. You can't just take a few clothing options away from the men and find yourself with enough development resources to build a female character. A female character is going to require an entirely new model, voice files, different behaviors for the sliders that shape her, all new clothing models, totally different hair models, different hitboxes, and totally different viewmodels. (Viewmodels: The arms you see in front of your face in a first-person game are usually separate models with different animation and rigging.)

Leslee suggested that they could have made the game all female instead of all male. It’s an interesting idea. Would it have worked, in a commercial sense? I don’t honestly know. The squad-based multiplayer shooter is a exceptionally masculine genre. Unreal Tournament. Halo. Quake 3 Arena. The fanbase of these games is stereotypically young, angry, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and profane. Not all players fit that profile. Not even most. But it would be folly to discount the possibility that a lot of these dudes would simply refuse to play as a female.

Then again, maybe it’s the hyper-masculine setting of these games that sets the tone. Maybe, when presented with a different world, these players would respond with different behavior. Maybe there would be some females to pick up the slack, sales-wise. I don’t know. I’d love to see it happen, even if I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it in a financial sense.

People have asked why Brink is getting picked on for this. After all, you can’t be a woman in Modern Warfare 2, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Halo, or any of the other multiplayer shooters. I think the difference here is twofold:

  1. The game lets you customize your appearance. In other games, your soldier is not a personalized avatar. It’s just a generic clone, just like everyone else. It’s not supposed to matter. Here, you can craft a human being in every way except for the most obvious way, and so the lack of a female option is more noticeable.
  2. This game is a stylized fantasy future-world. I can see leaving female combatants out of a gritty, hyper-realistic World War II game. It would look really, really goofy to have female Nazis fighting alongside the man in the trenches, like the Third Reich suddenly had a gender equality drive in between their ethnic genocide meetings, or something. It would go against the setting. But here, there’s no reason to leave them out. The setting of Brink is over-the-top fantasy. There’s no room to object to females in the name of “realism”.

From The Archives:

239 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #258: Where the Boys Are

  1. JohnW says:

    The Russkies had women soldiers and pilots. In fact, I believe their top IL-2 ace was a woman.

    1. Rayen says:

      to be fair call of duty 1 and 3 (i think) have you play as and with a female russian soldiers. he did say nazi women and it’s true the german military of the time of a Y chromosome affair (excluding support and medical staff but you never see them anyway…).

    2. Shamus says:

      However, pilots are generally not found in trenches.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Not the good ones, at any rate.

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          “pilot in trench” is pretty close to a veritable definition of losing.

          Star Wars 1 ^H^HEp 4, notwithstanding…

        2. Alexander The 1st says:

          I’d like to plan a WWII-like game where you start off as a pilot, but your plane crashes behind enemy trenches.

          Sort of like Uncharted meets Gears of War meets Saving Private Ryan.

          EDIT: Meets Half-Life.

          1. Jarenth says:

            Meets Tetris.

            1. Merle says:

              …meets Pokemon.

              1. Max says:

                meets Katamari Damacy

                The Nazis have developed a new weapon, known as a Katamari…

                1. Meets Behind Enemy Lines. Oh come on, that was a good movie.

                  1. Taluien says:

                    By now we can safely assume it should also meet Inception.

                    1. X2-Eliah says:

                      meets Inception..

                      .. meets Inception ..

                      .. .. meets Inception ..

                      .. .. .. meets Inception ..

                      What have you done?!

                2. Mitch H. says:

                  meets Katamari Damacy

                  The Nazis have developed a new weapon, known as a Katamari…

                  Wouldn’t those be War Wheels?

          2. mixmastermind says:

            Actually, in Call of Duty: United Offensive the Britishy chapter begins that way.

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              Which console do I play that on?

              I don’t have an XBox or Xbox 360, but I do have a PS3 Slim and a PC, if that works.

      2. Lalaland says:

        There were also female soviet tankers, snipers, partisans and support troops in all approximately 800,000 out of approximately 34 million Red Army soldiers. Most served in support roles but at least 1,000 women were trained as snipers and many were active in partisan roles. It’s important to note that nurses in the soviet military served alongside front line troops often filling the role of a field medic so their presence in trenches on the eastern front was a common thing. Honestly I think their removal from WWII games is more about squeamishness and development cost than anything else.

        Edit: added total # red army personnel

        1. rrgg says:

          The soviets drafted about 30 million troops during WWII, I think they may have been losing their ability to be choosy.

        2. John R. says:

          I haven’t played very many WWII games, but don’t the Soviets tend to be under-represented in general? I got the impression that it’s mostly Americans vs. Germans, with occasional British and Italians.

          1. Entropy says:

            Really? I thought it was the Italians that rarely get a look in. You tend to see the Americans and Germans most, with the Soviets and British shortly behind. The French and Italians have the poorest showing, in my experience. Well, them and the Dominions.

            1. Velkrin says:

              Well since the war games tend to be produced in America they tend to have the stereotypical American slant on WWII politics.

              Americans: Big Damn Heros
              British: Tea drinking allies
              French: Cheese eating surrender monkeys
              Italians: Pasta/Pizza guys who probably weren’t involved
              Germans: Nazis. Except that ones that aren’t.
              Russians: Friends until we kicked their butts in the Cold War.
              Dominions: I didn’t know the Dominican Republic was involved in WWII. What about Columbia and Mexico?

              1. Ergonomic Cat says:

                Big Damn Heroes.

                Ain’t we just?

                Nothing more to add.

          2. Shamus says:

            Man, playing a Russian in WWII would be HARSH. Terrible attrition, limited weapons, hopelessly out-matched by a technologically superior foe. Maybe give you a squad. When you die, your POV jumps to the next person in the squad. Instead of health packs, you have points where you pick up more squad mates. And when you win, congratulations! You’ve saved your village from the Nazis, and now they will live for a few more years, until they die in one of Stalin’s smaller purges. Victory!

            Now that I think about it, that could be a really incredible game, if done properly.

            1. Mario says:

              One of the earlier WWII FPS had a Russian portion. [Edit: Call of Duty]. Anyway, you were sent out with ammunition only, and were told to forage a weapon off the dead. Fun game.

              1. Shamus says:

                That’s the only MOH game I own. That part was HARD. It was also nearly a scene-for-scene ripoff of the first twenty minutes of Enemy at the Gates.

                Yeah, fun.

                1. Squash says:

                  Yes, it was, although the game was Call of Duty 1.

                  The best bit about that game was to play through your favourite WWII action movie. That game had some awesome set pieces.

                2. Lalaland says:

                  I actually enjoyed that bit even though it was load, die, load over and over. It wasn’t really fun as such but I appreciated the sharp left turn to a more realistic feel for the cost in lives of war.

                  I’ve always hankered for a game that when I died didn’t spawn me or load the game again instead swapped me to a squad or platoon mate. At the end of each level you’d be confronted by the cost in lives to achieve a mission, if there was some skill bonus for surviving squad mates it would be icing on the cake.

                  1. Alexander The 1st says:

                    You probably want to play Battalion Wars (I was on the Gamecube, II is on the wii.)

              2. Knight of Fools says:

                Was that the first Call of Duty, or MoH? Either way, it was the first Russian mission in the game. I thought it was brilliant: You got a brief glimpse of the harsh reality of war beyond blood and bullets. Amazing.

              3. Jonathan says:

                Accurate, at least for the first part of WWII.

                What would be even harder is playing as a Soviet soldier in the Winter War with Finland. You’re freezing, half your squad starts with no guns, your vehicles get bogged down, and fast-moving camoflaged soldiers on skis appear, fire a burst of automatic fire into your squad, and then vanish into the falling snow like ghosts.

                Doesn’t actually sound very fun… unless they made a “Aliens Vs. ____” or something out of it.

                1. mixmastermind says:

                  Playing as a Russian in the battle of Kollaa would be crazy.

                2. Dovius says:

                  Or maybe make it a survival horror game in which your being chased by Simo Hayha, the most bad-ass farmer in all of scandinavia.

            2. TSED says:

              To be fair, look at the casualty rate comparisons.

              Germans lost 1 soldier for every 2 the Russians lost. It was a terrible slaughter, but it’s not like they were mowing down people and not taking casualties themselves.

              1. krellen says:

                If most of my plays of Axis and Allies is correct, the Axis lost WWII because Russia was there to divert enough forces and cause enough casualty that the Axis powers didn’t have enough forces to face the other Allies and Russia. Russia didn’t really win anything; it was just enough of a grindstone to wear the Axis down.

                1. TSED says:

                  Are you forgetting that The Soviet Union had the army that captured Berlin?

                  And the only reason the Americans (and Brits and Commonwealth states and…) captured so many German PoWs near the end of the conflict was that they were throwing themselves at the Westerner’s mercies rather than allowing themselves to be taken by the Russians?

                  They definitely WERE a grindstone, but they had more going for them than just being a grindstone.

                  1. 4th Dimension says:

                    Russia was a motorized, mechanized, industrialized grindstone with chainsaws on top of it all. Allies did supply a LOT of material to the Russians, but then again for nearly entire war, entire Wermacht (a military that previously steamrolled everyone) was trying and FAILING to defeat Russans. Even after D-Day landing, Western front was more or less a sideshow to the amount of men and material on the East.

                    1. WarlockofOz says:

                      The Soviets stopped the Germans pretty much unaided (Stalingrad is at the end of 1942, before the Western Allies were having much effect). The Germans could have planned the campaign better (winter preparation, expectations of Soviet manpower and equipment quality, occupation policies, realistic objectives) but their mistakes pale in comparison to Soviet errors in 1941.

            3. monkeyboy says:

              Red Orchestra.

              There is also a mod (Mare Nostrum) for early North Africa and the Med which is basically Brits v. Italians

        3. (LK) says:

          A simpler explanation yet would be that a lot of people simply don’t know this.

          1. Eric says:

            Considering that these developers claim to consult with scholars, soldiers and others with historical experience in the events they depict, I think that gives them even less of an excuse.

            1. Raygereio says:

              Generally one only needs to take a quick glance at the depected events to know that those claims are rubbish.

  2. Psithief says:

    Gasp! I hope we don’t look back at this in the future and find that humanity restored sexism to this degree.

    What a horrifying thought. When I’m old, I don’t want to be unlearning tolerance and equality.

    1. Maldeus says:

      Don’t worry, old people suck at change.

  3. Adam says:

    So if it was justified in-game in a fictional setting (for example, women are extinct and everyone is grown in a jar) would that be better?

    1. Sucal says:

      Nope, because people would be complaining/bitching why can’t they just grow females in tubes

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        And it’d be easier. Only X chromosomes to muck around with.

      2. BenD says:

        Yes, but then they’d be bitching about the story and setting, which in my book is much better bitching (for your game’s reputation) than bitching about obvious function absence.

      3. Jan says:

        And you’d get this game.

    2. Nick says:

      Slightly, yes. At least there would an in-game justification

    3. Shamus says:

      The thrust of my ramblings was:

      1) Having both genders is expensive.
      2) That said, having both genders would still be better.
      3) All-female instead of all-male would be interesting to see.

      I don’t think changing the premise would impact any of those positions.

      1. Sucal says:

        I’d prefer not to have an all female game, mostly because I don’t want to give some of the feminazis more ammunition for insane rants about how a society without men would be perfect and thus we should all be shot

        They are bad enough as it is.

        1. Shamus says:

          Please, please don’t use the term “feminazis”. See, I know who you probably mean. The angry, man-hating gender-baiters who are less interested in equality and more interested in social revenge. They exist and they are generally not nice people.

          But “feminist” is an amazingly broad term. As one person pointed out, it includes Liberal Feminism, Radical Feminism, Socialist Feminism, Marxist Feminism, Anti-Pornography Feminism, Sex-Positive Feminism, Anarcha-Feminism, Separatist Feminism, Libertarian Feminism, Individualist Feminism, Gender Feminism, Lesbian Feminism, Conservative Feminism (really!), Ecofeminism, Cultural Feminism, Christian Feminism, Islamic Feminism, Jewish Feminism, Wiccan Feminism, Black Feminism, Chicana Feminism, Postmodern Feminism, Post-Structural Feminism, Lipstick Feminism, Neofeminism and Classical Feminism.

          That is an incredibly broad tent. In fact, it would be hard to find anyone who didn’t have some affinity for one or more of those labels. When you say “feminazi”, all of those people think you are talking about them. This is not good for anyone, on any side of any issue. It’s a firebomb term.

          DISCLAIMER: I linked to a political blog in this post for the purposes of giving credit to the author of the above list. This is not an invitation for political debate or an open endorsement of any particular ideology. Void where prohibited. Batteries not included.

          1. acronix says:

            Batteries not included? What a ripoff!

            1. Jordan says:

              It better not be those bloody triple As.

              1. X2-Eliah says:

                No, no. It’s 15 button-cells instead ;)

              2. Chris B Chikin says:

                Is that a cup size joke?

          2. kmc says:

            Thank you, Shamus. I might print this out and keep it in my wallet.

          3. If I use an inherently and overtly pejorative term and someone else immediately jumps to the conclusion that I’m talking about them, perhaps there’s a reason for that. Perhaps there’s even a good reason for that. I would strongly suggest that if you or someone you know self-identifies as “a feminist,” and they immediately leap to, “they must be talking about me!” when somebody says “man, those femiiazis are really evil,” they might be considered just a little sensitive. Oversensitive.

            It’s not as if the word “feminazi” can be confused with a word which has vastly more positive connotations. It’s not like we’re confusing Germans with Nazis. We’re associating one group of bad people with another group of bad people, which is wholly reasonable. When did it become so terrible to say, “Hey, this thing is bad,” and have you reply, “yes, those people are bad!”

            Unless you’re actually suggesting that feminists can never be bad, wrong, or mistaken simply because they’re feminists. But you would never say that because it’s stupid.

            1. Drexer says:

              Or not. Because people are human.

              If Shamus or anyone else uses for instance the term XboxLiveKids there might very well appear a couple of posts of people defending the fact that not all of XboxLive is full of kids. If you use a term such as ‘feminazis’ when in the internet and specially in the videogame segment of it there is still quite a vocal minority against females(just note the one commenter who referenced people who didn’t want to play Hidrophobia due to its female protagonist) it is not that much of a leap for people to consider that that specific person means all of feminists.

              Furthermore, it’s very common for people to read posts as if reading a conversation between people face to face(just note at how many commenters here respond to others directly as if they’re dear old friends); as such, the projection of yourself into the person about whom the other poster is writing about is not that rare. This is another one of those situations where the lack of non-verbal cues is quite glaring.

            2. Shamus says:

              “If I use an inherently and overtly pejorative term and someone else immediately jumps to the conclusion that I'm talking about them, perhaps there's a reason for that. ”

              Yeah. Because the term is vague and offensive. How are they supposed to know who you mean? It’s obviously a modification of the word “feminist”. Why would anyone think you mean anything else?

              If I refer to someone as a “Halotard”, I should not be shocked when all Halo fans get pissed at me.

              m trying to be nice here, but that language is a thing which will ignite a flamewar. As the person in charge of moderation around here, I would encourage you to not be the person holding the match when I show up to put out the fire.

              1. modus0 says:

                But if you refer to someone as a “Halotard,” then a fan of Gears of War or Call of Duty shouldn’t be getting upset at you.

                1. Sumanai says:

                  But Shamus wasn’t worried everyone considering themselves left-wing was going to be upset.

                2. Soylent Dave says:

                  No, but if Shamus uses the term ‘Halotard’ to mean ‘Halo fans who act like tards’ (a reasonable word construction), he would also find Halo fans who are not tards getting offended, because the word itself appears to be insulting all Halo players (regardless of its intent).

                  That is the point Shamus was trying to make.

                  (either that or he just really hates Halo players)

                  1. modus0 says:

                    So “Feminazi” = “Feminist” now?

                    1. The Scarlet Mathematician says:

                      If you could find me an instance of a self-identified feminist using the term “feminazi” to unironically describe someone, and that sort of argument might carry some weight.

                    2. Soylent Dave says:

                      So you’re actually claiming that both those examples went over your head?

                      Okay – I’ll bite.

                      The word ‘feminazi’ looks and sounds a bit like ‘feminist’. A self-identifying feminist could reasonably assume that a person using ‘feminazi’ was talking about her and be offended.

                      That’s it. That’s the entire point.

                      It doesn’t matter what narrow definition you use for a derogatory term if it is perceived by your audience as a general insult (particularly if that’s because it is typically or was formerly in use as a more general insult)

                3. GTRichey says:

                  The only problem with thinking that they shouldn’t get upset is that there’s a significant overlap between the series’ fan bases.

              2. Old_Geek says:

                Good god, Shamus, in this one thread you’ve managed to piss off women and now Halo fans! Throw in some praise of Dragon Age 2 to anger the diehard RPGers, and I think you’ll have insulted everyone on the planet! There should be some sort of achievement badge for that!

                1. So Women, Halo Fans, and Diehard RPGers = everyone on the planet?

                  That’d make an interesting poll. “Do you fall in one of these three groups?”

                  1. Veloxyll says:

                    With two options labelled yes

                  2. Bubble181 says:

                    Women on one hand, “angry moverly macho tards” and “number-crunching engineers” as sub-types of men on the other hand….
                    Well, he’s close :-P

                    (this post is meant as a joke.)

            3. decius says:

              In any given population of people who identify publicly as “feminist”, 100% of them will have had a pejorative term used against them, to their face. Normally, I would engage in extensive troll-baiting to engage you, and then a the end claim “When you objected to being called a XXXX, it was very analogous to a feminist objecting to the term you used.”

              Out of deference to the owner of this space, I will refrain from that, and instead ask you to actively engage with your beliefs about sexual (in)equality, and the reasons, justifications, and morality of your position. Specifically reject anything based on
              “That’s the way it has always been done” or “It works best in primitive society”

          4. Sucal says:

            I was mostly referring to the more brutal in your face ones when I used that particular term. I was originally going to use Feminist, but realised it could be seen as inappropriate and offensive. Wasn’t sure of any other description that would get my point across though.

            1. Maldeus says:

              Use misandrist. It has no ties to any of the feminist political platforms except for the specific ones that are extreme and harmful, and it literally means “prejudiced against men.” “Feminist” is a word I try to avoid using altogether whenever I’m trying to have an actual honest conversation with someone. It covers so many different political platforms and has so many (frequently contradictory) connotations for different people that it has ceased to have any meaning at all.

              1. Shamus says:


                Nice. Very handy. Have to file that one away for later use. I’ve always wondered (but was too lazy to LOOK FOR) a nice companion for “misogynist”.

                1. krellen says:

                  Do not confuse this with misanthropes, who just hate all people equally.

                  1. rrgg says:

                    If you are careful to hate all people equally then you aren’t really a misanthrope.

                    1. ScrubNinja says:

                      Sure you are. That’s exactly what the word means.

                    2. Eugene says:

                      Nah, it’s easy: a misanthrope believes in equality *by accident*.

              2. Sucal says:

                Cheers, I’ll have to file that away for later use.

                1. Tizzy says:

                  Also: one of the reasons this word, among others, is loaded, is the company it puts you in. If you use a word that is mostly made famous by a few controversial figures, you run the risk that your readers will assume that you support these controversial personalities. Whether it’s true or not, the more readers assume about you, the less they really listen to what you really have to say and the more they read between the lines instead.

                  [Edit: wait! Read between the lines sounds too thoughtful. What people will really do is jump to unwarranted conclusion, overreact and ignore what you have to say. That being said, I want to insist that they would not be to blame; ultimately, the writer who wants their opinion heard is responsible for careful, thoughtful and least ambiguous language.]

      2. Mertseger says:

        Some company REALLY needs to buy a liscense to Angels 2200 and make that game. They would make a mint.

        1. Simon Buchan says:

          Well the *storyline* would be a terrible game. “Yay, I got to chapter 3! Now which character do I play: the PoW sitting in solitary for a year or the rookie discharged from the navy, stewing in grief and self-recrimination?”. And it’s not that the setting is that distinctive, “The people in space are revolting! Also, all the men are dead.” is hardly something you can put a copyright on, so I see no reason to license it. But yeah, some sort of commercial product exploiting that hook would interest me, if they managed to keep the creepy lesbian fetish tone out of it.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            How would keeping creepy lesbian fetish anything *out* of a product make it sell better? :-P

    4. Sara Pickell says:

      Nope, because then it would simply be an attempt to placate people about how it’s really a production decision and has jack all to do with anything. Sometimes it’s best just to say, “it’s a production decision and has jack all to do with anything.” Especially since that means they can still add them in later.

      Simple fact is, they never stood a chance of not getting on some people’s nerves with this. Pulling a Writer Cop Out just would have made them bad writers to boot.

      1. silver says:

        Unless lack of females was the reason for the entire collapse scenario, ala Herbert’s The White Plague

  4. Typo, I believe. “ethic genocide” –> “ethnic genocide”


    1. Shamus says:

      Unfortunate typo is unfortunate.

      1. Pearly says:

        On the other hand. Ethic genocide might be interesting as a story element? 1984-syle.

        1. Volatar says:

          BRB making that into a game.

          1. Chris B Chikin says:

            With female PCs?

  5. Deadpool says:

    I was disappointed by this. I have a general preference to plaing female characters over males, particularly when my weapons are either guns or a Sword & Shield. That was pretty much my first question in the character creator, and I was disappointed in the response.

    That said, can you imagine how UGLY the women would be?

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Would you prefer if the game was all women, and all settings would amount to some kind of implant-toting playboy model? That’s pretty much what a lot of other games are doing if they include female models.. Imo, better that they [Brink devs] haven’t gone that route.

      1. Deadpool says:

        I’m less concerned about super hot chicks than I am about the butt ugly character models in general.

        Although I remember a list of comments here where women apparently have a tendency to turn the “boob” guage as high up as possible in their games…

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Why would anyone do that in an online fps? It, like, increases your hitbox!

          1. Deadpool says:


            I thought Rainbow Six Vegas 2 did a good job with their female model…

          2. Mari says:

            And yet I would still do it. Because the huge boobs I put on my characters are somehow exempt from my otherwise rampant munchkinism.

            Actually, you know what I want? See that guy in the right side of the comic panels? The real ugly, bald one? Yeah, I want that dude to be my avatar but I want him with huge melons, tacky red lipstick, and a bad red Shirley Temple wig. The butt-ugliest female character model ever. I’d totally play that.

        2. silver says:

          “Although I remember a list of comments here where women apparently have a tendency to turn the “boob” guage as high up as possible in their games…”

          Weird. I played a WoW clone for a while (“Perfect World”, if you must know) where I kept being mistaken for being a real life female because my female avatar had a small chest – everyone figured the teenage boys playing women used the oversized settings, and that women had a more realistic approach to their own avatars. Of course, all such generalizations are going to come up with exceptions (in many cases, the exceptions are even the majority case, but quiet about it).

          1. Deadpool says:

            Mumbles and one of the regulars here were the two women talking about it. I found it amusing because I HATE the giant boob avatar and tend to go for the realistic look…

            1. Mari says:

              The regular was MEEEEEE! OK, sorry. I’ve got food poisoning and I’m massively dehydrated and apparently compensating with how bad I feel by being ludicrously silly. But yeah, Mumbles and I (and a couple of my female friends, I’ve discovered) tend to turn the boob slider as high as it can go. Apparently most men are too sensitive to female issues to revel in cheesy implants but we females get a pass by virtue of our matching chromosomes so we have fun with over the top anatomy.

              1. BeamSplashX says:

                The only time I max out the slider is when I can make a really tall character, since otherwise their boobs practically disappear (?) and females I make otherwise look mannish.

                So I at least fall into the category of males that don’t mind playing as (traditionally) unattractive females.

              2. Ramsus says:

                Well in some cases, like myself for example, it’s not a sensitivity for female issues as it’s just a preference. I actually just prefer more reasonable sized boobage. Is that a word? I don’t even care.

                1. silver says:

                  I hear ya. Put, say, Olivia Wilde next to Angelina Jolie, and I prefer the former.

                2. Mari says:

                  You guys act like sensitivity to female issues is a bad thing. It’s really not, I swear. I mean, I get that it might be an aesthetic preference. I prefer red-heads. You might prefer brunettes or blondes. Heck, you might prefer gray hair, I dunno. But I’m not calling ya names by saying that some men (and in the comment thread in question a guy or two owned up to this) don’t max the boob slider because it just kind of feels in poor taste, like by maxing that slider they’re somehow participating in the exploitation/sexualization of women or something.

                  1. BeamSplashX says:

                    Indeed, never let it be assumed that I have any issues with any breasts of any size. Though negative sizes might take some getting used to.

                    P.S. BOOBS.

                  2. Veloxyll says:

                    This says pretty much everything I have to say on the topic:


                    1. Swedmarine says:

                      I thank you for sharing that wonderful and touching link.

                  3. The Scarlet Mathematician says:

                    I usually turn the bust slider down because its a good way to get a good looking overall body shape. There is a certain point where everything clicks, and the overall body looks a lot more attractive.

                    And, for whatever reason, that tends to be at the lower end of the breast slider.

                    1. Deadpool says:

                      Yeah, I think it’s less about sensitivity and more that semi
                      “realistic” are more attractive…

                      Giant boobs are silly ore than attractive…

              3. Zukhramm says:

                I don’t think it’s about being too sensitive but rather just a difference in aesthetic preferences.

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  Opps, clicked the wrong reply link for that one. It was supposed to be a reply to the post above.

              4. Jabor says:

                Do male characters get a slider for crotch bulge size yet?

                1. X2-Eliah says:

                  Nah. You’re never allowed to decrease it from the default maxxxed setting.

                  // Side-note – I genuinely wouldn’t want to spend even a second on tweaking a virtual crotch bulge. It just seems wrong.

                  1. Sean says:

                    I would love to see a game set in the 16th century or so that let male players choose their codpieces. Henry VIII’s codpiece entered the room well before he did, after all.

    2. acronix says:

      I think you hit the nail there. If there were females in Brink then we would be complaining about how sexualized they are in comparison with the ugly men.
      Unless they made them ugly, too, but then I`m not sure how elongated faces affect female proportions.

    3. wererogue says:

      Have you seen how ugly the men are?

      1. xuberfail says:

        I would much prefer the men to be more underwear model and less space

        1. Robyrt says:

          Now I’m imagining a shooter where everyone looks like they stepped right out of a Calvin Klein ad. It would be awesome.

        2. Dovius says:

          I would actually prefer an average looking woman in power armour to some bikini model with a skin-tight techno-jumpsuit, just because it sounds much more reasonable in my ears.

  6. JPH says:

    Don’t feel bad for ninja-ing my rant; you certainly went about it more competently than me.

    1. acronix says:

      I have a new criteria for this:

      When something is taken away and not modified, then it was “ninja`ed”.
      When something is taken away and improved, it war “Samurai`ed”!

      1. JPH says:

        Hey now, that means you’re implying that ninjas are somehow inferior and all they can do is make things worse.

        That doesn’t go down so well with the author of “Ninja Game Den”…

  7. Viktor says:

    Halo Reach let you play as a female. [/pedantry]

    And yeah, I would be really annoyed by this is I actually had a desire to play Brink.

    1. Irridium says:

      And in Halo 3 you can also play as a female. Well, you can set your voice as a female, but the armor doesn’t change. Which is in line with the canon of the Halo games.

      And in Halo: ODST you can play as a female ODST in the Firefight mode.

      So yeah, Halo supports playing as a woman.


    2. Narida says:

      And it probably wasn’t that much more difficult, anims are the same, hitbox and customizable armor is the same for both…

      1. Adam P says:

        Except then you’re left with the male player model swaying their hips when they walk in cutscenes, and for some reason Bungie did a lot of ass shots in Reach.

  8. Kdansky says:

    I would like it if they had made one of the classes (let’s say Agile, being stereotypical as we are) female and the others male. That would have been relatively affordable, probably. Honestly, TF2 should have a partial female cast. I’d play an all-female game, but I believe many of my MMO-acquaintances would not, seeing how they complain about a guy playing female avatars.

    1. Shamus says:

      It’s interesting because in this game, appearance is not linked to class. You make a guy, and when you change classes it just changes your outfit. If you make a giant muscleman, you’ll be a giant muscleman agile, a giant muscleman medic, etc.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        This, btw, is amazing. I hate being forced into either a look I don’t want just to play the class I want, or vice-versa being forced into a class I hate just to get my char’s look right.

        // This applies to several games, I’m not talking exclusively of Brnk.

        Okay, now.
        One thing though – what about class distinguishability from distance? Like, in TF2, you see a shape and you know what it is (well, actually it’s a spy) – what about brnk, can you identify key targets without getting up close? Like, on a glance?

        1. Falcon_47 says:

          Well, short answer, no you can’t really BUT every friendly character as a small icon on top of their heads telling which class they belong to so i guess it’s not that bad…

          1. acronix says:

            Enemies get one when you aim at them, too.

        2. Shamus says:

          I was wondering the same thing. I watched a good half hour of gameplay footage at Giant Bomb, and the host seemed to know who was what, but I couldn’t tell how he was making that call.

          1. CruelCow says:

            It really doesn’t matter that much in Brink. All classes have access to the same weapons, just the abilities are different.

            1. acronix says:

              Except that heavy`s get exclusive use of heavy machineguns and light (or whatever) can`t use rifles.

      2. Kdansky says:

        That’ll teach me to suggest things without having the faintest clue. I should get myself elected!

    2. cadrys says:

      MMORPG = “Middle-aged Men Online Role-Playing Girls”

      Also, there’s speculation the Pyro is female…

      1. Irridium says:

        Which is silly, since he’s obviously Lincoln.

        Or possibly two little people in a fat suit.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          There is no documented proof that Lincoln couldn’t have been female.

          Ergo, a pyro is both female and Lincoln.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            Maybe the pyro is Mary Todd Lincoln.

      2. Dovius says:

        NOw that’s just not true.
        Teenage boys role-play as girls too.

    3. Adam P says:

      Monday Night Combat (class-based tower defense on XBLA and Steam) has a female character class, the Assassin. There is also PitGirl, the unplayable cheerleader with chicken wing hair.

  9. Falcon_47 says:

    Didn’t Splash Damage say something about creating a dlc with female models if the game made well on the market, or was that just me dreaming full of hope?…

    1. Jarenth says:

      Oh please no. Can you imagine the outrage?

  10. TheAngryMongoose says:

    Given that the vast majority of historical human combat has been handled almost exclusively by males, people would expect a combat game consisting entirely of female characters to have a justification, both in story and out. Whereas making every character male puts the game in line with the vast majority of real life wars.

    The lack of a gender option in what is otherwise an expansive character customization is part of the reason I’m not likely to get this game. It suggests things (whether or not they’re true) about this game and it’s development which are quite unfortunate.

    1. Topaz Wolf says:

      Which is because females are more important in terms of sustaining the population. Yet, if a game was able to address how they are reproducing without the need for gender selectivity this would be completely void. Or they could always just say that everyone is on a self destructive course and no longer cares about keeping the species alive.

      … Meh, whatever.

      1. Knight of Fools says:

        Maybe Brink 2 will be all-female, because all the males got themselves killed in the first war, so now the remaining males must be used to propagate the species while the remaining women go and duke it out.

        …Actually, that may not be such a good idea.

      2. Tuck says:

        “…and no longer cares about keeping the species alive.”

        I doubt many people actually keep this in mind as a reason for reproducing. Even when they’re planning to have kids.

        1. Topaz Wolf says:

          But it is an instinct that makes them want to have kids. We are all hardwired to continue survival.

          1. Eugene says:

            Silliness. We’re not actually hardwired for anything. We outgrow pretty much all of our pre-programmed instincts by the time we turn three.

  11. acronix says:

    I blame the art style: elongated faces.

  12. Chris B Chikin says:

    I would love to see a shooter or combat game with the player characters all being female. Anyone who is not convinced it could be the most awesome thing ever should go and see Suckerpunch and then get back to me.

    1. Pickly says:

      Course Sucker Punch is a widely disliked movie. (I haven’t seen it, so no personal opinions coming from me, though I’m not surprised at the descriptions), so that would put the wrong association in a lot of people’s heads.

  13. Elec0 says:

    I’d say they probably didn’t include female models in Brink because of the reason you mentioned, it’d be doubly expensive to do. Of course I’m sure there’s an efficient way to reuse some of the existing models, but it probably wouldn’t be enough to make a difference.
    And an all-female game would be interesting, to say the least.

  14. MintSkittle says:

    I’d argue that based on the setting that females should be playable in Brink, and that Splash Damage should have gone the extra mile to make them available. This is supposed to be one of, if not the only, last livable locations on Earth. That means about half of the entire Ark population should be female.

    Unless… The women of both sides are in cahoots with each other and biding their time to let all the men kill each other off, then sweep aside the remnants and take the Ark for themselves. I’M ON TO YOU SNEEKY WOMEN FOLK!!!

  15. webrunner says:

    Having a female character isn’t as expensive as you might think.

    Let’s look at what would be a ‘bad’ case for this: Something like Dragon Age 2. You have four possible romance options, all are available to a male or female character.

    If you add the ability to play as a female, you’re adding the following and only the following
    1. Main character’s voice lines.
    2. The few lines referring to the main character by a pronoun. Technologically you could stitch in “him” and “her” if they were recorded right. But 90% of the time they use the gender-neutral “Hawke” or “The Champion”
    3. Main character’s model/animations
    4. Work to fit some (but not all) equipment on the main character.
    5. The few lines where sexuality is at all mentioned or when your gender is mentioned in the romance. 90% of the time your companion calls you “you” or “Hawke”. There’s only a few lines like, “you’re a woman who..” but these are short and are usually followed by the rest of the dialogue which is gender neutral.
    6. a very VERY few specific story elements which only occur one way or another for flavor reasons but no other. Like how Anders goes into his romantic backstory more if you’re a male.

    This is nowhere near double the amount of necessarily lines. Everyone but the main character probably only changes about.. 5-10% of the lines, at most. You change more in DA2 for picking a Mage because of the Carver-Bethany thing.

    So, dialogue not withstanding, let’s look at the other issues.

    3. Depending on how the customization works, “Female” might just be a body type like “big hulky dude”. So if they want to offer “big hulky dude” and “not big not hulky dude” why not offer a female too instead? Plus, if you do your animations right, there may be some overlap.
    4. This is probably the big one, but if you look at, say, WoW or City of Heroes, it shouldn’t be too bad. Only a few items would have any sort of minor issues. “attached” objects can still just attach, it’s only form-fitting stuff that might need to be remoddeled/textured, but if you look at something like, eg, City of Heroes you can see it’s quite possible to do this. A game like brink which has been in development for over two years, there’s no excuse that they couldn’t put some of that art time to making shirts that fit people with breasts.

    1. Shamus says:

      If those body-types are three separate models, then there really is no excuse not to drop one of the three males and add a female. I’m working on the assumption that there was ONE base model, with various deformations applied.

      1. webrunner says:

        If that’s the case, then there’s still no excuse. There’s more difference between Scrawny Guy and Thick Guy than between Scrawny Guy and Action Girl. Those muscles get in the way as much as a set of gazongas does.

        1. Shamus says:

          There are, in fact, more differences between men and women than breasts. The SKELETAL shape is different. Two dudes can have divergent physiques, but the same base skeleton. Not so with men and women.

          1. webrunner says:

            Not the way that they make burly guys in games.. there’s no way your average space marine has the same skeleton as the average skinny everyman dude.

            Regardless, even if the skeleton has a different shape, the actual differences in which bones there are – these really don’t affect the rendering. The bone names are the same, and the same animations can be put on both.

            It’s not like women have three arms. So you have one (relatively small and easy to do) skeletal file.. and a different base mesh per body type, and a different set of animations, but the attachment points and such should be able to be made universal. It’s just what gets attached needs to be molded differently.

            1. Shamus says:

              “Not the way that they make burly guys in games.. there's no way your average space marine has the same skeleton as the average skinny everyman dude.”

              I agree, which is why I made the distinction above between “making different models” and just deforming one model. I don’t know. I’ve only seen gameplay footage.

              See, even attaching a different model to the same skeleton can be very, very time consuming. My knowledge is about seven years out of date, but back when I last did this sort of work I remember an incredible amount of time was spent setting the vertex weights. “This part of the shoulder needs to be 5% shoulder, 5% neck, and 90% torso”. Tedious business. Make a new model, even for the same skeleton, and you have to do all of that work again.

              And if you’re talking differently-proportioned skeletons, then you need all new animations. Yes, they have the same bone names, but if the avatar folds their arms, you don’t want the female arms clipping right through her boobs. If her arms are a different size relative to the torso (which would be the case for men vs. women) then placing your hand on your hip might have you sticking your arm inside of your pelvis. Or resting it against empty space six inches from the hip.

              1. webrunner says:

                The thing is, yes, it’s a lot of work, but so does every other thing they ever do in any game. The fact that everyone you play against in Brink is using those same models means they saved a lot of time on enemy models: think on this: ignoring the actual model complexity, every game that has alien enemies requires a completely different model and skeleton and animation set for every individual enemy. Every single one! Brink only has, at most, 3 unique model/animation sets. TF2, for comparison, has 8. Your average RPG would have dozens and dozens: rats, bears, dragons…

                And there’s not even any cutscenes with unique animations. How many animations does say, Nathan Drake have, or even GLaDOS? Or Commander Shepard?

                1. Shamus says:

                  You’re acting like I was saying it’s too hard. The point I was making is that it’s non-trivial. People keep saying, “Just take a couple of options away from the men, and give us women”, which is on a completely different scale. It’s like saying, “Just buy a car with a cheap stereo and use the savings to buy a second car.”

                  Is it feasible? Sure. Is it worth doing? I think so. Is it something trivial they left out? Not at all.

                  1. webrunner says:

                    I think we’re arguing even though we actually agree on this.

                    I wasn’t saying it was trivial, but I’m saying that there’s no way they didn’t have the time to do it. Nothing else they did was trivial, and the game was announced in 2009. It’s now 2011, and doesn’t have its’ own engine or anything, and they released it with 8 maps and significant technical issues. All they really had was their customization and they didn’t even finish THAT.

      2. acronix says:

        I have just run the game a while and took particular attention to the animations in the three different models. They all seem to use the same, so I`d guess your assumption is right.

  16. poiumty says:

    I noticed your comics tend to be a bit minimalistic as of late. Any by minimalistic I mean come on dude 2 panels with the same image about something that has been thoroughly discussed on the Escapist already.

    I feel you owe us a 12-panel comic next week. With different images. In which each panel is photoshopped. No cheating.

    1. Stargazer says:

      Yeah, I ain’t paying 0 dollars for this shit!!! ;)

    2. BenD says:

      About Spoiler Warning.

      1. Jarenth says:

        Trolling Mumbles.

        1. Ramsus says:

          …the Musical.

          1. Dovius says:


    3. Veloxyll says:

      It could’ve been satire about them only having worked with one set of skeletal forms so every character is essentially a copy paste with different sliders of the other.

      Just sayin.

  17. moonmonster says:

    Funny thing, I was reading just a few days ago on the steam forum for Hydrophobia (where you play a woman) multiple posts from guys asking if they can play a man, because they refuse to play a character that’s a woman.

    There were a number of ‘what seriously?’ posts, but the ‘I want to be a big burly well muscled oily male that’s not homoerotic at all’ contingent does exist.

    1. BenD says:

      I see what you did there!

    2. poiumty says:

      Vocal minority, imo.

    3. kmc says:

      That kind of crap reminds me of a friend in the military who used to say that he wouldn’t want to hold a high civilian position with the military because he “would never have a job with secretary in the title, even if it was Secretary of the Air Force.” As though that didn’t get old. There are some people who just have to not only separate men’s and women’s roles but actively look down on the other. It’s not going away any time soon, but it is getting better in a very disjointed way.

      1. Eugene says:

        It’s like how Bowling and Golf, the two most useless sports ever, are divided into gender for no other reason to imply that there’s some kind of non-trivial muscle mass required to play them well.

  18. Ash says:

    Didn't APB have a high level of customization and still manage to have a female avatar? Granted, APB was a terrible game, but that seems more the effect of some flawed base level gameplay assumptions and not misallocation of resources towards customization.

    All of which is not to mention that Brink already has three body types. The body types do have different gameplay advantages, but it does show that including a female avatar simply was not a priority during development.

    1. Falcon_47 says:

      Saints Row 2 anyone???

      1. Nick Bell says:

        The amazing thing about Saints Row 2 is that you could change everything about your character at any point, EVEN the gender. The ability to go from a tall, burly white guy to a thin, short, black woman was pretty amazing. Also, you could dress your gang up like ninjas. What’s not to like?

        1. Dovius says:

          Actually, height was the one thing you couldnt change, you were taller than the average characters by default.

  19. porschecm2 says:

    I’m not sure I buy the argument that (a significant enough number of) guys will automatically not play a game that has only female characters. Ya, sure, it’s one thing if given a choice of male or female to choose to play as the opposite gender–nothing wrong with it, but I think most people tend to stick to their own gender when choosing a character. But not playing a game simply because they *can’t* choose their own gender? I just don’t buy it. I mean, Portal/Portal 2 sold well enough, and there was no male character option. And I seem to recall the Laura Croft franchise doing well enough for itself, too. And there was Mirror’s Edge. And Metroid(s). I’ve heard various complaints about all of those games, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a guy complain “Ya, I’d have bought it, but I couldn’t play as a male character, so I gave it a pass.”

  20. Abnaxis says:

    I think a game with an all female cast would have to be handled right, and I don’t know if developers are capable of that. I think part of the reason why shooters come out so masculine is because there are no half measures in art direction. An all male cast is extremely masculine, which is what you see in most shooters. But when I think of the alternative, I think of Final Fantasy X-2–an otherwise fun game that I never wanted to play unless I was the only one in the room, because it was so overwhelmingly emasculating.

    I don’t like either extreme, which I think is the main contributing factor in my playing neither shooters nor FFX-2. If these are the only two options for discourse in developer’s vocabulary, I’ll probably just keep ignoring them…

    1. The Scarlet Mathematician says:

      I’m a man, and I love FFX-2 without shame. Er, well, without shame about the all-girl cast part, anyways.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        I enjoy it as long as there aren’t other people in the room (man, that sounds bad), but as soon as someone else sees me playing it, my face turns red. Gamers have too much of a stereotype for indulging in too much TNA, and I feel anyone looking at me playing the game is going to think I’m just there to start at asses.

  21. lazlo says:

    I’d like to posit a possible reason. I would say that it’s entirely possible that technology has now advanced to the point where a grizzled male space marine can begin to place his foot on the far shore of the uncanny valley. I would posit that making a beautiful woman (and people generally don’t want to play someone particularly ugly) is both technologically and artistically *harder*, and if you try you are likely to fail.

    I think that it’s entirely possible that, for a female-avatar-only game, the number of men that would be more interested in it added to the number of women who would be more interested in it would outweigh those who would refuse to buy because of that limitation. But if you add in the likelyhood of a slightly unsettling female avatar, you might find a very different answer.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      I think this is a very interesting point. The more I think of it, the more trouble I have imagining a female character designed with the same art direction as the PCs in team fortress (a game with otherwise excellent character design), without it being over-sexualized (and thus self-defeating if you’re going for gender-equality; and no, the pyro doesn’t count :P).

      All the models in TF2 have exagerrated, stylized features. The heavy guy has miniscule legs, huge pecks and a chin larger than his cranum. The Scout is comically skinny. The Medic is very angled. All models have huge hands and feet in relation to their bodies.

      I’m coming up blank in trying to apply this style to a female form. The only way I can think of to make it cartoony is to make it curvy, with rounded hips/bust. Oddly proportioned limbs look weird in my head, and there’s no a whole lot you can do with the face. I suppose you can fiddle with hairstyles/hats…

      1. Esteis says:

        All the models in TF2 have exaggerated, stylized features. The heavy guy has miniscule legs, huge pecs and a chin larger than his cranium. The Scout is comically skinny. The Medic is very angular. All models have huge hands and feet in relation to their bodies.

        I'm coming up blank in trying to apply this style to a female form.

        Je vous présente this femalified version of the TF2 team (I couldn’t find the maker of the female version to credit ‘un, alas. :-/):
        (For comparison, the male version this is based on:

        That pretty much covers all bases:
        * Completely distinctive silhouettes
        * Over-the-top body types that still make you think of feasible real-world body types
        * They look like women that exist in their own right, rather than as women-meant-for-male-eyes
        * To me, at least, they look like original women. (How much you can still see that they’re retouched men will vary from person to person, I guess.)

        You said you could not see how one could apply TF2’s caricatural art style to women without the result being over-sexualized. I think this image provides the simple answer: even as you exaggerate the other body dimensions, don’t exaggerate the breasts and waist. That works well — very well, even, if the above image is any indicator.

        P.s: Here’s a collection of female!TF2 art gathered by one Lirael. All sorts of styles; fun and instructive to examine!

        [Edited to add: See also, further down, wererogue’s link to ChemicalAlia’s female class skins for Team Fortress 2.]

        1. Abnaxis says:

          I guess what really gets me are the faces. If you just grab the faces from the pictures you post in the first two links above devoid of any hairstyles, hats, or accessories, there’s no variation between the women. Their head shapes are all exceptionally similar. If do the same with the male heads, OTOH, you can see much more variation, and can tell to some extent which face goes with which class based solely on the character of the face.

          I think it’s either a part of society or a part of human nature, but when I think of women who are considered ‘not-ugly’ versus men who are considered ‘not-ugly’ from an artistic standpoint, the women have much less room for variation in facial proportions and head shape than men do. Put a different way, attractive women are expected to have attractive faces and from there are differentiated more than men are based on their body type, whereas for attractive men it is the exact opposite–they are expected to at least be somewhat athletic, and from there are differentiated according their attractiveness above the neck.

          That creates a unique problem for video games. Varying body types not only creates significantly more work for developers, it also changes the balance of the game. For example Coach, from Left4Dead2, is hit significantly more often because his model is slightly more pudgy than the other characters’, making him easier to hit. Because of this, and because the animations take much more work to look right when you start fiddling with body types, developers are much happier switching different faces on the same body when they create characters and using only a few body shapes (see also: Fallout 3).

          I’m not trying to start a flame war here, but I think this is a large reason why you see fewer female NPCs compared to male ones. When all you can do is switch faces out, there are only so many unique women characters to be made before they all look the same because A) people focus on womens’ bodies more, which is the same across all models and B) it is more jarring to exaggerate the features on womens’ faces compared to mens’, allowing fewer easily recognizable facial features.

        2. Tizzy says:

          Some really nice art through that Lirael link. My only regret is that most sell the Heavy short. There *are* some perfectly realistic-looking ways of making a tall and strong woman (Walkyries anyone?), and the Heavy *should* look like that.

          1. Tizzy says:

            Actually, there are some pretty good heavies in the individual shots…

        3. Chris B Chikin says:

          I love that the Pyro looks exactly the same!

  22. Alexander The 1st says:

    There is one other reason I think most developers avoid female characters like the plague, and it’s the same reason you see grizzled, bald(Or wearing some sort of cap) characters: hair physics.

    Obligatory FF XIII reference link:

    See, SquareEnix is a bit over-polishy with their 3-D games – they want everything to be as perfectly rendered as possible.

    But with hair, each hair takes a LONG time render moving separately. Bioware tries to be lazier in this, and all hair is basically glued on with gel. Also, Chell. Most of the time, this is *okay*, because movement is still somewhat stilted with these characters.

    From what I’ve heard, I understand Brink to be like Mirror’s Edge – there’s a strong focus on movement and parkour. With multiple characters, the rendering of hair would become a bottleneck then, as they want hair to move with you – if you get shot and fall down, it shouldn’t just stick to the back of your head. But that takes rendering time, especially if you go Crysis level detail. And hey, even GRASS doesn’t look all that great.

    So that’s a strong reason for modelers to go “Whatever, give the guy a cap or helmet. What? We can’t do that in this setting? Okay, fine, he’s bald.”

    Also, do you see any characters with a full on Linux Beard in games? I suspect this is extra support for my point.

    1. kmc says:

      Yeah, but there are plenty of hairstyles that are extremely practical and stay in place–just look at female military members. Bun, braid, cropped short or even buzzed. Your point is good, but I think any company that actually lets that deter them has a deeper problem of some kind.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Well, I was reading the comics on the Escapist, and something came to mind:

        Perhaps that’s the innovation Duke Nukem Forever spent 14 years fixing. Since nobody in that game is bald except for the aliens. And possibly not even them.

        Punch-line: They did it so nobody would complain about it during the “Capture The Babe” multiplayer mode. Hey, Valve obsesses about as much usually, right? :p

    2. GiantRaven says:

      ‘Also, do you see any characters with a full on Linux Beard in games? I suspect this is extra support for my point.’

      Good ol’ Alpha Protocol.

      1. Jarenth says:

        That image makes me laugh, and then sad.

        1. Sumanai says:

          Because you’ll never be that man again?

          1. Jarenth says:


  23. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I remember there was this thing about some shooter, either one of the quakes or one of the early unreals, going nearly all female on the avatar side simply because male models were of those huge, muscular guys and female, while also fairly blocky, were visibly leaner. So ultimately all the “identify with your avatar”, “immersion”, “gender perception” and other stuff had to bow down before shaving a couple of pixels from your hitbox.

    1. Simon Buchan says:

      Most UT titles the females are more difficult to see (though I beleive the hitboxes are the same size). Possibly similar reasoning for Quake 3 (not so much the earlier Quakes).

  24. wererogue says:

    It’s nice that someone with a platform is actually talking about this.

    I don’t think you need different animations and different hitboxes when the characters are stylized this much. You might want them, but you don’t need them. The small body type is a good base for a realistic woman, and the medium and large types aren’t realistic even for men (unless you’re Rob Liefied).

    For a great example of how effective you can be with the same animations and hitboxes, check out ChemicalAlia’s TF2 work:

    1. Ash says:

      Glad someone posted this. ChemicalAlia’s work was the first thing I thought of when I read this.

  25. SteveDJ says:

    I don’t play, or follow, these different shooter games, so maybe this is all off, but…

    Could it be that by having female characters, esp. mixed with males, then at some point you have guys shooting girls? Sounds like a marketing nightmare to me.

    1. Zukhramm says:

      Why would that be a marketing nightmare? There are plenty of games were this is not an issue.

    2. acronix says:

      There was a game based enterily around that: Gender Wars. I liked it when I was little because it was the first game I knew that let you customize your squad`s weapons!

      1. Veloxyll says:

        Alas it wasn’t that great. It was a Syndicate clone that was just missing something (bearing in mind it’s been years since I played)

        I still finished it once as I recall.

        1. acronix says:

          In my defense, I didn`t know of Syndicate until many years later.

  26. I always, -always- play female characters. I’m not entirely sure why, I just happen to find them more interesting, which fits in with being a straight male, I’m sure.

    But then, I also hate big burly space marines and I prefer anime and JRPGs to sports and Gears of War, so maybe I can’t really speak for the “rawr we be manly and want to be manly men not sissy women” thing.

    It must suck to be one of those guys, that’s all I know. There’s a lot of great things with women as main characters (Ghost in the Shell, for instance) that they’ll never enjoy because they’re too worried about gender.

    Although I must say I think it’s a good thing that people find the lack of ability to create a female an oddity. That shows how much progress there’s been, I think.

  27. Adam P says:

    I don’t get why it would matter if there are options for female characters in this game. From what I understand, there are three different body types, each with their own bonuses. People pick the best body type for what they want to do. Large characters can take more damage, slim characters run faster, and medium is something in-between (my assumptions).

    Add a female option into the mix, and… well, people are vain, and so they’re not going to be focusing on min-maxing their character. They’re going to pick whichever is “hotter.” Easily 80% of female characters would pick slim, with up to 19% picking medium, and a scant 1% being large. In effect, that would mean a female option would just be the slim body type. From a gameplay perspective, is there any choice there?

    1. Soylent Dave says:

      Because nobody ever picks options for a male character based on which are ‘hotter’, of course.

      I wonder if that is because men are only vain when styling up female characters, or if its because women are genetically vainer than men, and so care much more about how pretty their avatar is (and not so much about gameplay)?

      1. The Scarlet Mathematician says:

        I don’t know where any of you are getting the idea that players will pick a good looking character over a more powerful one. If you made a large opera-singer German lady the most imbalanced class, I guarantee ever server would be full of them. To the brim.

        Gamers like looking good, sure, but at the end of the day, they like winning better.

      2. Adam P says:

        I haven’t seen the customization options in Brink, but I’m assuming they’re comprehensive enough that guys can create a character that closely resembles themselves. Now, add female into the mix with that same fidelty.

        Extrapolated from this article (thanks, Cracked! [Oh no. The most interesting information presented to me comes from comedy outlets. Where did I go wrong in life?]) people would choose the options they find most attractive for their avatar. We’re all vain.

        What I’m trying to get at is that when presented with the options to create an avatar however they’d like, people will try to create an avatar that is representive of themselves. (Or if they don’t want to exist in that world, then they’ll try to create their idealized female or male character to act as their stand-in.) But because of vanity, they’ll end up creating a character they find the most attractive. For female characters, that will end up with a majority being the slim body type, with a small portion being of a medium build. It won’t matter if the player creating the character is female or male, as we all wear +2 shades of self-deception.

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          In which case, why aren’t you making the case that there need only one be character build / design for male characters?

          If we’re all equally vain.

          1. Adam P says:

            I’m not making that case mostly because the options available are already in game, and I find it more interesting to talk about hypotheticals.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      Wait, the different body types have different stats. Huh…

      Something I’ve seen people get into a lot in RPG forums, is whether there should be a stat difference between females and males. Like, gamer A says women should get a bonus to Cha and a penalty to Str, Gamer B accuses gamer A of being a misogynist, firey flaming conflict ensues…

      Maybe Brink doesn’t include female models because stats are associated with body types. If you include different body types for women people will either expect different statistics to go with the different body types and be disappointed when there’s no difference, or take exception when there is a difference and they perceive it as stereotyping gender (with little room in between). Maybe Bethesda though they were damned to be criticized no matter what they did, so they went with the option that was the least work?

  28. Alphadrop says:

    Comments around the ‘net about the game being pretty rushed could explain the lack of females and the lack of heads for males, I think they explained that each body type would all have the same head because it would encourage you wearing masks or something but that didn’t sound very truthfull.
    Being rushed would also explain the small amount of maps and truely bone headed a.i in singleplayer.
    Considering this game was in development for so many years I wonder what they were actually doing.

  29. Alex says:

    After all, you can't be a woman in Modern Warfare 2, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Halo,

    Negatory on that last one. The newest game “Reach” lets you play as a uterus-haver. Although the fact that it took 5 games for them to realize this might be a good idea kind of goes right back and proves your point anyway.

    1. Eärlindor says:

      Well, you could choose a female voice for Halo 3, but that was only a voice and only in multiplayer, then there was Dare in ODST, but she was only playable in Firefight mode. So Reach really is the first to have a female character model useable in both single and multiplayer.

      Anyway… yeah… just expanding on that thought. It still goes back to Shamus’ point anywhoz.

  30. Soylent Dave says:

    I think the fact that we’re discussing female characters in a game as something to add shows how backward game development is.

    We shouldn’t consider putting female characters in a game as something extra, as something that takes more work; it should be part of the status quo. I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t take work or processing power – I’m suggesting that implementing male and female characters should be part of the basics by now.

    Female characters should be so entrenched in game design that the assets are automatically assigned as part of building the game; we shouldn’t be thinking of it as ‘hmm, what can we take out of the game to add women in?’, because women should already be in the game.

    In a game where you can customise your character, or a game with a variety of antagonists, there is rarely an excuse for there not being any female models (just as there is rarely any excuse for a lack of believable ethnic variation).

    Even if you’re making a game with a clearly defined protagonist – and, for story reasons he’s a white male (just for a change) – 50% of the population are women. It would be unusual for there to be no female characters in a story – and that development would definitely need to be explained in-story.

    But in a game where you get to customise your own character? It really is inexcusable laziness. The game industry needs to pull its collective socks up – there are plenty of things that we already include as standard in games that require a lot of work (multiplayer springs to mind); why aren’t women one of them?

    It’s embarrassing.

    1. Gothic was a great RPG with basically no women in the game, but there was a *reason* for there not to be women in the game: the entire game takes place inside a prison colony, and the only women sent there were given to the leader of the prisoners to keep him happy after a prison rebellion left him in charge of the place.

      It’s actually really well done and one of the few games I’ve played where there just being NO WOMEN makes perfect sense. It’s a very masculine game, but it’s actually still enjoyable to play if you’re female because the characterization is good and the plot is interesting. In the later games in the series, when you leave the prison colony, there are women about, you can actually talk with them and so forth.

      I, personally, do not have a problem with a game leaving women out. I prefer to play as a woman because I identify better with a female character and I usually don’t find it esthetically pleasing to play as a male. I think there is far too great a tendency for people to leap to the conclusion that *ignoring* women means the same thing as *persecuting* them. I think a great many “guy movies” would be enormously better if they stopped always shoe-horning that same “love interest” female in.

      I also, personally, don’t mind that there aren’t any all-female games out there. It’d be an interesting concept for a game, to be sure, but being as how I’m a female gamer, I’m not terribly interested in Lifetime movies or whatever else people think appeals strictly to women. (I don’t like other women much. We just don’t get along, generally–most of my dealings with other women are incredibly stiff because we have basically nothing in common.) However, I think a really cool game would be where you play a character in a village full of women where all the men have been forcibly pressed into the army or taken away as slaves and you’re left to struggle for survival. It’d make for a really neat premise.

      1. Soylent Dave says:

        I was thinking of the prison scenario as a believable all-male setting when I was writing that post.

        I don’t particularly miss the ability to play as a female character in most games. Now and again I’ll design a female character in a game like Fallout 3 (and it’s fun when there are subtle differences); but it won’t be my first playthrough. I could probably live without it.

        But I do notice the fact that there are almost no female characters in games – there are few NPCS, never mind PCs. It really hurts the immersion of most games, and hampers the storytelling.

        And it’s just one more thing that makes a medium I enjoy look immature (something that’s been reinforced by a lot of the reactions to Shamus’ comic).

  31. GTRichey says:

    I think the most appropriate comparison would be TF2 since they’re the most similar, and the discussion would be why the two games handling of this gets different reactions. Valve made a design decision to have each class represented by easily recognisable silhouettes so there’s no real choice about your appearance at all. Brink (as best I can tell) went with the opposite approach of there not being a direct connection between appearance and class.

    Development wise it would have been much easier for TF2 to have female characters since each class is so distinct anyway and required entirely different animations/models/view models. Brink on the other hand had certain design goals from the start and adding females would essentially double the work required for player models. Beyond skins which is comparatively trivial, Brink has three distinct body types meaning that adding females means three sets of models/animations for each class.

    So why did TF2 not receive the same level of backlash for not having females? It’s seemingly because they removed choice entirely and when you don’t have a multitude of choices the lack of an obvious one is less glaring. That’s not to say Brink shouldn’t have added female models but the backlash seems more because they did offer so much without having female models.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      It’s also more weird when you say “completely customisable avatar” when you have all male bodies, as opposed to “play one of 9 classes” when all classes are male. (well, except the pyro)

      Brink sells choice of appearance as a feature, so not being able to choose to look like half the people on the planet is a big deal. is more focused on selling its gameplay, so the lack of women, while unfortunate, isn’t such a big deal. (that said I use some of ChemicalAlia’s female skins, so I has womens in my TF2)

  32. “The fanbase of these games is stereotypically young, angry, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and profane. Not all players fit that profile. Not even most. But it would be folly to discount the possibility that a lot of these dudes would simply refuse to play as a female.”

    Cept the thing is, as uncomfortable a truth as it is, a stereotype doesn’t exist unless the behavior is common enough to feed it. As for folly…it would be folly to cater to that audience if they were not large enough to justify the expenses you pointed out. I don’t even see how it could make it a better game since it would be a purely presentational aspect and wouldn’t affect the gameplay at all.

    1. Drexer says:

      A stereotype can also be very easily propagated by a vocal minority or a small group that the media holds up as an example, for instance: ‘homophobic racist kids in Xbox Live’, ‘All Texans are Bible-thumping doomsayers jerks’, ‘All of anime viewers only want hentai’, etc.. etc.. etc…

      Saying that the group in question is totally a reflection of the stereotype is wrong and definitely very wrong when talking on a videogame/geek blog, seeing how much gamers have suffered through those stereotypes just some years ago.

      1. “Saying that the group in question is totally a reflection of the stereotype is wrong”

        Yes it would. Good thing I didn’t do that. In any case, whether a stereotype is propagated by a vocal minority is irrelevant. If the majority refused to BE vocal, then it’s much harder to judge if they’re a viable market worth putting money into.

        1. Drexer says:

          “Cept the thing is, as uncomfortable a truth as it is, a stereotype doesn't exist unless the behavior is common enough to feed it.”

          I think here the problem lies with the definition of common. By common I understood ‘have an high enough number of followers so as to count as a majority of sales’ which led to my answer.

  33. Ergonomic Cat says:

    (Since I’m rude, and don’t read all the comments occasionally, forgive if I repeat).

    1. Halo Reach has female Spartans, both in your squad, and as a choice of PCs.

    2. “But it would be folly to discount the possibility that a lot of these dudes would simply refuse to play as a female.”

    Sad as it is, I’m pretty sure it would be a big problem. I’m certain we’ve all been in at least one “Why would a guy play as a chick?” forum thread. CF that.

    Girls are used to playing as boys in shooters. Boys are not. That being said, I’m totally with you. It would be awesome to see an all female shooter, as long as it wasn’t just all female for the sake of being all female – set up a good story that’s not just “WOMEN BEHIND BARS!!!!!” and then don’t make a big deal out of it.

  34. Windblade says:

    One minor nitpick – both Halo 3 and Halo:reach let you play as female Spartans. Visually, in H3, the Spartans(spartan II’s) gender is indistinguishable from males, with a just a voice set. (if you read the tie-in books, made before halo 3, this is true in universe.)

    The halo: reach Spartans (spartan III’s) do have some noticeable visual differences (thinner limbs, noticeable hips), as well as different voice sounds.

    As to an all female shooter… well, that depends on how you approach it. As an anime fan, I’m well aware of mecha and quasi-fantasy series where the ‘unique control system’ or ‘magical gubbins’ are expressly explained to work only with, or far better with, women. usually this is just so the male veiwer gets more cute chicks to look at, but it has led to some wonderfully strong heroines. (part of the reason I love anime)

  35. Bentusi16 says:

    This may sound odd, but part of it may be that male gamers have a ingrained issue with shooting female characters. The following is meant to purely look at the FPS side of things, as other genres may be different.

    Thinking back to all the games I’ve played in the sixteen or so years I’ve been playing games, I can name two where I’ve shot female character, and of those two, only one was an actual woman. The first was System Shock 2, with the Cyber-Mothers (or was it Matrons?). While they were clearly female, they were also monstrous.

    The other was Half-Life: Opposing Force, with the female assassins.

    Thinking seriously, these are the only shooters I can remember ever playing where I as a player actively was put up against female opponents. Mind, this is ‘pure shooters”. Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 3 both had female enemies, for example. but I put it as more of an RPG then a shooter. I don’t know.

    Also, on the ‘females and males having different stats”, Oblivion and Morrowind both did this, as did EverQuest.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      Is it an actually lack of wanting to shoot women though, or have you been conditioned to not shoot women since women have more often been friendly NPCs so you don’t think of that woman with a plasma rifle as an enemy, rather than deliberately not wanting to shoot women? And is it appropriate that we’re not allowed to shoot women, or should we allow women to get tea-bagged just as much as men?

      1. Bentusi16 says:

        No, I’ve been conditioned not to shoot at women by growing up in western culture. What I’m saying is, there is a cultural thing that disapproves of shooting women in the western world. Of seeing women in combat. It’s probably the same one that makes some men automatically hold the door.

        I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing, just that its an ingrained thing.

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          Haven’t you also been conditioned not to shoot at men?

          Or do I need to back away slowly?

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      This…would explain why Nintendo and the western culture is fine with Samus Aran, because although it was originally shocking in the first game to have a female protagonist, aside from Mother Brain (A brain in a jar…hardly likely to be a banner for the against violence) and Dark Samus (Who, from a technical standpoint is uni-sex, like the other Metroids), none of them are female…

      Which in hindsight, feels like The Medic being an one-man army (Warning: TV Tropes).

      I look forward to the next Metal Gear Solid game where you play as a medic sneaking through the fortress to take on Metal Gear…Gear!

      1. Bubble181 says:

        Y’know, a game where medics were next-to-invulnerable (or, shooting them cost points, count as team kills, whatever) but have no offensive weaponry, ONLY being able to heal, would be interesting to play.
        Of course, medics would need different ways to gain points/kill counters/whatever. Perhaps even also punish them if they only heal one side in an encounter, forcing them to try and heal both sides somewhat equally….

    3. Abnaxis says:

      I think Oblivion and Morrowind got a pass because there wasn’t any race that was outright human. There were Bretons, which were pasty humans, Imperials which were Roman humans, and Redguard, which were token black humans.

      I think if Beth came out with a game that wasn’t all invented races, but rather starred our own human race in the near future, there would be more outcry if they made stats tied to gender.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *