Experienced Points: Something for the Ladies

By Shamus
on Jul 31, 2009
Filed under:
Column

This article is what you get when you take ten thousand words of ideas and cut them down to 1,500 words. The article I didn’t write dwarfs the one I did, and even at that the final product is a bit too long and leaves too much out.

One thing I hopefully avoided was the usual arrogant tone of diversity scolds. Studies like this one begin by point out – as I have – that videogame characters trend heavily towards young white males, but then go on to have a “therefore the designers are sexist bigots” subtext, and blame designers for making the world a worse place. I think the most important thing to realize is that the current landscape has been shaped by economics and the tenancy for people to write what they know, and isn’t the result of anything insidious.

Still, I’m all for seeing a wider variety of characters to inhabit. If nothing else, I’d like to have a little moratorium on space marines and their variants for just a little while.

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  1. coarse.sand says:

    Nitpick Warning

    99.99% of English-speaking Canadians of do not sound any different from Americans. No one here ever actually says “aboot”.

    A game filled with no one but French Canadians voicing English characters though, that would be the most hilarious thing ever pressed onto a disc. However, after an 80-hour game you would lose the ability to speak English correctly.

  2. Another Scott says:

    I don’t doubt that the future will bring more games that enable the player to assume the role of either a male or a female. However I wonder if there will ever be an option to be a hermaphrodite, or maybe a biological male with a woman’s gender like the fafafine of Samoa…

  3. Amstrad says:

    Did the British make it into space?

    Yes, they all serve as commanding officers for the Empire.

  4. Zerotime says:

    Is that last 0.01% Michael Hogan, coarse.sand?

  5. Angie says:

    The Sims seems to cover most of your options nicely, with the exception of multiple simultaneous partners. Maybe the answer is to put a Sims-like character creation system into the game and let the player decide who they want to play and what sort of major supporting characters they want. Romantic attachments can be decided on the fly, again, as with the Sims; if you flirt with someone and they like you, you get a positive response, while if you flirt with someone who doesn’t like you, you get a negative response. Take it from there. Hard-coding everything in advance is, of course, expensive, but it’s not necessary.

    Even aside from that, every game in the universe doesn’t have to have every single option. The US Census Bureau projects that about 13% of the US population will be black by 2010; having about 13% of games with significant playable characters offer black protagonists — half men and half women — would certainly be a move in the right direction. And cetera with other options. About 5% Asian, about 15% Hispanic, about 10% gay, etc. It’s really not a lot. (And of course, publishers in other countries could use their own stats.)

    But the argument that, OMG, every single game would have to have an option for a polyamorous lesbian Samoan-American, plus every other permutation of human being, and if that’s not doable then we might as well leave things as they are, is a straw man, and unworthy.

    Angie

  6. Danath says:

    Isn’t Overlord 2 WRITTEN by Rhianna Pratchett, who is a woman?

    Also most of my women friends who play games tend to be more than thick skinned enough to not care about that sort of stuff, it’s usually the fact than when a female protagonist pops up, they are dressed in 3-6 square inches of cloth/armor.

    Limitations on character creation also help establish a character within a story, I thought Mass Effect pulled it off quite well, and I’m hoping ME2 has the same female voice actor (who I found superior to the male shepherd).

    PS. I know, I should keep better track of the names of these people.

  7. Amstrad says:

    Angie: The problem with saying “the answer is to put a Sims-like character creation system into the game and let the player decide who they want to play and what sort of major supporting characters they want” is the simple fact that this is pretty much the entirety of the gameplay of The Sims. A great deal of the game’s budget and development time went into developing that creation and relationships system. To include it in every game would mean a budget of: The Sims + Your Game = A Very Large Number

  8. Yar Kramer says:

    My brain has a propensity for connecting ideas. “Higher technology is a problem” doesn’t seem to be a particularly new idea, but this time it’s in the context of “more money is needed for multiple choices” instead of “it excludes people whose PCs are older than, say, about five minutes.” Going lower-tech (there’s still a market for 2D RPGs out there) would solve a bunch of problems … ;)

  9. I wonder how men would feel if they suddenly woke up to a world where…

    A woman police officer gave you a speeding ticket.

    A woman judge heard your court case.

    A woman doctor gave you your prostate exam.

    A woman runs your bank (but the tellers are all men).

    Your boss is a woman.

    Your female colleagues make more money doing the same work that you do.

    Women control Wall Street.

    Women control Congress.

    Your president is a woman.

    You worship a female god.

    …yeah, that’s how we feel – every day.

    Leslee

    PS Good, thought-provoking article, Shamus.

  10. Korivak says:

    coarse.sand’s comment reminds me of Taking Lives, a dark thriller that is also comedy gold for Canadians that live within earshot of French Canadians. All of the supposedly Quebecois main characters are played by French actors…as in, born in France and speaking actual French. This makes it sound almost but not quite completely unlike the actual Montreal. It’s a little like watching a western where all the cowboys speak with, say, very formal upper class British accents.

    Until, that is, any minor character or one-liner extra speaks. These minor roles are given to natives, as it would cost too much to fly in people actually able to speak French from an actual French speaking country. They sound like what real French Canadians sound like, which is to say they sound bad. Horrible. Borderline incapable of intelligible speech. They have the proper thick slang and the expected scattering of English words and the heavy guttural and nasal sound that only a French Canadian can master.

    When these minor characters are having a conversation with one of the main characters, you can almost see the look of baffled confusion on the face of the French-from-France star. A sort of, “I’m pretty sure that person is speaking to me, but not in any language I am aware of” kind of look.

    As I said, comedy gold.

  11. JKjoker says:

    I don’t like the option to switch sex in story based games, just as Shamus said in the article doing it properly would take a lot of extra resources (that 1/2 ~ 3/4 of your players wont use) and because of that they tend to take the easy route and force certain aspects of the story to become generic and washed down to adequate the game to both sexes, so having this option often means a worse game.

    i would rather play female-lead-only more often with proper story for the character than having a generic story that accepts any kind of character, i think a lot of males wouldn’t mind either (the “if i have to stare at an ass though the whole game i rather to stare at a nice female ass” statement keeps popping up more frequently as games all turn into third person gear of wars clones).

    The other option, the simplest and most obvious option that for some reason everyone just ignores is the Doom-strategy : a simple, almost non existent story that only serves as basic context (perfectly allowing any sex or race to fit) and then the entire game works though the gameplay, you DON’T HAVE to play out an “epic” story to create a fun game, retrogamming has never been so popular and most of those games barely have a text screen, and imho, any extra time developers have to put into Gameplay, the better, its almost criminal how often they waste huge loads of money into graphics and forget to make the game fun.

  12. justaguy says:

    @Leslee
    The top half of that list is already pretty possible… in fact, I’ve had multiple jobs where my boss was a woman (tech industry jobs, if you are wondering), and the single court case I’ve had was heard by a female judge.

    As for the rest of it… well, hypothetical situations are always hard to judge but, personally, my reaction is “So what?”. Really, the only statement that gives me any pause is “Your female colleagues make more money doing the same work that you do.”, but it gives me no more pause then “Your colleagues make more money doing the same work that you do.” And maybe that prostate thing… but again, I don’t really want a guy doing it either…

    I don’t know that I’m your average guy but since you wondered.

  13. Danath says:

    @Leslee

    Yeah, because woman nowadays are never in any position of authority for those of us who aren’t in the upper echelons of business. Here’s the thing, you have potential to reach all those positions, the reason it’s still male dominated is because it was ALREADY male dominated, it takes a while for women to penetrate those markets, even though numbers are on the rise for all those positions, heck look up Angela Merkel. Also if you look at religions outside of Christianity, there’s more than a few female figures of worship for many religions.

    I know that society is mainly male dominated, but there’s more and more women filling these positions of power, female empowerment is still fairly recent, so it’ll take time.

    Personally I think the real problem is any female lead character is usually depicted as overly sexual, and if they aren’t sexualized, they are host to a bunch of other negative female stereotypes such as super energectic/talky ditzy style(Thank you Japanese game developers!).

    Also if all those things you listed were considered the norm, men would probably have few to no problems with it until they started seeking male empowerment, the same situation reversed.

    Also there ARE female proctologists.

  14. Veloxyll says:

    http://i39.tinypic.com/a12yr7.jpg SPASE MARINES, ATTACK
    ahem.

    As for teh article itself, I approve of promoting the idea that the entire games industry isn’t full of mysogynistic woman hating monsters!

    As for the Sims style of things, the characters also speak a very specific form of gibberish, so the conversations do boil down to “a positive response” or “a negative response”. I don’t think Sims style dialogue would work so well with something like Mass Effect where we need actual words as well as emotions – maybe if we get some good english speaking vocaloids at some point it’d work.
    Also Sims characters are practically the pinnacle of soul-less husks waiting for us to imprint personalities upon them.

    As for going back to 2D – it doesn’t solve the VO problem or the dialogue problem, though it does reduce the amount of art time making and animating faces. And of course there’s the question of if the 2D market is big enough to give relatively decent margins and income to warrant leaving behind 3D
    For instance, the Mass Effect run up the tower at the end was one of the more fun parts of an RPG I’ve played in recent years. And I don’t think it would’ve worked nearly as well in 2D. Or some of the World of Warcraft boss fights, they’d be unsatisfying in 2D.

    Also, I’d be happy with more characters than “Grizzled space marine X who will SAEV TEH UNIVERS”. While more female leads is possibly part of the solution (and a good thing on its own), more diversity amongst male personalities wouldn’t hurt either!

  15. Sydney says:

    My biggest complaint isn’t any of this. It’s that there are no major “normal woman” characters in games.

    Video games are filled with “everymen” – regular men in fantastic situations, constructing the idea that an average guy can be a hero. But any major woman character is either so…well, macho…as to a distant outlier, or so overly and deliberately sexualized as to not count as a human being even in my eyes.

    Normal women can’t be main characters. Normal women can’t even be major supporting characters.

    A fat plumber is the most recognizable video game character outside of Pac-Man.

  16. BlackBloc says:

    most of my women friends who play games tend to be more than thick skinned enough to not care about that sort of stuff

    Wait, you blew my mind. You mean that the self-selected group of women who are not repulsed out of gaming because of a complete lack of representation of women in games and the industry are NOT thin-skinned about this sort of things? Wow, who knew? (end snark)

  17. Puffinstuff says:

    I think the problem is two-fold:

    1) Games in which you play a female character are few. I think women don’t have a problem playing as male characters, but when nearly ALL of the characters they play as are male they feel excluded.

    2) When female characters are present in games they are often hypersexualized and stereotyped. For example, try to think of any fighting game in which there is a female fighter who isn’t either a) Sporting a triple D bra size, or b) Dressed like a slutty Japanese schoolgirl.

  18. Rutskarn says:

    To get on my personal soapbox in this general standing up and screaming arena:

    One reason a lot of games have male protagonists is because game writers, usually being underpaid, undermotivated, and extremely lazy, design their character according to well-developed archetypes. When you look at Faith, you have no idea what her character is like–the writers need to spend a lot of time characterizing her (which apparently left little time for them to characterize her as Not a Twit). On the other hand, one look at Marcus Fenix’s cinderblock mug and you know every single thing you could possibly need to know about that character. Also, you probably never want to look at it again, but that’s beside the point.

    Of course, when I say “writers” I really mean “suits who hold the reins”. It’s not that the actual writers aren’t also underpaid and undertalented, it’s just that the suits are even less interested in wasting 5 game hours explaining Fenix’s motivation than the writing crew.

  19. Anaphyis says:

    Shamus: I had the same initial reaction as Angie had. On the first page, you are talking about “Something for the Ladies”, on the second one you talk about including minorities in general.

    The problem: Women are not a minority. Offering options for gays or asian brits is a different can of worms and should be treated as such, otherwise you’ll end up with sentences like “We started out just trying to offer a very reasonable option for female gamers, and now we’ve blown our budget eight times over and we still haven’t solved the problem” being easily misunderstood. After all, what is said implicitly? By offering options for females you open yourself up to demands from god knows what minority, burn a lot of money and when the day is over, people will still complain.

    • Shamus says:

      Anaphyis: Yeah, I see where people are getting that reaction now. Still, I think I made it clear later in the article.

      Yes, the title is probably the main problem, since the real focus of the article is on the expense of diversity in general and the title creates the expectation that this is about gender.

    • Shamus says:

      Helm: I don’t think Leslee was arguing that women are this brutally oppressed caste, just that the world would look strange if everything were flipped.

      Yes, there is unfairness along any fault lines where people are different, and arguing over who is the bigger victim is probably not the most productive use of time.

  20. Helm says:

    Leslee
    I wonder how women would feel if they suddenly woke up to a world where…

    If they were accused of a sexual crime even if they were innocent they were named and thus tainted for life

    Only they could be sexist

    They didn’t have regular cancer check ups or constant advertising for female only affecting cancers

    They weren’t allowed a few days a month to be rude and irrational because of “hormones”

    They weren’t allowed to form women only groups within the police etc

    They were told it was patronising to hold open a door as a matter of simple courtesy

    They were told that front line service was no longer voluntary but compulsary in the forces

    Last I knew YOU picked which Gods to worship
    And so on and so forth

    Caveat:
    I do not subscribe to any of the above merely showing the other side of the “boo hoo I’m a victim” coin

    *cough* Any road up I don’t really care if the main characetor or any other in fact is male,female or any other thing as long as the game works I don’t really need flash graphics as long as I can be immersed in the game and get value for money, a decent storyline, the game isn’t finished in a day (Is it me or do games take less and less time to finish?) and I feel I’ve achieved something at the end of it.

  21. ZzzzSleep says:

    I think that Eternal Darkness did a good job of having a “normal” female lead character. Yay for City Of Heroes in being able to make your character look however you like.

  22. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Hey, Shamus, just went and left a comment pointing out that you forgot the most obvious example of why modern games don’t have gender options nowadays.

    It’s right below the comment you left, can’t miss it.

    Also, the arguement to “Make a female lead just to be different” is, well…

    X-Blades did that, didn’t they?

    And did it work?

  23. Anaphyis says:

    Thats because X-Blades lead character isn’t different. Or a character for that matter. Come on, she runs around in a freaking thong with a dish cloth wrapped around her C cup and judging from her skin tone she will come down with carcinoma in a few years, that isn’t different. They might as well used grizzled space marine clone #23208292 and it would have the same level of novelty.

    Doesn’t help they put as much effort in as humanly possible to make her as unlikeable as possible. They could swap the model for that of a kitten and most gamers regardless of gender would still call for its blood.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There is only one game that Ive decided not to play because of the missrepresantation of the lead character:GTAIV.I get it,its hard to accuratelly represent a culture you know nothing about,and I usually dont mind it(even think its hilarious),but there are tons of serbs in USA,and they thought that a ukranian would be a better voice actor than any of them?!?!

    @Leslee Beldotti

    Funny thing,but:

    Currently I am working a bit with police,and of the 4 bosses(I think the rank is lieutenant,Im not sure)3 are women.

    I was assigned a female judge for my case(and in fact,I saw only 2 more judges that day,both of which are women).

    I got the advice for how to act in court from a female lawyer.

    When I went to see something from my mobile operator,the employee called his boss,which is a woman.

    My mother is a doctor,and a chief of the whole ward.She also has a higher pay then her male collegue from another ward in the same hospital.

    I dont know about american congress and wall street,but here the president of our congress is a woman.

    As for the female presidents,heres the list:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_president

    As for female god,Helm already mentioned that(as well as many other arguments).

    I love it how some people always tend to see just one side and simply ignore the other.

  25. Helm says:

    ” I don’t think Leslee was arguing that women are this brutally oppressed caste, just that the world would look strange if everything were flipped.”

    I can see that however if thats was the case why use women ? Surely animals or plants would have been a better illustration ? However not wanting to derail the subject

    “I don’t really care if the main characetor or any other in fact is male,female or any other thing as long as the game works I don’t really need flash graphics as long as I can be immersed in the game and get value for money, a decent storyline, the game isn’t finished in a day (Is it me or do games take less and less time to finish?) and I feel I’ve achieved something at the end of it.”
    Please discuss/disagree/elaborate/ignore

  26. Daimbert says:

    In the games I play, if there are plain and ordinary male main characters, there are plain and ordinary FEMALE main characters. I can’t think of a game I’ve played where that wasn’t true (unless none of the supporting characters are normal). So I really don’t get the idea that somehow men are portrayed so that a normal man can be a hero, but a woman can’t. Heck, the Fatal Frame series has all female main characters, all of whom are completely ordinary (and extraordinarily brave, actually).

    As for female main characters, one of the problems is that if you are going for a story that has any depth to it, it’s going to be a ton of work to rewrite that properly to conform to the different gender, as was pointed out. If you aren’t going to increase sales much by doing that, there’s not much point in doing that. And I suspect that, in general, neither male or female gamers care all that much about a male or female to make the choice a selling point. There’s a percentage of both, but so far because there are less female gamers it isn’t going to increase sales enough to make it worth the budget.

    I’m one of the people who doesn’t really care. Like Shamus, I played a female character in KOTOR and KOTOR2 and did the romances. I have a ton of games with female lead characters. If the story is good, I’ll play it. The problem, though, is going to be making a game good enough that the people who don’t care will play it as well as the female gamers, because a large number (though perhaps small percentage) of male gamers won’t.

    At any rate, I get the most disappointed over the fact that party-based RPGs have gone away, because they had the most potential to solve this problem. Add some internal party interactions that you can specify at character creation, and you’ve got a role-playing game that you can customize. If we make games more directly customizable, then we can solve the gender issue as well.

  27. Mari says:

    It’s funny but my feelings are very split on this subject. It really depends on the game for me, I guess. In very immersive games where the developers want me to identify with the lead character it bothers me to then be forced to play as a male. That bothered me in the original Fable game tremendously.

    But in the standard game where I’m steering a random third-person representation of pixelated mass around a game universe I’m just fine with playing whatever gender gets thrust into my hand. I don’t care if generic space marine #347,981,541 is male or not because I’m never going to identify with the lead in a space marine game anyway and I’m not really supposed to do so.

    Bottom line: if you let me adjust personality options or in other ways customize the character, let me choose a gender. The rest of your games are just fine letting me play a beefcake.

  28. vede says:

    The comment about British alien invasions or Australian zombie outbreaks reminded me of a game I’ve been playing recently called Killing Floor which, unlike many other games, is set in BRITAIN, with British-accent characters and a West London game map.

    It’s got really arcade-type gameplay, focused on a small group of survivors in a mutant-apocalypse trying to survive in wherever they happen to be at the moment. It’s similar to L4D, except for the fact that you’re not actually GOING anywhere on the map, you’re just moving around the map as the mutants push you, trying to survive.

    It’d be interesting to see what you think of it, since you played L4D so much.

  29. coarse.sand says:

    No Zerotime, because he is not speaking English. He is speaking Badass.

    And now I absolutely must go rent Taking Lives.

  30. smIsle says:

    As a lady gamer. I’ve thought about this question quite a bit.

    I just finished the first season of the original Charlie’s Angels, and even though it falls into the same category as Alias (hot female detective/secret agent who dresses up in a nurse’s outfit for her cover), it didn’t bug me in the same way Alias did, and it certainly doesn’t bug most men :-) I was trying to figure out why on both counts.

    Alias bugged me because the plots revolved around how to get Sidney into another revealing costume. Funny enough, Sidney, even though she was the lead, was by far the most boring character in the show. My point being – female lead + bad writing still equals a bad show, but since it was mostly about watching Sidney run around with skin tight clothing on, the male audience didn’t really care that it was badly written.

    Charlie’s Angels on the other hand, although cheesy, had a thing called plots, and even better, Sabrina. Sabrina is still a beautiful woman, but she conquers her foes with her brains rather than her looks. So, even though there is a certain amount of dressing up like nurses, you still have at least one female lead who doesn’t succumb to the cliche – ie, someone to relate to. Oh, and the feminist overtones don’t hurt either :-)

    If you’ve seen the original Charlie’s Angels, you might remember that none of them really have any love life – apart from one episode encounters, they are all single most of the time. This keeps it from being a chick show – because anything with a relationship where a female is the main character is automatically a chick-show/game and the guys don’t want to watch/play it. That’s hardly fair, as we watch shows that are the other way around all the time. Annoyingly, most all blockbusters fall into this category.

    IMO, it’s not so much that girls don’t game, it’s that guys don’t play girl games, but girls will play guy ones. Do the math – group A will play games of type X and Y, group B will only play games of group Y. Which type of game will you make?

    If there are games with females as the lead, most of them don’t have smoochies with anyone – Laura Croft, as an example.

    I recently started playing Dragon Warrior 3. I was surprised to get a choice of male or female when I started, and then I got a good giggle when my video game mother called me a lad (also, it named me Ragnar… ). Although, if you talk to a specific person, they say: “Ragnar is a girl??!” So, I assume that my mother raised me as a “lad” in a perverted way. Well, it *is* a Japanese game. But, I would rather have that little gesture of welcome than nothing at all.

    Rather than trying to make a single game appeal to everyone, as Shamus suggested in his article, it would be much better to create a variety of games that are *good*, and just try and be a little more diverse.

    So, it’s not that Resident Evil 6 needs to have a “pick your zombie location” option at the beginning, or a pick your gender option, but they need to release a game set in Australia with a female secret op as the main character – her techie can be a guy this time too :-) And, why wouldn’t you want to play an ass-kicking female character?

  31. Once you start focusing on disparate representation, it can blind you to sanity. I say this knowing that I’m somewhat victim to the same problem. When you start worrying about the social implications of *every single thing* that every character in every story does, you drive yourself insane, you can’t enjoy anything, and you’ll be accused of having no sense of humor / overreacting constantly. Which, to an extent, will be true.

    But that doesn’t make the problem not real. It just makes the problem complicated.

    If every single game were released with a male lead, that wouldn’t mean that every single game developer hates women or thinks women shouldn’t be main characters. Probably only a tiny fraction of the developers would have what we’d recognise as sexist views. Picking on any individual game and calling it sexist would be a waste of time. Developers could easily point out the logical reasons that they’d designed the character that way. Arguing about it would make you look stupid, and you’d either give up or become even more irrationally angry.

    And yet, if every game had a male lead, there would still be something very clearly wrong.

    Helm – Which would you rather have, the extremely slim chance of being falsely accused of a crime that would taint your reputation even if you were found innocent, or a much higher chance of being victim to a crime that would taint your reputation even if the culprit were found guilty? :) Naturally, both suck.

    Leelee pointed out that Western history has been historically male-dominated. Pretty much everyone has experienced this, and there’s no finger-pointing associated with it… it’s hardly your fault as a man (if you are one) that history has had the shape it did. The top of your list was something that is extremely rare, and is usually brought up solely to try and shame-and-blame women and keep them silent. Leading off with that prevents most people from being able to appreciate anything else you have to say.

  32. Vladius says:

    Libertarians shouldn’t buy into political correctness, but I guess that’s the point of the article.

    I noticed that you capitalized “Male” more often than “Female,” just in passing.

  33. toasty says:

    “You worship a female god.”

    Not to turn this into a religious debate but I would hardly call the God of the Bible Male. People may use Male pronouns (father, him, Lord, He) to describe this God, but I do believe most scholars assume that this God is in fact without gender.

    Also: as a teenaged male I could hardly care if they have a women option for games. I’m perfectly happy with having male only characters in my video games. That being said, I’m also happy whenever video game developers try to add diversity (and do it well) in their video games.

  34. Zetal says:

    Bioware does quite well. Very rarely do I play a BioWare game all the way through only once, because I like to play as both male and female. So while I’m sure it took them longer to develop KotOR to accommodate a female Revan, it added to replay value and made for a more interesting story (female Revan just seems more interesting than male Revan, and it’s not just because I’m a girl… my brother agrees).

    I don’t care if my character has a voice actor or not. Let me choose what to say, but by the time I’ve chosen it, I’ve read it and don’t need to hear it. So you could save voice acting costs there, and I would guess paying your voice actors for another hour or two of studio time to record dialogue options only available to some characters is not going to double their cost. If you must have a voice actor for the main character, and you don’t plan on having a gay option, is there any reason why you couldn’t do some kind of system where one voice actor plays “Male Character/male companion” and another plays “Female Character/female companion”? Come up with two sets of dialogue – some of the scenes would need to be changed, while others wouldn’t or would only need minor tweaking – and record twice. Have your companion play the same party role, obviously.

  35. tussock says:

    “Insidious” is a fine word to describe the effect of a dominant culture not making the effort to portray anything but themselves positively in the art and entertainment produced for the masses.

    It’s also bad for business. The Sims isn’t a very good game, it just treats everyone fairly evenly, and that sells.

    So you’re limited to one story? Just because you can’t tell seven tales at once, doesn’t mean you should tell the same story as all the other teams out there. Pick something unique, a personality.

    Hell, one might suggest if your medium’s crippling your ability to produce a salable game, it might just be time to try slightly different tech. Again, the Sims wasn’t great.

    • Shamus says:

      tussock: To me, “insidious” implies evil or malice on the part of the designers. I would charge them with taking the easy route and perhaps being apathetic, but I’m confident there is no overarching conspiracy or intent to harm. But perhaps now we’re arguing definitions rather than game design.

      Also, I don’t think of the Sims as part of this issue. In my list I put it in the “no character” list and not in the “play as male or female” list, since you shove multiple units around the gameworld. (You might only create one, but if it dies, you don’t. They might be the only character you’re interested in, but you do not embody them in the game.) There is no dialog. No pre-determined story arc. It’s much closer to Fable: It caters to everybody by catering to nobody.

  36. Rollory says:

    Female gamers basically DON’T exist. It’s not because game makers haven’t made gestures in the direction of that market from time to time (often, actually, I’ve been seeing this subject recur for years and years). It’s not because of a conspiracy. It’s because men and women are different and by and large women just aren’t interested in the sort of things computer games are good at. (Right here is where some girls jump in, “I’m a girl and I like games so you’re TOTALLY WRONG!” Learn statistics, ladies) There ARE ways of turning the things women like and men don’t into games but it is a lot more complicated than the male-appeal subjects – you basically have to code for teenybopper style drama and emotional resonance and personal connections and all the other stuff real life social networks are good at and a computer screen isn’t. It is very difficult to turn this into a game system, as opposed to simply adding another dimension to the real life social network. As long as the better return on investment is in the male appeal, that’s what will get made.

    You cannot make women into men, nor make women like the things men do just by painting it differently. You CAN increase your hold on an already dependable market by putting jiggly titties on it. Thus, gaming will remain male-dominated. The female market is a myth that will never pay off.

  37. Helm says:

    “Helm – Which would you rather have, the extremely slim chance of being falsely accused of a crime that would taint your reputation even if you were found innocent, or a much higher chance of being victim to a crime that would taint your reputation even if the culprit were found guilty? :) Naturally, both suck.”

    Well call me off the wall here, but how about BOTH parties remain anonymous until a verdict is reached ?

  38. trevelyan says:

    I really liked the white layout you had. This one is a lot harder on the eyes.

    Maybe you can have your RSS feed send out fulltext instead of just the summaries. Would make it a lot easier to read.

    Best,

    –david

  39. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus:

    “You might only create one, but if it dies, you don’t”

    Unless you commit suicide if it does die(hey,stranger things have happened).

    @Rollory

    If that is really your oppinion,then you are an Idiot,with a capital I.

    • Shamus says:

      Daemian Lucifer: Please to be not calling people personal insults. Thx.

      I knew that comment was going to start a fire. Kudos to Roy for a non-profane, non-personal-insulting (and yet comprehensive) rebuttal.

  40. Alex says:

    “(Yeah, I don’t have Lara Croft or Samus Aran in my collection, but I also don’t have any Mario, Solid Snake, Fox McCloud, Sam Fisher, Sonic, Kratos, or Link. Call it a wash.) ”

    Is this a personal collection, or a shared “family” collection of games? Because if you’ve subjected your kids to a life without Mario or Link, I’m prepared to call that child-abuse. =P

    Is it weird that there’s only one female character in Left 4 Dead? And that despite Bill, Louis and Francis being the most interesting characters, I prefer playing as Zoey? It’s not like they perform any differently from each other.

    Honestly, if I wanted to know what it’s like to be a dude, I have real life. I play video games to fill the shoes of another role, to see new things, or old things from a different perspective. These and other reasons are why I lament a lack of likeable, non-slutty playable female characters in games. There’s certainly a market for it. Look at all of the people who play as female avatars in online games.

    Then there are the companies(usually Japanese, usually for RPGs and usually rhyming with “Pquare-Enix”) that try to crack open the goose and get all the golden eggs at once. Wherein they try to make a playable character appeal to both sexes, and just end up making a vomit-inducing transvestite monstrosity. I am eagerly awaiting the day this stops being inexplicably popular in Japan.

    There are a lot of male characters that appeal to both sexes(Mario is more recognizable worldwide than Mickey Mouse, for crying out loud). They don’t do it by showing off their testicles. It’s because they’re genuinely, universally engaging. There’s a way to make a smart, good-looking, courageous, dependable, appealing and humbly-dressed woman character marketable. I think the problem is that most developers/publishers just don’t think it’s worth the risk or trouble. Why be pioneers of what could be an unforgiving land, when you’ve got decent enough soil for crops here?

  41. Roy says:

    @Rollory:

    Maybe next you could explain to us how women aren’t good at maths, but are great at cooking? I mean, as long as you’re playing in tired stereotypes and patronizing “Learn statistics, ladies”, I’m sure you won’t mind citing a few for us?

    Because, according to an Entertainment Software Association, women make up just over 40% of video game players. Some of that is the “casual” market, sure, but there are many, many women who are every bit as excited about “hardcore” gaming as any guy out there.

    Pretending that they don’t exist, and therefore don’t matter (or, that you’d have to turn games into “teenybopper style drama”) is exactly the kind of offensive bs that a lot of women gamers get pissed off about. When gamers and game manufacturers are out there with attitudes like that (“Female gamers basically DON’T exist”… really?), is it any wonder that some women find themselves put off from gaming? I know that I’ve had several girlfriends who were interested in gaming, liked the same kinds of games as I do, but were put off by the poor treatment of women in games, and by the assholery they faced when shopping for games in person.

    But, I guess that they didn’t really exist, yeah?

  42. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Shamus

    Sorry.I did plan to write something else,but this was more concise.

  43. Alex says:

    “Alex: That’s my collection. The kids have Mario Sunshine & Galaxy, and Ocarina of Time.”

    Vital tools in preparing the next generation.

  44. “Well call me off the wall here, but how about BOTH parties remain anonymous until a verdict is reached?”

    I’ll happily agree with that! *reins in rant about irresponsible media* :)

  45. Viktor says:

    I’m surprised Shamus didn’t notice the obvious solution. Drop voice acting(either just for the main character or for the entire game). It’s useful, but already expensive before doing getting into the increased options and half the time is more of hindrance than a help(Oblivion). Then you’re looking at a dozen skins for the main character, 2 bodies, and a set of modular additions to the story based on your choices. Seems a lot cheaper than trying to voice act the dozens of permutations of character decisions.

  46. Blake says:

    I’m never too sure how to take the “lead female characters are always over sexualised in games” argument.
    My friend (lets call her Jade) has a Fable 2 character she always plays at my place when she comes to visit.

    The other week I sat with Jade while she was playing and noticed she’d removed all her strength skills.
    When I asked her about it she complained that even though the strength skills were useful she didn’t like how it made her avatar more muscly and therefore less sexy.

    I suppose the reason for that reaction as opposed to wanting an avatar that looks realistic is that people like to feel sexy but don’t like to be sexualised.

    Since she was in control and the game wasn’t forcing her to do anything overtly sexual she quite liked having her avatar as attractive as possible.

    Just some food for thought.

    Also I must say I agree with ZzzzSleep on Eternal Darkness having a completely normal female lead (well 2 actually). Playing as Alexandra Roivas never felt awkward for me as a guy probably because she looked normal and never acted in a stereotypical girly fashion.
    I still want a sequel to that fantastic game :(

  47. Cineris says:

    @Roy:

    It doesn’t matter how “tired” a statistic is if it’s true. The bigger question to me is what we’re talking about. Discussions on sex of videogame players usually talk about “videogames” when they mean “AAA title videogames,” which is sort of like saying, “How come women don’t like movies? Movies should do a better job of appealing to women!” when you’re only looking at box office receipts for Transformers.

    So I think a lot of this is hand-wringing is pretty contrived. It’s also not that uncommon that it’s thinly-disguised marketing. For example, EA made a big deal about their main character being female in Mirror’s Edge, yet she’s used all over the place in their marketing for her sex appeal. Is that or isn’t it objectifying women? The lines get really fuzzy after a point, which to me indicates it’s mostly hogwash social jockeying/blackmailing.

    For what it’s worth, I think not enough attention is paid to technical details. Simulating combat (Physics and basic math) is just easier in videogames, and stereotypical as that may be that’s just more appealing to boys/men. Heck, it’s 2009 and graphics technology still has a hard time depicting long hair (See Cliffy B’s comments here).

  48. Sean Riley says:

    Shamus, what about Saints Row 2? That did the job pretty neatly. Three female voices, three male ones.

    Unencumbered by a romance plot, true, but that one had some pretty neat customisation for gender and race.

  49. neriana says:

    As a female gamer who avoids certain games because they go out of their way to insult me, I would just like to say thank you for this article.

    In an ideal world, with endless resources, we would of course be able to play as whatever we wanted. Well, most of the time: there are many games whose plots revolve around the hero being a specific person. But of course this isn’t an ideal world and there aren’t endless resources. That doesn’t mean female gamers — who are FAR more common than most people think (most avoid posting online) — need to be excluded as we are. Take out the blatantly sexist garbage from your game, and I’ll be happy to play a strapping young male hero with a beautiful female sidekick. Just let her wear clothes! Or, if she’s not wearing enough clothes, stick the guy in a loincloth. Equal opportunity ___cake please. And don’t make her a whiny, useless, stupid, flaky moron with size EEE boobs on a toothpick figure. Make her built like Xena, if you want. And make the main character actually work for her affection, in a way that actually makes sense. It’s more interesting that way anyway. You might have to hire some good writers to do this, but good writers are way cheaper than that last tiniest sheen of unneeded graphical bling anyway.

    My favorite games at this precise moment are Persona 3 and Persona 4. You have to play as a (different) male Japanese teenager in each one, and the series is very Japanese, or at least seems that way to me. He can date virtually every girl in the game. This isn’t a problem, most of the girls are very well characterized, so they come across as “real” people, not ambulatory blow-up dolls. Of course, the series has its problems: a particular kind of Japanese sexism (I assume) revolving for some reason around women who can’t cook being one of them. I probably give this more of a pass in a very Japanese game than I would from American developers, and I probably shouldn’t do that.

    Still, these games are about a bajillion times less sexist than the Lara Croft games. I’m a 32-year old American woman, but I love the Persona games. I can identify more with their world and characters than Lara Croft’s. I know that these games, along with many other Japanese RPGs that focus on story (and list-making, and don’t ask me why that appeals to so many girls, except that girl gamers are certainly usually geeks so there’s overlap) are extraordinarily popular with female gamers. Oh, and though you play as a teenager, they are not “teenybopper” by ANY means. They have incredibly dark moments, and Persona 3 in particular has a very psychological-horror type tone.

    If you don’t want to make your main character female, that’s okay. Just treat the female characters in your games, and by extension the women who have money burning holes in their pockets they’d love to give you, with respect and dignity. If you DO make a game where the main character is female, don’t advertise it focusing on her boobs or wrap it in pink. Advertise the story, the gameplay, the art (different from the graphics), the sound — and advertise it to the right people. Don’t just bury your ads in Game Informer.

    Oh, and if you go to a video game store and there are women working there, they play games. Don’t treat them like morons because one of these days one of those women is going to snap, and you do not want to be on the receiving end of her righteous wrath.

  50. Roy says:

    It doesn’t matter how “tired” a statistic is if it’s true.

    Indeed. But, the statistics I’ve seen (and my personal experiences) do not suggest that his comments were true.

    Also, I said “tired stereotypes”, not “statistics”. “Women don’t like video games” is, in my experience and from most of the research I’ve seen, about as true as “men don’t like cooking” or “women don’t like sports”, etc. Many women don’t like games where the designs are insulting to women and treat them like brainless sex objects, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like games.

  51. Irandrura says:

    Nitpick: If you’re Christian, God isn’t male. God is both and neither and transcendent. http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p6.htm#III
    It’s just that we’re pretty lazy with pronouns. Either ‘he’ or ‘she’ is completely valid. ‘Our Mother in Heaven’ is all right. I tend to think that alternating the terms is a good idea, as a Christian should see God in everyone, regardless of gender.

    Anyway, I applaud neriana’s post. Very true.

    One thing I would like to bring out of it is that there’s nothing wrong with games with male protagonists as such, as long as they’re well-characterised. The problem we have is that the default is male, and that the vast majority of male heroes are bricks like Marcus Fenix. As a man, I personally feel insulted by the like of Fenix; he’s a degrading hypermasculine caricature devoid of personality or charm. Characters like that are the male equivalent of the woman with giant breasts, a waif-like build, no personality, and an exhibitionist streak with it comes to clothing. Both varieties are utterly loathsome.

    But take a character like Mario or Link. They’re great. I see no stereotypes of masculinity there. Let’s have a recent game, like ‘The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’. I enjoyed that game, and I think most female gamers would too. Link is an excellent character, and the most prominent female characters he interacts with, Midna and Zelda, are both quite intelligent, act sensibly, and are in general not degrading in any way.

    Mario, on the other hand, is a bit more iffy. While Mario’s character design is great – he’s iconic, instantly recognisable, and it’s nice that he’s a middle-aged plumber of average appearance – there is the problem of Princess Peach. Recently, judging from the likes of ‘Super Princess Peach’, they are deliberately taking an almost parodic approach to her. That’s kind of fun, I suppose, but I’m not really a fan…

    But how many equally iconic female characters are there in the Nintendo stable? Samus. She’s the only one. While I think that Samus is absolutely wonderful and I enjoy playing her – and on the plus side, Samus isn’t sexualised at all save for a handful of ending pictures, and the absolutely atrocious Zero Suit Samus model in ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’ – it is a little problematic that she is the only one. But others? There are none. I suppose Kirby is genderless, and could easily be seen as either, but that doesn’t really help.

    The success of the Metroid games, I would say, is definitely proof that male gamers can easily identify with and sympathise with female protagonists. It’s helped in that Samus’ gender has nothing to do with the plot. She’s a woman who wears advanced power armour, explores ancient ruins and wrecked spaceships, battles space pirates, defeats dangerous alien parasites, and is generally awesome. There is sometimes a stereotype that a female character must have female-specific concerns, so it’s good to see that avoided, and it’s also great that they don’t seem to feel compelled to spend too long characterising her. She’s got super space armour, she fights aliens, that’s all we need to know.

    So why aren’t there more characters like that? We need to get rid of the Marcus Fenixes of the world, and replace them with characters like Link or Samus. Male or female doesn’t really matter as long as they’re not being pigeonholed or objectified.

  52. Alex says:

    Irandrura: I have never met a woman who did not like Princess Peach. I’m still trying to figure this out. My theory is they realize that although she’s a pretty pink princess, people see her as a fun celebration of those things many little girls idolized. I think everyone at this point knows Nintendo doesn’t mean anything insidious by it. She’s just a stupid, cute character who necessitates needless jumping-related violence in the mushroom kingdom. Nothing wrong with that. She’s harmless, just like how Mario isn’t some scathing indictment of Italian-Americans.

    I think it helps that in more recent years she’s joined in on Mario’s adventures or hobbies more and more. She’s good at a wide variety of sports and activities, and even occasionally helps foil the plans of whatever weird-ass threat Nintendo comes up with. Yeah, Super Princess Peach was pushing it just a tad, but at least it shows she’s not completely helpless. She’s got a life outside of being rescued. The Mario RPG games are good examples of her being able to kick butt as well as think for herself.

    None of the Mario games say outright that all women are or must be like Princess Peach, but there are some who would appreciate the re-assurance. I don’t think it’s necessary. People like her a lot more than Lara Croft. There’s a reason for that. Peach is a thin character, but perhaps that Nintendo isn’t pretending she’s not might be why she’s easier to accept than Boobs McGee. I guess not every female representation needs to be a hardened Amazon warrior, or even push the feminist movement forward.

  53. Danath says:

    Funny that zero suit samus is criticized at all, sure it’s a skin tight future armor suit, no different from what many male characters wear, and I should also mention *covers everything*.

    @neriana

    Exactly the same thing I was thinking pretty much, although it’s not the sexism that bothers me and just the fact female characters all seem to dress… inappropriatly compared to what they are doing. A good example of this is Bayonetta, EXTREMELY over-sexualized female lead character, I don’t understand WHY, but there you have it, she wears nothing except her own hair, which when she does special moves, comes “off”. Sexism can be justified in games, much like racism or using black people, it just helps flesh out certain games and makes the game world have a real impact if done properly (And could be highly amusing if you got to play a female character in there).

    @Irandura

    This is a classic case of taking things *too seriously*, Marcus Phoenix is not a serious character, he just fits with the manly, chest thumping I’m a totally overdone badass type of character people generally want to PLAY in games where they chop enemies up with their chainsaw rifles. You are not playing Gears of War for the likability or characterization of the characters, you know exactly why your playing, and they are molded to fit that image and presenting a bit of a story to follow along with. It’s time to board the COLE TRAIN BABY!

    Don’t even try to compare his game type and character archetype to Mario and Link, they aren’t even in the same page, chapter, or even book.

  54. OEP says:

    To Rollory,

    Perhaps you should do some research before making pronouncements about the absence of female gamers.

    According to Nielsen, females 25+ are the largest demographic for gaming.

    http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2009/04/female-demograp/

    The 2 most popular games in the world are World of Warcraft and The Sims.

    Wow has a very large female community. The Sims is played mostly by women.

  55. I wouldn’t say that I *like* Princess Peach – but I wouldn’t say that I dislike her either. I have a lingering fondness for her because of the floating-jump in US-SMB2. Flying! Whee!

    Characterisation-wise, in things like the Mario RPGs, she’s extremely silly but so is everything else!.

  56. Irandrura says:

    Alex:

    Yeah, I’m not too bothered by Peach. She’s not really held up as a role model for anyone, nor is she a disgusting sex object. She’s the classic image of a cartoon princess, that’s all. She’s fun. There is nothing wrong with princess characters existing in games or in the media. Things are only wrong when princesses are the only options available for women. Peach, as I said, is almost a gentle parody of the traditional princess; she is a ‘girly girl’ taken to extremes. I might be a little uncomfortable with her, but I suppose it’s nothing much to worry about.

    I agree about the comparison to Lara Croft. I do like Peach more as well. Lara is obviously there to titillate male players. Peach doesn’t do that. She’s just nice. She’s even kind of fun sometimes. Take something like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVM5xSeTWrg
    (Yeah, sorry, I don’t play many Mario games.) I find that hilarious and awesome, partly because I have the ‘tea solves everything’ mindset myself.

    So I take back anything nasty I might have implied about Peach. Peach is not feminist as such, but she’s not antifeminist either.

    Danath:

    I suppose you would point at Snake and say ‘there you are, there’s both a male and a female character in a skin-tight catsuit’? I don’t really buy that. Look at the art:
    http://www.smashbros.com/en_us/characters/zerosuit_samus.html
    Specifically, where is Samus’ spine in that top picture? She’s in the classic spine-breaking pose designed to show off both the bottom and the breasts. That’s never a good sign.

    For another, listen to her taunts in-game. All deliberately seductive. And she wields a whip! Name a character other than Indiana Jones who wields a whip for reasons other than sexual imagery?

    Also, compare these:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3Ww0Wf0K-U
    Samus’ introduction.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqSWGJZdB7E
    Snake’s introduction.

    I notice that for Snake, it immediately plays some thematic music from his games, zooms in on his face, and generally does everything it can to say ‘here’s Snake, isn’t it awesome’, and that’s fine. For Samus, we get very gratuitous close-ups of her behind and her chest. While both movies are essentially doing the same thing – introducing a catsuit-clad spy infiltrating an enemy base – one of them takes the time to objectify the wearer and zoom in on juicy bits of the anatomy. Guess which one it is?

    I suppose Snake is not the only man in a skin-tight costume, though. There is also Captain Falcon. But firstly, let’s compare his introduction:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G8-jwXZTY8&feature=related

    This is fine. The focus is on Captain Falcon doing something awesome. That’s great. And then, yes, he wears a skin-tight suit, but the reason for that is not objectification, but because Captain Falcon’s character design is meant to evoke the same comic book tone as the rest of the F-Zero games. His suit is much like Superman’s; it’s a classic design.

    Speaking of which, I’m all right with the zero suit in principle. You would reasonably expect someone to wear a skintight body suit underneath advanced space armour. My problem is that they show it off, and seem to want to use it as an excuse for titillation.

    On Fenix, finally… look, characters like that are all over the place. I’m allowed to say that I hate the caricatures of masculinity they represent, aren’t I?

  57. Daimbert says:

    @tussock:

    “It’s also bad for business. The Sims isn’t a very good game, it just treats everyone fairly evenly, and that sells.”

    Actually, The Sims is, in fact, a VERY unique game that had a VERY unique gameplay that appealed to a lot of people, and it sells because of that. I don’t really see it getting any of its sales simply because everyone is treated fairly evenly. I own The Sims and could care less that everyone is treated evenly; when I play it, I play for the fact that it’s the only sandbox game that did it well.

    @neriana:

    “My favorite games at this precise moment are Persona 3 and Persona 4. You have to play as a (different) male Japanese teenager in each one, and the series is very Japanese, or at least seems that way to me. He can date virtually every girl in the game. This isn’t a problem, most of the girls are very well characterized, so they come across as “real” people, not ambulatory blow-up dolls.”

    Good to see that you like my two favorite games, too. Interestingly, they had complaints from Persona 3 that in order to max out the S-links in that game, you had to make the females your girlfriend. They fixed it in Persona 4 so that you can choose to be just friends.

    As for cooking, I think that’s a common trope in Japanese comedy, probably because women are expected to be good at it. However, none of the girls in either game who can’t cook are trying to do it to conform to social standards.

  58. Danath says:

    @Irandura

    On Fenix, yes, true, you’re allowed to have an opinion on him, just as I am allowed to disagree and present my viewpoint on it. I mainly objected to you trying to compare him to Mario and Link, while he is a caricature, and you can hate what he stands for, he also fits the aesthetic of the game.

    As for Samus, ok, your right on that, those are gratuitous body shots as compared to Falcons hilarious introduction, I was mainly making the comparison of Samus to ME’s Commander Shepard, their suites are nearly identical. I have no problem with the outfit itself, but I guess anytime you put anything skintight on a female character, it’s bound to be turned into gratuitous T&A shots.

    As for whips, uhh.. Ivy.. wait no… uhhhh… CASTLEVANIA GUY! Besides, who says Indiana Jones with a whip isnt sexual imagery?

  59. Irandrura says:

    Well, I suppose he does fit the aesthetic of the game, but the aesthetic is hardly any better. :P

    On Samus, I think you’ve pinpointed the real problem. It’s all right that Samus has that suit – after all, I just named two male characters in the same game with equivalent suits – but the way that she is depicted. While I believe in the Metroid series the suit was originally used, quite sensibly, as just what she’d have on under it (I believe there’s a sequence where her armour is destroyed in the final battle, getting rid of most of her weapons, agility, and so on, and you have to escape), in that game it is used as an excuse for gratuitous sex appeal.

    So Samus is fine, and her character design is fine. I’m not even that bothered about the pictures of Samus you get as rewards for winning, since most of them are reasonably good art. The ending pictures –
    http://metroid-database.com/?g=mzm&p=endings
    – are on the whole considerably better. (Also, look at the adorable picture she drew as a little girl.) It’s in ‘how’ she’s depicted, not ‘what’ she’s depicted as.

    On whips… hm, you’ve got me there. How could I forget Castlevania?

  60. Jeysie says:

    As a girl, I really could care less whether the character I’m playing is male or female, so long as they, the other characters, and the storyline in general are well-developed. But then, I tend to look at it as me shepherding the character through the game, rather than me being the character.

    Just to pick on an example off the top of my head, one of the subplots of the Tex Murphy games is trying to get him together with his love interest. He’s a rather likeable fellow, so I don’t mind at all watching (and helping) him try to get the girl. Kind of like how I’d be fine with watching and helping one of my real life buddies try to get a date with his dream girl. It’s that sort of mindset I approach the matter with.

    Although I don’t mind the occasional “harem of gorgeous flesh” game if it’s meant to be satirical or otherwise humorous. The cheesiness of it can be entertaining.

  61. smIsle says:

    A grumpy religious remark that doesn’t have anything to do with the topic.

    Moving on …

    There have been a lot of numbers thrown around – I thought I’d do a little searching and see if I couldn’t dig up dome more detailed surveys or ones with better data.

    I found a really interesting survey about video game developers … http://www.igda.org/diversity/IGDA_DeveloperDemographics_Oct05.pdf It shows (or thinks it shows) that the women working in the game industry “agree that diversity has an impact on the games produced, and that they feel it is important to the future of their company to add more diversity”

    Only about 10% of the video game developers were female, btw.

    Here is a whole google book preview about playing video games:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=wlX9wjhpPOYC&lpg=PA81&ots=C0Q3R63zQ1&dq=video%20game%20demographics%20survey&pg=PA66#v=onepage&q=female&f=false

    among other things, it states that 60% of arcade games feature males while only 2% feature females. It mentions the game “ATV: Off Road Fury”, which has the men in protective clothing, and the women in bikinis and shorts. .. heh, if people took all of this literally, they would think that women are like super-heroes, able to withstand extreme conditions without any protection ;-)

    Generally, the impression i came away with from that collection of research was that males and females both enjoy playing games, and they enjoy them for the same reasons. The overtly sexual nature of the females who are shown turns a lot of females off of trying a game, or trying any game of a similar genre.

    Females generally like Adventure games because they combine RPG and strategy / puzzle solving together – both genres that they generally enjoy. Now, if there were only more AAA puzzle games. And, why aren’t there? Prince of Persia, a bunch of the old Point and Click adventures – they were all AAA titles in their time – there’s no reason to stop making them :-)

    Also … I’m going to talk to my video game store owner friend, and then hang out at the local wal-mart and see what sort of people are perusing the game section. Although .. I buy all my games online because I hate to get asked who I’m buying the game for all the time, as if I wouldn’t play it myself.

  62. Cineris says:

    @ Irandrura:

    I don’t see anything wrong with that pose Samus is in (the still). I think her proportions are cartoonishly exaggerated, but the pose itself looks plenty feasible to me.

    As for the introductions… The angles used are pretty much standard fare for the stereotypical “infiltrate through an air vent” spy sequence. The only issue I had with the Samus introduction was that it lingered about a tenth of a second too long on her in one shot. But I think a tenth of a second is a little much (or, rather, a little little) for me to get worked up over.

  63. Irandrura says:

    Cineris:

    Erm, look at the spine. You try to stand like that. The body simply cannot twist like that. It is not anatomically possible.

    As for the video, I think it serves well enough as an example.

  64. Shamus says:

    Is this really where the debate has gone? “I think your fantasy character is more sexist than mine”? Really? And now we’re arguing over POSES?

    Can I point out Spider Man as drawn by Todd McF? His poses would make a contortionist cringe. Or how about the anatomy-defying beefcakes from Unreal Tournament and Gears of War? Those guys are just as absurd as a woman with a pencil-thin physique and 38DDD breasts.

    I’m sure it will not surprise anyone to say something trite like “men and women are different”. We’re attracted to and repulsed by different things.

    If we’re going to compare pictures of girls wiggling their butts to pictures of guys strutting around with their chest three feet in front of them then this conversation will be doomed to gender politics purgatory.

    I think there are much more important aspects of games to worry about. I think games can get away with a bit of cheese / beef cake if the characters are someone with whom we can connect.

    (And man, If I was built like one of the dudes in Gears of War, you would have to pull a gun on me to get me to put a shirt on.)

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