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Posted by ElixirBronze (443 posts) -

Women and the video game industry does not get along with each other, let's face it. And I don't mean that women don't belong in it, I mean that women, in the context of video games or the video game industry, is almost always something controversial. I bet some may even call this blog controversial. But I still wanted to share my views on the matter and I thought hopefully on Giant Bomb someone might find it interesting.

How many women have you heard that has ever genuinely felt violated and offended by a video game? How many Dudes have you heard saying "this and this is offensive to women."? Video games with female protagonists is fine, if and only if the characters aren't overly sexualized, subjected to extreme violence, stereotyped or showing weakness. That's a lot of ifs.

Tomb Raider is getting released soon, and it has apparently had the most controversial marketing ever. "Gross", and "disgusting" marketing. When the developers said "We wanted to create a character you felt like you wanted to protect", everyone went crazy. What if the character had been a 6 year old boy and the dev had said the same thing? What if it was a man the same age as Lara? Or if it was a little bunny? Would that have been "weird", "gross" and "disgusting"? Is the simple truth that any attempt to convey personal care and protection in a video game is inherently "disgusting"?

Or is it the fact that Lara is a woman that makes it disgusting? Does that make sense to anybody? We can make games about whatever we want, and we can make the game depict whatever we want, as long as it doesn't involve women, then we have to be careful. Isn't that sexist to exclude women in that sort of way?

The video game industry is obviously male-dominated, that is a cold fact women just have to deal with. But that doesn't explain why most video game protagonists are male. We can all have our reasons as to why or why not we want to play as a female character, what matters is, why aren't developers developing games with female protagonists? It's not because they don't sell obviously (Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II was among the best selling games for one of the most sold consoles ever).

I believe the reason for the low count of female main protagonists is the developers are scared of making them. You can't deny that this outcry about Tomb Raider didn't hurt somebody's business. Media has now told you that the pole piercing in Tomb Raider, and the fact that Lara moans is distasteful and you should be disgusted by it, if you think of it the same way you would if the protagonist had been male, you're weird. Some people may even think Crystal Dynamics is full of women haters and weirdos. Why would developers want to risk getting that reputation?

And for the record, I'm talking about games that forces you to play as a female character, not those that lets you choose. I believe there is a difference to be made because in the former case, the developers are more set out to allow their creative work to rest on their idea, whereas in the latter it's usually up to the player to create their own story.

To the two of you reading this; how many games with a female main protagonist can you think of and not even in the far back of your subconscious mind think that "those devs must be a little perverted"? The media has taught us that women in games exists only because the industry is male-dominated and every time it happens, it's to make boobs move an extra few copies.

Remember that getting offended, is a choice you make. Nobody can tell you what you should be offended by.

EDIT: Everyone interested should read http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RyanCreighton/20130101/184227/White_as_a_Sheet.php

#1 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2401 posts) -

When the developers said "We wanted to create a character you felt like you wanted to protect", everyone went crazy. What if the character had been a 6 year old boy and the dev had said the same thing? What if it was a man the same age as Lara? Or if it was a little bunny?

I willing to bet the developers would have never said that if the character was any of the examples you had given.

We can all have our reasons as to why or why not we want to play as a female character, what matters is, why aren't developers developing games with female protagonists? It's not because they don't sell obviously (Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II was among the best selling games for one of the most sold consoles ever).

penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/games-with-female-heroes-dont-sell-because-publishers-dont-support-them

The original Tomb Raider and it's sequel may have sold a lot, but that was a different time. Now-a-days games need to do much better in sales to even be called a success and it seems games with mainly a female protagonist don't sell enough to be successful.

I believe the reason for the low count of female main protagonists is the developers are scared of making them. You can't deny that this outcry about Tomb Raider didn't hurt somebody's business.

See above comment

Media has now told you that the pole piercing in Tomb Raider, and the fact that Lara moans is distasteful and you should be disgusted by it, if you think of it the same way you would if the protagonist had been male, you're weird. Some people may even think Crystal Dynamics is full of women haters and weirdos. Why would developers want to risk getting that reputation?

I'm more grossed out by how long/depicted the death scenes actually are. Granted I've only seen the pole piercing one but I don't think it had to be so damn brutal. Having that 10ft pole go right through her head from her neck and having her squirm around trying to get it out was a bit much for my tastes. It didn't mater if I saw Lara or Nathan Drake in that scene it was just too much for me.

#2 Edited by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -

The last line of your post sums up well my approach to all this.

Some nut case can try all day to tell be that Lara wearing a tank top and showing some cleavage in the opening of the game when she falls is wrong but i can't be bothered to care about these people. Same goes for the ridiculous reactions a lot of the press have had about the marketing of the game. /yawn

Lara is fine, Alyx is fine, Claire Redfield and Jill Valentine are fine, the girls in Dead or Alive are so ridiculously over the top that they're fine too.

Wake me up once the crazies making a big deal out of nothing start putting as much effort exposing how men are portrayed in ridiculous ways in games too. It won't happen of course because that wouldn't attract any attention.

Snake got tortured in some pretty gruesome way in MGS3 but whatever Eva has her top unzipped!!!

Equality and all that.

I just like games. I enjoy both sawing people in half and boobs. I'm neither a psychopath nor a misogynist.

#3 Posted by JasonR86 (9763 posts) -

Women and the video game industry does not get along with each other, let's face it. And I don't mean that women don't belong in it, I mean that women, in the context of video games or the video game industry, is almost always something controversial.

Wow. Right away I disagree with you. I can't bare to think how the rest of your post went. I called it quits after these two lines. Yikes dude.

#4 Edited by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -

@jasonr86: I'd like to understand what you read because that line seems fine to me.

#5 Edited by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

@elixirbronze said:

When the developers said "We wanted to create a character you felt like you wanted to protect", everyone went crazy. What if the character had been a 6 year old boy and the dev had said the same thing? What if it was a man the same age as Lara?

It was done a few weeks ago in Far Cry 3 - Jason Brody. No one said a word, that's proof that they stir up the sexist controversy because they thrive on it.

Or is it the fact that Lara is a woman that makes it disgusting? Does that make sense to anybody? We can make games about whatever we want, and we can make the game depict whatever we want, as long as it doesn't involve women, then we have to be careful. Isn't that sexist to exclude women in that sort of way?

Yes, "exclude women or else you're sexist" is basically the claim of the people who, again, stir up the sexist controversy because they thrive on it.

The video game industry is obviously male-dominated, that is a cold fact women just have to deal with. But that doesn't explain why most video game protagonists are male. We can all have our reasons as to why or why not we want to play as a female character, what matters is, why aren't developers developing games with female protagonists? It's not because they don't sell obviously (Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II was among the best selling games for one of the most sold consoles ever).

I believe the reason for the low count of female main protagonists is the developers are scared of making them. You can't deny that this outcry about Tomb Raider didn't hurt somebody's business. Media has now told you that the pole piercing in Tomb Raider, and the fact that Lara moans is distasteful and you should be disgusted by it, if you think of it the same way you would if the protagonist had been male, you're weird. Some people may even think Crystal Dynamics is full of women haters and weirdos. Why would developers want to risk getting that reputation?

Good point. If we look at movies, by the way, we will also find a similar ratio between male protagonists and female protagonists to video games. Why isn't anyone pissed about that? Because they wanna stir up the video game sexist controversy, because they thrive on it.

What you should do is not acknowledge their cheap tries, because they thrive on the fact that you just posted a blog about it :)

Good blog though.

#6 Posted by JasonR86 (9763 posts) -

@pr1mus:

The implication that women are capable of being in the video game industry but that they don't belong as well as men and that this is how it will always be as women+video games=controversial. That's fucking nuts.

#7 Edited by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -

@jasonr86: That's not what that line means at all and that is not at all the point OP is making. Read the whole thing.

#9 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@pr1mus:

The implication that women are capable of being in the video game industry but that they don't belong as well as men and that this is how it will always be as women+video games=controversial. That's fucking nuts.

You should probably read what he has to say, because it's the complete opposite of what you're shoving into his mouth.

#10 Posted by JasonR86 (9763 posts) -

@pr1mus said:

@jasonr86: That's not what that line means at all and that is not at all the point OP is making. Read the whole thing.

So I read the whole thing. The first paragraph has little to do with the blog itself. So I did jump to a conclusion and sorry about that @elixirbronze. But you really, really come off poor with that first paragraph. You should really rewrite that shit.

As for blog itself I think we're forgetting our past when we discuss this topic. The best example I can think of of a series with several female protagonists is Phantasy Star. The first game in the series was a female lead and number four had a female lead who acted as the 'Obi-Wan' surrogate for the eventually lead character who the player controlled after her death (sacrificing herself to save the new lead). These were roles women often didn't have in video games. They weren't as focused on, as compared to Lara Croft, for a lot of important reasons not really reflected in this blog.

The biggest is that video games at that time was still a young medium that wasn't focused on as thoroughly as it is now. That was also a time when the internet was young too (in the case of Phantasy Star 1 it barely existed in any form). With an increase in focus and more outlets to allow for opinion and news the focus on the medium changes. What counts as news changes. And motivations for delivering that news and opinion changes. Which is why, across all mediums, things like the 'sexism' topics will come up time and time again. It's not just a video game thing.

But what really helped with my example of Phantasy Star was that the games didn't rely on gender roles to tell their stories. Lara Croft as always been a character who is largely defined by her femininity. Whether it was the sexual focus in the early games or the 'young, naive, scared, protect me' archetype that the marketing for this game sold her as (but it appears that focus didn't translate quite so severely to the actual game). On the other hand Phantasy Star 1, for example, had a female lead who was out for revenge. Scared maybe but determined to what she felt she needed to do. Phantasy Star 4 had a female lead who was strong, confident, dependable, and incredibly smart. The difference being that the characters where bigger then their genders in Phantasy Star where as Lara Croft, at least prior to the new game, was almost exclusively her gender and nothing more.

Which is why this topic will continue as long as writers, media, and fans focus on the physical characteristics and the role types of the characters we experience in our media. What the video game industry needs to learn how to do is consistently write well rounded characters who are bigger then the one sentence summary that defines them. Lara Croft needs to be more then 'tough, sexy, confident' or 'young, naive, scared'. For another example, Clementine was a fully rounded character that was leaps and bounds bigger then the sentence that could define her 'scared, alone, young girl'. She was bigger then that sentence because she wasn't a flat, unchanging character like Lara Croft often was in previous games and women in video games often are.

#11 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

@officegamer: It's actually interesting comparing Far Cry 3 and Tomb Raider. They both have protagonists that go from "I've never shot a gun before!" to killing scores of armed men with the skill and efficiency of a Special Forces prodigy.

#12 Posted by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

@officegamer: Exactly. You can't please these types of people because they live off of negativity. They want people to indignant/outraged because that's what generates the most views, controversy. It's the same type of emotion that gets people to riot, to overthrow their institutions because they want justice.

#13 Edited by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -
@mcghee said:

What's in the broken image? WHAT'S IN THE BROKEN IMAGE!?

#14 Posted by Hippie_Genocide (683 posts) -

Women and the video game industry does not get along with each other, let's face it.

Stopped reading right there.

#15 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@pr1mus said:
@mcghee said:

What's in the broken image? WHAT'S IN THE BROKEN IMAGE!?

Huh, broken? That's weird. I can see it. It's a gif of a guy beating a dead horse.

#16 Posted by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

i think people are overthinking this whole "low amount of female protagonists" thing.

why are there so few female action hero stars? sexism? no. the writers being afraid? nope.

its simply easier to write a believable male character who's violent than a female. its easier for the audience to accept. i mean its a statistical, historical, and sociological fact than men are more violent and are better at violence. (thats not a good thing). unless theres an actual reason or if the writer just wants the character to be female, then its just easier to make them a male.

like i remember patrick expressing huge disappointment that the GTA5 protagonists were all male, but it kinda fits. i mean how many violent sociopath criminal females are there? sure its possible to write one, but why? just to have a female character in that role? theres no reason for it when a male would feel more natural in that role.

theres not really a huge lack of female protagonists either, people make it sound like they're super rare, sure they're not common, but they're not exactly rare either. i dont really see how its such a huge deal that people here are constantly talking about it.

i just dont wanna pressure anyone into feeling like they have to shoehorn a female protagonist into a game when they wanted to make the character male. cus if everyone gets all hyper about "we demand more female protagonists" we're gonna get alot of awfully written characters.

lets stop making non-issues into issues.

#17 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (2968 posts) -

Developers make what is in their comfort/experience level, they especially do this when they are trying to make a somewhat serious or adult games. As they say with authors, "Write what you know." If you are in a predominantly white & male industry that industry will mostly make, write and create games about white males...they do is to be non-offensive in a distored sort of way. They are not female so they don't want to "get it wrong", so tehy write and make what they know.

That is why in some cases you really do have to force diversity if you really do have different stories. A room of half women will pitch more stories about women. A room hat is mixed will add to other ideas by saying lets make this character a Hispanic woman, or an Korean child, or a angry honey badge. There are other ways possible as well but they are harder and require teh staff you hjave now to stop & think. The hard way is to ask the staff you have to "reach" beyond what they know. The proper way to reach beyond your own experience is to educated yourself, do some background checking, maybe even mine history for examples to base your character on. The same process would works for women, transgender, gay, straight, or any sort of culture, point of view, etc.

I do think Tomb Raider is gross, buit it is not because Lara is female. I think the game just goes out of its way to show the blood, show the dirt, show the axe embedded in someone's head; and it does all these think because of the legacy of the series, because they wanted to really push the limits, and because...sorry...Crystal Dynamics didn't know what to do with Lara. Part of the TR games are falling in traps and gruesome dying, but why keep that and lose - mostly animal antagonists, tombs, amazing 'climbable' architecture mystery & wonder, discovery, historical puzzles, etc. I think 90% of TR values hit the floor with thud and then Crystal D decided to make the most over the top, bloody, gross, and violent games yet. In my opinion the whole game was a bad idea, and even worse a bad idea that was executed in a ham-fisted manner throughout.

#18 Posted by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -

@mcghee: I can't see it in chrome or firefox :(

#19 Edited by ElixirBronze (443 posts) -

@jasonr86: I'm sorry you took it the wrong way, I wanted to write a bold first paragraph to encourage further reading. I'm just stating a bitter fact as far as I'm concerned.

To answer your post, I think that female video game characters in general, often wrongfully get deemed "sexualized" and "shallow". How many really deep and "fully rounded" characters can you actually think of in video games? Clementine was in a game whose primary goal was to make deep and intriguing characters. But all games aren't about the characters when you really think about it, I would say most aren't. Of course there are going to be more well realized male character than female characters, but guess what, 99% of every video game characters ever, are male.

What I'm saying is, why can't 'tough, sexy, confident' be enough? There seems to be an unspoken rule that, with male characters, you can fart out meatheads and indiana jones copies however you like, but female characters needs to be deep and well realized in order to justify them being in there. Why should you have to justify them in the first place?

#20 Edited by liquiddragon (262 posts) -

I think we are too focused on "women and the video game industry". We have to
recognized that the issue is simply bigger than the gaming world. Look at history
and how women have been treated in general. The entertainment industry does
not care about right and wrong, just what sells and consequently, who buys them.
We know that change can and will happen but we also know that any meaningful
changes come slow.

The video game industry is still young and it has a long way to go but we are already
seeing vocal women in the industry come out and express their views. The products
on our store selves just reflect the demographic that purchase them and as more
women come into the industry as developers and/or players, we will see products that
cater to a new market. I think the video game industry is mostly made up of young
and progressive people and open to changes than any other established institutions.
For most of us for now, we can only vote with our dollars. I haven't played or paid
attention enough to Tomb Raider to have any opinion but I've played a handful of
games where women were the protagonist and I've always found it to be refreshing.
For example, games like Beyond Good & Evil, FF13, Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy,
and Journey (idk, I always thought they were women) have all benefited from having
playable female characters.

#21 Edited by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

like look at this ridiculous one-sided outrage about lara.

the new Tomb Raider to my understand its just a gritty rough adventure/action game right? why the hell does everyone expect lara to be a deep super complex perfectly written character? why is that an expectation?

with all the build up to the Uncharted games, was everyone expecting Drake to be a super deep complex well written character? nope. no one cared.

if you write a meh female character, not bad or anything, just you know, the run of the mill quality video game character. yet she's female. people will spazz the fuck out. they'll call you sexist.

write a meh male character? no one gives a shit.

now think about that. if i were developing a game, like an actiony / adventure / shooter type thing. why the hell would i make my character female? its people who want these female characters so much that are actually making people wary of making them. since anything outside of a deep perfectly written female character gets called an over-sexualized object and the writers/devs get called sexist.

#22 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4867 posts) -

Great blog and I agree with the points made. S'all I wanted to say.

#23 Posted by Spoonman671 (4751 posts) -

Hey guys, let's do this again!

#24 Posted by ArtelinaRose (1859 posts) -

The only sexist thing about the "women in video games and the sexism surrounding them" thing is assuming that because they are female, they are different or special, and drawing attention to that.

#25 Edited by Humanity (9867 posts) -

I definitely agree about developers being scared of tackling leading female roles. I know if I worked at a studio I'd be terrified of even designing the character much less writing for her - are her breasts too big, are these pants too tight, are they too loose, does she look like a tomboy, does she look too pretty - it seems like there are simply so many pitfalls associated with female characters as opposed to male ones where it's simply "is this guy cool? Oh ok, cool"

#26 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

Many games allow to customize your protagonist, specially good examples are Eve Online, APB and Saints Row.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOA8am-6kwA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WhOTrc5554
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9oZsUwa6RM

IMHO, that's the way to go.

Maybe at some point it would be possible to have some common module that could be used to create a set of characters and then import them on different games. It would be cool (or horrible or unfeasible) to be able to create your characters with one of these editors and then import them on other games, like Mass Effect, adjusting some parameters for coherence, like proportions, clothes and other contextualization.

#27 Posted by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

@deathstriker666 said:

@officegamer: Exactly. You can't please these types of people because they live off of negativity. They want people to indignant/outraged because that's what generates the most views, controversy. It's the same type of emotion that gets people to riot, to overthrow their institutions because they want justice.

And sadly Giant Bomb is no longer above that cheap click baiting thanks to that one guy

#28 Posted by Rokkaku (223 posts) -

As they pointed out on the last Bombcast, in a different context, the video-game industry is an extremely young one, and as such it suffers from the growing pains that come with a new medium experimenting with new forms and content-type. Attempts to feature female protagonists, or women in general, come across as clumsy because they are, in that these stories are being created by people who haven't done anything of the like before, all at the same time as having a lot more problems to deal with than when a film is being made or a novel being written. People just need to have some patience when looking at all this, rather than rushing to decry or condemn, and spare a thought for people that are trying to do something new, and are finding it difficult.

Games are only 30 or so years old. The films made 30 years after the medium's conception often come across as reductive, crudely crafted and rudimentary because they too had to undergo a similar process of self-exploration and definition before maturing as a format. Games will get there too, they just need some more time. Such missteps as have been made, some aspects of the newest Tomb Raider being an example, will appear as a formative stage in the development of the medium of games, when they have gained parity with films as the premier form of popular entertainment. Meanwhile, perhaps take a breath before rushing forward with pitchfork in hand, and think of how far games have come for such discussions as equal treatment of women to be as important and passionately debated as they are. That it is happening at all means that games are going in the right direction, and that we will get there in the end.

#29 Edited by Bishna (334 posts) -

I walk around all day everyday as a dude, it gets old after a while. I really want more games to feature female leads. Let me experience something I can't in real life. I really wish it was an option in games.

#30 Posted by WarlordPayne (705 posts) -

Dead Space has had numerous, drawn out, excruciating death scenes for Isaac since the first game and everyone, including the Bombcrew, thinks they're awesome.

Tomb Raider does it and it's gross and gratuitous.

#31 Posted by konig_kei (662 posts) -

There aren't alot of female protagonists because publishers don't want them, their market data says people don't want to play as females so they make devs make the main character male. Im pretty sure it was sleeping dogs where they wanted a female protagonist but activision said no.

#32 Posted by JadeGL (947 posts) -

@trylks: This is what I have found I gravitate towards now in games. I love games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim, and even MMOs like Star Trek Online, where I can make a female avatar. Even games like Halo that allow a choice of male or female characters in multiplayer get more of my time than games with no choice at all. I actually recently tried to think of the last game I really got into that allowed no choice between male and female and I think it was Gears of War 3, and they let me play as a female gear in the finale chapter or so, so that was a neat surprise.

It would be nice to have more female lead characters in games, but I would rather have a very well done story with a believable or enjoyable character, whether male or female, than a half-assed or poorly conceived character that was made just to be a female lead.

Moderator
#33 Posted by Ennosuke (59 posts) -

I don´t like that view of some people about female characters in video games. I´ve heard from many guys, that they chose to play a female character, because in third person perspective they want to see a nice ass. When you look at Skyrim, there are so many naked mods, or mods to give them some sort of "porn armor". I mean yeah that situation is different from a game where you cannot chose which gender you want to play and they give you character, where I am pretty sure, that some gamers would consider a female character with strong female character traits as "gay".

I am totally indifferent about if it is a guy or a girl, but the character traits have to fit and be interesting. Two of my favourite characters are female, as you can guess it is Lightning, I really like that "coldness" of her. (If even they guys of SE made the mistake to make stupid outfits for her with Lightning Returns, which are likely to what I described in Skyrim)
And the other character is Faith in Mirror´s Edge, I liked how brave and tough she was, but also showed a lot of emotions to save her sister.

#34 Edited by ElixirBronze (443 posts) -

@jadegl: @ennosuke: @trylks: I hear you but as I said in the OP I'm not talking about games that lets you choose genders. I don't view those as "true" female protagonists, for lack of better phrasing. Those games usually (admittedly, not always) involve a large amount of role playing and player filling in personality and attitude and so on. There's a place for those of course, but when I say "true" female protagonists, I talk about those that the writers and the designers went all the way with to create a character they set out to create, like any book writer creates a character for their book.

#35 Edited by ElixirBronze (443 posts) -
penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/games-with-female-heroes-dont-sell-because-publishers-dont-support-them

The original Tomb Raider and it's sequel may have sold a lot, but that was a different time. Now-a-days games need to do much better in sales to even be called a success and it seems games with mainly a female protagonist don't sell enough to be successful.

Well how many female protagonists do you see in indie games?

What are the publisher's reasons for turning down female characters? It's weird to say "They won't sell as well" because that article even says that we have too little data to go by to say one way or the other.

I can buy that it's easier to write male characters, but I still feel like that doesn't cover why the ratio today is like 9000000 to 1 in favor for male characters.

And if you're telling me that 8 million sold copies by todays standards isn't a success then I have to call you wrong on that sir.

#36 Edited by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

@ennosuke: Lightning always came across as a female rehash of Cloud to me and didn't strike me as a very compelling character. Faith is a good example of how to properly execute a female protagonist though (By not defining the character by his/her gender) so I agree with you there.

#37 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

@elixirbronze: maybe it's time to stop making books and start making games. Games let you experiment in a sandbox instead of going through the rails of a script, they are superior in any regard, including cultural and artistic considerations.

If you write a book you are going to say something and that may be offensive for someone, that happens all the time in politics and to some extent in economics. If you create a universe people are going to find out things by themselves, some of them may apply to the "real" Universe and some won't, but they shouldn't be offended by whatever they find on their own.

#38 Posted by Morbid_Coffee (955 posts) -

/thread

#39 Edited by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -

@morbid_coffee said:

/thread

Hell yeah MGS3!

It's funny because i used MGS3 as an example in my post earlier.

#40 Posted by DarthOrange (3878 posts) -

#42 Edited by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@elixirbronze: I am a woman and I didn't find anything about the Tomb Raider marketing offensive. You men make a problem out of an issue that doesn't exist.

The real problem is that men try to incorporate women into the industry while having no fucking clue about women. You would want to protect Lara? Lara will kick your balls show you.

The male-dominated game industry shies from female protagonists because they don't know enough about women to make decent characters. There are a lot of men who don't care about a woman's feelings or personality, and there are also some who define women through clichés. "Oh, a woman, she must have over 9000 shoes!"

Every few weeks there are threads popping up on this website making women an issue. I think women would be more open-minded towards video games if the atmosphere of the game industry would be more friendly (and less focused on gender).

There is probably a huge chunk of male video game players who "don't want women in their territory". I have a certain understanding for that. And I get that impression a lot through the internet. In real life however, most guys find it pretty cool that I play video games, although they almost always say it's "uncommon".

MOVE ON.

#43 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -
#44 Edited by AlexanderSheen (5077 posts) -
@morrow said:

@elixirbronze: I am a woman and I didn't find anything about the Tomb Raider marketing offensive. You men make a problem out of an issue that doesn't exist.

The real problem is that men try to incorporate women into the industry while having no fucking clue about women. You would want to protect Lara? Lara will kick your balls show you.

The male-dominated game industry shies from female protagonists because they don't know enough about women to make decent characters. There are a lot of men who don't care about a woman's feelings or personality, and there are also some who define women through clichés. "Oh, a woman, she must have over 9000 shoes!"

Every few weeks there are threads popping up on this website making women an issue. I think women would be more open-minded towards video games if the atmosphere of the game industry would be more friendly (and less focused on gender).

There is probably a huge chunk of male video game players who "don't want women in their territory". I have a certain understanding for that. And I get that impression a lot through the internet. In real life however, most guys find it pretty cool that I play video games, although they almost always say it's "uncommon".

MOVE ON.

Hear hear.

Don't mind if I follow you.

#45 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3885 posts) -

Remember that stupid women who said that she was so offended that Sony didn't have any women on stage that she was going to buy a Wii U? Ha ha ha!

@elixirbronze said:
@oscar__explosion said:
penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/games-with-female-heroes-dont-sell-because-publishers-dont-support-them

The original Tomb Raider and it's sequel may have sold a lot, but that was a different time. Now-a-days games need to do much better in sales to even be called a success and it seems games with mainly a female protagonist don't sell enough to be successful.

Well how many female protagonists do you see in indie games?

What are the publisher's reasons for turning down female characters? It's weird to say "They won't sell as well" because that article even says that we have too little data to go by to say one way or the other.

I can buy that it's easier to write male characters, but I still feel like that doesn't cover why the ratio today is like 9000000 to 1 in favor for male characters.

And if you're telling me that 8 million sold copies by todays standards isn't a success then I have to call you wrong on that sir.

How about Mass Effect. Developers have revealed that only 18% of gamers who played ME2 used a female character. Some interesting facts to note about this:

Mass Effect features a heavy emphasis on characters, dialogue, relationships, and even a little romance.

ME encourages multiple playthroughs, and even has an achievement dedicated to finishing the game twice.

For those who have played as both, the voice performance by the female voice actress has been said by many to be superior to the male voice actor. As someone who switched to fem Shepard himself, I couldn't agree more.

Finally, let's think about this from a male / female perspective. How many male players do you think picked fem shepard? They could have done so because they they wanted to stare at her ass all game long, or perhaps they long for better female protagonists. Either way. Now, how many female players do you think picked male Shephard, even with the 1000s of other games staring male protagonists, and even with the relationship / romance aspect of the game?

And despite all this evidence to the contrary, Partrick still links to an article claiming that game developers don't know what they're doing, that the next Gear of War would sell just as much if it had a non-sexualized female protagonist, and he calls it "worth reading." Even worse, he promotes the article in the most sensationalist way possible, with...

"Perhaps the biggest failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines is the amazing lack of females."

What the fuck is this, Kotaku?

All this, despite the fact that the campaign does include at least one main character who is female--not that you would get that impression from Patrick or the article--and several female skins for multiplayer.

Just the other day I saw someone make a highly belligerent post in reply to someone who DARED to suggest that that maybe the male / female breakdown of "hardcore gamers" is close to perhaps 75% / 25%. That poster was accused of pulling those number out of his ass. Sorry people, but currently you can only WISH for 25%. I'm not even going to guess how low the actual numbers are, but I will join you all in wishing it was a lot higher.

#46 Edited by ElixirBronze (443 posts) -
@morrow said:

@elixirbronze: I am a woman and I didn't find anything about the Tomb Raider marketing offensive. You men make a problem out of an issue that doesn't exist.

The real problem is that men try to incorporate women into the industry while having no fucking clue about women. You would want to protect Lara? Lara will kick your balls show you.

I'm not sure I follow you, the first line in your post just confirms what I said in the OP, did you even read it? Also are you saying that you'd rather have zero female video game characters than let developers at least try to incorporate more?
You seem upset, I agree with you that the industry should be less focused on gender. As I said, wanting to protect is only "gross" when its protecting a woman. I'm not saying all games with women should be about the player wanting to protect them, I'm saying it should be a viable option to make the player feel involved, completely regardless of what gender the protagonist might be.
@SpaceInsomniac: 18% of players chose to play a female character? That's great. Again, I don't care why someone would want to play a certain character. But if 18% of video games had a female main protagonists, that would be an infinitely huge step up in terms of variation from what we have now, which is 99.99% crew-cut white dudes with 5 o'clock shadows.
#47 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

Or is it the fact that Lara is a woman that makes it disgusting?

Yes.

Does that make sense to anybody?

Yes.

I'm confused, why are you disgusted that Lara is a woman?

#48 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3885 posts) -
@SpaceInsomniac: 18% of players chose to play a female character? That's great. Again, I don't care why someone would want to play a certain character. But if 18% of video games had a female main protagonists, that would be an infinitely huge step up in terms of variation from what we have now, which is 99.99% crew-cut white dudes with 5 o'clock shadows.

You're looking at that statistic as 18 percent of players want female protagonists, so 18 percent of games should feature female protagonists. From a business standpoint, that's simply wrong.

Hypothetically, let's say that 18 percent of gamers would rather play as a female lead character, and 82 percent of gamers would rather play as a male lead character. We'll forget about the actual percentage of female gamers for a moment, which I would guess would have be somewhere under 18 percent, if the ME2 stats are to be believed. Note that I'm only including "traditional" 60 dollar retail games here.

Now, knowing this about your potential audience, why would you go with a choice that is preferred by 18 percent of potential customers, over a choice that is preferred by 82 percent of potential customers? This is even more true when making a female character too sexualized could lead to accusations of sexism (Tomb Raider, Bayonetta), and not sexualizing a female protagonist enough could cost your game sales (Mirror's Edge, Beyond Good and Evil). Not to say that THE reason those games didn't sell more is because of their non-sexualized female protagonists, but come to think of it, I am struggling to come up with a game that featured both a non-sexualized female protagonist and was a fairly large success. Anyone happen to know of some?

Believe me, I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying it's a sad truth. Don't get me wrong, I love when games allow a choice between genders, and I would also personally like to see more female protagonists in games. With that said, I think it's a bit telling that I've recommended Mass Effect to a few male friends now, and despite my recommendation of going with fem Shepard, they've all played as men.

So not enough men want to play as women, and not enough women want to play video games. To borrow and reverse an old urban phrase, don't hate the game, hate the player.

#49 Edited by Humanity (9867 posts) -

@morrow: The biggest problem right now is both men and women alike trying to to incite some sort of awareness in the worst possible ways. The real problem with women and game development isn't some sort of marketing campaign or how big a characters breasts are in a video game. The problem, as stated by women in the industry that aren't busy trying to find ways to highlight sexism through polygon count, is that there simply aren't a lot of women to hire in game development positions. There are a lot more of PR rep and marketing positions available for women than there are programming or lead design ones. This isn't because of sexism or that women aren't welcome in those roles but rather due to the fact that not a lot of women as of right now go into those fields. There aren't that many women trying it out because the scene is mainly populated by men and it might seem intimidating to break into the "boys club" so to speak. At the same time there aren't many women in key positions to look up to either, no real role models for young women to aspire to and think "wow I can be just like her." We have our fair share of Ken Levine's, Cliff Bleszinski's or Will Wright's but where are the Roberta Williams of today? So it's a vicious cycle that is both alienating and difficult to stop. It's certainly not going to be broken by talking about how wanting to "protect" the character you're playing is disgustingly chauvinistic - or how a collectors edition item is demoralizing and ruining the industry. You just need more women going to school for these specific positions and breaking into the field to populate the offices with fresh new ideas and points of view. Maybe it's old fashioned but I honestly think that if you're good at what you do, then you will command respect among your peers regardless of gender or sexual orientation. If some young woman goes to work for a big name development studio and she is an amazing programmer then she will be respected among her peers. At the same time I'm sure a lot of places would rather have a few more women working in the office as well.

So in essence I agree with the sentiment that we should just "move on" and stop trying to pick fights where they won't do anyone any good. If you want to help, then if you have a younger sister, a niece or someone who's still fairly young - introduce them to games, and game design, programming, coding, and see if they like it - if they do then maybe you will have helped the industry gain another bright young mind in game development in a couple of years. Just don't go around crusading for absolutely worthless causes people, save everyone some grief.