Game developers are only encouraging sexism in gaming communities

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Abigailnn

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#1  Edited By Abigailnn

So i started playing dues ex and i realized that I cant think of one serious or realistic story-focused game (or even one that had a decent story that wasn't the focus of the game...) thats come out in the last 10 years that has a female protagonist. Beyond good and evil and alice: madness returns are the best examples i can think of, but they are both more fantasy games (even though alice is still really dark) and the only real examples i can think of at all...

Yea there are games that let you pick your gender, but those mostly aren't story or immersion based games. If you let the player change a big part of the main character like that you cant really customize the game around the protagonist that well.

I mean bioware does an ok job in their games letting you pick stuff like background and then changing bits of the game around that, but if there was a specific hero you played as through all those games i bet they could do a lot more with the detail and immersion

Which is probably why a lot of games don't let you customize your protagonist. And 90% of the time, you play as a guy.. I mean i realize that its a male-dominated industry, im not expecting games like call of duty and gears of war to have a female protagonist. There's always gonna be games that naturally attract the kind of crowd who would think its "gay" to play as a girl, but i don't get why games that are bit more -cough- mature have to pander to those people as well...

The only time anyone plays as a female in a video game is when...

1. It doesn't matter (Oh, you picked female, now sometimes the npcs will refer to you differently. yay.)

2. Its a gimmick, overly sexualized, a totally crazy game, or a combination of the 3 (tomb raider, bayonetta, blood rayne, dead or alive, ms splosion man)

3. Portal. Chell could really be replaced with anything, just like gordon

Im just a bit sick of playing as a guy and then being smothered in female love interests left and right. If it keeps up im going to turn into a lesbian. I can totally understand why a lot of my friends aren't interested in playing games made for guys

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Vinny_Says

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#2  Edited By Vinny_Says

@Abigailnn said:

If it keeps up im going to turn into a lesbian.

Is that how it works? I have been lied to....

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KarlPilkington

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#3  Edited By KarlPilkington

I'm trying to think of games with stories that let you play as a girl.

Heavy Rain I suppose, although only for like 1/4 of the game.

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#4  Edited By ShaggE
What a female thing to say. 
 
 
 
Seriously, though, I'd love to see more games with a good female protagonist where it actually matters that your character is female. Can't say what, exactly, that would entail, but it'd be interesting. 
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BraveToaster

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#5  Edited By BraveToaster

You forgot to mention Mirror's Edge.

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Abigailnn

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#6  Edited By Abigailnn

@Axxol: true but mirrors edge wasnt even a good game really.. nonetheless good story

@KarlPilkington: eh i dont count heavy rain because you play as everyone pretty much.. i mean if you played as like 10 people in a game and none of them were women how messed up would that be

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1337W422102

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#7  Edited By 1337W422102

>equating lack of decent female leads with the encouragement of sexism
Someone put a banister on that slope before someone slips and hurts themselves!

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deactivated-5f9398c1300c7

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If there's a female protagonists, gamers will criticize her as being obnoxious and annoying. I wouldn't, but the majority of the new, douchebag audience that the game industry now carries--all thanks to CoD4--most certainly will.

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#9  Edited By ThunderSlash

Couldn't the same be said about movies? Well, with the exception of maybe dramas, a lot of movies feature male protagonists.
 
Edit: Also, no matter how much she looked like Cloud, Final Fantasy 13 totally had a badass nonsexualized female protagonist.
 
Edit #2: MGS3 had The Boss, who was a pretty big focus of the game.

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Video_Game_King

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#10  Edited By Video_Game_King

I'm not sure that the lack of female protagonists is encouraging sexism, at least actively, but it is a problem that should probably be fixed. RPGs are kinda OK about it, but that's about it.

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#11  Edited By Tsoglani

I thought Bayonetta is pretty excellent.

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Soffish

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#12  Edited By Soffish

I don't exactly see how a lack of female protagonists would encourage sexism.

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FancySoapsMan

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#13  Edited By FancySoapsMan
@Abigailnn said:
. I can totally understand why a lot of my friends aren't interested in playing games made for guys
Wait girls don't like to play games made for guys?
 
Shocking.
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#14  Edited By N7

No offense, but if Adam Jensen would have been a girl, she would have gotten the shit beat out of her in the first 20 minutes of the game, and everyone would have cried "Oh, but she's supposed to be a strong-willed woman! How dare Eidos portray a woman being bastardized by a man in a video game! What sexism!".
 
Also the part where they augment him on the table when he's clearly naked. There would be boobage and women just caaaaaan't stand seeing boobs in media without flaring up the rage-cage.
 
Now I understand the only way out of this mess is for Lifetime to start making video games.
 
"Becky was just a teenage mother living in the comfortable little town of Spokane Washington when one fateful day, she was raped by an evil multinationalist paramilitary corporation hellbent on demoralizing women. Can she save the world while keeping her composure as a woman, and, as a mother? Lifetime is proud to announce a new video game: Rapes On A Train."

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My guess is due to a lack of female influence on the development side and, until recently, in the target market. I expect we'll see a change as more people like yourself crop up! 
 
Also, the Heavy Rain mention..I haven't played it, but I do remember seeing parts of her story where she strips for a guy, and one where she's attacked in her underwear at her home. I doubt this happens to the guys in the game. 

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#16  Edited By FengShuiGod

If there were more female leads I'm sure people would be complaining that those leads are sexist stereotypes. I mean, most male leads are "sexist." Gravely voice, muscle toned bodies, square chins, too much HGH, ect. Sure, you get the Heavy Rain-esque  fat cop once in a while, but most characters are more like Duke Nukem.  It's the same with most female characters. They often wear ridiculously tight clothing (i.e., Bayonetta), big boobs, ect.
 
There are many games that feature playable female characters though. Fighting games, Tomb Raider, Perfect Dark, Mirrors Edge ect.  And there are a lot of games where you choose what the character looks like/choose from a set of male and female characters. Throw in all the war games out there in which playing a female would be unrealistic, and the disparity might not be as big as it seems, although one definitely exists.  
 
I'm not sure what will bring the change though, and I'm not sure what causes the disparity. Either video game characters are predominately male because games with male leads sell well to males, in which case the industry will follow females (and their money) if females choose to start playing more games with female leads, or females aren't playing games because of the lack of quality appealing titles with female leads, in which case females will follow the industry when it starts creating more serious female oriented titles. 

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Sooty

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#17  Edited By Sooty
@N7 said:

No offense, but if Adam Jensen would have been a girl, she would have gotten the shit beat out of her in the first 20 minutes of the game, and everyone would have cried "Oh, but she's supposed to be a strong-willed woman! How dare Eidos portray a woman being bastardized by a man in a video game! What sexism!".
 

  
  SHE'S NOT EVEN AUGMENTED
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Clonedzero

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#18  Edited By Clonedzero

how is that encouraging sexism?
alot of the big action type games have male leads simply because its far more believable for a hyper violent male to exist than a hyper violent female.
not to say females can't be super violent, it just comes off as less natural and believable.
 
i was in a sociology class not long ago and we were looking at prison statistics and something like 97% of violent crimes in the US are committed by males, simply because males tend to be more aggressive and violent compared to females. making them more suitable to be the ones fighting aliens in a video game. 
 
though keep in mind. im not saying females cant be interesting well written and violent heroic protagonists as lead characters in a game. they most certainly can, it just takes alot more writing effort to make them seem believable. i'll play any game thats good regardless of what gender the main character is, though if i had to pick solid female characters from games, they'd all be from RPGs. female characters in action/shooter games tend to be paper thin personality-wise or oversexualized which i think is the bigger problem.
 
edit- the new tomb raider reboot seems really mature and believable. pretty interested in seeing more of that game as i kinda hated the tomb raider series before

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napalm

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#19  Edited By napalm
@Abigailnn: I agree with you. There aren't many narrative-heavy, female protagonist-driven videogames. Mass Effect is essentially the closest thing we have to something like that, but I'd like to see more.
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#20  Edited By ThunderSlash
@Ygg: He never asked for this.
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#21  Edited By McGhee

It's not sexism. It is demographics. In story driven games the players are are putting themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and most guys more readily relate to being another guy. Even so, there are a fair number of games with female protagonists, probably in greater proportion than there are actual female gamers. Some of these games are well loved, Bayonetta, Alice, Tomb Raider, etc.

In other words, meh.

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Abigailnn

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#22  Edited By Abigailnn

How DOESNT a lack of female protagonists encourage sexism? Male protagonists = generally more appealing to guys = more guys play videogames = gaming communities are mostly guys. And dont tell me that doesn't lead to sexism... theres just a horrible stigma in most communities and i hate it. Its definitely not nearly as bad here as most places, but i bet if more AAA big name story driven games had a well done female protagonist (assuming its a good game of course) more places would be like giantbomb and the internet would be a bit nicer for everyone D:

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Sin4profit

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#23  Edited By Sin4profit

It's a demographic thing...same reason Ken never stars in Barbie Horse Adventure.

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#24  Edited By recroulette

Bayonetta wasn't that bad was it. I mean, crazy yes. But still...

Heavy Rain is a bad example though with the obvious sexualization, and the "You go girls" she said throughout the game.

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Abigailnn

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#25  Edited By Abigailnn

@N7: i didn't mean just taking dues ex and replacing adam with a girl, adam is a great character for the game. but a similar game could easily work -and be better- with a female lead imo

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#26  Edited By soldierg654342
@Abigailnn said:

How DOESNT a lack of female protagonists encourage sexism?

I think you are misusing that term, or I just use a different definition. Sexism to me is active discrimination based on gender. What you're talking about sounds more like misogyny to me. 
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Abigailnn

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#27  Edited By Abigailnn

@SoldierG654342: ah i guess your right.. misogyny is definitely more accurate. I actually payed less attention in english class than math, ha

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#28  Edited By Soffish

I still don't see how having a disproportionate amount of male lead characters causes gamers to treat women as inferior. Besides, there are plenty of highly respected games that have female leads.

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MrKlorox

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#29  Edited By MrKlorox

Well, somebody doesn't want people to take this seriously.

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#30  Edited By N7
@Soffish: Name one.
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#31  Edited By McGhee

@Abigailnn said:

How DOESNT a lack of female protagonists encourage sexism? Male protagonists = generally more appealing to guys = more guys play videogames = gaming communities are mostly guys. And dont tell me that doesn't lead to sexism... theres just a horrible stigma in most communities and i hate it. Its definitely not nearly as bad here as most places, but i bet if more AAA big name story driven games had a well done female protagonist (assuming its a good game of course) more places would be like giantbomb and the internet would be a bit nicer for everyone D:

You have your cause and affect reversed. More guys like playing games than ladies. This is a fact. There are more male protagonists because there are more male gamers. And also because so many games involve war. It is a fact that males are more aggressive and warlike and it only makes sense to more often put them in that role.

Are you actually saying that the only reason so few ladies play games is because there aren't enough female protagonists? Ridiculous. Back in the day of Centipede, Pong, and Space Invaders where were all of these female gamers? When were they pushed out? With those sexist bros. Mario and Luigi?

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Mr_Skeleton

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#32  Edited By Mr_Skeleton

I don't think they are encouraging sexism but I do think most of them don't know how to approach making a female character, and in the cases they do know how to do it a lot of the times the marketing department would say that if they won't make the main character a guy or a sexy woman the game won't sell. This also true to the movie industry, which is sad. As for the Chell part the same thing could also be said about Gordon Freeman, Valve is known for making their main characters to be a vessel for the player rather than making a real character.

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AhmadMetallic

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#33  Edited By AhmadMetallic

no, THIS promotes sexism: 
 

What the fuck was Dave thinking? 
What the fuck was Dave thinking? 
 
Don't ask me why i was viewing your profile, you're a girl on giant bomb.
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#34  Edited By GreggD

@Abigailnn: I have two things to say. Gears of War 3 is adding the female characters to the playable character roster. So there's a positive example. Second, though, is that Lara Croft as a character was not supposed to be sexualized at the outset of that series. The fans wanted it, so it became fanservice. More polygons in her chest for the second game, etc. Of course her chest was also a triangle in the first game, so it was just kind of a necessary thing. And do you not like Bayonetta? Or what's the deal? She's the most powerful character in that game, despite being the most attractive. If you notice, she is hyper-sexualized, but is still kicking everyone's ass, and making all of the men look inferior to her. So yeah. I consider Bayonetta to be an empowering female portrayal.

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#35  Edited By JCTango
@Abigailnn: While I don't completely disagree with your post (I really, really like it when games have strong female protagonists [strong-willed/strong physique]), you could sorta say the same about the multitude of gyms in the real world that only cater to women.
 
In the end, though, I think what the devs and publishing companies are mainly doing is homing in on their demographics in order to pull in the most money possible.  I wish they'd include more female characters that you play as in the game, but for some reason, many gamers out there (probably the guy ones), feel uncomfortable playing them.
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#36  Edited By Pinworm45
@Abigailnn said:

How DOESNT a lack of female protagonists encourage sexism? Male protagonists = generally more appealing to guys = more guys play videogames = gaming communities are mostly guys. And dont tell me that doesn't lead to sexism...

Logic as flawed as this is a strong reason why there's fewer games with female leads. 
 
No one wants 16 hours of listening to that.
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Wrighteous86

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#37  Edited By Wrighteous86

@Abigailnn: Silent Hill 3 is a great example, non-sexualized teenage girl who isn't a stereotype and the game is serious in tone and story-focused.

Uh... some of the Metroid games--at times she's an empty character, at times she's a female stereotype, but sometimes she's motherly or a powerful-woman archetype? Super Metroid and the Prime games are probably the only decent examples; maybe Fusion.

Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube had a good female protagonist... you played as other characters too, but she was the main lead in a Lovecraftian horror game.

Zoey and Rochelle in Left 4 Dead, even though it's not very plot-heavy, aren't sexualized and have pretty robust personalities.

Those are the only ones that fit your criteria on my game shelf though. Sorry Super Princess Peach.

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Abigailnn

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#38  Edited By Abigailnn

@McGhee_the_Insomniac: I didnt say they created it, i say they encourage. Which they most definitely do...

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#39  Edited By McGhee

@Abigailnn said:

@McGhee_the_Insomniac: I didnt say they created it, i say they encourage. Which they most definitely do...

I don't know how many different ways I can say this, but merely having a male exist in the lead role does NOT encourage sexism. A main male character that demeans woman and treats them like shit WOULD encourage sexism. The difference is vast.

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#40  Edited By Soffish

Should games have more female leads, absolutely. Do games make guys hate women, absolutely not. I just really don't understand the logic that having a male lead somehow causes males to become sexist/misogynist. Over 50 percent of games feature playable female characters, and even if they don't, they often feature powerful and likable female characters. For example, in Deus ex: HR, the female lead was depicted as being an incredibly intelligent and talented scientist.

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#41  Edited By Wrighteous86

@McGhee_the_Insomniac: A lack of protagonists that girls can identify with is most likely one reason that many girls never get into gaming. It may not be the only reason, but it is a prohibitive aspect of gaming culture. That seems to be her main point.

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#42  Edited By rawrnosaurous

I personally want to play more games with Women protagonists, I also want to play games that feature humans but has you play as a different race. IE Being a turian in Mass Effect instead of being a Human.
 
Unfortunately, a lot of game designers tend to associate everything and make the characters that play in the world around what they know. So it's a little difficult for say Tim Schafer to make a game centered around a woman because it's harder for him to play out a story realistically if he doesn't know what that would entail. 
 
I'm not saying that it can't be done, i'm just saying that at the moment the thing that companies focus on first is the gameplay and story always comes second. Once we as an industry start to figure out what works and doesn't work in terms of gameplay I feel, that is when developers will start experimenting more in terms of the role and characters we play in games. I'm not saying that we don't already do that now, there are developers that do that but more often then not you won't find developers making games that the majority of players aren't. It's just hard to get the average gamer to care about an avatar that doesn't represent them.

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#43  Edited By scarace360

Where sorry alot of people have dicks.

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@Abigailnn said:

3. Portal. Chell could really be replaced with anything, just like gordon

Ask for equality in games.
 
Complain when protagonist's gender is interchangeable.
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#45  Edited By wafflez

I think as time goes on, you'll see more female characters. Or just females playing larger roles in video games. Its still such an evolving form of entertainment that you gotta let it grow naturally. Theater, TV, and movies never prominently featured a female as the star or the main protagonist and look whats happened there. At least I hope so. I enjoy having the option to pick.

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#46  Edited By novadth

There's no correlation between a male protagonist and sexism. Zero. It's simply playing to the highest demographic, there are and always has been more male gamers. In an immersion based game, I don't want to play as a female because I can't relate to that, same as the vast majority of people that would be purchasing the game. It's not a big conspiracy to demean women and make them look like second class citizens, it's a business decision and a smart one at that. 

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#47  Edited By cinemandrew

@Abigailnn: There definitely needs to be more female protagonists, and not just in games. It's very easy to say that developers/publishers are trying to play to their demographics, but that's just an excuse, and it's a poor one at that. Just because the majority of people who play video games are men, doesn't mean that all of them only want to play as male characters. I want to play as both.

I'm really not sure why so many people are coming to the defense of developers/publishers here. Maybe they're afraid of the word "sexism". Perhaps the lack of female characters isn't directly encouraging sexism, but the two certainly go hand in hand. Game developers spend years crafting fantastic, and often absurd, worlds for their characters to inhabit, often with monsters, magic, and even humans that can withstand explosions, hundreds of bullets, and still keep fighting. Yet, so many people still try to argue that it's "unrealistic" for a woman to be strong, or violent, or capable. Why does the suspension of disbelief break there?

In Deus Ex, there are almost zero female enemies. Does anyone find that odd? Are the women of Deus Ex less capable of receiving augmentations? Is it not conceivable that, given the opportunity to balance the equation, many women would strongly consider pursuing "enhancement"?

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#48  Edited By Discoman

Most games are made by male dominated studios. I recall once reading that James Cameron was once asked how he made such strong female characters, and his response was along the lines of "You write what a man would say, and give it to a female character". Makers want to appeal to their target audience, which is normally comprised of males. When given the choice to choose my character's sex in a game, I usually, if not always choose male. I want to be able to relate to my character in some way; he doesn't seem to sleep or eat, and I don't think my health recharges if I get shot.
 
Regardless, women have come a long way; first they were in another castle, and now they can be played as in many RPGs, etc.  I heard recently Female Shepard will be featured prominently in ME3 advertisements, that's something (also overdue, Female shepard's VA does a better job imho)
 
@LordXavierBritish
said:

@Abigailnn said:


3. Portal. Chell could really be replaced with anything, just like gordon

Ask for equality in games.  Complain when protagonist's gender is interchangeable.  
Agreed. It is silly to complain about that, especially when it can work the other way in countless games. 
 
Edit- Male leads don't equal sexism. If every male oriented game was the new Duke Nukem, then you'd have a point. 
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#49  Edited By napalm
@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

I don't know how many different ways I can say this, but merely having a male exist in the lead role does NOT encourage sexism.

You have to judge each piece of media independently. This is a pretty huge straw man, and you're somehow driving something you see as "fact" out of something that is merely subjective.
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PeasantAbuse

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#50  Edited By PeasantAbuse
@cinemandrew said:

@Abigailnn: There definitely needs to be more female protagonists, and not just in games. It's very easy to say that developers/publishers are trying to play to their demographics, but that's just an excuse, and it's a poor one at that. Just because the majority of people who play video games are men, doesn't mean that all of them only want to play as male characters. I want to play as both.

I'm really not sure why so many people are coming to the defense of developers/publishers here. Maybe they're afraid of the word "sexism". Perhaps the lack of female characters isn't directly encouraging sexism, but the two certainly go hand in hand. Game developers spend years crafting fantastic, and often absurd, worlds for their characters to inhabit, often with monsters, magic, and even humans that can withstand explosions, hundreds of bullets, and still keep fighting. Yet, so many people still try to argue that it's "unrealistic" for a woman to be strong, or violent, or capable. Why does the suspension of disbelief break there?

In Deus Ex, there are almost zero female enemies. Does anyone find that odd? Are the women of Deus Ex less capable of receiving augmentations? Is it not conceivable that, given the opportunity to balance the equation, many women would strongly consider pursuing "enhancement"?

I'm just curious, why exactly do you need to play as both? 
 
I'm not against playing as a female character or anything, it's just that I never find myself playing a game and saying to myself, "wow, if only I could play this game as a female".