Editorial: Omitting Women From Games Because "It's Too Hard" is Unacceptable

Max_imus

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Man, Ubisoft's PR guys need to do a better job briefing their spokespersons. Seriously, had he said anything other than what he did, and there would have been no argument. Or it at least wouldn't have blown up in their faces like this, though a discussion about why it's still the norm to have male leads as the standard would be worth having.

It also shows a disturbing degree of ignorance on the side of AC:U's publishers concerning the issue of gender diversity in gaming. Someone needs to sit these guys down at a table and calmly explain to them why saying things like this isn't gonna help them get their sales numbers up.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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So where are those $250 million budgets going, anyway? Oh, right, advertising.

The thing here is that they're trying to give the illusion of "oh, we'd have loved to, but it just couldn't be done because of reasons", but the reality is "we just didn't care until we got called out for it and now it's too late, so here's some bullshit excuses we hope you'll buy, along with our game". What I really don't get, though, are the people who are saying "Well, it doesn't bother ME, so why are YOU complaining?". I can't tell if they're trying to defend their favorite franchises from criticism, or really just don't care about anyone's concerns but their own.
 

Erttheking

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ccdohl said:
Hey so, if you know so much about character design, maybe you should make your own game and animate your own female characters, or just not buy the game if it bothers you so much.
I hate this argument. It never fails to infuriate me. If you ever criticize any aspect of anything ever, you would be pissed if someone jumped out and shouted at you "If you don't like it, why don't you make your own?" Because it's not really an argument, it's something that sounds good and is designed purely to shut other people up while completely ignoring all the arguments that they made. I'll call out Ubisoft for whatever the Hell I like because they're putting out a product that they want me to buy and I'm under no obligation to keep my mouth shut. I'll call them lazy all I want because I've yet to see any evidence to the contrary in this entire mess. And if I don't buy it, pray tell, exactly how are they supposed to know WHY I didn't buy it if I'm not allowed to complain about it?

Please stop trying to shut people up just because you don't like what they're saying.
 

Alterego-X

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ccdohl said:
Well, actually, right and wrong don't really apply to the content of media, in my opinion. Sure, they can portray things that, in the real world, would be wrong, but the media itself isn't wrong, barring abuses in the creation of it of course.
Then why do you tkeep replying to my posts? After all, they are also just cotent in media, and therefore they can be neither right or wrong, and neither can yours be.

Maybe because media is speech, and speech is one of the primary things that can be moral or immoral, based on what influences and what states of mind it reflects on.

Entertainment media is public speech, both holding a mirror to the assumptions of our society at large, and influencing the behaviors of the future for many.
 

Erttheking

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The Plunk said:
They design a game without trying to appeal to women in anyway and the sales for women aren't as great as they are for men so they don't try to appeal to the female audience? This is called a self fulfilling prophecy. Also, while not as many female gamers buy Assassin's creed, I saw a chart that pins the number of women who play mainstream games like Halo and Assassin's Creed etc at around 20%. And that's not the majority, but it's still a damn big chunk. And I just have to say, if you can't take into consideration the demographic that makes up a significant portion of your consumer base than you just suck at your job.
 

Kilo24

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It would be very good to have women as playable characters, to treat them as equal to men, and to bring them into the main line of a popular AAA game series. I agree quite strongly with that notion and hope that we will see it in the future.

What I'm pissed off about is the assumption that the reason that they didn't include the female characters is "bullshit". Unless you want your female character hovering a foot off the ground with her breasts rammed through the victim when assassinating someone (all the while making masculine grunts) it *will* be a lot of work. You need new models, new textures, new voice acting, and trivializing that extra work needed by reducing it to "It's too hard!" is insulting -especially since Assassin's Creed is a franchise that has always had a large amount of high quality animation (unlike the editorial's example of KOTOR).

I didn't read a single counterargument against that claim in this editorial - nothing like "It becomes much easier with proper asset management" or "You don't need to make the animations as detailed since the player's model that they themselves control will never actually be female". There's only this: "But let's pretend for a second that the "it's too hard" excuse wasn't total bullshit. So what? That's your problem, publishers; it's time to do your jobs." In other words, "I've decided that you should double your 3D artists' and voice actors' workload because I want other players to have a random chance of seeing me as a female character when I want to play multiplayer."

My issue with this controversy (which this editorial exemplifies) is that it doesn't even attempt to address the reasoning for the design decision, and instead just handwaves it away. Promoting women in games is a very important matter, and this absolutist demagoguery portrays the whole issue as being the invention of people who have no idea of the costs of actually making a game. The author may even be on the right side (and I personally think that she is), but the editorial does more harm than good to its own argument.

The result of this controversy is not going to be that the costs of implementing women in games properly are going to evaporate. It may, but is unlikely to, persuade more developers and publishers to support women in games. What it will do (and has already done) is to discourage developers from talking about why they made development decisions for fear of PR reprisal, and it will also mean that developers shouldn't even consider putting women in games if they're not certain that they can keep them. And you know what? With the inadvertent PR firecracker the stray developer comment lit, they're entirely justified to do so.
 

Erttheking

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ccdohl said:
No, it is not a valid point, I might even go so far as to call it anti-intellectualism. Because what if someone dislikes trends in video games AND music? Is he supposed to make his own video game and balance that with an indie band? Oh, so I'm allowed to complain now? I thought that if I had an issue I was supposed to go out and start my own game company.

If there's not a demand for female characters, then how come we go through this song and dance every time the topic comes up? And obligated? You make it sound like we're trying to bully people. And when you're making a game about a conflict that consisted of tons of women doing important things to the point where one of the most important assassinations of the conflict was done by a woman, you would think that female inclusion would be expected. But there I go expecting standards from video game companies.

Then don't use anti-intellectual comments that demands some impossible feat, usually including a person leaving their job and learning an entirely new skill set just because they wanted to make a complaint.

And that's one of the big problems I have with video games. It's all about money. Money above making a good game. Why make a fun exciting game when you can make another Call of Duty. This is NOT a mindset we should be defending. We should be defending people making good games and not companies trying to maximize profits.

Ubisoft isn't obligated to make anything, they are under no obligation to make a good game. But as a consumer, they are here to serve me, not the other way around, and if they want me to keep buying their knock off sequels then they need to put a little effort in. It really baffles me when people have complaints and other people try to shut them up because "They're not obligated to do anything for you." They're not obligated to patch bugs out either, but I doubt you'd be defending them if they decided that was too hard.

I'm calling bullshit. There's a big difference between knowing when someone is lying about programing and knowing how to program herself. And you know how she knows this? The opinions of professional programers, located IN THE ARTICLE who are calling out Ubisoft on it's bullshit. So no, she just did her research and got professional opinions on it. She doesn't know how to program, hence she can't go out and make her own game, and even if she could, I doubt she would want to throw her journalism career away.

EDIT: And question. If you dislike her journalism so and you clearly know enough about it to know what's wrong, why don't you start writing your own articles? I'm just using your own logic here.
 

KaZuYa

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I only excuse I can see for excluding female characters from games is a historical point of view. I don't mean just because you wouldn't have a woman in that position or commanding any kind of respect in that society for the sake of it, I mean trying to portray woman as equal and respected in a historical setting is insulting and downright unacceptable. Woman were mistreated, abused and treated as almost subhuman until quite recently in many countries and still are, and have protagonists which just a clone of the male one but female ignoring all of what more this protagonist would have to face is worse than just not having her there in the first place.

This is just a fly in the ointment what about gay protagonists and interracial couples, we need to show these as well but showing them without showing their struggle is beating the objective of equality.
 

deshadow52

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I am really conflicted by this whole issue. On one hand I can understand why women feel unrepresented in video games on the other hand I feel like at this point Ubisoft just can't win. When it comes to characters in video games, books and movies, I don't look for great female characters I look for great human characters. The problem I have with the whole we want more female characters movement is I just feel like they are so picky. Seriously, if a female character is not exactly what they think a great female character should be, even if they show characteristics of being human, they consider it sexist, misogynist and the best part they will consider it a personal attack on their entire gender. You can't win with these people, we are talking about the kinda people that said Lara Croft going to therapy makes her look weak, the kinda people that say Female Shepard is just too similar to Male Shepard and if any character shows any sort of cleavage, looks weak or is influenced by men of any sort despite any context given, it is thrown in the bad female character pile. If I was a writer of any kind, making a female character would scare the hell out of me because I feel like making one is like getting zero on a roulette wheel. The zero is a female character people want and all the others are condemned.

At this point, if Ubisoft put in a female character it would be half assed and the people that were crying for would then end up unsatisfied and would start complaining all over again and would say well it was better off without the female characters.

well I am looking forward to getting all the replys on what a horrible person I am, but I believe there is a lot of truth of what I said. I want more diversity in games too, but not in the same way most people are, at least what I seen on twitter anyway. I am also not saying that developers shouldn't put female characters in games nor do I think what i said was the only reason female characters are not put in games because I know there many reasons/excuses.
 

Burnouts3s3

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Here's the thing: I watched the story of Watch_Dogs. Apparently, not only are women too hard to animate, but also white males are apparently too hard to write without using a bunch of cliches.

Doesn't mean the effort shouldn't be made.
 

RealRT

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Creating female character option is a lot of work? Maybe. And you know what? I don't give a fuck, it's not my problem, it's the publisher/developer's problem.
 

T_ConX

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I actually understand where all this anger is coming from. I am literally unable to play any game that doesn't feature a white male protagonist. I just cannot relate to a character that doesn't look like me.

I'm just fine playing any Grand Theft Auto, except for San Andreas. I also had to skip all the missions in GTA5 that made me play as Trevor.

In Heavy Rain, I got Madison killed off the first chance I got so the rest of the game being a guy.

A friend gifted me Tomb Raider 2013 on Steam a few months ago, but the game just wasn't interesting until I used a mod that replaced Lara with a really bad stock 3D model of a guy.

Assassins Creed? I bought AC3, but just ended up replaying the Haytham part over and over again.

Ok, enough sarcasm. If playable female characters are that important to you, then, well, FINE! You have every right to not buy the game, and instead use your dollars to support a developer that makes the games you want to play. I'm too interested in gameplay to give much of a damn what gender/race/sexuality/religion/whatever the main playable character is, but that's me. I'm more than willing to give a

As for Ubisofts 'Animating females is hard' excuse... I don't know enough about their production pipeline to challenge that. I know an animator from the AC3 team said that converting the ~8000 male animations to a female skeleton would have taken him two work days, but... come on! That's three animations a minute, with no time for food or sleep. Maybe that's two days for HIM, but I assume it would make a lot more work for the QA team.

The game is going to sell millions of copies, just like the other six major AC titles before it. This issue isn't going to hurt that, because most people are willing to overlook identity politics in favor of gameplay. Maybe the next (major) Assassins Creed will have a female protagonist. I'd still probably buy it...
 

RA92

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ccdohl said:
erttheking said:
ccdohl said:
No, it is not a valid point, I might even go so far as to call it anti-intellectualism.
You might go so far as to call it anti-intellectualism, but you'd be wrong.
No, he wouldn't be. The "If you don't like it, why don't you make your own video game" response is made by people who want to shut down conversations.

That is, except, if you believe the research, gamers tend to buy more when there are male protagonists. That's a fact that seems to completely undermine your position.

If there were actually a comparably large number of AAA games with female protagonists that didn't sell well, then you would have had a point. When the percentage of female characters in video games hover at around 15%, of course you'll end up with data that people buy games with male protagonists more. It'd a self-fulfilling prophecy.
 

Mistilteinn

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deshadow52 said:
Nah, you're pretty much spot on. The more something is scrutinized, the more likely people are to complain about it. And right now we have a lot of scrutiny directed towards game developers and publishers about the inclusion/depiction of women in games. So it makes sense that everyone's going to find something to complain about, because everyone's focusing on the same thing. And, as anyone who's ever met any other human should know, there's no pleasing everyone. Meanwhile, male characters and their inclusion/depiction is pretty much ignored because it's just standard-fare at this point. There will be a male character, and that they'll look and act like a male character (whatever the heck that actually means, when you think about).

Eventually, I hope things calm down because, while it's interesting to read topics on these issues (even pretty damn educational at times, which is always a plus), it's also feeding into the selfsame issue in ways that aren't particularly positive. Things aren't black-and-white, as others posters mentioned, but a lot of the time we look at the issue in that way: you're either for or against, and there's no wiggle-room. Rather than get pissed at the devs because they said "it's too hard" after the fact, when evidence shows that in fact, yes, it is very time-consuming and resource-consuming to create new characters from scratch, what we should be asking is why the topic of adding a female character wasn't brought up sooner during development--which it appears to have been. If we can better understand why they shut down a female characters development early on in the game, then we won't be stuck arguing over a poorly-worded excuse.

Basically, my point is that we ought to look at the source of the problem rather than the aftermath. When we can fix the source of the problem, then we can hopefully solve the underlying issue and we won't be having these arguments anymore, because by that point male and female characters will be looked at in the same light: as characters rather than their genders.