Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

Mar 9, 2012
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brazuca said:
We live in a patriarchal society. Deal with it!
Oh, look. If it isn't the oldest and lamest one in the book.

Yup, our ancestors should just had dealt with living in a pre-industrial society and having a life-expectancy of 35 years and being subject to the whims of autocratic despots, because changing society for the better and advancing as a civilization is baaaad.
 

Deimir

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I agree that the whole issue is sad when developers have to fight to get female protagonists in their games.

On a completely different note, what is that game at 45 seconds into the video? I don't think I've ever seen it before and it looks kinda badass.
 

jmarquiso

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erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.
That's less laziness and more wariness of flame wars.
I was referring to the 82% Soldier Male Shep. All three are defaults.
 

Treblaine

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Legion said:
Treblaine said:
You may want to quote whomever you are replying to so people actually know what your reply is in relation to. Otherwise it makes it somewhat difficult to understand who exactly you are disagreeing with.
Uuuh, the OP. Jim Sterling.

It's pretty standard in a forum thread that if you say "you" without a quote you are referring to the OP.

Surely you can see the relevance if you read what I posted and compare it to JS's video.
 

V da Mighty Taco

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Mr.Tea said:
Well, just before I saw Jimquisition had been posted, I said this about the fact that a whopping 82% of Mass Effect playthroughs were Male Shep:

Me said:
God people are boring... Of course the vast majority played a Soldier Male Shep! They need to "identify" and shit!

Very seriously, from the bottom of my heart and with all due respect (none): Fuck anyone who somehow won't play female characters. Fuck them up the arse with a rake.
And I stand by it even more after this video.

Also, it's quite funny how the first few replies are all "Oh no! Not more sexism debate! Stop talking about it!"
Funnily enough, the one hour that I played of ME2 was done as a female character, and since then I can't help but naturally associate ME in general with Shepard being a woman with a shoulder-high haircut, even as all the ads had Shepard as that near-bald white guy. Funny how that works.
 

Moonlight Butterfly

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Darken12 said:
Yeah I totally agree that we both have it bad with representation. I'm just worried that straight women will get a bit forgotten about. It's slightly ridiculous that we are having this conversation at all. We should have good representation for everyone. I'm sure we can all agree that gay guys are the worst off :(.

I didn't really find anyone to be antagonistic in that thread. Which was nice.
 

Gigano

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Oct 15, 2009
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Well, release a game with the promise of the female protagonist getting into one very intimate-yet-explicit relationship after the other with assorted dudes.

Then we'll see whether it's only dudes having bromances with their absurdly elongated guns which sell.
 

Therumancer

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You know why this is a non-issue? Largely because of what I call lib-trolls, those who use liberal issues to troll, and get attention and support from liberals for the simple sake of spreading chaos and getting attention. Dropping an "ist" or an "ism" pretty much gives one a personal army.

When you create a female character for a game, your typical, physically perfect "action hero" type, every bit the equal in idealism as a male hero, you invite criticism. Your lib-trolls run up and immediatly start saying it's sexist, or picking on elements of the game where the character is placed in jeopardy, and say beaten up, claiming that having anything bad to the character is a bunch of misogyny.

With a male character you don't have this kind of issue, you really have to stretch to make an issue of the guy, and usually it comes down to people QQing about how there aren't as many female characters rather than finding anything wrong with the so called "gun bro" in of itself.

Jim is correct as to the trends, but doesn't really get into WHY these trends exist, and how other arguements made, some by people who actually believe them, have contributed to the entire problem. Before we can have more female characters in games, the entire crowd that complains about things like the "Hitman Absolution" trailer, freaks out over the "Cyberpunk 2020" trailer, or cries about Lara Croft getting the crap beaten out of her, needs to be entirely silenced. Until that happens female characters will come with a ton of baggage, and it's something a game company does not want to deal with. Both in terms of more complaints about what happens to that character, but also in arguements that showing a physically ideal woman (the same as a guy with biceps bigger than his neck) is in some way sexist, or ironically that male gamers will feel like they are being insultingly pandered to the whole "oh look marketing thinks that we're all desperate nerds who will buy anything with a hot girl plastered on the front of it".

Like it or not, those championing so called "feminism" usually lead by a troll, have created the current monster and driven the industry increasingly away from it.

As far as romance and sex in video games goes, that's a touchy subject to begin with. To be honest when you get down to it there aren't really enough examples to point to a general trend, especially seeing as this is all fairly new to video games, and there is backlash over the very idea of sex in video games involving a very traditional/stereotypical relationship portrayal. Remember we are living in an era where Bethesda freaked out over fan made nudity/sex mods for Oblivion, Hot Coffee got attention from the federal goverment (and Hillary Clinton arguably wields more power than ever before, she spearheaded that one), and people freaked out over "Alien Sideboob" in Mass Effect. Homosexuals getting involved, a tiny minority of people, demanding massive representation as an entitlement hasn't helped matters either given that roughly 50% of the population in the US alone doesn't even believe they should be allowed to exist (at least not openly) which is why it's a major issue in politics, and why globally we see riots in France over pro-gay laws. When sex in video games comes up, this is close behind, when we haven't even gotten general acceptance of regular sex down (as this points out). Never mind issues like "The Old Republic" where gay romance was added in as requested and complaints STILL continue that it isn't enough gay because it isn't omnipresent through everyone's games.

To be honest there isn't a problem with the general view of female protaganists, I mean heck, huge numbers of guys who are perfectly straight create female characters in MMOs and such to play, which in of itself sparks internet debates and discussions from people who "don't get it" especially given the numbers... and things like "Second Life" have shown that a core of the gaming crowd will pretty much stomach, and even seek out, pretty much any kink you can think of, including (or perhaps especially) with women initiating it.

The issue is that gaming is becoming mainstream, sex has been an issue to begin with, and you really do need to see baby steps here when it comes to inclusion in non-pornographic games. We saw the same things with other media like movies. The first step is of course going to be to shut up, and stop tolerating, the lib-trolls and those who follow them. Do not pay attention to, or support those, making claims of an "ism" or an "ist" in an arguement when it comes to gaming. When someone makes a female protaganist or you see a girl get treated like a guy (brutalized, etc...) for dramatic effect in a game, do everything you can to shut down the critics. After all it's those critics and the noise they make that causes the industry to not want to go here. I mean heck, if we had pretty much done "Kane and Lynch" with a couple of scary sociopathic girls, just imagine the reactions to the torture scenes in the second game, instead of criticizing it for basically being crap (with the most glowing reviews calling it average) lib trolls would instead
have everyone focusing on it for being sexist. If you have a problem with a girl being tortured or whatever, but don't have a problem with it happening to a guy, no matter how justify it, your effectively part of the problem.

Hey, who knows, maybe we'll see a game with a BDSM relationship involved heavily involved in it's core, complete with graphic sex scenes, without the game being a straight out work of porn within our lifetimes. I could easily see things going that far, but as I said baby steps. Get it to the point where a typical "man takes the lead" relationship doesn't get attention, and people don't freak out every time something bad happens to an action-girl in a video game. Then maybe we'll start seeing more media where you have women being the truely aggressive ones (outside of porno games), and then from there perhaps into alternative lifestyles.

Such are my thoughts, I don't expect a lot of people to agree with me. I've said all this before, so I'm probably not to spend a lot of time argueing it here, since pretty much anything that can be said on the subject has already been said on these forums. I'm just including my point of view for the sake of completeness.
 

shiajun

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Somehow I think that the relliance of AAA publishers on one tiny, super narrow portion of what games can do has led to the exclusion of anything that doesn't resemble the armored, gruff badass dude. It was never so clear until I saw the poster advertising Crysis 3, Army of Two II and Deadspace 3 side by side. It's ridiculous how undistinguishable the art for the three games were. WIth marketing so freakishly afraid of touching anything that hasn't been proven to sell in the millions, it's no wonder the FPS male characters are sucking all the air in the industry for anything else. Other genres, some of them niche, are more diverse in their protagonists but they never get the limelight. For example, take the adventure game genre, briefly mentioned through Dreamfall in this video. There are tons of female leads there, usually pretty well characterized too. You could also mention the action/adventure games to mark the diversity. Lara Croft is the more prominent, but you could also put Jade, Chell, and even Faith in that category. Supergiant Games has a game coming out sort of in the vein of Bastion where the lead is a woman called Red. And let's not get started with RPGs, specially Japanese ones. My point is that the exclusion of females may not driven only by mysoginistic things, but by exclusion of diversity as a whole. Since the big developers have shut the door to anything resembling diversity in tone, mechanics, style or characters, women as leads, along with almost anything else, where left out in the cold.

On another note, it's sadder that there are people who defend males who can't empathize with anything that doesn't resemble them. That should be one of the virtues of gaming as medium, the ability to draw one in so much in through interaction as to generate empathy for the character, whoever they may be. I may take a lot of flack for the following, but if you can't find a way to step outside your ego enough to empathize with a female protaganist, because "eew, she's kissing a dude", then you probably have some issues to deal with in real life as well when it comes to social skills.
 

Bvenged

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How can you talk about something petty serious, yet have me in stitches laughing at the ending!

I play female characters quite often, about 75% of the time when the choice is given. Sometimes they're just more likeable as a character when done right to their male counterparts of similar games.
 

Trishbot

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As a girl gamer, I've had a problem with women's roles in games over the past decade or so.

My Playstation 1 library is filled with successful games STARRING badass, well-written, strong female characters: Aya Brea in Parasite Eve, Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 3, Regina in Dino Crisis, Lara Croft in Tomb Raider...

I own plenty of great games starring women, from the impeccable Metroid Prime Trilogy, Final Fantasy 6 and FFX-2("Lightning first female protagonist" my ass), Beyond Good & Evil, Alice: Madness Returns, Mirror's Edge, Portal 1 & 2, Heavenly Sword, Bayonetta, Perfect Dark, Eternal Darkness... and so many games where I create a female character, like in Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Jade Empire, Dragon Age, Silent Hill 3...

But I noticed a trend of these characters slowly losing their luster, their franchises losing steam, and the presence of women in the games industry going downward, reduced from leading roles to supporting roles.

"Aya Brea" in 3rd Birthday is a complete travesty and arguably the worst character assassination I've ever seen... alongside Samus's infamous and sorely remembered fall from the peak to the bottom of the barrel in Metroid: Other M, two games that took once highly respected, independent,powerful women and reduced them to whimpering, whining, incompetent bimbos. It is literally painful for me to remember those games and what they did to two of my childhood icons that inspired me as a young girl playing games.

But then you have games like Dino Crisis, whose serious was killed by DC3 (which had dinosaurs in space... and a male lead). Resident Evil hasn't had a female in the lead starring role since RE3 in 1999 (Revelations comes close), yet we've had 3 friggin' games with Chris "Punch Boulders" Redfield (I miss Claire and Rebecca so much).

Perfect Dark Zero was abysmal and killed off Lara Croft's biggest competitor, Heavenly Sword was decent but undersold, Bayonetta literally had Nintendo swoop in to publish the game when no one else would, Silent Hill decided to stick to badass men for their horror franchises for the past six installments, Beyond Good & Evil 2 is the great white buffalo of games at this point, Final Fantasy 13 is so badly written (and its female characters so unlikable) that I'm not sure it's even worth mentioning them...

I'm dying for more female characters in lead roles. Despite what some idiots claim, girl gamers don't just play Farmville and Bejeweled. I met my fiance playing Mortal Kombat and kicked his ass hard with Kitana. I play my Gears of Wars and Halos and God of Wars and Uncharteds and Bioshocks and Mass Effects.

But the industry can do much better. To hear that they're told outright "it has to be a male lead" irks me to no end. I am a woman gamer wishing to play as a woman hero, and I'm an underserved market drowning in a sea of bald space marines.

Tomb Raider can only keep me going for so long...
 

Treblaine

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Blachman201 said:
Sometimes... emotions are polygons. :david cage smirking evilly:
It's weird. He goes from lambasting Cage for his terrible and hackish approach to story-telling to suddenly a good example. He didn't seem to stop and consider there might be a reason why other than sexual insecurity of a few defective individuals.

I think there is a reason for a lack of intimacy of player-characters OUTSIDE the RPG genre, specifically where the player controls the level and pace of intimacy. Because Sterling has distinctly left out the many RPGs with deep character choices, there is lots of intimate relationships up to and beyond kissing but it's all with the player's consent.

Precisely because the playable character is not the object of the story but the subject of the story. This is NOT objectification. That term "Sexual objectification" was coined for passive media like Movies and even print advertising where the observer takes a completely passive role and the dynamics of depiction.

When the character is subject, it's just as jarring for them to kiss someone the player wouldn't want to kiss as for the player character to kill who they wouldn't want to kill, in a cutscene for example.

That's not to say the publisher is right that the male gamer has a categorical insecurity as I describe. Remember, publishers are mostly morons who know next to nothing about being creative. But there is a reason we don't see this anywhere, even in independent games.

This is where quicktime events can be useful, like in Tomb Raider Anniversary Lara kills Larson in a cutscene but the player has to press a button to have Lara actually pull the trigger. If the player doesn't do this, Larson kills her. So it's a choice but a choice with an unbearable alternative.

And again with the ending of Metal Gear Solid 3, you have to actually press to button to fire... and kill your final opponent.
 

shadowstriker86

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Krantos said:
...I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones off the top of my head
Portal 2, beyond good and evil, heart of the swarm could be added to that list

OP: Seriously? This is a problem still? I could have sworn that gender issues were a thing of the past like polio and the circus. And point blank you can blame the publishers because of one simple fact: They have the last word when it comes there being a female protagonist, and if they're the ones telling devs that they cant have a chick be a hero, well then, you have your answer. Personally I'd love to see an intelligent female anti-hero, like Boltie from "Super", in a game. It'd definitely be a hell of a lot better than a bimbo or a stock gun toting marine/super soldier cause at least it'd be DIFFERENT!
 

Erttheking

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jmarquiso said:
erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.
That's less laziness and more wariness of flame wars.
I was referring to the 82% Soldier Male Shep. All three are defaults.
How am I lazy for playing as a male and a soldier?
 

Lightknight

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Excellent video. I admit that early on I had a laundry list of unknowns that most people forget to think about, especially about that survey that stated that female-led games have very little marketing budgets compared to male ones without giving us any more information about specific data. And then, miraculously, Jim went on to actually list each one of those issues and unknowns. Bravo, Jim.

It's interesting that the game industry recognizes the importance of an avatar aligning closely with one's own self-identity but has failed to recognize that women gamers have surged to around half of the gaming industry's clientel (47% was the last legitimate study I saw). Perhaps they have more specific numbers on sex demographics by game genre (for example, if that 47% increase in gaming is only due to rise of iOS games then we may still have a significant sex disparity of their customer base. Or if there is a significant sex disparity between game genres).

As a rule, I generally expect companies to cater to their customers. If that's 80% Female and 80% Native American then gosh darn it I expect to see a Native American girl on the cover of their product. As is, with the information we have, it looks like they're simply ignoring the fact that there are girl gamers too and in almost equal proportions.

I do wonder if males respond differently to their female avatars engaging in romantic relationships with male characters than women do with male avatars engaging in romantic relationships with females. Is one sex more adverse to it than the other? Is the difference of adverseness enough to warrant a "you can't do that" response? I recall a study on the impact of minorities regularly playing with avatars that are white, for example. There is something to be said for an underlying impact of how that avatar is portrayed. I don't know if that merely comes down to homophobia (can it be called that if it's a woman on guy?) or if it's something that they find breaks immersion.

Hmm, what I wouldn't give for funding and a team of statisticians. So many questions and gracious few answers.
 

Darken12

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Moonlight Butterfly said:
Darken12 said:
Yeah I totally agree that we both have it bad with representation. I'm just worried that straight women will get a bit forgotten about. It's slightly ridiculous that we are having this conversation at all. We should have good representation for everyone. I'm sure we can all agree that gay guys are the worst off :(.

I didn't really find anyone to be antagonistic in that thread. Which was nice.
I personally don't think straight women are ever going to be cast to the wayside. If feminism finally manages to make strides into gaming, and we see more female protagonists, the odds are they will be mostly straight, since most feminists (and most women) are straight.

But yeah, anyone who wants some guy on guy action is going to be left sorely wanting by the game industry. Alas.

Oh, well, I'm glad. Good to see a controversial thread staying civil.
 

jmarquiso

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erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.
That's less laziness and more wariness of flame wars.
I was referring to the 82% Soldier Male Shep. All three are defaults.
How am I lazy for playing as a male and a soldier?
By pressing X (or whatever) and skipping character customization altogether.

I say again - all three are defaults.
 

Erttheking

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jmarquiso said:
erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.
That's less laziness and more wariness of flame wars.
I was referring to the 82% Soldier Male Shep. All three are defaults.
How am I lazy for playing as a male and a soldier?
By pressing X (or whatever) and skipping character customization altogether.

I say again - all three are defaults.
Don't really see how that's a big deal.
 

jmarquiso

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erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
erttheking said:
jmarquiso said:
To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.
That's less laziness and more wariness of flame wars.
I was referring to the 82% Soldier Male Shep. All three are defaults.
How am I lazy for playing as a male and a soldier?
By pressing X (or whatever) and skipping character customization altogether.

I say again - all three are defaults.
Don't really see how that's a big deal.
Makes it more likely to be picked.