Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

Uratoh

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This is the main reason I dislike Anita Sarkeesian and her more fanatical supporters. She's not WRONG on general premise (questionable though many of her examples may be), but she assumes such an inherently antagonistic position and refuses dialog unless it directly benefits her. We *NEED* dialog on this subject, and turning it into a fight doesn't help anyone in the long run.
 

GonzoGamer

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You don't have to prove to us that you're a game patriot Jim. But please stop making the kissing/slurping sounds. That shits going to give me nightmares.

I never got the feeling that there was much kissing in games to begin with. And if any guys feel gay when a game character they play is kissing another dude, they might be getting too much into it. It isn't you... it's a game.

And if every female game character HAS to have someone to snog, I think the devs need to re-evaluate how they're approaching the situation. Not every male game character has a romantic interest so why does every female. The chick from Portal seemed to do okay on her own...well, we had that cube but it promised it would never tell what we did with it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the only ways San Andreas could've been better is if Catlina was the protagonist. Besides the fact that her personality matched the way I play GTA more than CJ, I would've much rather looked at her backside for the hours and hours I played that game.
 
Dec 14, 2009
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knight steel said:
Daystar Clarion said:
It's 2013 and we still can't have woman in video games because of homophobic neckbearded manchildren.

I love playing women in video games, I pick female characters at every opportunity, always create women in Bethesda titles like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls, I just can't understand, in this day and age, that this attitude still exists.
OI stop using neck beard as an insult,for fucks sake it a legitimate look stop bashing it also some people can't grow facial hair any where else no matter how hard we try,your being just as bigoted as the people your criticising T_T
Neckbeards are bad and you should feel bad.



Come at me bro.
 

Ken_J

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And people wonder where Tropes V Women came from. Seriously we need more Women protagonists preferably ones that aren't simply legs and/or tits.
 

Jamane

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I will not lie Jim I had to watch your video twice because I fear it lost some of it's punch when you showed street sharks an I yelled JAWESOME!
 

grumpymooselion

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I think one of the few games I came across that allows you to play a female lead and be in a relationship with a male character is one might not count - because it's an RPG, and you make your own character. It's Mass Effect. Yeah, take away the blue alien space girls and the potential for lesbian relationships and . . . Female Shepard has at least two Human male relationships she can be in, long term, and two more I can think of with alien males.

I don't remember Mass Effect selling badly, but, then Bioware didn't actually promote Mass Effect with a female Shepard until Mass Effect 3. And then they made her default form, in ME3, look like someone had injected botox into her lips and all sorts of other wrong.

I'm not sure whether I'm noting this to say, "Look what they did" as a positive, or " . . . Look what they did . . . " as a negative but, hey, you know what? Look what they did.

-

I'm male.

Female protagonists don't offend me, in fact I quite like them, and a female protagonist being in a relationship with a male isn't any weirder for me than a female main character in a movie being in a straight relationship. That is to say, I don't find it weird at all.

That said, here's something I 'do' dislike. I dislike eveyr male lead character in gaming. I can't relate to them. They never have body types or hair styles I find to be anything like what I'd prefer. In RPGs where I can make my own character the male customization options are always the worst, and I never, even once, have liked them in the games I've played. Name a male lead in a game, and you'll be certain that I disliked how they looked and acted. The result is I often gravitate toward RPGs that let me choose a female lead, and play that instead - there's still a lot to be desired in terms of their customization options as well, and the constant chainmail bikinis and boob-plate annoy me to no end, but there are rare RPGs out there that let me do something that's actually interesting with a female lead.

Then again, where many men I know are damningly average or muscular freaks, I'm more interested in art, and dance. In school growing up I was considered effeminate, even gay, but the only relationships I've been are straight relationships. My hair is long, and I'm not muscular, I'm quite slender. I have have no way of relating to the steroid ridden, overly rugged looking freaks they pass off as Male Human beings on most of the covers of these games.
 

kurupt87

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Mar 17, 2010
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Jimothy Sterling said:
The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

The game industry doesn't want female characters. That is allegedly the message publishers have been sending to developers.

Watch Video
Most players play their game with their avatar as a representation of themselves. It's why most protagonists have fuck all in the way of story and are left relatively blank slated and trope-tastic. The protagonist is a vehicle for the player to enter the games world, s/he isn't really part of it.

The problem isn't that the protagonist is female, it's that it isn't male. That doesn't mean that one sex is better than the other, it means that one sex better represents the gamer than the other.

A game isn't passive like a book or a film, where you are told about the characters and their actions. It's active, the game is all about my actions. The avatar as vehicle for player will always be more popular than an avatar with its own story, male or female.
 

teamcharlie

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It's a rather sad and strangely conservative day when consenting adults have to fight for the rights to get married and mainstream media are too uptight to depict heterosexual sexual interaction even to the chaste point of a kiss between a man and a woman, but that's apparently where we are right now.

That being said, I'm glad there are prominent people like Jim around to help remind us that even being a decent, let alone good, person takes thought and effort in this climate of bigotry and ignorance.
 

Ishal

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Daystar Clarion said:
It's 2013 and we still can't have woman in video games because of homophobic neckbearded manchildren.

I love playing women in video games, I pick female characters at every opportunity, always create women in Bethesda titles like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls, I just can't understand, in this day and age, that this attitude still exists.
Same. In the RPG's I play through if I don't start out as a female character usually on the second play through I'll roll one.

One of my favorite characters from games ever was a female, and she was the protagonist! Jade, from Beyond Good and Evil!

I often wonder who these people are that can't fathom play as a female protagonist, they can't all be neckbeards. Its not going to change your repro parts to experience something from a female perspective.
 

Something Amyss

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Calibanbutcher said:
Well this video is just what these forums need right now.
Sadly, it is what the Escapist needs right now. It's what gaming needs. We'll get nowhere going with the grain.
 

Erttheking

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Phasmal said:
It's really really disappointing that this kind of thing is still around.
And even more so disappointing that the reaction to it is `Oh no, sexism thread!` as if not talking about it is going to fix anything (hint: It won't).

I for one am glad that the wider gaming community is more aware of this and female players don't have to sit around being invisible (`a dude like the player` indeed).
I would really like it if more of my fellow gamers who happen to be men could take their fingers out of their ears for a little bit and listen to the problems we have, and realize you have the luxury of ignoring them, but the ability of choosing not to. I am always grateful to the guys who are for more female protagonists/better representation.

Great episode Jim.
I dive for cover when these thread pop up because as the massive influx of recent threads have proved, the Escapist simply can't talk about these things in a civil manner. They always get out of hand and a mod always has to lock them, that's why I dread these threads. We don't have constructive discussions, we don't learn anything, we don't make any progress. We just shout and people get suspended and banned and the thread gets locked, then the process repeats itself.

I agree with what Jim says, but I don't want to talk about it with other people because it always turns into a fight and nothing ever changes. Besides, while I agree that we do need to work towards change, how is debating about it on the Escapist going to bring us closer to that? I think we're all on board with this being messed up (most of us anyway). If you want my advice, vote with your wallet, go out and buy Tomb Raider or start a petition, something to get the attention of publishers, that's what we need to do, not start a flame war for the umpteenth time.

Not to mention...didn't we have threads about these already? There was a thread where Epic said that they weren't going to make a female gears protagonist, we had a thread about Naught Dog fighting for the cover for The Last of Us, and we had multiple thread about the Bioshock cover, including the flip cover art, and we had a thread about that new game coming out (the name escapes me) and how the developer had a hard time getting it published. Jim didn't bring up a single thing that we haven't already had a thread about.
 

sonofliber

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honestly i never thought of something jim said, while i dont have any issues with female protagonist, honestly i think i would be unconfortable with the girl starting to make out with a dude in first person
 

Something Amyss

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Daystar Clarion said:
It's 2013 and we still can't have woman in video games because of homophobic neckbearded manchildren.
Homophobic? They're not afraid of homosexuality.

...Just that they'll enjoy it....
 

ToastiestZombie

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DVS BSTrD said:
daibakuha said:
DVS BSTrD said:
Okay, fuck it!
I always play as a male in character creation RPGs because I like projecting myself into a character.
Next time though, I'm gunna try playing as a woman. MY SENSE OF SELF CAN TAKE IT!

Jim, call me! <3
I do too, but only in RPGs. Games in which I project myself in them. In regular games where you don't have that kind of role-playing though? Relate-able characters should be relate-able regardless of gender.

Having said that, I'm more than willing to bet this is more an issue with the gaming audience rather than publishers being spineless. As much as anyone here is willing to admit that they would really like to see more female protagonists, most of the gaming audience is the "gunbro" type. Can you really blame a publisher for an attitude that they believe makes them the most money? Games aren't a charity.
Gunbros can play as gungals, people still bought Bayonetta, Tom Raider and Metroid didn't they?
Publishers just want to believe gamers are as insecure as they are.
Exactly. Most games with female protagonists are actually kind of bad, with the few that are good selling as well or better than games with male protagonists. I don't think it's a case of the gamers being insecure. Barely anybody didn't buy Super Metroid after they learnt in Metroid that Samus was a female, and that was when games was a massive male-centric hobby and a lot of gamers were teens unlike now where they've grown up. The Last Of Us is considered one of the most-anticipated PS3 games this year, because it looks good.
 

mrhateful

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Okay Ill be the first to admit that when I play a roleplaying game 9/10 times i go for playing a guy than a girl. And yes it is kinda weird playing a girl and hitting on other guys. I am not a homophobe and certain don't have anything against gays, and I don't guy games based on the cover. That I won't admit to i buy them based on the review and comments I hear from people. I mean the last game I brought was Tomb Raider.
I'm just putting it out there, instead of doing like Jim said people do in the video aka Say I like Black coffe(Playing a girl) Ill admit that if given the option ill probably buy the milky one(Playing a Guy). Since I'd rather play the game and avoid getting weird-ed out.
 

Kaiser6012

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DVS BSTrD said:
I always play as a male in character creation RPGs because I like projecting myself into a character.
Next time though, I'm gunna try playing as a woman. MY EGO CAN TAKE IT!
I'm not really sure that's the same thing. It's not about the choice of character for avatar insertion - some might say that playing RPGs serves not as an exercise for taking on another role, but serving as a measure of escapism (no pun intended) for the player - you're not taking on someone else's character, you're playing what you would be in that world. There are games like Mass Effect that blur the line by having what I think of as scripted soundbites that can be strung together into a personality and therefore a character, but RPGs that allow character creation to any meaningful extent, particularly personality and the way they respond to external stimuli, are by and large for the player to project upon or create a new character as they see fit.

Story-driven games, however, are another kettle of fish. Games like Heavy Rain, Bioshock or Final Fantasy possess no qualms with making characterizations for the PCs. They go out with the express purpose of allowing us to experience the story of those involved in the Origami Killer case, or Booker's tale or Zidane's personal struggle - not our reactions to that same story. Things will probably happen that you wouldn't do, even in a million years.

Here's an example (spoilers ahead, but it's for the original Bioshock, so...)
Remember in Bioshock when
You end up beating Andrew Ryan's head in with a golf club?

That was a fairly disturbing moment in an already disturbing game, but because I was caught up in the struggle between the characters involved, I was somewhat detached from the whole affair. If the same thing happened in Skyrim, though, it would break the realism because that's not what I'd do.

The problem stems, I suspect, from some elements of the gamer audience being unable to separate the character on-screen from themselves. It's an interesting thing to consider - after all, aren't the point of videogames to experience a story from inside another characters' head?
But when a character goes "out-of-character", the gamer is thrown out of the game because he's reminded that it's not really him. If he's playing a character outside his gender role (gay/lesbian, different gender etc.), he's suddenly jerked out of his massive power fantasy/tense survival scene because he's doing something he normally wouldn't do - that is, actions of an intimate nature with a person to which there is no sexual feeling.

Can I understand it? Yeah, of course. Do I condone it? It's your life, do with it what you will.
Do I approve of gender discrimination because of it? Hell. To. The. No.

TL;DR version (truncated probably beyond sensibility and/or message coherence, but whatevs): Maybe people forget that they're playing someone else sometimes and they're surprised when a dude starts hitting on "them". Doesn't mean studios should avoid women/gay/transgender/whatever PCs at all costs, though.
 

Diegolomac

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I find it strange that Jim didn't acknowledge Tomb Raider in this discussion, when the game came out like 3 weeks ago.
 

geizr

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Jim, that ending was priceless.

I would say that the anti-female attitude is something that has been so intrinsically intertwined into the game industry and gaming community over the decades that it will be impossible to ever determine any particular point of fault. It's a true meme in its ubiquity and in that likely few, if any, remember how, when, and where it even originated (though one could probably make a lot of good guesses); it perpetuates purely on the inertia of unquestioned tradition. It's an anachronistic, immature attitude (a "No girls allowed" clubhouse/treehouse), and it needs to be excised from both the industry and the community.

EDIT: minor edit.

ADDENDUM: I was not aware that John Riccitiello had resigned. I have to wonder if that was of his own accord or from the strong..."encouragement" of the board (Non-recovering stock price for so many years, hostile customer-base due to dissatisfaction; there're some significant issues EA has faced that have a tendency to promote board..."encouragement").

FURTHER ADDENDUM: I should add that the problem of the anti-female attitude seems to be mostly isolated to the triple-A market, yet again, whereas the more indie and small developer markets don't really have this overall hang-up.

Also, a quick google of John Riccitiello's resignation eventually lead me to this article with his resignation letter(s): http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/03/18/ea-ceo-john-riccitiello-is-resigning-heres-his-farewell-letter/
While the letters explicitly state that he is resigning for reasons of feeling personally accountable for EA's lagging performance, the tone, at least to me, feels like there may have been some "strong encouragement" that happened off-the-record leading up to this resignation. Of course, I could just be reading into it what I want to see.
 

Phasmal

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erttheking said:
I don't think the answer is to stop talking about it.
People get mad when it comes up, some people have hissy fits and be rude. Tough. It's not going away.
Most of the reason people throw shit-fits about it anyway is because they don't want it to be talked about.

Maybe you don't think anything changes, maybe you think everybody is already on one side or another, but I (maybe too optimistically) disagree.