Should Every Game Allow You to Choose Your Gender?


Trust me, I'm a Doctor.
Jul 30, 2013
I'll repeat what I say in every similar thread:

I prefer a well defined, well rounded, well voiced and written character, with strengths, flaws, and motivations, than the blandness of pick your own race/height/weight/gender/hair/nose.

Being a short half italian, half croatian dude living in south america, I've never ever felt ostracised due to the lack of representation of my demographic. I play games for fun. A good story with good gameplay is fun. If it's done right, the rest shouldn't matter and should be left to the artistic liberty of the creators.


New member
Jul 24, 2011
Aaron Sylvester said:
Rebel_Raven said:
Like Yahtzee says, there's almost no games out there where being a woman is relevant. Males get treated better than that.
But how does one make a female's gender specifically relevant to a game in the fps/action/adventure/rpg/etc genres that dominate the industry?
Mother rescuing her children? But if you threw that idea at a publisher they'd just convert it to father rescuing his children since male protagonists sell better and make for slightly more convincing men-of-action.

Rebel_Raven said:
But if there's no point in the gender one way, or the other, then why not have both genders be available? Make your work a bit more welcoming in exchange for it being shallow? Of course its optional, but expecting people to like it when you only pick one gender when the plot doesn't call for gender, is not going to go well.
Because designing, coding and animating an extra gender isn't free and effortless. "Why not just have optional stuff catering to EVERYONE?" is a very easy question to ask when you're not the one having to create all that. At that rate people will start asking every game two have multiple genders and at least 4 races (of all those genders) because it's apparently just so easy. Where does it end?

Sure if we're talking about an indie game using basic sprites/models then having tons of inclusive options isn't an issue, but the cost skyrockets if we're talking about AAA games using current/next-gen graphics. I mean when looking at something like The Witcher, a female option would involve cost/effort that I can't even begin to imagine. When you're sitting there as a dev for the 100th hour animating the woman's cheekbones (or something) you begin to wonder "exactly how many people are even going to play as her? Is this worth it?". If a dev doesn't ask that question, the publisher certainly will.

After Mass Effect had only something like ~18% playing as female Shepherd I think Bioware had to stay pretty damn determined to keep offering full-fledged female options. But not every dev is Bioware, not every dev has a corporate monster like EA backing them. They either have to create something that sells or shoot their own profits in the foot.

I don't fault you for wanting more female protagonists/options, it's perfectly understandable. But you'll having to keep putting up with this for a very long time to come :p
Of course the industry would chew up every woman dominated story, and spit out a male dominated one. I hate parts of the industry for a reason. Well, reasons, really.
Even if you get to play as a woman from start to finish, odds are good some guy would save them in the end, or something because the woman's too weak to finish the plot herself.

Really, honestly, just give women -relationships-, and that'll do a good bit. It's rare a played woman has one. Give them sex scenes. Have them married.
You pretty much nailed it on the head. In short, give them plots that involve their gender.

I'm pretty easy to please. A character creation engine, even recycled from another game works for me. It'll help cover appearances. gender, skin color, maybe a bit of shape of assorted parts like the face, and body. It'd be up to the plot if it covers LGBT.
Indie seems more likely to lack a character creation engine than AAA, IMO. I'm sure almost every major company out there has a character creation engine in some game some where. If a boat load of companies can get away with poaching, and recycling them, others can, too.

I think Mass Effect had a bit of a PR problem, really. It wasn't until late in Mass Effect 3 that they even really advertised femshep. Until them, Femshep was word of mouth. I think it helps to advertise inclusiveness. Heck, I don't really remember anything but the war/shooting being advertised. What about romances to let people know the game isn't some third person shooter/war game?
Mass Effect seemed to have something for everyone, but almost all of it was ignored as far as advertisement goes.
Still, I loved the series. I played it from start to finish, and carried over many femsheps, and liked Multiplayer for the most part, but that's another can of worms. I ended up wondering a bit if they wanted to keep being so determined to put it brief.

And again, I'm not saying -every- game needs gender choices. I just wish women would be more on the front lines of the games that don't have them.
I'm not asking a game to cater to everyone. I'd like to think I know better than that, though Saint Row got close, I'd say.
Anyone that stops, and thinks about it will likely realize that you can't please everyone, I'd like to think.
I look more into the big picture, unless there's companies playing politics, or some such, like Ubisoft did with their most recent games. The industry can be more diverse, especially in the AAA area.

The industry could advertise a bit more inclusiveness, IMO. Let people know these games are out there as opposed to force people to scour the internet for games with potential. I've been there. It sucked.
Advertising can make or break a game, honestly. Sure, we have unstoppable juggernauts like GTA, Cod, and battlefield, but if people don't know the game exists, they aren't likely to buy it, and they certainly can't be expected to look for it reasonably.

Honestly, I think it's getting a little better than what it was a few years ago, or even a year ago, women being playable, I mean. It might keep getting better. It's why I'm generally not as ticked as I was.
Then again, I feel like it was like this in the girl power era of the 90's, and, well, that dried up for a dozen years which lead to me being ticked off something fierce.


New member
Jan 8, 2010
Should all games allow you to choose your gender?

Very few people advocate that anyway. Wanting more female protagonist or the option to chose in multiplayer and games where the protagonist is basically interchangeable is not all games.

Games in which gender doesn't matter should let you choose your gender? If the gender doesn't matter, why should we care?

Didn't you already answer that? it might not be important to the narrative but it can be important to the players and gender carries a whole bunch of cultural bias so merely changing the gender can change how its perceived.

I don't think that hero-damsel enforces misogyny. After all, the protagonist, the male, is the one who has it worst. He's the one who has to put himself at pain, and even die, over and over again, in an endless cycle of torment, for the benefit of the women. Yeah, 'damsels in distress' tend to be shallow characters without much agency, but who has less agency than the protagonist? The one that can't so much as lift a finger if the player doesn't press a button telling them to?

Of course I don't believe that hero-damsel narratives are actually misandrous. I'm trying to illustrate something I was taught on my first day of media studies: that the same facts can support a wide range of conflicting agendas, depending on how you frame them.

If that was you intent you failed because those arguments are bogus. For a start the player character being unable to do something without player input is (most of the time) a gameplay thing not part of narrative or that character. You the player are that character. The protagonist is not sitting around with their thumb up their ass until some outside force tells them to do something nor do they die over and over (again most of the time). Its also not about who technically goes through the most shit. Its about how the characters are portrayed. The hero has agency, the hero fight back, the hero overcomes adversity and proves themselves to skilled, capable and worthy of respect and as a reward they get ride off into the sunset with their pretty new toy. The damsel is just a victim. Weak, helpless, useless, incapble. The fact that others go through trials on their behalf only compounds their shame. Fuck the victim.

In truth, I don't think hero-damsel is misandrous or misogynistic. I think the worst you could say about it is that it appeals to gender roles that are part of our base, emotional instincts, the animal brain stating that men need to be the big strong defenders going into harm's way to protect the poor fragile women who can't be expected to save themselves, thus ensuring the continued survival of the species.

And if I object to that, it's because it's lazy, and tired, not because it's slanderous or unrepresentative of me.

Being the strong heroic protector is slanderous now?

furthermore, if we're talking about using it as a blatant placeholder plot in order to concentrate on creating a raw, cathartic gameplay experience (like in Painkiller, say), then I'm all for that as well, not much point in trying to be thoughtful in an admitted turn-your-brain-off kind of game, pass the shotgun.

If you really want to keep using it just because it makes for a cheap story to build gameplay around it would be simple enough to gender flip it every once in a while. It not like that takes any effort. The woman can be the capable one who proves their worth and guy can be the weeping useless victim waiting for someone to claim them.
But that wouldn't have the same effect would it? because when we are talking about a shallow avatar for the player to project onto gender does make a difference and woman get sympathy because they aren't expected to be able to take care of themselves in the first place and because they have a womb. If the victim is male most men aren't going to want him as a prize and will see how shameful that position is.


New member
Jul 28, 2008
I wouldn't say all games need to allow you to choose your gender, but I would say "can this game allow for main character gender choice" is a question all game writers (writing games with a gendered character) should be able to answer, even if only to themselves. Just as I think all game writers should be able to answer "why is *this* the main character and not (fill in the supporting character here)? what would change if it were their story instead of this character's story?"

These are things that help you get to know your own story better. Asking what happens to your story if the character is female instead of male, or black instead of white, or this kind of alien instead of human, or this one's story and not that one's are ways to refine your story. If you really do have a bland blank-slate protagonist, it will quickly become obvious-- and if it doesn't matter to your story whether the MC is male or female but it does matter to your audience, do it. I don't want to see truly good story sacrificed for player choice, but it would help to first be sure you've actually got a truly good story.


Indulge in it's whiffy sensation
May 9, 2013
flying_whimsy said:
I once asked in the forums about what would constitute a female power fantasy as I have never seen one that was made by women. The responses I got were largely "I don't know" from women and "it'd be just like a male power fantasy" from men. I would honestly like to see one.
Last time I saw a thread with OP asking what we consider female power fantasies we answered pretty clearly. Of course it quickly turned into a shouting match between OP and female Escapist users because most of us dared to say we didn't see Morrigan from Darkstalkers as a female power fantasy. So you can understand why most of us don't even bother with threads like that anymore.


New member
Sep 18, 2014
You know the transgender people will start making demands the only game that will give in to them would be THE SIMS


New member
Jun 14, 2011
Yahtzee you brilliant bastion of sensibility, you've hit it right on the nail.

The same can be applied to other problematic tropes, for example I had difficulty identifying with the main character in the first season of The Walking Dead, not because he was black, but because he was a murderer and cared for a child. Whereas I could identify with Clem from the second season, who is able to be played as a character that is somewhat similar to my personality. The fact that she is a girl, or a child for that matter, is irrelevant.


New member
Nov 6, 2014
The bit that stuck out to me was this:
"Of course I don't believe that hero-damsel narratives are actually misandrous. I'm trying to illustrate something I was taught on my first day of media studies: that the same facts can support a wide range of conflicting agendas, depending on how you frame them. In truth, I don't think hero-damsel is misandrous or misogynistic. I think the worst you could say about it is that it appeals to gender roles that are part of our base, emotional instincts, the animal brain stating that men need to be the big strong defenders going into harm's way to protect the poor fragile women who can't be expected to save themselves, thus ensuring the continued survival of the species."

Humans don't have those animal instincts. We're born with about 6 "animal" instincts.
* Suck on things put in our mouths.
* Grab things put in our hands.
* Curl our toes when you tickle our feet.
* Do the Heisman Trophy pose when you tickle our backs.
* Fear snakes (not making this one up, it's real).
* Learn stuff.

The whole "men need to be the big strong defenders going into harm's way to protect the poor fragile women" is something trained in through our culture, and it starts when we're little babies and girls are held more than boys. It becomes a reflex, but there's nothing in our animal brains that tells us our gender roles. These instincts can also be trained out of us. We are primed to be afraid of snakes, but how many people think snakes are awesome and keep them as pets? How many people immediately suck on anything stuck in their mouths?

The difference between animal instincts and culture is that culture can be changed.


New member
Apr 29, 2015
BloodWriter said:
Karadalis said:
To bad that yathzees arguments have in the past also been decryed as mysoginistic propaganda.
That's funny, because in some circles he's been called Es-Jay-Dubya for always going on about the "white guy killing Mexicans/Puerto Ricans/South Americans" thing in Uncharted and such reviews.

It's quite a turning point here for the whole game journalist and consumer sphere to look at what is said and done, and examine why. Applies to plots and development of games as well.

Is it important to have a female protagonist to choose from in Assasin's Creed? I can't say. I mostly play games because they're fun and interesting, I don't necessarily need a self-insert, I want to have gameplay that's fun and enjoyable. When I play Risk of Rain I don't look at the pixels of the Engineer and think if it's a man or a woman. If you do, you have some looking in the mirror to do and ask yourself - why?
Why was this dude banned for this comment?