Ubisoft: Straighter. Whiter. Duder.

Inuprince

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As other people said, the series at least had characters of different ethnicities, despite having only one game with a female main character. Oh yes, and although not in game, there was this asian female assassin in the short animated film Assassins Creed : Embers, who visited Ezio in his last days and helped him fend off an attack on his house.
Plus I would argue that despite a lack of female player characters, the series has had a lot of interesting female characters in them, which unlike in other games, they aren't there to be put in sexy outfits, they are part of the story and the events that unfold...leaders of rebellions, family members, guild leaders, the love interests and even an antagonistic one in Lucrezia Borgia(even if secondary to Rodrigo).
So come on people we don't even know what we will get with Assassins Creed : Comet ...

Sure the first excuse of it being costly for a company this big, even if it is more expensive, they have 8 of their studios work on one franchise, sounds like bullsh*t. If they had originally planned ahead, since development began in 2010 apperantly, they could have possibly implemented female assassins and worked it in.
This is the route they went with, as I said before, not making the characters more varied, is just a loss for them, because taking more effort, they really could have reached a wider audience, attracted new people to the franchise, but apperantly they think their current demographic is enough, or really wanted to go on this safe route.

However after learning about the fact that the player always sees themselves as Arno, this whole issue is meaningless on the basis that yes the option was never there to play as a female assassin BUT there was never any chance of playing as the other male assassins either.
This should have been the reason given at first, and there wouldn't be this much of a backlash ... there's just one protagonist, despite the 4 player co-op the big new feature they seem to be trumpeting which looks good, but would have been much better if the option was there to choose which character you want to play a certain mission.
I wouldn't put it past them to keep the 4 player formula in later games, if the audience response is positive, and maybe in later titles everyone can be a seperate assassin, any gender they like.
 

Bluestorm83

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Honestly and truly, anyone who refuses to play a game series because the main character doesn't have BLANK in common with them is childish and shallow. I mean, so what? I played the PS Vita game, and Aveline had nothing at all in common with me. She was Black, Female, aristocratic, an athlete, a killer, etc. So what? I say again; so FUCKING what?

I really can not believe how petty this is.
 

NinjaDeathSlap

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Sgt. Sykes said:
That's... a large leap of logic from where we are right now. If your predictions are right (and I don't think they are), then more fool the publishers for not taking the issue seriously, and thinking that we will be so easily satisfied. We want diverse characters, not cynical, check-box driven character models with tits. If that's what the publishers will serve us in an effort to shut us up, we will notice, and we will continue to complain about it until they get it right.

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times... Nobody is calling for the arbitrary inclusion of women or ethnic minorities in every game. Nobody is suggesting imposing a legislative gateway, meaning that new games can't be published until they hit A, B, and C watermarks for supposed 'diversity'. Trying to argue that people who complain about a lack of diversity now are arguing in favour of that vision of the future, is either a painful misunderstanding of what the issue is, or a deliberate attempt to derail said issue out of fear of any sort of change. It's not a question of what videogames have to do, but rather what they should be doing, for their own good as much as anyone else's. The industry should be recognising that gamers have a appetite for something different than what their getting at the moment, and that there are large swathes of the market than are currently under-represented. Ubisoft, and other publishers like them, could stand to make even more profit than they do already, if they were willing to put out just one game each, annually, that sought to probe these currently untapped wells of money... except they'd rather pretend these markets don't exist, because appealing to them would actually require that they left their comfort-zone for 5 seconds and actually took a risk.

As was said, rightly, in the latest Jimquisition: Ubisoft is always harping on about how it wants to 'appeal to a wider audience'. It's this drive which is making them, ironically, shove the same pile of extra features they can think of into every single IP they own. Two games that I've played recently are AC4 and Far Cry 3. To be fair, I enjoyed both games; and yet, it still struck me, how two games that are allegedly in two vastly different genre's, settings, and even periods of history, basically had the same collection of side-quests and mini-games as each-other. This is not offering a wider range of choice. This is the exact opposite of that.

Here's the thing, Ubisoft... You're pretty much set for straight white dudes. Every straight white dude from my generation that I know already plays games like the ones you make. I'm not even being hyperbolic, literally every single one. You have more straight white dudes giving you money than you ever gonna need already, and you're certainly not going to get any more of us on board just by offering more of the same. If you're really sincere about 'appealing to a wider audience', then the first thing you need to do is start looking towards people who aren't straight white dudes; and hey, it's not like you're risking losing the business of the straight white dudes by doing that, because, shockingly enough, the idea of playing as a woman, or a black person, every once in a while doesn't actually scare most of us.

I don't want to see a future where the game industry is dictated to include women and minorities for the sake of including women and minorities. I want to see a future where that happens naturally because everyone agrees that it's a good idea. Trust me, there will never be a shortage of straight white dudes as videogame protagonists. If that's what you want, then they're always going to be out there. However, there is room for more than that. There is will in the market for more than that, and stubborn fans and companies alike denying that that will exists, and coming up with increasingly desperate excuses not to do it, is just really sad.
 

Silvanus

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Bluestorm83 said:
Honestly and truly, anyone who refuses to play a game series because the main character doesn't have BLANK in common with them is childish and shallow. I mean, so what? I played the PS Vita game, and Aveline had nothing at all in common with me. She was Black, Female, aristocratic, an athlete, a killer, etc. So what? I say again; so FUCKING what?
It may have been less of an issue because you still had eight million other games that did represent you. It's very easy to say "so EFFING what?" when the issue doesn't affect you.

Lightknight said:
Here's the deal, you're an investor. You have $100 to invest. Now, you don't actually care about the market as a whole, you are but one entity and your goal is to make the largest return possible on that money. Do you invest in a game focused squarely on the vast majority of the gaming demogrpahic or do you try to make a statement by focusing on the extreme minority at the risk of alienating a non-trivial portion of the majority?
First of all, even accepting your own numbers, female gamers are not an "extreme minority". That's just silly.

Secondly, not all investors are completely risk-averse. Not all games must cater to the largest demographic. Hell, more people play FPS than RTS, but RTS games still get made-- and make money-- because they have their own buyers, and are not simply trying to do the same thing as the biggest releases.
 

zombiejoe

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I'm fine with the criticism towards Ubisoft being lazy and not making more interesting characters because they don't want to fork over the cash.
I'm fine with the criticism towards Ubisoft being stupid by making up an excuse like it was simply impossible for them to make a female co-op character
All that criticism is fine and I support it.

But I hate how the debate is being focused less on Ubisoft's poor decisions and more on the fact that people are making the idiotic claim that Ubisoft is somehow part of a "straight white dude" problem.

For starters, this is Assassins Creed, a series that prides itself on exploring different cultures, a series that has had multiple games where you're not just a "white dude." But for some reason, the instant that Ubisoft does something stupid, all of the good they've done is forgotten. No, now they're just the part of the evil patriarchy forcing white men down our throats. I know that's not what this issue is about, but it keeps being turned into that. Just look at the title of this article. "Straighter. Whiter. Duder." It just provokes the extremes on both sides to come in and play, the people who think there's a literal conspiracy in the game's industry to keep the white man on top, and the people who think there is a literal conspiracy by the "SJWs" to take over the game industry.

I just want people to be aware of what the real issue is, and not spin it into just another us versus them fight that will be forgotten in a week.
 

Shamus Young

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NinjaDeathSlap said:
Nobody is calling for the arbitrary inclusion of women or ethnic minorities in every game.
I'd say the message is already quite convoluted and mixed when carried in a way of sarcastic tweets, angry video rants and entitled blog posts, such as the way of The Escapist.

It will get even more mixed and filtered when getting to the CEOs and whatnot of the publishers. Do you really expect to get more from them than a 'include women' checkbox?

In fact it's probably difficult to get it any other way when 500 people are working on one game.

TBH I really hate it when there's a movie or TV show cast with, say, 4 white guys and 1 black guy. In many cases it just completely screams 'we needed to cast a black guy'. It didn't get very far from the period when the black guy was always the first to die in a movie.

All the talks about inclusiveness, when it comes to fiction characters, is just dodging the issue. Either we decide to disregard gender and race completely, or we let the artists/writers/designers decide who to include and who to not include. Both these options mean that we may end up being unhappy with a particular piece for not including what we'd like. Anything else is just dictating.

And I know, games are supposed to be both art and product. Okay. If anything, it means it will be forever just a compromise.

The industry should be recognising that gamers have a appetite for something different than what their getting at the moment
That's true, but that is more about diversity in game genres and mechanics - basically the BIG issues, rather than some details like the gender of the characters.

Really, a gender, race or other attribute of a character is a minor thing (unless it's a big part of a story, like pregnancy). Arguing so vehemently about this is just like arguing that a game should include a particular weapon.

Now, a call for "realistic, fleshed-out, 3-dimensional characters" makes sense, but if you just take out one aspect and make a big deal out of it, then it really just boils down to a checkbox.

Here's a test: would Tomb Raider, or Beyond G&E be vastly different games if they included guys as main characters? Or kittens? Or alien robots? The characters would need to change somewhat but it wouldn't really effect much of the games.

What I'm getting at is that when it comes to characters, gamers want better characters, which inherently means more diversity, but the actual message being sent looks more like 'need women' checkbox.


Ubisoft, and other publishers like them, could stand to make even more profit than they do already, if they were willing to put out just one game each, annually, that sought to probe these currently untapped wells of money...
Again, agreed when it comes to game mechanics and other major parts, but I fail to see how would including different characters help selling vastly more games.

It's almost implying that women would buy more games with women characters, black people would buy more games with black characters, or gay people would buy more games with guy characters, which is...

In other words, I've never bought a game, a book or checked out a movie or show just because character A is X or Z (not since I stopped reading/watching pieces about teenagers anyway). The important part is whether the character attributes make sense.

Okay, I get it that too many games these days have the same copycat main character, but what if each of those character copies would have distinct, fleshed out personalities? Would it STILL be that much of a problem that they look the same? I think the issue would be much smaller or nil. And if that's the case (I may be wrong), then the rants completely miss the target by pointing out the minor attributes like gender and race instead of larger story/character issues.

Your comparison of FC3 and AC4 sort of proves that - it's not that the characters look the same, it's that the games are the same.

Call of Duty gets so much flak because the games are the same, even though the characters themselves are actually quite varied (for the purpose anyway).


I don't want to see a future where the game industry is dictated to include women and minorities for the sake of including women and minorities. I want to see a future where that happens naturally because everyone agrees that it's a good idea.
I don't see the difference. Who is 'everyone'? What does 'good idea' means? If 'everyone' means artists and designers, then the best idea is to let them do whatever they want to do, and it's up to you to pick what you want to play.

It is certainly not good if every designer in the world suddenly decides that it's a 'good idea' to include minorities even into stories where it wouldn't make sense.

Which leads me back to the original issue - nobody has played ACU yet, we have no idea what the game story is - how can we know how including or not including women would affect it?


Trust me, there will never be a shortage of straight white dudes as videogame protagonists. If that's what you want, then they're always going to be out there.
Not sure where you get that impression from me. What I'm saying is that I don't actually care. I seriously believe that if every game from now on would have Asian females as main characters, I wouldn't care any more or less than I do now.
 

Lightknight

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Silvanus said:
First of all, even accepting your own numbers, female gamers are not an "extreme minority". That's just silly.
Less than 20% even with being the most generous with how we arrive at those numbers, not just a little minority like 40%/60%, but the extreme minority. Outnumbered by four times. I mean, sure, it's not 1% but it is a huge disparity.

Secondly, not all investors are completely risk-averse. Not all games must cater to the largest demographic. Hell, more people play FPS than RTS, but RTS games still get made-- and make money-- because they have their own buyers, and are not simply trying to do the same thing as the biggest releases.
AAA investors are. They want big and safe. I don't see anyone bitching about Stanley Parable not having more lesbian protagonists. It's the AAA games we complain about and these are the games with corporate investors most of the time.

RTS games are an interesting game model. They are actually have a decent proportion of female consumers from what little research I've seen. There are game types where this would be less of a risk than others. But there's at least decent evidence in the way of large AAA action games that would indicate a lower female participation than other genres garner. As I've said, the same goes for literature and movies.
 

Silvanus

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Lightknight said:
Less than 20% even with being the most generous with how we arrive at those numbers, not just a little minority like 40%/60%, but the extreme minority. Outnumbered by four times. I mean, sure, it's not 1% but it is a huge disparity.
Well, you can judge it that way, I suppose, but it's a significant chunk of the market. To call it an "extreme" minority still sounds absurd to me. It's a fifth. Marketers take fifths of the market into consideration, if they're any good at their job.

Lightknight said:
AAA investors are. They want big and safe. I don't see anyone bitching about Stanley Parable not having more lesbian protagonists. It's the AAA games we complain about and these are the games with corporate investors most of the time.

RTS games are an interesting game model. They are actually have a decent proportion of female consumers from what little research I've seen. There are game types where this would be less of a risk than others. But there's at least decent evidence in the way of large AAA action games that would indicate a lower female participation than other genres garner. As I've said, the same goes for literature and movies.
And yet, I rarely see arguments that films and literature should stick to grizzly hetero white males, regardless of the genre. There's a more adult attitude, and I don't see why people who love games (as I do and, I assume, you do too) would want to hold those games to a lower standard.

As for AAA attitudes, that partway explains why the production costs of AAA titles is monumentally absurdly large, and yet rarely comes with a reflective level of quality in comparison with non-AAA titles.
 

Robert Marrs

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People need to get realistic about what representation actually is. I would say that if you factor in that actual numbers on how many women are buying and playing AAA titles the representation is still a bit light but much nowhere near what people are making it out to be. Anyone with a functioning brain can realize that the studies that show 50% (or whatever close that number) include all games with anything from halo to candy crush and Ubisoft probably knows exactly what their demographics are. When the market calls for more female characters the publishers/developers will follow suit. Until then this is nothing more than emotion trumping logic.
 

Lightknight

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Silvanus said:
Lightknight said:
Less than 20% even with being the most generous with how we arrive at those numbers, not just a little minority like 40%/60%, but the extreme minority. Outnumbered by four times. I mean, sure, it's not 1% but it is a huge disparity.
Well, you can judge it that way, I suppose, but it's a significant chunk of the market. To call it an "extreme" minority still sounds absurd to me. It's a fifth. Marketers take fifths of the market into consideration, if they're any good at their job.
Absolutely, I don't disagree at all. But when they're basing the only protagonist off of that market then they're going to lean a lot more heavily towards the 80%. Wouldn't you agree?

What's more is the actual number is 18.4% and this is the most generous number I can give them. If we take into account differences in rate of console ownership by gender (which I simply don't have numbers on or I would) or if we evaluate differences in preference of game genre then the number could dwindle even further. Still, even if it hit 10% that's still a valid demographic and we DO see games making that adjustment now. We've begun to get a lot of them recently and that's a good thing.

Please bear in mind, I know me presenting their side of things sounds like I'm against females as protagonists in games. I'm not against that at all and generally haven't been dissuaded by it. There were times where I was frustrated by Lara Croft's screaming in Tomb Raider but I loved the game.

Lightknight said:
AAA investors are. They want big and safe. I don't see anyone bitching about Stanley Parable not having more lesbian protagonists. It's the AAA games we complain about and these are the games with corporate investors most of the time.

RTS games are an interesting game model. They are actually have a decent proportion of female consumers from what little research I've seen. There are game types where this would be less of a risk than others. But there's at least decent evidence in the way of large AAA action games that would indicate a lower female participation than other genres garner. As I've said, the same goes for literature and movies.
And yet, I rarely see arguments that films and literature should stick to grizzly hetero white males, regardless of the genre. There's a more adult attitude, and I don't see why people who love games (as I do and, I assume, you do too) would want to hold those games to a lower standard.

As for AAA attitudes, that partway explains why the production costs of AAA titles is monumentally absurdly large, and yet rarely comes with a reflective level of quality in comparison with non-AAA titles.[/quote]Actually, books only require one person and can easily be a labor of love rather than a corporate investment. The larger AAA movies often do stick to the white hetero males or have I been watching the wrong movies? It depends on the genre of the movie but there are absolutely still strong trends. As video game development becomes more and more easy for indie developers and small studios to gain access to the market (like books and movies have become), we will begin to see more niche games getting developed and the AAA studios will mimic the ones that work. I mean, look at the horror genre, everyone thought it was dead to rights and a few indie successes threw AAA gaming right back into the fray of true horror genre development. That is niche and yet profitable.
 

Silvanus

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Lightknight said:
Absolutely, I don't disagree at all. But when they're basing the only protagonist off of that market then they're going to lean a lot more heavily towards the 80%. Wouldn't you agree?
Not quite to the degree we see, no. I would expect the market to lean in their favour, but I would expect a little more originality and exploration than we see now.

Lightknight said:
What's more is the actual number is 18.4% and this is the most generous number I can give them. If we take into account differences in rate of console ownership by gender (which I simply don't have numbers on or I would) or if we evaluate differences in preference of game genre then the number could dwindle even further. Still, even if it hit 10% that's still a valid demographic and we DO see games making that adjustment now. We've begun to get a lot of them recently and that's a good thing.

Please bear in mind, I know me presenting their side of things sounds like I'm against females as protagonists in games. I'm not against that at all and generally haven't been dissuaded by it. There were times where I was frustrated by Lara Croft's screaming in Tomb Raider but I loved the game.
No worries, I appreciate that.

Lightknight said:
Actually, books only require one person and can easily be a labor of love rather than a corporate investment. The larger AAA movies often do stick to the white hetero males or have I been watching the wrong movies? It depends on the genre of the movie but there are absolutely still strong trends. As video game development becomes more and more easy for indie developers and small studios to gain access to the market (like books and movies have become), we will begin to see more niche games getting developed and the AAA studios will mimic the ones that work. I mean, look at the horror genre, everyone thought it was dead to rights and a few indie successes threw AAA gaming right back into the fray of true horror genre development. That is niche and yet profitable.
It takes only one person to write a book, but publishers and publicity and contracts will frequently make the difference between exposure and a release never seeing the light of day. As for movies, I would venture that if movies as a medium were following the same recipes to the stifling extent that games were, then fewer and fewer women would watch them too-- and then people may well start saying that, well, not many women watch movies anyway, do they? They're only a small part of the market.

My point is, they don't need to be only a small part of the market. They're a small part of the gaming market because the choices cater overwhelmingly to men, not the other way around.

The horror genre holds some of the greatest and most recognisable titles in gaming's history. Resident Evil, Silent Hill, etc. It wasn't the gamers who thought horror was dead-- that's something I'm convinced Jim Sterling's right about. Developers simply made their decisions and moved away from horror because they had decided franchises would work better if they were the same as all the other franchises.
 

PCPLX

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Tangential but relevant question: So, is this co-op mode in AssCreed Unity available in the open world, or is it a self contained gameplay module? I've long thought full-on sandbox multiplayer would be fun in AC, but if you have to get there through the menu, or only in specific world locations, then it seems like a pretty lame gimmick.

I also wanted to say that I appreciate the tone of this article. It's a good use of the technocrat's perspective to eliminate the unnecessary technical specifics in order to isolate the real issue, rather than overindulge in them in order to seem knowledgeable while hiding behind technical arcana. So, props to the author. Also, as a frustrated politically moderate gamer, I really like how this piece talks about important progressive issues in games while not being as smugly party-line liberal as a lot of Escapist content has been lately. Cheers.
 

Gregory Wollf

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Thank you for building this piece, I appreciate the balanced stance. You're analysis confirms my own personal ideas that the people who say "creating female characters is a lot of work," and the people who say "you can create female characters in just a day," are essentially talking about two different things. While perhaps not as entertaining as Jim Sterling's criticism I think it cuts through to the point where popular criticism has missed the mark.
 

Lightknight

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Silvanus said:
Lightknight said:
Absolutely, I don't disagree at all. But when they're basing the only protagonist off of that market then they're going to lean a lot more heavily towards the 80%. Wouldn't you agree?
Not quite to the degree we see, no. I would expect the market to lean in their favour, but I would expect a little more originality and exploration than we see now.
The problem is that you're looking in agreggate. If you're a developer or writer making a story for YOUR game then you're only looking at making your own game for the market you see before you. If you ever look at another game it's to look at what was done right and what wasn't. This isn't like hiring people and then looking back and realizing that your hiring practices are statistically racist. This is like hiring one person and that's it.

It is not Asscred's developers responsibility that other developers also catered to the largest demographic. People are pretending like things should follow natural trends but that's not the case. Every new game has a set of developers thinking only of their game and what the face of their target market is. Until the vast majority of those faces stops being male then we're going to continue to see male protagonists. I'm sorry if this upsets you or anyone else but it's the same reason why the majority voters will always win until they're not majorities. There's simply strength in numbers. I get that. It's reasonable of them as a company to go that way.

I agree that it's perfectly reasonable for us to express the demand for diverse characters. But it's unreasonable for us to go all "ur racist/sexist" when they cater to the largest market segment there is. If I go into the panty hose business I'm not going to focus any significant resources on making my stockings ball-friendly. If I see enough demand I may make some side models but the main lines of panty hose is going to remain the same for the comfort of my main clientele.

It takes only one man to write a book, but publishers and publicity and contracts will frequently make the difference between exposure and a release never seeing the light of day.

The horror genre holds some of the greatest and most recognisable titles in gaming's history. Resident Evil, Silent Hill, etc. It wasn't the gamers who thought horror was dead-- that's something I'm convinced Jim Sterling's right about. Developers simply made their decisions and moved away from horror because they had decided franchises would work better if they were the same as all the other franchises.
Ok, I'm uncertain what the point is though? What the gamers "thought" was irrelevant until it was proven to be financially viable by less risk adverse groups. That really only serves to prove the point and agrees with Jim that these AAA publishers are out of touch regardless. Unless someone shows them that something isn't that risky, then it's extremely rare we'll see big risks being taken. It looks like Sony of all companies is willing to take these risks for some reason.

And here's something to actually consider. Maybe this doesn't do what we think it will? Maybe it does lose far more male gamers than the female gamers it gains? We have to consider the idea that there actually is a difference between sexes in gaming preferences in the same way there is in movies. It is not sexist to consider this possibility. Marketing products to the wrong demographics will lose you money. However, this opens up a much better realm of possibility. That games made for men won't have a female character slapped in it. We could eventually see games actually made for women. Not that women can't like dudebro action games. I mean, I'm likely going home to play COD with my wife in five minutes because that's what she wants to do. But why not have games that fit that romance genre or whatever else we find are different between us when large numbers are taken into account?
 

McMarbles

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Remember when there was that controversy about Nintendo leaving gay marriage out of Tomodachi Life, and they made that really stupid statement about "social commentary", and the Internet blew up? And then they made a much better statement and it pretty much went away?

Yeah, this is that all over again. It's less the choice they made, more the insanely stupid excuse they used to defend it.
 

hermes

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Silvanus said:
Bluestorm83 said:
Honestly and truly, anyone who refuses to play a game series because the main character doesn't have BLANK in common with them is childish and shallow. I mean, so what? I played the PS Vita game, and Aveline had nothing at all in common with me. She was Black, Female, aristocratic, an athlete, a killer, etc. So what? I say again; so FUCKING what?
It may have been less of an issue because you still had eight million other games that did represent you. It's very easy to say "so EFFING what?" when the issue doesn't affect you.
But the Assassins Creed games were never made to represent ME. Out of their playable characters, one is Arab, one is Native American, two are black, one is a woman, one is Welsh, another one is Italian, two are American and another one is British. Needless to say, none of those profiles fits me entirely, yet I had no problem with playing any of them in the past, because it was never about MY version of the story with MY version of the character, but the story the game director told with the characters they created.

Missrepresentative? Yes. Missed opportunity? Sure. But this is Assassins Creed, not Fallout. The protagonists of Assassins Creed are who they are, not a tabula rasa for players to roleplay themselves.
 

Silvanus

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Lightknight said:
The problem is that you're looking in agreggate. If you're a developer or writer making a story for YOUR game then you're only looking at making your own game for the market you see before you. If you ever look at another game it's to look at what was done right and what wasn't. This isn't like hiring people and then looking back and realizing that your hiring practices are statistically racist. This is like hiring one person and that's it.

It is not Asscred's developers responsibility that other developers also catered to the largest demographic. People are pretending like things should follow natural trends but that's not the case. Every new game has a set of developers thinking only of their game and what the face of their target market is. Until the vast majority of those faces stops being male then we're going to continue to see male protagonists. I'm sorry if this upsets you or anyone else but it's the same reason why the majority voters will always win until they're not majorities. There's simply strength in numbers. I get that. It's reasonable of them as a company to go that way.

I agree that it's perfectly reasonable for us to express the demand for diverse characters. But it's unreasonable for us to go all "ur racist/sexist" when they cater to the largest market segment there is. If I go into the panty hose business I'm not going to focus any significant resources on making my stockings ball-friendly. If I see enough demand I may make some side models but the main lines of panty hose is going to remain the same for the comfort of my main clientele.
Marketers have to look in aggregate. If they look at the market and identify the largest demographic, but don't think to look at the other media that occupies the same space as them, they're being pretty shortsighted and simplistic. No media exists in a vacuum.

For what it's worth, I don't think the developers/ marketers are sexist or racist, but I do think they're unimaginative, and that the art suffers as a result. Money may be an explanatory factor, but I don't find it a particularly good one.

Lightknight said:
Ok, I'm uncertain what the point is though? What the gamers "thought" was irrelevant until it was proven to be financially viable by less risk adverse groups. That really only serves to prove the point and agrees with Jim that these AAA publishers are out of touch regardless. Unless someone shows them that something isn't that risky, then it's extremely rare we'll see big risks being taken. It looks like Sony of all companies is willing to take these risks for some reason.
Aye-- that's the problem. That's what I'm encouraging; people making bold decisions and convincing those that are complacent and unadventurous that there's more fertile ground here than they seem to believe. Criticism is an important part of that. There are quite a few people requesting more diversity now: it's harder to ignore.

Lightknight said:
And here's something to actually consider. Maybe this doesn't do what we think it will? Maybe it does lose far more male gamers than the female gamers it gains? We have to consider the idea that there actually is a difference between sexes in gaming preferences in the same way there is in movies. It is not sexist to consider this possibility. Marketing products to the wrong demographics will lose you money. However, this opens up a much better realm of possibility. That games made for men won't have a female character slapped in it. We could eventually see games actually made for women. Not that women can't like dudebro action games. I mean, I'm likely going home to play COD with my wife in five minutes because that's what she wants to do. But why not have games that fit that romance genre or whatever else we find are different between us when large numbers are taken into account?
I agree entirely. More exploration into different genres is something I would very much welcome. Again, it's something that hasn't happened, because the innovation and invention seem to be dirty words (unless they're used emptily).

hermes200 said:
But the Assassins Creed games were never made to represent ME. Out of their playable characters, one is Arab, one is Native American, two are black, one is a woman, one is Welsh, another one is Italian, two are American and another one is British. Needless to say, none of those profiles fits me entirely, yet I had no problem with playing any of them in the past, because it was never about MY version of the story with MY version of the character, but the story the game director told with the characters they created.

Missrepresentative? Yes. Missed opportunity? Sure. But this is Assassins Creed, not Fallout. The protagonists of Assassins Creed are who they are, not a tabula rasa for players to roleplay themselves.
I agree with the first part. The AC series is pretty good, overall, on the diversity front.

I think the second paragraph slightly misses the point. It's not about roleplaying oneself; there's still a huge amount of power in identifying with protagonists and characters in a piece of art.
 

The Real Sandman

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Jasper van Heycop said:
This is the studio that published what is often said to be one of the best female characters in gaming (Jade, Beyond: Good and Evil) and had an Assasin's Creed game with a black female protagonist (AC Liberation).

And even after these games failed to get sales in the range of the rest of their franchise(Liberation) or bombed outright (B:GaE), they still released a game with a little girl as the main character (Child of Light).
The main reason why Beyond Good and Evil and Liberation were not that successful was thanks to Ubi not giving them proper exposure or advertising, especially with BG&E. What is the point of spending millions of dollars on a product and not bother to get the word out? Sure BG&E found an audience later as something of a cult classic, but the damage was already done.

Also, the ladies of BG&E, AC Liberation, and Child of Light are drastically outnumbered by

Assassin's Creed 1, 2, Brotherhood, Revalations, 3, and 4
Watch_Dogs
The Splinter Cell series
The Prince of Persia series
Call of Juarez 1, 2, and Gunslinger
The Far Cry series

Overall, Ubi's catalog is kind of a sausage fest.
 

Shamus Young

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The Real Sandman said:
The main reason why Beyond Good and Evil and Liberation were not that successful was thanks to Ubi not giving them proper exposure or advertising, especially with BG&E. What is the point of spending millions of dollars on a product and not bother to get the word out? Sure BG&E found an audience later as something of a cult classic, but the damage was already done.
Beyond had a lot of critical exposure though (it was a critical darling, I would guess real gamers read reviews), it also came out at a time before game releases were all over TV, billboards, etc., games mostly got around on word of mouth and gaming magazines back then.

Assassin's Creed Liberation didn't get as much advertising because it wasn't a cross platform release (the HD multiplatform version came later), you can't blame Ubisoft for not advertising something that wouldn't reach half the usual consumers, purely due to not coming out on a platform those consumers own.

If there really was a large market chomping at the bit for good female protagonists and actively seeking out games with them (especially if they also get raving reviews across the board, like BG&E), wouldn't there have been sales despite a lack of marketing? It just seems to me there is a lot of outcry about what is bad, but very few people actively promoting what is good (which is actually more likely to have a good result on the market).
 

Aaron Sylvester

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Grim Sterling said:
A friend of mine is a rock climber and also gamer and she WAS playing through this franchise because it was well made and she enjoyed a lot of the similarities of climbing and doing crazy agile things. Then she found out about how they're not going to bother with female protags in the future game and took serious offense to it. So much so she put away the games and refuses to play through the rest of them, disgusted by Ubi.
I think your rock-climber friend needs to sort out a few problems of her own in that case, if she takes offense to things in media that easily. Taking offense to a decision made by the developer about characters or story? That's like taking offense to The Hobbit for having no Chinese dwarves, or getting offended because the God Of War protagonist wasn't female.

Grim Sterling said:
To that extent, they may be ignoring their female fanbase
So any game that doesn't have playable females is "ignoring their female fanbase"? Interesting.