Should there be more playable female characters in video games?
Ubisoft got taken to task in the game press recently for revealing that two of their flagship titles (Assassin's Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4) did not contain any playable female protagonists. It even spawned a meme: Women are Too Hard to Animate. There has been a general dearth of playable female characters in AAA games recently. Do developers have an obligation to give players a choice of gender in every game they make?
I think Ubisoft's response is absolutely ridiculous, especially when other studios have said on many occasions "with the amount of female gamers coming to the market, any cost is worth it". Considering they've animated females in their games before, and have done so to an extent that surpasses some of their male roles (see Rainbow Six Siege), I think they just hate playable females plain and simple.
It's not hard to fault them when focus groups tell them they want a male character on the front cover though. Despite being crucial to the plots, both developers of The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite had to go to great lengths to get their female roles on the cover even if these characters were paramount to the story. But how many people remember "Remember Me", and how many touched on it because they weren't attracted to the idea of playing a female character? In a focus group most of the people there will say they want a buff male character on the front cover because it sounds better than a pretty young woman next to said buff male character, even if they don't mean to.
I welcome female video game characters and I try to get into them as much as I can, but when males have dominated the games industry making that transition to another gender is surprisingly hard. I don't want to see this young lady get harmed, even though in the games I play she can quite easily handle herself and was made to do so. Whether that's an effect of video games or some kind of sexual tension mixup I cannot say, probably the latter.
When it can be done with minimal resources (see CoD: Ghosts, Fable, Rainbow Six: Vegas and Blacklight: Retribution), you'll barely notice the difference. I mean, who's going to check every character and mock them for being female? This never happened in Rainbow Six: Vegas, and it doesn't happen now.
Either Ubisoft are so incompetent that they haemorrhage resources during development so they can't, or they're too pig ignorant to realise females are coming to the games industry now more than ever and would like to see themselves as a welcome addition but are too intimidated by the sausage fest that is Triple A Tripe.
I'd recommend you watch the Jimquisition about this, he's a brilliant - if vulgar - and while you may disagree, he's still entertaining nontheless:
Diversity? LIEversity - The Jimquisition of the Escapist.
I think it's great when they do allow you to select your gender, but would you expect the Die Hard movies to suddenly star a female protagonist? Or James Bond? We need more franchises about women so we don't have to fit them into every single game.
That's very true, juice! With some games it's inexcusable like multiplayer games that have a character-created protagonist, but in others some characters work better with female roles. I'd be glad to play more of such games if they were around ^^
It surprises me that there aren't more female protagonists in video games. Games like Tomb Raider proved it could be profitable and games like Beyond Good and Evil proved it could be critically praised. I would say that it's better now, with games where you can choose your gender (like most bioware games) but it's true that marketing seems to demand male characters in the drivers seat.
Unfortunately, the companies funding these games have to follow the money in order to justify their investments. Which means they would be happy to keep funding sexist games until the end of time. So then it falls to us, the consumer, to prove that we want to play games with female protagonists. We can prove it with our money, our reviews, and our recommendations. It will take time, but I think it is possible to level the playing field.
While I don't think every game should have to have both options, I do think not including an option for each gender in those games that can is a missed opportunity. Yes, there's a cost, but it also increases the size of your potential market. Thanks.
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