I Am A Straight White Man And I Want More Women In My Games

I Am A Straight White Man And I Want More Women In My Games
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Dear people who make video games,

I am straight. I’m pretty damn straight.

I am married to a woman. I’ve only ever had sex with women. I don’t mind too much, but on the whole I’d rather not look at another man’s penis. If I had the choice to look at a man’s penis or not look at a man’s penis, 90% of the time I’m going to go with option b.

I am overwhelmingly white. I might actually be the whitest person I know.

The last time I went to the beach I did a quick survey. Yep. I was the palest, whitest person within three square kilometres. Then I went home. I was sunburnt. I’d been topless in the sun for roughly 45 minutes.

I am a man. In a lot of ways, you might even categorise me as a ‘bro’.

Here is a list of things I like: video games, sports, exercise, eating meat. I could probably grow a beard if I wanted to. If I was single and in my early 20s, you might even catch me in the gym getting ‘ripped for Stereo’. The only strike is my inability to consume alcohol, but this in negated by the cold hard facts: I am in possession of a penis.

Just checked. Yep. I definitely have a penis.


My favourite film of 2013 was Frozen. Frozen is a Disney movie about two sisters who are women. It is a movie that subverts previous Disney tropes about romantic love in a number of interesting ways. It is a movie that celebrates sisterhood and the power of sisterly love. It made $1.25 billion at the box office.

Here is a list of video games that I have recently played and enjoyed: Tomb Raider, Mass Effect, Child of Light, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. These are also, coincidentally, video games that either exclusively asked you to play as a woman or provided players with the option to play as a woman.

Here’s a thing that happened about a month ago: I was playing Dark Souls II. In the game I accidentally stumbled upon a coffin and the game allowed me to enter that coffin. Turns out that coffin was the harbinger of a strange curse that allowed my character to change sex. It transformed my male character into a female character. The game allowed me to change back if I wanted to.

But I didn’t, because who gives a shit? My precious stats remained precisely the same, and I enjoy playing video games with female protagonists. I went on my merry way and completed the rest of Dark Souls II as a female.

Here’s another thing that happened.


During its E3 presentation Nintendo showed its latest Zelda game for the first time. I noticed that Link, the game’s protagonist, looked more feminine than usual. After the conference people began to speculate: is Link, the perennially male main character of the Zelda series a female?

Here’s what I didn’t do: I didn’t vomit blood, I didn’t brutalise a nearby wall in fit of pure masculine vengeance. I didn’t even get angry. Here was my legitimate reaction: I got excited. ‘Wow,’ I thought. ‘How incredible would that be. What a refreshing change of pace! Wouldn’t it be great to play a Zelda game where the protagonist was female?

‘Nah, that’ll never happen,’ I sighed.

Here’s one more thing that happened.

During E3 news broke that Ubisoft, during the development of its latest Assassin’s Creed, had been considering adding a female assassin to its roster to compliment the game’s latest 4 player co-operative mode, but quickly scrapped it because the “reality of production” would have made their inclusion too costly.

“It was really a lot of extra production work,” explained creative director Alex Amancio.

Here’s what I didn’t do.

I didn’t nod my head and say, ‘well, that’s the reality of video game production’. I didn’t laugh and say, ‘take that feminism!’ I didn’t twirl my non-existent moustache and cackle, ‘another one in the can for the straight white man.’

My first reaction was disappointment; because I often enjoy playing as a female character in video games.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I am going to exercise the rights and power that my privilege as a straight white man has bestowed upon me: I am going to inform you that, when it’s reasonably fair, I expect to be able to choose between a male and female character. As a straight white man I’m going to demand that. Alongside the other bullet points on the back of box — alongside hundreds of multiplayer maps, side missions, guns, blood, explosions, whatever — I’m going to demand the ability to play as a woman, because I am your main demographic. I am the type of person you care about, and this is what I want. This will help inform the purchasing choices I make in the future.

I am a straight, white man with disposable income. I want to play as a woman in your video games. Please give this thing to me.

Comments

  • I play as a female barbarian in Diablo 3 and I always play as princess peach in Mario kart. I usually prefer female characters in fighting games because they are fast and I like to spam moves. I’m a big, bearded, white guy.

      • No. He said: I’m a big, bearded, white guy.
        Not: I’m a big bearded, white guy.

        Last I saw, GRRM was about 5’2″ and more akin to someone you’d find tending the forges under Stone Mountain…

    • I chose the female Mage in Diablo 3 because I wanted Azula from avatar to keep saying stuff.

        • Also Dragons are only one step down the awesome chart from Dinosaurs. And fire is like number 2 on the list of all things awesome. Imagine how incredible it was when I discovered you can summon dragons made from fire.

    • I always roll female mages. It’s just habit.

      My philosophy is this. If you’re going to play an RPG or 3rd person game as a straight guy, what would you rather look at for hours on end? A shapely female behind, or some dude’s manky butt? Not a hard decision really.

      • I’d think you should be concentrating on the demonic hordes attempting to kill you, but maybe that’s just me.

    • The main problem is, western game Male characters are just muscle blocks and female characters usually have more design into it.

      Male Monk is a old beardy, Male Wizard looks like a bitch, Male Crusader is a muscle head, Male barbarian and Male Witch doctors are alright since they look like what they are.

      I always choose female option as they are usually better designed.

  • im sorry, i could only get through a small portion of this article…
    i gave up after the 500th time you mentioned ‘penis’

    • I am married to a woman. I’ve only ever had sex with women. I don’t mind too much, but on the whole I’d rather not look at another man’s penis. If I had the choice to look at a man’s cock or not look at a man’s dick, 90% of the time I’m going to go with option b.
      The only strike is my inability to consume alcohol, but this in negated by the cold hard facts: I am in possession of a trouser snake.

      Just checked. Yep. I definitely have a wiener.

      Read on, friend.

  • Link has been around for a damn long time as a male, and has always been elfish. The picture above, which some claim to show a boob bulge, clearly shows a straightened arm holding a damn bow.

    I have no problem with female characters in games, it doesn’t effect my buying decision at all. I do have a problem however with long running characters being messed with purely for feminism’s sake. Seriously, the hero link has to save the princess Zelda, what’s wrong with that? It’s not final fantasy where the protagonist changes every game, it’s a Zelda game.

    • But why do you have a issue with the story changing? None of the Zelda games have had the exact same story or characters.

      • I get what your saying I really do. I also respect what your trying to say.

        However, in all honesty would it change the game, link or the experience in any significant way?

        I would say no… You still have your silent protagonist. You can still save princess zelda (or prince, again I’d say it wouldn’t matter) . You can still fight gannondorf (or gannondorfina). The experience will still for the most part be the same. So why would it be an issue?

        I’d argue it shouldn’t be. I’d argue it would be a refreshing change. Your saying it’s purely for feminism but what if it is simply the developer trying to do something different?

        Is that really a problem? For how many years now people have been saying the series has become stale. So why don’t we let them try something new for this zelda? The open world is a good step in the right direction. Ultimately, I’d say it will benefit the series in the long run.

        Anyway male or female it doesn’t really matter to me. Can’t wait for the game and it can’t come quicker.

        edit: meant to reply to dknigs

        • But you’re saying that it’s a meaningless change. You’re saying this doesn’t matter in the slightest. So why is it so important for the change to be made? It would just be a surface level gimmick that would be bigger than the game itself, and that’s really the last thing Zelda needs.
          Gender swapping pre-existing characters is such a bad way of doing things. Whether the people making the game intend to or not it just creates a hell of a lot of friction that drowns out any proper discussion on female characters in games.
          Zelda already has established rules. You can work a female Link within those rules easily enough but it’s a bit like a Gears of War looking hulk of a Link in that it’s not impossible but it goes against the established characters/history. On top of that it’s just a terrible ground to have this discussion on. All it does is give the people who actually are jerks ammunition to justify their position.
          Instead make actual female characters like Samus or Mirror’s Edge’s Faith. Nobody has a decent argument against Faith being female. If someone complained about Samus’ gender they’d be shut down in a heartbeat. I think we’d see a lot of people change their tunes about the importance of not altering genders of existing characters if a Metroid reboot put a man in the suit instead of Samus.
          If you make a new IP like Dead Space cast a female in the lead from day one and don’t ask to be praised for it or attempt to sell it to men with sex. Just do it. Those are actual steps towards making gaming more diverse.
          Make sure that every game where you can make your own character (something Zelda should never do) include realistic/respectful representations as wide a range of humans as possible.

          I’ve got nothing against female characters. I think it’s stupid that it took until the sequel for Fable to give you the option of playing as a female. I just think you can’t take an existing character, clumsily slap some tits on it and pat yourself on the back as though you just helped women be taken more seriously. Gamers, both male and female, deserve better than gender swapped characters.

          (For the record, I’ve got nothing against playing as Zelda. She’s a great character who doesn’t get enough attention and I’d absolutely love to play as her. It’s female Link that bugs me.)

          • Although I never said it was an important change. I said it would be a refreshing change. The fact that Links gender is irrelevant works both ways. He can be male, or she can be female. I believe either works. Further, I agree wholeheartedly. It should not be implemented as a cheap gimmick. If it is going to be done then it should be done well. Whether this is possible or not I guess is really the question and we won’t know until it is actually tried.

            Now to your second point. I agree for the most part. You can’t have an existing character like Marcus Fenix and suddenly change the character into a female. Nor can you suddenly change Samus into a male. However, the character of link and the Zelda universe actually lends itself to that type of change. The hero of time is always a random child destined to be a hero. This means it can easily be a female. Hell, Link isn’t even the same person from game to game and that is an important difference between the Zelda universe, the Link character and other games/characters etc etc.

            Here is the important part. What would the reason be for making link female? If it is just a gimmick to cash in on a current issue. I agree that would be wrong. Alternatively, what if it is conscious design decision, and thus, more than just slapping a pair of tits on an established character?

            If it is done well…why not? why can’t link be female. If your response is simply that it goes against the established rules of the franchise. Then my next question is how do you then innovate within a franchise?

            Metroid was a 2D platformer. Metroid prime broke those established rules and made it into a first person shooter…of sorts. Warcraft was an RTS and was made into an MMO (although I’d prefer for it to return to an RTS). Zelda was a 2D top down adventure game and made the change into a 3D adventure game. It initially was open world with no set linear path and that was changed with OOT.

            Now I acknowledge that my examples have to do with genre and mechanics and not the character itself but I think the same principle is applicable. Established rules can be changed so long as it is done well and done with good reason.

            TL:DR – if done well why not? I’m not saying THIS HAS TO HAPPEN! I’m saying I would be kinda cool if they did but if not thats ok.

            What I don’t want to happen is for everyone to pick up the pitchforks and start bashing Nintendo saying they hate women if they have followed tradition and made Link male.

          • He can be male, or she can be female. I believe either works.

            I think that touches on the fundamental difference between our way of thinking. I don’t think players play as their own character in Zelda like they do in say Mass Effect so choosing the gender isn’t an option to me. It’s an old school RPG in that it hands you a character and you play as them. The only customisation is his name, and even then he has a very well established canon name so entering another name is pretty much just labeling your save file. So to me the only series appropriate way to give players a female Link is to remove the option of a male Link. Either way could work but it’s one or the other, and for a ton of reasons I’m going to fall on the side of a traditional male Link every time.
            I mean if you let players make the choice then Link is probably still going to be a guy (maybe they’ll let it be a her the first time they do it). In all the documentation and references made in follow up games there will be a canon Link and it’ll probably still be a guy. The story itself would remain almost completely gender neutral like it is now because they can’t have sections of the game vanish when you play as a male. It wouldn’t be the story of Linkette anymore than if you were to name your character Linkette in the other games. So what would it really achieve? Would it open up the Zelda franchise to female players? Is Zelda currently locking them out? I totally agree games need more variety when it comes to this stuff but does Zelda?
            I think if you’re going to let players make a choice on gender in a Zelda game the only way to do it is to go Resident Evil 2 style where you choose between playing as Zelda or playing as Link. To me that just seems a thousand times more appropriate to the series and way better as far as putting women in games go.

            You can’t have an existing character like Marcus Fenix and suddenly change the character into a female.

            I actually meant you can’t have a Link incarnation be a bulky Marcus Fenix looking guy even though technically the lore allows it. The precedents set in previous games aren’t entirely lore based. Link talks in every single Zelda game. He talks to everyone he meets. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to have his dialogue displayed or give him a voice.
            Likewise there’s nothing in the lore that says the hero can’t come from Steroid Village but a big part of the story is that even though he’s not the same person every time he is the same. There are specific Links and Zeldas and there’s an almost universal Link and Zelda, and a solid wall of muscle doesn’t fit universal Link. I think swapping everyone’s genders doesn’t fit the universal versions of the characters anymore than giving them huge muscles.

            You’d (rightly) call me an asshole if I suggested women where lesser creatures made from the rib of a man, so I don’t get why are people so into doing that with women in games? A female character doesn’t need to latch onto an existing male character’s popularity. It seems like a female Link should be offensive to a feminist. A strong female lead should be a strong female character, she doesn’t need to be some mutated version of pre-existing male character. Joanna Dark is fantastic, Jane Bond is just a man with a bow in his hair.

            Also I can’t stress enough that I wouldn’t be outraged if they made Link a female. It certainly wouldn’t ruin the game for me. I just think it’d be a bad move for Nintendo/Zelda and a really shitty step towards representing a wider range of people in games. If they chose to go down that path I’d much rather they scrapped the Zelda parts of the project and made a similar game from scratch with a female lead that wasn’t restricted by past games and male predecessors (in that regard the female Link discussion is almost a better argument for retiring the franchise for a generation or two and making a new signature series with similar gameplay).

          • I think it ultimately depends on the purpose behind it. I haven’t approached this discussion from a point of view that it would open the series to Women because I think ur right, I agree entirely. If they have made link female solely for the purpose of trying to be more inclusive to female gamers then there are better alternatives to do so. A fully fleshed out Zelda game where you play as Zelda instead or a completely new IP with a strong female lead as you have said.

            I’m coming from the point of view that it would be an interesting twist on an established series. If it is a conscious decision made with a specific creative direction in mind and it is done well then I’m all for it.

            In fact, if you read my first reply it was directed at the argument that there shouldn’t be a female link simply because of the established tradition that he is male. I was merely trying to point out that the Zelda universe and the Link character itself is open to the possibility of a female Link. Further, in my opinion at least, a female Link would not detract from the story or game etc etc (see above).

            In any event, I understand your point and I respect what you are saying. You have articulated yourself well good sir.

    • I am a huge fan of the Zelda series but I’m not going to vomit blood if they allow you to choose your gender at the start of the game. Is there even any need for Link to be male? Sure, Link was a male in the previous games but I don’t understand how Link being a women would change anything in the story. In fact I would welcome that change, open the game up for all players to enjoy!

      • If some one refuses to play any Zelda game based solely on the decision that they can’t play as a female surely deserves not to experience such an awesome series.

    • The ‘hero’ Link has always been a random child fated to become the hero. It is not the same child in every game. I agree with your point re: the character design here (it’s clearly not ‘boob bulge’ as you so eloquently put it), but what would be the problem if one time the chosen one was a young girl?

      • I don’t think there would be any problem if Link’s latest form was female. I don’t think the fan backlash wouldn’t be that bad.
        But on the other front what if Link is male again, is that a problem? Because I simply aren’t seeing any indication that he is a female like many others are.
        Will people get angry when this doesn’t play out as some are very defensive about something that hasn’t even been confirmed?

        I wouldn’t mind a change up personally, but if it doesn’t happen I won’t blame anyone.

        Ubisoft on the other hand needs to wake up.

        • Interesting question.

          If link is female in this game I don’t think that means he/she has to be female in every game that follows. I don’t think it is reasonable for there to be an expectation that link will now always be female if that is the case in this game. Link may be male in the next….female in the one after. As jay said it is always a random child fated to be the hero.

          Maybe it would open the door for gender to be choosable (that’s a word right?) in future games which again I wouldn’t be opposed to (for reasons see reply above).

          All in all I don’t think this is necessarily white knighting and people taking up the feminist cause…I think it is just people saying “hey Nintendo…you know if you made link a girl in this zelda it would be kinda cool”.

        • You put it much better than I did, and I totally agree. If as a part of the creative direction genders were swapped, I wouldn’t care. But if they aren’t, so what? It’s a long standing series, why should they have to bow to internet pressure and gender swap? Let them follow the creative direction they want to take and tell the story they want to tell!

          • We’re talking about Nintendo here. They don’t bow to internet pressure. They have always done their own thing even in the face of mass outrage. If they have decided to use a female protagonist I guarantee its because they really wanted to. Nobody was clamouring for a female Link, the closest thing I read was an article saying “wouldnt it be cool if you played the next zelda as zelda”. Based on this I have zero issue with a female lead in Zelda.

    • “The picture above, which some claim to show a boob bulge, clearly shows a straightened arm holding a damn bow”

      Ever used a bow? The bow is being held in the left hand, the left arm is extended forward. The bow string is being drawn with the right hand towards the right cheek. A straightened arm is indeed holding the bow, but it is not coming from the right shoulder across the chest which would be a really stupid way to hold the unless you are perfroming some kind of goofy melee attack.

      Also, in order for it to be an arm, that belt would also have to go across the chest and up behind the shoulder instead of over the top of the shoulder. That a scenario ruled out by this pic. which also more clearly illustrates the arem doing all that bow holding.

      http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/games/e3-2014-nintendo-unveils-openworld-zelda-details-amiibo-figurine-platform-20140611-zs3gy.html

      Whether or not they are boobs, The boob hypothesis fits better than your attempt to debunk it.

    • If your going to play a female character in a Legend of Zelda game I want it to actually be Zelda.

      Imagine if Zelda and Link we’re both playable characters pursuing their quests for the Triforce of Wisdom and Courage respectively. Twice the Content, different approaches to the game it would be like getting 2 different Zelda games at once. I just ask that I can swap characters/stories any time I’m not in a dungeon.

      • I would pay all the money for an Adventures of Sheik, set between Zelda’s escape from Hyrule Castle and Link’s return as an adult. A game with a female Link however would also provide the opportunity for some great new perspectives on the character and the story.

    • Why not just allow you to play az zelda as well? Best way to diversify the gender argument.

    • Actually as the Zelda universe is different time periods all in the same world, and in each game Link is a reincarnation of previous Link’s, why wouldn’t one of them be female? It stands to reason. Hell one of them could potentially be dark skinned.

      I don’t actually think Link is female in this game but I think it would not be breaking canon if she/he was.

  • And this is why you’re the man Serrells 🙂

    But I’m genuinely insanely curious… If it WASN’T at all about production etc, then at what point would they have actively gone, eh screw it, no girls this time! If they’ve done so in the past and haven’t had an issue then it still needed to be a legitimately calculated choice… I just personally don’t feel like it was as simple as ‘FOR THE DUDE BROS!!!’ You know?

    • Oh, it probably was by virtue of it being more work. More work that it was “worth”.
      The salient point is that so many other games manage to make it past the allegedly-onerous workload involved in adding female characters (including previous AC games), and that it’s ridiculous for a game (with a much bigger production team than any of the ones that have managed it) to have its lack of choice defended as ‘just too hard’.

  • I just couldn’t care less, really. This whole thing is just silly.

    Though I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have the ability to play as a female character. Unless the story strictly needs the character to be male for whatever reason. Though, in games that is usually not the case, so I guess you are right. We should have the ability to choose as we like even if when I play I almost always choose the default and move on to play the game.

    • This whole thing is just silly.
      No, it’s an adult conversation that should be happening in the gaming world. The fact that you personally don’t care doesn’t make it ‘silly’.

      Personally, I’m happy to see at least a discussion about gaming moving away from constantly representing white males aged 16 to 40 as the only people who ever have interesting stories to tell.

      • Oh? Please show me to where I was against the idea of having female characters in games.

        I don’t think we should take it overbroad, but we should have… Nevermind, just read the paragraph after the part you quoted.

        • I’m pretty sure he was only objecting to the part where you called it “silly”, and at no point in what he said accused you of being against female characters (he did say you didn’t care though, which seems accurate?). Don’t strawman for drama’s sake 🙂

          • There it is again. Strawman, that some sort of a saying?
            Where is it from? What’s it refer to? Drawing straws? Second time I read that word yet I don’t know what it means lol

            Typo? Now space between straw andan in both instances?

          • It’s an argumentative technique. The idea is that you can make your argument more persuasive by setting up an imaginary argument to test it against, which has all the agency and battle prowess of a man made of straw.

            When someone is ‘setting up a straw man’, they accuse another party of arguing X so they can counter X with an obviously superior Y, even if X wasn’t actually being argued by anyone. The process simply serves as an excuse for or as a delivery mechanism for their pet argument Y.

            Some folks also seem to take it to mean seizing on a detail or example which misses the greater thrust of the main point, pretending that the more easily-argued-against point is the most important part of what’s been said.

            I don’t believe it’s been used correctly in this instance.

          • Thanks, that actually makes sense. Had to read over the argument again.

            Thinking about it now, though @patrickbateman is right, hasn’t this already been discussed many many times?

            Wasn’t there this whole we need more female protagonist characters done before?
            Wasn’t there some girl who took peoples’ money on kick starter for this exact reason and then nothing happened??

            I think there needs to be a better approach than just discussing this. People simply will have to make games that will sell and hopefully prove to be better than the generic stuff we get now.

            The new Tomb raider game (was released a year or 2 ago), was great, but the ones before that I never really liked or found anything good about them; yet they were so popular.

            Mass Effect 2. Best example; you are given a choice to make your character and the story does not differ on appearance, gender, or whatever, other than your choices.

          • Well, that’s kind of the deal with the article. Mark might spend a lot of copy on explaining his reasoning, but the final para is basically his ‘new position’ on voting with his wallet. Or at least, that’s how I read it. And while there’s plenty of hand-wringing to be had pro and con in the comments, as a statement, it does the job of being more effective than talk.

            Not that I initially thought it’s a terribly viable stance for an editor of a gaming blog to take, y’know… not playing games, but he’s already freely admitted to not playing several big name/popular titles, so y’know. Maybe there’s something there. Delegation and whatnot.

    • As a ‘white’ person with a dick between my legs, I can honestly say that I can’t relate at all to most male characters in games. Some are downright bad to play as. Which is why you end up distancing yourself from the character and focus on the game itself.

      Marcus in GoW, Aiden in W_D, countless other protagonists… I can’t relate to their way of thinking at all and I’m forced to role play a character that I have no affinity for. It’s not exactly a problem, but it’s not like you can bucket and assume every single white guy that fits into this demographic must also enjoy the character they’re forced to play as.

      • True, but I don’t expect every game/movie/story to be tailor made for my likings. While I have played many games and do support the fact that we should have the option, unless otherwise required for story or experience to differ, there are games that I really have enjoyed such as metroid prime and see that, even in games such as that the character sex has no effect on the overall experience of the game. When I finished Zelda, halo, metroid prime, if anything I really loved the characters more and more cause they didn’t say much, their story was great and they never used their genitelia to change the outcome of their story. By genetilia i mean gender.

        Don’t take things too literally.

        That being said in assassins creed they have to have female assassins, if at the very least only for multiplayer.

        • True, but I don’t expect every game/movie/story to be tailor made for my likings.

          I agree. That was my point too.

          In fact, one character that I could ‘relate’ to the most was Lara Croft in the latest Tomb Raider. Her drive/motivation were closer to how I’d react than say Aiden in Watch_Dogs – with whom I had no connection as a player.

          • …Aiden in Watch_Dogs – with whom I had no connection as a player.
            I would say that from everything I’ve seen in let’s plays so far that I actually do kinda feel some affinity, but that would probably put me on a dozen watch_dogslists.

          • I don’t know, I can’t really care much for Aiden. Can’t connect with the character at all. The story is a bit, revenge cliche story. They should’ve made him more like Batman. Batman is cool and does go around killing an entire city because someone he knows dies. Batman never kills, its why he’s Batman.

          • That’s why he is hard to relate to. Batman doesn’t do things that make sense. If you were in the position to save thousands of people by killing a man who you have just watched kill thousands of civilians, a normal person would kill that man.

            Batman is just like, just because you have escaped and killed 7 times in the past, I see no evidence to suggest this could happen in the future.

          • Batman is on the opposite extreme to Aiden.

            Batman: You killed many people, but I’ll give you the 10th chance to redeem yourself.
            Aiden: You killed one person, but I’ll seek revenge by killing 1,000 more.

            Aiden was one of the worst characters I experienced in that sense. Mainly due to not having a choice in the story to reflect that dialogue and decisions to be a murderer. I really enjoyed the game, but that was a big disconnect for me.

          • I disliked the hypocricy he exhibits. In a game where you’re forced to (mostly) follow down a single story path. On one hand you’re gunning down countless people with families, but on the other hand you keep ranting on about how your niece was killed which (if you haven’t played it, don’t look):

            … Spoilers don’t work!

            Is explained later, was technically an accident.

            Furthermore because I uncovered the side bits, there was no reflection of this in the dialogue within the game. So when you speak to the person responsible for your death, you treat them as if you know nothing about it. And Aiden becomes an asshole who doesn’t care about what really happened, but is rather just out for revenge.

          • (Spoilers are best off hidden by encrypting them with the rot13.com cypher which… well. Does as the name suggests.)

            I dunno if it ever gets played well like in the classic 2000 movie ‘Brother’ (Japanese gangster gets exiled to the US) but revenge has a way of spiralling for that exact reason. People get in your way, they gotta pay… only, to the families/friends/illegal associates of that person, that was unjustified, so they come after you too, so obviously THEY have to die, and at some point it gets to be such a hassle that now you have to be proactive and just… ripples on a pond.

            But in that white-hot moment of rage, do you consider the ripples? Fuck no, you wanna break some fucking kneecaps and really don’t care if you get careless with some skulls because they probably had it coming. MY aggressor is be pursued as a target of vengeance… I, as an aggressor, am a force of nature, to be got out of the way of. It’s the ultimate in self-entitled hypocrisy, the most narcissistic worldview there is.
            …Which is probably where I can relate. While my default state is amiable benevolence, it’s not something I ever want to find tested. But to fantasize about through movies and games in their heavily-used revenge-porn glory? Sure.

          • Seriously though, I get what you mean. I’ve thought about that too in games – however for some reason it just didn’t work right in this one. He seemed all over the place. If at least his rage was maintained throughout I’d understand. But one minute he’s acting in a particular way and the next completely differently. It just didn’t feel right.

            Not that we’re all consistently rational/irrational at all times. But we can take a step back and look at the bigger picture and how our actions are affecting others and what the consequences are.

            This was a case of “this guy stole that grandma’s handbag… I must kill him!!!1!11!1!!”

          • @miketarno

            Perhaps the inconsistencies in the story and character are due to changes of the story during development stages of the game. It being so obvious most likely is something as simple as that.

            If i remember correctly, wasn’t the main story supposed to be about human trafficking and something along the lines and then they changed it? Or was it do something with some sex scene or something? I do not know as I haven’t really followed the news on the game through from its announcement like more than a year ago to release date, I just bought it. As a sucker I am, I went straight for the vigilante pack. Not that great really. A lesson for the future, I guess.

            Edit: typos

  • Sounds good to me. I don’t care as much as Mr Serrels, but I always pick female when given the choice.

  • @MarkSerrels, you’re from Scotland, you’re not white at all. I’ve seen how pale you guys are!!! You’re practically translucent!

    But good article, I was disgusted with Ubisofts attitude towards this, I don’t believe them for one second. I also can’t figure out why, what, 8 games or 9 games into the series now and we’ve only had one female lead and that was only in one minor handheld title. It’s about time Ubisoft that a major AC title had a female lead. It’s about time.

  • I’m a bisexual white man and I could not care less if they put a gay character as a lead character. People shouldn’t get worked up. People should care if the game is fun or not. That’s it. It’s dumb that people need a justification to be who they are. Be who you are. Who cares that AC unity dosn’t have a gay/female/different race character. Just enjoy the game. If your looking for real Heroes look at real life. Their much more important things in life at the moment. I can’t tell you how insulting it is that if I met a man I wanted to marry I can’t. People should be mad about much more than who the lead charecter is of a game. So, I’m using my minority group card, game devs, keep making fun games, don’t listen to fake warriors because us in minority groups have bigger problems in the world.

      • It does. I’m sorry but the fact that you think there not being a gay/female/different colour charecter in games is on the same level as gay people not being allowed to get married or people of different colour being judged by their skin or women being stoned to death in different countries just because they were raped is incredibly insulting and makes me furious.

        • It simply doesn’t, and you’re assuming that they’re being equated, which nobody but you has done so far.

          I intend no insult at all; what I’m saying is that just because there is problem a)Representation of women in video games and problem b) same-sex marriage doesn’t mean that b) negates a), which is what you’ve said above — specifically “heir much more important things in life at the moment. I can’t tell you how insulting it is that if I met a man I wanted to marry I can’t. People should be mad about much more than who the lead charecter is of a game.”

          I don’t disagree with you that same-sex marriage is an issue worth getting furious about, but I’m also not dismissing it; you’re reading my comment as though it does for whatever reason. Life is more complex and nuanced than that; if we were to take every single aspect that people should get passionate about and stack them in terms of priority, I’d say (for example) that same-sex marriage is less important than a child starving to death in Africa. That’s an absolute extreme example, but I’m using it to try to illustrate how when you go down the path of “oh, but there are more important things to get angry about” you’re not adding to the debate, but instead diverting it down a completely different path that is functionally irrelevant to the discussion at hand. It doesn’t mean that the additional issue is irrelevant in and of itself, but it’s a diversion from the context.

          Many things are happening. Many things are important. Existence of one does not negate the other. Do you now see?

          • But the bigger problems often get pushed to the back for these small problems that don’t matter.

          • Hate to be coldly analytical about it, but if you’ve got a problem that’s affecting 50% of the population and another problem affecting 10% of the population, and you want to have an argument about which one gets solved first? You solve the 50% problem.

            (Edit: Not that it’s at all relevant in any way whatsoever. Especially when the attention, context, and solutions are all completely different. We solve the marriage issue with voting once every three years. We solve the video game demographic issue by voting with our wallets every release – every month or more. You can do both. And writing about one doesn’t mean you should write about the other at the same time. Because if that were true – which it’s not – why aren’t we also talking about forced detainment for refugees, the widening gap in distribution of wealth, the tax system’s reinforcement of an unofficial class/caste society, or the major issues facing prevention of the obese/smokers into the health care system? Talking about one problem does NOT oblige you to discuss all the others.)

          • As I stated, these problems that mean nothing often push major problems liked you talked about to the back of the discussion. Also a gave more examples than just same sex marriage so why is that the one example your trying to pick apart?

          • Because like I said, and like everyone else is saying: just because a conversation is worth having doesn’t mean we have to have it before we can talk about anything else. Otherwise, how would you choose?

            This is the conversation we are having now: representation of women in games. We are having it on a gaming site. This is perfectly OK and bringing up other issues or asking why we aren’t talking about other issues is utterly irrelevant and/or inappropriate.

          • They’re problems that are solvable simultaneously without affecting the other? We are talking on a games site, about how we’d like a change in video games. I highly doubt its pushing back other causes by taking up “more room” in discussions. I’m just glad that this site actually takes some time to talk about social issues in games, when it could be a perfectly decent gaming site without discussing them at all.

        • I can’t believe you whine about not being able to marry while sex traffickers are selling children into slavery around the world.

          You bawl that you can’t sign a piece of paper with your boyfriend and take advantage of the financial benefits of being married while 5 year olds are being enslaved and raped at gunpoint.

          Get some perspective. #firstworldgayproblems

          /did I do it right? Is that how it works?

          • These problems should be talked about more. But no let’s concentrate on not playing as a women in games right?

          • Yes, they should be talked about more…
            But you are on a site dedicated to video games and nerdy culture in general
            Posting in a thread which was very clearly about the issue of/excuses why in ACU there isn’t a female protagonist and games in general
            You are also edging precariously around all your posts being flame posts adding nothing to the actual topic of this instance of a thread (if it was TAY then there would likely be less issues)
            I fully expect, if you do respond to this, that it would be a sarcasm laden dismissal of my points in favour of your own (which I do agree with btw, just not where you are making them), and it is a post I fully intend to ignore

          • I’m using this article as an example of the problem with society where we concentrate on little things rather than big problems. To relate it back to gaming then. Why does lack of diverse characters get talked about more than women in the gaming industry getting paid less than men to do the same job?

          • Gay marriage is a little thing next to child sex trafficking, stop diverting attention from the REAL issues.

          • Just a point the Government benefits from Gay people being a Defacto couple as much as they do from Straight people getting married. So why shouldn’t they get the same Benefits as straight people.

      • I’m not saying it doesn’t, I’m saying it shouldn’t matter when far more important things are going on in the world.

        • You know that caring about this doesn’t mean that I have used up all my caring about other things?
          I can still care about lack of women in video games as well as caring about non legalised gay marriage, and the worryingly high prevalence of AIDS in young children in Africa, and racism in Australia…

          • Kotaku is a gaming site. If Mark posted about the aforementioned big problems, no one would read Kotaku because they aren’t relevant to gaming. He’s posting about gaming problems, because this is the context.

    • I would 100% agree with you if this was a standard news site and it was taking up significant headline space. But it’s not. It’s about video games. Kotaku doesn’t try to tackle issues like Crimea or mass child – kidnappings in Africa. It’s just a video game site that has its own agenda.

  • I’m a straight white man and unless I have to, I never play female characters. I find it a little creepy that so many men want to to be honest.

    • So you’re playing a 3rd person game for 6 or so hours, and you’d rather stare at the arse of a steroid abusing space marine than say… Lara Croft.

      I find that a little creepy.

      Edit: Really shouldn’t have used the word “creepy”, was only trying to mimic the original post. Whatever your flavour of butt (eww) you want on your screen is fine.

        • And other people don’t play for self-insertion. That’s a little creepy, to be honest.

          I play games for the sake of their narrative. When I play an MMO, I’m not imagining myself as whatever character, I’m helping along the story of the cute elf (elves are always better than everyone else), because in my mind that makes for the better narrative. Even if it’s only because of subversion of gender roles/expectations and subconscious addition of underdog status given the stereotypical lower female proclivity/proficiency with violence.

    • I’d counter and say I find it odd you think it’s creepy. Each to their own, which is kind of the whole point.

    • Not that I find it creepy, but given the choice I always pick a male character. That said, I still play games like Tomb Raider, Mirror’s Edge, Beyond Good & Evil and Lollipop Chainsaw and enjoy them immensely.

      • Perhaps creepy was the wrong word to use, I meant no offence by it. I find it ‘strange’ as when I play a game like gunnie said playing a male character with as close a resemblence to myself gives me a better sense of immersion.

        • I often choose female characters, because as has been mentioned above, they often suit the way I want to play better. I’ve played WOW on and off since the Beta, and most of my characters are hunters or similar. Male characters in WOW just don’t look like hunters, they look like WWF wrestlers! So I prefer the female versions in any game where the female better suits the way I want to play, as simple as that.

          So as to “playing a male character with as close a resemblence to myself gives me a better sense of immersion”; for me is actually more immersive playing the female version.

  • I’m all for that, in theory. In practice, the dynamic shift would have to be far greater than it first seems, or we’ll just be bombarded with impossibly curvy sex symbols with strategically torn clothing… which improves nothing.

    In an ideal world, it would be more than a skin change. In many situations, men and women derive different approaches to problems based on their individual strengths or abilities (and I’m not necessarily talking about the usual stereotype brawny-man brainy-woman thing), and the world itself certainly reacts differently. I’d like to think that the mechanics of an AC games with a female protagonist would be different (guards, for example, would probably be far more complacent in combat, simply because historical sexism), rather than being the exact same game with a skin change.

    But hey, if the integrity of the story wouldn’t be destroyed, then sure, give me a choice. Or write some more female-centric games. Mirror’s Edge was pretty wicked – I’ll take another one of those.

    • It is one of those things that really depends on the story being told though. A lot of games wouldn’t work with just a skin change because of the kind of story it is. But some do. Mass Effect, for example, the way *it’s* written it really does work whether it’s Dudeshep or Femshep, because it’s not a male or a female story, it’s a soldier story. Of course, Femshep being skinned onto Dudeshep leads to some hilarious “my balls are the size of WA” posing, which could be dealt with, but other than that, the nature of the story is that it’s the story of a person not of a specific gender. I could do with more writing like that in video games.

  • I’m a straight, white, cis man. I play a lot of video games. I used to instinctively choose male characters most of the time, even when the option was given, but lately I find myself playing female characters 2/3 of the time. (This is easier when you play MMO’s, of course)

    If you asked me why that is, or why I’ve changed – I think it’s exactly that. Change. I’ve been playing video game for almost 30 years, and I got fucking tired of just playing dudes over and over again.

    I’m a man, and I want the option to play a female character in more of my games too. Imagine how most women feel.

    • I think it’s down to what you’re looking to get out of the game and how you approach it. I know a few folks who get heavily into the self-insertion. They’ll come up with intricate, detailed, rich backstories for their characters with a heavy focus on being able to relate, and play that backstory into their future interactions (where possible and not railroaded by the game) for the sake of role-playing.

      Me, I don’t practice that aspect so much and mostly construct a narrative around the character as their own, independent entity who I am merely guiding, providing the agency for.

      Eg: I played Mass Effect and enjoyed the story of Commander Jane Shepard. I did not play it to live out a space-fantasy of my own, just to enjoy her story.

      Same goes for MMOs, etc.

      What you said about ‘I’ve seen enough dudes blowing shit up’ (paraphrase) is a pretty telling, I reckon. About the narrative focus. Tropes are everywhere. You don’t avoid them as much as pick the ones you want. And what I prefer about the female-badass protagonist trope is that it’s less-common than the male-badass protag one, and it counters a few prevalent stereotypes with some less-commonly-used stereotypes. Which is nice for the novelty.

      In the case of preferring a woman as the protagonist of a narrative-focused experience, I’m not convinced that what you gender you are personally has much of an impact on how the character fits the tropes available to make use of. 🙂

      • Yeah, I’m not an immersion type gamer. I’m playing as the character in the game, it’s not me.

        It could honestly come down to a simple change in scenery. ME being a good example. DudeShep and FemShep are the same character, but I found FemShep far more interesting. DudeShep just looks like every other soldier-type in history. It felt more….. something – making a FemShep and choosing how she reacted to people and situations. By the end of the 3rd game, i was actually really invested in her as a character. I cared what happened to her. Pretty sure if it was DudeShep, I would’ve been more detached. Difficult to tell how much more, because I haven’t done a DudeShep playthrough.

        MMO’s are a bit different. They’re just avatars to me. A simple manifestation of me interacting with the world, and not a lot more. Yet interestingly, I tend to choose mostly female characters there too, despite there being no real narrative for me.

  • I loved Tomb Raider and Really enjoyed the playing as the protagonist in Beyond Two Souls. Every time I get to play as a female character I enjoy it because its a different perspective. I bought Among the Sleep because I wanted to play as a 2yo. I want games that let me play as a grandparent. I enjoy games that allow me to step into another world, and I love that to include one that is other than the 32yo male that I am.

    However I also work in software development and there is often a wish list of things to include and at some point these items will be scrapped for various reasons. I assure you that each task had estimates places against it and when the available time was compared to the feature list the red pen came out. get that people perhaps feel that they could have prioritised this over that or whatever, but I don’t believe that this should be the shit storm people are making it out to be.

    • Ubisoft is a juggernaut of a business. They have ten studios working on this game. Previous games in the same series have managed to have both male and female characters in multiplayer. Do you see why people are skeptical that they’re really that hard up for development resources?

      There’s also the question of priorities. If development resources really are stretched, why is it this that’s getting cut?

      • Can’t speculate on any of that but just because someone has 1000+ resources does not mean every feature is possible.I get your point and don’t disagree, but it seems that people are placing a lot of importance on this because of the frank and up front response but many other games don’t get the same treatment for not having a female character.

        Sounding like a fanboy and I don’t want to. I don’t really play AC games so don’t really care. I fully support everyone wanting female protagonists and only support that when it’s fits or suits the story line. Female assassins would have been bad ass and hopefully this will make them reprioritise… who knows.

      • It’s a good point. Given those conditions, I would also be skeptical, but context is important – remember, this is the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Where they’re aiming for what… annual releases? That kind of expectation probably puts some extra weight on the time-priority, which leaves me slightly more inclined to believe an excuse that I would otherwise roll my eyes at. “What’s another six months, really?” actually means something if you’re aiming for annual.

        Wouldn’t be surprised if the next game they make in the same engine/world expands things, though. AC5’s ‘Brotherhood’ ‘Sisterhood’, if you will.

  • Shouldn’t feminists be all over this? Sure, you’re supporting their cause, but you’re also saying you’re a straight white man who prefers to look at a female form. And this change should be done, because you’re the main demographic. Yet main demographics of hetero players in the East wasn’t enough for Nintendo to get away with “not including gay marriage”.

    Is it only me that sees the irony here?

    • Except he said nothing about preferring to look at a female form… You just added that to the conversation.

      The closest he came to that point was saying he didn’t like to look at penises… Penii?

      The reason he brought up his demographic is that it’s a common trope from designers to discount female characters purely because they don’t think this demographic cares for it. It’s a counter to that argument.

        • So true it made me kind of depressed.

          But at least solidarity is better than silence, even if it technically shouldn’t be needed.

  • So am i, i just really dislike Frozen.

    The only idea i reject is that men are represented fairly in games. In terms of quantity perhaps but since when has “gruff marine” been enough for people of any gender? Asking simply for female characters isn’t necessarily the way for me personally, i’d just like all-round better characters. About half of those should at least be female. I mean the option? For everything? I believe that certain things in life actually are gender-specific, we don’t need a choice necessarily, just greater diversity.

    • I support the inclusion of female characters and protagonists where they make sense.

      For instance, it’s bloody unlikely that women would be in some SOOPER SPEC-OPS SHOCK TROOPAH unit (unless powered armour entirely obsoleted physical ability), but in a survival horror game about a band of randoms struggling to survive the collapse of civilization or an investigative game about serial killings their inclusion would be entirely warranted.

      AC is one of those games where I can take it or leave it. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

  • As much as I’d like to support it, the snarky, sarcastic tone and the inevitable use of the word privilege (intended, of course, to make us all feel guilty about being a straight white guy) just makes me want to shut the browser down.

    I think a female character in Assassin’s Creed would be great and it would even work in the context of the story, but, urggh…articles like this just make me so annoyed.

    • The concept of privilege isn’t actually supposed to make people feel guilty. It’s supposed to make people think about what kind of hard-wired advantages they have in life, and how much more difficult life would be without them. It’s a provocation to empathise, not an accusation of guilt. We can’t really help if we’re born white and male in a rich country, so feeling guilt about that would be silly (and anyone who thinks you should is, likewise, silly).

      • That might be the intent, but it’s hardly the use of it. All it makes me think is “Well, screw it then, if you’re going to hate me just because of how I’m born you can sod off and fix your own damn problems”. It also insinuates that we are utterly immune from any problems of our own simply by bent of the colour of our skin and gender. In short, it’s generalising bollocks that’s no better than any other form of stereotyping. The only difference is this kind is currently socially acceptable.

        • Outside of a handful of extremists, merely being privileged in way way or another does not inspire hate among people.

          More importantly, X privilege does not suggest that people with a given privilege are immune from any problems, rather the specific problems that can be associated with race, gender, etc. For example, men are not subjected to discrimination against women (which manifests in such ways as female-named applicants being rated as less competent, and offered a lower salary than the male-named applicants, with identical – aside from name – applications*). That is not to say that all men have it great, or that all men should be ashamed or hated. Merely that men are not subjected to the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) biases against women. They disadvantage women. By extension, not being subject to them provides a (relative, though not absolute) benefit, or ‘privilege’.

          *http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/2012/09/23/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/

          • Of course men don’t experience discrimination against women, they’re not women. Likewise, women don’t experience discrimination against men, because they’re not men. However, you’ll find that the notion of ‘female privilege’ is widely denounced by feminists of both genders, and perhaps rightfully so – nobody uses the word privilege the way you do. If they did, there would be tacit acknowledgement that most certainly female privilege exists. Instead, anyone so much as suggesting female privilege is real is condemned as sexist.

      • That might be the more noble intention, but in practice the word gets wielded as a weapon, and it’s pretty ugly. Newspapers are for reading, but you bop your dog on the nose with one enough and they’re not going to place much importance on that.

        (Do… do people even buy newspapers anymore? I keep seeing them at corner shops…)

        • Computers are also used as weapons, that doesn’t mean they’re bad. The concept of privilege shouldn’t be used as a weapon, though, you’re right. Sadly, it can be. But that’s by no means the most prevalent use of it – it’s extensively used in academia, social sciences etc, where it originated – but I would hope that humans have greater critical thinking skills than a dog, that might allow them to do more than just develop a Pavlovian response.

          • Well, it’s kind of like the word ‘friendzone’ which for the last damn near 15yrs of my experience has been used to describe the very common scenario where someone you approach romantically rejects your advances and offers friendship instead. The word existed to describe that scenario, independent of how anyone might feel about the scenario.

            But somehow apparently using that word to describe that scenario is now off-limits because the reddit/MRA/feminist-blog gender-warriors have somehow managed to convince enough people that their either-side-extremist echo-chamber bullshit is relevant to the entire internet, so now apparently ‘friendzone’ instead of describing an ‘officially-rejected crush with offer of friendship’ is apparently now associated with whining about the situation or accusations of rejection as some kind of malicious or manipulative act. Which, y’know… the mind boggles. A prime example of a completely innocuous word getting tainted by a minority of assholes so the rest of us can’t use it anymore.

            Same goes with ‘privilege’. Academic, social-science clinical term removed from any values judgement in and of itself, now inextricably linked in the Internet’s hivemind to those who use it as the opening salvo in Internet comment/forum battles.

          • Except it also gets used a lot online as not a weapon, but in discussions in the original context. I honestly can’t recall the last time I encountered someone employing it aggressively, and I know a buttload of feminists /shrug

      • ‘X privilege’ is a fallacy known as hasty generalisation, and tends to invalidate an argument that it’s incorporated in. The notion of X privilege implies that all members of X enjoy a position of privilege, however this is demonstrably false in almost all cases.

        There are better ways to encourage thought than to use fallacious reasoning, and certainly better ways than to use the implication that members of X are fundamentally lacking in knowledge or experience to be able to accurately assess a situation, which is a very common intention from people who use (or perhaps misuse) the privilege argument.

        • “The notion of X privilege implies that all members of X enjoy a position of privilege”
          No, actually, it doesn’t. It refers to a specific, and limited, set of privileges unavailable to not-X, not that all X are privileged in the “well off/rich” sense of the word. Very broadly it refers to the ‘privilege’ of not being discriminated against. White privilege does not mean (or claim) that all white people have better lives than all non-white people, nor does male privilege mean or claim that all men have better lives than all women.

          • Someone sent me a link once to an article which described the various types of ‘privilege’ as a Real Life game difficulty setting. I can’t for the life of me find it now, but it basically covered all those points about still being able to fail even on easy difficulty, or being able to succeed even on hard difficulty, the only thing that your RL Difficulty Setting changes is your luck rolls, a bonus to your starting stats, and your faction rep. Straight white male is basically the easiest difficulty setting, but if you suck at the game or get shitty rolls, you can still suck at RL.

          • It’s interesting but in my opinion it’s ultimately misguided. The experiences of different broad groups (like white males) can’t really be distilled down to ‘easier’ or ‘harder’. Awful things happen to everyone, different people have different notions of what constitutes hardship, and there are a lot of variables beyond gender or skin colour. It’s not correct to make a blanket statement that white men have it easier or black women have it harder, everyone should be assessed on the merits of their individual experiences, on a case by case basis.

            Of course, doing that is harder than simply labelling people and regarding their experiences collectively, which is why people frequently fall back on the fallacy of group privilege – it’s easier to dismiss someone’s view if you see them as a label and not as an individual.

          • No, “X privilege” is used to refer to privilege all members of X have, not what some members of X might have. If it only applied to some members of X, it wouldn’t be called ‘X privilege’, it would be called something else. I didn’t say anything about better lives, we’re talking about privilege.

            If, as you claim, it refers to the privilege of not being discriminated against, then as I stated above, it’s demonstrably false for all groups. Every classifiable group of people gets discriminated against, whether they’re black or white, male or female.

    • And see here, a perfect example of tone policing. You essentially said “Serrels didn’t write this article in a friendly enough tone to make me feel welcome reading it, so I’m not going to support the entire idea behind it”. It’s fine to dislike his writing style here, but you shouldn’t dismiss the issue because of it.

      • You’re putting words in his mouth. He said the tone makes him want to close the article. His opening ‘I’d like to support it’ doesn’t qualify what ‘it’ is, and may well be referring to the article itself, not the idea behind it. Why not ask for clarification first?

  • I’m kinda curious as to why it would be so amazing to have a female Link. Sure, it’s good for equality and what-not, but I can’t see it actually making the game any better.

    Also, Frozen is far and beyond over-rated.

    • Wouldn’t making a game more inclusive arguably make it better for a lot of people? Even those who played before without the inclusive aspects?

      • Adding a female character just for the sake of having one would be no better than not having one at all.

        If it will help the game, yes, by all means have one. But if it’s just a token add-in for the sake of equality, you’d be better off not bothering.

      • But think about what you’re saying here. Have you ever met a female gamer whose problem with Zelda was that Link was male? It’s not the sort of story that you need to relate to the main character on a gender level. It’s like saying Mark would have enjoyed Frozen more if they were boys. Games in general need more variety on almost every single level of design, no doubt about that, but does Zelda/Nintendo need that specific change?
        Really the only demographic I’ve ever seen Nintendo lock out is the 11-19 year old male crowd that demands games prove their maturity with blood, gore, tits and arse. Not everyone is represented in every Nintendo game but if you take a step back Nintendo really do a good job of making games almost anyone can enjoy. One of their biggest mistakes in recent history (and as far back as the NES/SNES) was attempting to make games everyone could enjoy rather than focusing on the core gamers the other consoles chase.
        If anyone in gaming should be excused from lectures like these and left to their own discretion it’s probably Nintendo.

    • It doesn’t have to be better, the point is that it would be equally as good. Besides, you might not think the game would be any better but a lot of women might disagree. (Emphasis on might because I couldn’t say).

      • Right? I played her first, and was pretty much disappointed in damn near every other character. 🙁

        Female crusader had some good lines, though.

      • Femwizard is such a beaut. So snarky, I love her.
        Her banter with the scoundrel is great, too.

  • I’ll play whatever the developer allows me to play as, as it is their vision, and I’ll respect that vision, because I understand that at the end of the day, it isn’t a big deal. Like, at all.

  • If given the option I tend to always choose the male protagonist, and make him look like as much as me as possible. It gives me a greater sense of immersion. But everyone is different and I agree with Serrels, we should all get the option to choose. Plus we need more female gamers.

  • Swap the beard and alcohol parts and you could be my mirror.

    I want to play as a female character. When given the ability to build a character, I always play as a female character. Not necessarily a white one, either.

    My steam list is 453 games. I have owned at least one and usually two consoles and handhelds from every generation going back to the Master System and NES.

    I am a straight, white male. I am 30 years old. I am a university educated professional. I have disposable income. I want to play as a female character in games. Give me this thing and I will give you money.

  • I thought that the character shown in the trailer was Zelda anyway. Did they ever explicitly say it was Link?

    • Honestly, I totally jumped to the conclusion that it was Link based on the horse-riding and the fact that it was the first look I’d seen at the next Zelda game. So I expected the franchise main character. So yeah, my first thoughts were, “Why is Link wearing that, now?” followed by, “Wow, they made him feminine.” Didn’t even stop to think about that.

  • So it is with the amazing film Brave, also focussing on female relationships in a new and interesting way and grumble grumble noone likes that movie except me grumble

    Also I might add that my own little indy adventure game in development is comprised with female characters quite easily in the majority, but this was never a conscious decision. I believe I came to doing this on the basis that they are characters we don’t usually get to see, which automatically makes them more unique and interesting. I don’t see how other devs don’t see the value in that alone to be honest.

  • Mark, this is officially the best article of yours I have ever read.

    Please come to PAX so that I may shout you a beer, or other non-alcoholic beverage of your choosing.

  • I couldn’t care less. That being said but this article is surely a joke right..
    If the writer of the games themselves choose to write a game with female characters, if you don’t want to play that game then DON’T buy it..
    Would it be good if you could choose a gay, black, Asian, female, male , transgender, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, child, old age pensioner, Tall, midget, mentally retarded, MS, paraplegic and amputee, but if a game doesn’t have all of these options does this mean i will not buy it, of course not .. simple really..
    ever noticed there are no other characters other than white in mario bros.. seems racist to me.. I want a black character in Mario. I’m WHITE and i have a penis just checked ( in case the Penis wasn’t included enough in the artical)
    P.s Penis Penis Penis

  • PS. “Woman” does not refer to well endowed, leggy females schmalzing around with clothing no thicker than dental floss on. I will take plate mail covered warrior women over bikini wearing magicians any day.

    • On what basis do you define the term ‘woman’ to exclude women who don’t fit the image in your mind? Well-endowed, leggy women are just as much women as any other. It’s fine that you have a preference to see armoured women over bikini women, as it’s equally valid for someone to prefer the reverse. But they’re both women.

  • I am a straight, white man with disposable income.

    Wait, you’re married. Being married and having disposable income is kind of an oxymoron 😛

    Anyways, their reasoning is stupid because developers have admited how very little work there is in making a gender swap and how much money is doesn’t take.
    You can find modders for Skyrim who can do it in an afternoon.

  • Personally I don’t mind whether a game revolves around a female or not. I takes it as I sees it. If a developer goes, ‘HEY YOU KID! Wanna buy this game?! Well it’s a female as the main protagonist, DEAL WITH IT!’. I don’t make a fuss, I don’t even percieve there to be a problem of ‘HOMAGAD DER IS DE GUUURLL IN MI GAEM OH NOEZ!!!?!?’

    I just play the game, and empathise with whatever protagonist they give me. I guess there could be more games with wimmins for the main character but, I tend to leave such decisions up to developers.

    I would however like it if developers could decide on what their story revolves around, and people just go ‘I like you’re game, keep making more please!’ instead of ‘I WILL NEVER BUY YOUR GAMES AGAIN BECAUSE YOU ONLY FOCUS ON MALE CHARACTERS AND IN MODERN SOCIETY THAT IS NOT ON. BRB MAKING PETITION TO BOYCOTT YOUR STUDIO YOU BIG JERKS’.

    That’s my 3 silver pieces for today. 🙂

  • I’d like there to be a choice.

    I relate more to male characters because Im a male. Shocking, I know. I understand that female players might also want to relate to the characters they play.

  • “Frozen is a Disney movie about two sisters who are women.” I found this to be a most illuminating statement. There were two sisters you say? And both were women? Fascinating….

    I’m a straight white male and I couldn’t care less whether the option to play as a female exists. It comes down to whether or not a game looks like it’ll be good. If the series main protagonist is a female (e.g. Samus Aran) then I’ll still play the shiznittle outta that game, because the game is good. If I have an option (e.g. Skyrim) I choose male because I am male and that is what I relate too. If the next Zelda game features a female Link, I will still play the shazwocker outta that game (I’m trying to cut back on swearing but I have a poor vocabulary so I have to make words up) because Zelda games rank amongst my all time favourites.

    I don’t like this practice that has sprung up of late where people “demand” that games have certain features, like the people complaining that the Tomadoochiewhatsitfkncalled game doesn’t have the option to be gay. Let the creators make their creative choices and stop acting as though it is a personal insult against your gender/sexuality/race/sensibilities because they didn’t include what you wanted them to. I say this because sometimes for some people it is almost as though they want a checklist satisfied, without having to actually analyse or appreciate (thanks Robbie Collin). In short, I don’t want game makers to do things simply for the sake of it. I want it to serve a true creative purpose. That said I believe the option to play as female should just be a given for multiplayer scenarios where players can choose their own character, and in most games it is already the case. If they couldn’t include the ladies because of time or cost restraints then I will use my understanding to, well, understand.

    P.S As a straight white male I am uncomfortable with the references to supposed straight white male privilege in this article. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in some form, I am saying that I am uncomfortable with the idea that you think our opinion carries more weight. If it does it shouldn’t. Using supposed “racial privilege” (a.k.a inequality) to argue for gender equality is just a bit silly imo.

  • “If I was single and in my early 20s, you might even catch me in the gym getting ‘ripped for Stereo’. ”

    I think you just read my facebook wall.

  • I really don’t care either way. Played as FemShep and DudebroShep. Love Tomb Raider. Don’t give a flying fuck if I can/can not play as a female soldier in the latest COD or as a female parkour king/stabbing expert in the latest AC.

    Truly. Just give me good gameplay and stfu about video game gender equality.

  • It doesn’t particularly bother me either way, it should be whatever suits the story.

    In games where you get to create a character I’ll try both genders at some point but for my main playthrough I tend to choose male and try to make the character resemble me.

  • I love the fact your favourite movie last year is a cartoon, yet you feel the need to reference your ‘penis’ about 10 times in the article.

    Don’t know whether to take you seriously or not…

  • People should be able to make the game they want to without people blowing up everywhere asking why this or that wasn’t included and if not, well it’s discrimination, sexist or racist. If Ubisoft don’t want a female lead in Assassin’s Creed, well who are we to argue against that. I wanna play Tomb Raider but I want to choose the main character to be a man. That’s not actually the case, but that’s what it sounds like when people get all riled up about not being able to play as a female character.

    Yeah, there’s an issue about how Ubisoft responded to calls for female characters in Unity. If they’d’ve just said ‘we don’t want a female lead in this game’ people would’ve been more accepting of that (maybe).

    But really though Mark, would it actually affect you or how you play if Link was a female in the new Zelda? Would you be thinking ‘this is all the more awesome because my character’s got different bits? I don’t get that line of thinking. Have we now gotten to the point where people are expecting to influence directly what a game involves rather than letting a developer just make the game that they want to make?

  • I say we disband the Team Ninja development team and send a member of staff to every major developer and publisher on the planet to oversee the feminisation of the games industry!

    Seriously though, I think the key words in Marks article are “when it’s reasonably fair”. While I’m all for putting female characters into a game, we should all be mindful of the fact that developers don’t have an unlimited supply of time and resources to do these things.

    My understanding is that this Assassins Creed has a story mode intertwined within the games co-op, so there really would be a lot of new assets required to add female characters into the game. While games like Mass Effect have done an admirable job of adding female main characters, I’m sure we’re all appreciative of just how much work was required in order for us to play as a female Shepard.

    Ubisoft have in the past created female models for use in multiplayer, and the PSP AC game starred a (black!) female protagonist. Seriously, as much shit and we put on them that’s something that really is almost unheard of.

    When developing for a new generation assets often get cut or new versions minimalised. The new UFC game only has about 40% of the UFC roster, Forza 5 had far less tracks than Forza 4….. It’s sad to see some people attacking Ubisoft for this with such vitriol when their team is only a couple of games removed from taking (what is perceived as) a huge risk by creating a game starring a poor, black female.

    If it was just creating an online model or something they’ve shown in the past that they will do it, but in this case they’ve decided that adding female voices, models ect to a story mode is too much expense amidst the development of a new-generation title.

    I know that’s disappointing for the (relatively small) percentage of people who really want to play as a female, it’s probably disappointing for a lot of the development team too, but I think we should all be reasonable in out criticisms. Ubisoft have a better record than most of adding female characters and I would expect that there’ll be women in the next version, they said themselves they wanted them in- we need to be realistic about what can reasonably be achieved.

  • The article seems a little too homophobic then it should of. He could of made one little joke but then he kept going like that one person who always go’s too far.

    I might also add towards the end saying he’s straight and plays a woman, that quite normal. Not all gay guys prefer to play women, I’d say the majority don’t..

  • My kneejerk response to this is “who gives a shit, isn’t this obvious?” but then I remember the dismal lack of playable female protagonists in all the hot games coming out and realise that it’s not.

    I don’t think this is a good or interesting article. But it is still, sadly, necessary.

      • Sorry Mark, that sounds a lot harsher now that I re-read it.

        I don’t have anything against your writing and the article has merit, but this was a rambling list of examples about how you’re a man and you don’t object to playing as a female when the game allows/requires you to and came across as a bit preachy. I feel like for the most part there are plenty of penis-equipped straight penisy white penis-males with penises that enjoyed Frozen and would love to play as a female in the next Assassin’s Creed (myself included) who don’t need to be preached to.

        I guess I was objecting more to the fact that the article needed to exist than the fact it was written. I meant no offence to you for being the person who wrote it.

        • Hahaha, fair enough! I was just surprised to see the comment that’s all.

          The point I was trying to make is that…

          – The commercial angle of not adding female characters is bullshit.
          – If developers cater purely listen to and cater to only one demographic — which is bullshit to begin with — maybe it’s time for that demographic to use that power.

          I don’t necessarily think that’s obvious or it can be left unsaid. I think this is one issue where our voice is important. It’s just an attempt to say: this isn’t just an issue that affects a small minority, it’s something that we all want to see change.

          • No, absolutely. I mean it’s obvious to me and I feel like it has been for a long time which is why I’m disappointed that it still needs to be being said.

  • maybe if you want to play as a female main character you could play a game that is known for having a female main character like tomb raider, not assassins creed which has had a male player character in all but one of its games, no idea why people were expecting a female character.

    • They were going to include a female character and they’ve now announced that they’re cutting them out because it was too hard. It’s because they offered something and then removed it.

  • This may be a little long, but here we go 🙂

    As far as I can see, it wouldn’t matter story wise, or in any other way if Link was female in this game. Just swap the bodies; no one said anything about swapping the Link/Zelda personalities. I find it both kind of funny and unnerving that people just assume that when someone suggests gender swapping Link and Zelda that their personality traits need to be swapped too. Female Link can still be the courageous silent type and male Zelda can still be wise and in need to rescuing. Unless there is a puzzle that needs to be solved with a penis (or a vagina), I don’t really see the issue of making Link a specific gender. I don’t find it to be an issue if Link stayed male either. Having a male protagonist is fine. Just like having a female protagonist would be fine. This whole ‘Link could be female’ discussion is just a theory and its opening doors of discussion. Good discussion, mostly. Its a pretty cool idea though.

    @hydroleks: It’s great that you couldn’t care less. I’m happy for you. However, I wish us female gamers could feel the same way. You don’t care because you have a million and one other games to play as a male in. You are represented in video games. We just want representation as well. Like @patrickbateman said, 16 to 40 year old white males are not the only ones with interesting stories to tell.

    @arnchise: I get what you’re saying. You think on more of the ‘big picture’ kind of scale and that’s fine. I do it too. Comparing having us LGBQT people represented and females having main characters in video games with starving people and gay marriage, yeah it is kinda of… not equal. However, I think that you’re opinion may be a little misplaced here. Jerome Bruner makes a fantastic point of this his paper “The Narrative Construction of Reality” (for those who are interested: http://www.semiootika.ee/sygiskool/tekstid/bruner.pdf). In short, he says that narrative constructs how we all see reality. So, as video games are a form of narrative construction, wouldn’t having proper representation in games for minorities help people recognise and understand them and hence put a stop to all these problems that you are talking about? We can just solve a big problem in one go; we can’t just bully the problem away. We have to start small. When we solve smaller problems it becomes easier to solve the bigger ones.

  • I’ll admit it:

    Most games I play and enjoy are games wherein I get to play as someone who reminds me of a version of myself.

    I like Watch Dogs because I’m a white male who is good with technology, and I have a temper.

    I got bored with GTA games because I’m not a wannabe gangster.

    I did enjoy Tomb Raider, but I can’t honestly say I’d have played it if my girlfriend wasn’t a Lara Croft cosplay nerd and bought it of her own volition.

    When I play a game with in-depth customization, my character will always look like me.

    Sooooooo I can totally see why women get butthurt when they’re forced to play as men. We can sometimes choose to play as women if we want, but very rarely are we FORCED to.

    That said, I’m still trolling the shit out of friends on the matter because I’m an asshole and it makes me laugh to rile them up.

  • The question for me is:

    When do we get female main villains? When do I get to face off against an evil woman and beat the shit out of her and kill her at the end of the game? That’ll be equality!

    • Infamous second son.
      I was really quite impressed with Augustine as a villain, that smug self-satisfied I’m better and more important than you and there isn’t shit you can do about it look just works. That and the fact she has character at all, she isn’t the busty blonde window dressing that so many female characters invariably fall into when it comes to big name titles.

  • 3 out of 5 characters I played in Skyrim were female, one was a dude and one was a (dude) Cat.
    I enjoy playing female protagonists too. Mirror’s Edge was great fun, as was Portal (1 & 2). I am just as happy playing as a female as I am a male. Would like the option more often if it was available.

  • Big bearded, red blooded, ax-wielding, deer killing and meat consuming guy here myself.

    Now that I am done with all the apparently required qualifiers might I offer that as long as the game is fun I don’t really care who is included and who is not?

    I’d prefer the politics be left out of games.

  • Like some, I really don’t care. If it’s male, fine, if it’s female, fine, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a cool character and well written. Both genders can be equally interesting. However I think it’s dumb to just change the sex of characters in a game just for the sake of having equality.

    Bottom line, I don’t see the problem with having female leads at all, but I also don’t see the need for it. I really wouldn’t care if the protag was a flamboyantly gay man wearing only budgie smugglers, as long as it was well written and made sense in the context of the game and added to the quality of the game. So if I don’t care about that, why should I care about the lead being female or not?

  • Typical kotaku crap again. You don’t ask an author to make two versions of every book with differing sexes of the main protagoniat right? Don’t know why you think this is different.

      • I’m not sure you realise this, but expecting a character to be simply changable in sex, would most likely make the story weaker overall. I dont know why the book analogy doesnt stand, I imagine it would be less time consuming to actually go through a book and change all the she’s to he’s, but then character relationships and interactions would be seen differently. Biggest nanny bullshit i’ve heard in a long time, next up, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO ALWAYS BE WHITE/BLACK/ASIAN etc. Go ruin art on your own time.

        As for multiplayer games with no story? sure, but ubi have already stated your still playing as your single player character in co-op, who is male, as part of the story.

  • People seem to forget that Ubisoft is a business, and the primary goal of any business is profitability (especially if they are a public company). Not including a female protagonist, or a female character for co-op is a business decision – it has nothing to do with sexism and everything to do maximizing profits and keep costs to a minimum.
    If including female characters in the game would generate enough incremental sales to offset the additional development costs and increase the profitability of the product, they would be in, no question.

  • @Mark Serrels, thank you for the article, really enjoyed reading it.

    The games that I really like happen to have strong female characters in them, because they tend to have better writing/story. I think the good writers cared enough about the game to populate it with believable female characters.

  • Ubisoft announcement:
    Introducing the Girl’s Club DLC! Play as a member of the opposite gender in all multiplayer modes, with hundreds of customisation options, such as:
    – bunny ears hats
    – shiny corsets
    – pink swords
    Now available on the PSN Store and XBox Marketplace for $14.95.

  • People are misdirecting their anger here. In general, I agree, but we are talking about including ‘8000’ animations for a character that you won’t play as – like WatchDogs, you only ever see Arno – and that is a preferential thing at best. Do you know how ludicrous that is from a production standpoint? People saying ‘Ubisoft has money, just delay it!’ Are honestly ridiculous.

  • It also worries me that in the near future you will be mandated to make characters according to a PC committee, and not you as the creator being allowed to decide what you artistically want.

    • Could the people downvoting explain to me why this is a problematic statement? Or are you just doing it because it doesn’t conform to your particular viewpoint of videogames? Give me a legitimate reason why it’s appropriate to tell a creator what to do with his art.

      I agree that representation is a problem, but you know how you dont get through to creators? By getting yelly at them that they’re ‘doing something wrong’ when they dont include you. Encourage representation, don’t belittle and cry ‘sexist! misogynist! rah!’ when they don’t. Because when the games that you have got in a huff about eventually still sell, the developers are even less likely to take your criticism seriously.

      If your argument is based around ‘x is great, but it would be even better with y!’, you’re much more likely to get receptive ears than ‘x would be great, but because it doesnt have y it’s completely terrible’. But just like I have a choice to play a game regardless of gender (and for the record, BGE is my favourite game ever) you have a choice to ignore games that you don’t feel represent you, or if that lack of representation is honestly the dealbreaker between you being able to enjoy the game and you not being able to.

      • I down voted you because you had a typical thoughtless response to a very fair article…

        “How dare Mark be so PC as to want to start a conversation about having more women in games! Soon we’ll be playing as a disabled overweight lesbian jews because of these bleeding heart lefties!”

        You mention art…art is broad, there is art for everyone. It’s about stretching the limits and being creative. Challenging people. How is using the cookie-cutter manly man protagonist an artistic decision? It’s boring and distinctly uncreative.

        The gaming industry ultimately wants money. To get money, they try to give people what they want. (Which is why we often end up with boring clones and repetitive heroes). If Mark wants female protagonists, that in itself is an argument for the gaming industry to include more of them.

        • Where did I even mention the quote you’re attributing to me? Strawman much? A fair speculative question about the interaction between consumer expectations and artistic choices is a far cry from saying that we shouldn’t have a conversation about it, or belittling Mark or the article for its pointlessness (like the commenter at the top of this page).

          “How is using the cookie-cutter manly man protagonist an artistic decision? It’s boring and distinctly uncreative”. Seriously? Once again, good to see a moderate viewpoint that recognises that artistic decisions are made by the artist for a reason *sarcasm*. Immediately discounting a story because it features a white male as “boring and distinctly uncreative” is highly condescending and extremely ironic, especially without knowing the context of it (we’re talking outside of the AC Unity example).

          It’s all well and good to say you don’t like it, and personally, I’m sick of the mountain of monotonous white protags with interchangeable personalities in games I’ve played. But with AC Unity, I have no idea whether I like the game, or whether it helps or hinders the narrative, or literally anything to do with it. I will reserve my judgement till the game releases, and then make a personal assessment on its individual merits.

          You’re correct though, there is art for everyone. But we shouldn’t be trying to force all art to suit everyone, or to publicly ‘crucify’ people who don’t create art or entertainment that does not cater to every group, no matter how large or small they are.

          • It isn’t about publicly “crucifying” people (if that’s what this is then Jesus got off lightly). It’s about challenging developers to start breaking the white male protagonist model. You’re acting like every time a developer chooses to include a male protagonist, they’re thinking about the artistic merits and weighing up both sides equally. Given the huge majority of games that feature male-only leads, it’s pretty clear that devs create male protagonists because their primary audience is male, and they think guys want to play as guys. It’s about money, not art. I love video games, but the driving force is sales, not artistic merit.

            If we follow your lead, then every game we can say “the developer judged that the smart alec twenty-something white male protagonist was artistically sound, and who are we to judge”? At some point you have to start calling people out in order to get some change.

          • The ‘crucifying’ was indeed hyperbolic. I agree with you mostly, we should be challenging poorly written, trope characters regardless of gender or colour, and not allowing developers to use ‘artistic merit’ as a crutch for bad storytelling. I also agree that people should be calling for more representation, but I disagree with the ‘calling out’ per se.

            I (as an indie developer) want to be able to tell stories about anyone, be it a white male, or a black female, without fear that I will be publicly branded a ‘sexist, misogynist’ purely because I CHOSE to target a certain demographic or group. There’s a degree of entitlement in demanding that every videogame cater to a specific group, and I personally think it’s a bit ludicrous to sit back and say ‘if you can include a woman, you should, otherwise it’s sexist’ without taking into account the other factors that go into creating a narrative. Bear in mind, I’m speaking at a high level extrapolation, ie a game created by a developer and not significantly influenced by publisher priorities etc, and this is speaking more generally than the current environment of representation.

            So yes, for the most part, we should be encouraging developers to have a more diverse cast of characters. What we shouldn’t be doing is insinuating that developers that choose not to are some kind of monster for not doing so. Entertainment has never been about pleasing everyone, and videogames are no exception. I know it’s hard to see that when there’s currently so little representation of women in videogames (comparatively), but a developer should feel free enough to target his game to whoever he chooses to, just like film, television, books or any other entertainment medium.

            The best way to do so is vote with your wallet, the market will work itself out. As crushing as it is, if a game still sells well regardless of its level of representation, then it may force people to recognise that their priorities are not necessarily reflective of the audience that is enjoying such entertainment (as painful as it may be).

      • Mark isn’t being yelly or saying that they’re not including him. He is saying that “I love Zelda, but it would be rad to have a female Link.”

  • Also, what about minorities? Why couldn’t the Master Chief have been black after the big reveal? Why couldn’t Aiden Pearce be South American?

    Why doesn’t Home and Away have more minorities??

    Just asking, as a guy named: Anderigunawan Maya Hashim Abdulhamid…

  • Hahaha, firstly +1 to Sir Serrels, Captain of the Penis Patrol for
    another one in the can for the straight white man funny line man

    But secondly, if given the choice, I almost always play as female characters. Particularly for third person games, if I am going to be staring at a virtual ass for 20-60 hours, it may as well be a female virtual ass.
    Maybe it’s just me… actually funny story, when me and my mates started playing L4D, the manliest of manly mates that I have was the first to pick Zoe, and has played as her ever since.

  • I agree that you are a man – although I’ve never met you. Although given the option you’d prefer not to look at penis 90% of the the time…that’s a good 10% you WOULD like to look at penis, just saying 😛

    Penis jokes aside, because Serrel’s cops enough small ones from his wife, I really don’t understand the massive uproar about all this girls in games business.

    I play a female character in games all the time, but if I don’t have that option, I don’t feel it necessary to badger the developers to incorporate them into their game. I’m almost 100% positive that there will be female developers working on Unity, and most other games out/incoming.

    So many games being released are semi broken – I would think that would be something the entire community should rally behind to keep the developers in check. I’m all for implementing female characters into the world…if it fits.

    I don’t for one sec believe Ubisoft’s response to the issue, by saying it would take too much time – but you also have to understand they spit these AC games out pretty quickly – maybe the time it would take to green screen female movements, and incorporate proper bust physics, may indeed take up too much development time, and ultimately would have caused delays. Do we really want the game delayed – it would cause more outcry. I’d rather they have the game run smooth as butter.

    Considering the assassins wear cloaks, I’m pretty sure the quick cheap way would be modify one of the male models, to look a little more female – problem solved.

    Anyway, I’m not against this ‘movement’, I just think there is more prominent matters in the gaming industry that should be focused on.

  • One thing I would say if Link is Female, then Zelda should be male no? isn’t there always a love story between the two? I would like to think that Nintendo would be open to a same sex relationship in a game but we all know that will never happen.

  • I choose women because, well, I like boobs. Sexist? I don’t care. I love boobs. Boobs boobs boobs. So I guess that makes me a straight guy. A happily married straight guy with a couple of cool kids. I still like boobs and thats not going to change. When I’m going to play a game for 30+ hours, I much prefer looking at.. you guessed it.. a character with boobs. And I love that I live in a world of choice where I can do such a thing.

    This article on the other hand felt wrong. It felt like someone demanding they be served by a woman at the checkout. Demanding that someone change their story or artwork so that it accomodates heroes of both sexes. How is it fair that such demands be placed on Ubisoft? I’m not going to demand they give me boobs or I won’t play their game. I’ll play it and (presumably) love it because I have the other Assassin’s Creed titles. Sure, if they happen to add in some playable boobs just for me, I’ll be overjoyed, but I won’t cry if they don’t.

  • I don’t see why he needed to keep saying he was a white man…considering he didn’t say anything about being able to play as a black character…accidental racism?

    • i believe it’s probably because the demographic for gaming is generally considered to be straight white men, hence the repetition of “straight white man”.

  • I am female and a mom and 40+, I love playing all of the Assassin’s Creed games, I play because I like each of the characters, not because they are male or female, I do play as a female when given the option, but gender choice for me is not really a high priority.

  • I’ve never understood why guys get squeamish about playing as a female in games. Since when is it “gay” to enjoy looking at a female avatar? If anything, it’s the opposite! Or are most guys so lacking in imagination that they can only see the avatar on-screen as themselves and not someone else?

  • My always get commented on in Multiplayer games that I play a female character when given the choice. My answer (especially in 3rd person adventure games and for cut scenes) is that I’d much rather stare at a female character (especially her bottom) for hours on end. I too am male, white and hetero. 😀

  • The thing that got me most about what Ubisoft Guy said (besides the bragging about the huuuuuuge team and the nine studios but whoops, couldn’t do female characters, and the fact that *they’ve done female characters before*) was that he described having female characters as a “feature”. Ohhh okay then, I’ll just be over here, playing games where having the option to play a female character is considered as just part of how games work and not a damned FEATURE.

    • Can you explain how rigging and animating an entirely new model (8000 skeletal anims if the dev is to be believed) just for a character that will only be seen, not played, is worth it from a business sense? and isn’t a feature? Like Watchdogs, you always show up as Arno. If it was a customisable main character (which I agree, would be nice) then it would make sense… but in this case, it just doesn’t.

      I just think people getting angry at Ubisoft are misdirecting their anger – out of most franchises, the AC series has been the most progressive – Adewale, Adeline, and females in the competitive MP of the past – there are much worse offenders when it comes to devs who don’t seem to include any other groups.

      • It’s a multiplayer where you can customise how your character looks. If you will always show up as the stubbled white guy, why make it customisable? Why not just have everyone with a bog standard everything if “you always show up as Arno”? Making it customisable means jack from a business perspective too, so it’s just as worthless from a business sense.

        • Because it’s not visual character customisation (beyond customising your outfit). It’s only skills – based on what they’ve released so far. There’s a ‘Coming Soon’ on the deep customization section, so we’ll know soon enough. The product sheet and all others only mention outfit customisation.

          http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-US/games/assassins-creed-unity/new-multiplayer/index.aspx

          ‘Play Your Part’ section.

          You will always show up as Arno. Players 2-4 who aren’t you will show up as the preselected colour / character in your game. Just like Watchdogs.

  • Loved reading the article and comments, but it brings me back to recent articles about the difficulty of games, and the author finding themselves playing games more and more on the easiest setting because the story is just as important as the need to shoot 10 bad guys, or getting a 27 combo hit, if not more so.
    With such story driven games out there, a player who creates a stronger relationship with their character often enjoys the game more than if they don’t like the character. Clementine, Ellie, Lara, FemShep. With 2 of these characters it certainly isn’t their physical appearance that make playing them enjoyable, and as for the other 2 it might be a 30 second thought you have at the start of a 30+ hour interaction you have with them. Personally I enjoy playing these characters more because I’ve invested more into wanting them to succeeding than I would Connor, Duke, Drake or any other number of muscle bound males used as lead characters. Almost all games reviews you read or watch will reference the reviewers “connection” with the main character and therefore their enjoyment. If possible I too would like the option to choose who I want follow on their journey.

  • “…Assassin’s Creed, had been considering adding a female assassin to its roster to compliment the game’s latest 4 player co-operative mode, but quickly scrapped it because the ‘reality of production’ would have made their inclusion too costly.

    ‘It was really a lot of extra production work,'”

    You, know I actually agree with the creative director, it is a lot of extra work. Now, I’m not saying this because I want to bash women or anything, in fact, it is nothing like it at all. I’m saying this because, as a game developer myself, I know first hand how difficult it is to change something as simple as a characters gender. And in a game as extensive as Assassins Creed, it would be unthinkable unless it had been conceived earlier on. This is because, to include a new gender means ALL the dialogue that was directed to a male is now being directed to a female, gotta change that. Plus, there is a scene where you meet a prostitute, that scene would have gone differently. Furthermore, they don’t want to shorthand her just because she is a woman, they would have to properly flesh her out and that is something that needed to be done earlier on.

    So yes, I agree that it was too much extra work to add on to at the end, but I also say, with the rising rebellion of women to their forced tropes and the desire for equality, this is something they should have included in the earlier development of the game.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!