Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy

Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy

When you boot up Splatoon for the first time, this is what you see. Girl? Boy? The game doesn’t pick one for you, which is different than how most games approach this decision.

Most video games, even ones that allow players to swap genders and customise your character, choose male/boy/guy as the default. When you boot up Bloodborne, here’s what it looks like:

Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy


Here’s Mass Effect:

Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy


Many games are like this, though some are bucking the trend. In Destiny and Dragon Age: Inquisition, I’m told, which gender it defaults to is randomised! Neat! I like that.

These are games where I played as arse kickin’ lady and had tremendous fun doing so. But while creating my character, being male is where the game defaulted. Chances are, this is merely an oversight by the designers, though also it’s possible they’re pandering to their likely player base.

Splatoon choose to be agnostic about this choice, and while it’s a tiny detail (in a game full of awesome tiny details, mind you), it’s one that I appreciated. For once, a game didn’t assume.

Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy

I went with the girl, obviously. She’s super cool.

Nintendo has taken this approach before, too. Take Pokemon, for example:

Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy

It could be a happy accident, it’s hard to know. But given how Nintendo designed Splatoon‘s cover art, and how prominently the girl’s been in the marketing, maybe it’s all connected.

Splatoon Doesn’t Assume You Want To Be A Boy

All I know is writing this article makes me wanna go play some more Splatoon.


  • Good work. Though from the marketing material, I assumed it was only possible to be a girl. Which would’ve been fine too, a nice inversion on the norm outlined above.

  • They’re not concerned about your gender, they have more important questions to deal with!

    The most important question is, are you a squid or a kid?

    • And yet the femenazi swarm will probably have a go at splatoon because every match is judged by Judd, a male (how disgustingly typical!).

      • There are only about 5 feminazi in the world, but the meninazi will be upset that women are an option, just like they are upset about a strong woman being in a Mad Max film!

    • In my experience people don’t really get offended by an individual game doing something like assuming you’re male, but when the vast majority of games make that assumption it gives people the impression that games aren’t meant for women, a view that a lot of people really hold. The article isn’t about people being offended, it’s about a nice little detail that makes some people enjoy the game a little more.

      Reading through the comments I can see that some people clearly are offended by the idea that anyone would like games to present genders equally. Apparently liking something like this makes you as bad as the Nazis.

      • How dear you view this article objectively!!!
        We should be outraged and when we decide what exactly we are outraged about we shall then mock the other side with absurd arguments to diminish them.

        Screw you other side!!!!

      • While this article does a good job, it doesn’t go into the details for why these system could differ. Unfortunately some articles that talk about these things don’t stay as objective, and claim wholeheartedly that one way is right while other are wrong.

        It’s that that you’re seeing. It’s fallacious to claim that commenters are offended by equality. When really their ire has been kicked up by the implication that one games way to promoting it trumps all others.

      • Is asos.com not presenting genders equally when it directs me to the “womens” section of the site by default? Or is it just using statistics and feedback to provide a faster, easier service for the majority of its user base, even if it has options for both genders?

        When will ASOS answer for its crimes of “unconscious” bias? Where is my equality!

  • Who cares? the choice of what gender you want is there anyway. I don’t see the big deal.

    • Because as someone who believes in gender equality and removal of gender stereotypes and norms, I can’t possibly relate to or enjoy a character who isn’t my exact gender in the videogame I’m playing.

      …Wait. No, that can’t be right…

    • Now I’m guessing that the dan in your name makes you a guy (unless I am wrong and I apologise for the assumption), it makes no difference to YOU because you are the default setting. It sends a message when even in games where you can be either sex the game assumes you are male. It’s a powerful kind of reinforcement that gaming is a male centric space.

      • Don’t fall into the same trap by making assumptions about others.

        In terms of the message though, why would it be sole responsibility of the sender to reinforce? Are we breeding a generation of gamers that must be told how to play?

        • Fair point, but I suppose I assumed that ‘dan’ would be a male as I find the people who don’t think it’s a ‘big deal’ are the ones who aren’t directly affected by the issue.

          And I think the content maker does have some responsibility over how they frame gender. And Nintendo has shown that it’s not hard to do. Should From Software be burnt at the stake for having the character creator on male as default? Absolutely not. Should it be celebrated when it’s done better? Yes.

          And as far as being told how to play, games themselves give us a great deal of information about what is right and wrong / normal or abnormal / mainstream or niche. The fact that you start with the splattershot in the game clearly has an influence over the amount of people who use it. It’s much more popular than the other two weapons. It may be more subtle, but if you started as a male and had to go to even slightly more effort the game might slightly suggest that the game is more for males, or it’s a male activity, or that being female is a novelty.

          We do have free will to play as we see fit, but it is fool hardy to think that we are not affected by our environments. Every little bit of male normativity leads to erosion of actual equality.

          • It’s true they might not be affected by the issue, but I think it’s very important that we acknowledge the points brought up by such people. Excluding those to whom we presume aren’t affected is no less exclusionary.

            Personally, I don’t think the devs have any responsibility in the representation of gender. To me all art is ‘opt-in’: if you want to make a statement about x then do it, if not then pay no heed. While devs aren’t free from criticism by any means, for the most part these days we are criticising them for faux pas, and missteps rather than direct attribution. So much of this debate about gender and exclusivity has been solely about shaming devs for their ignorance rather than attcking actual sexism and actual racism.

            Games can indeed have implicit messages in their design as does all media, but I personally am much much more interested in having consumers who are intelligent enough to see through them and decide to take with them what they want. I do not believe for an instant that games that have male option picked at start send a message about male supremacy or whatever. I don’t even understand how a player could get so far into the consuming of a game to become offended, or even perturbed by such a thing. They bought/rented/borrowed it because they wanted to play it, and if they wanted to play a male or female they’d just do so; this slight menu change will not discourage them.

            I also disagree with your last statement since it places the idea of ‘normalcy’ in a negative state. I’d much prefer that ‘male normalcy’ is paired with an increase in ‘female normalcy’ for an overall increase in equality.

          • Yes, videogames are art and art can try and say whatever the heck it wants. But we as people are allowed to relfect upon that art and deem it’s worth. Again this wasn’t a criticism of videogames and how they should only be able to portray males and females in absolute equality at all times to the detriment of story and meaning, it was a celebration of how an inclusive character creation system can invite players into a game without placing one sex over the other. Remember that the character creation aspect of a game is (or at least can be) a tool for self expression, and so one that does it well in order to immerse the player in the game (whether they be male or female) is a good one.

            But really do you think games like Bloodborne, Dark Souls etc. are trying to deliver a message about gender equality by having the character be male by default? No, this is an oversight. Does it mean that it completely escapes the tendency to label the male avatar as default? No. Does it make the games option to have a female character any less good? No. Why the big upset over this article?

            If you don’t think that anything needs to be done about sexism in videogames we disagree on a fundamental issue and will not see eye to eye. I do think that there are small changes that would allow for a more comfortable experience for a wider range of people (never alienating the existing gamers mind you), and this is a good step towards a gender neutral playing field.

            Male normativity refers to normal being synonymous with being male. This means female being abnormal. This translates to males playing this games is normal, and females playing this game is abnormal.

          • The same can be said about any tool, for self-expression or not. It’s great to celebrate when a manufacturer provides an ambidextrous tool, but sometime they make a right-handed or left-handed tool.

            I already said I disagree about any implicit message BB et. al. had. I don’t believe they deliberately or inadvertently send ANY message about gender equality. The binary choice as provided in those games “just is”. Any upset about the article is overflow from other similarly themed articles where discussion about equality did indeed devolve into ‘who is right and who is wrong’ and so any backtalk now is all about addressing that, and making sure that while the noted systems are praised, that the reverse is not admonished.

            No we will not see eye-to-eye, but that’s ok because that’s just a part of normal debate. But please don’t insinuate that because I have a different opinion on sexism in games means I do not care about it. That’s just wrong.

            PS. It is normal for men to play video games, I just don’t know where the idea that it wasn’t normal for women to play came from, to me it’s normal for everyone.

          • When you say ‘meh’ to a positive article about gender framing you send the message that you don’t care about gender equality in gaming either way. That’s what I read anyway.

            This is further backed up by you saying that this is a non-issue.

            I’m not putting any words in your mouth. Am I wrong?

      • This argument is literally the toilet seat up or down argument. Women expect it one way, men don’t care either way.

        • I would disagree. The idea that men ‘don’t care either way’ is easy to say when ‘their’ way is really the only way much of the time. No guys don’t mind playing as a girl every now and then, but imagine it if you as a guy had to play as a female in most games (and those females weren’t just pretty faces on top of boobs with jiggle physics). It wouldn’t make those games bad, but you might feel a little bit of personal distance from the character when women would be able to enjoy the immersive experience more often.

  • The opportunity for choice brings the death of narrative.

    Look at two very recent games. Dragon Age Inquisition vs. The Witcher 3. One gives you the choice to be any character you want, any gender, race, etc. The other gives you an established character in an established world with considered relationships and identity.

    All throughout Dragon Age, I felt myself rushing through side-content, which was meaningless and drawn-out. I didn’t care what happened to my character, all of his conversations with his companion characters felt like monologues spoken at me, and ultimately, in hindsight, I feel nothing and remember only a little more about that game.

    In The Witcher 3, I am excited to explore a world and narrative specifically curated for the character I play as. Every new meeting is a chance to learn something more about Geralt and the world he’s in. Every side-quest seems like the developers actually gave a shit. I feel more and more pulled into the game’s narrative, with real, personal stakes, not just some “it’s almost the end of the world and by some freak chance, YOU’RE the only one who can save it” bullshit.

    I’m sick of choice. I’m not playing swords in the backyard, I want a real narrative, with real characters, and a developer who doesn’t assume I’m a goddamn moron who will switch off the game if I don’t recognise myself in the avatar I control.

    • It’s a shooter with almost no story. You should save your rant for a time when it’s a little more relevant.

      I wouldn’t say that more than 50% of RPG’s released in the last 20 years have locked you into a character, I don’t see how choice is the death of anything…
      Baldur’s Gate, Skyrim, Mass Effect…. All games where you had some form of choice, all great titles.

      If the particular game you were concerned about IS the Witcher, AND it added the option of being someone else, AND that option came at the expense of the story, then you might have one specific case that you might be able to whinge about. Until then every game is different and calling choice “the death of narrative” is the most ridiculous hyperbole I’ve heard on here for quite some time.

      • I’d say the points they made were pretty valid actually. Did you ever find it detracting in those choice driven fully voice acted games that no one ever said your name? Did it ever bother you that character development was never really a thing because your character didn’t have a personality to begin with? Adding choice will give you limitations elsewhere. It is the same as expecting an author to write 2 books for every story so they can tell both male/female perspective. It is ridiculous.

        • Exactly. Don’t even get me started about Gordon Freeman’s muteness. That is the most perplexing and infuriating choice in games since Final Fantasy X gave you the option to “name” Tidus, which meant that nobody in the game ever said his name, even though he was obviously a specific character, much like Freeman was.

      • First of all, I never really referenced Splatoon, more the other games mentioned in the article that were viewed as “good examples”. Dragon Age. Destiny. Etc. It’s telling that Destiny’s story is so weak and general coming from a developer who ordinarily crafts strong stories. It’s largely because of the choice given to us in our character creation.

        Dragon Age and The Witcher are a perfect comparison about the pros and cons of character choice. Similar settings, different approaches, different results.

        Mass Effect comes from the same developer as Dragon Age and has the exact same problem, a faceless Shepard who hears their companions talk at them and has a general “Save the universe” mission that can be applied to any kind of character you create. It’s a weak narrative and easily the weakest part of Mass Effect is this generic character and generic story. The setting for that game was amazing and amazingly wasted.

        As soon as you can’t be sure who your lead is, you have to rely on tropes to craft the story. They have a symbiotic relationship. The death of narrative may be hyperbole, but it’s honestly not far off, you’re figuratively gutting your story the second you make the main character a customisable blank slate.

        Is it any surprise that the games with the best stories almost always have no character choice? The Last Of Us is a prime example, even when we’ve been trained to think we’d have have a choice to make in the story’s climax, it didn’t give us one. The Last of Us gave us opportunities to play as someone else, as does The Witcher 3. But it’s a character they decided, not us, in a point of the narrative they dictated.

        Save your character creation for the multiplayer modes, give me a person with a face and a voice, male or female, black or white, just make a choice.

        • Those are all different titles though, I wouldn’t ever demand a “one size fits all” approach to narrative.

          Some games are best with a single focused narrative, some games are better with an open narrative and some games customise the narrative to fit within the choices made (Mass Effect style).

          Where do you draw the line? The Witcher is full of player choices, do you dislike those because they detract from what could have been done with a single story arc? Or is it only choices that effect the character’s background and appearance that detract from the story? I ask because the Witcher 2 (I haven’t started the 3rd on yet) featured a whole freaking chapter that hinged on a decision you made, I don’t think I could name another game that gave you a choice which had such a huge impact on the games content going forward.

          At the end of the day it’s up to the developer to do what they think is best for the title.

          I do suspect that we’re on the same page in that I hate it when people demand choice in a game not designed to have one (the last Assassins Creed, “my gender is not an option” thing), but by the same token I don’t like the idea that developers should be told NOT to give players a choice either.

          • Look I think with games like Destiny, the idea of character creation is necessary to the game they are making. It’s largely a multiplayer game and the idea of a storyline that doesn’t get old is an impossibility. So instead they focussed on a largely forgettable story that actually works to improve your enjoyment of the game more.

            I think with games like Saints Row, the same thing applies. The game is supposed to be stupid fun, it’s supposed to be a cheesy story with larger than life characters. Character creation works well there because it gives you the freedom to enjoy things they way you like.

            So yeah, certain games are better with open narrative and character creation. I just 110% disagree that Dragon Age and Mass Effect are those games. Interestingly, I think that they could both be better on either end of the spectrum. Either give me a really loose narrative where I create my own Turian or whatever and decide to be a bandit or a merchant or whatever I like in an open universe, or make a focussed, character driven story with complete creator control. It’s when these games try to do both that things fall apart and we get into the realm of awful, trope-driven narrative and two-dimensional characterisation.

            Witcher 2 worked because it gave you 2 main options, and a bevy of smaller ones, but always in the context of an established lead character (and supporting cast) and an overall story that was controlled. The new one branches out further from what I have seen, but the main narrative is a very personal tale with personal character motivations and relationships.

            You just can’t tell players they need to care about their daughter or family in a game where you create your own avatar. What if my character doesn’t have a family? What if she doesn’t have friends, or share the ideology the game assumes she has? Look at what happened with the whole Mass Effect 3 ending when suddenly Bioware decided “no, actually this is our story, not yours”. That happened purely because they couldn’t commit to a single vision of the narrative.

            I’m not saying it’s not a difficult problem to overcome, the games industry has a lot of different rules to any other industry like film or literature. Here there is this strange assumption from the audience that because they control what happens on the screen, now they are the character they control. Games need to get into the habit of teaching players that’s not always true, and in the case of strong narratives, it should never be true.

  • To answer the posters above… it’s not a big deal if you’re a guy, because most guys play as guys most of the time. But when half the population are not guys, and about half of gamers are not guys, having most games assume you’re a guy is just another drip-drip-drip in the microaggression and casual sexism women deal with constantly, just as guys saying “what’s the issue? it’s not a big deal” is yet another example of the same.

    As Splatoon shows, it’s trivially easy to have both choices right there, side by side, and that instantly makes the game more accessible. So why do it any other way?

    • Okay a few things, the statistic of 48% of gamers are female was based on a survey that included mobile/tablet and everything else remotely close to gaming, so extremely inaccurate. But that doesn’t matter here really. I am pretty confident in saying gamers dont care what gender they are as long as the game appeals to their beliefs ideals or fantasies. I like Tomb Raider because of the history aspect and the cinematic feel. I like Life is Strange because of the story. I do not like Last of Us because Joel has a penis. ALSO all games can’t do the dual gender due to story, original vision, and character development, that’s like asking JK Rowling to write a second set of novels with Hermione as the protagonist. And finally, dual gender is being offered in a lot of places. The fact that it defaults to male is not intended to be offensive, it is not a micro assault on the female gender it is not segregation, you are not being sent to the back of the bus. The fact dual gender is even there is progress, can everyone stop getting offended by everything there ever was ever just this once?

      • Of course it’s not meant to be offensive. However, if most games that offer a choice default to male, then that’s not welcoming to female gamers.

        If a game has a choice, then give the choice equal priority. That’s a pretty low bar, it’s easy, and it makes people happy AT NO COST.

        So why would anybody argue against it?

        • Not arguing against it. However your argument is equal to “why walk on the left side of the road when the right side also leads you to the same place” Who fucking cares? Both options are there, make your choice and shhhhhhhhh.

          Not welcoming… Jesus Christ. This new fad of making everything an equality issue is really starting to bore.

          • Very boring to those it doesn’t affect. Very important to those it does.

          • It’s more a case of making issues out of things that aren’t issues at all. Every game I start I always have to change the audio settings from 100% on all to 60% music, 80% sound effects, 100% voices.

            That’s three whole settings I have to change, on every game. Four if subtitles aren’t enabled by default. I could complain about it, but at the end of the day it’s just my personal preference that I can’t expect the developer to assume and account for and it doesn’t affect me for longer than 30 seconds.

            The problem here is, when the developer listens, and fixes a “problem” (no female characters), the response of a small, loud minority is “not good enough, the female character should be the default!” or “why is the cursor not a un-biased position when I chose my gender!?”. It begins to sound like nothing will make this loud minority happy, the people who nitpick about things that literally mean nothing.

            So the developer stops listening, and focuses on the player base that doesn’t threaten to leave due to feeling “unwelcome” at the prospect of moving a cursor 1/5th of the way across the screen the first time (and only the first time) they start the game.

            Interesting and relevant fact, only 18% of all Mass Effect players chose female Shepard as their character in the entire trilogy. That definitely doesn’t sound like an option that the developer should assume as default.

            I hate more than most the notion that “this is your lot in life, just get on with it”, but christ, when it comes to stuff like this, pick your battles, for your position’s own sake.

          • Only 18%? I feel sorry for the other 82% who missed out on the better voice acting!

            Further to someone else’s point about obvious and deliberate sexism and racism – yes, of course we should tackle this, and we do. But we do also have to consider the underlying assumptions that allow discrimination to perpetuate, and part of this involves making the invisible visible.

          • That’s fine, but it’s important to tackle these positions of ignorance not from an aggressive standpoint, but from one of “well, did you think about this at all?”

            It IS an oversight, and it IS “pandering” to the player base, but that’s not necessarily a problem. Currently, hardcore action video games audiences are still overwhelmingly male. That’s a fact.

            I’m not going to email asos.com and tell them there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way the site defaults on the “women” section of the site, because I know the majority of the userbase is female. It’s literally the exact same situation, resolved by one click that never needs to be clicked again thanks to cookies, and it’s over.

          • I wonder how many people just went with the default Mass Effect option (male) and didn’t change it because that’s what people do. If there had been a Male/Female splash screen one step earlier, would more people have chosen female?

            In order to counter bias, one has to actually present diversity, not just leave it as a second option.

          • I already knew that 18% chose FemShep. That’s not what I was wondering, or what I wrote. To repeat: how many people went with the BroShep default because that’s what was presented. Your link doesn’t answer that question.

          • @trikeabout

            … I… just… told you?

            It’s in the quote, at the very start of my comment. 13 percent of players chose to make no changes to their avatar. This includes changes such as appearance, gender, and class.

            This is not them “just going with it” because the default was on male shepard, a tiny fraction of the player base deemed the default acceptable for them. 87 percent made changes and that includes choosing the female option (and that was where the 18% of female Shepards came from). It’s clear the majority of players made an active choice to be a male Shepard.

            Did you click the link or just read the URL?

          • Yes I read the article. I read back my previous comment and realise I phrased it ambiguously. I meant “male as presented by default” not “the exact character with no changes”. You answered well anyway, cheers.

      • And why do you think that the 48% of female gamers stick to the type of games that you have so dismissively labelled ‘not even real games’? Because gaming has these accessibility barriers that make ‘serious’ gaming very unattractive to females who refuse to climatise to the male… climate. We need climate change. I’m sure Nintendo didn’t do this for women’s rights, they did it to widen the player base by not scaring girls off.

        In short Nintendo is causing climate change driven by the desire for profits… Wait…

        • Yes, exactly who gets to define “gaming” and “real games”? We’re all gamers whether the “real gamers” like it or not!

        • Well champ I didn’t say they weren’t games. I said anything that identifies as even close to games. And are you seriously implying females don’t play “traditional” games because of the lack of gender diversity? Is that seriously your argument? Females chose candy crush over Final Fantasy because they identify better with coloured bricks? Nice.

          • Nope not all people who play Candy Crush are female, and not all people who play more ‘hardcore’ games are male. I was responding to your accurate description of how the majority of people who play ‘hardcore’ games are male.

            It’s not always about identifying with a character. It’s also about representation. Abstract games like Candy Crush don’t have to deal with any characterisation. And yes I do think that the imbalance between the genders playing certain games has something to do with gender representation.

            In games where you make your own avatar as a form of self expression it just makes sense that if their is no gender option to be female, or the option by default suggests that you are a male that is not a totally level playing field. Here identifying with your character is important.

            In games where you make a character in order to role play (create someone who is clearly not you, but you want to try being) it sends the same message to the player about gender if they are not equally framed or exist in the first place. Representation is important.

            In games where you are playing a character with a deep back story where the characters gender is established, it’s not a problem at all that there are no gender options. Here representation is lacklustre for females, but this is a harder nut to crack as there are more males working in the games industry and so by default you would create in your image.

            But when a small design choice can represent player agency over how they are defined in the game exist, why is that a bad thing or ate least not a good thing?

    • Hello. Female here.
      I don’t give a shit what gender my character is. I don’t give a shit if male is the default. I don’t give a shit if male is the only option. I mean seriously, they are pixels. Majority of gamers to not give a shit what gender they play. If they do, well, it’s their problem. A friend’s brother won’t play games with female protagonists. I think he’s a moron as he’ll miss out on a lot of good games. It’s his choice though and it’s his problem.

      If the gender bothers you, it’s your problem, not the developers.

      • Agree friend’s brother is a moron… he is indeed missing out on some great games.

        Happy for you that you don’t care. And you’re right, the majority do not care.

        However, when a relatively small change can make a game more welcoming to people who do care at no cost to those who don’t, then I care.

        • That’s true, but unfortunately, a lot of the time, it is the publishers who are trying to appeal to the male audience.

  • Wow. Look at the silly arguments.

    It’s a UI decision.
    The devs of those RPGs only provided space to show one person of whatever choice of gender. These other games, where gender is one of the few options players need to pay attention to, fill up the whole screen with that choice. Yes the RPGs just so happen to have boys example first; I’d like to see some examples of games that did the opposite – but I understand if that’s few.

    • I’d like to see some examples of games that did the opposite – but I understand if that’s few.

      The question is why are they few? Unconscious bias is why. Which is incredibly easy to eliminate. Randomise the default, or offer a choice of gender in the previous screen. Done.

      • I suppose it really comes down to how offended one wants to be by unconscious bias.
        I’m not bothered, because if it actually matters to me what one I want, then it’s just a click away.
        There’s no need to create longer ‘steps’ in a character menu if it’s not needed.
        Much like most of these debates around gender and inclusiveness, it’ll eventually boil down to superlatives where if it’s really matters so much that it becomes strenuous, then it doesn’t matter at all.

        • It’s not about offence. It’s about inclusiveness. If it doesn’t negatively affect you, great. Congratulations. But when a large proportion of society is affected by almost always being assumed to be the second option, and a tiny change gets rid of that effect with ZERO downside to anyone else and at minimal cost… what is the problem?

          Anyone who says “it doesn’t matter to me, what’s the problem?” is demonstrating the problem.

          • Not so. If you really want to be inclusive then those who are not affected wouldn’t be discounted. Btw you don’t know if ‘I’m affected’, I only told you that “I’m not bothered”, that and nobody can say the same for an entire group of people. Everyone here is just assuming that women care and are being driven away by games that happen to have a male default option.

            Yes the devs in this article should be applauded for thinking of something nice. But it’s important to understand or at least speculate realistically, why and how it was designed – for both the ‘inclusive style’ and the ‘typical style’. We can’t just claim that one or the other is best, and we can’t just yell at the ones we don’t like.

          • I’m not assuming it. It’s what female gamers tell me. They like being presented with the choice.

          • Who doesn’t though? Why would any person, woman or not, dislike being politely asked? I’m more interested in if ‘no-defaults’ system is actually causing trouble – and not in hindsight either.

        • The trend in this comments section seems to be less along the lines of ‘being offended by unconscious bias’ and more along the lines of ‘being offended by conscious attempts to not assume that the player is a boy’. The article didn’t seem at all hostile, strange how it has been met with so much hostility, especially by people who supposedly don’t see a problem either way.

          • Any offense taken in the comments is unfortunately a part of trends. Plenty of articles with radical opinions about this theme have shown throughout the last few years. Some of them incredibly inflammatory and so now the theme has a long bitter tail.

            Also, while Splatoon et. al. have made “conscious attempts to not assume that the player is a boy” it’s completely wrong to claim the reverse for the other games: that they’re ‘consciously attempting to assume the player is a boy’. Not even Mass Effect has, and that’s a game that has placed Male Shepard as default for marketing reasons.

          • I don’t think it’s about demonising people and saying that they are sexist. There’s that saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ these games do this mindlessly, not mindfully. And Patrick is not ranting and raving about the evils of the character creation screen in Mass Effect. They didn’t set out to be sexist, they are great in that they allow you to play as either gender. This is really about ‘if you are making a game where you can make your own character or pick your gender, this is a great way to do it’.

            And just because something is done for marketing doesn’t mean it cannot be sexist… Just saying. In fact it’s even worse because that idea of the default male completely eclipses the existence of the possibility of a female protagonist.

          • I don’t think it’s about demonising people and saying that they are sexist.

            Not this time no. But people are still bitter from when that’s pretty much what previous articles were saying. And I mean, that’s a huge problem with the terminology: these -ism words carry a huge amount of baggage. Nobody gets a ‘free-pass’ at sexism, nobody can be a ‘little bit sexist’; if you are a sexist then you’ll get demonised, be known as a terrible person. Typically it’s only used to talk about actual prejudice and actual bigotry but now I’m seeing it flung around to describe anything that makes a point of difference or distinction, or follows a trope, or whatever.

            They didn’t set out to be sexist,
            Then don’t describe it that way. It’s not sexist. Making an example character appear of whatever gender is not sexist. Women are not being subjugated by the fact that a computer program show a prospective player character as male.

            This is really about ‘if you are making a game where you can make your own character or pick your gender, this is a great way to do it’.

            It is. And a lot of people are happily giving out their opinion as ‘meh’.

            And just because something is done for marketing doesn’t mean it cannot be sexist… Just saying. In fact it’s even worse

            Yeah you missed my point! Doing it for marketing purposes excused it less! But I stood by my point that the devs meant no harm, and that has done no harm.

          • You can be accidentally sexist, even mildly so. And because it is simply a fact that there is a power imbalance in regards to gender means every little effort is worthwhile. The everyday little things are what reinforce paradigms. When a game is overtly sexist (like the newer Duke Nukem) it doesn’t require much commentary, it’s problems are obvious. Isn’t it better that the small details get acknowledged? No one is asking for an apology.

            The fact that this is about an -ism doesn’t instantly require the comments section to blow up into a rage over it. What’s wrong with healthy discussion? It’s fine to say ‘meh’, but it’s not very descriptive, I suppose I just wanted to know why you think it’s so meh when I don’t. I don’t think I was getting hot headed or accusatory, I apologise if you think I started making wild accusations.

            But I’m not, I’m not calling anyone a sexist (dev or individual).

  • Costume Quest also offered a similar screen to decide which of the siblings you’d play as.

  • I made a point about how it’s a UI decision above. But now I’ve found another determination.

    Programming-wise it’s a Boolean
    Literally a 1 or 0 choice to pick between two options – in this case female and male.
    It must be set, so a default will be one or the other. This is the simplest way of going about it while still making it possible to provide a choice. All the other proposed systems require more work and added systems, be it a separate screen or a random default.

    • …and the default somehow winds up being predominately male just by chance…?

      Unless people bother to think about it, and provide a non-biased choice.

      • There’s no such thing as a non-biased binary choice.
        In another universe we would be having this exactly same conversation about dominant female characters beating out a minority of male characters.
        If the choice is that it’s one or the other then it’s one or the other.

        Male by chance? Yes and no. Yes as in prove it isn’t! and no there’s a simply ordinary chance that the programmer was male and naturally had in-built non-prejudiced bias that allowed him to set 1 = male as default with absolutely no ill-intent.

        • The presentation of the choice is what is non-biased. Allow the player to choose, don’t present one or other as the choice for them. Exactly as Splatoon has done.

    • I think it should be a float. Gender isn’t one or the other it’s a whole spectrum. Not being able to blend my characters gender is offensive.

      • Actually, while Blooborne doesn’t look like it has (haven’t played it) I remember the Souls series by the same devs actually had a slider for gender. Unfortunately the game has no idea what this means and all it did was morph between the visual shape of the male/female face/body, creating truly ugly characters.

        The thing is too, no matter how much we say ‘gender is a spectrum’; a slider surely can’t do justice to those along it. It’s way more complex than making characters that are eg. 30% male and 70% female. Not to mention that catering to such a scale of inclusivity is very difficult. It intensive enough making x amount of characters and make y amount of responsive gameplay, and z amount of recognition of player preferences for just two genders!

        No matter what, somebody is going to not have a game, or games elements not catered just for them.

  • Run out of reply tree to @jasnjazz so I’m leaving this here.
    When you say ‘meh’ to a positive article about gender framing you send the message that you don’t care about gender equality in gaming either way. That’s what I read anyway.

    yeah stop that. Just like nobody here should be screaming about ‘agendas’ in the article, nobody should be reaching so hard as to think someone with x opinion definitely holds y opinion. You won’t know that until that someone tells you flat-out. I and many here didn’t say, “down with equality!” etc. they only said “whatever” or “no big deal.” And that’s no surprise to me, because while you might see lazy folk not caring about social issues, I see people not letting it be a social issue. To me that the greater goal: that none of this ends up mattering because there’s no sexism and equality starts right now with not giving a damn what gender anyone is. You might not think we’re there yet but that’s an attitude I’m ready to adopt because it’s way more healthy than finding ways to offend nobody.

    You can be accidentally sexist, even mildly so.

    I understand, but it’s not working the way it should any more. Accidentally sexist isn’t ‘some guy with naked chick photos all over his office cubicle’ Now it’s literally stuff that any creative person can say/make and just didn’t think of every little thing that could be construed one way or another. It’s sooooo easy to take something and analyse it until you find something sexist/racist/offensive. These apparently make up…
    The everyday little things are what reinforce paradigms.

    While there are plenty of people studying this stuff in social studies in university, none of it really becomes a pure and conclusive science. Even when some studies show a pattern of reinforcement, it’s restricted that specific context; and there’s too many to possibly count. To me, resisting that reinforcement comes from the self, and must be honed through education and not by through the policing of fiction. In this case it’s even more strange because were attaching it to a interactive system that on its own can’t be reliably said to send that message.

    When a game is overtly sexist (like the newer Duke Nukem) it doesn’t require much commentary, it’s problems are obvious. Isn’t it better that the small details get acknowledged? No one is asking for an apology.

    You’re not. You’re a normal common-sense kinda person maybe? Others though? No there’s plenty that turn accusations of sexism, no matter how minute, into insults, into calls for radical change and internet version of lynch-mobs are formed. As I said, the term is too troublesome: “sexists” are bad people, it implies that’s their thing, that they hate and discriminate. Being cast in that light is not pleasant and it occurs by extension when we use it wholesale to describe the media we consume. Using the common rhetoric today – the fact that I like Duke Nukem and that you think it is sexist would imply that I’m sexist and I definitely am not. If you want to know why these topics blow up? That’s why.

    It’s fine to say ‘meh’, but it’s not very descriptive, I suppose I just wanted to know why you think it’s so meh when I don’t. I don’t think I was getting hot headed or accusatory, I apologise if you think I started making wild accusations. But I’m not, I’m not calling anyone a sexist (dev or individual).

    I know! It’s why I keep replying. It’s good discussion where nobody has started flinging insults and we end up understanding each other better. Unfortunately we’ve been inundated with so much sexism flame wars that having an opinion of ‘meh’ is practically a counter-culture and has relevance because it precisely doesn’t fit an established position of for or against. After all, earlier you implied that my ‘meh’ meant I didn’t care and that would possibly have sort me into the “for inequality” box? In fact most of my comments aren’t ‘meh’, but are an attempt to divine reasoning behind the designs shown so they can’t be interpreted only as the worse of the two.

    You weren’t getting accusatory really. I just think one of the greatest failing for many of those who stand for equality is an overzealous sense of righteousness that places them above their opponents and well if you read that bit over and over it sounds a lot like the very bigotry professed against and I didn’t want you to fall into that trap while debating with me.


  • I feel that it’s good that Splatoon doesn’t default you as male but instead gives you the option to choose up front; however, this game is just another among the hundreds of thousands of games that continue to enforce the gender binary. In other words, these games are saying you can only be a girl or a boy, not both and not neither. Transgender people stay being underrepresented in video games. I get it’s easier to keep it simplified to only boys and girls, but there’s so much more than that in the world. Plus it’d be awesome to see some games that don’t enforce gender on the player. It’s a small detail that probably won’t affect the game, but a little can go a long way.

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