Stolen Pixels #258: Where the Boys Are

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BobDobolina:

RelexCryo:
Care to explain how a percentage that is mostly made up

Quote some sources. I provided some data to work with: your turn.

Tech News Today

http://www.ehow.com/about_5392976_fun-online-games-women.html

RelexCryo:
Care to explain how a percentage that is mostly made up of social networking games and puzzle games

I'm still waiting for a link that supports this contention. The Sims and WOW are not "social networking games and puzzle games" last time I checked. Nor do female preferences for them indicate that their dollars are off-limits to the FPS market; the FPS market has declared that itself, by being preemptively dismissive of the possibility that it can capture their dollars. (Many guys who play WOW also play FPS games; there supposed to be some reason this shouldn't be possible with the fastest-growing element of the market, given the right games?)

BobDobolina:

RelexCryo:
Care to explain how a percentage that is mostly made up of social networking games and puzzle games

I'm still waiting for a link that supports this contention. The Sims and WOW are not "social networking games and puzzle games" last time I checked. Nor do female preferences for them indicate that their dollars are off-limits to the FPS market; the FPS market has declared that itself, by being preemptively dismissive of the possibility that it can capture their dollars.

"women tend to play more casual games such as JewelQuest, Soduku and Zuma

Read more: Fun Online Games for Women | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5392976_fun-online-games-women.html#ixzz1MV6OEXWQ"

The games initially listed are JewelQuest, Soduku and Zuma. They do list WoW and Sims later on, but they are not the ones primarily listed.

RelexCryo:
The games initially listed are JewelQuest, Soduku and Zuma. They do list WoW and Sims later on, but they are not the ones primarily listed.

Conveniently running away from your original link now, are you? (EDIT: Oh wait, no you're not: you just linked the same damned thing both times and tried to pretend that order of listing is a data point, which is something the actual article does not try to pretend. My God... that's pathetic.) Sorry dude, I don't see much evidence to establish your opinion of "primary" listing or not as trustworthy or interesting in any way. Have a nice night.

RelexCryo:
Whether or not you see something as absolutely essential has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not there is enough money to do it. No amount of percieving female character designs as absolutely necessary will generate enough money to produce them.

And, bringing us full circle, in the case of Brink, there was enough money.
In Call of Duty, there's enough money, too. Still no women, though.

Oddly enough, it's the smaller games, with lower budgets, that seem more likely to include female protagonists and NPCs.

You are arguing that this game(not the industry, just this game) should try to be inclusive. What is the basis for your reasoning? Are you implying that designing games for men is inherently wrong? And if so, do you believe that writing books, designing t.v. shows, or videogames for women is inherently wrong?

I'm arguing that designing things for one gender is inherently silly.

It's even more silly when you're trying to eke out a living in a niche market (gaming) - no, hang on part of a niche market (FPS gaming) - but you've still decided that you don't want some of the lovely money and customers available from the gender you've decided not to invite to your game.

You can get away with targeting products at a single gender when your target audience is 'everyone' (like TV); when your target audience is already narrowed to 'people who like playing computer games', then narrowing it still further is stupid and wasteful.

But mostly I don't like a gamer culture that deliberately, consciously and continuously alienates other humans.

I really don't see why so many people are so opposed to the idea of inclusion; are you all worried you'll have to play the next CoD in a bra and panties?

Or just that you'll get beaten by a girl?

Soylent Dave:

RelexCryo:
Whether or not you see something as absolutely essential has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not there is enough money to do it. No amount of percieving female character designs as absolutely necessary will generate enough money to produce them.

And, bringing us full circle, in the case of Brink, there was enough money.
In Call of Duty, there's enough money, too. Still no women, though.

Oddly enough, it's the smaller games, with lower budgets, that seem more likely to include female protagonists and NPCs.

You are arguing that this game(not the industry, just this game) should try to be inclusive. What is the basis for your reasoning? Are you implying that designing games for men is inherently wrong? And if so, do you believe that writing books, designing t.v. shows, or videogames for women is inherently wrong?

I'm arguing that designing things for one gender is inherently silly.

It's even more silly when you're trying to eke out a living in a niche market (gaming) - no, hang on part of a niche market (FPS gaming) - but you've still decided that you don't want some of the lovely money and customers available from the gender you've decided not to invite to your game.

You can get away with targeting products at a single gender when your target audience is 'everyone' (like TV); when your target audience is already narrowed to 'people who like playing computer games', then narrowing it still further is stupid and wasteful.

But mostly I don't like a gamer culture that deliberately, consciously and continuously alienates other humans.

I really don't see why so many people are so opposed to the idea of inclusion; are you all worried you'll have to play the next CoD in a bra and panties?

Or just that you'll get beaten by a girl?

I am not opposed to the idea at all. I am opposed to the fact that you are underestimating the cost and time required by a lot. You seem to think people are objecting to your goals. They are not. They are objecting to your demands that the developers spend large amounts of money and wait even longer to release a game with what they percieve as a small payoff. If it was cheap, I would be all for it. It is not. You state there was enough money. What is your basis for saying that?

As for your comment that PC gaming is a "Niche Market-" Brink was released on both Xbox 360 and PS3 in addition to PC. Gaming has also become mainstream. You argument that it is still a "niche" is flatout wrong.

As for your comment that developing things for one gender is silly-You are being immature. There are certain comments and designs that inherently appeal more to one gender than another. A Game Designer's ultimate goal is not to make money, but simply to make something they like while making money. If a design team winds up being mostly men, the product they make winds up being mostly aimed towards what they want.

Define normal... B cups, C-cups.... erhem seriously it isn't going to happen because developers spent too much money developing jiggle physics :D.

On a serious note the new laura croft is going to be a new heroine that has a reduced breast size. It is a prequel so the events take place prior to getting Double D breast implants from all of the treasures and trinkets she recovered.

Imp Emissary:

michaelknives52:

lesterley:

Ah yes. I game that completely objectifies the female body.

So you can only have a game with all-female characters if the main purpose of their existence is to appeal to the male gaze?

YES!!! Pretty much because a larger portion of the video game community is comprised of males and thats the target demographic and the majority of games are created by male developers. Yes sexism still exists. Call of duty would look pretty silly with females running around shooting gus with double D sized breasts... that only makes sense in fighting games like dead or alive or mortal kombat. Perhap you can create a game that is comprised of females with normal sized chests... and watch you company burn to ashs and fail

Games Industry: What if, now hear me out, we put the "normal" girls in skimpy outfits?

Not going to work!?!?! NO...

RelexCryo:
You state there was enough money. What is your basis for saying that?

My first basis is that Zenimax Media Inc (the people who own Bethesda) are a highly profitable production company.

Many of the other high profile producers are also highly profitable (EA, Activision). The money clearly exists ($1.89bn was spent on videogame funding in 2010, which is a massive (30%) increase over 2009); it's just being spent on other things.

The time also exists; it's being spent on other things too. The vast amount of customisation of (male) characters in Brink could - for example - have been limited slightly (probably with little impact on the end user) by spending some of those resources on designing female characters (I'd hope there would be a certain amount of crossover, so it wouldn't be entirely an either/or prospect anyway)

It's also notable that more independent titles - those with ostensibly less money - seem more likely to include female options and characters (from Lara Croft onwards (Core were an independent studio when they developed Tomb Raider)).

As for your comment that PC gaming is a "Niche Market-" Brink was released on both Xbox 360 and PS3 in addition to PC. Gaming has also become mainstream. You argument that it is still a "niche" is flatout wrong.

Modern Warfare 2 sold 20 million copies worldwide, making around $1bn in revenue. That makes it one of the best selling games ever made. Grand Theft Auto IV has sold a similar number of copies over a longer period of time, so the revenue isn't as high (but they've made at least $700,000 out of it so far). World of Warcraft has 12 million subscribers.

When you compare that to movies : Avatar made $6bn, Titanic made $2bn. They're the best grossing films ever.
The average blockbuster nowadays makes about $600m. The average 'cult' film makes about $50m.

Note how much more a game costs than a movie ticket; how many more people saw Die Hard 4.0 (~$800m) than bought MW2? It's not much of a stretch to say "infinitely more" .

Modern Warfare 2 - one of the most popular games ever - had the same number of players at its height as view the average British soap opera (~8m)

The number of people who bought it is roughly the populations of London, Manchester & Scotland added together. It's not a small number of people - but it's still a niche market, because we're talking about global sales.

It's a niche market, because the mainstream still treat gaming as something a bit weird. Whenever World of Warcraft has a major release, the new reports always focus on the people dressed up in queues. The fact that the mainstream media are noticing things like WoW updates and CoD releases means gaming is moving towards the mainstream (it's now big enough to be noticed by it), but we're not there yet.

(one other way you can tell that gaming isn't mainstream is that there are no girls allowed, incidentally)

It's not too worrying - niches can get pretty damn big (Professional Wrestling (33m viewers at its peak, Formula 1 (527m fans), NASCAR (75m fans); I wouldn't call any of those 'mainstream' but they're all bigger than the apparent 'videogamer' niche of 20m)

As for your comment that developing things for one gender is silly-You are being immature. There are certain comments and designs that inherently appeal more to one gender than another. A Game Designer's ultimate goal is not to make money, but simply to make something they like while making money. If a design team winds up being mostly men, the product they make winds up being mostly aimed towards what they want.

That's certainly part of the problem - that most game designers are men. But there is a massive level of exclusion going on in the gaming community (from both designers and gamers alike). And things aren't being aimed at 'mostly' men; they're being aimed 'exclusively' at men. That's definitely a problem.

Look at some of the responses in this thread - there are people who really don't want girls to play games. And saying "that's just the way it is" isn't (or shouldn't be) a good enough reason to keep it that way.

Is it because gamers are typically nerdy, and nerds are frightened of girls? Or just because nerds are frightened of change?

Soylent Dave:

RelexCryo:
You state there was enough money. What is your basis for saying that?

My first basis is that Zenimax Media Inc (the people who own Bethesda) are a highly profitable production company.

Many of the other high profile producers are also highly profitable (EA, Activision). The money clearly exists ($1.89bn was spent on videogame funding in 2010, which is a massive (30%) increase over 2009); it's just being spent on other things.

The time also exists; it's being spent on other things too. The vast amount of customisation of (male) characters in Brink could - for example - have been limited slightly (probably with little impact on the end user) by spending some of those resources on designing female characters (I'd hope there would be a certain amount of crossover, so it wouldn't be entirely an either/or prospect anyway)

It's also notable that more independent titles - those with ostensibly less money - seem more likely to include female options and characters (from Lara Croft onwards (Core were an independent studio when they developed Tomb Raider)).

As for your comment that PC gaming is a "Niche Market-" Brink was released on both Xbox 360 and PS3 in addition to PC. Gaming has also become mainstream. You argument that it is still a "niche" is flatout wrong.

Modern Warfare 2 sold 20 million copies worldwide, making around $1bn in revenue. That makes it one of the best selling games ever made. Grand Theft Auto IV has sold a similar number of copies over a longer period of time, so the revenue isn't as high (but they've made at least $700,000 out of it so far). World of Warcraft has 12 million subscribers.

When you compare that to movies : Avatar made $6bn, Titanic made $2bn. They're the best grossing films ever.
The average blockbuster nowadays makes about $600m. The average 'cult' film makes about $50m.

Note how much more a game costs than a movie ticket; how many more people saw Die Hard 4.0 (~$800m) than bought MW2? It's not much of a stretch to say "infinitely more" .

Modern Warfare 2 - one of the most popular games ever - had the same number of players at its height as view the average British soap opera (~8m)

The number of people who bought it is roughly the populations of London, Manchester & Scotland added together. It's not a small number of people - but it's still a niche market, because we're talking about global sales.

It's a niche market, because the mainstream still treat gaming as something a bit weird. Whenever World of Warcraft has a major release, the new reports always focus on the people dressed up in queues. The fact that the mainstream media are noticing things like WoW updates and CoD releases means gaming is moving towards the mainstream (it's now big enough to be noticed by it), but we're not there yet.

(one other way you can tell that gaming isn't mainstream is that there are no girls allowed, incidentally)

It's not too worrying - niches can get pretty damn big (Professional Wrestling (33m viewers at its peak, Formula 1 (527m fans), NASCAR (75m fans); I wouldn't call any of those 'mainstream' but they're all bigger than the apparent 'videogamer' niche of 20m)

As for your comment that developing things for one gender is silly-You are being immature. There are certain comments and designs that inherently appeal more to one gender than another. A Game Designer's ultimate goal is not to make money, but simply to make something they like while making money. If a design team winds up being mostly men, the product they make winds up being mostly aimed towards what they want.

That's certainly part of the problem - that most game designers are men. But there is a massive level of exclusion going on in the gaming community (from both designers and gamers alike). And things aren't being aimed at 'mostly' men; they're being aimed 'exclusively' at men. That's definitely a problem.

Look at some of the responses in this thread - there are people who really don't want girls to play games. And saying "that's just the way it is" isn't (or shouldn't be) a good enough reason to keep it that way.

Is it because gamers are typically nerdy, and nerds are frightened of girls? Or just because nerds are frightened of change?

Here is a direct quote from Shamus, the guy who wrote this article:

"I've said in the past that diversity is expensive. More expensive than most people realize. You can't just take a few clothing options away from the men and find yourself with enough development resources to build a female character. A female character is going to require an entirely new model, voice files, different behaviors for the sliders that shape her, all new clothing models, totally different hair models, different hitboxes, and totally different viewmodels. (Viewmodels: The arms you see in front of your face in a first-person game are usually separate models with different animation and rigging.)

So, doing two models instead of just one is more than twice the work. There's all the work for making the men. Then you have to do all of that work again, because none of it can be re-used for the women. Then you need more work to ensure the models are balanced against each other and inter-operate properly.

It's hard. It's expensive. I understand. But it's still incredibly strange to see a game in 2011 that lacks such an obvious and fundamental option."

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/stolen-pixels/8866-Stolen-Pixels-258-Where-the-Boys-Are

So my point stands- you are heavily underestimating how expensive and difficult it is. You can't just take out a few outfits to create the time necessary. The time and effort necessary to create female character models is far, far greater than several outfits.

Traditionally, women are less interested in violent wargames. You argue that is because these games don't try to market themselves to men and women equally. But in the end, your assertion that a similar amount of women would like violent wargames if they were designed with athletic female protagonists is an assumption. There is no guarantee that assumption is correct. Taking that risk with an established profitable franchise is reasonable, because you would at least meet your costs even if the female character models didn't bring in a significant amount of new customers.

Dramatically increasing the cost and time to release for a new franchise on that assumption in a recession is foolish, and Brink is a new franchise.

RelexCryo:
Here is a direct quote from Shamus, the guy who wrote this article:

[snip]

"So, doing two models instead of just one is more than twice the work. There's all the work for making the men. Then you have to do all of that work again, because none of it can be re-used for the women. Then you need more work to ensure the models are balanced against each other and inter-operate properly."

[snip]
So my point stands- you are heavily underestimating how expensive and difficult it is. You can't just take out a few outfits to create the time necessary. The time and effort necessary to create female character models is far, far greater than several outfits.

Shamus has also admitted that's he's not exactly up to date when it comes to modern game design, and that he could well be overstating the point there.

Shamus (from his blog):
If those body-types are three separate models, then there really is no excuse not to drop one of the three males and add a female. I'm working on the assumption that there was ONE base model, with various deformations applied

(which isn't necessarily the case - and, of course a game designed to have male and female characters (rather than having women tacked on at the end) could definitely find a more efficient way of doing things that does re-use assets)

and also

Shamus:
The point I was making is that it's non-trivial.

which I think is the important bit (for your argument as well, really).

-

But even if I am grossly underestimating the time and effort it would take to create female characters in a game (a worst case scenario is what, double the development cost?) - I still don't think that means they shouldn't be included. We shouldn't be thinking of female characters in terms of how much extra time and effort it takes to put them into a game - we should be thinking of them as something that is part of every game as a matter of course.

If it's a lot of work, it should be standard practice for every developer to have a 'female character design team' on staff to complement its 'male character design team'.

Why? Because we've been making games for decades now, and we're making them more complicated with every release. We can afford to make them a bit more complicated still, especially if it a) makes them more inclusive and b) expands the demographic (even if it's only slightly).

(in reality I think it's more work than some have been suggesting ("just put breasts on some male characters") and less work than others have been claiming ("female characters would have to be designed completely separate to all other game assets"))

ReflexCryo:
Traditionally, women are less interested in violent wargames. You argue that is because these games don't try to market themselves to men and women equally. But in the end, your assertion that a similar amount of women would like violent wargames if they were designed with athletic female protagonists is an assumption.

My argument is that more women would like games if they included female protagonists and characters.

I don't think the number of gamers would double - because you're right, not all female gamers are going to be interested in this sort of game (just like not all male gamers are). But I think 'more' would still be a noticeable increase, because we know - from anecdotal reports if nothing else - that some women are put off by the male-dominated nature of certain genres of gaming.

That's still an assumption, of course - but it's not exactly a wild stab in the dark; it's an issue that gets brought up again and again.

Is it going to be enough new games to make up for the increased development cost? Well (aside from the fact that the cost of including female characters will go down if it becomes normal practice), I don't think it matters too much.

The fact that it may increase sales is a reason to do it, but it's not the only reason, nor is it (to my mind) the most important one. It'll (probably) increase the number of gamers, that's an important one.

It's a step towards increasing cohesion and decreasing prejudice (which is currently rife) within the gaming community, that's the best one.

-

I will add, because I realised it earlier and it's been annoying me, that my estimate of the 'gaming niche' in my last post was unfairly low - I shouldn't have just used MW2 as the benchmark; there are 75m PSN accounts, 30m xbox live subscribers and 25m Steam subscribers; the number of gamers is probably somewhere between 30m and 75m (there are a lot of duplicate accounts on PSN, partly because it's free and partly because you can't delete anything - but it's probably still closer to 75m than 30m, which means gaming is nearly as popular as NASCAR(!)).

Soylent Dave:

RelexCryo:
Here is a direct quote from Shamus, the guy who wrote this article:

[snip]

"So, doing two models instead of just one is more than twice the work. There's all the work for making the men. Then you have to do all of that work again, because none of it can be re-used for the women. Then you need more work to ensure the models are balanced against each other and inter-operate properly."

[snip]
So my point stands- you are heavily underestimating how expensive and difficult it is. You can't just take out a few outfits to create the time necessary. The time and effort necessary to create female character models is far, far greater than several outfits.

Shamus has also admitted that's he's not exactly up to date when it comes to modern game design, and that he could well be overstating the point there.

Shamus (from his blog):
If those body-types are three separate models, then there really is no excuse not to drop one of the three males and add a female. I'm working on the assumption that there was ONE base model, with various deformations applied

(which isn't necessarily the case - and, of course a game designed to have male and female characters (rather than having women tacked on at the end) could definitely find a more efficient way of doing things that does re-use assets)

and also

Shamus:
The point I was making is that it's non-trivial.

which I think is the important bit (for your argument as well, really).

-

But even if I am grossly underestimating the time and effort it would take to create female characters in a game (a worst case scenario is what, double the development cost?) - I still don't think that means they shouldn't be included. We shouldn't be thinking of female characters in terms of how much extra time and effort it takes to put them into a game - we should be thinking of them as something that is part of every game as a matter of course.

If it's a lot of work, it should be standard practice for every developer to have a 'female character design team' on staff to complement its 'male character design team'.

Why? Because we've been making games for decades now, and we're making them more complicated with every release. We can afford to make them a bit more complicated still, especially if it a) makes them more inclusive and b) expands the demographic (even if it's only slightly).

(in reality I think it's more work than some have been suggesting ("just put breasts on some male characters") and less work than others have been claiming ("female characters would have to be designed completely separate to all other game assets"))

ReflexCryo:
Traditionally, women are less interested in violent wargames. You argue that is because these games don't try to market themselves to men and women equally. But in the end, your assertion that a similar amount of women would like violent wargames if they were designed with athletic female protagonists is an assumption.

My argument is that more women would like games if they included female protagonists and characters.

I don't think the number of gamers would double - because you're right, not all female gamers are going to be interested in this sort of game (just like not all male gamers are). But I think 'more' would still be a noticeable increase, because we know - from anecdotal reports if nothing else - that some women are put off by the male-dominated nature of certain genres of gaming.

That's still an assumption, of course - but it's not exactly a wild stab in the dark; it's an issue that gets brought up again and again.

Is it going to be enough new games to make up for the increased development cost? Well (aside from the fact that the cost of including female characters will go down if it becomes normal practice), I don't think it matters too much.

The fact that it may increase sales is a reason to do it, but it's not the only reason, nor is it (to my mind) the most important one. It'll (probably) increase the number of gamers, that's an important one.

It's a step towards increasing cohesion and decreasing prejudice (which is currently rife) within the gaming community, that's the best one.

-

I will add, because I realised it earlier and it's been annoying me, that my estimate of the 'gaming niche' in my last post was unfairly low - I shouldn't have just used MW2 as the benchmark; there are 75m PSN accounts, 30m xbox live subscribers and 25m Steam subscribers; the number of gamers is probably somewhere between 30m and 75m (there are a lot of duplicate accounts on PSN, partly because it's free and partly because you can't delete anything - but it's probably still closer to 75m than 30m, which means gaming is nearly as popular as NASCAR(!)).

My point is that while FPS franchises that are established, and are practically guaranteed to at least break even on a sequel should add female characters, new franchises whose ability to turn a profit at all face a large risk by doing so. The cost simply stands to outway the increased income. For an established franchise, or even an established developer (This is the first game Splash Damage has built from the ground up, before they only did parts of other studio's games) the risk is not a big issue. For a brand new franchise, that is the first game released by a Studio, the problem of a significantly increased cost vs. a slight increase in income is a serious issue, especially in a recession.

I am not objecting that you want the industry in general to add athletic female protagonists, just that you expect Splash Damage, the developers of Brink, to do this. This is a new franchise, and the first game they have created. We are in a recession. Cost to income ratios are extremely important at this point for them. It's pretty important that the first game they release produces a profit, preferrably a significant one.

RelexCryo:
I am not objecting that you want the industry in general to add athletic female protagonists, just that you expect Splash Damage, the developers of Brink, to do this. This is a new franchise, and the first game they have created. We are in a recession. Cost to income ratios are extremely important at this point for them. It's pretty important that the first game they release produces a profit, preferrably a significant one.

That's definitely a more than fair point.

Although I think Brink isn't the best example; Splash Damage might be a new developer, but Bethesda (or their parent, Zenimax) are putting in the money, and they are pretty well established - and could stand to do things like encourage their developers to be more inclusive (and pay for / subsidise the development time).

The risk for the big companies - Zenimax and then to an increasing extent Activision and EA - would be minimal, and would also be offset by the PR they can spin out of it if they do it right.

-Samurai-:

Aptspire:
Congratulations, Brink. I shall not pick up a sausage festival :(

According to your profile, you play Halo and CoD. You've already picked up a few "sausage fests".

OT: Where were all these equality nuts during the 80s and 90s when nearly every game had a male protagonist, and most had a female playing the damsel in distress? Oh, right. Gaming is mainstream now.

Everyone will forget the whole "Brink has no females" thing within the next year anyway.

right...except I only played 1 COD game once, and Halo Reach has female Spartan options :/

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