Escapist Podcast: PAX Panel: What Women Really Want From Female Characters

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PAX Panel: What Women Really Want From Female Characters

Join Susan Arendt, Brittany Aubert, Christa Carter, Kathleen DeVere and AJ Glasser as they discuss what they embrace in female fictional characters and why these attributes are important. They will identify their favorite characters and how they would like more heroines with similar attributes integrated into Geek culture.

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Had to stop the podcast and comment because this bothered me so much.

Bringing up the argument of why FemShep has to be attractive when MaleShep isn't is a curious one, that is to say, its curious because of how mindbendingly wrong it is on every level.

1. Male Shepard has the likeness of a Dutch Model.

2. Have these people never played a JRPG in their life? There are plenty of 'pretty' male protagonists (and antagonists for that matter).

3. In Western culture this is less common because masculine beauty is associated with ruggedness so male characters aren't necessarily pretty but they still reflect our cultural standards of beauty, albeit it a caricature of them (which is true for females as well).

4. On the most basic level, we're talking about visual designs which are, by very nature, chosen based on visual appeal. Visual appeal is essentially attractiveness, so all character designs are chosen based on what amounts to attractiveness. Even if an older, war-scarred FemShep was chosen, she'd still have been chosen based on visual appeal.

5. As a guy, I prefer having an attractive male character to play as and I'm jealous women got to choose FemShep and men didn't get to choose MaleShep.

Awww, just audio? Come on, Susan's reactions to the demo images at the panel at PAX East were comedy gold!

Formica Archonis:
Awww, just audio? Come on, Susan's reactions to the demo images at the panel at PAX East were comedy gold!

Glad you appreciate my comedic stylings. :) Sorry for the lack of video, but perhaps some will crop up somewhere.

Boo on lack of video, but I lived with it. Just means I'll have to actually make plans to go to either PAX next year.

Overall I liked what I heard, but I do have little tiny nitpick. You (twice now) mention Lightning from FFXIII as being the main character was both a big deal and a major disappointment (since she was awful) BUT way back in the day, FF3/6 brought us Terra as the (mostly) main character. She probably has plenty typical issue with female characters, but I always thought of her as a solid character. Probably some fair differences that make Lightning a bigger deal what with the technological advancements and such. Still, good characters are good characters.

burningdragoon:
Overall I liked what I heard, but I do have little tiny nitpick. You (twice now) mention Lightning from FFXIII as being the main character was both a big deal and a major disappointment (since she was awful) BUT way back in the day, FF3/6 brought us Terra as the (mostly) main character. She probably has plenty typical issue with female characters, but I always thought of her as a solid character. Probably some fair differences that make Lightning a bigger deal what with the technological advancements and such. Still, good characters are good characters.

In fact, while FF6 is slightly ambiguous in terms of just who the "main character" actually is, the only other contender for that role is Celes - another woman. :)

What an absolutely brilliant panel: insightful, intelligent, a joy to listen to! :)

Ty for the panel it was very interesting.

I actually find it quite ironic. I read a LOT of fantasy books to the point there isnt much left for me to pick up in my local book stores, and generically I find (obviously with some exceptions on both sides) that the female characters generate more compelling storys specifically because male leads quickly become type cast and generally all end in the same place. Funnily I find that some of the most compelling male leads bizzarly come from the Horus Heresy Warhammer 40k series (I dont normally read sci-fi) which is odd because they are ALL battle grizzled veterans, in books about war, which is what I so often find off putting about male leads in fantasy.

Generally I think this comes round to your comment of intent outweighing "type" though I would be interested in your opinion if you are a big reader.

EDIT: I thought Id mention this is irrelevant of male or female author. Even men see to write better female characters than the average male one. Could this be because only better writers take the challenge of writing from a perspective that is perhaps alien to them? Therefore leaving quote unquote "bad writers" doing 1000's of copy past male leads?

I must say that while it is a bit of a marketing ploy, this whole choose your femshep thing, I am happy for the fact that we get an official one at all that will hopefully be used in the campaigns. I know it annoyed me to NO END that there was no female Hawke in the promotions for DA2. If I had not loved DA:Origins so much I would NOT have bought the second game based solely on their marketing.

Talshere:
Funnily I find that some of the most compelling male leads bizzarly come from the Horus Heresy Warhammer 40k series (I dont normally read sci-fi) which is odd because they are ALL battle grizzled veterans, in books about war, which is what I so often find off putting about male leads in fantasy.

The Horus Heresy is my favorite recent series(post Harry Potter), and it's the very fact that they were FORCED to come up with ways to make the space marines distinct from each other that added such depth to the characters. When you have one space marine, you tend to make him fit the stereotype to a T, and the result is bland, boring, one dimensional. When you have two dozen, you can't keep doing that. You start to pick apart the stereotype and define the characters as more than just their job. Not to say it wasn't good writing, of course.

I never understood the "character I need to relate to" mindset. I think what should be said is "a character I can sympathize with." I honestly would not care if the character I was playing had a higher pitch combat grunt than, say, Marcus Fenix. If you absolutely need to feel human by attaching yourself to the character, the primary facet should be the story, not the gender. Somehow, someway, I am calling AJ sexist.

Thanks so much for posting this on the site for the rest of us who didn't get the chance to attend PAX!! Only halfway through, and greatly enjoying it.

I do have one thing to say about FemShep though, you *can* give her scars in ME1, even if marketing decided to do away with those (but then again, they did the same to MaleShep, all scars disappeared in ME2; which is a shame, I thought they added distinction to my characters).

I agree 100% with the need to relate and sympathize with the characters, even if it's to a small degree. But that's true for both male and female characters.

Lovin' the discussion about motherhood as well, and agree 200% (even though as a mom-to-be, I sure hope I won't have to die "to protect my young"! XD ). And I too loved Ripley in the first movie too because she saved her cat, Jones. =D

This a great listen, thanks for posting the podcast!!

Freechoice:
I never understood the "character I need to relate to" mindset. I think what should be said is "a character I can sympathize with." I honestly would not care if the character I was playing had a higher pitch combat grunt than, say, Marcus Fenix. If you absolutely need to feel human by attaching yourself to the character, the primary facet should be the story, not the gender. Somehow, someway, I am calling AJ sexist.

I don't know I kind of understand where she is coming from when I play a game with a male lead like Crysis 2 (which I think is a good game) it feels like I am watching someone else's story even though Alcatraz is pretty much a vague character compared to Prophet. When I get to play as say, Lara Croft I feel more immersed in that game because I can put myself in the place of that character easier simply becuase I'm the same gender.

I hope that makes sense.

OT: Thanks for putting the Podcast up it was cool to be able to listen to it.

I would agree with the fact that people have a right to play the 'sparkle pony' games but they shouldn't be labelled as 'girls games' when I certainly don't enjoy them. The Sims 3 is pushing it for me but I do enjoy the building.

My femshep has scars. You can give her some! If you decide not to it seems weird to then complain she doesn't have any. I don't find my femshep attractive at all, presumably in big part because I'm straight, but also because I designed her that way. I dunno, I get a vibe of "I made my character hot, and now I'm complaining that she's hot, because female characters shouldn't have to be!"
Well they don't.
Also male Shepard is hot, what the hell?

I also kind of maybe disagreed with the "If a female character is just a man with boobs, what's the point?" comment. It depends on what was meant there, but what I mean is that I don't think a female character should need to be all about female issues and being stereotypically feminine or, on the other hand, breaking the stereotypes and having everyone point that out, or in short be defined by the fact she's feminine. I think the same character could be either, just flip a coin, and that's fine. Males don't have to be a specific way to be good male characters, they're just good characters and they happen to be males. I think it should be the same for female characters.

I had to pause because it's a heavy subject so I can't really absorb the whole thing at once, so this is just my reaction to the first fifteen minutes or so. I'll probably comment in more length while I have listened to the whole thing.

For whatever reason, Bayonetta looks wrong to me. I think it's her legs that just seem so out of proportion with the rest of her body and she wears heels on top of that.

I realize that the majority of female characters are probably as equally physically distorted in their own ways but I don't get the same sense of "wrongness" that I get when I look at Bayonetta.

Here's the weird part: I don't think I'd have a problem with people cosplaying as Bayonetta at all, in fact I'd probably want to take their picture. That's probably because they're an actual person so the proportions are much more realistic.

Hi im bit curious why think he looks like dutch model ? he looks much more provincial to me ?

murphy7801:
Hi im bit curious why think he looks like dutch model ? he looks much more provincial to me ?

image
Mark Vanderloo. Personally, I think he looks great, didn't care much for my custom Shepard.

Eleima:

I do have one thing to say about FemShep though, you *can* give her scars in ME1, even if marketing decided to do away with those (but then again, they did the same to MaleShep, all scars disappeared in ME2; which is a shame, I thought they added distinction to my characters).

Given what happened at the start of ME2...I think it's reasonable to assume there wasn't any scar tissue around.

[Spoilers obviously]

Talshere:

I actually find it quite ironic. I read a LOT of fantasy books to the point there isnt much left for me to pick up in my local book stores, and generically I find (obviously with some exceptions on both sides) that the female characters generate more compelling storys specifically because male leads quickly become type cast and generally all end in the same place. Funnily I find that some of the most compelling male leads bizzarly come from the Horus Heresy Warhammer 40k series (I dont normally read sci-fi) which is odd because they are ALL battle grizzled veterans, in books about war, which is what I so often find off putting about male leads in fantasy.

I have that sitting above Harry Potter in my Bookshelf. My favorite series of books to date and it rides on two things; setting and character design.

Good audio and good points.

Know a setting in which women actively fight(and die) on the front lines? 40k. Imperial Guard dosen't discriminate on who dies for the Emperor. As long as they aren't corrupted by chaos.

cainx10a:

murphy7801:
Hi im bit curious why think he looks like dutch model ? he looks much more provincial to me ?

image
Mark Vanderloo. Personally, I think he looks great, didn't care much for my custom Shepard.

Yeeeeooow.

What a hunk.

And does look a whole lot like default Manshep!

This isn't just what women want. I think most men want it too. I hate it that games still have too many juvenile portrayals of women. It's lazy, pandering, makes for dull characters, and helps reinforce the stereotype that gaming is an activity for the immature. Not to say that it should be done away with completely, as I suppose there's always a place for such depictions of men and women in all forms of media. But it's definitely not something that should be the norm. With more well-written characters comes better story-telling and a chance to sympathize with someone unlike yourself (even of a different gender). I think this enhances the game as a whole, from story to gameplay.

Formica Archonis:
Awww, just audio? Come on, Susan's reactions to the demo images at the panel at PAX East were comedy gold!

Thanks for the link.

Wow. I missed people's reactions to Enslaved. I didn't know there was so much outrage over what Trip did in the beginning. Sure, it's no heart-of-gold move. But she did what she needed to do to survive, and I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing if I were in the same situation. Great game, great characters. And, of course, it's under-appreciated.

DustyDrB:
This isn't just what women want. I think most men want it too. I hate it that games still have too many juvenile portrayals of women. It's lazy, pandering, makes for dull characters, and helps reinforce the stereotype that gaming is an activity for the immature. Not to say that it should be done away with completely, as I suppose there's always a place for such depictions of men and women in all forms of media. But it's definitely not something that should be the norm. With more well-written characters comes better story-telling and a chance to sympathize with someone unlike yourself (even of a different gender). I think this enhances the game as a whole, from story to gameplay.

Formica Archonis:
Awww, just audio? Come on, Susan's reactions to the demo images at the panel at PAX East were comedy gold!

Thanks for the link.

Wow. I missed people's reactions to Enslaved. I didn't know there was so much outrage over what Trip did in the beginning. Sure, it's no heart-of-gold move. But she did what she needed to do to survive, and I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing if I were in the same situation. Great game, great characters. And, of course, it's under-appreciated.

You're right, of course, as the guy who came up and talked about the half-naked chick from Firefall demonstrated. Guys find these oversexed, shallow characters to be just as lame as we ladies do; it's actually fairly insulting for publishers to assume guys will buy something simply because a busty girl in a bikini is on the box.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Eleima:

I do have one thing to say about FemShep though, you *can* give her scars in ME1, even if marketing decided to do away with those (but then again, they did the same to MaleShep, all scars disappeared in ME2; which is a shame, I thought they added distinction to my characters).

Given what happened at the start of ME2...I think it's reasonable to assume there wasn't any scar tissue around.
[Spoilers obviously]

True enough, but everything else was reconstructed "as is", so why not the scar? ^_^

Eleima:

The_root_of_all_evil:

Eleima:

I do have one thing to say about FemShep though, you *can* give her scars in ME1, even if marketing decided to do away with those (but then again, they did the same to MaleShep, all scars disappeared in ME2; which is a shame, I thought they added distinction to my characters).

Given what happened at the start of ME2...I think it's reasonable to assume there wasn't any scar tissue around.
[Spoilers obviously]

True enough, but everything else was reconstructed "as is", so why not the scar? ^_^

Maybe

They brought up that FemShep had a default appearance before and why couldn't they just keep that. The thing is, the voting process ended basically reconstructing the default FemShep anyway. The hair color vote was a total landslide in the favor red.

xXxJessicaxXx:

Freechoice:
I never understood the "character I need to relate to" mindset. I think what should be said is "a character I can sympathize with." I honestly would not care if the character I was playing had a higher pitch combat grunt than, say, Marcus Fenix. If you absolutely need to feel human by attaching yourself to the character, the primary facet should be the story, not the gender. Somehow, someway, I am calling AJ sexist.

I don't know I kind of understand where she is coming from when I play a game with a male lead like Crysis 2 (which I think is a good game) it feels like I am watching someone else's story even though Alcatraz is pretty much a vague character compared to Prophet. When I get to play as say, Lara Croft I feel more immersed in that game because I can put myself in the place of that character easier simply becuase I'm the same gender.

I hope that makes sense.

OT: Thanks for putting the Podcast up it was cool to be able to listen to it.

I would agree with the fact that people have a right to play the 'sparkle pony' games but they shouldn't be labelled as 'girls games' when I certainly don't enjoy them. The Sims 3 is pushing it for me but I do enjoy the building.

I find relating to a character is actually pretty shallow.

Michelle Orange discusses relatability here.

For different reasons, but the point is concurrent; relatability is diametrically opposed to characterization. By definition, an everyman has to have qualities that all people possess, otherwise the relatability goes downhill. This creates a very bland character in special situations. Likewise, a very well developed character is harder to relate to because they have definite characteristics. Relatability goes down, but characterization (and the chance for a more powerful narrative) increases. If a character is relatable and the narrative is powerful, it probably has to be self-aware, losing some of the immersion because of the reality tie-in to keep it from being silly, see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Granted, none of this is set in stone, but I'd be willing to bet good female characters have more depth than the average action hero.

That argument notwithstanding, I think it's worth reevaluating your priorities if you have to see anatomical similarities between yourself and a collection of pixels before you can start relating to them. In most circumstances, I imagine humans, especially ones in the Western world, have progressively homogenized problems that anyone can learn from. Likewise, the focus of most games is not problems caused by sex, but problems that get resolved because they need to get resolved.

I'm not trying to be aggressive, but this is a hot button for me (not a berserk button). These kinds of mentalities incentivize bland characters. If people do not raise their concern that relatability is a problem, it's not going to get changed. And it is a problem, it's just that most people don't see it because that has become the cultural norm.

Discussions such as this tend to address the symptoms, not the causes. If you try to compare it with reality, it's remarkably similar; prominent women are often sexualized and portrayed as dependent. In the same situations, men aren't. Men are just sort of expected to get things done regardless of what the audience thinks. Here's an entire tropes page on it. Sad, ain't it?

What women really want from female characters are characters that don't suck. Hell, James Cameron (of Aliens fame) said the best way to make a good female character is to write a male and change the pronouns. Sad indictment of gender comprehension? Yeah, but it works on more levels than you would think. People are people, problems are problems. In most cases, I think people just need a sympathetic (the common definition) ear. If it's something serious, you probably need to talk to a professional.

Avistew:
I also kind of maybe disagreed with the "If a female character is just a man with boobs, what's the point?" comment. It depends on what was meant there, but what I mean is that I don't think a female character should need to be all about female issues and being stereotypically feminine or, on the other hand, breaking the stereotypes and having everyone point that out, or in short be defined by the fact she's feminine. I think the same character could be either, just flip a coin, and that's fine. Males don't have to be a specific way to be good male characters, they're just good characters and they happen to be males. I think it should be the same for female characters.

Freechoice:

xXxJessicaxXx:

Freechoice:
I never understood the "character I need to relate to" mindset. I think what should be said is "a character I can sympathize with." I honestly would not care if the character I was playing had a higher pitch combat grunt than, say, Marcus Fenix. If you absolutely need to feel human by attaching yourself to the character, the primary facet should be the story, not the gender. Somehow, someway, I am calling AJ sexist.

I don't know I kind of understand where she is coming from when I play a game with a male lead like Crysis 2 (which I think is a good game) it feels like I am watching someone else's story even though Alcatraz is pretty much a vague character compared to Prophet. When I get to play as say, Lara Croft I feel more immersed in that game because I can put myself in the place of that character easier simply becuase I'm the same gender.

I hope that makes sense.

OT: Thanks for putting the Podcast up it was cool to be able to listen to it.

I would agree with the fact that people have a right to play the 'sparkle pony' games but they shouldn't be labelled as 'girls games' when I certainly don't enjoy them. The Sims 3 is pushing it for me but I do enjoy the building.

What women really want from female characters are characters that don't suck. Hell, James Cameron (of Aliens fame) said the best way to make a good female character is to write a male and change the pronouns. Sad indictment of gender comprehension? Yeah, but it works on more levels than you would think. People are people, problems are problems. In most cases, I think people just need a sympathetic (the common definition) ear. If it's something serious, you probably need to talk to a professional.

I have to disagree with the notion that gender is interchangeable. While it's nice to say that "people are people, regardless of gender", gender plays a huge role in how people view the world, and just how they act in general. Men and women have different values and respond differently to their environment, and have different ways of thinking, especially considering gender roles relative to their culture. As far as Psychology is concerned, things like gender and culture change everything. This, of course, doesn't mean the character has to be stereotypical, but that should go without saying.

Taunta:
I have to disagree with the notion that gender is interchangeable. While it's nice to say that "people are people, regardless of gender", gender plays a huge role in how people view the world, and just how they act in general. Men and women have different values and respond differently to their environment, and have different ways of thinking, especially considering gender roles relative to their culture. As far as Psychology is concerned, things like gender and culture change everything. This, of course, doesn't mean the character has to be stereotypical, but that should go without saying.

Do you see many of the predominantly male characters in games pursuing masculine gender tropes, problems, etc. to the detriment or even to the expansion of the narrative? In most cases, the answer is no because there's a job to do.

In entertainment of the singular installment variety (games, films, not-books, not-TV), a character is cast in a role, usually professional. It's a soldier or a spy or a demo guy. Doesn't matter. They are professional people with professional obligations and only things that bother to characterize heavily (Persona series) will explore gender-based content. It's the same reason a doctor or lawyer of either gender is acceptable if they are both of similar qualification. Professional obligation demands that they leave their personal life out of their job.

Gender based outlooks have little place in most action games because the point is to advance an already existing plot and guys and gals have to be able to shoot the same way.

Femshep saves the universe in the same fashion as Dudeshep. Chloe Frazier is a snarky asshole like Nathan Drake. Jill Valentine shoots zombies just like Chris Redfield.

A professional is a professional, regardless of how they pee.

And really, what differences are there that don't have a distaff counterpart on TV Tropes?

I'm glad that Bayonetta pleased some people. Bayonetta woould have been something I could've enjoyed... if it WASN'T trying SO HARD to be Devil May Cry, and yet NOT calling itself Devil May Cry. And this simple point, made my stupid brain just shut down and reject the whole game and expect Dante to pop out and yell 'Just kidding folks, this is totaly DMC.' Could not enjoy it.

Freechoice:

Taunta:
I have to disagree with the notion that gender is interchangeable. While it's nice to say that "people are people, regardless of gender", gender plays a huge role in how people view the world, and just how they act in general. Men and women have different values and respond differently to their environment, and have different ways of thinking, especially considering gender roles relative to their culture. As far as Psychology is concerned, things like gender and culture change everything. This, of course, doesn't mean the character has to be stereotypical, but that should go without saying.

Do you see many of the predominantly male characters in games pursuing masculine gender tropes, problems, etc. to the detriment or even to the expansion of the narrative? In most cases, the answer is no because there's a job to do.

In entertainment of the singular installment variety (games, films, not-books, not-TV), a character is cast in a role, usually professional. It's a soldier or a spy or a demo guy. Doesn't matter. They are professional people with professional obligations and only things that bother to characterize heavily (Persona series) will explore gender-based content. It's the same reason a doctor or lawyer of either gender is acceptable if they are both of similar qualification. Professional obligation demands that they leave their personal life out of their job.

Gender based outlooks have little place in most action games because the point is to advance an already existing plot and guys and gals have to be able to shoot the same way.

Femshep saves the universe in the same fashion as Dudeshep. Chloe Frazier is a snarky asshole like Nathan Drake. Jill Valentine shoots zombies just like Chris Redfield.

A professional is a professional, regardless of how they pee.

And really, what differences are there that don't have a distaff counterpart on TV Tropes?

If a character's sole defining trait is their profession, then they're not a fully fleshed out character, and I think you have more problems than making strong convincing females.

You seem to classify people more by their profession, insisting that they all should act as a stereotype of someone with their profession should act, when in reality that's not the case. That creates a 2d character at best, and I would argue that because even real life doctors and soldiers have personalities, video game doctors and soldiers should too. How does a female doctor break the news to her patient that he or she has a terminal illness? How does that differ from how a male doctor would? And "It wouldn't" is not the right answer. Would a male or female soldier be more likely to kill unnecessarily? Would a male or female be more likely to help a civilian in need?

The idea that only character-driven games should have realistic and deep characterization is a dangerous one, and that action-driven games should have cardboard cut-outs and two-dimensional people. That's the same as the "anti-artistic games" argument. Having realistic characters with dimensions and flaws is not a drawback, just like having artistic merit and making the player think is not a drawback. If anything, having three-dimensional characters can only enhance your immersion, and by extension, your enjoyment. Why do you think more people enjoyed the romance more in DA2, instead of Fable 3? Because your companions in DA2 had depth and personalities, and in Fable 3 you were expected to favor one faceless civilian over the other.

Also, Shepard is not a good example for any personality discussion, as Shepard is a blank slate, male or female. That's like starting an argument with "My avatar on World of Warcraft..."

Taunta:
If a character's sole defining trait is their profession, then they're not a fully fleshed out character, and I think you have more problems than making strong convincing females.

You seem to classify people more by their profession, insisting that they all should act as a stereotype of someone with their profession should act, when in reality that's not the case. That creates a 2d character at best, and I would argue that because even real life doctors and soldiers have personalities, video game doctors and soldiers should too. How does a female doctor break the news to her patient that he or she has a terminal illness? How does that differ from how a male doctor would? And "It wouldn't" is not the right answer. Would a male or female soldier be more likely to kill unnecessarily? Would a male or female be more likely to help a civilian in need?

The idea that only character-driven games should have realistic and deep characterization is a dangerous one, and that action-driven games should have cardboard cut-outs and two-dimensional people. That's the same as the "anti-artistic games" argument. Having realistic characters with dimensions and flaws is not a drawback, just like having artistic merit and making the player think is not a drawback. If anything, having three-dimensional characters can only enhance your immersion, and by extension, your enjoyment.

Also, Shepard is not a good example for any personality discussion, as Shepard is a blank slate, male or female. That's like starting an argument with "My avatar on World of Warcraft..."

I think you should just stop here because you took only what you wanted to see from my points and glossed over everything else. Here's why:

For one, I did not say that a character's sole definition should be their job. I said their job should keep any gender related problems outside of their work environment. This is in part because gender issues tend to be very deep, personal problems that can interfere with a work environment.

Your class questions are irrelevant because anyone can have any reaction and act in any manner. Characters act according to how they are written, what is needed of them and how they are developed and are subject to presupposition by their authors.

Likewise, I said nothing about stopping action heavy games from having characterization. Again, it was about gender issues.

And what about my other examples? What about Frazier being the counterpart to Drake? What about Jill having perpetual UST with Chris while trying to beat his headshot score?

Oh, and I just finished listening to the podcast and it seems that I was agreed with without having known it. One of the casters advocated (reasonable) androgyny as a happy medium for character design, a concept that is in complete agreement with my idea that human problems are largely universal within a culture. Not all, but the point remains that if you create a gender specific problem, half the human race can't relate and if you have to explain it, you either lose punch or it becomes weird.

Taunta:
How does a female doctor break the news to her patient that he or she has a terminal illness? How does that differ from how a male doctor would? And "It wouldn't" is not the right answer.

Having had both a male and a female family doctor in those kinds of situations, "it wouldn't" is the right answer.

Professionals, male or female, are often trained to handle situations in a specific, professional manner. Sometimes it's the profession that does matter, not the gender. Frankly, the insinuation that one gender of soldier would hold life to be more precious than another is also extremely offensive, off-putting, and I do not share your point of view.

Freechoice:

Taunta:
If a character's sole defining trait is their profession, then they're not a fully fleshed out character, and I think you have more problems than making strong convincing females.

You seem to classify people more by their profession, insisting that they all should act as a stereotype of someone with their profession should act, when in reality that's not the case. That creates a 2d character at best, and I would argue that because even real life doctors and soldiers have personalities, video game doctors and soldiers should too. How does a female doctor break the news to her patient that he or she has a terminal illness? How does that differ from how a male doctor would? And "It wouldn't" is not the right answer. Would a male or female soldier be more likely to kill unnecessarily? Would a male or female be more likely to help a civilian in need?

The idea that only character-driven games should have realistic and deep characterization is a dangerous one, and that action-driven games should have cardboard cut-outs and two-dimensional people. That's the same as the "anti-artistic games" argument. Having realistic characters with dimensions and flaws is not a drawback, just like having artistic merit and making the player think is not a drawback. If anything, having three-dimensional characters can only enhance your immersion, and by extension, your enjoyment.

Also, Shepard is not a good example for any personality discussion, as Shepard is a blank slate, male or female. That's like starting an argument with "My avatar on World of Warcraft..."

I think you should just stop here because you took only what you wanted to see from my points and glossed over everything else. Here's why:

For one, I did not say that a character's sole definition should be their job. I said their job should keep any gender related problems outside of their work environment. This is in part because gender issues tend to be very deep, personal problems that can interfere with a work environment.

Your class questions are irrelevant because anyone can have any reaction and act in any manner. Characters act according to how they are written, what is needed of them and how they are developed and are subject to presupposition by their authors.

Likewise, I said nothing about stopping action heavy games from having characterization. Again, it was about gender issues.

And what about my other examples? What about Frazier being the counterpart to Drake? What about Jill having perpetual UST with Chris while trying to beat his headshot score?

Oh, and I just finished listening to the podcast and it seems that I was agreed with without having known it. One of the casters advocated (reasonable) androgyny as a happy medium for character design, a concept that is in complete agreement with my idea that human problems are largely universal within a culture. Not all, but the point remains that if you create a gender specific problem, half the human race can't relate and if you have to explain it, you either lose punch or it becomes weird.

Allow me to address your points individually to avoid the cop-out argument "Oh you only read what you wanted to read".

Do you see many of the predominantly male characters in games pursuing masculine gender tropes, problems, etc. to the detriment or even to the expansion of the narrative? In most cases, the answer is no because there's a job to do.

In entertainment of the singular installment variety (games, films, not-books, not-TV), a character is cast in a role, usually professional. It's a soldier or a spy or a demo guy. Doesn't matter...It's the same reason a doctor or lawyer of either gender is acceptable if they are both of similar qualification. Professional obligation demands that they leave their personal life out of their job.

"Gender, culture, and personality are irrelevant, a character should act within the stereotypical frame of what their job depicts." Nevermind that a single personality profession trait does not depict what a person should do in all scenarios, or even how. So sorry, simply saying "He's a soldier, he should act like a soldier." does not hold water.

...only things that bother to characterize heavily (Persona series) will explore gender-based content.

"Only in character-driven games (I.e. the persona series) should explore how something like your gender should affect someone's character"

Gender based outlooks have little place in most action games because the point is to advance an already existing plot and guys and gals have to be able to shoot the same way

I didn't say anything about gender affecting someone's ability to be a soldier, I said something about gender affecting someone's choices and reactions to their environment. Also "Action games should not have characters where their gender plays a realistic part in their personality."

And what about my other examples? What about Frazier being the counterpart to Drake? What about Jill having perpetual UST with Chris while trying to beat his headshot score?

Simple. I've never played those games so I can't contest you on those.

A professional is a professional, regardless of how they pee.

"A person should act as a stereotype of their profession, regardless of their gender."

Taunta:
snip

Will=/=Should
Pulling words from nowhere=Bad

There's no arguing with this because I neither stated nor implied your points. I'll just quote the person that said it better than me.

Ariseishirou:

Taunta:
How does a female doctor break the news to her patient that he or she has a terminal illness? How does that differ from how a male doctor would? And "It wouldn't" is not the right answer.

Having had both a male and a female family doctor in those kinds of situations, "it wouldn't" is the right answer.

Professionals, male or female, are often trained to handle situations in a specific, professional manner. Sometimes it's the profession that does matter, not the gender. Frankly, the insinuation that one gender of soldier would hold life to be more precious than another is also extremely offensive, off-putting, and I do not share your point of view.

Ariseishirou:

Taunta:
How does a female doctor break the news to her patient that he or she has a terminal illness? How does that differ from how a male doctor would? And "It wouldn't" is not the right answer.

Having had both a male and a female family doctor in those kinds of situations, "it wouldn't" is the right answer.

Professionals, male or female, are often trained to handle situations in a specific, professional manner. Sometimes it's the profession that does matter, not the gender. Frankly, the insinuation that one gender of soldier would hold life to be more precious than another is also extremely offensive, off-putting, and I do not share your point of view.

I don't think you understand. Obviously professionals are expected to act with a certain amount of rapport. I'm not saying that one gender would be less likely to act with rapport, but that still doesn't explain to me any differences about the subtle nuances one gender of doctor would be more likely to give.

Also, kudos to you for getting offended without me even having to suggest any gender. I just asked a hypothetical question. But since you addressed it specifically...

Yes, gender is a confounding variable in a person's inclination to help someone.

Also informative, are episodes of "What would you do?". Just count the number of females and males who intervene.

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