Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

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The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

The game industry doesn't want female characters. That is allegedly the message publishers have been sending to developers.

Watch Video

Oh, no. Not more gender. I thought we were done with this months ago!

Well this video is just what these forums need right now.
As we all know, sexism is never talked about on the escapist forums ever.
Nope not here.
And I would never expect this thread to burst into flames... Nope, not seeing that happen.
BUUUT for all my cynicism:
I really like the video though and you make some very good points.

saintdane05:
Oh, no. Not more gender. I thought we were done with this months ago!

We should have been done with this years ago, but apparently the industry isn't.

Oh dear, just when I thought the sexism threads were done.

Talking about female characters...
WHERE IS MIRROR'S EDGE 2??????????

Who needs Anita Sarkesian when the Jimquisition is here to actually elicit discussion about sexism problems in the industry. Long live Jim!

Okay, fuck it!
I always play as a male in character creation RPGs because I like projecting myself into a character.
Next time though, I'm gunna try playing as a woman. MY SENSE OF SELF CAN TAKE IT!

Jim, call me! <3

Considering Square Enix wussed out with both X and XII's male protagonists, I guess I should say it's refreshing to see Lightning on ALL THREE XIII games. I would, but they still wussed out ten years too late.

I actually came to the same realization last week when discussing female game character in relationships. Besides in RPGs where you make the protagonist they really don't seem to exist. And the logic behind it... you're right, it's kind of creepy.

Want to know something odd? To me it actually feels more weird to play a male character and engage in romance then it does the other way around. There is just something....awkward about it. Part of it is some sort of disconnect, this character is coming on to "me" or at least the extension of my will in the game and it just does not feel realistic. I had this problem in SWTOR and Mass Effect 3 and ended up skipping the romance arcs because they just made me feel strange. I had no issue playing a female character romancing a male character though, mainly because there was enough "space" between me and the characters. This was a story I was experiencing, just like reading a novel with a female POV, instead of an experience I was putting myself in.

I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of Ripley or Samus just because it would add something different to the endless amounts of "Dude-bro" protagonists.

Also Jim's...implication that guys who feel more secure with buying games with large men on them was very amusing for all the right reasons.

It's 2013 and we still can't have woman in video games because of homophobic neckbearded manchildren.

I love playing women in video games, I pick female characters at every opportunity, always create women in Bethesda titles like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls, I just can't understand, in this day and age, that this attitude still exists.

Shit. Does this mean my biggest hurdle I have to jump over to get VF101, a story centering around a very... unique female protagonist who is on the verge of going batshit crazy caught in the middle of a third world war where nuclear warfare and the end of the world is a real, real issue, where she copes with it by steering the war away from that direction via percise insertion operations with small squad of operatives into a video game is that the main protagonist is a GIRL, not that she's pretty much... the devil?

GG game industry.

No, but seriously, I didn't know this was an issue, I sort of... figured that developers and publishers were just... male centeric, and that that was why we don't see too many female protagonists that aren't there strictly for sex appeal. Glad to hear I have another reason to lose even more faith in my fellow gamers.

Edited for reading comprehension; 100 word sentences are confus.

DVS BSTrD:
Okay, fuck it!
I always play as a male in character creation RPGs because I like projecting myself into a character.
Next time though, I'm gunna try playing as a woman. MY SENSE OF SELF CAN TAKE IT!

Jim, call me! <3

I do too, but only in RPGs. Games in which I project myself in them. In regular games where you don't have that kind of role-playing though? Relate-able characters should be relate-able regardless of gender.

Having said that, I'm more than willing to bet this is more an issue with the gaming audience rather than publishers being spineless. As much as anyone here is willing to admit that they would really like to see more female protagonists, most of the gaming audience is the "gunbro" type. Can you really blame a publisher for an attitude that they believe makes them the most money? Games aren't a charity.

Thank you, Jim. Thank all of the gods for you. Thank you for existing and spreading the word to the masses. You have slowly but steadily climbed to the top of my favourite content on The Escapist.

The points you make in the video are just so spot-on. THAT is objectification, the refusal to see something as a subject, as a person, and instead relegating them to the role of object to be looked at and controlled but never given any agency.

Best episode you've ever done.

Jim, I couldn't watch (only listen) to half of the video because I've swore myself to not look at ANYTHING Infinite related until tomorrow when it's released here in the UK. I've watched two of the early trailers and that's it.

OT: To be honest, I have barely ever seen any actual examples of the type of people you talked about in the video. Like, I have friends that can be considered the most dude-bro people in the world yet we still talked about the latest Tomb Raider (and not just about how sexy Lara is), Elizabeth in Infinite and more. It all seems to me that it's the publishers fault, not the gamers. I think they're just using those examples as excuses instead of just saying "We don't think games with female protagonists sell".

cyvaris:
I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of Ripley or Samus just because it would add something different to the endless amounts of "Dude-bro" protagonists.

Would Samus really count outside of her armor?

I mean I don't know sexy so I can't really comment, but it really seems that's what they were going for when they put her in a ponytail and the skintight blue bodysuit.

TheSniperFan:
Talking about female characters...
WHERE IS MIRROR'S EDGE 2??????????

Mirror's Edge 2: Starring a grizzled white dude with a gun in one hand and microtransactions in the other, parkouring away from an explosion. Because that's about as much risk as EA feels like taking any more.

And we should stop talking about sexism issues in the games media when they stop being issues. Lament the return of more "sexism threads" is hoping we can all start ignoring the problem again. If you don't want to talk about it, post in other threads.

I has to be said that a lot of games with female protagonists don't sell well simply because they're not that good.

Lets take a look at the big games in recent years featuring female protagonists:

-Metroid: Other M
-Mirrors Edge
-Hydrophobia
-Tomb Raider
-Amy
-Final Fantasy XIII

...I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones off the top of my head. Notice anything about them? Aside from Tomb Raider, they panned by critics and audiences alike. Not because they had a female lead, but because the games themselves were of questionable quality at best.

If publishers and developers want female protagonists to sell well, for gods sake put them in good games.

Also, if someone is honestly wierded out when their character kisses a guy, grow up. How do you think women have felt all these years playing as big burly men saving the princess of the day?

I say Bullocks, Fire Emblem Rekka no Ken, and the Sacred Stones(FE7 and FE8) Sold very well being (until Awakening[FE 13]) the best selling games in the series(repectfully haveing Lyn as the introdctory lord character for us uninlightened westerners, and Erika whom I personaly adore.) with the follow ups Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn(FE 9 and 10) being the Worst international releases for the series... ever, and those games primarily star Ike(who I personally don't like) who is

Daystar Clarion:
It's 2013 and we still can't have woman in video games because of homophobic neckbearded manchildren.

I love playing women in video games, I pick female characters at every opportunity, always create women in Bethesda titles like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls, I just can't understand, in this day and age, that this attitude still exists.

OI stop using neck beard as an insult,for fucks sake it a legitimate look stop bashing it also some people can't grow facial hair any where else no matter how hard we try,your being just as bigoted as the people your criticising T_T

I'll certainly have none of that gay ladies kissin' men business in my games. Der bible has things to say regarding such gayness!

Thanks for the video daddy!
I mean, Jim! Jim thats what I mean.

Good vid, Jim. As I was growing up I was always baffled by the lack of leading ladies. It seems that the publishers damn anyone who has a female player character preference to obscurity and decided to pander to the "White, 20-something heterosexual cisgendered male" demographic, shutting out entire demographics of people. I mean, look at Call of Duty: sure, in BLOPS II there's a prominent female character, but she's relegated to a side character. Before that, women were either A) Damsels in distress(see COD4) or B) screaming civilians getting shot and killed(MW2,3). I can't say there were any main women in those games, much less playable ones. You can't even choose your gender in the multiplayer options, another rather big sin there. And then there's the shit devs have to go though to even have a woman on the motherfucking box art... fuck this noise. I'm getting too mad thinking about this shit.

It's really really disappointing that this kind of thing is still around.
And even more so disappointing that the reaction to it is `Oh no, sexism thread!` as if not talking about it is going to fix anything (hint: It won't).

I for one am glad that the wider gaming community is more aware of this and female players don't have to sit around being invisible (`a dude like the player` indeed).
I would really like it if more of my fellow gamers who happen to be men could take their fingers out of their ears for a little bit and listen to the problems we have, and realize you have the luxury of ignoring them, but the ability of choosing not to. I am always grateful to the guys who are for more female protagonists/better representation.

Great episode Jim.

I think a big part of the problem is men are trained to be extremely insecure about our sexuality from a very young age. See the school yard where being called "gay" is considered pretty much the worst insult ever. I'd like to think most of us eventually get over it, but with the massive amounts of homophobia your average dude shows, I think I'd be wrong about that.

DVS BSTrD:
Okay, fuck it!
I always play as a male in character creation RPGs because I like projecting myself into a character.
Next time though, I'm gunna try playing as a woman. MY SENSE OF SELF CAN TAKE IT!

Jim, call me! <3

I tend to almost always choose a female character if given the choice. I don't project myself into the character, I project aspects of my personality if its the kinda game that gives choices but I am not the character I play. I tend to choose female characters because I find it much more interesting to see a female overcome adversity than a male.

This is a very strange problem and Jim is right, its very difficult to figure out where the fault lies. Female headed games are quite rare and don't receive the market support so it might just be a marketing failure but then we have a game like mass effect where apparently only 18% of players played femShep and beat the game.

I think it all comes down to people sucking.

Well, just before I saw Jimquisition had been posted, I said this about the fact that a whopping 82% of Mass Effect playthroughs were Male Shep:

Me:
God people are boring... Of course the vast majority played a Soldier Male Shep! They need to "identify" and shit!

Very seriously, from the bottom of my heart and with all due respect (none): Fuck anyone who somehow won't play female characters. Fuck them up the arse with a rake.

And I stand by it even more after this video.

Also, it's quite funny how the first few replies are all "Oh no! Not more sexism debate! Stop talking about it!"

Kuomon:
Who needs Anita Sarkesian when the Jimquisition is here to actually elicit discussion about sexism problems in the industry. Long live Jim!

And he didnt even need over 100,000 dollars to do it!

OT: I honestly think its generally that people arent as interested in playing female characters.

Just look at Mass Effect and the stats that came out about it recently. Mass Effect was Massively (Pun intended) advertised, a high profile game where you can play either gender, and still. Only 18% of players played as a female...

cyvaris:
I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of Ripley or Samus just because it would add something different to the endless amounts of "Dude-bro" protagonists.

You honestly think they dont try to make Samus sexy?

image

And then theres Other M, which has a number of fan service shots of her in her zero suit.

I haven't really read anything by Gladwell so the reference to him went over my head.

As is often the case I more or less agree with all Jim had to say. Two points though:
1. All sex/intemecy sceens in games are crepy. It is more or less a set of virtual Barbie and Ken dolls getting mashed together. Not sexy and not interesting really.

2. Could we try to not have "love" and sex being the only relationships men and women can have in games (I know there are exceptions but they are few)

cynicalsaint1:
I think a big part of the problem is men are trained to be extremely insecure about our sexuality from a very young age. See the school yard where being called "gay" is considered pretty much the worst insult ever. I'd like to think most of us eventually get over it, but with the massive amounts of homophobia your average dude shows, I think I'd be wrong about that.

Your right about that but don't forget that allot of the insults that guys use are feminine terms. Pussy, sissy, little girl. It comes off as pretty much anything associated with women is weakness.

The Samus fanservice pisses me off to no end. Really, if we have to take her out of her power-armour can we leave her in "normal" clothing? No. Why? Because bullshit reasons about "sexy".

This whole situation makes me want to buy Remember Me -Even though I think it'll be shit- to stand for women in relationships in gaming. We should be able to explore every type of situation and relationship in gaming, and I will fight for it tooth and nail.

Outside of RPGs, there arn't many games I can think of that have female protagonists, but I've never heard people complain about that. Would Portal be substantially better if you were playing Chris instead of Chell? The first time you saw your character through a portal, I remember thinking "Oh, the character's a woman." I can't think of anything else I thought and I doubt there was anyone who threw the game away in disgust.
If anything, it seems to me Publishers are just continuing to aim at the largest demographic as they always do, which is male so they seem to think the main character has to be male in order to connect with them.

I agree it's pretty ludicrous to think we can't have female leads, or female-driven romance. Even simply because it's boring to only have one way of doing things.

That said, I get a little annoyed with most forms of uncanny valley romance and sex that ends up in games these days, so I can't say I'm looking forward to more of it in any context.

Edit: Though really, if I can "deal" with staring at Solid Snake's skintight buttcrack, I can "deal" with *gasp* a women going to kiss someone.

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