Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

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I personally don't like playing female protagonists or exploring relationships in games. In my escapism, which includes roleplaying games as well as reading, film and gaming, I don't desire taking on or otherwise exploring a different gender role, not because of any percieved weakness in the gender, but simply because I don't want to. And I'm allowed to think that way. It's my choice.

To be fair, I hate playing males, too. I would rather play the monster/ alien/ inhuman, every time. In Borderlands, I wanted one of the new playable characters to be a Skag!

Having said all that, I think that others should have at least the option, where plausible/able, to choose a female protagonist, be free to explore these narratives as they like, and that games like Tomb Raider are very encouraging not just for the state of female protagonists, but also for engaging narratives in games in general.

...

It is kinda funny that this came up while the Escapist site is PLASTERED with the Starcraft ads, featuring what could very well be percieved as a powerful looking female character (but is most likely a zerg boss antagonist).

I'm surprised Jim didn't mention Female Shepard. ME3 did a lot more to promote Female Shepard too this time around, even having fans vote on a default female. I prefer Femshep myself, mostly due to the superior voice acting Jennifer Hale does. So I guess I don't get the mentality. I thought Samus being female made metroid cooler, I've always wanted a Legend of Zelda game where Zelda is a playable character (Use to dream of a LoZ Final Fantasy 6 style rpg), My favorite Final Fantasy game of all time has a Female main character, ext.

Nice of Jim to spell things out rather obviously. There is a very very big problem in the industry like other ones.

Though still, the fact that people act like there isn't a problem at all and would rather pretend the very opposite still drive me up the wall.

I'll admit that I never thought of this issue until I played Dreamfall 6 years ago.

I was a bit shocked at first that the game went there at first.(a bit disturbing to me at first since I had rarely immersed my self so much into a character.) but after 5 minutes of thinking about it I really could not find any reason why I should, This is the same thing I have seen so often, just from another point of view.

But what shocks me even more is that Jim has not played "The Longest Journey" series.

Fine, Jim. If you'll be my daddy, I'm your Huckleberry.

Out of curiosity, was there much furor over Mirror's Edge's protagonist being female?

Daystar Clarion:

knight steel:

Daystar Clarion:

Neckbeards are bad and you should feel bad.
Come at me bro.

You are promoting an unfair/untruthful negative stereotype against something that is completely harmless and in most cases something people have no say in,because of your hateful bigotry bias [you think it's gross],in short your demonizing a group because of your personal opinion becoming no better than a racist or homophobic man.

Ashoten:

knight steel:

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

Um yeah I think that insult has run its course. Especially when you are someone like me with thick gorilla hair that needs to shave twice a day just to maintain a clean look. I go through disposable razors like candy cause they cannot handle my mutant man hair.

Let me assure you that I said that in jest.

I don't genuinely believe that owning a neckbeard makes you less of a person :D

ok lol I know it is hard to convey sarcasm without being taken seriously on teh interwebs.

Desert Punk:

cyvaris:
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".

Normal clothing like the first time she was shown out of her armor at the end of the first game with her in it? :P

In that particular shot Samus was originally supposed to be naked but it was censored for the US version with the bikini. The reason wasn't for sexy though, I'm pretty sure it had to do with the lore and how the power suit worked before they came up with the zero suit concept.

In terms of sexism I think naked original Metroid Samus is better than daddy-issues in high heels Other M Samus.

OT: I don't understand the need for publishers to have no female leads at all. Even if only 18% of people (like in the ME3 statistic) want to play as a female lead, that's still a bigger 'niche' than some gaming genres out there. Even then, I wonder if all the people who do avoid female led games do so because the lead is female or because many games have atrociously bad writing for female characters.

...Welp, the last two games I played were Heart of the Swarm and Tomb Raider, both of which have been incredibly successful, so I'm struggling to see a point to this video. Sure, a few publishers are scared and maybe slightly retarded, but the numbers will convince them soon enough. No need for a shitstorm. Also, Jim's daddyface will definitely haunt my nightmares.

Daystar Clarion:

knight steel:

Daystar Clarion:

snip

Let me assure you that I said that in jest.

I don't genuinely believe that owning a neckbeard makes you less of a person :D

Well ok then,I forgive you,just be careful even if you say it in jest it can still be hurtful/bad just like if you say the N word in jest.
Anyway come here mate:

Dude, don't equate it with racism, it's hardly the same thing and undermines what racism is :D

It's the mullet of facial hair, I won't judge you for it, but I still think it looks ridiculous.

While it no where near as bad as racism,it was just an example of how words in jest can turn into knives in chest's
but I digress sorry for the exaggeration and complaining it's just when I was in high school I was beaten because of it [even broke a finger] so I'm sensitive to the issue :(

Jim please stop being creepy. Please.
Great watch lol. I had a point some where till jim literally started making a sucking sound and my brain shut off.

Phasmal:

erttheking:

Because I'm a stupid teenager, that's why I keep coming in. That and I do enjoy debating when it can be civil, such as right now. I'd be all for sexism debates if people could be as civil as you, but the thing is that the bitter sarcasm and the holier than thou attitudes crop up before too long.

Yeah, this topic has a way of dividing people. Often female gamers feel dismissed and male gamers feel accused. I don't think any of us are above that, these things can be quite personal.

erttheking:

I think part of my problem is that we're being vocal in the wrong places. I don't think that publishers are going onto the escapist to check what gamers are angry about. If you want my opinion, I think we should be less vocal about it on the Escapist, we're were surrounded by no one but other gamers, and take out complaints somewhere were the publishers can see them, like the EA forums or something.

Perhaps, but I'd like this to be part of a larger shift in the view of the community, (like I said, I'm probably too optimistic about this). I'd really like it if these issues had their place. I'm not saying they should exclusively be here. But I think gamers in general should be aware of them, and I feel still too many of us are dismissive of them.

erttheking:

I guess you have a point there, but again, the debates get so vicious and sometimes paper thin accusations of sexism get thrown around at gamers from gamers that I just want to shut it out. Not to mention every time people try to bring up ME3, people tell them to shut up, and as someone who is still pissed at it, I can respect where you're coming from. Being civil about this would go a long way for making me willing to talk about this. You're managing to do that very well by the way. Kudos.

Thanks dude, yourself also.
Besides, I'm a feminist, I know what it is like to be accused of hating a gender based on very little.
Isn't everything nicer when we can be civil?
(Waits for thread to cave in around her)

True, very true. My health bar got to where it is for a reason.

I think it ties back to the problem that of the people who try to address these problems, some of them are a little too zealous about it and are too angry, throwing accusations around instead of constructive criticism. To be fair, their anger isn't unjustified, but it isn't helpful. The inverse is a problem too, some people thinking that saying that games are sexist is saying that they're sexist for liking it, making them adamant against any feminist. So it boils down to a few extremists on both sides ruining it for everyone. Sounds like politics.

To be perfectly honest, I think we would've made a lot more progress if every sexism thread went like our conversation.

I don't think anybody can logically disagree with the issues brought up in this video. The whole "Don't put a female on the front cover or the people won't buy it" is a complete joke. I never saw that quote before about having a female character being in a relationship possibly being "awkward" but that is just as ridiculous.

I honestly don't think it is a chicken or an egg scenario though. If you are talking about a game "not selling" with a female lead, but are using something as COD as a comparison, then to be honest, it's not really a fair argument. COD and other such games are very much aimed at the "dudebro" audience. That's not to say that you if you like it, you are that kind of person, but that's who they are aiming at. That kind of core audience isn't going to want or care about female leads, but they aren't the majority of gamers overall.

If you looked at gamers as a whole, and not just the ones who pick up the blockbuster Triple A games that "everybody" plays, I sincerely doubt that most of them honestly care if there is a female lead, or if they show a woman on the box art.

I think most of that perception is the publisher. The publishers are out to make money, that is more or less their entire motivation for existing. They want to make as much of it as possible, for the least amount of effort. Selling a game to the "dudebro" audience, is arguably the most efficient way of doing so, and I think that's why we see these idiotic attitudes so often in the industry.

So yes, there is an issue, but I believe that at least 90% of it is to do with the publishers, more than anybody else. Good luck convincing them to focus on making quality games and characters over a quick buck though.

Irridium:

Just this huge sense of apathy that sets in after a given period... I hate it. I hate it so damn much.

I'm indifferent towards it.

>.>

sorry, had to. With apathy just lying there and all.

I tend to agree. It's not JUST that, however. There's a misogynist streak on the Escapist. There's one in gaming. Now, it may not be all "RAWR I WILL RAPE YOU NOW GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN," but there's more than one level to sexism. Or rather, sexism is sexism, but that doesn't mean that it's all equatable with respect to other sexism. If that makes sense. I'm tired, my back is knotted, and I have people in replacing my toilet so there's banging and sawing.

I can understand the fatigue, though it does anger me. And it happens elsewhere, too. We don't like hearing about things for long, especially if it makes us feel bad.

Which is sort of the irony here. Most people don't want to hear it because being reminded of the way they make others feel bad makes them feel bad.

Phasmal:

I don't think the answer is to stop talking about it.
People get mad when it comes up, some people have hissy fits and be rude. Tough. It's not going away.
Most of the reason people throw shit-fits about it anyway is because they don't want it to be talked about.

Maybe you don't think anything changes, maybe you think everybody is already on one side or another, but I (maybe too optimistically) disagree.

And honestly, these people will have to grow up eventually. Gaming will evolve.

Well, they need to grow up or be left behind.

erttheking:
I think that the answer is to move on from just talking about it, actually doing stuff about it instead of just sitting around talking about it doesn't really do anything. We need to do things like support games that do have a female protagonist (Tomb Raider) or start petitions to publishers telling them what we want. Debating doesn't really accomplish much.

You mean, we aren't already? It always seems weird that the "reasoned alternative" ends up being what's already being done.

However, a good chunk of any movement, from the trivial to the major, is exposure. Talking is necessary, so it continues, even as people do act.

(I like that petitions are part of your solution, though. Petitions are as impotent as you can get)

Maybe I'm just talking about this because I suffer from anger issues and I really REALLY don't need more stress in my life, I've got enough on my plate trying to get through college, getting good grades and working to earn money for it.

Stop posting in threads about this, then. You keep making excuses, or even railing at people about how you don't need this, or it adds stress, or how you don't want to feel bad (a sentiment you should really sit in the corner and think about, all things considered), but then you come back. And you argue more. It's self-inflicted, on top of self-centered.

Ken_J:
And people wonder where Tropes V Women came from. Seriously we need more Women protagonists preferably ones that aren't simply legs and/or tits.

I doubt anyone wonders where it came from. Most people either accept it or deny it wholesale.

Desert Punk:

Normal clothing like the first time she was shown out of her armor at the end of the first game with her in it? :P

image

To be fair, that was the 80s. You needed something as revealing as a bikini just to demonstrate she WAS a woman with those dated sprites.

I keed, but on the other hand, I'm not sure "the 80s did it" would be a justifiable excuse. :p

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

No one needs Anita. With or without Jimquisition.

Just to talk about something nice for once, here's something from way back when. A poll on IGN to see who was more liked, Samus vs Master Chief. It took place right after the Halo 3 marketing blitz. Samus nearly got 80% of the votes.

http://www.ign.com/articles/2007/10/03/samus-wins-hero-showdown

I don't think gamers have a problem with female protagonists. I think it's more of a publisher problem.

Ukomba:
I'm surprised Jim didn't mention Female Shepard. ME3 did a lot more to promote Female Shepard too this time around, even having fans vote on a default female. I prefer Femshep myself, mostly due to the superior voice acting Jennifer Hale does. So I guess I don't get the mentality. I thought Samus being female made metroid cooler, I've always wanted a Legend of Zelda game where Zelda is a playable character (Use to dream of a LoZ Final Fantasy 6 style rpg), My favorite Final Fantasy game of all time has a Female main character, ext.

IIRC when fans voted online for which was the "true" Shep, FemShep won. But as cited previously, statistics show that ManShep was played far more. I think that's pretty telling of the disconnect between "The gaming community" that comes on Escapist, follows gaming news, and votes in surveys, and "The gaming market". The internet lets us think we're surrounded by compatriots when really we are as "fringe" of a group as gamers have ever been.

Quadocky:
Nice of Jim to spell things out rather obviously. There is a very very big problem in the industry like other ones.

Though still, the fact that people act like there isn't a problem at all and would rather pretend the very opposite still drive me up the wall.

Well is there massive demand from gamers for female protagonists? You can't make gamers ask for something they don't want.
You can call them a bunch of douche bags,

but unless you show me the market is really blowing off the wishes of it's fan base in this instance i'm afraid theres no smoke or fire.

I hadn't really thought about this, but I know I had some sort of awareness. These days, I only buy games which I can create a custom character (or simulators where there's no visible protagonist). Admittedly, it's pretty rare for me to play a female character in said RPGs. I'm a role-player and a man, and as such I have a better instinctual sense of how to role-play a man than a woman.

However, on one playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins, I played as a human warrior who was a woman and got romantically involved with Alistair. Admittedly, it was a little strange at first, but once I got into the role, I felt a sense of attachment to him that comes with a relationship. He was an anchor in the all-over-the-place life the protagonist lives and was a source of comfort and safety as such. It wasn't all that different than how I felt about his being my best friend when I played as a male character.

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

Shouldnt that be heterophobic?

No! No! Fucking NO!

Be specific with the ONE publisher that made the comment instead of lambasting the entire video game industry as some sort of narrative of female characters aren't viable or that the artistic desire and intentions of the developer are more important than what the publisher wants.

Seriously I can party blame the developer and this exhibitionist culture because what used to be simply done as a private matter is now being public.

EDIT: You know what we should also talk about? Who is the developer and why did they bring it up? Do we even know their IP is going to be any good as a game? Because why should we make a gigantic fuss with pundits like Jim acting like Ed Schultz or Rush Limbaugh when the reality is this could just be a self-contained issue between one developer and one publisher.

Nevermind the fact that the publisher model is radically changing where a lot of developers are becoming their own publishers again. Especially when you consider the digital revolution no longer needing any company or console.

I think the hypocrisy is lost on everyone that having female protagonists just for the sake of having female protagonists is little more than political correctness, an exercise of gender regulation in an art form. It's the token minority character getting pushed into the spotlight to say "You see, we are inclusive!".

Pissy rant ahead, because really, enough is enough.

I don't mind playing in the other end of the gender pool. In fact, at times it can be quite refreshing. As for the thought that guys don't want to play a game where they're the female in a male-female relationship, you can't honestly say that, as a guy, you're curious about how the mechanics work on the other side. If nothing else, it's a simple hypothetical. The thought that someone can't play a game because the main character is female is absurd. Publishers, we're not going to withhold buying a game based on the presence or absence of a Y chromosome. We ARE going to withhold buying a game based on its quality and/or how fun it is.

Kind of makes me sad that people still think this way. I know that's just how they're hardwired, but please just try to see that not everyone thinks the same way, there is a market for games with non-white male main characters. There is, in fact, a market for a game whose main character is a woman, or black, or homosexual, et cetera, et cetera.

Now, if you ARE one of those guys who think, "I don't want my fictionalized representation of myself as a woman interacting with a male character's genitalia, I don't have a sexual attraction to that," there's a simple mantra you can use to cope. Repeat after me: "It's just a/an (insert medium of entertainment), I should really just relax."

gigastar:

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

Shouldnt that be heterophobic?

Technically speaking, yes, but a lot of people self insert as the protagonist.

So even if it's a woman doing the dirty with a dude, it's the 'player' and if that player is male, then that's totally gay, bro.

The only thing I can say is, I'm not one of them. I choose FemShep in most of my playthroughs in Mass Effect, and I even romanced Alistair as a female dwarf in Dragon Age: Origins. How's that for kinky?

All I can assume is that these male gamers not wanting to play as a female protagonist are still going through that teenage "that's so gay" phase. Where simply mentioning the word 'gay' sends them into a snarling frenzy.

Heh I'm a white guy and always play black guys in games because when I get the chance. Not sure what that says really.

Also the only thing I came away with is publishers suck. Which is why I'm happy kickstarter/minecraft style funding is becoming more and more popular.

Chessrook44:
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.

I suppose "not really" comes into this.

I must admit though I'm a little pressed to name a Female Character that isn't an object, at least intentionally. Part of it isn't helped with thanks to the whole Chainmail Bikini trope. The only charecter I can really say with absolute confidence that isn't a Sex Object that comes to my mind right now would be Major Sarah Parker from the original Ground Control and Dark Conspiracy. Bonus points for being one of the (if not the) main protagonist in both games.

Otherwise, the only examples I can think of might be wandering into T&A territory. FemShep for example I think is open to debate. Anastasya and Irina Griffin from Might & Magic VI might follow suite, but I never got to the end of the game so I can't really comment there.

Yeah, this is a problem. The story with Remember Me should really be enough on its own to show just how fucked up the games industry's attitudes to gender can be. I mean, I know the film industry has problems in this regard as well, but not to this extent. Even if we were to disregarded the social and gender issues side of the matter entirely, surely we can all agree that it would be nice to have some more female protagonists for variety's sake.

Daystar Clarion:

It's the mullet of facial hair

That would be the Soul Patch. The Neckbeard is closer to the comb-over: it clearly sucks, and the only reason people grow it because they aren't willing to do without the hair.

Krantos:
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 (Was critically panned for having shitty writing that demeaned Samus)
-Mirrors Edge (Had a lot of gameplay issues that held it back)
-Hydrophobia (The game was just downright shit)
-Tomb Raider (I don't think all the numbers are quite in yet on this one)
-Amy (The game was shit, again, just look at the reviews. It had serious flaws other than the protagonist's lady bits.)
-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 would say that all of the games you listed had problems OTHER than a female protagonist. Other Metroid games sold well even though everyone knew that the protagonist was female.

I don't think the new Tomb Raider has been out long enough to call it's sales a failure and take a look at the sales of past Tomb Raider games, for a long time they sold quite well until people got tired of the series and stopped buying them. I think there were a couple of stumbles for the series toward the end as well.

Unless you're saying it's a subconscious decision to not buy a game because the protagonist is a woman I'm going to call that argument bullshit. All of these games have other flaws that hold them back, reviewers call them out on their flaws and the games don't sell as well as a result. That and like Jim said, the publisher don't market the games as well as they could because they're afraid no one will buy the games because THEY THINK that people are uncomfortable playing as a female character. Maybe if a good game with a female protagonist got the marketing it deserved then we'd actually see if the publisher's thinking is correct.

I think it'd be really interesting to play a female character written by a female writer (who isn't trying to exaggerate or highlight an issue). It's so hard to get the genuine female perspective on so many things.

I mean almost everyone will tell you they'd like to be the opposite gender for a day just out of curiosity. Surely a game would be the ideal way to do that?

Daystar Clarion:

gigastar:

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

Shouldnt that be heterophobic?

Technically speaking, yes, but a lot of people self insert as the protagonist.

So even if it's a woman doing the dirty with a dude, it's the 'player' and if that player is male, then that's totally gay, bro.

Heterophobic can apply in other ways too. For example, i imagine most Call of Duty development meetings end with Activision going "Its slightly different? PURGE IT."

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

I'd say it was killed off around the time millions of people didn't buy Mirror's Edge and EA quietly killed any funding for DICE that didn't have the word Battlefield attached.

Seriously, Mirror's Edge made it to just over a third of it's projected sales, whilst that equated to two million plus sales in two years, it's not enough for a sequel to ever be green lit.

For the record, I'd like a sequel too, but less gun combat and more exploration...

Mr.Tea:
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!"

To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.

MetricFurlong:
Yeah, this is a problem. The story with Remember Me should really be enough on its own to show just how fucked up the games industry's attitudes to gender can be. I mean, I know the film industry has problems in this regard as well, but not to this extent. Even if we were to disregarded the social and gender issues side of the matter entirely, surely we can all agree that it would be nice to have some more female protagonists for variety's sake.

Daystar Clarion:

It's the mullet of facial hair

That would be the Soul Patch. The Neckbeard is closer to the comb-over: it clearly sucks, but people grow it because they aren't willing to do without the hair.

Correcting me on not quite thought through beard to hair comparison?

Fuck you and fuck all the things you like!

Raaaaaaage!

I guess you have a point :D

Because I'm tired of this attitude towards woman in games I'll just post what I put in another thread:

Proverbial Jon:
I'll always play as a female in games when given the choice. I never feel like "I am the protagonist", I never try to put myself in their shoes and mentally "be" that person, it's just not how I play. I prefer to make my mind up about who the character is, as a separate entity, and how they would approach the situations they face. This is escapism after all, I want to be as far away from normal and acceptable as possible! So if that means I play as a woman romancing dudes... so be it!

Give me MOAR women, damn it!

Sir Shockwave:

Chessrook44:
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.

I suppose "not really" comes into this.

I must admit though I'm a little pressed to name a Female Character that isn't an object, at least intentionally. Part of it isn't helped with thanks to the whole Chainmail Bikini trope. The only charecter I can really say with absolute confidence that isn't a Sex Object that comes to my mind right now would be Major Sarah Parker from the original Ground Control and Dark Conspiracy. Bonus points for being one of the (if not the) main protagonist in both games.

Otherwise, the only examples I can think of might be wandering into T&A territory. FemShep for example I think is open to debate. Anastasya and Irina Griffin from Might & Magic VI might follow suite, but I never got to the end of the game so I can't really comment there.

You do understand what objectification is, right?

Objectification is about a lack of agency or control. On it's own it has absolutely nothing to do with sexualisation. If a character is incapable of making any decisions or actions for themselves, then they are an object.

The reason Peach and Zelda are described as being objects is because they do not do anything for themselves. Their reason for being in the game is purely to be saved by the playable character.

If Lara Croft wore a bikini throughout the latest Tomb Raider, she wouldn't be objectified. Sexist? Sure, you could argue that, but sexism and objectification are not synonymous.

Being sexy =/= being an object.

If you honestly can't think of any, then you are either lying, playing games without any women in them or are (which I think is likely the case) not aware of what the term actually means.

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