Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

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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
-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 tend to agree. The only great games I've played with female protagonists or at least co-protaganists (is that a word?) are: Wild arms, Streets of rage, golden axe, Tomb Raider, Perfect Dark and Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, Legend Of Izuna: Unemplyed Ninja and if you can claim these games because the playable character doesn't exactly get a script; Portal 1+2. Several of those are older than half the gamers out there! I used to pick Blaze (rage) and Ayame (Tenchu) because I honestly felt they were better, more interesting characters but I can't really think of any case since 20 years ago, where a female character held any interest or lead over a male.

I haven't realised til Jim brough this up but that's really tragic. I can think of a few more with female leads, which I haven't played but you can can them on one hand. I'd like to say that it's teh publishers that are the problem but when I think of how many male gamers I've seen argue rabidly, when anyone tried to ask for a female character in a game, I recoil in disgust. I've seen the flame wars wand terrible excuses given when anyone has suggested the an FPS could benefit from having female toons in order to appeal to female gamers.
"women are smaller but the fov is the same!! They'd see you around a corner before you saw them!!!11!!1"
Seriously, I've seen posts that claimed exactly that.

And yes, if there is anyone who actually feels that they are put off a game or need to complain because their female toon snogged a guy, they have issues that they need to deal with.

On the upside, @Jim, you turned this around brilliantly at the end, I haven't lauged so much in ages. I think it's the contrast of the humour and the horror, it seems to work well. Best Jimquisition EVAR!

erttheking:

Then I think there was a misunderstanding. I apologize for that.

Glad we can come to an understanding, then :)

I prefer, whenever I have the choice, to play as a female character. I just feel more comfortable projecting myself on to them. I think it has something to do with the body shape? I'm a girl myself, and I don't know... I just feel better when playing a female character.

Anyways, amazing episode Jim!

Well, I can't watch the video right now, thanks to an under-equipped computer, but it sounds like I'm in for something controversial when I get home.

Some points that rub me the wrong way about this vid:

Bioshock Infinite box art:
Just because the current box art is more likely to sell because there's only a male character on it, does not mean that having Elizabeth on it would sell less or more importantly, less than what they expect in general to earn.
Having something that's "better" does not make the alternative bad. Less desireable or not as good, but not bad, as Jim implies.

I don't agree with their choice either, but another point is that this is just an example. Mass Effect 3 had loads of commercials with femshep.

Keeping that in mind, Jim makes a poor argument in this case.

Female protagonists:
I like them. I prefer them. My friends think it's odd that I almost always make female characters in games and in P&P roleplaying.

If a publisher demands a male character instead, I think this is wrong on an artistic level, but I personally don't think it reflects poorly on gaming in general. It's a chicken and egg situation, like Jim said, but this has to come from the audience, not the publishers. Supply and demand.

If the demand goes for male protagonists, then that's how it is. Do not punish the male audience or the industry for this. Voice your opinion, write companies that you miss female protagonists or the option to choose either, but don't accuse people of thinking less of women in general.

Men who feel playing a female protagonist is awkward:
I feel it's awkward to play male protagonists as a man. By Jim's logic I'm insecure in my own manhood and therefore can't relate to hulking beefcakes stroking their guns.

Does this make me a bad person? No.
Does it make a man who feels it's awkward to play a female protagonist a bad person? No. Why would it ever?

Is it narrowminded? Sure, but it's outside peoples comfort zone. Patronizing and belittling people for that is a cruel thing.
Is it sexist? Although the intent is possible, it's unlikely.

And by the way, what if I took offense at the portrayal of a man enjoying playing a stereotypical male protagonist, as a homosexual. You just stereotyped all men who enjoy the fantasy of being a hero or a badass, to be secretly gay.
I'm bisexual, I've stated this several times here, and while I can look at a hard body and enjoy the view, I do not appreciate my sexuality being compared to a petty, stereotypical view like that.

I could take it to heart and condemn all the Jims out there and accuse them of being homophobes(I so hate that word). It's equally folly to assume all women take offense of the state of the market and even worse to assume that men have to change it for them, in order to have things change.

The large amount of female gamers:
At this point I've almost forgotten the vid, but I believe Jim mentions this often repeated nugget, that there are almost as many female gamers. While I personally believe that there is a significant amount of women who play video games, I have no trust whatsoever, that the average female gamer is as dedicated to and knowledgable about the different genres out there, as the average male. I do believe that it will even out one day, but I have no reason to believe that we're anywhere near that point.
ESA's 2011 study show that 42% of gamers are women, but it also states that the average player is 37 and that the average buyer is 41.
I get the feeling that the majority of these "37 average" female gamers don't give two flying fucks about the state of sexism in gaming. They know what they want, they'll buy what they think is good and they'll dismiss the rest because it's beneath them, like any rational person who supports what they want.

My guess is, that the average poster on this forum, focusing on the hot topic of sexism in games and rabidly voicing their opinion, is in no way near 37.
It reeks of early adulthood rebellion and "our generation knows best" attitudes who don't take all things in to account and choose to make it a black and white situation.

The whole direction of the vid in general:
Let's hate.... someone! Let's blame... something!
Blame's the name of the game and everyone here is playing it. Journalists, youtubers and posters alike, people are raging and feel the need to blame something or someone for the state of things.
I've certainly done it, because I'd like to think that the smartasses who pretend to argue on behalf of women are to blame for blowing this out of proportion, by far more than any girl or woman taking offense.
I'm looking at you Jim ;)

Do something about it. Don't whine, rage and roll on the floor crying about it.
Make a statement, but don't accuse anyone. State your wishes. If you think the current is situation is bad, then you are responsible for making it better, not worse.
Support games that take chances and have female protagonists, or better yet, allow you to choose. Stop supporting mainstream triple A shooters that put women in a secondary position, if you think it's bad.
Support kickstarters that strive for gender equality or any project that shows you the other side of the coin. Do not support passive-aggressive projects like Anita Sarkeesians video series, which only stokes the flames and (so far) does nothing to improve the situation.

If you're a female developer, artist, coder, programmer, modeler or business/management/project leader educated/experienced, strive to make a company that shows other companies how it's done.
My personal belief is that there needs to be a company run by women(men should be able to work there, but not direct) that fights to change things and give us examples of why things would be better if we had more to choose from.
This is basic human logic, if you want things to change, do it yourself and show the world that your ideas and your content is a good alternative.

You change mens opinions and hearts through action, not words. Don't expect anyone to change because you don't think it's right, but can't be assed to do shit about it.
Example and action breeds acknowledgement and respect.

That's it. I'm done. It's my opinion, it's based on my experiences, my surroundings, my friends and family and my world view. I'm sympathetic and I'd like to see change, but it's not my fight, because while I'd like it, I don't need it. Apparently some of you on this forum do, so either get your asses in gear or stop pretending to give a shit.

some heavy internal screaming during this whole video. those are real quotes? this is a true general paradigm of the industry? i struggle to maintain my composure. i may be a special case, but i play straight females in games that allow it, and this is, as an understatement, not a problem for me. -.- and i... am frustrated, by the general insecurity that exists here.

In these debates, particularly on the topic of box art, everyone seems to forget MMORPGs exist, and that most of the most successful ones featured females on the box covers (Everquest, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and a whole lot more of them), not to mention what a large percentage of males play female characters - remember the joke about what MMORPG stands for: many men online role playing girls. So it's really kind of sad and crazy that they (the debates) even exist.

Why does female characters not get face time on covers, or play second fiddle, or not be the playable characters? Because they don't sell at all, game is a business first, entertainer second. If you want them, you have to buy them, bitching about it won't do a damn thing, as action speaks louder than words, and as far as businesses are concern, most prefer the status qou.

Legion:

boots:

Femshep wasn't included in the marketing until ME3 and even then they had a beauty contest (ugh) to redesign the default female character into someone more, uh, "aesthetically pleasing".

No they didn't...

They had a competition to choose the default look for female Shepard. The only differences were hair/eye/skin colour. It's not like they asked people whether or not she should have larger breasts, smoother skin or anything.

That's hardly a beauty contest.

And yet they picked the female Shepard with the long blonde hair.

Come on, denial can be healthy up to a certain point, but look at the fan comments on that poll:

Yah, 4 was my personal favorite too. It helped that she looked so different (and more atractive XD) from the others (they all looked WAY to similar)

... boner aquired.

Bioware. I vote #5. She looks like she can throw down AND she's hot.

The fifth one has my vote, but that she's blond is kind of a turn-off.

I'm just tired of staring at Femsheps with buzz-cuts or whatever. I understand why maybe that's preferable from a combat standpoint, but it isn't attractive at all.

Putting a blonde on the cover is something hugh hefner learned a long time ago.

While the blonde one is pretty, I prefer number #6. I love dark haired women. :)

Blonde one is hawt.

4 is damn hot!

Shepard 5 is my choice (and I actually prefer Brunettes). The rest look like 'weaker' support characters particularly #4). #1-3 are too masculine for me

They asked people to pick the Shepard they wanted based on appearance. It was a beauty contest.

Superb video

As for myself, im a straight male, and i tend to pick male characters in my games, simply because thats what i identify with. That said if enjoy a game enough or if the female archetype skill set suits my play style better ill play her just as easily.

However i did a play through of all three Mass Effect games with a Fem Shep, and enjoyed it immensely.

The idea of a female protagonist kissing a male supporting role strikes me as a wierd assertion though. When i played as MaleShep i made it a character who i would have aspired to be morally and ethically, when i made a FemShep i ended up making her the type of woman who'd i'd easily fall in love with. Despite her being my perfect ideal of a woman I had no problems with her hooking up with Kaiden, if anything i made her monogamous to Kaiden over the three games because i cared enough for the character to want her to be happy. (did the same with my male shep and Liara incidentally ) So the idea of a dude being freaked out at his female protagonist character kissing another dude is quite frankly stupid. As a thoroughly average male im perfectly happy with a female character i like finding love or getting nookie, and im pretty sure the legions of other thoroughly average males out there would feel the same way.

As for the Chicken and the Egg, industry or consumers... i largely blame consumers and consumer stereotypes. No offense to the teenagers here, but a large part of the market is insecure teenage boys. The negative stereotype associated with insecure teenage boys reinforces the homophobic anti-female assumption the industry makes about the views of its largest consumers (regardless of whether its true or not). Whether this viewpoint is shared by the majority of teenage boys or not i don't know, but its certainly prevalent with some the most vocal of them....

RatherDashing89:

Levine's defense, which I think makes a lot of sense (like Jim said, it's reasonable, just sad that it has to be that way) is that people who know what Bioshock is (which would be everybody who comes on sites like Escapist but certainly not everyone who walks into a Gamestop) don't buy games based on the box art.

Whilst I've never agreed with Jim so wholeheartedly I'm kinda not sure what to make of Levine's comments as to why the cover of BI has Booker only on the cover.

I look at the BI cover and it could be any number of games, if I saw that on a shelf in the game store with no prior knowledge of the franchise it just wouldn't stand out, it's pretty generic tbh. Add Elizabeth to it and I think that would change.

And yes, ironically that would be applying the old adage of sex sells because as a male gamer I would notice Elizabeth much more quickly than Booker. But I see no reason why the videogame industry can't take advantage of that if it means getting people to buy the game, especially if the female character is well thought out and the gameplay is great.

Persona 3 Portable does the thing with a female protagonist who engages in romance a lot. It's a very focal part of the entire game too how these relationships interact. Same goes for Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky.

Sir Thomas Sean Connery:

The poll they held is a very silly thing to pick on.

They just wanted to know what the players wanted instead of just designing some random person for the box cover.

Besides, the default is honestly kind of scary looking.

I'm not "picking on" the poll. It's not the fat kid in the playground. I'm mentioning it because it's relevant to the discussion of customisable characters.

If you can customise your character in-game, then it's just silly to offer the fans the choice of customising the character in the marketing as well. It defeats the purpose of the appearance customisation mechanic, which is built off the assumption that different people like different things.

My main point is that they didn't do a poll for the male Shepard's appearance "to know what the players wanted". But when it came to the simple challenge of designing a female character for box art, they were too scared to come up with and decide upon their own ideas and instead resorted to throwing options at their audience and going, "Which lady is the prettiest? Which lady will make you buy the game? Please, please tell us."

boots:

Legion:

boots:

Femshep wasn't included in the marketing until ME3 and even then they had a beauty contest (ugh) to redesign the default female character into someone more, uh, "aesthetically pleasing".

No they didn't...

They had a competition to choose the default look for female Shepard. The only differences were hair/eye/skin colour. It's not like they asked people whether or not she should have larger breasts, smoother skin or anything.

That's hardly a beauty contest.

And yet they picked the female Shepard with the long blonde hair.

Come on, denial can be healthy up to a certain point, but look at the fan comments on that poll

They asked people to pick the Shepard they wanted based on appearance. It was a beauty contest.

The first point is irrelevant. I never said anything about what the fans said. I was talking about the intention of the developers. A handful of idiots doesn't make a difference to the reason for why the competition was done in the first place. Which is what you were criticising.

So what I am supposed to be denying, I don't know.

Also, they didn't ask people to "Pick the Shepard they wanted based upon appearances". They asked the fans to give input into the design of a female character.

A beauty contest is what it says it is. A competition to decide who is the most attractive.

This was a competition to choose the design of a character. "Beauty" doesn't come into it.

boots:

If you can customise your character in-game, then it's just silly to offer the fans the choice of customising the character in the marketing as well. It defeats the purpose of the appearance customisation mechanic, which is built off the assumption that different people like different things.

My main point is that they didn't do a poll for the male Shepard's appearance "to know what the players wanted". But when it came to the simple challenge of designing a female character for box art, they were too scared to come up with and decide upon their own ideas and instead resorted to throwing options at their audience and going, "Which lady is the prettiest? Which lady will make you buy the game? Please, please tell us."

The decision was for the character to put on the box art. Because fans were asking for more advertising for Femshep. They didn't do it as a "resort". They did it because fans asked for it.

Oh, and Male Shep didn't get the same treatment, because he was already based upon a Dutch model:

Jim's offer only available for men? You racist*

Good video as always. I have to imagine that Beyond Good and Evil 2 is getting put aside because of this. I'm certain it happened with the original, a sin to the fantastic game, in which the only way I would have ever heard about the game without internet is through a Nintendo Power magazine.

I'm trying to think of even any videogame cover with women on them. The first that come to mind are the Mass Effect games, the first of which tried to make is sexually suggestive, and the second starring the female Assy McGee. Dragon Age Origins, I guess. Catherine, but that game gets a pass, because the game purposefully explores sexuality a bit, although a bit shallow of what it could've been. Having trouble thinking of any that aren't RPGs. Uh, Halo Reach? And thats somebody in power armour, head to toe.

*that was sarcasm there. I have to say that because somebody who will read this doesn't understand that I'm further extending his joke with my own.

So, the industry tries to deliver what it thinks that its main audience wants? I can't really blame them. Maybe that's what most gamers want to play. The fact that after a certain amount of convincing these games do get approved, means that we'll see more of these as long as developers stick to their guns.

Personally, I don't mind playing a game with a deep female protagonist with a male love interest, and wouldn't think less of a game for it.

I've been playing old republic because my friend is a huge star wars fan. My character is female and I'd have to say one of the most engaging parts of the game, for me, is getting Corso to put out. I actually did a victory dance when they finally kissed. I know I'm weird, but still I think it's the idea to some people (especially presented gay/straight terms) rather then the actual situation that gets people riled up. I think once people see what it's about the next time they'll get used to it and it won't be a big deal. It just comes down to ignorance fed by insecurity.

Now I really wish I was going to PAX. I've only ever had the opportunity to kiss a guy as a girl in Dragon Age, and I had no problem with it. I'm working on a few female characters in SWTOR, and at the first opportunity I'll be having some hot alien sex with a dude. Am I gay? No. I'm not a Jedi or a Grey Warden either, so what's your point?
Edit: I just remembered how much sex I had with men in Fable 2. I think I had an 12-way in that game.

For the time being, why not simply let the player choose which gender their in-game persona should belong to? Doesn't Mass Effect let you do just that? I don't think the additional work would be all that much, except for the need of additional voice acting maybe.

But yeah, that homophobia is silly. I bet most of these people prefer their porn with guys in it, too, so there. Grow the f*** up already, dear game industry.

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.

I;m the same way I try to immerse myself into the role and enjoy the experience whatever it brings. I guess its just an insecurity issue with some gamers.

Offtopic: That Remember Me game keeps looking cooler and cooler.

Legion:

The first point is irrelevant. I never said anything about what the fans said. I was talking about the intention of the developers. A handful of idiots doesn't make a difference to the reason for why the competition was done in the first place. Which is what you were criticising.

So what I am supposed to be denying, I don't know.

Also, they didn't ask people to "Pick the Shepard they wanted based upon appearances". They asked the fans to give input into the design of a female character.

A beauty contest is what it says it is. A competition to decide who is the most attractive.

This was a competition to choose the design of a character. "Beauty" doesn't come into it.

You keep using the word "design" to avoid saying "appearance". That's what the fans were being polled on: the appearance of the character. What her hair and make-up should look like and what her skin colour should be. It was a beauty contest. It was treated as a beauty contest by the fans who were polled. And the Shepard with the long, blonde (non-military) haircut won.

If you're so insistent that it wasn't a beauty contest, tell me this: why didn't they do the same for the male Shepard?

EDIT: My question stands. They found a male model to base male Shepard on. Why not base female Shepard on a female model?

Also, do you really think it's a healthy precedent for games publishers to decide what their game protagonists should look like by letting their consumers vote on it rather than letting the game designers (warning! crazy idea ahead!) design them?

I never play as a woman, can't get into it for some reason. I do hope that doesn't mean I hate women or am a closet homosexual, who gets to decide.. is it Jim?

All I know is I have lost the will to live with the endless "-ism" debates in modern society, if you don't like something don't read, watch or partake in it and stop trying to convert everyone else to what ever the point of view you are utterly convinced is right.

Above all don't do this relentlessly in the name of "open mindedness". It is the very antithesis.

All this primarily did was remind me how we don't have beyond good and evil 2 yet.

Also, there's not much wrong with simply preferring to play as your own gender, which is an implied vibe I'm getting from some people. I often hear girls bemoan how there aren't enough women to play as. I empathize, surely, but obviously it's that same mentality of wanting a relatable protagonist that drives guys to want to play as guys. Publishers appealing to that mentality also isn't neccessarily sexist, just business. That aside, some good points made in the video here. Woman not showing romantic initiative is a real shame in games, and very limiting overall.

Yeah I don't really think the issue here is one of sexism, but rather it's a basic effect of capitalism when focused on short sighted but immediate profits and what happens when bug publishers start relying more and more on marketing data and focus groups when designing games. If the number of female protagonists in big games have been shrinking then that's just a clearer sign of big business taking over the industry.

I suppose i wouldn't know specifically what this would be like to a female gamer but I certainly feel the same effects, as my preferences for gaming falls well outside the common majority. Though thanks to PC gaming with Indy developers and kickstarters and the occasional console game like Demon's Soul I'm still much better served than the female gamer.

I'm really looking forward to Remember Me, between it and Watch Dogs, I might get my cyberpunk fix this year via video games instead of books like I usually do.

Chessrook44:

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.

What a waste of time. There's nothing sexier than a power-suit.

Wait something just occurred to me and i don't think anyone else has said it... couldn't they just have reversible covers? In the case of BI would a reversible cover negate some of this stuff, Levine couldn't be like -

"geez, the fans are really up set but we want to attract as many as possible... Oh, I know! A reversible cover, 60% will have Booker and the rest have the original cover"

It might seem like a silly compromise and it doesn't address the real problem but it doesn't seem unreasonable. The Fans get what they want and the developer gets what they want. Did ME3 have reversible covers or where they just separate?

Or is this just adding to the problem?

Portal 2's GLaDOS, Telltale's The Walking Dead's Clementine, Metroid: Other M's Madeline (who was the "mother" of the "Other M"), and now Bioshock Infinite's Elizabeth, destined to save the world or something: all of these have great female characters/protagonists, and I love every time a game creates a new female character done well.

Speaking of Other M, Samus might as well be a robot in it, but hey, big teams mix good and bad ideas. Good ideas like "Super Metroid, but 3D" get mixed with bad ideas like "Adam controls when you power-up."

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

Agreed, I prefer Jim's delivery and they fact that he can give out more information in 5 minutes than she did in 20 minutes atop her money mountain.

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

Also very much agreed, I loved that game.

Maybe the fact that I don't care who I play as long as the game-play is engaging enough or the story line grabs me enough to play it all the way through sometimes despite broken mechanics says a lot about me. Or maybe because once I've invested time and money into something I like to see it through.

I don't really care who's on the cover, as long as it isn't the sort of case that needs extracts from reviews and how many stars it got. That sort of thing actually stops me buying some games and movies.
Then again I like good but simple covers like Panic Room, which is incidentally quite a good movie but coincidentally is quite feminist I suppose...

Hmmm

Xman490:

Speaking of Other M, Samus might as well be a robot in it, but hey, big teams mix good and bad ideas. Good ideas like "Super Metroid, but 3D" get mixed with bad ideas like "Adam controls when you power-up."

The Irony is Adam was more likeable as a computer :P

Lieju:
Well, there's the fact that women (and minorities) kinda have to get used to it.

Women get used to playing as male characters who get it on with women, while the opposite, not as much.

Yes, my line of thinking was that they had to historically get used to it or miss out on video games and so there may be a significant cultural difference when the same sort of scenarios are imposed on males. I'd love to see studies done on that since it's only a hypothesis.

Either way, with the target market supposedly being comprised of around 47% women this sort of thing should start happening. It's not a boys world anymore, or so it seems. Like I said, we'd need to know more "genre/market category" specific data to ascertain how valid that percentage holds up across the market but it's not like that study asked men a different question.

Race has always been something intersting to study. If the census bureau data is correct that 78.1% of the U.S. is white and if the 2008 gaming demographics study holds true that 51% or more of white people are gamers then there is quite a monopoly of the consumer market by one race. 51% of that 78.1% is still more than all minorities (gamers or not) combined. Yet, having black avatars doesn't seem to detract from sales as far as I can tell and the practice is only increasing. It's interesting that race doesn't have such a big impact but sex may. (one of my favorite things about the 2008 gaming demographic study is that the black population was also represented by 51% gamers. The same number means gaming transcends race and culture. The hispanic and latino population got 68% but they only surveyed English speakers for some reason which skews results by ruining randomization of the sample data).

I'm not sure how I'd personally respond to my avatar having a romantic relationship with a male. I haven't run into it. I know playing as a female hasn't mattered to me in the past and many males choose female avatars anyways when given a choice. Perhaps it's an immersion breaker? Don't know until I see it. Either way, I'm not about to complain about it, not after growing up in the U.S. as a male and having my media cater to me as one.

boots:

Legion:

The first point is irrelevant. I never said anything about what the fans said. I was talking about the intention of the developers. A handful of idiots doesn't make a difference to the reason for why the competition was done in the first place. Which is what you were criticising.

So what I am supposed to be denying, I don't know.

Also, they didn't ask people to "Pick the Shepard they wanted based upon appearances". They asked the fans to give input into the design of a female character.

A beauty contest is what it says it is. A competition to decide who is the most attractive.

This was a competition to choose the design of a character. "Beauty" doesn't come into it.

You keep using the word "design" to avoid saying "appearance". That's what the fans were being polled on: the appearance of the character. What her hair and make-up should look like and what her skin colour should be. It was a beauty contest. It was treated as a beauty contest by the fans who were polled. And the Shepard with the long, blonde (non-military) haircut won.

If you're so insistent that it wasn't a beauty contest, tell me this: why didn't they do the same for the male Shepard?

EDIT: My question stands. They found a male model to base male Shepard on. Why not base female Shepard on a female model?

Also, do you really think it's a healthy precedent for games publishers to decide what their game protagonists should look like by letting their consumers vote on it rather than letting the game designers (warning! crazy idea ahead!) design them?

I don't use design to "avoid" saying appearance. A competition to choose a characters looks is obviously based upon appearance, so I don't appreciate the condescension. I am not an idiot, so do not treat me as such.

You must have differing ideas of what constitutes a beauty contest than I do, then. Seeing as the physical characteristics were identical, I don't see where the judgement on beauty comes in. As I said, the relevance of what the fans said or how they perceived it is irrelevant, repeating it does not make it more so.

Why didn't they do it for a male Shepard? Already answered. They chose to base him off of a real model.

Why didn't they use a model for a female Shepard? Perhaps to avoid being accused of being sexist by making their female protagonist based upon an attractive woman.

Or more seriously, I couldn't say, but it honestly doesn't have any relevance to the point I was making. I do not agree that it was a "beauty" contest, because I do not see their intent was for them to be judged upon their attractiveness. You think it was based upon beauty. I doubt we are going to change each others minds, so there's not really much more to say.

As for it being a healthy precedent to set?

Well considering most people complaining about female characters are not happy with the developers choosing for themselves what to do with their time, money and by extension, characters. I'd have thought it'd be seen as a good thing to ask for fan input into the creative process.

This is also forgetting that this is Bioware we are talking about. They constantly ask fans what they want, and try to give them it. It's why Tali and Garrus were romance options in ME2. It's why EDI and Joker had that creepy relationship in ME3, and it's why the Citadel DLC had so many options to do with the romances.

Bioware like asking fans for what they'd want to see in their games, as for whether or not it's a "good" thing or a "bad" thing, I don't really care. If that's how they want to design their games, then that's their choice.

I like well done female leads in games, because it gives a guy like me a unique perspective/look into the game.

What was the game with the women with the holographic thing on the back of her neck, it's bugging me.

WildFire15:
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.

The problem with Portal is that Chell is not so much a character as she is an empty shell. We hardly (if ever) learn anything about her, we only see her accidently through a portal and not even the other characters refer to her as 'she' or in any feminine sense.

Put this up against the iconic Gordon Freeman, who not only has a first and a last name, a complete backstory (according to wikipedia anyway) and is the subject of most of the posters and box-art. The image is skewed, In portal, there is far more attention to the game, whereas with Half-life this is divided between the game and Gordon.

Moonlight Butterfly:
This subject was brought up in the 'should Lara be gay' thread. My problem there was that my sexuality ie 'straight female' is ignored just as much as gay men and women but it seems people just want to skate over the top of that and ignore straight women because apparently we aren't a minority and the only good female protagonist in video games just has to be gay.

I hope that lady in Remember Me has a big sloppy snog with some Tom Hiddleston lookalike right up in in the camera.

I would play any game JUST for a Tom Hiddleston lookalike :p

Anyway, I think that the representation of lesbians is an important issue to be tackled specifically because of that 'girl on girl is hot' trope that occurs in so many sleezy games. Making a character 'lesbian' for the sole purpose of being titillating to the menfolk is just as bad as the objectification of the dead-or-alive ladies and does very little to represent actual lesbians in games. Moreover, Giving one character a deep, meaningful homosexual relationship (male or female) is even rarer than a heterosexual relationship from a woman's POV. All of them deserve more attention, but I think that in this case, us straight females have the advantage and personally, I wouldn't mind Lara Croft being gay, as long as it isn't played for the fapping of fourteen-year-olds.

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

I'd love for it to be. Too bad the only way to have that happen is WITH DISCUSSION. Seriously, anyone who says that there is no sexism problem in gaming is straight-up LYING TO THEMSELVES and crap like this just proves it.

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