Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

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Legion:
snip

Fine, we'll have to agree to disagree. For me, what it comes down to is this: Bioware treated their female and male characters (who are fundamentally identical in every way apart from what's happening between their legs) differently. And I'm sure we have a word for treating people differently based purely on their sex...

Jim! You can't just claim that female protagonists never initiate any intimacy or have any agency and completely ignore Kerrigan in Heart of the Swarm.

It's one of the biggest franchises around, and it's was only released about two weeks ago. How can you not be aware of such a glaring counterexample to your thesis? Did you record that a month ago or something?

chozo_hybrid:
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.

It's called Remember Me, something Capcom is working on right now and the subject of those penny arcade interviews Jim sampled. The thing around her neck is, if I recall correctly, some sort of lock to make sure her evil overlords keep her in check.

After I saw the video I had to think of "No one lives forever", a brilliant game starring secret agent Kate Archer.

image

The game was heavily stealth based, humourus and story driven. There was a second part that was even better, and then they released a standalone addon: Contract J.A.C.K.

image

No stealth, just action and the protagonist was ... well, you guessed it, a guy.
This was the death of a promising game series.

Agreed completely on how weird it is that people don't want to see a female character they're controlling kiss a male character because that's "gay", but want to buy all the games with a big hunky dude on the cover. That and the whole "no female protagonists or females on boxart" is pretty creepy. Not as creepy as that ending, mind you (does anyone have any mind bleach? :p), but still creepy.

Anyway, just want to throw this out there: did publishers ever stop and think for a second that the reason games with female leads don't sell has little to do with a female lead and a lot to do with the game sucking ass? I'm just thinking off the top of my head here for games with female leads, and I'm coming up with stuff like Wet, Amy, X-Blades, Heavenly Sword, and most of the Tomb Raider games (not the newest one, but the other ones like Underworld and whatever the awful PS1 ones were called). Stuff I didn't like not because eww a chick keep her away from me so I don't catch the cooties, but stuff I didn't like because the games sucked ass to varying degrees. Then I can think of Portal, which was of course fucking excellent and everyone loves it, and Trace Memory, another great game but one that probably didn't sell very well. But not because of a female lead, but because it was an obscure point-and-click style adventure game for the DS at a time when the DS was still fairly new and didn't have a massive install base yet.

So basically my point is this: maybe try having some games made that both have a female lead and don't suck more than Jim is going to be at PAX Prime this year (thank god for daddy Jim). Might sell a little better. You know, like Portal.

cyvaris:
I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of... Samus

You mean the Samus with tig ol' bitties and a nice shapely ass who goes around wearing a skin-tight blue outfit? The one who you get to see in a bikini or other skimpy clothing if you play the games well enough?

Yeah, the only way you could have picked a worse example of non-sexy female protagonists is if you'd picked Lara Croft.

boots:

Legion:
snip

Fine, we'll have to agree to disagree. For me, what it comes down to is this: Bioware treated their female and male characters (who are fundamentally identical in every way apart from what's happening between their legs) differently. And I'm sure we have a word for treating people differently based purely on their sex...

We have a word for discriminating based upon sex.

Treating people differently based upon their gender is not sexism. Treating somebody better or worse because of it is.

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

Nobody needs Anita, as she's an awful example of feminism. She cherry picks examples, makes horrible exaggerations and leaps in logic, and rarely, if ever addresses both sides of the argument. I got as far as her second episode of Women vs Tropes before I was disgusted with her reprehensible display of what she thought feminism is. You see, here is the rub that drives me nuts about other feminists, being as I am one: The point is we are equal. Not an inferior to males, nor a superior. Don't relegate us to second class, but also don't assume we shouldn't ever be the targets in story anymore either.

Lightknight:

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.

Yeah, but haven't you heard? The 47% of gamers who have vaginas aren't real gamers. They're just playing Farmville and The Sims and Angry Birds. Girls don't like shooters or real games. Their tiny girl hands can't work the controllers properly, and every time they get killed they burst into tears and curl up in a big menstruating ball.

inb4 someone actually argues this for realsies.

It's the publishers
I could not care less whether the protagonist was female
Well I do but not in that way

boots:

Yeah, but haven't you heard? The 47% of gamers who have vaginas aren't real gamers. They're just playing Farmville and The Sims and Angry Birds. Girls don't like shooters or real games. Their tiny girl hands can't work the controllers properly, and every time they get killed they burst into tears and curl up in a big menstruating ball.

inb4 someone actually argues this for realsies.

Why bring it up at all then? Why are you completely dismissing any argument that a part of why popular gaming is so male dominated, might be that the major themes play on male fantasies and interest? War, combat, strategy and sex.
If you're not going to "argue it for realsies", don't mention it. You just bring strife to the table, there's nothing funny about your sarcasm.

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.

The post you reply to is an example of the problem with the industry.

The guardians resort to such derailing hyperbole, they know damn well it's not a beauty contest but seem to think it's some bandwagon to label everything sexist and awful regardless of the truth. But this is about the truth, it must be about the way things actually are and why.

Between them and the quietly numbers who consistently choose burly masculine action heroes instead, what chance do women in computer games have?

When they aren't being ignored by sexist, their supposed advocates are denigrating every aspect of their appearance even when most reasonable. The clear message being sent by both sides is "don't have women in games".

Because you can't really single out a single game for not having women in it, because any one game might reasonably not have any women and what can you say other that "there's no women in it". But women's depiction can be picked apart so mercilessly and disingenuously, you think that developers are going to sit there and just take it?

Magenera:
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.

I don't think you can really say that until we get a AAA level game with a female protagonist that gets as much marketing money put behind it as a Call of Duty or a Gears of War. Something like Tomb Raider, except more.

Good episode. Finally something that isn't a nerd rage/hate-rant.
There is one point i would have added: most publishers/developers etc are 80-90% men, so it's really not surprising they would prefer a male hero. Though this is a more complicated topic.
I also wonder about focus groups and such. It looks like there are quite a lot of female gamers, were they even in that group? are we missing any new "girly" game genres? Maybe it's fine that most of the FPS heroes will be boys, if it's their target audience, as long as there are games with female protagonists that were aimed for the female audience from the start.
I think there was a talk at DICE about the audiences the current game market is completely missing, like the older people.

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 tried it few times, went nowhere sadly :(
When main character can be customized, I simply can't play as female
On the other hand, when there is fixed female character (Beyond Good And Evil, The Longest Journey, Dreamfall, Portal, Mirror's Edge, Tomb Raider, etc.) I have no issues with that
So when given choice I pick my own gender
But when there is no choice I have no problems with that

mjc0961:

cyvaris:
I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of... Samus

You mean the Samus with tig ol' bitties and a nice shapely ass who goes around wearing a skin-tight blue outfit? The one who you get to see in a bikini or other skimpy clothing if you play the games well enough?

Yeah, the only way you could have picked a worse example of non-sexy female protagonists is if you'd picked Lara Croft.

Pretty sure you knew exactly what they meant. Original Samus, before Zero Suit fucked everything up. And yes, there are several examples that can be made, Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, April from The Longest Journey, Chell from Portal, Shanoa from Order of Ecclesia (though box art is meant to be a little sexy). Not going to argue there should be more examples, but there are some. Samus used to be in this list, but newer devs on the series have done screwed that up for us, must like what became of Lara until just recently.

Extremely interesting video. It's kind of sad that I've not really realized this was a thing... but as I go to my local GameStop and take a look at the wall, I see that there are next to NO games that have a female on the cover, despite many of those games having women who play large roles in them. I like that Mass Effect 3 had a reversible cover with Fem Shep on the other side, but Fem Shep still takes a backseat to male Shepard. I mean, take a look at the fact that I have to specify 'Fem' when speaking about Shepard - most people assume my Commander is male unless I say otherwise.

I like playing as females in video games, despite being a male, and I see nothing wrong with a female protagonist initiating some sort of romantic activity; after all, my female Jedi Knight in SWTOR was more than happy to show Doc the way back to the engine room. I'm not straight, but I like to think my sexual preferences have nothing to do with it. Or, with the exception of SWTOR, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, or Skyrim (and sometimes even then I'm RPing it), I don't project myself onto the main character like most people do. I don't generally like to think, "what would I do in this situation?" I'm typically thinking, "what would this character do in this situation?" That's why silent protagonists bug the crap out of me.

I know I had read somewhere that Hideo Kojima was interested in making a game that fleshed out the back story of popular Metal Gear mentor, the Boss, but maybe he ran into the same problems. It's interesting to think about and gives you a whole new perspective on how video games come to be. Well, for my part, at least...

Well, I'm a straight man, and I'd very much like to play a game with a female character, as long as she acts like a woman would, I mean Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, Fable, or Mass Effect, for example, don't count, because you do the same thing regardless of gender, and I think those things to do were designed with a male lead in thought.

I think it'd be cool to see the world through a woman's eyes, even if its just a crude representation, as long as it will improve, I'm all for that. And I find nothing wrong in playing as a girl kissing a dude, I mean that's, you know, expected from a girl who fancies that dude. I think that if the players are to be blamed for this 'no female leads' bullshit, is because most of us have this completely cretinous opinion that a player character is someone on which you can project, and sort of bring yourself in that game. And that's not always true, in fact that's rarely true. Most of these blank slates are just characters with non-existent personality, and you can't even choose how to act based on the surroundings, which makes the whole idea of a blank slate pointless. While player characters with an actual character are much more fun to play with, IMO.

And to whoever thinks that "Women should't be player characters, it's as simple as that.", NOTHING is as simple as that. Ever. This, in fact, is the complete opposite of 'simple as that'.

And Jim, I don't think you were mean enough.

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

But the question is, is that actually true, or is it that the industry THINKS we're an audience of homophobic, neckbearded manchildren?

Legion:

boots:

Legion:
snip

Fine, we'll have to agree to disagree. For me, what it comes down to is this: Bioware treated their female and male characters (who are fundamentally identical in every way apart from what's happening between their legs) differently. And I'm sure we have a word for treating people differently based purely on their sex...

We have a word for discriminating based upon sex.

Unless you are suggesting that separate changing rooms/toilets and such is sexist?

Come on, stop reaching. For one thing, we are not talking about real people and we are not talking about toilets; we are talking about characters in a video game and we are talking about differences not segregation. The male character's appearance was based on a real person, and the female character's appearance was voted for by fans based on whose hair and make-up they "liked" the most. They were treated differently, based on their sex.

So yes, I think the poll was kind of sexist. There's no need to start flipping tables over that statement. I'm not saying that Bioware are monsters and that Mass Effect is evil misogynist trash that should be thrown into a fiery pit for all eternity. I like Mass Effect a lot. And therefore I think it would have been cool if the marketing team had dared to have a female character on their publicity material without first crawling to their potential customers with a popularity poll and a worried look on their faces, waiting for a femshep to get patted on the head and approved as consumer-friendly. Or, as the poll's participants like to say, "hawt".

mjc0961:

cyvaris:
I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of... Samus

You mean the Samus with tig ol' bitties and a nice shapely ass who goes around wearing a skin-tight blue outfit? The one who you get to see in a bikini or other skimpy clothing if you play the games well enough?

Yeah, the only way you could have picked a worse example of non-sexy female protagonists is if you'd picked Lara Croft.

No, THIS Samus:
image
The kickass one from Metroid Prime. The one that never strips out of her suit at all. The one whose breast size in the other Prime games was barely a B-cup, whose butt was NEVER focused on (screw you, Other M), whose only instance of even wearing the Zero Suit in Prime 3 was during a moment of mourning for dead allies (what a turn on...), the one who was so dominantly defined by her awesome abilities, wicked cool suits (anyone who says they prefer Zero Suit over MP2's Light Suit is a liar or a fool), the one who was quite reserved for a female lead and was admired and respected by the creators of the game and the characters within the game universe itself.

Yoshio Sakamoto may have lost his mind and went full George-Lucas-prequel-mode on us with his "vision" for Samus in his latest games, but it's a disservice to Metroid Prime for getting it so very right nearly 15 years ago. It created a great game with a great character that kept ALL of her dignity the entire way through, empowering both her and the player and making it one of the greatest gaming experiences ever made.

The stupid big-chested bimbo Samus in the friggin' high heels and the wedges in her butt crack tripping over herself in Other M is NOT the same character.

Dr. Doomsduck:

chozo_hybrid:
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.

It's called Remember Me, something Capcom is working on right now and the subject of those penny arcade interviews Jim sampled. The thing around her neck is, if I recall correctly, some sort of lock to make sure her evil overlords keep her in check.

Oh, it's from that game, all I've seen is one little trailer, thanks for letting me know. I hadn't seen any game play footage before today.

Bad Jim:
Jim! You can't just claim that female protagonists never initiate any intimacy or have any agency and completely ignore Kerrigan in Heart of the Swarm.

It's one of the biggest franchises around, and it's was only released about two weeks ago. How can you not be aware of such a glaring counterexample to your thesis? Did you record that a month ago or something?

I'm glad someone pointed that out, I was going to. However, one isn't enough to fully counter argue. However it's a start, and more of these covers etc would be great. I'm not to far into the campaign at the moment, but I am really liking it thus far.

Well, looks like I have some games to go buy. Remember Me and Last of Us managed to completely slip by me. I'm not sure about Bioshock Infinite though, as I didn't really enjoy Bioshock 1. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance.

This kind of behaviour in the industry is disgraceful. I thought we were better than this, but clearly the industry doesn't agree. I hate people some times...

Desert Punk:

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!

In fairness to the woman, she didn't ask for 10000USD either: the funding she was looking for was dramatically more modest.

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

Oh dear, just when i throught sexism was a thing of the past. I really dont get nor support feminism in its mission of turning every female into a hypersensitive bitch, but this kind of thing does suck.

Techno Squidgy:
Well, looks like I have some games to go buy. Remember Me and Last of Us managed to completely slip by me. I'm not sure about Bioshock Infinite though, as I didn't really enjoy Bioshock 1. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance.

This kind of behaviour in the industry is disgraceful. I thought we were better than this, but clearly the industry doesn't agree. I hate people some times...

We still have old world thinking in all industry that hasn't been bred out yet.

I'd like to meet this panel of people who thought that Booker DeWitt would make a better cover than Elizabeth.

I really want to punch each one of them in the fact.

Back to the topic at hand, one of the reasons why I fell in love with Bioshock Infinite when I haven't even played it yet was because the whole plot sounds like a better version of the anime Now and Then, Here and There, especially as to how Elizabeth is in the same predicament as Lalaru and how multiple dimensions are even involved, hell, factions in both titles would even do anything to get their hands on either characters. What makes this better(hence why I said BETTER VERSION) is that instead of a weak ass protagonist like Shu, here we actually have a protagonist that's battle hardened by war and ultimately someone you can control, it's not like the NT;HT where people had to die, women had to be raped and hands had to be bashed in stone just so that the MC of the show can finally man up and confront the ultimate villain of the series. Another reason is that this is by Ken Levine, the man behind two of the best videogames ever made.

Ultimately, Elizabeth is just love, she's a thing of beauty and Jim's review on the whole Bioshock Infinite game where he points out that she actually has a personality makes me want to get this game so badly even more. Hell, She's the closest thing to moe I've ever seen, which surprises me since I never grasped the whole aspect of moe in anime.

A really good episode. And, unfortunately, the saddest one you've ever done. As a male gamer, I haven't really thought about it before. but you're completely right. Some of my favorite games are ones with fleshed out female protagonists in them.

sweetylnumb:

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

Oh dear, just when i throught sexism was a thing of the past. I really dont get nor support feminism in its mission of turning every female into a hypersensitive bitch, but this kind of thing does suck.

......I'm sorry, what are you trying to say?

erttheking:

sweetylnumb:

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

Oh dear, just when i throught sexism was a thing of the past. I really dont get nor support feminism in its mission of turning every female into a hypersensitive bitch, but this kind of thing does suck.

......I'm sorry, what are you trying to say?

That as long as sexism in the industry exists, discussions need to be had.

I think.

Or to put it another way: Sexism discussions should stop when sexism does.

First time i see "Remember Me" in action, that game looks fun and protagonist looks awesome :)
+1 game im looking forward to when it comes out.

Otherwise agree with the general sentiment of the vid.

OMG !

Oni, FAKK2, No One Lives Forever 1 AND 2, Alice 1 AND 2, Resident Evil and female Shepard are my personal favorite Game (Characters) -

AM I GAY ???????

sweetylnumb:

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

Oh dear, just when i throught sexism was a thing of the past. I really dont get nor support feminism in its mission of turning every female into a hypersensitive bitch, but this kind of thing does suck.

Thats not feminism, thats sexism in the guise of feminism. There are many, many, many women who claim the term feminist that aren't for equality, but superiority. Try not to mix the two up.

Smilomaniac:

Why bring it up at all then? Why are you completely dismissing any argument that a part of why popular gaming is so male dominated, might be that the major themes play on male fantasies and interest? War, combat, strategy and sex.
If you're not going to "argue it for realsies", don't mention it. You just bring strife to the table, there's nothing funny about your sarcasm.

Right, because sex is a male theme. I'd forgotten that ladies aren't into sex.

I'm sick of hearing that argument because I'm sick of the assumption that women don't like war games or shooters or strategy games, and that the only way to make games appeal to women is ... I don't know, having customisable high heels or sticking flowers all over the box art. Rather than the relatively simple adjustment of just making the same old shooter, but with a grizzled badass female character instead of a grizzled badass male character.

I'm also sick of this argument because it assumes that, as a female who likes war games, and strategy games and stealth games and shooters and horror games, I must be some kind of freak or outlier or anomaly. Along with all my female friends who are into horror games and shooters, apparently.

But the main reason I'm sick of that argument is because it's a very lazy and very transparent attempt to dismiss the concept of women playing games. "No, there aren't really any women playing real games, the surveys must be lying, gaming is still a safe male space, it is, it is!" It's the same attitude that brought us the ever-pervasive "fake gamer girls" meme, and it's starting to get old.

someone please videotape Jim giving sloppy kisses to convention goers, that's just briliant.

From what I understand it isn't the "Industry" as a whole that is like this but the marketing dickheads and publishers (not developers). But that's just common of the suits in any industry, frequently seeing themselves as "so far above" or are so detached from the actual work that takes place in the industry they view everything as just numbers on a spreadsheet.

On the flip side we have just seen a staggering number of female protagonists and important characters in AAA game releases suddenly. We've got Kerrigan of Star Craft II, Lara in Tomb Raider and now Elizabeth in Bioshock: Infinite. There is also Last of Us in the works with a very significant female character who is essentially going to follow the same formula as Elizabeth. These female characters have flaws but none of the stereotypical negative feminine flaws that media likes to portray all women as suffering from. They are balanced and fine examples of powerful women - even Kerrigan.

This article by Jim is just another highlight as to how the suits are so disconnected from the industry they are "masters" of.

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