Jimquisition: Vertigo

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So, GTA VI, one of the protagonists should be an old ugly crazy woman?...Id play it.

Just wanted to point out: The mask remembered me that Cradle has been greenlit. Yay
Also: Post number 667?
Also: What about the burly grunt-isch woman from UT2004?

mutantmagnet:
Don't be obtuse CriticKitten. Male characters who we play as and could be described as not adhereing to the basic tenants of beauty or handsomeness are all over the place.

Attractiveness does not necessarily mean beauty.

The male form does have it's boyish genre of attractiveness. But we also have other areas of muscle-bound, dark/mysterious, scarred/tough/dangerous that women do find attractive and men do find desireable to find in themselves.

To say that a muscle-bound hero isn't attractive is to impose your own personal tastes in the mix while knowing full well that this is something that people do desire to be or be with. Women don't really have that sort of desireability that goes with a scarred up face or some such stuff. So you can't look at Marcus Fenix or some such person and dismiss them as ugly in the same way you could a girl of that size and shape.

Men who aren't muscly, pretty/handsome, or any of the other things I listed are far and few inbetween. They do exist, but not necessarily in any higher ratio than the plain or even unattractive female playable characters.

God of War isn't particularly attractive. But he is Manly in a lot of classic ways. To dismiss these characters so wantonly as unnattractive is to delve completely into the realm of subjectivity to the point that the results only mean something to a select few.

Again, I'll keep posting this picture of a playable bad girl from The Cave until someone explains which criteria she doesn't meet (FYI, she's a scientist whose motivation is greed)
image

Then there's the three female squares that are playable protagonists in Thomas Was Alone. The direct opposite of curvy beauty.

Faith from Mirror's Edge who I posted a picture of from the next title they're developing. She's decidedly not anything more than plain to me.

Then there's a significant list of female characters who are pretty but who aren't all breasts, butts and legs. Dressed appropriately and realistic proportions. These should not be a detractor as the focus isn't their body. The new Lara Croft isn't sexualized. She is pretty, but not a sex icon anymore.

Tombsite:

They can, Jim doesn't have a problem with that. The problem is that apparently they can't be anything else than attractive. That is a problem.

I know I'm late to the party, but why is that a problem? As a straight man I do not find that an issue at all.

However an other issue with these debates is that it seems people tend to think male attractiveness = female attractiveness. Which is inherently wrong. Males are judged differently than women on many aspects when it comes to attractiveness. Being muscled won't make a woman attract more men. Neither will symbols of strength/bad assness. Just think about stereotypical sex fantasies. With women it's usually things like schoolgirl uniform, nurse, etc. With men it's cop uniforms, navy uniforms, etc. See the difference? A man becomes more attractive by wearing uniforms which say "I'm badass" while with women it's more things like "innocence", "young" or "nurturing". Take scars for instance. While it obviously depends on the scar and the person judging a scar can make a man more attractive by giving him a touch of "bad assness". That wouldn't work on a woman. Saying a male character isn't made to be attractive because he has a scar or has too much muscles just doesn't work because both of these attributes actually send signals which suggests attractiveness. Not that everyone would agree off course and yes over the top muscles are usually not considered that attractive because it goes too far. But that's like huge tits. I know no man who thinks an E cup > C cup. (I know there are who would disagree but generally disproportionate elements tend to be less liked) Yet somehow no one would dispute the disproportionately large breasts are somehow supposed to make the character sexier.

Lightknight:
Bla, di-bla, di-bla, example here

I have to say, well done! I am genuinly impressed, you have indeed found a female protagonist who is clearly human (although cartoony) and not conventionally pretty, the cookie is yours! *Hands over* The fact that she's interchangeable with a whole bunch of other characters is kind of diminishing, but a victory none the less!

And about the musclebound thing: that is another gender issue, isn't it? Men are actually allowed to be "pretty" in different ways. A man can be a giant, scarred, gruffy guy and still be a-ok, or he can be skinny with feminine features and that's still good, but women only get one bodytype and that's it: slim, tits and ass, smooth skin. (Alright, sometimes it's also ok for them to be sexualized 6-year-old looking girls in Korea, but let's not go there) And of course we still have the issue that they're very rarely allowed to be villain protagonists.

I would love for a genuinly tough woman, who even looks that way, to take the stage. When playing Saints Row, I usually made my characters somewhat realistic and that meant a scarred, tall, muscular russian lady, who cut her hair short so it doesn't get in the way of fighting. How sad is it, that we have hundreds of those types on the male side, but none on the female one? Yes, it's not realistic, women are less likely to be violent fighters, but wouldn't that make the character all the more interesting? After all, the market is so oversaturated with games, it is getting time we're going away from the norm.

Of course, they're not the only ones with issues. Men have similar issues in videogames, being forced into roles themselves and kept out of others.

So, how do I sum this up...

I am saddened that absolutely noone in the AAA industry seems ready to risk anything with unusual characters concerning gender roles. Give us a whimpey man, who gets forced into getting tough, like it's usually done with the women! Give us a tough-looking badass without a dick nor implants! Heck, if you want a real easy one: give us a couple where the woman is genuinly a tougher fighter than her man, the movies had that figured out decades ago!

got another one:
image
Mitsuko from Bloody Roar

Caelbain:
I have to say, well done! I am genuinly impressed, you have indeed found a female protagonist who is clearly human (although cartoony) and not conventionally pretty, the cookie is yours! *Hands over* The fact that she's interchangeable with a whole bunch of other characters is kind of diminishing, but a victory none the less!

Considering Jim's Dinosaur example was also a character out of several and wasn't even humanoid I don't think it diminishing.

The cartoony bit is because this is a hand drawn picture of the character. Though I'd say all the characters are cartoony in the game even when rendered.

I also stated all three girls from Thomas was alone. But they're interchangeable as well.

image

Blue, purple, and pink are all playable female characters and ABSOLUTELY vital to beating the game. Look at the curves on that purple one... Except for the yellow one, the male characters are often ineffective. Do you think that's a desireable avatar to play as? It could be.

And about the musclebound thing: that is another gender issue, isn't it? Men are actually allowed to be "pretty" in different ways. A man can be a giant, scarred, gruffy guy and still be a-ok, or he can be skinny with feminine features and that's still good, but women only get one bodytype and that's it: slim, tits and ass, smooth skin. (Alright, sometimes it's also ok for them to be sexualized 6-year-old looking girls in Korea, but let's not go there)

This is a social view. Even in societies where overweight individuals are desireable, symmetry associated with beauty in females was still preferable. So we could even be talking a biologically imprinted preference here. I mean, darned if my wife doesn't get all hot and bothered when I flex my shoulder muscles. Herculean, I tell you. Haha.

Even to this day, a strong husband means provision and problem solving. A dangerous/tough man means protection. A dark and mysterious man means a terrible breakup and crying with Ben and Jerry's (as far as I can tell).

As for women? We simply don't see them as our providers or protectors. When a man can sit on his ass and be twice as strong as the average woman just because testosterone exists in his system, that's what you get biologically. A huge physical power disparity. A woman has to double her strength just to get up to the average male strength level. And don't forget, as you bulk you begin to lose some of the natural advantages the female body has like agility/flexibility.

And of course we still have the issue that they're very rarely allowed to be villain protagonists.

Few people feel good knocking a girl around or killing them. Villain or not. It isn't even just the social statement that a man shouldn't hit a woman but it's also a percieved power difference. Women are much weaker than men on average (40-50% upper body difference, 20-30% lower body on average). Even though women are absolutely capable of being villains, it doesn't feel like a fair fight, nor should it, even though there absolutely are women out there who could kick any untrained man's ass, barring a lucky shot. But even in sports like the UFC, a transgendered woman (born physically a man) just took the title because HRT can't undo all the benefits that growing up with testosterone provides. Stronger/denser bones, more aligned pelvic angle that allows for better weight distribution and movement, larger organs such as the heart and lungs that provide better circulation, and even a larger frame which translates into larger average reaches. All HRTs do is impact muscle growth (negatively) and fat distribution.

I would love for a genuinly tough woman, who even looks that way, to take the stage.

What do you mean by tough looking? Like the female knight from Game of Thrones or some such thing? It's basically making a girl that looks and acts like a man. Do you mean acts tough? Because we have plenty of those examples. Perhaps scarred and ugly? Why? Is that in demand?

I am saddened that absolutely noone in the AAA industry seems ready to risk anything with unusual characters concerning gender roles. Give us a whimpey man, who gets forced into getting tough, like it's usually done with the women! Give us a tough-looking badass without a dick nor implants! Heck, if you want a real easy one: give us a couple where the woman is genuinly a tougher fighter than her man, the movies had that figured out decades ago!

Movies don't generally cast ugly women either. The woman still looks 135 lbs or less and is somehow knocking 275 lb men through walls.

The question is whether or not there's a demand for such characters. Avatars are generally characters expressing something we want to play as. The Cave got around that by distinguishing between you and the characters you control. Neither males nor females particularly want to play as characters that do not suit their opinions of what they want to look like in some way. Even in games like Heavy Rain, the ugly characters are just one character you play during the game or display strength in the story in a way that makes you feel like they're tough despite looks and asthma.

It isn't taking a "risk" just to do something people don't want. Sometimes that's just doing something nobody asked for. I think for how unpopular these characters are we actually have a decent number of them.

DanHibiki:
Mitsuko from Bloody Roar

Hah, that's a good one.

If there was an objectively non-attractive, strong, motivated woman as the protagonist, there'd sort of have to be a specific reason to warrant that choice. While that in itself speaks a bit about the situation, there's little point in playing a character who's not someone you want to compare yourself to or aspire to be(in some possible way).
The story would have to be the point of it and then gender is mostly a non factor, unless the story is heavily reliant on the gender and whatever related storypoints there might be connected to that.

While I do see the gripe some people have with this, I personally believe it's a complaint born out of nothing else to complain about. If it were for the sake of variety, I'd support this stance, but it's painted as a gender issue, which is hard for me to believe it is.
If you are genuinly bothered by the lack of unattractive protagonists(and not variety), then you're picky, not a victim of gender bias or TEH PARRRTYAAARCHY.

Something to keep in mind about male protagonists;
What most males might think is an unttractive male protagonist, is not necessarily so. Obviously the other way goes as well, since you don't need a pornstar body or perfect face to be desired by men.

Not picking games that let you customize your character is unfair, as Shepard from Mass Effect is complimented on their actions and social prowess, not their appearance. This is an excellent example of the game not counting on appearance of the protagonist(Arguably you could say the games still panders to the male crowd because of characters like Miranda, who's appearance is at least explained lorewise. I'd say that's looking for trouble, but read into it what you will, there's no intent behind that design choice.).

If people really want to fight this, start with the movie or fashion industry that's destroying the lives of girls everywhere with unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. Fighting it in the game industry, while not pointless, is not an effective use of time and changing other venues first will influence other industries, including gaming.

Ukomba:

Ukomba:
Hmm, well here's a list of characters I think meet that criteria:

Amazon in Dragon's Crown.
Lucca from Chrono Trigger.
Okami from Okami.
Peacock from skull girls.
Double from skull girls.
Macha from Chrono Cross.
NeoFio from Chrono Cross.
Poshul from Chrono Cross.
Sprigg from Chrono Cross.
Shale from Dragon Age.
Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic 2.
Bombette from Paper Mario.
Lady Bow from Paper Mario.
Watt from Paper Mario.
Sushie from Paper Mario.
Goombella from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
Flurrie from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Vivian from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
Ms. Mowz from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
Toadette from Mario Kart.
Birdo from Mario Kart.
Baby Daisy from Mario Kart.
Nana from Ice Climers / Smash Brothers.

That's just what I could come up with off the top of my head from games I've played.

Jack from Mass Effect 2.
Sue Sakamoto from Cave Story.
Gaige from Border Lands 2.
Hildegard von Krone From Soul Calibur IV
Freya from Final Fantasy 9.
Quina Quen From Final Fantasy9???

I don't know. Seems there's a lot that are at least possible. You could even make the case that Purna from Dead island fits the criteria.

Angelus - Drakengard
Manah - Drakengard 2
Faye - Dream Chronicles
Lyra - Dream Chronicles
Miranda Calomy - The Clockwork Man
Angelica Weaver - Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can
Samantha Swift - Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch (ext)
Miranda - The Otherside: Realm of Eons
Irene - SEASON OF MYSTERY: The Cherry Blossom Murders
Nancy Drew - Every Nancy Drew game
Daphne - Mystic Inn
Iris - The Drawn Series

Seriously, either Jim is really bad at research, or he had a narrative already in mind so didn't bother to do research at all. I'm starting to think there are more women that meet his unusually strict criteria than men.

So essentially, you narrowed it down to the most razor thin category and got mad when there were barely any items in that category?

There are no words.

What about No One Lives Forever, the female protagonist was pretty much like the non-sexist Female version of James Bond.

I loved the Primal Rage coin-op when I was at university and Vertigo was my favourite character. Did NOT know it was female though. Lack of dino-boobs I suppose.

Dollface, Twisted Metal

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Npu8xQDxS4
There is whole genre out there, we barely even know anything about, filled with everything the feminists whine about that are lacking in video games...

RolandOfGilead:
Dollface, Twisted Metal

You mean the model with a small scar on her face that she sees as a massive disfigurement, and wears a doll mask to compensate? And maintains a model's figure the whole time?

Yeah, she doesn't really meet Jim's criteria, IMO.

Lightknight:
Wall of Text

Alrigth, I don't really want to jump and down for every issue, so I'm going to try and condense my views towards pretty much all of this in as little text as possible.

Now, when I say I want tough women, I don't mean I want them to look manly. Because I want myself and the entire world to get away from the idea that strength = manly. It might make sense biologically, but it also makes us think that men have to be strong and women have to be weak, which is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy in my opinion. Because of this, men in real life and fiction often feel like they HAVE to be strong while women are almost afraid to be. In the very least, most at least do not want to look like it.

And now, we have a medium where women and men are not limited by biology in any way, so this would be a perfect opportunity to make some pushes towards equality. People feel bad about fighting women, even when they're in power armor, making the strength argument moot? (Hell, even guns kind of make brute strength a questionable advantage by now) Well, that's perfect! It gets you an emotional reaction and challanges the player.

Games are art, and I believe that it is an obligation of the arts to challange the mindset of people. Always giving them what they want is never going to advance our society.

Aside from that, with female villains, I meant protagonists, not antagonists. There are quite a few female antagonists, but I honestly can't think of a female lead who is a villain in... any media. (As in: THE main character, not just the main character's enemy)
Scarred and ugly women aren't in demand. And that's why the arts should push towards their acceptance.

Genji Bullet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Npu8xQDxS4
There is whole genre out there, we barely even know anything about, filled with everything the feminists whine about that are lacking in video games...

Yeah, that is an interesting Vid. Kinda weird that this genre's almost entirely, if not entirely absent on consoles. Even in the indie area of PSN, it seems. It's definitely a start, but it's not the answer in and of itself. These games need to be better known, and the writers need to get hired as writers for other stuff, IMO.

This is a great vid, though.

Because it couldn't also be said that the gaming industry isn't also saying that "Only men are disgusting, ugly, horrible murdering, raping, thieving monsters" by only portraying men in these roles....

Oh wait, it could.

Love your attention to sad, sad non-issues, Jim. Keep it up.

GryffinDarkBreed:
Because it couldn't also be said that the gaming industry isn't also saying that "Only men are disgusting, ugly, horrible murdering, raping, thieving monsters" by only portraying men in these roles....

Oh wait, it could.

Love your attention to sad, sad non-issues, Jim. Keep it up.

I think Jim actively picks issues that he knows are controversial amonst the (hightech) gaming community. And I doubt issue with the portrayel of men would get many arguing and discussing responses, because a dominating share of hightech gamers are male. And people are selfish beings, who are much more likely to agree with there being a problem, if the problem is connected with the group they consider themselves part of.

Also, Jim has never denied that there are problems with the depiction of men [See "Objectification of Men"], he just doesn't talk about them.... at all, if I remember correctly. For the reason I believe to be, what I stated above.

I am a huge fan of Sterling and though I do not always agree with him I find many of his insights well formulated. However, this specific topic irritated me. All I could think of while watching the video was who cares ? Women do not care because a large percentage of them do not play games. Sterling once brought up this statistic that 50% of games are played by women -- but what does that mean ? Mobile games ? Board games ? Bejeweled ? Publishing companies are not stupid, they have a profile ready of who will play which game as soon as a game idea is presented to them. As more and more women play games, more will aspire to work in the game industry, and poof your problem should be fixed.

Gender issues in games is being beaten to death. There are other issues that are not being examined. How almost any Asian must know martial arts in games, how middle easterners are always terrorists in shooters, or how there are no games out of Japan that feature Black protagonists (even the ones from Japan that are meant for Western audiences).

I also just want to add one thing. Instead of so much attention toward what games are missing why do we not also give some attention to what games provide -- a vibrant community and sub culture.

For example, my wife is in to Metal music and this is genre dominated by white male fans and performers (not to mention racism and sexism is present in some areas). Yet, she considers herself to be a hard core Metal head because ultimately her appreciation for the music and the community supersedes any need to be represented. I feel the same about games. People do not need to see themselves reflected in the games they are playing for them to be emotionally engaged with it. Not to mention that being a gamer you are connected to a range of people of diverse background yet you want to engage with them because you share an appreciation for games.

Identifying the dismal ratio of unattractive to attractive women in games is something to be aware of, but not something I would call an 'issue' in games.

liquid_hokaji:
I also just want to add one thing. Instead of so much attention toward what games are missing why do we not also give some attention to what games provide -- a vibrant community and sub culture.

For example, my wife is in to Metal music and this is genre dominated by white male fans and performers (not to mention racism and sexism is present in some areas). Yet, she considers herself to be a hard core Metal head because ultimately her appreciation for the music and the community supersedes any need to be represented. I feel the same about games. People do not need to see themselves reflected in the games they are playing for them to be emotionally engaged with it. Not to mention that being a gamer you are connected to a range of people of diverse background yet you want to engage with them because you share an appreciation for games.

Identifying the dismal ratio of unattractive to attractive women in games is something to be aware of, but not something I would call an 'issue' in games.

But Jim has given attention to what we have. What we have is a lack of female protagonists, and the roles these females take part in. Sad fact of the matter is that's the truth. Guys may lack in roles, but they certainly don't lack for number.

Personally, I feel it's alienating. That's what I get out of this "sub culture," and "vibrant community" who an obnoxious few want to keep it alienating.

Ever ask your wife if she'd want to play as any of the women in the game? If she wants to play as a woman from time to time? What's her opinion? Then again, asking this might lead her down the path some of us have taken where we take issue with the lack we have so much abundance of.

Never underestimate the power of incusiveness. We may not need such close relatability, but guys almost always get that fundamental relatability of gender so it's easy for them to play as a woman now and then, and generally be comfortable in the skin of the protagonist. It's more important than most think to even have a basic relatability. Women rarely get it, and when they do these women generally have shallow lives that do little to stray from point a to point b in the game's plot. There's almost never a love interest, almost never any options. It's harder to relate to tem as they generally don't have lives, but there's that basic relatability, and the chance that the writing has a woman's point of view.

It's easy to talk positively about what you have that's good when you have it, and have a steady supply of it, but what about those that don't get it often, and have to worry about the supply they'll get?

Rebel_Raven:

liquid_hokaji:
I also just want to add one thing. Instead of so much attention toward what games are missing why do we not also give some attention to what games provide -- a vibrant community and sub culture.

For example, my wife is in to Metal music and this is genre dominated by white male fans and performers (not to mention racism and sexism is present in some areas). Yet, she considers herself to be a hard core Metal head because ultimately her appreciation for the music and the community supersedes any need to be represented. I feel the same about games. People do not need to see themselves reflected in the games they are playing for them to be emotionally engaged with it. Not to mention that being a gamer you are connected to a range of people of diverse background yet you want to engage with them because you share an appreciation for games.

Identifying the dismal ratio of unattractive to attractive women in games is something to be aware of, but not something I would call an 'issue' in games.

But Jim has given attention to what we have. What we have is a lack of female protagonists, and the roles these females take part in. Sad fact of the matter is that's the truth. Guys may lack in roles, but they certainly don't lack for number.

Personally, I feel it's alienating. That's what I get out of this "sub culture," and "vibrant community" who an obnoxious few want to keep it alienating.

Ever ask your wife if she'd want to play as any of the women in the game? If she wants to play as a woman from time to time? What's her opinion? Then again, asking this might lead her down the path some of us have taken where we take issue with the lack we have so much abundance of.

Never underestimate the power of incusiveness. We may not need such close relatability, but guys almost always get that fundamental relatability of gender so it's easy for them to play as a woman now and then, and generally be comfortable in the skin of the protagonist. It's more important than most think to even have a basic relatability. Women rarely get it, and when they do these women generally have shallow lives that do little to stray from point a to point b in the game's plot. There's almost never a love interest, almost never any options. It's harder to relate to tem as they generally don't have lives, but there's that basic relatability, and the chance that the writing has a woman's point of view.

It's easy to talk positively about what you have that's good when you have it, and have a steady supply of it, but what about those that don't get it often, and have to worry about the supply they'll get?

I agree and you make a good point; people want to feel that games are being made for them in mind, and I think that lack of diversity will only hurt the community and games themselves. Hey, I am annoyed that the issues of sexism and racism are not being explored more in games, because games are a medium that can be used to put people in the shoes of some one dealing with those issues.

However, there are some things that should be taken in to consideration. For a player to feel represented that game simply can not have a character model that looks like them but that game has to have a story (this is why if I bring up a million characters like Ms. Pacman -- it does nothing for the underlying issue). For many games story is simply not a significant component and thus most people are not going to relate them or even want to be represented by them. I think a games developer motivation for making their protagonist in a game, that is not story driven, a white male is a lazy default. For example, Mario is a white Italian plumber and I doubt that white Italian people feel represented, but a white Italian male may feel better represented by playing as a white Italian protagonist in a game that is story driven. I think the same works for women and minorities, they need more than just a character model.

Another thing is that many games where story is pivotal to the game have character creating features. So, those games are side stepping this whole issue altogether.

liquid_hokaji:

Rebel_Raven:

liquid_hokaji:
I also just want to add one thing. Instead of so much attention toward what games are missing why do we not also give some attention to what games provide -- a vibrant community and sub culture.

For example, my wife is in to Metal music and this is genre dominated by white male fans and performers (not to mention racism and sexism is present in some areas). Yet, she considers herself to be a hard core Metal head because ultimately her appreciation for the music and the community supersedes any need to be represented. I feel the same about games. People do not need to see themselves reflected in the games they are playing for them to be emotionally engaged with it. Not to mention that being a gamer you are connected to a range of people of diverse background yet you want to engage with them because you share an appreciation for games.

Identifying the dismal ratio of unattractive to attractive women in games is something to be aware of, but not something I would call an 'issue' in games.

But Jim has given attention to what we have. What we have is a lack of female protagonists, and the roles these females take part in. Sad fact of the matter is that's the truth. Guys may lack in roles, but they certainly don't lack for number.

Personally, I feel it's alienating. That's what I get out of this "sub culture," and "vibrant community" who an obnoxious few want to keep it alienating.

Ever ask your wife if she'd want to play as any of the women in the game? If she wants to play as a woman from time to time? What's her opinion? Then again, asking this might lead her down the path some of us have taken where we take issue with the lack we have so much abundance of.

Never underestimate the power of incusiveness. We may not need such close relatability, but guys almost always get that fundamental relatability of gender so it's easy for them to play as a woman now and then, and generally be comfortable in the skin of the protagonist. It's more important than most think to even have a basic relatability. Women rarely get it, and when they do these women generally have shallow lives that do little to stray from point a to point b in the game's plot. There's almost never a love interest, almost never any options. It's harder to relate to tem as they generally don't have lives, but there's that basic relatability, and the chance that the writing has a woman's point of view.

It's easy to talk positively about what you have that's good when you have it, and have a steady supply of it, but what about those that don't get it often, and have to worry about the supply they'll get?

I agree and you make a good point; people want to feel that games are being made for them in mind, and I think that lack of diversity will only hurt the community and games themselves. Hey, I am annoyed that the issues of sexism and racism are not being explored more in games, because games are a medium that can be used to put people in the shoes of some one dealing with those issues.

However, there are some things that should be taken in to consideration. For a player to feel represented that game simply can not have a character model that looks like them but that game has to have a story (this is why if I bring up a million characters like Ms. Pacman -- it does nothing for the underlying issue). For many games story is simply not a significant component and thus most people are not going to relate them or even want to be represented by them. I think a games developer motivation for making their protagonist in a game, that is not story driven, a white male is a lazy default. For example, Mario is a white Italian plumber and I doubt that white Italian people feel represented, but a white Italian male may feel better represented by playing as a white Italian protagonist in a game that is story driven. I think the same works for women and minorities, they need more than just a character model.

Another thing is that many games where story is pivotal to the game have character creating features. So, those games are side stepping this whole issue altogether.

I can certainly agree that strength of character, plot, and so forth are extremely important, but there's very little that replaces the joy of playing as a female character. I'd rather play a bland woman than a bland guy by miles, and miles, and believe me, most male protagonists are bland to me.
It'd take a game that makes me curious, and interested enough to stand head and shoulders over the rest to make me consider playing a guy these days. Very rarely do these games happen.

Moreover, having to buy games carefully as my luxury budget, and time gaming are pretty limited means every purchase is pretty important.

Yeah, story can justify the gender of the protagonist, but that doesn't justify a lack of stories that center around a female protagonist. Pretty much every last woman we've ever played as was written by a guy. So many women in other media like movies, books, and TV are written by men.
One gender can and often does write for the other gender.

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