Should Every Game Allow You to Choose Your Gender?

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Mcoffey:

Thanatos2k:
If you want your main character to be bland, have little personality, and sabotage the narrative of your game - by all means let the player choose the gender.

Only Mass Effect has been able to have a strong customizable character, and that's due to both good writing and excellent voice acting. No other game comes close.

If it's a game that's more about the content than the story like Skyrim then a blank customizable character is fine. But if you want your game to be narrative driven, a customizable character sabotages this goal.

Better to have a game like The Witcher where your character is already a character and then they let you choose stuff than a game where the main character is so characterless that even their gender can be switched without any impact to the story.

Also Yahztee, you got DANGEROUSLY close to addressing Gamergate!

Clearly someone's never played Saints Row...

The Saints Row main character is pretty damned bland. It works, but the main character is by far the least interesting character in saints row, being more of a blank slate for the other more interesting characters to play off of. You can give them personality, but that personality does not fit into the actual game in any meaningful way. It is a smoke screen, but a damn good one. It works and it works well, but that doesn't mean Saints Row has an interesting main character.

I feel like this is mostly arguing against a strawman. I don't think a meaningful amount of people think every game should be allow you to choose your gender. AC:U got people annoyed because it's co-op focused, and Ubisoft gave a stupid excuse initially.

I don't think having a male protagonist is particularly an issue of misogyny or sexism, though it can make some misogynistic tropes an easy option for the lazy developer.

I'm not going to start quoting everyone with the horrid quoting system here, but I come from a country where people are equalists for the most part. Men and women. The term used in English, "going Dutch" feels normal to us. You buy one. I buy the next one. Same goes with earnings. It's about trying to be equal in standing and not out-right shutting someone out. It's about equal opportunities and standings.

Now - these folks claimed to me, that the definition of "feminism" is to further the cause of women a.k.a. strive for equality. Good, fine and dandy. Now what happens when that equality is met? What happens when in some cases women have more power than men, i.e. divorce and child support. Where is the equal standpoint there? Why do the goalposts keep getting shifted as the goal for the equality that "feminists" claim the strive for are met?

Time and time again, we are facing a new goal for what equality is. Chauvinism, "MRA" - these are strictly for male power, they claim. Feminism, which is clearly an ideology that favors women, is inherently good. This is what I simply can't understand. In objective talks about gender relations, there simply isn't a possibility existing where feminism was only striving for male and female equality. It claims to strive for equality but instead it tries to achieve whatever goal it has at the moment by lowering the equal opportunities of men.

And heck, in most polls and tests in the matter I've done, I've come out as a feminist. Yet by saying I want equality I am labeled as a misogynist.

If you were unlucky enough to read through all of that, I meant to say video games are fun and I want to keep them that way.

I feel like it's never a good idea to make sweeping generalizations. "All" is a pretty strong term, and I'd be suspiscious of anyone wanting "all" of anything to be a certain way (sounds like it'd make for a pretty boring world.)

Kind of wary of discussions that use the word "should," come to think of it (because then we're getting into Platonic Ideals and dictating over-arching conditions without respect to context and nuance.)

I feel like most people would be in agreement that it depends on the specific game. If we're talking about an RPG where the point is to customize your hero and have the world react to your decisions then I'd say it kind of just fits that you'd be able to choose your gender. Even beyond equality's-sake, sometimes it's just fun to play as a character different from you anyway. But I feel like we're kind of to a point where that's the expectation for those games anyway - off the top of my head I can't think of any recent games like that which don't offer you a choice.

But if you're making a story about a specific character, then gender is going to be a part of that specific character's identity anyway. I certainly would never suggest that in The Witcher there's any need for the player to choose whether Geralt is a man or a woman - he's a specific character and one of his traits is that he has a penis.

Would a representative ratio of women to men characters in videogames be a good thing? I would say... probably? I don't think a developer going "well, our last game had a white male protagonist so our next game needs to be about a latino woman" is a goal to strive for, personally. I think that would feel like pandering, as would injecting arbitrary ratios of characters for no better reason.

From a quantity angle, I believe it really comes down to having a wider variety of developers from different backgrounds and points of view. I'm a white male, I like to think I have some depth of character. If I were a game developer I'd like to think I would try to be sensitive to social issues and portrayal of all manner of people in my games - but if we're making a game about the plight of a black woman, then I'm probably not the man for the job anyway. I'm going to make a story that's personal to me, with characters I feel I can write about without being pandering.

But I tend to focus on quality over quantity anyway. There's too much of a focus on the existential state of these buzz-words, whether or not they're present in any particular game, and then placing a value judgement on said game without regard to nuance or context or presentation. At least that's how I see it.

Really I think it boils down to - how a character treats another character in a game is not the same thing as how the writer treats that character within the game.

And of course let's not forget that there's a difference between talking about forests and trees. I can make an observation about the overall character of a forest, and generalized patterns and traits about the forest as a whole, but those observations don't innately apply to each tree individually.

If I'm looking out at a forest on the horizon, maybe I can see that it doesn't look totally healthy. I can then assume that if I go down and inspect each tree will find unhealthy ones, but it doesn't mean every tree in that forest is unhealthy. To make that call I would have to individually inspect every tree in the forest.

mrdude2010:

BloodWriter:

Rutskarn:

"Feminists in gaming." Not "women." I never said "women." I'm a feminist in gaming, and I'm not a woman.

I misread that. I'm for equality as a man, not feminism. Don't understand why any man would further feminism, be a feminist or want any of it to have anything to do with games and gaming.

Ed. What is the strawman representation of feminists?

Feminists want equality too. You see a lot of people misrepresent feminism as some kind of hideous, anti-men, extremist, position and use that representation to automatically dismiss any woman who describes herself as a feminist pointing that maybe women shouldn't be making 3/4 or what men make for the same work. Instead of actually addressing feminism or a feminist's point, they come up with an easily attackable stereotype to beat up instead (as in, you go and fight the straw man instead of the actual man). Basically, what feminism is and what misogynists/MRA's tell you feminism is are vastly different things.

That's not entirely true, unfortunately, and I say that as a feminist. There's always some asshole willing to go to the extreme, and there have been many cases where self proclaimed feminists do exactly what people claim. These stereotypes do come from somewhere, and it serves nobody to ignore them or pretend they don't exist. They should be addressed when they come up, and condemned as the acts of extremists not representative of the core of feminism. We can't simply close our eyes and allow such things to fester because it is inconvenient or would make things more complicated. I mean, the things some of the self toting feminists in the anti-gamergate camp was one of the reasons I took issue with them (and the kneejerk reaction among many prominent movement members to condemn all feminism was among the reasons why I dropped the tag.) Also, no not from Anita Sarkesian or really most of the usual suspects but from their riled up supporters. The things I've read some of these people say to the women who disagree with them alone curdles my blood, and I do my own searching; this isn't stuff I was handed out of context. Feminists can behave badly and like any ideology we can have extremists. Addressing those issues is valid because like it or not they do represent a part of that ideology. No matter how tiring it's going to be.

<devolving into rage fueled rant.> Like after this goddamn mess thinking of every goddamn time I need goddamn address an example of their paranoia only for it to be bloody real now because hey why not give the real misogynists every goddamn bit of ammo they could ever hope for in this blind idiotic lashing out with no goddamn though or consideration to the basis of the goddamn principals you're supposed to supporting .....AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAArrghhhghghghghghdfsasahdf;odshf;oishf;oihdsf;asfdsajfhasjbewqljbrkewnf

DrOswald:

Mcoffey:

Thanatos2k:
If you want your main character to be bland, have little personality, and sabotage the narrative of your game - by all means let the player choose the gender.

Only Mass Effect has been able to have a strong customizable character, and that's due to both good writing and excellent voice acting. No other game comes close.

If it's a game that's more about the content than the story like Skyrim then a blank customizable character is fine. But if you want your game to be narrative driven, a customizable character sabotages this goal.

Better to have a game like The Witcher where your character is already a character and then they let you choose stuff than a game where the main character is so characterless that even their gender can be switched without any impact to the story.

Also Yahztee, you got DANGEROUSLY close to addressing Gamergate!

Clearly someone's never played Saints Row...

The Saints Row main character is pretty damned bland. It works, but the main character is by far the least interesting character in saints row, being more of a blank slate for the other more interesting characters to play off of. You can give them personality, but that personality does not fit into the actual game in any meaningful way. It is a smoke screen, but a damn good one. It works and it works well, but that doesn't mean Saints Row has an interesting main character.

Are you talking about the first game? Because the Saints Row Boss I've played since Saints Row 2 is a sarcastic smart ass who will fangirl over Burt Reynolds one minute and take offense at being called a sociopath the next. The Boss is full to bursting with personality.

I find this article to basically be an elaboration on the last three weeks of Let's Drown Out, and I'm fine with that.

Much like with Jim's recent Jimquisitions, I like that the stance is presented without insults.

Right, I generally view the avatar I'm playing with as a shell or tool of manipulating the environment rather than an actual person.

If the person behaves too differently from me during cutscenes then that's where it becomes a bit of an issue. Sometimes I can just slip into a bit of role-play and other times it's too different.

Interesting article. Thanks.

Mcoffey:

DrOswald:

Mcoffey:

Clearly someone's never played Saints Row...

The Saints Row main character is pretty damned bland. It works, but the main character is by far the least interesting character in saints row, being more of a blank slate for the other more interesting characters to play off of. You can give them personality, but that personality does not fit into the actual game in any meaningful way. It is a smoke screen, but a damn good one. It works and it works well, but that doesn't mean Saints Row has an interesting main character.

Are you talking about the first game? Because the Saints Row Boss I've played since Saints Row 2 is a sarcastic smart ass who will beat you to fangirl over Burt Reynolds one minute and take offense at being called a sociopath the next. The Boss is full to bursting with personality.

2, 3 and 4. Can't really tell you anything interesting about the boss. He/she did a couple things every once in a while that were funny or interesting, but I would not say the boss is bursting with personality. I couldn't tell you the personality of the boss after playing 3 games worth of Saints Row. I can tell you the personality of several of the secondary characters, but the boss is by my estimation and experience at best a caricature. As generic as a mannequin dressed in a pimp suit. No matter how you dress it up it is still generic at the core.

But that is just my opinion.

When I was seven I played Tekken 3 against my brother, who was explaining to me that girls are shit at everything. They suck at video games and they're weaker than boys. So I decided to pick a female character to beat him with. I had four choices, all of whom were scantily clad and did a sexy pose at the beginning and end of each match. I wanted to prove that women had value and were just as competent as men, and I was confronted with the reality of how women are perceived by the gaming culture. That shit fucks you up when you're a kid.

I guess what I'm saying is: Yeah, it's easy to say representation isn't an issue when it isn't an issue that affects you. I don't think the answer is to have every RPG allow you to choose your gender. It's obvious those games have been written with a male default anyway. Just look at DS2 with Chloanne's innuendo, Emerald Waifu and the theme of power hungry queens manipulating the kings. Yeah I get called a "monarch" when I ascend the throne but it's quite clear that I'm supposed to be a dude. It would be nice to have actual meaningful female and minority representation in games.

Loki_The_Good:
SNIP-- AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAArrghhhghghghghghdfsasahdf;odshf;oishf;oihdsf;asfdsajfhasjbewqljbrkewnf

Yeah that's how I've felt every single time I've been warned, muted or banned here or on other forums for expressing my opinion in a decent manner.

Only have infraction left, so we'll see what happens.

I agree 100% that it's the developer's prerogative to assign a gender when it's integral to the story.

This brings up a good point about placeholder characters though.

The way I see it, most of these games with customizable "placeholder" gender/race take the tack of, "Pick whatever you'd like. There's no advantages/disadvantages to either."

But perhaps that's the incorrect road to take. Maybe developers should allow customizable features, but also pay some attention to the details. While we are constantly fed "equality," men and women have vastly different experiences to the same events and different resources available to overcome them. I should like to see games explore this more to both allow and give the "placeholder" choice meaning. Even if the details are minor.

manic_depressive13:
Snip

Somehow I have an issue taking you completely seriously when you have a Dark Souls avatar (a game where you can be a powerful, near demigod-level female character killing absurdly powerful beings) and your quiz completion has a screaming face icon and literally says you're angry.

image

Calm down, then come back to the discussion.

Burnouts3s3:

I'm wonder what a good middle ground for female representation is.

I'm not sure there's any "middle ground" here because it's addressing issues virtually nobody's asking about. Granted, Yahtzee's writing gets more reasonable as it gets more specific, but virtually nobody has said anything akin to "all games should have selectable gender." Hell, Anita Sarkeesian ("even," indeed) is a fairly moderate voice, so that seems a weird sort of comparison.

Though she does offer several solutions for gender representation within her videos.

Mcoffey:

Clearly someone's never played Saints Row...

Or they're just knocking down a strawman.

TBH, while I like your Saints Row example, the fact is there isn't a huge issue with characters who would be ruined or sapped of personality by allowing selectable gender. Two (or more) voices reading the same thing would afford the same personality as Saints Row, but many characters aren't that good anyway. Even the lauded Mass Effect series. You could replace most of the game's characters with potted plants or have Keanu Reeves read all the parts and get the same effect.

John Marston could be Jane Marston, a golden retriever, or a finely crafted piece of wood for its impact on 95% of the story.

I mean, I'm a big fan of false dichotomoies, but come on. I'm beginning to wonder if the people lauding these characters (even the Witcher) have actually played the games.

flying_whimsy:
I once asked in the forums about what would constitute a female power fantasy as I have never seen one that was made by women. The responses I got were largely "I don't know" from women and "it'd be just like a male power fantasy" from men. I would honestly like to see one.

Female superhero in her thirties, who manages to run her own successful business, have a happy marriage and 2 kids and still be able to kick criminal ass. Managing to balance a successful career while not alienating the people she loves and doing what she feels is right. Female power fantasy for me right there

BloodWriter:

Is it important to have a female protagonist to choose from in Assasin's Creed? I can't say. I mostly play games because they're fun and interesting, I don't necessarily need a self-insert, I want to have gameplay that's fun and enjoyable. When I play Risk of Rain, I don't look at the pixels of the Engineer and think if it's a man or a woman. If you do, you have some looking in the mirror to do and ask yourself - why?

Here's the thing. Do you have a niche interest that is sometimes portrayed in media? It's a topic you are very knowledgable about and that you care about deeply, but not something that even most of your friends know a lot about. Like lets say you're really into archery. Then when you see the Avengers, every time Jeremy Renner uses a bow, it pulls you out of the movie, especially the scene where he's falling off of a roof top. That shot is literally not possible. But in other scenes, his stance is off, etc. If you bring it up to your buddies who don't know much about archery, they tell you to stop being so picky.

Another classic example of this is how computers work, especially hacking, in movies. Of course, that's gotten to be so bad, people just accept it. Medicine, especially CPR and defibulators, are portrayed wrong all the time. I once watched Starship Troopers with a friend who is a SWAT officer. He couldn't get passed how stupid the ordinance in that movie was. Of all the issues with the movie, his problem was that the bullets were too small calibre and obviously full metal jacket, when they should have been some kind of I don't even know what, I'm not really a gun guy.

My point is, somebody who lives something is more of an expert and therefore more bothered by inconsistancies than somebody with only a passing familiarity. And a minority is an expert at living life as a minority, especially when it comes to be excluded from mainstream popular culture. When a white guy plays a game that only has a minority character, its a novelty and therefore nothing that pulls him out of the game. It's like an average person watching archery. But when a minority plays a game with a white male protagonist, it's a reminder that the player is a minority. And even if the media is otherwise enjoyed, there's this one thing constantly hanging over it and it pulls the player out. Why is this yet another power fantasy where I'm forced to be a man? Why is the hero so often of European descent? Why can't I have a character to look up to?

And that's why so many white males can say "I don't care abotu a self-insert, I want something fun and enjoyable" and feel like they've contributed. As you said, look in the mirror and ask yourself why. And the answer is I want to play heroes from other walks of life. Sure you can point to games like Risk of Rain and ask who cares, but when it comes to games where there are actually main characters, it does matter.

Loki_The_Good:

That's not entirely true, unfortunately, and I say that as a feminist. There's always some asshole willing to go to the extreme, and there have been many cases where self proclaimed feminists do exactly what people claim.

Yes, but that doesn't speak to feminism any more than it speaks to Catholics being child molesters, men being wife beaters, and MRAs being misogynistic virgins.

If you're going to rule by the "extremists," then both liberals and conservatives are terrorists, Muslims cut off heads, atheists are genocidal, and black people really are violent thugs. For that matter, nobody should have got mad at Devin Faraci for talking about gamers as terrorists, because gamers are terrorists by this line of reasoning.

But that's absurd. And I doubt many people would be signing off on it.

That's the problem with validating a claim based on a minority, then.

RA92:

Covarr:
A large part of what made Portal work is that both characters were women. Portal 2's fat jokes wouldn't have carried nearly the same weight if Chell had been a dude, because guys are generally seen as not being as insecure about that sort of thing, regardless of the societal reasons for that.

That's actually a really good point, and I'm surprised it didn't occur to me while reading the article. Portal wouldn't have been nearly as fun without GLaDOS' misunderstanding of everything that's human - from the juvenile fat jokes to the fallacy of assuming people could grow attached to anything given she provides the narrative.

Oi!

Don't you be saying anything bad about the Companion Cube!

OT: I kinda think most of us recognize that anyone actually saying "video games are misogynistic" are being disingenuous at best and openly ignorant at worst. I haven't seen that argument come from any of the actual rational people at least. (Yes, yes, they have said there are "misogynistic tropes" blah de blah, but that's not the same thing and it's not always that easy to deny.)

But yes, the point I take is that I want more diversity - That doesn't mean let me choose between a Male/Female toggle. That means have more interesting characters, plots, worlds, tell a more unique narrative using something I'm not quite so used to. Infamous: Second Son managed to have a main character who was Native American and they tied that in to the character's motivations; for all the other problems that game might have had, the player character not being "grizzled middle-aged Caucasian guy" wasn't one of them.

I want more characters that aren't Aiden Pearce, or Mike Thorton, or Desmond Miles/Ezio/Altair/Connor (because somehow they all managed to be the same bland characters despite all being different nationalities and having ostensibly 'different' personalities), or Batman, or Booker DeWitt, or Nomad/Prophet, or Isaac Clarke, or Adam Jensen, or New!Garrett, or Sam Fisher, or Solid Snake, or Geralt, or Marcus Fenix, or Master Chief, or Cole MacGrath, or those guys from Killzone, or Kratos, or Joel, or Nathan Drake, or Grayson Hunt, or Jack Slate, or Chris Redfield, or Niko Bellic, or Edward Carnby, or Soap MacTavish, etc. etc.

Now, I like a lot of those characters and yeah, the cool thing is that there are plenty of characters who totally don't fill that general stereotype as well. Unfortunately sometimes it can just be a little hard to see past all of the gritty, grim faces and/or massive muscle mass.

I was intrigued by what you brought up about the protagonist having it worse than the damsel. Definitely it would suck for an actual human, but surely there's a difference between being a real person doing the stuff and being a real person making a character do all that stuff?

Also, I think there's actually a lot to be said for "making the ham sandwiches numerically equal to the sausages" as you put it. Perhaps generic media (not just games) will always have generic characters, but maybe if we have a broader definition of "generic" that included all sexes and races and such, then we could internalize the idea of mutual humanity. It's probably not a magic button to make hate go away forever, but really it might do us more good than we realize.

DrOswald:

Mcoffey:

DrOswald:

The Saints Row main character is pretty damned bland. It works, but the main character is by far the least interesting character in saints row, being more of a blank slate for the other more interesting characters to play off of. You can give them personality, but that personality does not fit into the actual game in any meaningful way. It is a smoke screen, but a damn good one. It works and it works well, but that doesn't mean Saints Row has an interesting main character.

Are you talking about the first game? Because the Saints Row Boss I've played since Saints Row 2 is a sarcastic smart ass who will beat you to fangirl over Burt Reynolds one minute and take offense at being called a sociopath the next. The Boss is full to bursting with personality.

2, 3 and 4. Can't really tell you anything interesting about the boss. He/she did a couple things every once in a while that were funny or interesting, but I would not say the boss is bursting with personality. I couldn't tell you the personality of the boss after playing 3 games worth of Saints Row. I can tell you the personality of several of the secondary characters, but the boss is by my estimation and experience at best a caricature. As generic as a mannequin dressed in a pimp suit. No matter how you dress it up it is still generic at the core.

But that is just my opinion.

Well, the Saints Row wiki has a pretty detailed write up of their personality: http://saintsrow.wikia.com/The_Protagonist
I guess you and I just saw it differently? To me, the boss was a more vibrant character than any that Bioware has managed to come up with.

Zachary Amaranth:

Or they're just knocking down a strawman.

TBH, while I like your Saints Row example, the fact is there isn't a huge issue with characters who would be ruined or sapped of personality by allowing selectable gender. Two (or more) voices reading the same thing would afford the same personality as Saints Row, but many characters aren't that good anyway. Even the lauded Mass Effect series. You could replace most of the game's characters with potted plants or have Keanu Reeves read all the parts and get the same effect.

John Marston could be Jane Marston, a golden retriever, or a finely crafted piece of wood for its impact on 95% of the story.

I mean, I'm a big fan of false dichotomoies, but come on. I'm beginning to wonder if the people lauding these characters (even the Witcher) have actually played the games.

Oh yeah. I mean, besides some of the characters Yahtzee mentioned that are intrinsically tied with the examination of masculinity, I don't see how any of these characters would be ruined by having a female version as an option. In certain games I could see how that could be more costly, like The Last of Us where the motion capture is tied to the actors body shape and facial movements, but in-game it wouldn't have hurt my enjoyment any if it could have been Joel or Julie.

BloodWriter:

manic_depressive13:
Snip

Somehow I have an issue taking you completely seriously when you have a Dark Souls avatar (a game where you can be a powerful, near demigod-level female character killing absurdly powerful beings) and your quiz completion has a screaming face icon and literally says you're angry.

image

Calm down, then come back to the discussion.

That's nice.

I obviously really like Dark Souls, but the ability to choose a female avatar is pretty meaningless when the player is a non-character. Meanwhile, you get demure Princess Rhea, demure Firelink firekeeper, demure Dusk of Oolacile, two naked spider ladies and Titsdolyn. The Anor Londo firekeeper and the Onion knight girl were pretty cool though, and I always liked the female undead who sells you moss.

bojac6:

And that's why so many white males can say "I don't care abotu a self-insert, I want something fun and enjoyable" and feel like they've contributed. As you said, look in the mirror and ask yourself why. And the answer is I want to play heroes from other walks of life. Sure you can point to games like Risk of Rain and ask who cares, but when it comes to games where there are actually main characters, it does matter.

The fact that you say 'white male' in itself is a bigoted view. For about two years now I've discovered that *gasp* I might not be 'white' at all - I am a descendant of the Mongolian race, who rode down the steppes and conquered my ancestors. Based on haplostudies and marginal critical evaluation, sure, but still prominent enough to be considered as fact. Now am I white? Are mongols 'white'? What is the definition of 'white'? Are albinos white, or are you referring to a non-tanned stereotypical Caucasian male? Is a Southern Italian white, or is he swarthy? What about someone from Florida with a lot of mixing going on in their ancestry in the past, but ending up tanned and swarthy from two 'white' parents?

It's all about perspective here, and unlike you claim to want it, you already have only one pipeline you steer through. You don't want anything else, you have your own - game set and match.

What you replied to me about Risk Of Rain characters proves this - my intention was to wholly take your clueless behind and drag it out into the open for all to see.

Mcoffey:

DrOswald:

Mcoffey:

Are you talking about the first game? Because the Saints Row Boss I've played since Saints Row 2 is a sarcastic smart ass who will beat you to fangirl over Burt Reynolds one minute and take offense at being called a sociopath the next. The Boss is full to bursting with personality.

2, 3 and 4. Can't really tell you anything interesting about the boss. He/she did a couple things every once in a while that were funny or interesting, but I would not say the boss is bursting with personality. I couldn't tell you the personality of the boss after playing 3 games worth of Saints Row. I can tell you the personality of several of the secondary characters, but the boss is by my estimation and experience at best a caricature. As generic as a mannequin dressed in a pimp suit. No matter how you dress it up it is still generic at the core.

But that is just my opinion.

Well, the Saints Row wiki has a pretty detailed write up of their personality: http://saintsrow.wikia.com/The_Protagonist
I guess you and I just saw it differently? To me, the boss was a more vibrant character than any that Bioware has managed to come up with.

That is why I mentioned that was my opinion. Much more than any other art form how you experience video games are influenced by what you bring to the table.

I read the personality section of that wiki page, and it basically confirms everything I already thought about the protagonist: Power hungry, prone to and delights in excessive/pointless violence, loyal to those he/she considers valuable or worthy. To my eyes that is about as generic a character as you can get. To your eyes that might be an interesting and unique character. We bring different things to the table, often we will come to a different conclusion.

But to make an important point, generic is not necessarily bad. In fact, I would say generic is good in many circumstances. It was certainly a good thing in the Saints Row series. I liked that there was tons of narrative space for me to play the boss how I wanted her (and I did choose a female boss) to be played without there being any dissonance. I could create a boss that fit what both the game and what I wanted her to be.

manic_depressive13:

I obviously really like Dark Souls, but the ability to choose a female avatar is pretty meaningless when the player is a non-character. Meanwhile, you get demure Princess Rhea, demure Firelink firekeeper, demure Dusk of Oolacile, two naked spider ladies and Titsdolyn. The Anor Londo firekeeper and the Onion knight girl were pretty cool though, and I always liked the female undead who sells you moss.

You keep saying 'demure'

de·mure (d-myr)
adj. de·mur·er, de·mur·est
1. Modest and reserved in manner or behavior.
2. Affectedly shy, modest, or reserved.

So do you feel that modesty, shyness, reservedness are feminine traits? Would you say that men with these traits, in video games and real life , are less than 'men', or feminine? Would you see this as a declusion or a positive aspect?

capthca:
dramatic chipmunk (really)

BloodWriter:
You keep saying 'demure'

de·mure (d-myr)
adj. de·mur·er, de·mur·est
1. Modest and reserved in manner or behavior.
2. Affectedly shy, modest, or reserved.

So do you feel that modesty, shyness, reservedness are feminine traits? Would you say that men with these traits, in video games and real life , are less than 'men', or feminine? Would you see this as a declusion or a positive aspect?

capthca:
dramatic chipmunk (really)

I didn't decide it's a feminine trait, society did. How many men in Dark Souls were given this trait? Also, how many women were allowed a crazy chuckle? In a game defined by psychotic cackling, the only woman who gets one is the hollow moss vendor.

I don't know what a declusion is supposed to be.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Should Every Game Allow You to Choose Your Gender?

While playing Lichdom: Battlemage, Yahtzee decides to tackle to topic of gender diversity in choosing the character to you want to play.

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Well said Yahtzee. Yet again, you show an excellent command of language. Thanks for doing it.

An interesting case is Samus Aran. A primarily silent protagonist who must be a woman regardless of player preference. She also is a BIT of a sex symbol, depending on depiction. While I always say there is nothing inherently wrong with being attractive and displaying that physicality... anyone who has played a Metroid game knows how its kinda weird that completing the game with a faster time or with 100% items allows us to see Samus in a skin tight suit or bikini, posing.

Prime might be the outlier, rewarding the player instead with an emotional scene featuring Samus reflecting over the damage she wrought.

So there is progress in some aspects. I think Samus still counts as a character, as she has a distinct personality and pathos. I hope future games can continue to convey her well. If we ever see another Metroid :(.

And you can make Samus a compelling character without her saying more than a few or no words!
.... looking at you, Other M...

Jumpman24:
An interesting case is Samus Aran. A primarily silent protagonist who must be a woman regardless of player preference. She also is a BIT of a sex symbol, depending on depiction. While I always say there is nothing inherently wrong with being attractive and displaying that physicality... anyone who has played a Metroid game knows how its kinda weird that completing the game with a faster time or with 100% items allows us to see Samus in a skin tight suit or bikini, posing.

Prime might be the outlier, rewarding the player instead with an emotional scene featuring Samus reflecting over the damage she wrought.

So there is progress in some aspects. I think Samus still counts as a character, as she has a distinct personality and pathos. I hope future games can continue to convey her well. If we ever see another Metroid :(.

And you can make Samus a compelling character without her saying more than a few or no words!
.... looking at you, Other M...

Yeah, I sometimes don't know what to think about Samus. I mean, it kind of blew my mind, in elementary school, to suddenly find out the character in the game was a girl. My friend and I got into some heated fights about that until I managed to get through the game and show him ("But his name is Samus!!")

So you've got a pretty kick-ass female character there, but like you said the reward for faster completion of the earlier titles was getting to see her in a space bikini after the credits (which is kind of why I played a lot of Super Metroid in my formative years...)

But I think you can have a character who is sexy and still be a good character. Maybe the objectification she goes through isn't ideal, but I think that's why it's important to look at individual games and examples instead of trying to apply broad generalizations over an array of examples. Not everything is going to be a clear-cut case of black and white, all or nothing.

This whole thing is something I'll never be able to understand. I guess some people really want to self-insert themselves into fantasy worlds and can't do that if the main character is not the same gender? That's really a shame, because you are missing out on a lot of amazing games by refusing to play as someone of the opposite gender, regardless of whether it's male or female.

Anime seems to be dominated by female characters, but that doesn't stop men from enjoying it. Hell, look at My Little Pony. Yet some women can't enjoy video games with male characters.

Honestly I'm a little surprised at Yahtzee. He always struck me as sort of disdainful of the gaming community, so it's odd that his opinion meshes so well with the dominant attitude. It's like having an uncle who's always ragging against conservatives, and then you find out that he's against gay marriage. Obviously disliking conservatives doesn't mean that you support gay marriage. But at the same time... you sort of thought it would.

manic_depressive13:

I didn't decide it's a feminine trait, society did. How many men in Dark Souls were given this trait? Also, how many women were allowed a crazy chuckle? In a game defined by psychotic cackling, the only woman who gets one is the hollow moss vendor.

I don't know what a declusion is supposed to be.

Blame that on my non-perfect English and time of the day. I meant 'declension'.

I asked you if 'demure' is a feminine trait. You said if any men in Dark Souls were demure. I would answer that most of the male characters were quite sullen, composed, shy, not too keen of talking too much, kept to themselves - I'd even go ahead and call them demure.

"Also, how many women were allowed a crazy chuckle?"

I admit that is one of the weirdest things I've ever heard a feminist (?) view on, but I do remember the skeleton merchane with a womanly voice did have a crazy 'cackle'.

image

But there was also a seemingly male-voiced skeleton who had a crazy cackle. I ask you this - did you consider both of their genders to be set simply by their voices? What if they were transgender before they died? Pre-op? What makes you base the sex and gender of a skeleton based simply on the voice provided, or their name? I know women with manly voices and have androgynous names, and likewise men who have androgynous names with feminine voices.

Who is the bigot here in the class of assumptions?

I think that if the developer isn't actively trying to say something about men, women, or specific relationships between the two (or going even further, trans people and such), they should allow the option to change. It gives a player who DOES prefer to play as a specific gender more enjoyment without hurting anyone (unless the modellers are just really lazy). Consider trans people again, who literally fight tooth and nail every day to be perceived as their gender in spite of bad luck during birth. Should they be forced to play a story as an avatar that makes them personally uncomfortable just because the developer is lazy? No, I don't think so, especially because it is so easy to make a gender flip, easier if you take the "Shepard" route and have them have the same name.

Again, though, if a game has something to say that can only be said with a specific gender, then yeah, no problem! Although, with enough creativity (and time), I find many of those games could still have a gender flip, and simply have it divert course in a different way for each. Perhaps a military shooter set during a time where women aren't allowed in active combat could have a male player out in the field taking down Racist McBadguy, while a female one is back at the base when it gets attacked. You could even re-use the levels too, having male player fight his way back to the base, and have female player fighting in the field after having escaped the attack on the base. All it would require would be extra level scripting, which from personal experience, is one of the easier things to do.

Also a quick rebuttal against one specific thing: Yahtzee said that it's actually worse for the hero who is rescuing the damsel, because he has to die over and over to save her. That's ridiculous. Unless the plot acknowledges the life system (like in Bio-Shock with the vita-chamber things, most players will assume that it's all one big uninterrupted story. AND second of all, being held against your will or even killed (permanently, I may add) still fucking sucks man! Idk that was just a ridic argument.

norashepard:

Also a quick rebuttal against one specific thing: Yahtzee said that it's actually worse for the hero who is rescuing the damsel, because he has to die over and over to save her. That's ridiculous. Unless the plot acknowledges the life system (like in Bio-Shock with the vita-chamber things, most players will assume that it's all one big uninterrupted story. AND second of all, being held against your will or even killed (permanently, I may add) still fucking sucks man! Idk that was just a ridic argument.

Just wanted to point you to an old comic. It's been politically corrected to not offend anyone of race or person. But it shows the humorous idea behind repetition, danger, death and difficulty in 'saving' the damsel in distress etc. in Mario games. Over and over and over and over.

image

Don't take it too seriously. If you don't find this idea funny and ironic, I don't know what to say.

bazingabro:
This whole thing is something I'll never be able to understand. I guess some people really want to self-insert themselves into fantasy worlds and can't do that if the main character is not the same gender? That's really a shame, because you are missing out on a lot of amazing games by refusing to play as someone of the opposite gender, regardless of whether it's male or female.

Anime seems to be dominated by female characters, but that doesn't stop men from enjoying it. Hell, look at My Little Pony. Yet some women can't enjoy video games with male characters.

Well, I'm sure there are some people who do refuse to play as any character that is unlike themselves - but I also don't think it's a situation where every single person who might want more or better female characters in games overall is going to have the most extreme viewpoint on the matter possible.

I think it's safe to say the moderate opinion would probably just like to see the option more often, and especially in cases where it makes sense to do so. (I do think it's debatable whether we're "already there" or not of course.)

Just as there's men who will not play a female character no matter the circumstances, there probably are women who would refuse to play a male character - but then we're getting into broad generalizations, which have a tendency to be rather inaccurate.

BloodWriter:

bojac6:

And that's why so many white males can say "I don't care abotu a self-insert, I want something fun and enjoyable" and feel like they've contributed. As you said, look in the mirror and ask yourself why. And the answer is I want to play heroes from other walks of life. Sure you can point to games like Risk of Rain and ask who cares, but when it comes to games where there are actually main characters, it does matter.

The fact that you say 'white male' in itself is a bigoted view. For about two years now I've discovered that *gasp* I might not be 'white' at all - I am a descendant of the Mongolian race, who rode down the steppes and conquered my ancestors. Based on haplostudies and marginal critical evaluation, sure, but still prominent enough to be considered as fact. Now am I white? Are mongols 'white'? What is the definition of 'white'? Are albinos white, or are you referring to a non-tanned stereotypical Caucasian male? Is a Southern Italian white, or is he swarthy? What about someone from Florida with a lot of mixing going on in their ancestry in the past, but ending up tanned and swarthy from two 'white' parents?

It's all about perspective here, and unlike you claim to want it, you already have only one pipeline you steer through. You don't want anything else, you have your own - game set and match.

What you replied to me about Risk Of Rain characters proves this - my intention was to wholly take your clueless behind and drag it out into the open for all to see.

We're not talking about genetic race in this discussion we're talking about societal race. Actually, we weren't talking about just race, we were talking about minorities in general. How society views people of different origins, skin color, religion, gender, etc. Very few variations in these are ever explored in games.

I don't understand your second paragraph. I just can't follow it. Are you saying I don't really want diversity because I'm happy with what's coming out? Are you saying that wanting diversity is somehow contrary to wanting diversity because the real diverse viewpoint would be accepting of non-diverse viewpoints? I don't get it.

I admit, I had to look up Risk of Rain. It is a rogue-like platformer hybrid something. It did not appear to be a game where the characterization or dialogue particularly mattered, instead it was a game that was more focused on gameplay. If it turns out it fits in in the category of games with fully characterized protagonists instead of a game where you're just playing an avatar to complete puzzles, thats entirely irrelevant to the discussion of whether games should be more inclusive.

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