UPDATE: Video of Females on Female Characters Panel

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I feel a little sheepish to repeat what's already been said, but I have to weigh in a bit on "Enslaved" too.

First, I should note that while I've prepared myself to comment on this about as well as I reasonably could without owning a PS3 (read the forums, watched an hour of Let's Play), I haven't played the game.

Secondly, Susan Arendt says a lot of interesting and worthwhile things on the panel, and I don't want for a moment to suggest otherwise.

But the criticism- her criticism- of the Escapist forum's response to Enslaved seems both exaggerated and off base.

In the first hour of gameplay, Trip nearly gets Monkey killed three times- twice in simple callous disregard for his life, and once out of what seems like nothing more than a petulant unwillingness to follow direction from her "slave" despite acknowledging his greater competence in matters of combat.

The first two, one could argue, are human. Yes, she doesn't know Monkey's intentions towards her, and no, she doesn't know him, so putting her life before his is not difficult to understand. That said, he's also a fellow prisoner with a common cause in getting off the ship and escaping the beings who have taken them prisoner, so going beyond "not helping" to "actively endangering" doesn't put her in the best possible light. (Never mind how many unknown others might have been on that ship.) And refusing to retreat out of the line of fire despite the possibility of getting both of them killed? Human, yes, possibly- but not in any sense admirable. Remember that we're not merely talking about her as a deep character, but as an admirable character, a likable character, a protaganist who we're going to be following for the next several hours and someone who's been set up here as an examplar of what more female characters should be like!

All this without even getting into the issue of her forcing Monkey to go with her.

In looking back through the forums- the threads accompanying Arendt's review, Yahtzee's review, and various other news items regarding the game, I don't see anything like a majority of people spewing hate about Trip as Arendt describes. I see a fair number of people admiring and defending the game, wishing it had done better. And yes, a few who hate Trip and/or her actions.

But that's not, in my evaluation, an entirely unreasonable or unjustifiable point of view, nor one that can be casually forced into being about its handling of a dominant female/submissive male relationship. I'm willing to believe that Trip develops into a more likable character over time, and the relationship between her and Monkey has been admired in some of the reviews I've read for its depth and complexity. That doesn't change that her early actions in the game fall somewhere in the spectrum between callous and despicable.

More to the point- I'm sorry to say it- the evolution of female characters doesn't merely demand changes in the thinking of male players and game designers. It also requires female players and reviewers to allow male players to make criticism of female characters without reflexively calling the people who make those criticisms sexist and/or immature. Which feels like what has happened here.

One last point- while I agree that homosexual and bisexual relationships deserve a place in games, making every significant character in every game bisexual to give the players more choices is the exact opposite of creating deeper characters. It's forcing every character into a niche that has nothing to do with how the writer might envision them, and anyone who really values character depth ought to oppose the idea.

Dragon Age 2 recently brought us a new crop of characters to argue over the merits of. It's something Bioware's been very good for. Aveline stood out in particular, I felt.

On another note, the best example of the archetypal "strong female character" I've seen in a game is Uhura from the Quest for Glory series.

No beyond good and evil at all?
No mention of Jade :(

I agree with everything but all of this has been said, reiterated, discussed, dissected, argued, debated, and thought about before, so many times. To the point where I can't believe this original-ass issue was worth a whole panel at PAX.

This is just like the "Do games cause violence?" and "Are games art?" bullcrap. Yes, games may or may not be a catalyst for violence in people. Yes, art is subjective, therefore your mileage may vary. And yes, all characters should be well rounded, no matter what the gender.

I'm beginning to think that people only ever talk about these issues just to hear themselves sound intelligent and "conscious" in the face of the people whose validation they seek.

EDIT: I mean, could we at the very least come up with new examples to back up our tired-ass points?

All I hear about is "Alyx, Jade, Bayonetta herp derp Peach, Zelda rah rah rah" with these women. Have they ever played Yakuza 2 and seen Kaoru Sayama, for example? She's the "Yakuza Eater," for God's sake. Manages to be sexy, tough, and endearing enough for Kazuma to fall in love with, all while wearing the most conservative work suit ever.

All I hear is "Limbo, Shadow of the Colossus, Braid, Flower, [insert indie ass game here]" with the art crowd. Boo minimalism. Too easy. You're not trying hard enough, hipsters. Can we do something more challenging instead and find the art behind some of the games they (seem to have) so easily throw by the wayside? Call of Duty gets so much hate, but I can't be the only one who thought "No Russian" was a heartrending experiment. Killer7 is a favorite of mine; it really seems to separate the hipsters from the real thinkers, being so easily dismissed as a mindfuck by most everyone yet having a whole scene of people who've written entire dissertations on it. Surely people have played Metal Gear Solid and appreciated the gameplay tricks it employs to draw you farther into the characters? Come on, let's do some legwork here.

In response to folks saying that they're disappointed that we left out Jade and April (and other characters) - we tried to keep the characters as (relatively) well known as possible. Not everyone who attends PAX is a gamer, and we wanted to keep the discussion accessible for everyone. We also wanted to make sure we left plenty of time for Q&A, because this is a discussion for everyone. Truth be told, we could've made it twice as long and brought up a dozen more characters, but there just wasn't time.

I actually intended on attending the panel while I was at PAX East, but didn't get the time.

In some ways, I'm rather glad I didn't attend, because I would have been banging my head against the person next to me for most of it.

Most of what I dislike has already been covered (talking about good and bad female characters, without actually defining what is good or bad about them, and even having conflicting hypocritical views on different characters), but mostly, the issue just seems to be "we want well written and crafted characters", male OR female.

There's also a certain double-standard that we see in videogame (and other) media. Namely, women are sexualized, and men are hyper-masculine. In many ways, having male characters who make the argument that you're ONLY a man if you're the object of every woman's desire, you have a chest like paving slabs, and you show no emotion or gallows humor, is just as bad as having shallow female characters devoted to eye candy. They both play on each gender's psychologically sensitive areas. Namely, that women don't want to be viewed as objects with boobs and bum, and men don't want to be viewed as inadequate for showing emotion, or not being strong or fast enough to accomplish a task.

That being said, a smaller complaint is some of the ire thrown at Other M. Namely, while some of story points were questionable, I feel as though its the best characterization of Samus in a game. Honestly, if you have a female character, who exhibits none of the aspects of a female, and when she does, its something blatantly forced, can you use it as an example OF a "strong female"? Its more like "strong automaton", which has been my view of Samus since the NES days.

But I digress.

Susan Arendt:
In response to folks saying that they're disappointed that we left out Jade and April (and other characters) - we tried to keep the characters as (relatively) well known as possible. Not everyone who attends PAX is a gamer, and we wanted to keep the discussion accessible for everyone. We also wanted to make sure we left plenty of time for Q&A, because this is a discussion for everyone. Truth be told, we could've made it twice as long and brought up a dozen more characters, but there just wasn't time.

I understand the need to fit the discussion to a certain audience and a certain time-slot perfectly. My point is that it's precisely because April, Jade and co. are of lesser profile but much more well rounded and better achieved than the more common examples that the spotlight should be shining on them. I feel it does nothing to enlighten the un-enlightened to repeat what almost everyone there already knows. I feel it's the duty of the people in the panel to induce insight in the audience not just echo their thoughts. When I attend a panel about a topic I seek not only to listen to point of views of that which I know but also to learn of things I don't know that may broaden my interests. How many people in the audience would have wondered "April who?, Who's that and why is she being so praised? Might have to track that down." In fact, I believe the reaction would be very similar for gamers and non-gamers because of her being a sort of C-list character. The following is an over-simplistic analogy, but it seems like trying to discuss deep literature based off the current best-seller list rather than the works of art authors have delivered throughout time just because it's popular rather than accurate.

I did enjoy the whole panel. I laughed pretty hard a number of times. And to be fair, the guys from Extra Credits did the same thing as you gals did with more known characters and they have less excuse to do so considering their audience.

Its strange that they comment on the Escapist Community reaction to enslaved as being a male instinct, like we aren't used too women taking charge. If you took a poll of the forum members asking if the person giving them orders is male or female you would probably find there are more than a few of us with female bosses. Just about everyone in my work with the right to yell at me is female, women in positions of command aren't as rare as you think.

Did they ever think we had a bad reaction because the woman just slapped on the collar without asking for help first? Which is a bit of a sociopathic reaction to a life or death situation dont'cha think? Maybe we had a bad reaction to bad characterisation, just because she is a woman doesn't mean she has to overcompensate with a death collar, surely a well balanced character could work in that situation without resorting to such extreme measures?

Besides, forum members being upset by a sociopath isn't as bad as the outrage it would cause if a man had put a death collar on a woman...

I couldnt understand over the clapping what Susan said about male character right after she said females are judged by frakkability.
About bisexuality: its a design fault if you cant use the protagonist to refuse homo- or hetero- sexual offers/behavior, period. Playability over character, unless its NPC(exactly why nobody has problems with Alyx).

GrimHeaper:
No beyond good and evil at all?
No mention of Jade :(

Was disappointed too.

This was a good panel. I wish the guys who do Extra Credits had been able to watch this before they did their little blurb on female characters. My girlfriend thought this was great while at the same time thinking that particular Extra Credits was crappola (sorry guys, I agree).

Sir John the Net Knight:
I have to wonder if 90% of the people who opine on character development have ever tried to develop a character. It really is not that easy.

Not suggesting anything specific, just putting that out there as a hypothetical.
I think it's pretty stupid that I have to constantly make disclaimers to avoid mod wrath.

Character development is a funny subject. I have taken fiction writing classes and done some writing, so I do have a bit to say on the subject. I don't think people do take it seriously. They seem to confuse gameplay elements with characterization, when they are literally two different things (I'm looking at you Chell). The one thing that video games epically fails at when it comes to writing in general is they utilize such heavy clichés. This is a thing with writing in general, where you should avoid them at all costs. I read an interesting article recently, I'm not sure where, but it pointed out that every vocal character tries to be Dane Cook, and I felt that it hit the nail right on the head.

PS. I'm officially guilty of a first page quote, and out of 5 pages that is pretty bad. But, you posed an excellent question I wanted to put my two cents in on.

shiajun:

unacomn:
I really wish more people would play The Longest Journey and Dreamfall, and take points from it at how to write characters. Hell, if those are too old, Gray Matter, Samantha Everett is a great character.

Thank you! For all this uprise in talks about female characters I'm starting to be really confused as to why people are not talking more about April Ryan, Zoë Castillo, Samantha Everett, Jade (from BG&E) and freaking Grace Nakimura. I expect it from the people in the audience since the games are not that know or played, but I'm beginning to find it really unacceptable for the panelists not to draw attention to these games. They're not just great female characters, they are great characters, period. I don't think the conversation is going to get anywhere new if we all keep rehashing the same examples (samus, bayonetta, lara croft, multiple FF characters) when for most of them their development and depth pales considerably when compared to those other characters that keep getting shunt. The examples are there to be used as comparison. Call upon them as the goal to reach over and over again, not to the lower step in the process.

Hear, hear! :D

BG&E is an excellent game and deserves more exposure into the general market (thanks Xbox Live and, sometime int the near future, PSN)! I believe Jade is an excellent example of a female character that exhibits a maternal instinct. I'm going to quote a guy named Norm Nazaroff from a blog on his website Beyond the Norm as he writes about it much better than I can:

"Arriv­ing at the island to find all of the chil­dren gone and the light­house itself in ruins was one of the most painful moments I've ever had in a game. There was a deep, pro­found sense that what had hap­pened was my fault. That I (and by exten­sion, Jade) had become so wrapped up in my adven­tures and the broader mis­sion to save Hillys that I had com­pletely for­got­ten what got me started: the desire to pro­tect those kids. I won­dered what I might have missed, what inter­est­ing story tid­bits the kids might have had to say that I'd missed because I couldn't be both­ered to go back home.

The scene that fol­lows is heart­break­ing, with Jade defeated and despon­dent over the loss of the kids. You can see the guilt on her: she knows that this is her fault, and her feel­ings closely mir­ror what the player is feel­ing in that moment. Never mind that this was a scripted event that couldn't have been pre­vented; in the moment, there's no thought of that. There's only a shared emo­tional con­nec­tion between what hap­pened on the screen, what the char­ac­ter is feel­ing, and what the player is feeling."

My blood curdles at the hypocrisy.

I simply cannot fathom the mindset of any group of people that thinks it is simultaneously okay and wrong to exploit sex and sexuality for sales. Maybe if this panel were made up of "booth babes" and anyone that's ever turned a buck on gamecrush at least willing to admit they're as much a part of the problem as we lascivious men, then maybe I'd feel less like throwing up in my mouth.

Or for that matter, I have yet to see a panel on how black people or homosexuals are depicted in games. Can't say I know anyone that thinks a black man with a bird's nest in his afro, or the boisterous token black they shoehorn into games like Gears of War were good ideas. As a black man, these are but a couple of things that have made me cringe in games, and I'm pretty sure there aren't black people endorsing this nearly as much as there are women standing around mugging for cameras to get coverage while they cosplay in outfits so tight they may as well have been painted on. Women deserve respect, women deserve to be thought of as intelligent beings, this I do not disagree with. As long as there are "booth babes" and any sort of "girls of gaming" websites, I just don't see how I'm expected to take the matter even a little seriously.

No offense, but I don't think Lisa Foiles cakes on makeup and shows ample cleavage because she's looking to be respected for her mind.

The only thing more offensive than the hypocrisy are the people that take even a modicum of this even a little seriously. I will never understand this mindset, and frankly, I don't think I want to.

my biggest question is how did they fit that whole panel meeting in the kitchen? :-P

Icehearted:
My blood curdles at the hypocrisy.

I simply cannot fathom the mindset of any group of people that thinks it is simultaneously okay and wrong to exploit sex and sexuality for sales. Maybe if this panel were made up of "booth babes" and anyone that's ever turned a buck on gamecrush at least willing to admit they're as much a part of the problem as we lascivious men, then maybe I'd feel less like throwing up in my mouth.

Or for that matter, I have yet to see a panel on how black people or homosexuals are depicted in games. Can't say I know anyone that thinks a black man with a bird's nest in his afro, or the boisterous token black they shoehorn into games like Gears of War were good ideas. As a black man, these are but a couple of things that have made me cringe in games, and I'm pretty sure there aren't black people endorsing this nearly as much as there are women standing around mugging for cameras to get coverage while they cosplay in outfits so tight they may as well have been painted on. Women deserve respect, women deserve to be thought of as intelligent beings, this I do not disagree with. As long as there are "booth babes" and any sort of "girls of gaming" websites, I just don't see how I'm expected to take the matter even a little seriously.

No offense, but I don't think Lisa Foiles cakes on makeup and shows ample cleavage because she's looking to be respected for her mind.

The only thing more offensive than the hypocrisy are the people that take even a modicum of this even a little seriously. I will never understand this mindset, and frankly, I don't think I want to.

Sex appeal isn't mutually exclusive with intelligence. Why do you think every girl needs to dress conservatively for you to take them seriously?

You're mistaking hypocrisy for your own inability to see a sexy girl as intelligent.

You also fail to recognize that "women" is not a single collective group. The actions/thoughts of individual women does not invalidate feminism as a whole, anymore than racist lyrics in rap songs sung by black people invalidate your claims of inequity.

To sound like you, "How am I supposed to take black people's claims of racism seriously when some of them refer to themselves in racist lingo? The hypocrisy boggles my mind." It's not a perfect analogy, but you take my point: You aren't taking THESE women seriously because they're talking about how women are depicted in games, whilst OTHER women are paid to be attractive to sell games.

Mr0llivand3r:
my biggest question is how did they fit that whole panel meeting in the kitchen? :-P

Sometimes I wonder if tired jokes like these are counterproductive... I get the feeling that people end up believing stupid things like this merely because they're oft-repeated for the lulz.

I think if I were a woman I'd start to find it offensive and annoying after a while. As it is, I just find it annoying.

I think Susan Arendt is off-base on the Enslaved commentary too. I'm pretty sure people would be complaining about any character they were forced to carry around endlessly.
Think how irritated people get at Navi/Midna telling you what to do in Zelda games. (Yes they're female, but shush, lets assume that's irrelevant to why they're annoying)
Only instead of suggesting it in an annoying way, they instead threaten you on pain of death to do precisely what they tell you. And you make mistakes, and they kill you. Annoyingly, repeatedly.
Not much fun now, is it? Frustrated? Maybe you'll go to the gaming forums and complain about the antagonistic character riding on your back.

Now I SUPPOSE it's possible that some people didn't like her merely because she was ordering a man around, and she was a woman. But I doubt it. People are just reacting with antipathy towards a selfish and bossy character who enslaves and kills them.

shiajun:

Susan Arendt:
In response to folks saying that they're disappointed that we left out Jade and April (and other characters) - we tried to keep the characters as (relatively) well known as possible. Not everyone who attends PAX is a gamer, and we wanted to keep the discussion accessible for everyone. We also wanted to make sure we left plenty of time for Q&A, because this is a discussion for everyone. Truth be told, we could've made it twice as long and brought up a dozen more characters, but there just wasn't time.

I understand the need to fit the discussion to a certain audience and a certain time-slot perfectly. My point is that it's precisely because April, Jade and co. are of lesser profile but much more well rounded and better achieved than the more common examples that the spotlight should be shining on them. I feel it does nothing to enlighten the un-enlightened to repeat what almost everyone there already knows. I feel it's the duty of the people in the panel to induce insight in the audience not just echo their thoughts. When I attend a panel about a topic I seek not only to listen to point of views of that which I know but also to learn of things I don't know that may broaden my interests. How many people in the audience would have wondered "April who?, Who's that and why is she being so praised? Might have to track that down." In fact, I believe the reaction would be very similar for gamers and non-gamers because of her being a sort of C-list character. The following is an over-simplistic analogy, but it seems like trying to discuss deep literature based off the current best-seller list rather than the works of art authors have delivered throughout time just because it's popular rather than accurate.

I did enjoy the whole panel. I laughed pretty hard a number of times. And to be fair, the guys from Extra Credits did the same thing as you gals did with more known characters and they have less excuse to do so considering their audience.

Well, I'm sorry you disapprove of our methods.

Mr0llivand3r:
my biggest question is how did they fit that whole panel meeting in the kitchen? :-P

Hey, look, this is me not laughing.

To folks commenting about the fact that there's a lot wrong with how minority, homosexual, and male characters are depicted...you're right, but I'm not a minority, or homosexual, or male, so I don't feel like it's really my place to discuss that. I can't in good conscience host a panel about what men really want from male characters, because I simply don't know, not being a man. This was a discussion about a very specific demographic, but by no means is it the only demographic that such a panel could be about.

Icehearted:
My blood curdles at the hypocrisy.

I simply cannot fathom the mindset of any group of people that thinks it is simultaneously okay and wrong to exploit sex and sexuality for sales. Maybe if this panel were made up of "booth babes" and anyone that's ever turned a buck on gamecrush at least willing to admit they're as much a part of the problem as we lascivious men, then maybe I'd feel less like throwing up in my mouth.

Or for that matter, I have yet to see a panel on how black people or homosexuals are depicted in games. Can't say I know anyone that thinks a black man with a bird's nest in his afro, or the boisterous token black they shoehorn into games like Gears of War were good ideas. As a black man, these are but a couple of things that have made me cringe in games, and I'm pretty sure there aren't black people endorsing this nearly as much as there are women standing around mugging for cameras to get coverage while they cosplay in outfits so tight they may as well have been painted on. Women deserve respect, women deserve to be thought of as intelligent beings, this I do not disagree with. As long as there are "booth babes" and any sort of "girls of gaming" websites, I just don't see how I'm expected to take the matter even a little seriously.

No offense, but I don't think Lisa Foiles cakes on makeup and shows ample cleavage because she's looking to be respected for her mind.

The only thing more offensive than the hypocrisy are the people that take even a modicum of this even a little seriously. I will never understand this mindset, and frankly, I don't think I want to.

Does anyone here remember the outrage that Lisa Foiles was welcomed with on this site? How people called her a "dumb, bimbo bitch" amongst other things because what she was doing was "brainless" or "stupid" and clearly she "only got the job for being hot". Yeah, that's the kind of mindset you're dealing with on this site.

If I can state one real imposing problem I have with this panel. It's that we have four members that are games journalists and one member who is a writer/actress for a gaming based comdey webshow. There were no industry insiders on the panel. Clearly there must be at least one woman who works in the gaming industry. Games journalism is not exactly a respected field, considering the fallout of the Gertsmann controversy is still being felt and the most well known games journalist is a foul-mouthed comic with a penchant for yellow. It makes me feel that this is more or less a group of people who have never designed a video game telling people how they should be doing their job. However if I'm wrong on that, please feel free to educate me. But I still feel it would have been a more acceptable panel if someone on it had been an industry insider.

God damn it.

Get over it, people.

Who gives a crap if characters with or without certain genitals behave a certain way or not? Does gender mean that much to you?

We're all human last I checked. What's with this obsession to group everyone by gender, colour, language and sexuality? Can you not see through the genitals? The colour? The choice of partner? Do those things mean so much to you that you feel it needed to spend hours and hours of your life talking about them, pointing them out and comparing them?

Sexism in its worst form.

i was disappointed to see that it wasn't female developers talking, it was okay but it reduced the impact of what they were saying making only really opinion but still good. i do disagree with there point which is they said that the character dont affect on gameplay or something to that effect. this is some thing they we need to get away from character are just as important to gameplay as the ackeal gameplay.

Calatar:
Sex appeal isn't mutually exclusive with intelligence. Why do you think every girl needs to dress conservatively for you to take them seriously?

You're mistaking hypocrisy for your own inability to see a sexy girl as intelligent.

You also fail to recognize that "women" is not a single collective group. The actions/thoughts of individual women does not invalidate feminism as a whole, anymore than racist lyrics in rap songs sung by black people invalidate your claims of inequity.

To sound like you, "How am I supposed to take black people's claims of racism seriously when some of them refer to themselves in racist lingo? The hypocrisy boggles my mind." It's not a perfect analogy, but you take my point: You aren't taking THESE women seriously because they're talking about how women are depicted in games, whilst OTHER women are paid to be attractive to sell games.

You took my point from a very subjective and very skewed angle. More than that I cannot say, simply because in doing so you've ignored or missed my point entirely.

Icehearted:
Can't say I know anyone that thinks a black man with a bird's nest in his afro, or the boisterous token black they shoehorn into games like Gears of War were good ideas.

I think Sazh is a good character. But then I look beyond the afro with the bird in it to see he's actually well written and humanly relatable. You know that whole thing of being a scared father and being prejudiced against something he was always taught to hate.

I'm sure it's a very interesting and relevant discussion with a lot of good opinions, but I can't hear a word of what you're saying :-/

Sir John the Net Knight:

Icehearted:
My blood curdles at the hypocrisy.

I simply cannot fathom the mindset of any group of people that thinks it is simultaneously okay and wrong to exploit sex and sexuality for sales. Maybe if this panel were made up of "booth babes" and anyone that's ever turned a buck on gamecrush at least willing to admit they're as much a part of the problem as we lascivious men, then maybe I'd feel less like throwing up in my mouth.

Or for that matter, I have yet to see a panel on how black people or homosexuals are depicted in games. Can't say I know anyone that thinks a black man with a bird's nest in his afro, or the boisterous token black they shoehorn into games like Gears of War were good ideas. As a black man, these are but a couple of things that have made me cringe in games, and I'm pretty sure there aren't black people endorsing this nearly as much as there are women standing around mugging for cameras to get coverage while they cosplay in outfits so tight they may as well have been painted on. Women deserve respect, women deserve to be thought of as intelligent beings, this I do not disagree with. As long as there are "booth babes" and any sort of "girls of gaming" websites, I just don't see how I'm expected to take the matter even a little seriously.

No offense, but I don't think Lisa Foiles cakes on makeup and shows ample cleavage because she's looking to be respected for her mind.

The only thing more offensive than the hypocrisy are the people that take even a modicum of this even a little seriously. I will never understand this mindset, and frankly, I don't think I want to.

Does anyone here remember the outrage that Lisa Foiles was welcomed with on this site? How people called her a "dumb, bimbo bitch" amongst other things because what she was doing was "brainless" or "stupid" and clearly she "only got the job for being hot". Yeah, that's the kind of mindset you're dealing with on this site.

If I can state one real imposing problem I have with this panel. It's that we have four members that are games journalists and one member who is a writer/actress for a gaming based comdey webshow. There were no industry insiders on the panel. Clearly there must be at least one woman who works in the gaming industry. Games journalism is not exactly a respected field, considering the fallout of the Gertsmann controversy is still being felt and the most well known games journalist is a foul-mouthed comic with a penchant for yellow. It makes me feel that this is more or less a group of people who have never designed a video game telling people how they should be doing their job. However if I'm wrong on that, please feel free to educate me. But I still feel it would have been a more acceptable panel if someone on it had been an industry insider.

The perspective of the panel was meant to come from players - this is what we want from female characters, and this is what we are or are not getting. Having a developer on the panel to perhaps explain *why* certain things happened or didn't would have been great, absolutely, but the conversation was meant to come from those of us consuming the content.

*facepalm due to lack of The Boss*

Here is the problem with female characters in games. If she's a light character, women say its sexist (even though I know many women that would fit that description perfectly) But if she is powerful they overdo it and then we're left with a bitch that is really difficult to like. So if the gaming industry could make a female that had some substance but didn't shove feminist bull shit down our throats every four seconds... We might actually be going somewhere. So lets make females who aren't porn stars or feminist propaganda.

(Apology in advance if some of this has been brought up, but its all alot to read through) Bringing up Dragon Age 2 seems to bring up strong feelings on the forum, but here goes. I have to give them props for having lesbian romance options that didn't feel like pure fan service. Mind you, it was nice to see, but the relationships at least went beyond sex. Secondly, a female character in some sexy little outfit is just fine if the character is well written and not some parody. Being that sexy while remaining a strong and believable character can be very empowering. I suppose its all subjective in the end, though. There are just some people out there, men and women, who are determined to be offended at something. I guess my bottom line here is that character is first, sexiness second. But when they come together in a mature way, its a hell of a thing.

Sir John the Net Knight:

Icehearted:
Can't say I know anyone that thinks a black man with a bird's nest in his afro, or the boisterous token black they shoehorn into games like Gears of War were good ideas.

I think Sazh is a good character. But then I look beyond the afro with the bird in it to see he's actually well written and humanly relatable. You know that whole thing of being a scared father and being prejudiced against something he was always taught to hate.

I happen to agree with Sir John here. Sazh was a good character. He had an afro, big deal. I had an afro once yet i took no offence. Sazh's character and story were about a father doing everything in his power to find his son and protect him. Someone who did not succumb to revenge and shoot, was just an all around good guy.

If you take offence to something i feel that the problem lies with yourself. Even if something is meant to be blatantly disrespectful or mean spirited it's each of our decision to get upset or rise above it.

Anyone can find something to get upset about if they really want to. There are stereotypes every sex, weight, race, creed, and leprechaun.

I like how Susan put it, don't hate the game because of the way a character is, hate it because it's a crappy game. Paraphrasing of course...

SnakeCL:

Most of what I dislike has already been covered (talking about good and bad female characters, without actually defining what is good or bad about them, and even having conflicting hypocritical views on different characters), but mostly, the issue just seems to be "we want well written and crafted characters", male OR female.

There's also a certain double-standard that we see in videogame (and other) media. Namely, women are sexualized, and men are hyper-masculine. In many ways, having male characters who make the argument that you're ONLY a man if you're the object of every woman's desire, you have a chest like paving slabs, and you show no emotion or gallows humor, is just as bad as having shallow female characters devoted to eye candy. They both play on each gender's psychologically sensitive areas. Namely, that women don't want to be viewed as objects with boobs and bum, and men don't want to be viewed as inadequate for showing emotion, or not being strong or fast enough to accomplish a task.

This is a point that I think should be stressed. As a non white gamer, it's easy to go to the knee jerk 'NO ONE HAS WRITTEN MY EXPERIENCE IN THE WAY I'D LIKE!!!'. Honestly, I've been playing games since I was 6. I'm 30 now. There are just a handful of characters I can really relate to or even want to dissect more to get what they are about. And a lot of those times, it's more the experience than the person.

Case in Point, I am in love with the Silent Hill series. As with most lovers of the series, the Pinnacle to me was 2. James could not be any more of a bland person. Not if you made him out of mayo. But I would love to see how all these events and the realization of what he suppressed for so long would have done to his mind.

Anyway, back to the original point that most characters are just small stereotypes or caricatures of commonly held ideas. This very thread almost proves the reasons why characters nowadays haven't progressed to where they easily can reach nowadays. We, as gamers, are always going to bring our biases and perceptions to very game we play. Were people coming to FFXIII with the made up mind to hate on Lightning because she comes close to an overdrawn trope? No. But she still set them off regardless, blinding a few to the changing of the character. As far as I remember, the transformation of Lightning was not that subtle.

So why do it at all? Why not just make anime cliche 27 if Lightning will always be held to that and if 4 points out of 10 fit, we'll just call her anime cliche number 27? In this very forum, we have the Brink Trailer thread. Count how many times people liken a class based shooter to TF2. And how many are willing to pass instead of keeping an open mind and ready to try something that is as new as it can be, with everything done under the sun.

As a black gamer, yeah, I KNOW there are horrible stereotypes that people (in this case, game designers) haven't gotten over. But there will have to come a time where we do not lump one for all. Nor overlook and pan a character or series by the 4 points out of 10 method.

If you ever researched Ivy Valentine's character, you would find a woman tortured beyond normal means. A Pawn to a power she dedicated herself to erase. A woman who used her vast alchemic knowledge to create a weapon to destroy what she considered to be true evil. That's not a dumb woman. She has been tortured, hounded, and had her very soul sucked from her, but she continued to fight.

But people see boobs in a dominatrix outfit. 4 out of 10.

Eico:
God damn it.

Get over it, people.

Who gives a crap if characters with or without certain genitals behave a certain way or not? Does gender mean that much to you?

We're all human last I checked. What's with this obsession to group everyone by gender, colour, language and sexuality? Can you not see through the genitals? The colour? The choice of partner? Do those things mean so much to you that you feel it needed to spend hours and hours of your life talking about them, pointing them out and comparing them?

Sexism in its worst form.

I'm a little confused. That's sexism in its worst form?

Ripley from the Aliens series of movies is a great example of a complex female character, because she acts strongly when her children are threatened without losing her femininity.

I agree that Ripley is a great female character, but I pause at the "without losing her femininity" line here. I'd like female characters to have the range and diversity that male characters are allowed; applying a "but is she feminine?" litmus test is limiting and narrow-minded. We can celebrate both our Ripleys and our Vasquezes. And our Lamberts as well, for that matter.

(Well, perhaps not our Lamberts, as that character was aggravating for reasons unrelated to gender, but you understand what I'm saying.)

my problem with "Enslaved" was 1 horrid game play and 2 why does anyone need to be enslaved to begin with? Change the tittle of the game!

4173:

Eico:
God damn it.

Get over it, people.

Who gives a crap if characters with or without certain genitals behave a certain way or not? Does gender mean that much to you?

We're all human last I checked. What's with this obsession to group everyone by gender, colour, language and sexuality? Can you not see through the genitals? The colour? The choice of partner? Do those things mean so much to you that you feel it needed to spend hours and hours of your life talking about them, pointing them out and comparing them?

Sexism in its worst form.

I'm a little confused. That's sexism in its worst form?

Yes.

Sexism is treating sexes differently. It works both ways.

Pointing out gender and acting as if it matters, making a deal of it, spending all this damn time singling out characters who we think have a vagina and assessing their worth as a real person. Equality has turned from 'we are all human beings' to 'I am female. You are male. We are different. That matters.' I couldn't care any less what your chromozones look like. You wanna go around shouting about how pressing the issue of gender is? Well, I guess we better start caring about skin colour again. What about hair colour after that? I mean, when was the last time a character that looked like me behaved in a way I want, damn it?! These things are important!

But seriously, sarcasm aside, let's get the hell over gender. We're all human. No one cares what your downstairs looks like. No one cares what your hair colour is. No one cares what your skin pigment is. Move on. Stop judging and looking at yourself and others in terms of penis or no penis, and start seeing us all for what we are: imperfectly perfect humans. All of us different, all of us brothers and sisters, none of it mattering.

Eico:

4173:

Eico:
God damn it.

Get over it, people.

Who gives a crap if characters with or without certain genitals behave a certain way or not? Does gender mean that much to you?

We're all human last I checked. What's with this obsession to group everyone by gender, colour, language and sexuality? Can you not see through the genitals? The colour? The choice of partner? Do those things mean so much to you that you feel it needed to spend hours and hours of your life talking about them, pointing them out and comparing them?

Sexism in its worst form.

I'm a little confused. That's sexism in its worst form?

Yes.

Sexism is treating sexes differently. It works both ways.

Pointing out gender and acting as if it matters, making a deal of it, spending all this damn time singling out characters who we think have a vagina and assessing their worth as a real person. Equality has turned from 'we are all human beings' to 'I am female. You are male. We are different. That matters.' I couldn't care any less what your chromozones look like. You wanna go around shouting about how pressing the issue of gender is? Well, I guess we better start caring about skin colour again. What about hair colour after that? I mean, when was the last time a character that looked like me behaved in a way I want, damn it?! These things are important!

But seriously, sarcasm aside, let's get the hell over gender. We're all human. No one cares what your downstairs looks like. No one cares what your hair colour is. No one cares what your skin pigment is. Move on. Stop judging and looking at yourself and others in terms of penis or no penis, and start seeing us all for what we are: imperfectly perfect humans. All of us different, all of us brothers and sisters, none of it mattering.

That wasn't my point. I thought the worst part of sexism would be something like honor killings, or domestic abuse (not uniquely male on female I know) or generally treating women as property to be bartered with. Seriously, complaining about the glass ceiling or Playboy doesn't really measure up.

4173:
I thought the worst part of sexism would be something like honor killings

Not sexism. Stupidity.

4173:
Domestic abuse

Not sexism. Violence, anger and stupidity.

4173:
Treating women as property to be bartered with.

Treating women as property? Why women? Why not 'treating people as property'? Is the need to define people by their genitals that strong?

Sexism - it works both ways.

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