Are mainstream devs deliberately discouraging women from gaming?

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Lately I have noticed that female gamers are being discouraged for all sorts of reasons.

Assassins Creed 3 said that a female protagonist wouldn't fit into the period of the game (yet a Native American would be acceptable and wouldn't rouse suspicion wherever he went?).

The Witcher of course has Geralt whose misogyny is accepted because of the books. Meanwhile if developers made a Conan game would he be portrayed as a racist?

Kingdoms of Amalur treats the female character like she is a man (constant flirts from female characters) to the extent where she is forced to marry a women if she wants to complete a quest line, there is no option to just say 'No' and complete the quest that way.

Risen 2 has dismissed a playable female out of hand even though their protagonist is 'The nameless hero' and plenty of women were involved in piracy.

I don't mean to go into tin foil hat territory here but as someone who has been gaming for a very long time it almost feels like we are going backwards with gender acceptance in games (outside of Bioware.) and the mainstay excuse of devs seems to be that mistreatment of women is part of their universe or time period and so must be accepted out of hand. These are often in games where there are giant bug monsters or other fantastic occurrences.

Sometimes I wonder whether we will ever be accepted as part of gaming or the very excuse of 'men are our main demographic' is going to discourage women from playing games and therefore not allow the demographic to balance out.

I know that I'm in the minority here and I'm probably going to get shouted down pretty badly but please think about what it's like to grow up loving a past-time that no one seems to want you to be involved in.

I don't think they're deliberately doing it, at least not consciously. You'd have to be pretty stupid to want to put off 50% of the population from buying right from the get go. I can however see why some female gamers might be put off gaming or at least some aspects of it. There's definitely some undercurrent of mysogyny (sure I've spelt that wrong) in gaming, like how women gamers are still considered quirky by some men.

xXxJessicaxXx:
snip

Not to mention no female, in any game that I can recall, has small .... eyes, if you know what I mean. There is also the counter intuitive "less clothes = more protection".

I wouldn't say female gamers are being discouraged, they just aren't being catered for or correctly represented.

Discouraged would be every game was essentially Duke Nukem, bad sexual jokes, loads of strippers with big ... eyes etc.

I think the male to female gamer ratio is still quite heavy in favor of the males, while there are a lot of female gamers, I think it's still quite a male dominated world.

Plus it's easy to please guys but it might be tricky to please girls. Guys basically want gears of war, ultra masculine men, with big loud guns etc but with woman you run the risk of making it too girly.

Like your perfect game would be MLP, all nice pastel colours, everybody is always super happy, everything overly cute and rather sickening.

Or it would turn out as this bland gender neutral game 'cos they were trying oh so hard to keep everybody happy and not make waves.

I think we need more Morrigan's and Jack's!

xXxJessicaxXx:
I know that I'm in the minority here and I'm probably going to get shouted down pretty badly but please think about what it's like to grow up loving a past-time that no one seems to want you to be involved in.

Seconding this. I'm sick of how females and femininity are largely treated in video gaming. It's 2012, you would think things would be getting oh so much better. But any improvement, if there is any, seems hardly noticeable.

It's hard to think those developers are so blind. It seems more likely they think most of the people who want to play their games are misogynist guys. So they cater to that idea. At least that's the impression it leaves on me.

Though, if I thought the majority of people I was making a game for, only wanted to play as a male character, and in a setting that seems to promote the idea that macho guys are superior, I'm not sure I would have much motivation to make video games.

omega 616:

Like your perfect game would be MLP, all nice pastel colours, everybody is always super happy, everything overly cute and rather sickening.

I'm sorry what? No it wouldn't :S

I love Dark Souls, The Elder Scrolls, the fallout series, assassins creed, mass effect, Baldur's Gate. Hell my favorite games as a young lass was the Strike games flying a helicopter and blowing stuff up.

It's just this undercurrent of misogyny and neglect that scrapes away at you and then gets to you after a while...The things I mentioned in my OP were things that came up in the last few days and I've been gaming since 1984.

It's not so much a case of trying to discourage women as it is catering to the traditional male fanbase while regarding the womenfolk as an afterthought, if at all.

I suppose that in terms of effect it comes to the same thing though.

...

While we're on the subject, I've never understood why female protagonists are so important to female players. As a guy I have no problems playing those relatively rare games with female leads. Hell, sometimes I play as a female in games that allow you to choose. Or does it go a bit deeper than merely the protagonist's gender...?

Zhukov:

While we're on the subject, I've never understood why female protagonists are so important to female players. As a guy I have no problems playing those relatively rare games with female leads. Hell, sometimes I play as a female in games that allow you to choose. Or does it go a bit deeper than merely the protagonist's gender...?

I can happily play games as a guy just sometimes with those games the devs seem to take it as a license to make the character as much of a mans man as possible so any chance of immersion is lost on a woman. I don't know if you have noticed, but most of the female protagonists don't have a love interest, like Lara Croft for example because they don't want straight men to feel uncomfortable.

I'm also worried about Risen 2 because of how women will be treated in the narrative for example.

I'm male, but it always bothered me how many games lacked the choice of main female character play.

I don't agree with the whole "objectifying women" argument, since both male and female characters in games and most fantasy fiction nowadays are portrayed in an incredibly attractive manner, with eccentric images and so forth (don't misinterpret this as a complaint, as I'm in favor of such images for all characters, regardless of age, gender, etc.), so I think those who argue about the game industry being "sexist" are just cynical themselves and are projecting.

But I still never got why there are so many games that don't have female characters, especially the hugely popular ones, e.g. Team Fortress 2.

And in those games where there ARE female characters, especially strategy games, RPGs, adventure games and so forth, there are ALWAYS less female characters than male. Why? I just don't get it.

Maybe it's my inherent affinity for balance, but it always stuck out at me as odd. Especially since plenty of male players like playing as female characters, just like plenty of female players like playing as male characters.

Why not have it always be balanced? Why not have equal amounts of male and female characters? They're video games with vast fantasy fiction universes behind them most of the time, for blazes' sake. What's stopping the writers from writing interesting/powerful female characters just like they make interesting/powerful male characters?

I couldn't care less about the politics and social drama behind the topic. I just see the matter as a weird occurance in terms of fantasy fiction, where gender pretty much never matters nowadays, and characters of any age, gender or race can be as weak or powerful as the writers want to make them.

We don't have many good female character and too make ti worst most female players have to hide their gender or be sexually harsh by 30 yr old COD players on a daily basis

omega 616:
Like your perfect game would be MLP, all nice pastel colours...

That would be closer to my tastes than the OP's.

I definitely like the cute stuff. I'm definitely not all women. And I like it when men share my opinion about this sort of thing.

I'd love it if someone would make an epic RPG about My Little Pony. It would be amazing. Oh, by the way, there are already some My Little Pony games.

Robert J. Hanlon:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

In this case, massive, massive stupidity. I do not get why in this day and age games are being made with such a boys' club mentality.

Zhukov:
Or does it go a bit deeper than merely the protagonist's gender...?

I think so. Take the otherwise excellent Witcher games - they tend to make the assumption that the player is someone who wants to look at tits in a computer game. A lot.

Or take a recent comment by a dev working on the otherwise excellent Tribes: Ascend game when asked about playable female characters: he said that he wondered how they would make the female characters attractive in power armor. In other words, the assumption was that the purpose of female characters in their game was to be attractive, not to give people the option of playing a person in power armor with two X chromosomes.

LilithSlave:

omega 616:
Like your perfect game would be MLP, all nice pastel colours...

That would be closer to my tastes than the OP's.

I definitely like the cute stuff. I'm definitely not all women. And I like it when men share my opinion about this sort of thing.

I'd love it if someone would make an epic RPG about My Little Pony. It would be amazing. Oh, by the way, there are already some My Little Pony games.

I would love that too :)

But it's definately not the only thing my tastes include.

Speaking as a man, I'm actually getting tired of the gender role weirdness myself. I would like to see more strong, female protagonists with complex personalities. And I would like to see fewer wisecracking douchebags (a la Nathan Drake) and snarling Big McLargehuge clones (a la Markus Fenix).

The problem with the conventional wisdom in the entertainment industry is that it's really not wisdom at all. It's just some vague extrapolations made from out of date demographic studies.

Shadow Master:
I
I don't agree with the whole "objectifying women" argument, since both male and female characters in games and most fantasy fiction nowadays are portrayed in an incredibly attractive manner, with eccentric images and so forth (don't misinterpret this as a complaint, as I'm in favor of such images for all characters, regardless of age, gender, etc.), so I think those who argue about the game industry being "sexist" are just cynical themselves and are projecting.

The issue is that female characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a sexual fantasy and that male characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a power fantasy. Trust me, if male characters were objectified to the same extent as female characters, you'd know.

xXxJessicaxXx:
Lately I have noticed that female gamers are being discouraged for all sorts of reasons.

Assassins Creed 3 said that a female protagonist wouldn't fit into the period of the game (yet a Native American would be acceptable and wouldn't rouse suspicion wherever he went?).

The Witcher of course has Geralt whose misogyny is accepted because of the books. Meanwhile if developers made a Conan game would he be portrayed as a racist?

Kingdoms of Amalur treats the female character like she is a man (constant flirts from female characters) to the extent where she is forced to marry a women if she wants to complete a quest line, there is no option to just say 'No' and complete the quest that way.

Risen 2 has dismissed a playable female out of hand even though their protagonist is 'The nameless hero' and plenty of women were involved in piracy.

I don't mean to go into tin foil hat territory here but as someone who has been gaming for a very long time it almost feels like we are going backwards with gender acceptance in games (outside of Bioware.) and the mainstay excuse of devs seems to be that mistreatment of women is part of their universe or time period and so must be accepted out of hand. These are often in games where there are giant bug monsters or other fantastic occurrences.

Sometimes I wonder whether we will ever be accepted as part of gaming or the very excuse of 'men are our main demographic' is going to discourage women from playing games and therefore not allow the demographic to balance out.

I know that I'm in the minority here and I'm probably going to get shouted down pretty badly but please think about what it's like to grow up loving a past-time that no one seems to want you to be involved in.

You're absolutely right and it is the same way about people of color and anyone who isn't straight.

And it's all really, really terrible because not only does it make both games and gamers more homogeneous, but we all lose out on what could be really interesting stories and experiences.

People want games to be treated more seriously? They'll need to embrace diversity like every other form of media has done in the last century.

I havnt found it to be that bad to be honest...less mysogany and just more kind of...we're not really there

to be fair alot of maintram big games dont have bikini clad females running around (except catwomen and that problem with her zipper)

I guess Im more used to it

xXxJessicaxXx:
Lately I have noticed that female gamers are being discouraged for all sorts of reasons.

Assassins Creed 3 said that a female protagonist wouldn't fit into the period of the game (yet a Native American would be acceptable and wouldn't rouse suspicion wherever he went?).

Kingdoms of Amalur treats the female character like she is a man (constant flirts from female characters) to the extent where she is forced to marry a women if she wants to complete a quest line, there is no option to just say 'No' and complete the quest that way.

.

thats bullshit....not when you have female assasins running around, Assasins creed is a prime candidte for a female protagonist...they just lack the balls/effort to do it

Kahunaburger:
The issue is that female characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a sexual fantasy and that male characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a power fantasy. Trust me, if male characters were objectified to the same extent as female characters, you'd know.

Cynical nonsense.

Female characters are developed to be both beautiful and powerful.
Male characters are developed to be both handsome and powerful.
Both are attractive and strong/skilled.

There's a lack of balance in numbers, but "objectification" is a myth created by dark, cynical minds too obsessed with sex.

fookolt:

People want games to be treated more seriously? They'll need to embrace diversity like every other form of media has done in the last century.

Well, I wouldn't go that far :p

Like many have said already I don't believe this is deliberate as much as it is negligence. Big-time devs and publishers just haven't quite grasped the concept that female gamers make up a large demographic in the AAA space. They are usually an afterthought as popular belief dictates they spend all of their gaming time playing Farmville and the like. By the way is that really Ubisoft's reasoning for AC3? That's pretty fucking weak, I could do better than that: "The idea is that whatshisfuck is living his ancestor's lives so it would be kind of awkward for him to take on the role of a female descendant."

Better than their shit excuse anyway >.>

Shadow Master:

Kahunaburger:
The issue is that female characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a sexual fantasy and that male characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a power fantasy. Trust me, if male characters were objectified to the same extent as female characters, you'd know.

Cynical nonsense.

Female characters are developed to be both beautiful and powerful.
Male characters are developed to be both handsome and powerful.
Both are attractive and strong/skilled.

There's a lack of balance in numbers, but "objectification" is a myth created by dark, cynical minds too obsessed with sex.

Objectification and the male gaze is absolutely real unless you happen to have some magical knowledge that you're withholding from the researchers and academics who study these things.

Kahunaburger:

fookolt:

People want games to be treated more seriously? They'll need to embrace diversity like every other form of media has done in the last century.

Well, I wouldn't go that far :p

There's certainly room for improvement in many fields, but every single form of media is still light years ahead of gaming when it comes to minority representation.

And it's profoundly embarrassing.

Shadow Master:

Kahunaburger:
The issue is that female characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a sexual fantasy and that male characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a power fantasy. Trust me, if male characters were objectified to the same extent as female characters, you'd know.

Cynical nonsense.

Female characters are developed to be both beautiful and powerful.
Male characters are developed to be both handsome and powerful.
Both are attractive and strong/skilled.

There's a lack of balance in numbers, but "objectification" is a myth created by dark, cynical minds too obsessed with sex.

There's a significant difference between a character that is designed to look tough and may look attractive as a side effect and a character that's designed to look attractive and may look tough as a side effect.

Shadow Master:
Male characters are developed to be both handsome and powerful.

Err, no. I don't buy that.

Maybe what some guys wish was considered to be "handsome". But the first thought that goes through when designing such characters is obviously 'power fantasy'.

Edit: Ninja'd.

Oh, and objectification definitely exists and is an issue in all media. Dismissing it as cynical isn't a fantastic argument.

I think there are a lot of female characters out there to play. Think about it this way, men want to be sexy good looking badasses and that's the way most male characters are designed, exactly the way gamers want to be.

Women on the other hand might want to be independent and shit, but they also want to be drop dead gorgeous, one sexy bitch. And that's the way characters are modeled too. Not because women want it, nobody cares what women think, but my point is they're playing hot babes they wish they were and they should be happy. And hey, instead of jacking off to video game babes, we can jack off to the women playing the games for us. It's a win-win situation.

Fappy:
Like many have said already I don't believe this is deliberate as much as it is negligence. Big-time devs and publishers just haven't quite grasped the concept that female gamers make up a large demographic in the AAA space. They are usually an afterthought as popular belief dictates they spend all of their gaming time playing Farmville and the like. By the way is that really Ubisoft's reasoning for AC3? That's pretty fucking weak, I could do better than that: "The idea is that whatshisfuck is living his ancestor's lives so it would be kind of awkward for him to take on the role of a female descendant."

Better than their shit excuse anyway >.>

Yeah it is absolutely their reasoning.

http://www.vg247.com/2012/03/28/assassins-creed-iiis-setting-a-bit-of-a-pain-for-female-characters/

Yours makes much more sense. It would awkward :p But I also think it would be an extra level of the story they could play with.

xXxJessicaxXx:

I can happily play games as a guy just sometimes with those games the devs seem to take it as a license to make the character as much of a mans man as possible so any chance of immersion is lost on a woman.

I'm also worried about Risen 2 because of how women will be treated in the narrative for example.

Why am i not surprised its you making this thread X) Good points though.

What are they doing to women in risen 2?

Males are still the primary demographic because it is true :/ Though they have been getting better on putting wo/men on equal footing in games.

xXxJessicaxXx:

Fappy:
Like many have said already I don't believe this is deliberate as much as it is negligence. Big-time devs and publishers just haven't quite grasped the concept that female gamers make up a large demographic in the AAA space. They are usually an afterthought as popular belief dictates they spend all of their gaming time playing Farmville and the like. By the way is that really Ubisoft's reasoning for AC3? That's pretty fucking weak, I could do better than that: "The idea is that whatshisfuck is living his ancestor's lives so it would be kind of awkward for him to take on the role of a female descendant."

Better than their shit excuse anyway >.>

Yeah it is absolutely their reasoning.

http://www.vg247.com/2012/03/28/assassins-creed-iiis-setting-a-bit-of-a-pain-for-female-characters/

Yours makes much more sense. It would awkward :p But I also think it would be an extra level of the story they could play with.

"Time to get back in the animus."

"Who am I going to be this time?"

"Your great-great-great grandma."

"Grandma!? Wait what?"

-Animus turns on-

"I have tits! Holy shit this is weird."

60 minutes later....

"How's his progress?"

"He's been... exploring himself..."

"Wake me up in a week."

Shadow Master:

Kahunaburger:
The issue is that female characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a sexual fantasy and that male characters tend to be designed to appeal to a male audience as a power fantasy. Trust me, if male characters were objectified to the same extent as female characters, you'd know.

Cynical nonsense.

Female characters are developed to be both beautiful and powerful.
Male characters are developed to be both handsome and powerful.
Both are attractive and strong/skilled.

There's a lack of balance in numbers, but "objectification" is a myth created by dark, cynical minds too obsessed with sex.

Femshep (in the right hands) is both beautiful and powerful

Catwoman (ala batman:AC) is a mans sexual fantasy

there is a difference freind....see if you can spot it (also that guy from gears of war or kratos arnt making any panties wet anytime soon)

What does power have to do with image?

Power is seen through actions, not appearance.

Take War and Death from Darksiders for some current generation examples. They both possess very attractive male traits. Their faces, their eyes, their hair, their muscles, their height and weight and so forth.

Their images are developed to be idealized males.

Their power comes from their magical powers and skills and so forth, not what they look like.

Likewise, female characters look attractive and are powerful through their powers and skills and so forth. The two aspects are separate.

daveman247:

xXxJessicaxXx:

I can happily play games as a guy just sometimes with those games the devs seem to take it as a license to make the character as much of a mans man as possible so any chance of immersion is lost on a woman.

I'm also worried about Risen 2 because of how women will be treated in the narrative for example.

Why am i not surprised its you making this thread X) Good points though.

What are they doing to women in risen 2?

Males are still the primary demographic because it is true :/ Though they have been getting better on putting wo/men on equal footing in games.

Erg, I hope I'm not turning into some sort of feminist Zeel or eternal nothingness :p

I have heard that Risen 2 pretty much says women should be in the kitchen or on a street corner :p That might be complete BS ofc but if it isn't I don't think I will be making a purchase.

Fappy:
snip

I don't think a little light comedy would go amiss :p

Shadow Master:
What does power have to do with image?

Power is seen through actions, not appearance.

Take War and Death from Darksiders for some current generation examples. They both possess very attractive male traits. Their faces, their eyes, their hair, their muscles, their height and weight and so forth.

Their images are developed to be idealized males.

Their power comes from their magical powers and skills and so forth, not what they look like.

Likewise, female characters look attractive and are powerful through their powers and skills and so forth. The two aspects are separate.

A little help for you.

Do you see the difference? tip...chest area.

Shadow Master:

Take War and Death from Darksiders for some current generation examples. They both possess very attractive male traits. Their faces, their eyes, their hair, their muscles, their height and weight and so forth.

image

Ladies.

...

Yeah, no, not getting it. I'm not into dudes, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "armored bear with tiny person head" isn't the body type most people who are into dudes are into.

Shadow Master:

Their images are developed to be idealized males.

Specifically, the ideal person your average teenage boy would want to be while punching things.

xXxJessicaxXx:

Erg, I hope I'm not turning into some sort of feminist Zeel

I know this is a plot development that has come out of nowhere and implies lore that otherwise did not previously exist but uh... I am sorry but, "There must always be a Zeel."

Now pick up his helmet and sit on his throne. You have been chosen.

(If you get the reference I has cookies!)

Shadow Master:
snip.

its different..it just is

hetero women find different things attractive in males..war doest do anything for me because hes a miserable son of a bitch...

Im pretty sure some women out there want to bang the joker.....yeah

batman has rippling abs in a skin tight suit....but we dotn see him as a sex object

catwoman is seen as a sex object

femshep isnt...

xXxJessicaxXx:
[.

Erg, I hope I'm not turning into some sort of feminist Zeel or eternal nothingness :p

.

I can volunteer to be the sites resident Zeel feminist

(I havnt had the pleasure of reading any of his stuff though..it was all related to ME3)

This brings up another point. I remember reading some comments on prototype 2, and a lot were complaining that you play as a black guy. Can't quite remember so i may be making it up.

Weirdly enough, gears 3, a story about super-macho people making a lot of mess- is also quite diverse gender/ race wise. *Random fact of the day*

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