Are mainstream devs deliberately discouraging women from gaming?

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I haven't noticed it that much, probably because I've been playing games recently where you can swap back and forth between a man or a woman without anything changing that much, IE Halo Reach, Dark Souls, Fallout New Vegas.

xXxJessicaxXx:

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.) ...

I dunno about you, but I still got a bit of that feeling from Mass Effect (3 in particular), albeit to a smaller extent. For femshep, you are given six total romance options in the third game. Four of them are females, and you can't romance one of the males unless you romanced him in the second game.

Just adding a small, alternate look to the debate; Guys tend to like thinking that games are their 'thing'. I mention playing anything reasonably 'hardcore' (as opposed to say, iOS games or facebook games, which seem to be what women are generally 'restricted' to) like the Elder Scrolls/Bioshock/Hitman, which are a few of my favourites, and I have genuinely scoffed at by male fans of those series. I don't know how averse guys are to thinking that girls enjoy the same games in general, but my experience hasn't been good.
I think that the industry would rather keep it's loyal male fanbase, rather than risk appearing to cater to the female aswell, because it seems weaker...

Wow, I am surprised this thread is still going. Way to touch on a hot-button issue Jessica >.>

There are a lot of brand new posters cropping up in here.

Well males are the main demographic when it comes to gaming. And at least we aren't as bad back when some games were just offensive and sexist interactive videos.

Fappy:
Wow, I am surprised this thread is still going. Way to touch on a hot-button issue Jessica >.>

There are a lot of brand new posters cropping up in here.

Unfortunately a lot of them seem to be using the old demographic excuse, which is really just a self perpetuating problem.

I think maybe I was a bit silly to put 'deliberate' in my title as I'm not sure that's what I was getting at. It just seems like devs always have some sort of excuse these days to get around pandering to men. They say things like 'Strong female characters don't fit the lore or the setting' when sometimes they are the ones who have decided that lore or setting. Sometimes these games aren't even set on Earth but somehow a medieval setting automatically means women are in the kitchen.

It's also annoying to have companies say you aren't important due to demographic when you have been gaming and buying their games since before some of their male customers were born...

Hixy:
I dont see why this is such a big deal with people lately, seems some wont rest until everything in the world is politicaly correct, and how dull it would be.

Actually, I think it would be a far more interesting world, (assuming that becoming politically correct wasn't just disguising underlying prejudice) since we'd get the benefit of a lot more perspectives on life and society.

Axyun:

I can guess. I'm pretty certain female gamers wouldn't mind a female lead that is strong, intelligent and confident. It seems obvious to me but ultimately I'm just guessing. I'm guessing because I'm not a woman. It takes a woman to know and define women fantasies. The best I can do as a male is hypothesize and resist my base urge to give them triple Ds and as little clothing as possible.

Women need to become more involved in the industry. Build and show us what you want because, obviously, males are unable to deliver. And getting involved will be tough because of how male-dominated the field is, but it needs to be done if women want to be consistently well represented and catered to.

I don't think they need to guess, they can get a women-only focus group to advise on the matter surely.. Waiting for women to get more involved in the games industry (though they are a fast growing demographic apparently), sounds like yet another excuse for not putting in a little hard work now..

Cursedwolf:

Before you say that being a Feminist is not a bad thing, perhaps you should look at the evidence that says,

Being a Feminist, -is- a bad thing.

and this isn't demonization, this is just plain and simple facts about what the Feminist Movement is about, and the people who follow them.

http://www.avoiceformen.com

Yeah, no bias there folks.. (/sarcasm)

EclipseoftheDarkSun:

Cursedwolf:

Before you say that being a Feminist is not a bad thing, perhaps you should look at the evidence that says,

Being a Feminist, -is- a bad thing.

and this isn't demonization, this is just plain and simple facts about what the Feminist Movement is about, and the people who follow them.

http://www.avoiceformen.com

Yeah, no bias there folks.. (/sarcasm)

Well, let's read a couple of articles before we make a judgement...

Article 1: "How women are controlling men by being submissive to men"

...

Article 2: "Women protesting against 'victim blaming' in cases of rape are anti-free speech because they were totally asking for it"

Yeeeeeeah. NO BIAS THERE.

Vault101:

I'vre always imagined an assasins creed with a kickass main charachter who happens to be female..who has to work TWICE as hard to prove her worth as an assasin, who has to endure the sexism of her era and the stress of..well being an assas..god that would be awsome

and inaccurate and unbelievable given the background of the first game.

Volf:

Vault101:

I'vre always imagined an assasins creed with a kickass main charachter who happens to be female..who has to work TWICE as hard to prove her worth as an assasin, who has to endure the sexism of her era and the stress of..well being an assas..god that would be awsome

and inaccurate and unbelievable given the background of the first game.

nah..I dont buy it

not when In brotherhood and revelations you have women running around in their white hoods...hell even ezios sister gets to join the secret club

Vault101:

Volf:

Vault101:

I'vre always imagined an assasins creed with a kickass main charachter who happens to be female..who has to work TWICE as hard to prove her worth as an assasin, who has to endure the sexism of her era and the stress of..well being an assas..god that would be awsome

and inaccurate and unbelievable given the background of the first game.

nah..I dont buy it

not when In brotherhood and revelations you have women running around in their white hoods...hell even ezios sister gets to join the secret club

.....go back a read what I typed. I made no mention about the Italian sequel, just the first game that stared a Syrian character who belonged to a Shia Islamic group that followed a certain path.

Volf:

Vault101:

Volf:
and inaccurate and unbelievable given the background of the first game.

nah..I dont buy it

not when In brotherhood and revelations you have women running around in their white hoods...hell even ezios sister gets to join the secret club

.....go back a read what I typed. I made no mention about the Italian sequel, just the first game that stared a Syrian character who belonged to a Shia Islamic group that followed a certain path.

Isn't there a female assassin in the first game too? She's Altair's lover if I remember correctly.

(God that's weird to type I named one of my cats after him..)

Edit: Oh sorry she's a templar but she does seem to know assassin moves.

Also the fact that there are female assassins later in the series kind of negates your point sorry.

(Again the dev's decide what the lore is of their universe so if they decide that women can't be assassins it's down to them, no one else.

And therefore I find it irritating that yet again they are excluding women.)

Volf:

Vault101:

Volf:
and inaccurate and unbelievable given the background of the first game.

nah..I dont buy it

not when In brotherhood and revelations you have women running around in their white hoods...hell even ezios sister gets to join the secret club

.....go back a read what I typed. I made no mention about the Italian sequel, just the first game that stared a Syrian character who belonged to a Shia Islamic group that followed a certain path.

but Im not talking about the first game....I saw there were no female assasins in that one..which was fine

when they start being more eaqual opertunity later...even in ezios time..then I fail to see why it would be "that" much of an issue

xXxJessicaxXx:
[

Isn't there a female assassin in the first game too? She's Altair's lover if I remember correctly.

Oh sorry she's a templar

Making my point for me. Women were not part of the Nizari Ismailis(i.e. Assassins). So the idea that Vault101 had about some hollywoodized story of a women who proves that she can make it in male dominated/run/controlled/organized group of Islam is hilariously awful.

Sorry if I come off as a jerk but the idea that Vault101 proposed, reminds me too much of other pathetic campy stories like The Help or Remember the Titans(if you switch sexism and racism).

Vault101:

but Im not talking about the first game....I saw there were no female assasins in that one..which was fine

when they start being more eaqual opertunity later...even in ezios time..then I fail to see why it would be "that" much of an issue

Fair enough, for a second I thought you were referring to the first one, which made me wonder if you were serious.

Volf:
Making my point for me. Women were not part of the Nizari Ismailis(i.e. Assassins). So the idea that Vault101 had about some hollywoodized story of a women who proves that she can make it in male dominated/run/controlled/organized group of Islam is hilariously awful.

Edit: Nvm I thought you were against the idea in general not just in the first game

xXxJessicaxXx:

Volf:
Making my point for me. Women were not part of the Nizari Ismailis(i.e. Assassins). So the idea that Vault101 had about some hollywoodized story of a women who proves that she can make it in male dominated/run/controlled/organized group of Islam is hilariously awful.

Yeah but it's not...since there are female assassins in AC2...

It just seems to be a another case of men being ridiculously overprotective of what they see as their domain.

As I said to Vault101, if your referring to the sequels, fair enough, but I can't take your suggestions serious if your referring to the first game.

On the topic of genders and/or certain minorities not being represented well in video games, what about trans people? The only examples I can think of are Birdo in Super Mario Bros. 2 and that woman in Catherine. Although some may see that's segregating and shouldn't be a real factor anyway, unless it's a focus of the plot.

xXxJessicaxXx:

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

Generally scantily clad females don't bother me so much as long as we have some equally ridiculous costumes for males. Ivy in SoulCalibur doesn't bother me because we have characters like Voldo, Kilik and Maxi. (As well as the means to customise our own ridiculous and/or scantily clad outfits) Why? Because it's a lot easier to accept such silliness when it's part of the world. In a game like Sacred 2 however, it's just plain jarring to have men equip armour while women equip gogo-boots.

Judging by the above quote I want to play men that women like. I'm a male, not a dimwit. I don't like the hyper-masculine caricature that passes as a 'real male' in many games. It's dull, it's repetitive and it's uninteresting. Likewise the overly sexualised female feels fake, inhuman and in more recent cases, off-putting. (Slutty pirate woman from DA2.)

In games that give you a predetermined protagonist I have no problem playing a female as long as she's given complexity (and isn't driven by said 'real male').

Overall I think it's just because developers think they're trying to take the 'safe option' by sticking to what's apparently tried and true. I don't like it either personally. To me it feels less like catering to men and more like catering to some abstract notion of what men should want.

xXxJessicaxXx:

Fappy:
Wow, I am surprised this thread is still going. Way to touch on a hot-button issue Jessica >.>

There are a lot of brand new posters cropping up in here.

Unfortunately a lot of them seem to be using the old demographic excuse, which is really just a self perpetuating problem.

I think maybe I was a bit silly to put 'deliberate' in my title as I'm not sure that's what I was getting at. It just seems like devs always have some sort of excuse these days to get around pandering to men. They say things like 'Strong female characters don't fit the lore or the setting' when sometimes they are the ones who have decided that lore or setting. Sometimes these games aren't even set on Earth but somehow a medieval setting automatically means women are in the kitchen.

It's also annoying to have companies say you aren't important due to demographic when you have been gaming and buying their games since before some of their male customers were born...

That last bit puts a bit more perspective on things. Now that you mention it I know plenty of women that started gaming as early as I did. Hell, my mom playing Genesis all the time when I was a kid.

xXxJessicaxXx:
They say things like 'Strong female characters don't fit the lore or the setting' when sometimes they are the ones who have decided that lore or setting.

Something of a tangent, but what would you consider "strong female characters" in gaming? Better yet, can you think of any "strong female characters" that aren't primarily defined by their actual strength/ass kicking ability? I mean, I enjoy Ellen Ripley and Buffy Summers as much as the next guy, but it seems like every time we go to the "strong female character" well in gaming "strong" is defined by "how much ass can they kick". I want more Carmela Sopranos and fewer Lisbeth Salanders in gaming. More female characters where the "strength" comes from nuance and complexity, and not just from a laundry list of superheroic abilities. It seems like we never get a good, well rounded female villain. Or anti-hero. Or anything other than "tough babe".

Azure-Supernova:

But other than that I completely agree. I spent a few minutes trying to think of a strong, competent female character that I didn't make and I came up short.

ZoŽ Castillo, April Ryan, Faith Connors, Chell, the lady from Fahrenheit, Jade from BG&E, Zoe from L4D, Cate Archer, Kate Walker from Syberia and probably more

OP: I think you're right. I don't think it's deliberate, but particularly with those examples you mentioned there is a definite bias. Perhaps some of it could be explained by laziness - having to write, code and voice-act things for both male and female characters does increase workload, at a time when publishers are pressuring developers to pop out games faster and cheaper.

There is something to be said, also, for the objectification argument. I've heard it described as "Male characters are designed to appeal to men as someone they'd want to be. Female characters are designed to appeal to men as someone they'd want to sleep with."

I don't think it's necessarily harmful to make female characters attractive, even specifically sexual; what I do think becomes harmful is when there's such a broad gap between the portrayals of male and female characters. (Prime example: the idiotic cleavage window on the average suit of female armour in games. And movies. And on TV. And in comics.)

Actually, you know what? Stick a bit of code in there. Have two versions of each set of armour, and two character models for each character. Let the player select their sex and orientation along a five-point scale - all straight, mostly straight, either way, mostly gay, all gay - and simply interpolate the outfits and character models so the characters they're attracted to are physically attractive while the others are plainer. That way the "romance options" are attractive - objectified, if you like - regardless of sex, while the others aren't.

I am joking, of course, but at least part of me thinks that it could work... ;-)

I think it's silly that they didn't want to include a female protagonist in AC3 cause of the time period.

AC1 pretty much threw away the concept of accurate historical fiction when the Assassins you played as were hardly motivated by Islam. In fact Looking through the script shows no mention of of any significant religious icons or words (guess they had to play it safe).

More silly is the Team Ico throwing out the idea of female protagonist cause "players would see her underwear if she's climbing with a dress/skirt" to which me and the rest of the Escapist replied "girls can't wear pants?"

Women in gaming has been on my mind for a while now. Particularly cause I disliked how Feminist Frequency decided to pick a fight with Bayonetta,

awmperry:
OP: I think you're right. I don't think it's deliberate, but particularly with those examples you mentioned there is a definite bias.

How exactly can you agree, when the question was about deliberate intent.

Zachary Amaranth:

awmperry:
OP: I think you're right. I don't think it's deliberate, but particularly with those examples you mentioned there is a definite bias.

How exactly can you agree, when the question was about deliberate intent.

You don't think it's possible to state agreement and still specify points of disagreement? You don't think it's possible to agree partially?

The phenomenon clearly exists. But I don't think there's a darkened room somewhere filled with Hefners and Dukes Nukem saying "Now, how can we keep those silly women from playing our games or feeling in any way empowered?"

I agree with the OP's analysis of the phenomenon as it exists. I disagree with the belief that it's deliberate.

That's how.

I think there are sexist devs. I think there are sexist companies. I think there are a lot of people with little imagination and are not as good as they could be at their job. I think there's a silent belief that hardcore gamers are not capable of empathizing with a main character that isn't a male, muscle-bound, grizzly space marine. I think people who actually believe that should qualify as bigots.

In conclusion, I think a lot of the people making decisions behind games are sexist and that they feel disdain for the inteligence of gamers. Then there are companies like Bioware who subvert that belief by giving us diversity and stories that dare test our capacity to reason. See how we treat them.

awmperry:

You don't think it's possible to state agreement and still specify points of disagreement? You don't think it's possible to agree partially?

When the core point is the one you're disagreeing with, there's a pretty big freaking issue there.

But good job trying to shift it to a simple issue of partial agreement.

@OP

The short answer is no, no they are not. Now get back in the kitchen!

The long answer is... Why isn't the main character in Amelie a guy?! OMG SEXIST MUCH?

Why isn't the main character in Sixteen Candles a guy?! OMG SEXIST MUCH?

Why isn't the main character in Girl Interrupted a guy?! OMG SEXIST MUCH?

Maybe it's because they're telling a specific story...

Though I'll ignore logic and just presume if it's only a guy main character then it must be sexism.

Personally, I would rather have no women at all instead of useless women who are just there for eye-candy or "gender representation" or to get kidnapped and move the plot along. A movie example, but when my friends and I watched Wrath of the Titans (in an otherwise empty theater) we kept saying, "Why is this woman even here? She has no combat abilities or anything, and she has no purpose other than to be a prize for the guy at the end." And sometimes you end up in a similar situation in games. I do not care whether I am playing a female character or not, just as long as we aren't getting a bunch of pointless females taking up space just so that they can stand around being female.

Maybe it's more difficult for male devs & writers to come up with convincing female viewpoints / actions / story arcs. I'm fairly sure I'd struggle to put something together based on what men want because I'd just aim for the stereotype that is tits and arse. I don't mean that in a belittling sense at all by the way, just that I don't think the weighting towards male protagonists is a considered slight against us ladies.

xXxJessicaxXx:

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?).

No, it makes complete sense. Women weren't allowed to do jack shit back then, Indians still could. Anyhow, to answer your question, no I don't think they are trying to discourage women to game, instead I think they are trying to build their games for a male audience. The difference is slight, but its still their.

EclipseoftheDarkSun:

Axyun:

I can guess. I'm pretty certain female gamers wouldn't mind a female lead that is strong, intelligent and confident. It seems obvious to me but ultimately I'm just guessing. I'm guessing because I'm not a woman. It takes a woman to know and define women fantasies. The best I can do as a male is hypothesize and resist my base urge to give them triple Ds and as little clothing as possible.

Women need to become more involved in the industry. Build and show us what you want because, obviously, males are unable to deliver. And getting involved will be tough because of how male-dominated the field is, but it needs to be done if women want to be consistently well represented and catered to.

I don't think they need to guess, they can get a women-only focus group to advise on the matter surely.. Waiting for women to get more involved in the games industry (though they are a fast growing demographic apparently), sounds like yet another excuse for not putting in a little hard work now..

Don't get me wrong, the current situation certainly reeks of laziness and lack of concern for female gamers. The remedy is only a focus group away, as you noted. However, since they can't be bothered to do even that and they can't do it on their own for the reasons I stated, then someone else has to do something about it. We can continue to scream on deaf ears or the affected group can take new, different measures.

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