So that whole "female main characters don't sell" bullshit

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It is mostly a self fulfilling prophesy.

One marketing team is consulted by a mayor publisher, and they conduct a focus test. They seem to find a pattern, and the publisher develops their games based on that pattern. Many AAA games (the ones that are used for the metric of "don't sell") are built over committees, and marketing stats have more importance than personal taste of the people involved. If the game is a success, it reinforces the pattern. If the game is a failure, it must have been because of other factors (because no one is better at dodging the blame for bad decisions like executives)... so a pattern that was once "found" is never rebuked.

I am not saying there are not people that get turned off by the idea of playing a woman, because there are, mostly in the range of teenagers and juvenile manchilds (which gets balanced by other manchilds wanting to play as a woman to "see a woman's ass in third person"), but that the pattern is very outdated and has never really been challenged (because one example doesn't disprove a pattern).

votemarvel:

KissingSunlight:
I think we are closer to being in agreement.

If we are talking about different characters, then there should be some differences between them.

If we are talking about the same character, and you can choose the gender of the character that your playing. Then there shouldn't be a difference in the gameplay or story.

Where Mass Effect really comes alive for me is in the unique dialogue, such as Harkin referring to female Shepard as Princess.

I would have liked to have seen that extended to the other areas of the gameplay. Just to pick on Biotics, since I tend to play as an Adept. Perhaps have male Shepard's powers be harder hitting but female Shepard having faster cooldown times.

Just something as simple as that would vary up the combat gameplay, while still allowing the story events to play out in the same way for both incarnations of Shepard.

Would it be controversial if you assign different abilities to male and female, when they are suppose to be the same character? I can easily see people accusing the game developers of being sexist for not allowing the female Shepard to hit as hard as the male Shepard.

KissingSunlight:

votemarvel:

KissingSunlight:
I think we are closer to being in agreement.

If we are talking about different characters, then there should be some differences between them.

If we are talking about the same character, and you can choose the gender of the character that your playing. Then there shouldn't be a difference in the gameplay or story.

Where Mass Effect really comes alive for me is in the unique dialogue, such as Harkin referring to female Shepard as Princess.

I would have liked to have seen that extended to the other areas of the gameplay. Just to pick on Biotics, since I tend to play as an Adept. Perhaps have male Shepard's powers be harder hitting but female Shepard having faster cooldown times.

Just something as simple as that would vary up the combat gameplay, while still allowing the story events to play out in the same way for both incarnations of Shepard.

Would it be controversial if you assign different abilities to male and female, when they are suppose to be the same character? I can easily see people accusing the game developers of being sexist for not allowing the female Shepard to hit as hard as the male Shepard.

Well, in a universe with exoskeletons and muscle enhancements, they could very well be equal.

Wait. So people dumb enough to think that gender dictates sales actually exist? Wow. This world looks worse every day.

That whole true 'bullshit'?

And the reason is, games with female main characters don't sell, good games do.

PurplePonyArcade:
Wait. So people dumb enough to think that gender dictates sales actually exist? Wow. This world looks worse every day.

A lot of execs, unfortunately.

Which leads to the self-fulfilling prophecy of said games getting less support, particularly in marketing, which leads to said games not selling as well, which reinforces the narrative.

New Tomb Raider and Horizen got marketable really well, and sold great numbers.

jlenoconel:
I'm going to wait to see sales in a few months for this game before I make an assessment of this game's success. If things are still sitting at around 3 million, then the game has performed extremely mediocre, especially for a PS4 exclusive that was hyped up so much.

I don't have a problem with female protagonists, but I don't like this sudden push for "feminism" in video games. Most AAA gamers are men, so it seems pretty futile that these gaming companies are trying to reach a demographic that doesn't exist.

According to Microsoft's internal numbers, 42% of XBOX One's players are women. The demographic is decidedly there.

KissingSunlight:

votemarvel:

Where Mass Effect really comes alive for me is in the unique dialogue, such as Harkin referring to female Shepard as Princess.

I would have liked to have seen that extended to the other areas of the gameplay. Just to pick on Biotics, since I tend to play as an Adept. Perhaps have male Shepard's powers be harder hitting but female Shepard having faster cooldown times.

Just something as simple as that would vary up the combat gameplay, while still allowing the story events to play out in the same way for both incarnations of Shepard.

Would it be controversial if you assign different abilities to male and female, when they are suppose to be the same character? I can easily see people accusing the game developers of being sexist for not allowing the female Shepard to hit as hard as the male Shepard.

I'll take a chance on replying now this won't be buried under a flood of spam.

I don't doubt that people would jump up and down crying sexism if the powers of the two Shepards were varied as I described. Yet I'd also be willing to bet that those same people wouldn't want male and female athletes competing against each other in sporting events, there they'd accept that men and women are different. After all the top male boxer is going to have more hitting power than the top female one.

ZeDilton:

Well, in a universe with exoskeletons and muscle enhancements, they could very well be equal.

It's possible to be sure but it is important to remember that the Illusive Man wanted Shepard brought back as close as possible. Any Enhancements would be absolutely minimal for both versions.

Then again would femShep getting 'better' enhancements set people off about sexism that she required extra help to reach the same level.

I don't think I'm ever going to be able to navigate this minefield.

votemarvel:

I don't think I'm ever going to be able to navigate this minefield.

I understand what you are trying to say. The difference is reality vs. fantasy of a videogame. In reality, men and women do not have the same physical strength. I do not believe that reality should be reflected in videogames when we are talking about playing the same character. I won't mind if the physical differences are reflected in two different playable characters that are man and woman.

I'm not sure where the OP got this idea - I don't think gamers care whether the main characters are male or female. There are some massive franchises in video games with female protagonists that sell well and have done for a long time - characters like Lara Croft prove that. It really depends on the content and/or story and whether it makes sense in context

But the simple fact is a lot of these games are going to be male dominated due to the content of these games. War games and crime orientated stories are going to be heavily male dominated, so watering that down by putting random characters in just to tick a box would make no sense. I think the diversity problem is not going to be solved by shoehorning in a token woman or minority into a game where they may not fit, it will be helped by developers producing a wider array of games in new genres.

I feel like the writing for games is still stuck in a massive rut and this is the problem. Most storylines are the equivalent of watching the fast and the furious franchise after downing a few crates of red bull. You will see the same stereotypical female and minority characters in those films as you will most games, but nobody is calling for that film's producers to diversify, because it'd make no sense to their audience.

I'm convinced there are stories to be told through gaming that will include and appeal to all of society, not just white men. However I don't think demanding vague changes without any specific solutions other than to include women and minorities helps the situation. Bunching everyone apart from white men into a massive category and saying "let's invite these lot to the party too" is an offensive way of dealing with this problem. The only way it will be solved is if the people concerned about this write these games, produce interesting characters from different backgrounds grounded in reality, and give us a reason to want to play as them.

dscross:
...so watering that down by putting random characters in just to tick a box would make no sense. I think the diversity problem is not going to be solved by shoehorning in a token woman or minority into a game where they may not fit, it will be helped by developers producing a wider array of games in new genres.

Or you could try, you know... writing characters. You don't need a new genre just for the black folks.

votemarvel:

I don't doubt that people would jump up and down crying sexism if the powers of the two Shepards were varied as I described.

*Looks at Dishonored 2*

*Looks at Emily and Corvo having very different abilities*

*Notes the lack of cries of sexism in that game*

I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. Then again, Dishonored managed to come up with better ways to give the two leads different powers, with radically different abilities. It's more interesting than "men hit harder but women move faster." Which is honestly damn boring and cliche by this point. Seriously, Robert A. Heinlein was writing sci-fi that used this elements back in 1959, it's been done. Heck it doesn't even really make sense with biotics, since biotics have nothing to do with muscle mass. If anything, they bypass it.

Also your point about FemShep needing "better" enhancements just feels...odd. As in, we're in a universe where there are blue telepathic space babes that can get pregnant by having sex with any sentient species, humans get space magic by being exposed to dangerous elements while In Utero, and human beings are melted down by the millions to be made into a giant Terminator baby, but we need to point out that women need better enhancements than men? And even then, what's the point of feeling the need to point out in Mass Effect 2? Not only does it feel kind of pointless considering it doesn't really add anything, but in ME1 both Shepards were able to do equally well, so I fail to see how one getting better enhancements is necessary. I mean, what does it add?

dscross:
I'm not sure where the OP got this idea - I don't think gamers care whether the main characters are male or female. There are some massive franchises in video games with female protagonists that sell well and have done for a long time - characters like Lara Croft prove that. It really depends on the content and/or story and whether it makes sense in context

Not what I was talking about in the slightest, was referring to how publishers seem to keep thinking female characters don't sell, see the Life Is Strange, Remember Me and The Last of Us debacles.

erttheking:

dscross:
I'm not sure where the OP got this idea - I don't think gamers care whether the main characters are male or female. There are some massive franchises in video games with female protagonists that sell well and have done for a long time - characters like Lara Croft prove that. It really depends on the content and/or story and whether it makes sense in context

Not what I was talking about in the slightest, was referring to how publishers seem to keep thinking female characters don't sell, see the Life Is Strange, Remember Me and The Last of Us debacles.

That's what I was referring to. Sorry, my poor opening paragraph meant that wasn't communicated properly. I'd reword - I think publishers know that gamers don't care whether the main characters are male or female. The rest of my post follows on. Better?

BeetleManiac:

dscross:
...so watering that down by putting random characters in just to tick a box would make no sense. I think the diversity problem is not going to be solved by shoehorning in a token woman or minority into a game where they may not fit, it will be helped by developers producing a wider array of games in new genres.

Or you could try, you know... writing characters. You don't need a new genre just for the black folks.

As always, white dudes are assumed, everyone else needs to be justified.

BeetleManiac:

dscross:
...so watering that down by putting random characters in just to tick a box would make no sense. I think the diversity problem is not going to be solved by shoehorning in a token woman or minority into a game where they may not fit, it will be helped by developers producing a wider array of games in new genres.

Or you could try, you know... writing characters. You don't need a new genre just for the black folks.

My quote taken out of context becomes something it was not intended as. If you read the bottom of my post it does say exactly what you said in a different way. I was saying it would be good to write characters and plots to suit them in the correct context without shoehorning them into situations that they wouldn't be in in real life.

dscross:
My quote taken out of context becomes something it was not intended as. If you read the bottom of my post it does say exactly what you said in a different way. I was saying it would be good to write characters and plots to suit them in the correct context without shoehorning them into situations that they wouldn't be in in real life.

Then be clearer next time. Your first paragraph suggested that non-white dude characters in a war or crime game are out of place. Exactly what conclusion am I suppose to draw reading that?

BeetleManiac:

dscross:
My quote taken out of context becomes something it was not intended as. If you read the bottom of my post it does say exactly what you said in a different way. I was saying it would be good to write characters and plots to suit them in the correct context without shoehorning them into situations that they wouldn't be in in real life.

Then be clearer next time. Your first paragraph suggested that non-white dude characters in a war or crime game are out of place. Exactly what conclusion am I suppose to draw reading that?

It didn't suggest that at all! It said MALE dominated in the part you are referring to. Read it again. The bit where I mentioned minorities as an aside (women was meant to be the focus) was a more general point about the diversity problem of putting characters in places they don't suit just to put them there. I think you are being triggered by something that isn't there.

BeetleManiac:

dscross:
My quote taken out of context becomes something it was not intended as. If you read the bottom of my post it does say exactly what you said in a different way. I was saying it would be good to write characters and plots to suit them in the correct context without shoehorning them into situations that they wouldn't be in in real life.

Then be clearer next time. Your first paragraph suggested that non-white dude characters in a war or crime game are out of place. Exactly what conclusion am I suppose to draw reading that?

I think I understood what he meant. A story can certainly be organically written with diverse characters in a way that is believable and makes sense. But it seems that more often than not, it doesn't happen that way. Instead, for example, someone writes a story about soldiers, a traditionally male-dominated group of people, throughout all of human history. So not suprisingly, the initial draft of the story is about a group of dudes doing their soldier thing. But then the writers are like, oh shit, we better put a woman in there, or we're going to get criticism, so they quickly draw up a token woman character and stick her into the story as a shield against criticism, and the result is that the token female character feels awkward and fake, i.e. shoehorned.

When a token character is present for the obvious purpose of checking a box on a list entitled How to Avoid SJW Attacks, it's pretty easy to spot, IMO. If I were of a female or minority group, I'd rather they not represent my group at all than do it in a token, shoehorned manner. But we are currently living in the shoehorn era.

dscross:

erttheking:

dscross:
I'm not sure where the OP got this idea - I don't think gamers care whether the main characters are male or female. There are some massive franchises in video games with female protagonists that sell well and have done for a long time - characters like Lara Croft prove that. It really depends on the content and/or story and whether it makes sense in context

Not what I was talking about in the slightest, was referring to how publishers seem to keep thinking female characters don't sell, see the Life Is Strange, Remember Me and The Last of Us debacles.

That's what I was referring to. Sorry, my poor opening paragraph meant that wasn't communicated properly. I'd reword - I think publishers know that gamers don't care whether the main characters are male or female. The rest of my post follows on. Better?

Much better, thank you. But as for what publishers know about gamers...I don't know, there seems to be a certain disconnect. Publishers have come up with some pretty crazy ideas for what gamers want. Not all of them, but we seem to have gotten some pretty crazy things in terms of what publishers think we want.

Though perhaps they've wised up on the whole men/women thing. We haven't gotten anything like the cover debacles for The Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite in a bit. Though we'll have to wait and see how that one turns.

It is not about the character on the cover. Its about the game being shit.

Show me one great game that sold like shit because of a girl on the cover.

CritialGaming:
It is not about the character on the cover. Its about the game being shit.

Show me one great game that sold like shit because of a girl on the cover.

Beyond Good and Evil.

dscross:
-snip-

Apologies for snapping. Been having a bad day and I'm unmedicated. That said, I would appreciate you not pulling the "You're triggered!" card. People like to throw the word "triggered" around, but that doesn't mean it fits every time someone gets a bug up their ass. No, my problem is that I'm having a shitty day, I'm out of the meds that are supposed to help me keep my mood stable, and I'm already expecting the worst out of literally everything. I'm damaged enough that you don't need to speculate.

CritialGaming:
It is not about the character on the cover. Its about the game being shit.

Show me one great game that sold like shit because of a girl on the cover.

No game sold like shit because of the girl on the cover.

THAT'S THE POINT I'M TRYING TO MAKE!

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