Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists

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Well, just before I saw Jimquisition had been posted, I said this about the fact that a whopping 82% of Mass Effect playthroughs were Male Shep:

God people are boring... Of course the vast majority played a Soldier Male Shep! They need to "identify" and shit!

Very seriously, from the bottom of my heart and with all due respect (none): Fuck anyone who somehow won't play female characters. Fuck them up the arse with a rake.

And I stand by it even more after this video.

Also, it's quite funny how the first few replies are all "Oh no! Not more sexism debate! Stop talking about it!"

To be fair that's all the defaults as well. Shows more laziness than anything else.

That's less laziness and more wariness of flame wars.

See this is how you have a discussion about gender issues in the video game industry. Not "OMG it's a conspiracy by evil males to oppress women!!". No, you laid out an intelligent argument, identified the actual root of the problem, opened up a interesting debate that it might not be the fault of who we think.

And no, this was in no way a shot at 'Tropes vs. Women', which turned out to be surprisingly tame. This was a shot at every cluster-fuck thread I have seen on the internet since Tropes vs. Women was even mentioned. The utter asshattery I've seen from BOTH genders is truly legendary and will always remain as a shining example to how retarded we BOTH are.

Great video jim.

Funny thing is if every person who debated this topic on forums actually wrote to the publishers about wanting to see females on box cover and play female roles, we wouldn't have this situation.

Talking about female characters...

Yes, because the problem with Mirror's Edge was the main character...

*eye roll*

Great video jim.

Funny thing is if every person who debated this topic on forums actually wrote to the publishers about wanting to see females on box cover and play female roles, we wouldn't have this situation.

All right then, how about you and I start a thread urging people to do so?


I has to be said that a lot of games with female protagonists don't sell well simply because they're not that good.

Lets take a look at the big games in recent years featuring female protagonists:

-Metroid: Other M (Was critically panned for having shitty writing that demeaned Samus)
-Mirrors Edge (Had a lot of gameplay issues that held it back)
-Hydrophobia (The game was just downright shit)
-Tomb Raider (I don't think all the numbers are quite in yet on this one)
-Amy (The game was shit, again, just look at the reviews. It had serious flaws other than the protagonist's lady bits.)
-Final Fantasy XIII (...)

...I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones off the top of my head. Notice anything about them? Aside from Tomb Raider, they panned by critics and audiences alike. Not because they had a female lead, but because the games themselves were of questionable quality at best.

If publishers and developers want female protagonists to sell well, for gods sake put them in good games.

Also, if someone is honestly wierded out when their character kisses a guy, grow up. How do you think women have felt all these years playing as big burly men saving the princess of the day?

I would say that all of the games you listed had problems OTHER than a female protagonist. Other Metroid games sold well even though everyone knew that the protagonist was female.

I don't think the new Tomb Raider has been out long enough to call it's sales a failure and take a look at the sales of past Tomb Raider games, for a long time they sold quite well until people got tired of the series and stopped buying them. I think there were a couple of stumbles for the series toward the end as well.

Unless you're saying it's a subconscious decision to not buy a game because the protagonist is a woman I'm going to call that argument bullshit. All of these games have other flaws that hold them back, reviewers call them out on their flaws and the games don't sell as well as a result. That and like Jim said, the publisher don't market the games as well as they could because they're afraid no one will buy the games because THEY THINK that people are uncomfortable playing as a female character. Maybe if a good game with a female protagonist got the marketing it deserved then we'd actually see if the publisher's thinking is correct.

Um... What?

I think you need to reread my post, because that was the point I was making. The only big name games featuring female protagonists have failed due to reasons other than the lead. I outright said:

Aside from Tomb Raider, they panned by critics and audiences alike. Not because they had a female lead, but because the games themselves were of questionable quality at best.

So unless I'm missing something, I don't understand why you seem to be refuting a stance I didn't take, and in fact, you reiterated what I said.

I feel like all these people vehemently decrying rampant sexism in videogames are just now waking up to realize that the industry is largely marketed towards the uninhibited, teen-to-college age male. It's like complaining that Playboy, Maxim or the latest spring break movie are sexist. Guess what? When the dominant demographic begin to ask for something more than scantly-clad women in their games, then that's what the industry will provide. As it stands, the product this demographic demands is one that enables them to act out their masculine fantasies. This whole thing just feels like much to-do about nothing.

Also, I think it makes perfect sense that a guy playing as a girl character would feel awkward when their character begins kissing a male character. The entire purpose of these games is to immerse you in the experience, meaning that I, a straight male, am projecting myself onto the main character that I control. The moment my character, me, regardless of whether the character is male or female, begins to kiss a guy, I lose some of that immersion. That's not sexist, that's just a natural result of immersing myself in a character. (I hope that makes sense)

No I'm sorry but remember halfway through Bioshock's Infinite production the fiasco of the female lead Elizabeth and how sexist she was? Yeah something like that is going to force a development studio to rethink their marketing strategy so that's not completely on the marketing but also on the constant complaining of a vocal minority who think that despite not being employed by the video game industry that they have some right to control the content.

I hadn't really thought about the female leads in games, mostly the sexualization of them by the industry. Very good points but the licking at the end caused me to shrink away from my screen just a bit...

Well would you look at that?

An ACTUAL issue regarding gender and video games.

Too bad that real problems like this inevitably get buried under the kind of horseshit that people like Anita try to present as "problems" in order to push their ideology.

Oh well.

Good episode.

Well you pretty much know what happens in those instances. They've got a check-list of risk factors. Based of some chart based of cold statistics. And they mechanically tick away in favour of aspects that are market proof and eliminating as much uncertainty as they can. It's creepy because it's not a human process to begin with.

I don't really mind what gender I play in games, although my preference is male because I relate to that obviously.

With that said, I have played quite a few games with female protagonists and I found them quite the same experience as when playing with male(Mass Effect, Dragon Age etc). I really enjoy having the option of going female actually.

I'm just interested in playing the game how the devs wanted to present it to me. If that means a female protagonist, then great. Because they wish to present their game and story with a female protagonist, and so I take it on faith that this has been decided that this way is the best possible way for this game to have been presented.

And if "getting intimate" is part of that story, then I have no problem with that character doing so. Hell, what gives me the right to be an IRL cock block?

Considering Square Enix wussed out with both X and XII's male protagonists, I guess I should say it's refreshing to see Lightning on ALL THREE XIII games. I would, but they still wussed out ten years too late.

Wasn't the female protagonist on the cover of FFVI? And it was mostly about her, Screw Lightning she sucks. What a lame woman indeed, she's like the anti-Tidus who also sucked :P


The Samus fanservice pisses me off to no end. Really, if we have to take her out of her power-armour can we leave her in "normal" clothing? No. Why? Because bullshit reasons about "sexy".

And i'm probably the only defender of samus's Zero Suit but do any of you remember how she looked before she had it?

or even further

Though the boob socks are dumb (yeah they annoy me) at least shs'e wearing something that makes more logical sense. If you're wearing armour you wear something best suited underneath even IronMan did this Knights did this with chainmail, get over it! Be more upset by how it's used for "sex" rather than it's existence.

But that's not what this is about, is it.

Anyway, i an as some of already said are guilty of often choosing male character in games if there's the option but if the playable character is female it never really stops me buying or playing, and from my perspective why would it stop anyone especially in this day and age?
And with Bioshock: infinite, Bayonetta, DeadSpace 2 and by the looks of it Love and sex aren't driving force for female characters to exist. Yes i put Bayonetta there because the sex is justified by her personality.

Jim raises a very good point how females do have a habit of being relegated to the back in appearances and it's clearly wrong, it goes into other stuff like race. Funny thing is I wasn't even interested in BioShock till I read about Elizabeth. So kudos to the developer for getting me interested

I'd say it was killed off around the time millions of people didn't buy Mirror's Edge and EA quietly killed any funding for DICE that didn't have the word Battlefield attached.

Seriously, Mirror's Edge made it to just over a third of it's projected sales, whilst that equated to two million plus sales in two years, it's not enough for a sequel to ever be green lit.

For the record, I'd like a sequel too, but less gun combat and more exploration...

I know...this is the reason I have a problem with EA.
I know that if they'd decide to make a sequel, it'd turn into a shooter with more realistic (speak "dirty") graphics.

I always wondered what it would be like if this was more of an open world game. A bit more like Assassins Creed. You are here, there's your goal. That being said, I don't think it would work to that extend.

Mirror's Edge 2: Starring a grizzled white dude with a gun in one hand and microtransactions in the other, parkouring away from an explosion. Because that's about as much risk as EA feels like taking any more.

Not....funny. :(

The Deadpool:
Yes, because the problem with Mirror's Edge was the main character...

*eye roll*

Well maybe this was less related to the sexism problem that's been discussed in the video, and more to the fact that the video reminded me of a game with a female protagonist that deserves a sequel. I cannot think of any EA game of the last years with this much potential. It was fresh, it was something new. However, it should have been made better and longer.

Great Video Jim, you can be my Big Daddy anytime ;D

Seriously I still cannot get the logic that having a female player character in romantic relationship can be considered awkward. Or have I missed something and actually all males my age think woman don't actually enjoy sex or romance because they think the world is actually like old sitcoms. I mean if someone is over the age of 10 and thought of playing as a female genuinely makes them feel uncomfortable, then all I can really say is that they need some sense slapped into them with a cold wet flannel.

For the record I'm a straight male and when given the choice between a male and female character in a game, I choose to play as a male. Mainly because I'm a little unimaginative when it comes to role-playing games and too many nexus mods I've seen *shudder* make be feel creepier for choosing a female character. If the game does not offer a choice then I'm not really bothered either way if I'm playing a male or a female. Then I'm just more concerned that the story and gameplay are good. Frankly though I get enough of looking through the first person perspective of a white man with short brown hair in my daily life, it nice when games mix it up a bit.

No, that's not objectification.

You seem to mistake "object" as in "physical thing without life" and the original use of the term, in Grammar.

Alex finds Jessie

"Alex" is the subject and "Jessie" is the object.

Sexual objectification is the sense of women being the objects in a sexual sense.

"David is dating Sarah"

David is the subject, Sarah is the object, the verb phrase is to do with sexual relations.

There can also be violent objectification.

"Captain Price shoots the platoon of Russian Soldier"

Price is the subject, russian platoon is the object, violence is the verb phrase.

Objectification CANNOT be at work when the playable character is a woman, they are de-facto the subject, everything is through their perspective.

The term "sexual objectification" has been carried over whole from film criticism and applied to games with no understanding of what it actually means.

The problem is in fact sexual SUBJECTIVITY, because where the player character is female then they are the subject and the player is identifying with them in sexual preference. It's not that they don't like the idea of a woman being in love with a man...

... it's that they are imagining they are that woman.

How can we damn this as regressive, that men are wholley considering themselves in the role of a woman. They are not passive observers, they are living this avatar.

This is why where there is romance it is in RPGs where you pick the player-character's gender and pick what relationships they are in.

As to marketing:

Were women excluded from the cover art of Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite "just beceause they were women"... or because they weren't the action hero protagonists? The devil is in the detail, of their reaction to various cover arts.

Because these are action games, they need to market themselves as such.

In which case the problem is with the developers for AGAIN choosing a male lead. I get it once or twice, but of all the new action heroes that have been created new in gaming since Tomb Raider... what proportion of them have been women?

Naughty Dog wasn't pressured to have a male lead, that was ther decision. Nor was Irrational Games coerced to have a male lead.

It's not sexism to chose any particular gender, no single act changed this... the problem is the trend.

I don't know what retard publisher categorically forbade a female lead but knowing publishers they are retards. Seriously, they are idiots of the games industry. Their expertise is fiddling numbers on stock markets and hedge funds, they suddenly think they know how to make video games.

They don't represent the industry.

They represent a nasty corporate minority who are only in it for the money, don't understand what they are dealing with, and want size of profits above all else and are ham fisted idiots about achieving it.

I don't know what the hell this thread has already turned into and can't read 5 pages, but:

I'm straight, and married to a woman. I roll female every time a game gives me the opportunity, and my femshep romanced her some dudes, you can bet that. I would love to see more prominence by default, and I plan on getting Remember Me for practically this reason, and to hopefully support a trend. You'd think, even looking at a homophobic male standpoint, that someone would want to look at the back of a woman for 6-12 hours (or forever in an MMO) as opposed to a man's hairy ass all that time.

I swear, that's not the reason I roll female (I'll divulge if someone asks), but I'd imagine that standpoint still makes sense.




I do too, but only in RPGs. Games in which I project myself in them. In regular games where you don't have that kind of role-playing though? Relate-able characters should be relate-able regardless of gender.

Having said that, I'm more than willing to bet this is more an issue with the gaming audience rather than publishers being spineless. As much as anyone here is willing to admit that they would really like to see more female protagonists, most of the gaming audience is the "gunbro" type. Can you really blame a publisher for an attitude that they believe makes them the most money? Games aren't a charity.

Gunbros can play as gungals, people still bought Bayonetta, Tomb Raider and Metroid didn't they?
Publishers just want to believe gamers are as insecure as they are.

Not in the numbers they buy games like Battlefield, Call of Duty or Halo in.

different Genre's you can't compare the 2 plus are there options to play as Women in those games you've list? Don't think so.


You may want to quote whomever you are replying to so people actually know what your reply is in relation to. Otherwise it makes it somewhat difficult to understand who exactly you are disagreeing with.

What can I say about game sexism that hasn't been said before already? Jim hit it on the head where games with female protagonists aren't marketed nearly as much as games with male player characters and player-created characters. Good on Ken Levine for creating Elizabeth and making her so compelling. But the thing about Last of Us is phenomenally creepy, more so that she looks 14 years old. And I cannot remember a thing about Remember Me.

Personally, I feel uncomfortable with any romantic relationship. But I'm asexual, and I don't feel like I should be forced to make a dission in a game I wouldn't do in real life. This is why I never play games with romantic relationship that are more than hinted.

That stuff said and kind of irrelavant. All this white male being the hero in everything is BS. I mean how many black leads did you have when you don't have a choise on creation. I seem to play female when I have a choice but no one asked me about the covers. Also, one thing who the hell did they ask anyway. I mean I could ask 3000 drunk frat boys what they think and most likely get the same answer. I just believe things are skeiwed.

This might be sexist (in the sense that it's shaped solely by the character's gender), but I found playing as FemShep to be slightly more interesting than playing as MaleShep, because it subverts the stereotype of a male figure in a position of military authority. It's especially cool with Hale's no-nonsense Honor-Harrington-like demeanour and even better that I made mine look like a more gruff & scarred version of Captain Janeway.

What I mean to say is, "Without a warped perception of women as weak and passive, my Femshep would be boring" - Seneschal, 2013

Ok, in all seriousness, I have to cast a little shadow of doubt over all the supposedly wronged studios that were championing women's rights and getting rejected by patriarchal publishers - it strikes me as a bit too hard to verify, as no publishing house is ever named, no fingers are pointed, and it's the devs who get to wear the egalitarian crown for defending rights that, as far as we know, weren't even contested in the first place. Just saying. They wouldn't lose anything if they invented the whole thing, it would only net them +PR points.

But I do admit that this might be, unfortunately, true. And regardless of whether devs are fishing for attention, publishers are alienating women and minorities. Helping their case are the hordes of gamers out there fighting to maintain this illusion that gaming is a perfect egalitarian hobby, that everybody's welcomed with open arms, and anyone implying introspection or discussion is necessary is a traitor. It doesn't matter how many EEDAR stats you throw at them.

I just want to put this out there.
I was working on a game project as a branch of outsourced 3D work - (I am 3D Environment designer) I did my work. But the guy next desk over was Character artist and was doing a statue of female warrior(s). But few of the designs got rejected over the designing meeting because... and this is direct quote from the E-meeting we had, said by the lead director "The breast plates weren't supposed to hide the breasts, just cover them", he and the lead designer were furious. (And so was kinda I since I had to redo some indoor areas).

I am going to leave names out of this, mainly because of NDA and the fact that if I name anyone - I might spend the next 14 lifetimes skooping reindeer poop in Siberia...

I thought this was a good spot to get this out of my mind and get past the anger I have towards that particular development house.

Challenge accepted!

Which condom flavour would you like Mr. Sterling?

Though I disagree with the homophobic angle. It has way more to do with objectification, desire, sexual interest and a man stepping into the arena to claim all that was previously yours. In other words the cave man effect.

Woman on screen hot. Woman on screen hot for me. Woman on screen engage with other man. KILL OTHER MAN!

I have no problems with gay relationships or women engaging in relationships with men in my games, however where I draw the line is where I am asked to BE the character. Then given no choice but to engage a man sexually. I am that character now, I have no sexual interest in that man so why can't we just be friends? To dichotomize female-male relationships to Sex Partners or Complete Strangers is just as equally narrowminded as the stance that a teenage girl standing 4 feet closer to the camera on the box art will somehow reduce sales.

Oh and better start oiling them jaw joints, it's a big one.

Desert Punk:

I wish to god we had more non-sexy, single (?), female protagonists in the vein of Ripley or Samus just because it would add something different to the endless amounts of "Dude-bro" protagonists.

You honestly think they dont try to make Samus sexy?


And then theres Other M, which has a number of fan service shots of her in her zero suit.

To be honest samus only really started zero suiting frequently in recent years (however weirdly, they showed pin up shots of her as 'rewards'). Before 99.999999% of any of her games saw only her armour (and occasionally the glare of her face in the visor).

Samus is interesting though. A few years back came the 25th anniversary of zelda and mario, In 2011 it was the 25th anniversary of metroid. It's not as if these games were bad, they're not, they're fantastic, metroid prime is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite game of all time. But I don't know of why they didn't send this one through into a 25th anniversary celebration. I think other m may have been available fresh round then though. That may have something to do with it.

edited for a small addition.

I remember as a teen in a suburb of Los Angeles that when my English class read fiction out-loud (especially if they were cross-reading lines, like a script) there was tension and tittering if one character professed to love another. Regardless of the sexes of persons and characters involved, at that. But between this, what is nothing short of self-censorship in the name of profit, and the ESRB's fear of games nudging us into our panic zones, I find myself ashamed of the cowardice of our industry. Maybe, as Extra Credits suggests, we need our version of the Oscars to drive us back to artistic visions.

I suspect that every constructed tower of censorship has their Behind the Green Door. Ours may take a few such titles to topple, but we have the indie community willing to do that.

Suddenly, I have a strange urge to, next time you're in San Francisco, buy you a beer...Daddy[1]


[1] Myself, I'll probably be having a milquetoast latte, so...or whatever.

I'll play as a woman in games, and I project, too. I'll inhabit the character and give it a voice because I have this thing called an imagination that makes me want to play these games in the first place. Give me some credit, publishers. We play as aliens and robots all the time. Would I be creeped out by such a makeout session in my game? Very possibly, if I'm pretty immersed. But how do I know that? Who is confronting me with that difficult question but Jim and lonely Bioware? Meanwhile, if I want mass murders of innocent virtual people, I have choices, so many choices in the market.

What if Bioshock was a series of charming trysts and hookups, and then you get to Ryan, and he's like, "Would you kindly...". And you're like, "Woah, what is agency in the games!?". Would that game be the "Highest rated shooter of all time" or just not able to be sold anywhere?

"You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward."

Yeah, that just made me pause the video and grimace for a minute. That's just downright creepy. *sigh* Watch out kids, vidja games gon' make you gay.

Well, to be fair, the kissing scene in Dreamfall is actually quite awkward. But that is more due to 2006's computer hardware having shortcomings when it comes to rendering animated faces.

Sometimes... emotions are polygons. :david cage smirking evilly:

Here's a thought; the sailor moon manga has been reissued since the arse end of 2011 and, predominantly, has women in non sexualised poses (YMMV on that) on the covers. I can tell you here and now that every time a volume has been issued, it's hit the top of whatever book chart ANN cares to report about it.

Every, last, One.

The AAA games industry needs to grow a fucking pair already. Though I might exposit that it might just be too late for it by and large.

Well I'm one of those apparently homophobic insecure fucks who think that yea, having my female character kissing a guy would be awkward. Look, I wouldn't like it for two reasons:

1) Romance subplots in games are already awkward, stupid and pointless
2) Male protagonists as well as NPCs are generally underdeveloped. Female NPCs also, while female protagonists tend to be overdeveloped. (For some reason, a female protagonist has to be DA BEST AND MOST BADASS, she can't just be a normal person.

So combine the two and you get an overcompensating female character in a pointless romance plot with a bland guy NPC.

Maybe someone could pull it off well, but I don't believe it much.

We live in a patriarchal society. Deal with it!

"You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward."

Yeah, that just made me pause the video and grimace for a minute. That's just downright creepy.

Made we wonder if they'd heard of the Mass Effect series at all.

Anyway, I blame it on Call of Duty. It got too ridiculously successful and now all the suits in the video game industry think every gamer is an American, male, homophobic teenager.

I... don't play games for the romantic interactions of anyone... Like I think the only game I can recall participating in romantic relationships would have been Vampires The Masquerade Bloodlines, and even calling that romance is a stretch. It's also dualistic as you can play as either a man or a woman, and the beginning scene is your lover being executed.

Mirror's Edge... it was alright... It contained 2 things I feel were ahead of it's time. Gameplay based around something other than killing enemies in droves and a non-sexualized woman as the lead. (I had to stop playing halfway through because my computer hates PhysX...

In RPG's I usually play a mix, but like a few gamers I create my own back stories for my characters.

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