What Exactly Is The Gaming Industry’s Problem With Women?
Feel free to frown at the title, and I do know that I am a few days late with this, but I wanted to talk about an interview I read last week regarding Dontnod Entertainment’s upcoming game, Remember Me, and the absolutely shameful things that were shared, which formed a harrowing commentary on the gaming industry as a whole. This will get a bit rant-y at times but go with it, if for nothing else then at least for the entertainment value.
Dean did an excellent job of covering the original story regarding the Remember Me developer’s statements, which basically summed up to the fact that publishers don’t want strong female lead characters, as they feel that such a thing has no place in gaming and will actually detract gamers from those games.
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No wonder Dead Space 3, Crysis 3 and DmC: Devil May Cry have been breaking sales records this year…
The thing is, this is a mentality that has perpetuated the entire industry, and it’s quite honestly sickening. Now I might sound like the Capcom Defence Force of late, given this article as well as my preview of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, but you cannot deny that Capcom has shown some amazing open-minded resilience where other publishers shunned the idea of Remember Me because, “You can’t make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that’s going to feel awkward.”
If ever there was an outlining statement of the male-dominated gaming industry.
And why would many females even want to enter such an industry, such an allegedly self-respecting industry, when you get things like Complex Tech’s 40 Hottest Women In Tech featuring a whole range of female industry insiders. What does that say of those not included on this list? Are they not valued contributors to gaming because they are not attractive? What does that say of the gaming industry when there is no equivalent list for males? (Not that GabeN wouldn’t win that by a landslide.)
But let’s go back for a moment, to Remember Me, and the developer’s statements about publisher reception to their proposed idea of a female protagonist. A non-white female protagonist, I might add. Suddenly they’re all about what the male gamer might think, having to be intimate with a male character in the game? Homophobia aside, why does this make anyone uncomfortable? Are these gamers the ones who played as FemShep and then engaged in lesbian relations with anyone they could, because the idea of getting with Garrus, a truly lovable character, seemed like getting with a bro? Sure we have protagonists the likes of Chell, Lara Croft and Bayonetta, but make no mistake that the latter two have long been over-sexualised and the former is a mute. Should I even mention Faith from Mirror’s Edge and how niche that game was, to the point that a sequel continues to seem unlikely?
Last year some time I asked a friend how much of the gaming population he thinks is male, and his answer was 90%. Imagine the shock on his face (it was priceless) when I told him that female gamers account for some 47% of all gamers. It’s quite something, isn’t it? That means that nearly half of the players of any particular game are female. And we’re not talking about The Sims or Barbie. Sure stereotypes exist for a reason, but no, we’re talking about Call of Duty, Dead Space, Mass Effect and Gears of War. Those testosterone-fuelled ‘man games’ as they’re known.
And publishers are afraid of what male gamers might think if the player character sucks face with a male NPC? How insecure do publishers think we are?
Here’s the latest Jimquisition, which says all of this so much better than I ever could, and raises a few other pertinent issues with the whole agenda of publishers gunning specifically straight males between the age of 15 and 25, and nobody else.
The mention of BioShock Infinite in this video is another talking point which I am saving for another time, but for the most part, what do you think of all of this? Imagine how many games we might already have played, started out differently. Imagine if the original Prince of Persia was a princess. Imagine if Ezio was not a highborn Italian man but rather a Romani. Imagine if John Marston wasn’t the one who sought redemption but his wife, for the same reasons. So many possibilities, never explored because publishers believe that we are not ready for it.
Having played through some amazing scenes in gaming, I can’t help but feel that we truly are. So just what is wrong with the gaming industry, with all its defenders who claim that this whole objectification of women thing is a fallacy, and that there are strong women in leading roles at some developers? Tell me, when you see an article about something Jade Raymond said, why do you really open that article? Be honest. I can tell you, for me it’s because I adore her and I feel that she is one of the most real and true female industry insiders. But mostly? The common element? She’s hot. And she’s a gamer. What else do you need, right?
How about some dignity? Self-respect? Some intellect? To her credit, she has all of these and more so perhaps she wasn’t the best example. But it serves to convey the point that when I mention a leading female personality in gaming, you’re not thinking about her achievements or skills, but rather about the things you’d like to do to her if you had the chance. Is that not objectification? Or perhaps you think the same things of Jim Sterling after watching that Jimquisition, and I’m all wrong about this.
Tell me your thoughts below, and let’s get it all out in the open. Because frankly, I’m tired of every single fucking male gamer or gaming industry participant attempting to think on behalf of females, as if they are incapable of doing so themselves. Further, I am sick of people treating females like objects and then turning around and calling it chivalry or promotion of the fairer sex. If I may use a popular phrase: Man the fuck up.