If you’re hearing a lot about video games lately, it’s probably because the Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3, is happening this week. This is when game developers, reviewers, and other gaming industry professionals get together to nerd out about upcoming video games. (Of course, I say “nerd out” fondly, as it has been a lifelong dream of mine to attend E3, but unfortunately the event is invite-only, and as I don’t work in the industry, it is unlikely that I will ever get to attend.)
Luckily for me, the ubiquity of the internet has made it possible to watch many of the presentations and follow along on the twitter streams of people who are attending. All the news of E3, without the sexual harassment that’s endemic to gaming culture! Win-win!
So far this week, we’ve seen some great stuff. Nintendo aired some footage from the upcoming Legend of Zelda game, and after comments about how Link looked different, producer Eiji Aonuma said “No one explicitly said that that was Link.” Which opens up a whole world of possibilities! Is the main character actually Zelda? Or someone else? Maybe a woman?? Even if the unnamed character isn’t a woman, though, at least Nintendo also has Hyrule Warriors coming up, with Zelda and Midna as confirmed playable characters (and I believe others, but not all playable characters have been revealed yet). So they’re at least trying!
There’s also Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to last year’s Tomb Raider reboot (and if you recall, it made my top games of 2013 list!). It looks great, and it’s exciting to see new Lara Croft, with a personality and character development, not “play 200 hours to see her boobs” Lara Croft (I don’t remember if that was the supposed cheat code for it, and I don’t want to spend 2 hours googling for stuff about Lara Croft’s boobs).
We can’t forget about Mirror’s Edge, which doesn’t have a release date yet, but looks very promising. In the video linked, you can even see the developers working on animating Faith, the main character.
If only the guys at Ubisoft had talked to any of the game developers mentioned here! According to Ubisoft technical director, James Therien,
It was on our feature list until not too long ago, but it’s a question of focus and production. So we wanted to make sure we had the best experience for the character. A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes [inaudible]. It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it’s something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision… It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of game development.
Again, it’s not a question of philosophy or choice in this case at all I don’t really [inaudible] it was a question of focus and a question of production. Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here.
So there you have it! Despite multiple other companies making video games with women as playable (or even main) characters, despite being a billion-dollar company, despite women being half of the population, and despite the fact that almost 50% of gamers are women, it just too hard to create a woman character! Time to get together and play the violin for how rough Ubisoft must have it. :(
Seriously, Ubisoft, be better than this. Aren’t there like 25 Assassin’s Creed games already? You couldn’t have ONE with a woman as the main character? (Google tells me there are seven-fucking-teen Assassin’s Creed games, which makes my complete guess not far off the mark.) Keep in mind this is a game set in the time period of the French Revolution, and guess who one of the most important real-life assassins was during the French Revolution? Charlotte Corday. So you’re sexist and forgetting actual history. Great job, Ubisoft.
Seriously, game developers, stop fucking around. Women are real people, who do and like diverse things, just like men! And women buy your games. Stop acting like we’re some niche group who only plays Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall. I like games where I get to explore! I like games where I get to conquer worlds! I like games where I get to shoot aliens! Lots of other companies have the right idea (hey, look, Bioware released Mass Effect seven years ago and you could choose between a man and a woman as the main character. So shocking!!). It is the year 2014. Get the fuck with it or you’re going to lose half of your fan base.
(Edit: I’ve been informed that there was an Assassin’s Creed game with a woman as a playable character. In that case, it makes Mr. Therien’s comments even more ridiculous.)