And this is the problem with arguments about women in video games …

So, here I am, looking for something to play, and browsing through my set of games, and I come across Mana Khemia and the sequel, Mana Khemia 2, and I noticed something important: the second Mana Khemia game included the ability to play as a female protagonist. The second game is only about 5 – 6 years old. So how come all of the people looking for games to at least give a choice of protagonist never mention it? Sure, it’s a console game and not necessarily a popular game, so it might be a bit obscure … but these are the same people who’ll mention indie games that I and most other players have never heard of, and also claim to actually do research on games. So how did they miss it?

And how do they miss the long list of other games that are just in my collection? Like the Fatal Frame series. Like Silent Hill 3 (which shouldn’t be obscure). Like Persona 3 PSP. Like Clocktower 3. Like Rule of Rose. Like Haunting Ground. Like Obscure. Like Final Fantasy X-2. Like Suikoden III. All of which are games that either only have a female protagonist, or which have a choice of male or female protagonist, or which has a female protagonist play an important part of the game. And that’s not even getting into the games I have on the PC that allow that.

Sure, it’s absolutely the case that male protagonists dominate games. But if one game not allowing a female playable character in multiplayer is such a big deal how come games that make an effort to make their playable characters female get absolutely no mention and no press? How come every time this topic comes up listing the games that actually did it reasonably is done grudgingly, with people finding excuses to not count the games?

Look, small companies and franchises — like a lot of them above — are the most likely to be swayed by the argument that they can increase their sales by including a female protagonist, either as an option or as the main character, because they need them more than a large company or a large franchise does (as they’ll get sales with the standard approach anyway). For them, doing this could make them stand out, and standing out will get them attention that they can’t afford to pay for. So they’re more likely to do extra work if they think it will pay off, and maybe turn them into a franchise that people will know and buy on sight (see, for example, Team Persona and the Persona series).

And that won’t work if people don’t constantly call attention to their attempts to do it!

If you want more female protagonists in video games, stop being so negative, stop ignoring games that try, and stop nitpicking the games that try and get it wrong. Give gaming companies a reason to listen to you, and stop giving them reasons to ignore you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick a game to play … which may or may not have a female protagonist. And I’m fine with that either way.

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15 Responses to “And this is the problem with arguments about women in video games …”

  1. Crude Says:

    If you want more female protagonists in video games, stop being so negative, stop ignoring games that try, and stop nitpicking the games that try and get it wrong.

    I don’t think they really do, or at least, it’s not about there being video games with female protagonists. Frankly, those are in absolute abundance – they just happen to be with the sort of games women tend to play. You know, FarmVille, the assorted ‘Find the piece of crap in the larger pile of crap’ RPG games, etc. People like to pretend that ‘50% of the gaming market is female!’ means ‘50% of GTA players are female!’, and they ignore what’s actually happening.

    Instead, it’s about making *this specific title* or *that specific game* change. A little bit like how, 99% of the year, very few progressives give much of a shit about the welfare of American Indians… but oh man, try to find one who doesn’t feel VERY strongly about the Redskins. And they started to feel VERY strongly the moment the owner said, “I will never change this name.”

    I do not think what they claim to want is sincere.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      I think it’s definitely started with that, and I think it’s the underlying problem even if some of them don’t really realize that. Taking Sarkeesian as an example, almost none of the representations she goes on about would be a problem if they weren’t so dominant in at least certain types of very popular and publicly known games. Making the main protagonist female, for example, would eliminate most issues with the strip club level in Hitman.

      And in general it is the case that female protagonists — or, rather, the ability to play as a female character — while not as non-existent as people hint are much less common than male protagonists. Even looking at my collection, if I had to pick a game at random it’s pretty unlikely that I’d pick a game where I couldn’t play as a male character. If I wanted to go into a gaming store and buy a game where I could play as a male, even out of the last year’s games, I’d definitely be able to do so and would have a much harder time — and a much smaller selection — if I wanted to play as a female character, even including games where you can choose the gender of your character. And even if those other games have a better representation — which I’m not sure of, since a lot of them don’t have characters at all — a lot of those web games are still marketed as if the player will be male.

      I do think that people are annoyed at the overall trend, but that a lot of them simply jump at the latest game to not do it ignoring that having a game that doesn’t isn’t a bad thing, and that they really want more, not all. And doing that gets people thinking they want all, and then the whole thing explodes.

  2. Crude Says:

    If I understand you correctly, I disagree with your estimation of the situation.

    Now, you say female protagonists are much less common, but I think that’s going to depend largely on the genre in question. That was the point of bringing up titles like…

    Actually, I can do one better. Have a look over here: http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/genres/15/hidden-object.html

    There’s the Hidden Object genre, from one company. Not exactly a scientific survey, but just note this: look at how many of those games feature women as the protagonist. Check out how many are part of a long-running series.

    Couple that with the number of games where you can choose your own gender – which is going to have results like “just about every single MMO in existence” – and suddenly the number of games with female protagonists, or the option to play as a female, is tremendous.

    Now, you say that male characters are dominant in very popular, publicly known games. Again, I think this isn’t totally true just because MMOs alone have completely upended this, but say it is.

    Why is it a problem?

    To put this in perspective: men apparently make up 16% of the romance novel market. Is that a shameful statistic?

    • verbosestoic Says:

      Huh. Sorry it took so long for this to appear; I thought your stuff was generally auto-approved.

      Anyway, I’d like to comment that I think the Hidden Object genre probably maps or is subsumed under adventure games in general, and while you list this from one company the question then is: How does this reflect the ratio in Hidden Object games? In adventure games? Across all games? Sure, they seem to have a better balance, but I’ve also never heard of those games, and you can contrast it with Telltale games which probably has fewer games but whose games are more mainstream … and don’t allow it.

      Look, the point I’m making is essentially that, yes, the ratio is a bit skewed. As people who play the games comment, in FPSs — probably currently the most popular genre of games — the protagonist tends to not only be male, but to be bland white male jarhead. People like Shamus Young want more diversity in those games, and that’s a fine thing to ask for. I’d like to see more diversity myself, although when warranted (for example, I think that survival horror games should take advantage of stereotypes to make their games instantly more frightening without doing anything else). I agree with you that the representation of women in games isn’t as bad as people like Sarkeesian um, represent it … but I don’t think it’s as even as it could be.

      Note that the objection is that while it is argued that female representation in games is and ought to be more than 16% — I don’t think the claims of women outnumbering men really do count, but that’s controversial in so many ways — they aren’t represented to that degree in games themselves. Now, putting that aside, there’s nothing wrong with video games not having many female consumers … as long as you want to say that games are for men. And that’s something that gamers don’t seem to want to say, and rightly so.

      Ultimately, my argument about representation is this: Walk into your local game store and look for a game that has the option to play as a male and an option to play as a female. You’ll have an easier time finding the former, and find more that allow the former. This reflects the mainstream of gaming — in my opinion — and does reflect the difference in ratio. Whether this is bad and what to do about it is indeed something to discuss.

  3. Crude Says:

    Verbose,

    No sweat on the delay.

    Across all games? Sure, they seem to have a better balance, but I’ve also never heard of those games, and you can contrast it with Telltale games which probably has fewer games but whose games are more mainstream … and don’t allow it.

    Do you think that’s a good metric though? You say you never heard of them. Yeah, but… why should you? It’s not your interest apparently. Nor mine, for the most part. Do you think the sites you frequent, whether or not they admit it, realize as much? Do you think advertisers do?

    You suggest they’re not mainstream, but really… isn’t that an almost meaningless word for a lot of games nowadays? How mainstream is Archeage? Five Nights at Freddy’s? Half the titles on Steam’s main store page on any given night?

    As people who play the games comment, in FPSs — probably currently the most popular genre of games — the protagonist tends to not only be male, but to be bland white male jarhead.

    Anonymous bland white mail jarhead. But, you know what? Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it like this. I’m not offended, but I can’t get onboard with the whole ‘it’s okay to knock the white males’ bandwagon, not that I think you were doing that. Call it a reactionary sentiment on my part.

    Note that the objection is that while it is argued that female representation in games is and ought to be more than 16% — I don’t think the claims of women outnumbering men really do count, but that’s controversial in so many ways — they aren’t represented to that degree in games themselves.

    But that’s one of the things I am specifically arguing against here. I think that’s baloney – I think they are very well represented, in fact over-represented, in various segments of the game industry.

    It’s just that the games aren’t… you know, you say ‘mainstream’ but that doesn’t seem right. Again, Farmville wasn’t exactly a minor thing. Nor ways Zynga’s entire library. Nor is Popcap, another bastion of female gamers. Bigfish games is clearly spewing out a swarm of things with female leads.

    And again, this is before talking about games where you can just make your character whatever gender you like. (And which, I note, most people just go with the white male guy anyway, if the stats I’ve seen are anything to go by.)

    Now, putting that aside, there’s nothing wrong with video games not having many female consumers … as long as you want to say that games are for men. And that’s something that gamers don’t seem to want to say, and rightly so.

    I don’t get the logic here. How is something ‘for men’ automatically just because there’s a skew? You seem to be treating the disparity as, automatically, something to be ashamed of, something in need of correcting. Putting aside that I am questioning this supposed disparity to begin with, I’m also questioning whether it’s a bad thing, especially when we go to a title by title basis, as if GTA5 ‘owes us a female protagonist’ at this point. Like there’s a quota.

    Ultimately, my argument about representation is this: Walk into your local game store and look for a game that has the option to play as a male and an option to play as a female.

    Do I have to ride there on horseback too? The local game store is no longer the best place to look for this kind of thing – they are, if not currently absolutely redundant, easily made so for any gamer with an internet connection. How hard do you think it’ll be to use the same metric on Steam? The App store?

    • Crude Says:

      You seem to be treating the disparity as, automatically, something to be ashamed of, something in need of correcting.

      Let me correct this, as this seems wrong. Mea culpa.

      It’s not so much that you’re saying that – in fact I think you said the exact opposite of this? – as you seem to say that, if 84% of game X’s population is male, that this is ‘a game for men’, which in turn is supposed to be a problem in need of correcting, or at least something to feel a bit worried about. But I don’t get that jump. It’s a game that’s isn’t popular with women, sure. But ‘for men’? If I were to take a shot in the dark, I’d say that slim jims are largely enjoyed by men. Is that now a food that isn’t ‘for women’?

      On a separate point… I’ve brought up Farmville, the Bigfish style games, the MMOs, etc. You seem to want to discount those for a number of reasons. But frankly, I think that comes with a hidden cost: if those kinds of games ‘don’t count’, then I think you’re going to find that the number of female gamers plummets dramatically.

      There’s a reason one of the most recent trumpeted measures talks about how women over 50 or such now outnumber some arbitrary teenage age range of male gamers. The awkward spin of that is that the Golden Girls are loving the hell of out Injustice: Gods Among Us. The reality is that you’re looking at the population of the sort of social networking platform games that most gaming sites not only ignore, but would find being assigned to write about to be a form of punishment.

      • verbosestoic Says:

        It’s not so much that you’re saying that – in fact I think you said the exact opposite of this? – as you seem to say that, if 84% of game X’s population is male, that this is ‘a game for men’, which in turn is supposed to be a problem in need of correcting, or at least something to feel a bit worried about. But I don’t get that jump. It’s a game that’s isn’t popular with women, sure. But ‘for men’? If I were to take a shot in the dark, I’d say that slim jims are largely enjoyed by men. Is that now a food that isn’t ‘for women’?

        It’s not the lopsided percentage, but how the field REACTS to that that’s indicative here. When a company finds that sort of percentage, the first thing they should do is ask “Hey, can we make that more balanced by getting more women to buy our product?”. If it doesn’t, then, yeah, it seems like they’re risking simply saying “This product is for men and that’s how we like it” … which is exactly what the romance novel field does (they have no interest in appealing to men whatsoever). Now, you may discover that there really isn’t anything you can do to make your product more appealing to that large population that doesn’t like it without taking out what appeals to the other large population, at which point you would just say “Well, it’s just a product that men like more”. But that actually doesn’t seem to be the case for FPSs or, in fact, most video games, and there are some suggestions — that may or may not work — for how to draw in more of the female audience. So we aren’t there yet, and so saying that we are seem at best premature and at worst like saying that you want games to be for men,

        On a separate point… I’ve brought up Farmville, the Bigfish style games, the MMOs, etc. You seem to want to discount those for a number of reasons. But frankly, I think that comes with a hidden cost: if those kinds of games ‘don’t count’, then I think you’re going to find that the number of female gamers plummets dramatically.

        Well, I actually was always counting MMOs … I just don’t think they skew the ratio enough to matter. For games like Farmville and the like, I’ve always just assumed that they didn’t actually have an actual protagonist to care about and that you simply played as yourself, but I could be wrong about that. I am hesitant about some of the social network games in the same way that I’d be hesitant about claiming that people who play online Scrabble are boardgamers, or including people who play online poker as gamers (despite my spending a lot of time on an old system playing Euchre): there’s a difference between “I play a social network game occasionally” and being a gamer. Part of it, I think, requires some sort of diversity and an interest in games themselves, not just the hot game that everyone’s playing. It’d be the difference between someone who is a fan of Marvel comics and someone who, say, liked The Avengers movie or watches Agents of SHIELD.

        It is a bit tricky though. But I don’t deny that women play games, or that women can indeed enjoy the same games that traditional gamers like. I’m just not sure that you can total up the people playing Farmville or even The Sims and say “See, look at all the women gamers”. Liking one game does not a gamer make.

      • Crude Says:

        It’s not the lopsided percentage, but how the field REACTS to that that’s indicative here. When a company finds that sort of percentage, the first thing they should do is ask “Hey, can we make that more balanced by getting more women to buy our product?”. If it doesn’t, then, yeah, it seems like they’re risking simply saying “This product is for men and that’s how we like it” … which is exactly what the romance novel field does (they have no interest in appealing to men whatsoever).

        I think this gets into some apples and oranges territory. Slim Jims are food. Their metrics are pretty standard – ‘taste’, ‘appearance’, ‘price’, etc. Maybe a bit ‘reputation’. You can do a lot to change your marketing of that without actually touching the product. (I mean, within reason. It’s hard to imagine Martha Stewart urging upper middle class women to snap into a slim jim during their next brunch.)

        With games… there is nothing you can really do without changing your product. You can’t package EVE-Online to appeal to someone other than who it appeals to, really. It’s pretty narrow. You can do so by changing the product – but at that point you get into ‘Well, this may not work’, ‘This may not be worth the risk’ and ‘This may upset the people who are already our fans.’

        But that actually doesn’t seem to be the case for FPSs or, in fact, most video games, and there are some suggestions — that may or may not work — for how to draw in more of the female audience.

        I think there are exactly zero suggestions that can meaningfully expect to draw in a female audience for FPS games, or League of Legends, that also doesn’t superficially come across as likely to also alienate existing fans.

        So we aren’t there yet, and so saying that we are seem at best premature and at worst like saying that you want games to be for men,

        ‘Games’? Nope. Never has been, never will be.

        ‘This game in particular?’ Sure, why not. Shamelessly, why not. EVE-Online, Star Citizen.. these games statistically (and despite EVE being an example of a game that allows complete gender customization, etc) pull something like a 5% female market share. I don’t see that as a problem whatsoever, just like I don’t see it as a problem that GTA is a game that largely attracts men, or that Farmville largely attracts women.

        What really bothers me here is that this conversation, at least among the proponents, always has a familiar pattern. It’s very rarely ‘I want a game like X’. Instead it’s, ‘THIS game over here (the billion dollar franchise) MUST CHANGE. And if you dislike the changes you are BAD.’

        We don’t need that.

        Well, I actually was always counting MMOs … I just don’t think they skew the ratio enough to matter. For games like Farmville and the like, I’ve always just assumed that they didn’t actually have an actual protagonist to care about and that you simply played as yourself, but I could be wrong about that.

        Trust me when I say, the number of men playing female characters in those games is absolutely abundant. They don’t particularly act female.

        At the same time, there’s also a very sizable number of women playing MMOs generally. I think WoW started out with a heavy skew, and then quickly attracted a serious female audience.

        there’s a difference between “I play a social network game occasionally” and being a gamer.

        No doubt, but at that point I don’t think the metric will work out the way you want. Remember, it’s only very recently that ‘people who play video games, period’ approached a 50-50 demographic split, and that’s due to a huge surge of women on Facebook and gaming on their iPhones.

        So again, I think if we’re going to use your metric, the unintended result is going to be to dramatically shrink the number of female gamers. I can tell you this: they’re not playing EVE-Online in sizable numbers. Or League of Legends. Or most FPS games. Or various other genres. They’re there, but it’s a small number.

        They are, however, playing a heck of a lot of Farmville, Bejeweled, and various other games. Which is fine, but there’s no denying those are very different genres from the sort you’re speaking of, and I think the idea that it’s somehow ethically wrong to not care about that doesn’t fly.

        Doubly so if games are (as so many yahoos insisted before) art, rather than merely toys.

      • verbosestoic Says:

        With games… there is nothing you can really do without changing your product. You can’t package EVE-Online to appeal to someone other than who it appeals to, really. It’s pretty narrow. You can do so by changing the product – but at that point you get into ‘Well, this may not work’, ‘This may not be worth the risk’ and ‘This may upset the people who are already our fans.’

        This seems to be assuming that the reason that more men than women play those sorts of games really is the gameplay and not things like marketing or how women are portrayed. That might be true, but there are claims that the marketing is aimed at highlighting things that would appeal more to male gamers and that the portrayals of women are such that they turn female gamers off. And that might be true, too. So I think that there’s some room for discussion here. I don’t like the assumption that it is mostly portrayal and marketing and not about gameplay … but then there are a number of women who DO like that gameplay which might explain it.

        We know that there are some games that you do have to consider real and full games that women like as much if not more than men do. The Sims was very popular with women, and so, surprisingly, was Starship Titanic. I’m not sure anyone really knows why, though.

        ‘This game in particular?’ Sure, why not. Shamelessly, why not. EVE-Online, Star Citizen.. these games statistically (and despite EVE being an example of a game that allows complete gender customization, etc) pull something like a 5% female market share. I don’t see that as a problem whatsoever, just like I don’t see it as a problem that GTA is a game that largely attracts men, or that Farmville largely attracts women.

        I don’t have a problem with a game unabashedly marketing itself as being for men. Like Scarlet Blade. I think that the current atmosphere that discourages this is a really bad thing. That being said, most mainstream games won’t want to do that — for good reason — and probably don’t need to. The best you’re going to get for a mainstream game is that it happens to appeal more to one or the other, and they don’t know why.

        What really bothers me here is that this conversation, at least among the proponents, always has a familiar pattern. It’s very rarely ‘I want a game like X’. Instead it’s, ‘THIS game over here (the billion dollar franchise) MUST CHANGE. And if you dislike the changes you are BAD.’

        I agree completely. This is one of the reasons I gripe so much about them not talking about games that do it well, and only complaining about games that don’t do it. In Sarkeesian’s videos, her description of the games she wants to see are usually games that might be good as one-offs, but that won’t work as a standard … and she seems to clearly want to set a new standard.

        No doubt, but at that point I don’t think the metric will work out the way you want. Remember, it’s only very recently that ‘people who play video games, period’ approached a 50-50 demographic split, and that’s due to a huge surge of women on Facebook and gaming on their iPhones.

        So again, I think if we’re going to use your metric, the unintended result is going to be to dramatically shrink the number of female gamers. I can tell you this: they’re not playing EVE-Online in sizable numbers. Or League of Legends. Or most FPS games. Or various other genres. They’re there, but it’s a small number.

        Actually, that’s the reason I’m leery about counting those games; I don’t want to have the ratio skewed for “real games” by those overly casual games, and so have people insist that the numbers are balanced and so there’s no reason that “real games” can’t have a balanced number as well or that there’s a huge untapped market when they are very, very different types of games. As an example, I used to pay Euchre a lot on my old Amiga, but if that was the only game I played — or Minesweeper or Hearts or whatever — I wouldn’t think it reasonable to call me a gamer.

      • Crude Says:

        This seems to be assuming that the reason that more men than women play those sorts of games really is the gameplay and not things like marketing or how women are portrayed. That might be true, but there are claims that the marketing is aimed at highlighting things that would appeal more to male gamers and that the portrayals of women are such that they turn female gamers off.

        Someone would have to get creative to cite that it is about EVE-Online’s portrayal of women (or Star Citizen’s for that matter) which turns women off. Or, for that matter, what the advertisers are highlighting that A) turns women off/doesn’t turn them on while B) not being pretty essential to EVE.

        It’s also worth considering that marketing can only go so far for the same product. It’s not easy to, say… market razor blades for a man’s face AND a woman’s legs.

        As for the Sims, it’s pretty easy to guess why. It compares pretty closely to traditional female entertainment.

        I don’t have a problem with a game unabashedly marketing itself as being for men. Like Scarlet Blade. I think that the current atmosphere that discourages this is a really bad thing. That being said, most mainstream games won’t want to do that — for good reason — and probably don’t need to.

        Hahaha. I looked for images of this game. Fine work, gentlemen.

        More seriously though, I don’t know if you meant to imply this, but the image I get is that Scarlet Blade is ‘targeted towards men’ because… hey look, women in ridiculously skimpy attire. Sure, no doubt. The problem is I think as easy of a case can be made that EVE-Online, Star Citizen, etc, are also targeted towards men. It’s not just ‘games that have sexualized content’, aka games that can be laughed at and dismissed.

        I mean, does anyone really not know why League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto, and even EVE and other games appeal more to men than women? We can say we don’t know why Scarlet Blade isn’t big with women, but as a philosopher once said – we can take a pretty shrewd guess as to why that’s the case.

        I agree completely. This is one of the reasons I gripe so much about them not talking about games that do it well, and only complaining about games that don’t do it. In Sarkeesian’s videos, her description of the games she wants to see are usually games that might be good as one-offs, but that won’t work as a standard … and she seems to clearly want to set a new standard.

        Well, I’m tremendously suspicious that Sarkeesian even is trying to be fair and level-headed about this.

        Actually, that’s the reason I’m leery about counting those games; I don’t want to have the ratio skewed for “real games” by those overly casual games, and so have people insist that the numbers are balanced and so there’s no reason that “real games” can’t have a balanced number as well or that there’s a huge untapped market when they are very, very different types of games. As an example, I used to pay Euchre a lot on my old Amiga, but if that was the only game I played — or Minesweeper or Hearts or whatever — I wouldn’t think it reasonable to call me a gamer.

        I don’t follow your reasoning here. To me it seems like you want to regard the statistic of ‘50% of the market is female’ as valid and thus consider that 50% of the market is ‘female gamers’, but you don’t want to consider the relevance of what games those women are playing and are attracted to. That can’t be right – it would skew things tremendously, and you know that, so I’m missing something.

        Where’d I go off-track?

    • verbosestoic Says:

      Do you think that’s a good metric though? You say you never heard of them. Yeah, but… why should you? It’s not your interest apparently. Nor mine, for the most part. Do you think the sites you frequent, whether or not they admit it, realize as much? Do you think advertisers do?

      This is essentially my reflection of my “Not-So-Casual Gamer” moniker: if I haven’t heard of them, then most people who play games won’t have either. They’ll be a smaller company with less advertising. They likely won’t even be advertising on places like boardgamegeek. And since I consider them part of the adventure genre — at least broadly — that IS a genre that I hear about. I have the first three Sam & Max reboot chapters. I heard about “Gone Home”. So I probably should have heard something about them from my normal sources, and I haven’t.

      Now, that they’re smaller, they are definitely likely to be more willing to try to get as wide an audience as they can, and tap into any market that they can get to make more sales, which means that they are exactly the sort of company that’s willing to try appealing to the female gamer market, which means its perfectly understandable that they’d try having a female protagonist. That I HAVEN’T heard of them is pretty much another indictment of the “Let’s complain about the games that don’t and ignore the games that do” style that most of the people pushing for female protagonists adopt; why don’t they promote these games?

      The comparison with Telltale was just to show that the adventure games genre in general doesn’t seem overall to have more female protagonists, meaning that it might be a facet of small companies and smaller franchises. Like how Fatal Frame started, for example.

      Anonymous bland white mail jarhead. But, you know what? Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it like this. I’m not offended, but I can’t get onboard with the whole ‘it’s okay to knock the white males’ bandwagon, not that I think you were doing that. Call it a reactionary sentiment on my part.

      I kinda meant it how Shamus Young tends to mean it: there’s nothing wrong with a white male protagonist, but do they ALL have to be white male protagonists? That’s essentially the complaint: that they are all essentially the same model, there’s no reason to them to all be the same model, and, oh yeah, that model happens to be white. Go figure.

      He pushes for more variety, and I can’t fault that.

      Do I have to ride there on horseback too? The local game store is no longer the best place to look for this kind of thing – they are, if not currently absolutely redundant, easily made so for any gamer with an internet connection. How hard do you think it’ll be to use the same metric on Steam? The App store?

      Hey, I get all my games from the local game stores [grin].

      Anyway, I do suspect that it would still be easier on Steam or the App store to find a male protagonist than a female one, but I suspect it would be closer. I think, though, that that’s because you’ll have a lot more indie and smaller companies and franchises that are willing and in fact even aiming to flout conventions and do something new. Which is what we should generally encourage.

      • Crude Says:

        And since I consider them part of the adventure genre — at least broadly — that IS a genre that I hear about. I have the first three Sam & Max reboot chapters. I heard about “Gone Home”. So I probably should have heard something about them from my normal sources, and I haven’t.

        Have you heard of Crawl? Zangband? Advanced Dungeons of Mystery?

        Even if you have, I don’t think this metric is particularly helpful. Especially once you get into App store games – Puzzle and Dragons is not exactly well known to most gamers, nor is Clash of Clans, or BattleNations. These are not bullshit small-house games. They make a freaking fortune.

        That I HAVEN’T heard of them is pretty much another indictment of the “Let’s complain about the games that don’t and ignore the games that do” style that most of the people pushing for female protagonists adopt; why don’t they promote these games?

        You think the sort of people who complain about this typically even play many games, or care all that much? 😉

        More seriously, as I said – notice that there’s never really much of a push for ‘a game like THIS’ as opposed to ‘make THIS game – this really, really popular one – change, NOW’. At best you get cheerleading about Gone Home, and really, that has a hell of a lot to do with politics and being part of a certain culture as opposed to some general love of games.

        I kinda meant it how Shamus Young tends to mean it: there’s nothing wrong with a white male protagonist, but do they ALL have to be white male protagonists? That’s essentially the complaint: that they are all essentially the same model, there’s no reason to them to all be the same model, and, oh yeah, that model happens to be white. Go figure.

        Would you prefer a black male protagonist who is A) a big ol’ stereotype, or B) like the jarhead with a tan?

        Besides, I wonder how many of these characters are actually ‘white’, specifically because there are asians involved in gaming like crazy, and their art style is kind of naturally ‘those sure aren’t asians, despite names like Kiba Ozaki’.

        As for diversity, I’ll start being interested in it the moment I hear a single solitary major gaming journalist noticing that Christians and conservatives are entirely unheard of (almost even among the indies) in games, save for ‘as villains’ or ‘as jokes’.

      • verbosestoic Says:

        Have you heard of Crawl? Zangband? Advanced Dungeons of Mystery?

        Even if you have, I don’t think this metric is particularly helpful. Especially once you get into App store games – Puzzle and Dragons is not exactly well known to most gamers, nor is Clash of Clans, or BattleNations. These are not bullshit small-house games. They make a freaking fortune.

        Clash of Clans is not advertised on television, so it is indeed now more mainstream. That they make a lot of money doesn’t necessarily make them mainstream games among gamers. In fact, that I haven’t heard of them — even through ads on sites — even though they make that much money strikes against that. So they don’t represent the sort of game that “gamer” play. Maybe they should be counted, but making a lot of money isn’t enough to convince me of that. For example, in the U.S. poker often draws more ratings than hockey does, but does that mean that you can claim to be a sports fan if you watch poker?

        You think the sort of people who complain about this typically even play many games, or care all that much? 😉

        Some definitely do (mostly the ones who write for online gaming sites, not someone like Sarkeesian).

        Would you prefer a black male protagonist who is A) a big ol’ stereotype, or B) like the jarhead with a tan?

        No, in general I want better characters, and if you do that you can add diversity of race and gender as well. In a sense, I’d like someone like Ben Sisko from DS9; black, but that’s not the defining quality of the character.

        As for the last point, yeah, that is rare. I might be talking about an old sitcom that’s one of the few that weaves religion in well as a side attribute: important and defining, but mostly a framing device.

      • Crude Says:

        In fact, that I haven’t heard of them — even through ads on sites — even though they make that much money strikes against that. So they don’t represent the sort of game that “gamer” play. Maybe they should be counted, but making a lot of money isn’t enough to convince me of that. For example, in the U.S. poker often draws more ratings than hockey does, but does that mean that you can claim to be a sports fan if you watch poker?

        As I wrote elsewhere, something is ‘off’ with how you’re presenting this, and I’m trying to put my finger on why. Most of what I’m saying here isn’t really tied to a rapt definition of ‘gamer’ anyway – I can just deal with ‘people who play games’. Even among “gamers” you have subsets – a “gamer” doesn’t necessarily love Civ 5 AND Dark Souls 2.

        Some definitely do (mostly the ones who write for online gaming sites, not someone like Sarkeesian).

        Alright, no doubt some do – though given the recent Gamergate blowup, I think trusting them is problematic as well.

        No, in general I want better characters, and if you do that you can add diversity of race and gender as well. In a sense, I’d like someone like Ben Sisko from DS9; black, but that’s not the defining quality of the character.

        I suppose the point I’m going for here is, if characters of quality are the standard, then it’s not like whites get much representation either. Ben Sisko was black, but his being black was about as relevant as the fact that he was bald, as far as his character goes – and if that’s all you’re looking for, you are serious a skin hack or palette swap away from diversity.

        On the flipside, if you wanted something more relevant.. well, now you’re playing with fire in multiple ways.

  4. My view on women and gaming … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] the comments of this post, Crude commented that my view seemed confusing. This is understandable, since my view is, in fact, […]

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