Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound Familiar

June 12, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

While the difficulty of bringing gender choices to games is a hot topic this week thanks to comments from Ubisoft (related to gender options in the multiplayer portions of Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed Unity), one developer says that such efforts are usually the first things to get the axe on a big project.

A female game development engineer who wanted to share her thoughts on the topic but feared that speaking out would cost her job, spoke candidly and anonymously to GamesIndsutry International. The developer, who works "for one of the top studios in the industry" explains how discussions about including female characters worked at her company.

"The arguments offered by Ubisoft sound horribly familiar," she begins. "I've heard the same ones internally in similar conversations: need to redo the voice over, need to redo the animations for it to be to quality, no time, no budget, etc. All those are technically valid: when you're pushing the tech so much, the differences do matter. It's about choices though. And inclusivity always seems to end up on the cutting board."

She also says that the 'authenticity' argument comes up often but apparently "authenticity is not an issue when the gameplay and the fun are at stake. But somehow female characters are less believable than absurd, over-the-top situations."

Developers may also believe that "male is the default" because "people assume female characters don't sell, and that the audience is mostly teenage boys."

Another argument that comes up often is that "it's not the right game to do it," to which the engineer notes that maybe the "company is making the wrong game."

The engineer does highlight the fact that the studios where she works generally have an "amazing atmosphere" and people there do enjoy discussing topics like this one and pushing for a better effort.

"It feels that the tide is turning and there will be good things coming," she tells GII. "But due to the time it takes to make a AAA game, it will still be three, four, five years before any of that becomes visible."

Source: GII

Image © 2014, www.shutterstock.com. Used with permission.


Comments

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

SO they are saying that opps we forgot to make female avatars and since we suck we are not going to enable them....... asshats...... more reasons to never buy "Udon'tplay".......


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

I've never had an issue playing a game where I was playing as a woman if the story called for it.  I grew up with Metroid, Tomb Raider, and other titles that I still remember and play to this day that star women as the only choice you have to play as.  

I've supported the idea that character selection should be possible for a title as long as it's not forcing a change to someones story just to have it.  I fondly remember games like Zombie's Ate My Neighbors and others that let me choose, but were designed to be that way.  But taking something like Link and making him female just to appease someone even though the story has always been another way never sat well.  And with that option, I would MUCH rather have a good game that you played as Zelda, Impa, or another character all together that would expand the universe to include more characters instead of forcing one into something else.  Heck, with the latest trailer for Zelda on Wii U when they, oddly, joked that it might not be Link...I was actually hopeful that it was something like the child or grandchild of Link or Zelda which would have actually made a fun way to allow either sex of the character or to make a good starting point for a while new female character without changing either side of the fanbase.

But I do see that many games that come out as a completely new series have limited options for female players to connect with that really have no reason NOT to have a female in one way or the other.  I remember how happy some of my friends were when Gears of War added female characters for multiplayer. Personally I still find it really weak the way that Ubisoft basically cut women out of Assassins Creed and then had an exceptionally weak response for why they did it.  No game will be able to cater to all people as it just isn't possible.  But we can make a better effort to bring in a wider audience in different ways that could fit into the worlds we build without having to make it feel forced.  Hopefully this rant actually makes sense. :)

As a side note, I asked my wife just now if she would play more games if more of them starred a woman in the playable role. (she is mainly a puzzle and RPG player on portables) She responded she really didn't care if it was a man or a woman as long as she enjoys the game...but she does want a ninja if possible.  I love this woman. :)

Zen aka Jeremy Powers
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Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

I often do not buy games that force me to play as a female. So depending on who is my avatar is a big factor on how I purchase a game. It's sort of like the Emo Dante I refuse to buy the game based on his look.

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

Often?

How is that possible?  Extraordinarily few games have only female playable characters.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

Metroid, Tomb Raider, and Bayonetta are really the only ones I can think of.

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

Beyond Good and Evil, Mirror's Edge, Remember Me (which no one remembers), Portal, Alice (original and Madness Returns), Heavy Metal FAKK2, Lollipop Chainsaw, Heavenly Sword(?), FF13-3. Do adventure games count? Then you have Longest Journey and Syberia. And I think that's literally all of them before you start getting to sub-AAA titles.

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation.

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

It's not like females had their own lead roles in videogames. They all have their place. Bioware proved that even LGBT folks are (becoming) part of it. Videogames are a pretty young format and still being established as an art form and meaningful medium.

Yes, there are games that are more or less sexist but damn... Not even a week ago I watched a video of a very opinionated young woman that kinda-sorta insisted the entire world had to forget about sexism right the hell now, completely ignoring the fact that a shockingly big part of earth's inhabitants don't even have access to the food, healthcare or even clean drinking water that is taken for granted by so many fortunate people.

I understand the reasoning and yes it sucks but feminists really should calm down a bit. There clearly are more urgent matters.

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

Why are you complaining about this on the internet? Clearly there are more urgent matters than posting a comment these people won't even see. Until we stop the genocide in Rwanda, we can't spare a moment to comment on the internet!

Re: Female Developer on Inclusion: Ubisoft's Arguments Sound ...

This is a horrible, shitty argument made by horrible, shitty people.

 
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