While two team leaders from Ubisoft (working on Assassin's Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4) say that there wasn't enough time or resources to include female character options for multiplayer, one small developer – chronicled by Polygon – designed its game with inclusivity in mind at the start.
The developer is Xaviant and the game is Lichdom: Battlemage. From the starter players of this upcoming first-person magic casting game can choose male and female genders from the start and each gender choice has its own carefully crafted animation and back-story.
Xaviant CEO and creative director Michael McMain says that when his company set out to design the game it thought about these options well in advance.
"It's something that we were adamant about doing," explained CEO and creative director Michael McMain. "Our motto at Xaviant 'you will feel everything.' It's all about immersion. My argument is, how can a woman feel that immersion when she's playing a male avatar that she does not want to play?"
McMain goes on to tell Polygon that his team debated the pros and cons of including gender choices – including any extra work or costs it might add to the project. Ultimately they decided that having these options was of paramount importance.
Obviously this came at the expense of other things we could have done, but we prioritized," he said. "We said it's important to do. We have what we feel is an amazing experience. This just adds more depth to it."
McMain thinks that inclusion is a matter of will and a choice.
"It's really just a choice," he said. "We said, we're going to do it and we don't give ourselves an option to fail. Yes, it costs more in animation. But when we decided we're doing it, the team rolled up their sleeves and we got it done."
Xaviant is going to release Lichdom: Battlemage in August, but the game is currently available on Steam Early Access.