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An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games - "be

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"Honestly, put a character in the game that you feel passionate about putting in the game."

Is addressing the games industry's well-documented gender imbalance as simple as making up the numbers - mandating the creation of more female protagonists, for instance? Perhaps not. Speaking to OXM as part of the conversation that gave you this Below preview, Capybara's Nathan Vella has cautioned against making design decisions in the service of a wider political agenda, insisting that players are smart enough to spot when developers are doing things for the sake of it.... read more

An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games - "be

Postby ChaoticP » 08 Oct 2013, 12:14

Such a simple idea that goes a long way.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby Maximus T » 08 Oct 2013, 18:22

This is where games with large amounts of character customisation get proper popular, I think. Sure, Skyrim is a great game, but what would it be like if you could only make a male character?
I think the problem is often down to genre, and then making an un-clich├ęd character that will work in that genre. Fine, have a female protagonist, but try not to go all comic book on her ass (and breasts, etc.)
If we could get some new genres it would be cool, more stuff like LA Noire would have a lot of scope for original, unique, female protagonists. I am also struggling to think of a game which has a female antagonist, but then again my game library is like a copy of "Pat the Bunny" compared to some people's Jedi Temple Archives of the entertainment form.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby SilentDark » 08 Oct 2013, 19:07

Although in LA Noire they were really going for that 40s America feel, a female protagonist (or for that matter a black protagonist) probably wouldn't have gotten to the level of detective so easily, if at all.

Funily enough I engaged in a conversation over at ONM about Link, and whether or not a future game should feature a female Link. I was surprised at how many were actually resistant to the idea, even when it was suggested that the gender be picked at the start like in recent Poemon games. So when companies say that a female protagonist doesn't sell as well as a male protagonist it might not be so much the sexism of the devs or publishers but because they know that there is still a strong element of misogyny within the community and at the end of the day they are just looking after their bottom line.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby Maximus T » 08 Oct 2013, 19:14

SilentDark wrote:Although in LA Noire they were really going for that 40s America feel, a female protagonist (or for that matter a black protagonist) probably wouldn't have gotten to the level of detective so easily, if at all.

Funily enough I engaged in a conversation over at ONM about Link, and whether or not a future game should feature a female Link. I was surprised at how many were actually resistant to the idea, even when it was suggested that the gender be picked at the start like in recent Poemon games. So when companies say that a female protagonist doesn't sell as well as a male protagonist it might not be so much the sexism of the devs or publishers but because they know that there is still a strong element of misogyny within the community and at the end of the day they are just looking after their bottom line.


When I said "like LA noire" I meant more the genre in general, rather than 40's specifically. E.G. you could have something in present day or near future, or even far future.
Also, recently one of my friends introduced me to the concept of "Gender Bending" the example being Finn from Adventure Time, being changed into Fiona. I think based on what pictures I was shown relating to that, that Link is an exceptionally good character to "Gender Bend". And if there is a choice 'twixt male and female anyway, what's the problem?
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby ChaoticP » 08 Oct 2013, 19:22

SilentDark wrote:Although in LA Noire they were really going for that 40s America feel, a female protagonist (or for that matter a black protagonist) probably wouldn't have gotten to the level of detective so easily, if at all.

Funily enough I engaged in a conversation over at ONM about Link, and whether or not a future game should feature a female Link. I was surprised at how many were actually resistant to the idea, even when it was suggested that the gender be picked at the start like in recent Poemon games. So when companies say that a female protagonist doesn't sell as well as a male protagonist it might not be so much the sexism of the devs or publishers but because they know that there is still a strong element of misogyny within the community and at the end of the day they are just looking after their bottom line.


The problem with changing a character such as Link's gender isn't about misogyny, it's the fact he is a well established iconic character that many fans of the franchise like myself identify as a male, that's all there is to it. I'm sure no one will protest a brand new title featuring a female character as the main protagonist, I would even prefer the protagonist in Sword and Sworcery remain female as well as many other known female protagonist.
Last edited by ChaoticP on 08 Oct 2013, 19:38, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby Grummy » 08 Oct 2013, 19:27

SilentDark wrote:Although in LA Noire they were really going for that 40s America feel, a female protagonist (or for that matter a black protagonist) probably wouldn't have gotten to the level of detective so easily, if at all.

Funily enough I engaged in a conversation over at ONM about Link, and whether or not a future game should feature a female Link. I was surprised at how many were actually resistant to the idea, even when it was suggested that the gender be picked at the start like in recent Poemon games. So when companies say that a female protagonist doesn't sell as well as a male protagonist it might not be so much the sexism of the devs or publishers but because they know that there is still a strong element of misogyny within the community and at the end of the day they are just looking after their bottom line.


Suggesting a female Link is like suggesting a female Mario, it's not going to get anywhere. Some characters are who they are, arbitrarily changing their gender is pointless and a bit of a slap in the face for fans. Now, the idea of adding a NEW character to a Zelda game, a female character with a different storyline or path through the adventure would be a better idea, but even then, some purists would only want Link, that's not a sexist thing, it's just about being a purist.

Similarly, I don't think that people would have been happy if the Tomb Raider reboot had cast a Male Lara Croft, but they're happy to accept that idea as its own character in the Uncharted games.

I'm not convinced female characters don't sell as well, I just think they've never been give the best games. A female lead in a 3rd Darksiders game for example wouldn't make a difference, it'd sell the same numbers, and would be entirely dependent on the quality of the game.

For now, games with customization will lead the way on this, RPGs primarily, but I do think a major release needs to be made that has a female protagonist. I'm actually quite disappointed that the AC game that's being ported to 360 is being done so soon after the release of Black Flag as I think it won't get the exposure it deserves, people will either still be playing or would have had their fill of AC and will pass it over. Much better they'd leave it until the end of next year and put in more time to flesh it out further then release it as the primary AC release and see how it fairs.

I'd love to see the next CoD after Ghosts having a female protagonist. THAT would be interesting, they wouldn't lose any sales as people who buy it would buy it for the MP, but they'd be able to track how many people play the campaign, see if there are any noticeable changes.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby SilentDark » 08 Oct 2013, 23:08

The difference as I see it between Link, Mario and Lara is the fact that Mario and Lara are established as one person through their respective series. Each Link is a different individual, not unlike the various Belmonts in Castlevania. Mario in Super Mario Galaxy is the same guy from Super Mario Brothers. The Link from Ocarina of Time is different from the Link in Skyward Sword for example, they even have different titles to differentiate each other so you get The Hero of Time/Light/etc. some of the people on the discussion were more concerned with the change to something unfamiliar but I remember one guy saying it didn't "make sense" for a girl to be saving a princess, when personally I don't see how it makes a difference. Given how Link is supposed to be the playerr's "Link to Hyrule" I think some character customisation would benefit the series.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby Grummy » 09 Oct 2013, 01:07

SilentDark wrote:The difference as I see it between Link, Mario and Lara is the fact that Mario and Lara are established as one person through their respective series. Each Link is a different individual, not unlike the various Belmonts in Castlevania. Mario in Super Mario Galaxy is the same guy from Super Mario Brothers. The Link from Ocarina of Time is different from the Link in Skyward Sword for example, they even have different titles to differentiate each other so you get The Hero of Time/Light/etc. some of the people on the discussion were more concerned with the change to something unfamiliar but I remember one guy saying it didn't "make sense" for a girl to be saving a princess, when personally I don't see how it makes a difference. Given how Link is supposed to be the playerr's "Link to Hyrule" I think some character customisation would benefit the series.


I didn't know that. With it being the case, it certainly makes the potential for having a Female link much more logical, unless there is some sort of story reason why Link must always be Male.
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Re: An Xbox One indie's advice on tackling sexism in games -

Postby ChaoticP » 09 Oct 2013, 01:37

SilentDark wrote:The difference as I see it between Link, Mario and Lara is the fact that Mario and Lara are established as one person through their respective series. Each Link is a different individual, not unlike the various Belmonts in Castlevania. Mario in Super Mario Galaxy is the same guy from Super Mario Brothers. The Link from Ocarina of Time is different from the Link in Skyward Sword for example, they even have different titles to differentiate each other so you get The Hero of Time/Light/etc. some of the people on the discussion were more concerned with the change to something unfamiliar but I remember one guy saying it didn't "make sense" for a girl to be saving a princess, when personally I don't see how it makes a difference. Given how Link is supposed to be the playerr's "Link to Hyrule" I think some character customisation would benefit the series.


Every Link isn't the same person, but they've always kept close to his original appearance and never strayed far away from it. Link is identified as a male character, suddenly changing him to a female would be just as bad getting rid of his trademark green tunic. There is surely a place for a female protagonist in Legend of Zelda universe, but that character needs to find its own identity.
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