Lagging Behind on the Leading Ladies, Part 3: The Creative Side

Introduction

Business Perspective

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It’s that time again! Time to talk about how I don’t get to play like a girl as much as I want to, and look into possible means as for why that is.

Today, we’re going to talk about the creative aspect of having women as leading characters in your video games. And it’s purely going to be about the art of making video game women, in a vacuum. We’re not going to discuss the impact audience reception has on creating just yet, that’s going to be a topic for our next post in this series, when we’re talking about the social factors. Most creators do create for their audience, but if we start working that in alongside everything else we’re talking about the lines between this post and the next post will blur and then I’d have to write the two of them together and I am too monumentally lazy right now to do that. So yeah, just focusing on the creative side of things today, looking at things from the perspective of the designer, not considering the marketing or receptive aspects of these.

This didn’t come up so much in the last post we did in this series, but at it’s core, the whole issue behind gender representation and everything else we’ll talk about here stems from the way we as a culture look at gender identity. So let’s talk a bit about that first.

I’m going to say I’m pretty experienced at being a man. I’ve got a lot of experience at that. Enough that I have pretty much mastered the art of physically being a man. On top of that, I’ve known plenty of women throughout the course of my life. Taken in their stories, their personalities, their… eh, let’s keep this G-rated. Never been a women, but I’ve observed them plenty. On top of that, as I continually demonstrate through this blog, I am a genius. My thinking is just of a top-tier quality.

What I’m saying is I have absolutely the highest credentials to talk about matters of gender. Accept no substitutes. My word on this is the best-informed you will ever see. And I’m telling you that men and women just aren’t all that different. Naturally, we barely have anything between us. Personality-wise, we in general have a few different drives, usually related to partnering or evolutionally instilled upon us from a period of life that we’ve outgrown faster than our biology has, but aside from that, we’re basically the same. Yes, we have some biological, hormonal, and brain developmental differences, but the differences account for so little proportion of who we are. Men and women have far more in common than we realize. Stripped of everything else, we all have basically the same capacity for caring, for aggression, for nurturing, and for enjoying video games.

But cultures in general do not recognize that. That’s one of the human absolutes, every single known human culture has developed a distinction between gender roles because people in general have a hard time not getting blinded by obvious distinctions. It’s human nature, in an attempt to understand people we attempt to see them as instant wholes based on the most obvious characteristics, rather than taking the time to figure out their individual features and building our concept of them around that. This creates expectations. Implicit, unstated expectations of how different genders are supposed to act, instilled in us since birth, and the mold by which we’re supposed to grow up into. Which is ridiculous. You cannot define a single personality trait or feature that reasonably applies to a full half of the human population. But cultures try. And in so doing, they create more differences between the genders than actually exists.

And that has negative impacts on both sides of the coin. Those impacts don’t always reach a one-to-one match, but the defined gender roles are hurting both men and women in different ways.

But still, it persists. That’s both the cause of what we’ll be talking about today, and the whole reason I’m writing this post series in general.

The Obvious

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Right, let’s just get the obvious things out of the way. Game development is a male dominated field. Doesn’t mean there aren’t women creators in prominent positions, there definitely are. A lot of them are making male characters too, but that’s a topic for another paragraph. But even though there are women out in the industry, it’s still mostly made up of men. Why does that matter? Well, people have a tendency to think of themselves as the norm, the default, the generic, the standard. So if you have a creator trying to think of normal features for a character, everything that they’re not trying to make notable is probably going to be pretty similar to their own. Part of the reason why so many Japanese games set outside of Japan has a whole bunch of characters who are half-Japanese even though it doesn’t fit with the real world demographics. I believe we have been seeing more women get into the game development industry; we’ve been seeing that with a lot of creative industries in the past decade. But, and this is completely anecdotal, whenever I’ve been seeing the results of that in the creative industries I’ve worked with, women always start picking up either administrative positions in the industry or broad-focused creative roles first, and it takes them a while longer to catch up in the positions that are more intimately involved in certain aspects of the creative works. In the film industry, I’ve worked with a lot of women assistants, casting agents, directors, and screenwriters, but when it came down to the people more involved in making the actual film itself; the camera crew, the editors, the set constructors, all men. It’s going to be harder for developers to make a full-fledged approach to incorporating women characters when women aren’t involved in the technical aspects of their creation.

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There’s also the fact that people have an easier time making characters that are similar to themselves. I went through that myself, with my drawing practice. Drawing men has always come a lot easier to me than has women. There’s a lot of subtle visual differences between the genders, and without practice, it’s hard to get them designed or animated correctly. Those of you who’ve been around for a while might remember that graphic novel I used to post pages of here. I made a deliberate choice to have the two women characters leading things in the opening, because I really needed more practice getting the anatomy right. Women have shorter torsos, longer legs, less of the v-shaped or block-shaped bodies and a bit more of that hourglass or pear figure, jawlines, armpits, abdominals, where the center of balance is carried, etc., all slightly different in a way that’s not obvious to the layman but will leave a character looking off if they’re not addressed properly. And frankly, when we’re looking at all the games out there, not all the artists and animators are quite capable of addressing those differences. You would expect an experienced professional artist to have enough training and practice behind them to do it well, and a lot of them are, but… well, you’ve seen all the games out there. Not every game gets to command the top tier talent, too.

That extends to writing as well. I’m not sure, but I believe it’s credited to James Cameron or one of the other show-makers for Alien that the best way to write believably strong female characters is to write the character as a male then go back and add an ‘s’ to all the ‘he’s when your done. That works, because, again, men and women just really aren’t all that different when it comes to personality. But, as humans have a hard time mentally getting over those differences between themselves and ‘the others’, most anyone is going to have a harder time writing a person of the opposite gender as not being an example of what they think that gender should be first and foremost.

And, just to go over all the factors here, we’re dealing with a long, long history of storytelling that has almost always had men in the more active and leading roles. When we generations of people have all been spending most of their life with a single model of media, widespread breaking out of that model gets more difficult to achieve. That’s why although overall we’re always going in a direction, media does tend to go in a bit of a cycle as the old generation of creators moves out and a new generation comes in. Likewise, although these works are all creative and don’t have to adhere to real-world demographic make up, creative works tend to be more reflective of their culture than they are prospective of what they think their culture should be. And we’re sitting on a culture where, although women have been involved in the military, police force, fighting sports, and every other occupation that has dealing with violence in the job description, they’re still overwhelmingly and most notably filled by men. That translates into creative work, and is then reflected in the action oriented protagonists we’re seeing. And then that inspires the people going into those occupations and it’s all cyclical and self-fulfilling and all that.

Like I said, that’s all the obvious stuff. That’s the stuff you can figure out for yourself if you take the time to think about it. You don’t need me for all that. And honestly, all that stuff above, probably has more of an impact on the gender makeup of our women characters than the more interesting stuff I’m going to talk about next. But because I have a mouth full of words and my own space here and absolutely nothing you can do about any of that, let’s talk about some of the other concerns that come up with creating women characters.

The Lines

Let me show you something. Here’s DudeShep:

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Here’s FemShep:

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Keep in mind they’re the exact same character. Notice anything different about them?

Haven’t got it yet? Well, let’s show you something else. Here’s Evie Frye:

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And here’s Jacob Frye:

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They are twins. They are the exact same age. For that manner, here’s Edward, from the same series.

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He is the same age as the both of them.

Got it yet? No? Well, let’s go for one more. Here’s Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII:

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And here’s Snow:

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Both of them are rough and tumble warriors. Both of them are career members of established combat units. Both of them are developed under the same art style. Yet one of them has folds and wrinkles and whatnot on his face like a normal human being, while the other goes into combat with perfect makeup and the face of a porcelain doll.

Same with Sheppard. Both default sheps are badass space warriors, but only one of them would look like they’re older than 17 if it weren’t for the makeup. I’ve got to give the Assassin’s Creed team props for putting a hint of nasolabial folds onto Evie, but even then she looks way less experienced than her similarly aged counterparts.

Our creators seem to have a real problem with getting some lines on the faces of their women. Frankly, that’s something you’re going to see in every form of media where the characters aren’t played by actors. Look at graphic novels, animation, or just plain old 2-D art for examples where the men will be grizzled and worn while the women of the same age will be completely fair and unweathered. That phenomenon is so common, across all sorts of art styles and all sorts of mediums.

To be sure, a lot of that does come from age-old and bilaterally sexist standards of physical attractiveness for both genres. No getting around that. I don’t think that’s all the problem here, though.

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If you’ve been around for a while, you know I dabble in drawing myself. I’ve been deliberately working on being able to draw women better. I’ve been running into problems drawing lines on women’s faces myself. Specifically, the moment I put lines on a woman’s face, no matter when those lines are gained in real life, the woman instantly looks like she’s forty. Men don’t have that problem. I can draw 25 year old men, 30 year old, 40 year old, and make them all look distinct. Applying those same practices to women makes them all look middle-aged. Like in art, women are all the same age for 15 years at a time.

Granted, I’m not even close to the skill level of a professional artist, the type you’d like to see behind your games. They’d probably be able to handle it better than I would. Yet, given the complete and utter lack of even mildly creased women characters that aren’t explicitly demonstrated to be getting up there, I’m given to wonder. That could just be an expectation baked until all of us by now, that even a hint of lines in a drawn woman represents her as being of advanced age. Or it could be just what are brains are pulling out, when we’re dealing with a simplified visual representation of a woman.

In any case, I’m pretty sure what it means is that it’s a lot of trouble trying to make a woman character have any lines on the face without looking old. And honestly, getting the image of the character across is going to be more important than having that extra detail in there.

So creators can’t put lines on women’s faces. What’s the creative problems with that? Makeup also serves to make people look more mature after all, wrinkles aren’t the only way. Well, there’s three practical problems that I can see.

The first is… well, real people have lines on their face. Even young ones. Skin creases, that’s just what it does. I moisturize like a warbeast, and I’ve still got the odd wrinkle here and there. Teenagers will get folds above and under the eye. Forehead wrinkles start in the early twenties. Most people will get those nasolabial folds by the time they’re 25. So these women, without facial wrinkles, even the normal ones, end up looking less realistic than the male characters. Depending on the art style, this means they either look more like a child or a cartoon than the males, which is troublesome to deal with while still keeping their actual characters mature and active, or they end up deeper into the uncanny valley than the males. So if you can’t put lines on them without making them look old, and you can’t not have lines without having them look odd or out of place, it’s a little bit more trouble to effectly put women in your work.

The second problem is that it makes the women less expressive. Most of the facial expression in women is going to come from the eyebrows, shape of the eyes, and the mouth, yes, but the facial lines are going to be another tool to more subtly convey emotion. And you know, you are a bit more free to draw a line on a woman’s face when it’s part of a smirk or something without having her look old. I guess that fits into a gap in the viewer’s mind. I haven’t seen a lot of creators really take advantage of that, though, and when they do, it’s primarily in 2D art. I imagine it would be a technical nightmare to simulate with a 3D model. Even if Ubisoft did pull it off with the Fryes up there.

The third… let’s call this Comic Book Syndrome. By way of example, take a look at these. Blond-haired, blue eyed women in the Marvel Universe. Prominent characters within it, too.

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Ok, now let me ask you, how many different characters were represented in those five pictures?  Any characters repeated?  Can you even tell?   I guarantee you know the names of at least some of them, can you identify any of them outside of their recognizable costumes?

Yes, theoretically, you could make different looking characters by varying the size, shape and style of facial features. Some creators are able to use this to great extent. You can do the same thing with face shape. But the more features your art style removes from the face, the more alike everyone is going to look. If you’re removing wrinkles from the face of women, that’s one more tool you’re losing to keep everyone differentiated.

And it’s not like it’s completely impossible for a skilled artist to put lines on a woman’s face without having her look old and/or not appropriately hot. Again, Evie Frye doesn’t have all the folds she should, but she’s got the start of them. And although FemShep’s art doesn’t have any, her default in-game model has some subtle nasolabial folds. But the way artists seem to avoid that, I’m guessing it’s way more difficult to effectively work that than it seems at first glance.

Muscles

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How do you draw a woman that looks as physically dominant as most of these male characters, without looking masculine? That’s something that I’ve struggled with for a while. I did end up finding some options myself, such as by encasing 90 percent of them in armor or by making them physically broader and constantly having them shown next to more commonly-sized women, but both of those are pretty limited options.

Appearance is the first way you communicate something. Even before those characters speak or act, players will already be making assumptions about them based on the way they look. And granted, not every video game character needs to look like they could cream everybody in the room without breaking a sweat. And there’s a lot more ways to look dangerous than just being physically large and musclebound. But you do seem to have less options with creating women.

For that matter, creators just don’t seem comfortable with putting muscles on women in general. One the things that irritates me so much about Lara Croft’s new design is that she looks so soft. Lara may not be posed as the wise-cracking easy-going slayer she used to be, but she’s still obviously a woman who does a lot of physical things. She’s climbing mountains, leaping across chasms, and a whole bunch of other huge physical exertions requiring her to haul up her own bodyweight.

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Look at those shoulders. They look like worn out soap. With all that she’s able to do, she shouldn’t necessarily be buff, but she should be rippling. She should have a lot more definition. Something akin to a rock climber or aerialist.

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She’s not the only one. Faith from Mirror’s Edge is shown to be able to lay out armored men with her fists and is able to vault with her hands. She’s an accomplished traceur, and should have a lithely muscled physique.

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But nope. Still soft. And you’ll see this again and again. As technology allows for more detailed graphics, even the very physical women will still look like dolls.

Honestly, I don’t know why devs do this. It’s not like having no muscle definition makes women more attractive or more feminine or seem more active or or more believable as an action protagonist any of the rest of the things you’d be looking from a lead character. You’d think having some definition would actually make for more effective protagonists.

Men are Generic

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Protagonists aren’t the only character type in which women are underused as a gender. When was the last time you saw women as a goon? As a mook? As a faceless minion? As one of those thousands of unknown soldiers that you rip through without even learning their name. I would guess you get to play as a woman more often than you find a woman as part of the enemy horde.

We as a culture don’t really think much about our men. Not nearly as much as we do about our women. Women being women stand out in our media. Men don’t, unless they’ve got something else going on with them.

This is a big generalization, but usually, when you’re creating something, you try to fit all the features that you’re not trying to draw attention to into the model that the audience generally expects. That’s why TVs were all shown in cartoons and whatnot as the old CRTs with rabbit ear antennae long after flatscreens started taking hold. Or you kept seeing rotary phones and phone booths long after everybody stopped using them forever.

And so it is with gender and character. We’ll generally see women NPCs as bystanders, citizens, victims, whatever, because that’s where we expect to see women thanks to some societal biases we’ll get into next time. The active characters, the warriors, we’ll be seeing men and men alone because that’s what our mental image of those characters look like. Moreover, we’ve got a lot of action games at play here, and in the view of general conciousness, violence and harm is a thing that should be inflicted by and to men.

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That’s also why when we do see women, their gender is more a part of their character than it is for men. At extreme levels, that’s where we get Smurfette or the Baroness or 1960’s Jean Grey or other characters whose main personality feature is their gender. Most depictions of women do have them as more complicated characters than that, but more often then not, their gender is one of the considerations at play in determining who they are, in evaluating their character. Because being a woman is unique and special, or at the very least is outside the general conception of what the white bread model of these characters is. Womanhood is a special feature. That’s not the case with men. For a man to be unique and interesting, he’d have to have design elements going for him.

So, at the end of the day, that means if you want to write about a big, heavy-hearted conflicted badass, but none of the personality traits you want to convey tie into the general idea the public has of women characters, making said badass a woman would be a distraction. Playing to the preconceived notions doesn’t usually lead to great writing, but neither necessarily does going wildly outside of them unless you have the room to do a lot of groundwork, so that leaves creators with a line to walk in which the have to be rather deliberate with their deviations. Making a woman lead can be one of those deviations, but it takes more work than a male one.

So in summation, men are valueless, women are an aberration.  That’s what people expect of them in their media, and that’s what creators are playing to.

Introduction

Business Perspective

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9 responses to “Lagging Behind on the Leading Ladies, Part 3: The Creative Side

  1. In anime characters tend to look the same and that applies to both genders. Some shows seen to design the cast by having a standard body and just using a template of different hairstyles and outfits.

    When it comes to Marvel it’s hard to identify characters outside of costume, especially when a book chops and changes artists. The example you used for blonde women would apple to brown haired guys. Show me a bunch of pics like that and I would struggle to say who Peter Parker is from the lineup.

    • Yeah, that was something I was going to mention, but cut because I couldn’t built a strong point around it. In a lot of anime, it’s all hairstyle that makes the character recognizable, on both sides of the gender fence. Faces are all shaped the same and completely blank, eyes are very subtly different, so the hair is the only method of distinguishing between them. I don’t think it’s a strong way of designing characters, but it seems to work.

      You’ve got a point, there. I think the men do have more consistent facial design cues in comics than do the women (cyclops usually has a square jaw and weird jowls, Bruce Banner has a bulbous chin and sunken cheeks, Reed Richards has some very prominent cheekbones in nearly every incarnation) but with how often art styles change, that does sometimes get shaken up. I do have more of a mental picture for how those characters look out of costume, but that may be because they get more screen time as much as because their faces are more detailed.

  2. You’re right about men being generic in fiction. Whenever you’re made to fight nameless goons in games, they’re almost always male. A female enemy, on the other hand, is almost always an important character. The Fire Emblem series sort of has an interesting spin wherein the enemies are male except for the ones belonging to exclusively (or in the case of Fates, predominately) female classes. Then again, level bosses follow the same convention as above wherein the generic ones are usually male whereas the female ones are almost always important to the plot in some way.

    I think a reason why men and women are differentiated to the extent that they are in fiction is really less because it’s realistic and more because it’s the right kind of unrealistic. As you say, the genders have more in common than they don’t, and it’s ultimately harmful to both when they’re treated as statistics rather than people. At that point, society begins holding them up to unrealistic expectations, and expresses a degree of animosity towards the ones who don’t fit the mold.

    • I think you’re right, there. Like how horses always sound like coconut halves clapped together in media; it’s not realistic, but it seems more real to most viewers because that’s what we’ve grown accustomed to, moreso than the real thing. Gender roles work the same way, except they’re even more universally ingrained on us. We’ve just got everything building an idea of how men and women are supposed to act, when that isn’t a great reflection of reality, but it’s been so ingrained in us that we expect men and women to act that way more than we expect them to act like real people. The image we have is more real to us than the actual thing.

  3. I’ve been reading this article almost every day since you posted it, trying to figure out what to say about it. I still don’t know. Honestly, I agree with what you’re saying, but unfortunately what you’re saying makes me very angry. The emphasis for women is, still, their appearances. The superheroes are young and blonde (what society deems as “good” and “beautiful,” compared even to a woman with dark hair [stereotype]), female protagonists must look like teens… it points to similar issues in society that I’m not going to start on because I’ll never stop.

    AND THEN as if that’s not bad enough, even men get relegated to stereotypes, *except* for the fact that, when it comes to men, while their appearances are definitely seen and judged, there is still much less importance assigned to their looks compared to women. And you’re right that society has a lot to say about women, too.

    I’m not sure what the answer is. And while I appreciate that there are “real” reasons like drawing issues, when I read this I just keep hearing “laziness” repeating in my head. It’s lazy to not take the time to tell diverse stories with diverse characters. It’s lazy to not take the time to figure out how real women actually look and how to portray that on a screen. It’s lazy to keep using the same tired stereotypes because its easy and familiar. And I know that you’re just reporting on this, and I’m definitely not angry with you, but it’s *so irritating* to be told over and over again all the reasons that “people like you” are too difficult to put into a piece of media.

    Ugh. Anyway. I’m glad you’re writing these articles. They are very thorough and I really like the points you make.

    • It all comes from societal perceptions. Humans in general are a very judgmental species. We’ve got an idea of what a ‘real’ man is supposed to be like, what a ‘real’ woman is supposed to be like, what a kid, adult, and elder are all supposed to be like, what someone from any given social group is supposed to be like, and we don’t like it when something deviates from our understanding. On top of that, we have different expectations for groups we’re not a part of then people within that group does. Men have different expectations of women than women do of themselves, while women do the same back at men. Never mind the fact that you cannot create a picture of an entire group that accurately captures all the complicated and diverse people within it, we immediately jump to the social roles.

      And we do it because everyone wants to understand whatever their faced with immediately, before they even learn anything about them. So we don’t try to find out more about them then put that together into a whole, we make whatever assumptions we need to to build an instant whole in our own minds, then operate based on that. People are kind of messed up that way.

      Everyone is judged based on their looks. Because that’s the easiest way to build that instant whole. As someone who honestly does put more effort into my appearance than most, I know that very, very well. Doesn’t matter who you are, they judge you on how you look. And to some extent, that’s understandable. Your appearance is the first thing you’re communicating about yourself. But where it becomes a problem is when we go for looks over personality, like we do with nearly all of our fictional characters. That just reinforces those instant judgments we make.

      But yeah, we’re all judged by appearances, and it’s not fair for anyone. Men are judged by their appearance just as much as women are, although as you mentioned, people look for different things there. For women, attractiveness is gauged by ability to pass on good genes. So that’s why youth, body weight, and other signs of general health are so prized there. For men, attractiveness is gauged by their ability to provide for others. So attractiveness is judged from muscles (oddly, not generally the more useful muscles either), obvious wealth, and signs of general social position. Hell, the word ‘handsome’, which is specifically used to describe good looking men, used to mean ‘useful’. It’s not fair to either sex. But protagonists are more active characters, and the signs of a man’s attractiveness communicate activity, so that’s where those judgments do play together.

      I understand that the things you’re getting angry at aren’t coming from me, but I might make you angry with me with this next part. I want to challenge the idea that all this is coming from ‘laziness’. The whole reason I’m putting this series of posts out there is because nearly all the dialogue you’re finding about this subject treats it as if it’s a simple problem, and applies simple solutions to it. It’s not. This is a complex problem, and the dialogue focusing on simple solutions is only going to make the complex problem worse.

      And, as I see it, that’s exactly the line that ascribing it to laziness is walking. The people who are making games are working in industries where they’re regularly called upon to work 80 hours weeks for up to months on end for no extra pay. Laziness doesn’t come into it there. You could talk about intellectual laziness, but even then, this is a creative industry, and it’s a massive one at that. Intellectual laziness is less survivable in creative industries than it is in nearly every other out there. The market actively moves away from it, and intellectual laziness has no place in an industry that’s built on controlled risk-taking.

      There is going to be some of that out there. There are going to be some creators always making men as protagonists because they just don’t think about it. But personally, I think laziness would be one of the smallest factors out there contributing to this issue. There’s a ton of creators who either have put women in the lead role before or want to now, but don’t, because they have other motivating factors getting in the way there, many of which I’m trying to get at here. Some people just don’t have the skill. More people in the industry do, but still have men leading their games because they assume that’s what their audience would prefer and haven’t seen enough to counteract that to risk their staff’s jobs on it, or because that’s where the money and marketing practice are explicitly leading them, or because they’ve chosen to have a male character lead this particular project which is absolutely fine. Or tons of things like that. That’s the whole point at what I’m getting at here, trying to move around that Actor-Observer Bias. This is not happening in a vacuum, and it’s not happening for any one reason. This is happening in reaction to a multitude of factors in place on game development, and the dialogue should be keeping these in mind as they move forward.

      If you’re still feeling anger about it, well, one of the useful things about anger is that it prompts you to do something. You’re a woman player, who I’m assuming would like to be better represented within the games you play. That’s a perspective you can offer, and it’s good to bring that to the discussion. You’ve got a voice, you’ve got your outlet, and that’s all about you. And it doesn’t have to be a big deal about ‘women in games’. Honestly, the best discussion about women in games isn’t directly focused on women in games, it just treats women characters like a normal thing. I’ve said it before, but that normalization is the key to getting more women lead characters, that they stop being an unusual surprise the way they are now. So, my recommendation, there’s still a lot of games out there that have women lead characters. Bring some spotlight to them. Talk about the games, what makes them work, what makes the women in them work, good, bad, everything. Make women leads more normal. Supports the creators who make them and encourages more projects to consider taking part in it itself.

      If nothing else, the issue is getting better. We’ve been seeing more high-profile releases with women in leads in recent years than we had been in the past while. It’s just not going as fast as some, myself included, would like.

      • You’re right that men and women are both judged way too harshly on appearances, and the ever-present brown-haired white guy protagonist is certainly no better than the blue-eyed blonde-haired woman protagonist. And maybe I’m wrong in my perception that men can get away with looking “older” while still being considered handsome or able.

        I understand your point about my use of the word “lazy,” and so maybe that wasn’t the best way to express my annoyance. (I’m still not mad at you, so you’ll have to try harder, by the way haha). I obviously don’t think working 80+ hours a week makes a person lazy. Maybe complacency is more of the word I’m looking for. It’s not an individual. It’s flawed conclusions based on whatever corporate conclusions are based on, which makes it “okay” for progress to be slow, or for women to always look 15, or men to always look 30, and what-have-you. I am well aware that we are in the midst of growing pains both socially and within the gaming world, and that does give me some hope. And 2017 was definitely the year of great protagonists who happened to not have a Y chromosome, which gives me even more hope.

        To be perfectly honest with you, Aether, most of my frustration is at a lifetime of dealing with sexist nonsense in my personal/professional life, not at the game industry specifically. But video games are something concrete to point to, and when they/the culture/whatever don’t progress “fast enough”… well, art imitates life, right? Like I said, it’s irritating. I am planning on picking back up in the new year with some thoughts on protagonists, but I’m hoping some of my points will be moot by the time I want to make them!

        I do appreciate you continuing to write about these issues. It’s definitely a complicated topic and the more insights and perspectives we have, hopefully the faster common ground will be found an progress will be made.

      • Oh, no, you’re absolutely right there. Men can carry wrinkles without it impacting their perceived attractiveness more often than women can. I think it calls back to what I mentioned before. Wrinkles speak to experience, which relates to utility, which is more looked for in men than in women.

        Have to try harder to make you angry? Hmmm… I’ll try to come up with something by the time the next post rolls around.

  4. Pingback: Dangerous Curves: Are “Female Protagonists” Good for Games? – AmbiGaming

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