Ubisoft: Straighter. Whiter. Duder.

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Mcoffey:
Ubisoft basically set those games up to fail.

That sounds like conspiracy-thinking to me. Why would they deliberately set up a situation where they lose money? Out of spite? Because of the "Patriarchy"? Illuminatii Lizard People?

"Ubisoft's catalog is sausagefest even by video game standards."

Yeah, but so are the history books. Isn't it some kind of central tenet of some branch or sub-branch of feminism that women are largely left out of history? (not that it needs to be - it's common sense by now). There's a consequence to that - people associate the epic adventures of assassins, princes, and knights with males. So it does make a little bit of sense to view historical adventures (constituting most of Ubisoft's catalog) like Assassin's Creed featuring a female heroine as a little bit cartoonish, less grandiose and less serious. Even if that is total nonsense from the perspective we are privileged to have now.

On another note - what happened to silent protagonists? I've never played Assassin's Creed but it seems like the type of game perfect for the player to play as himself/herself. A sexless, genderless figure who speaks through the player choosing text options seems like it would suit the game perfectly. This kind of player character seems increasingly left to gaming history.

It is a bit amusing that this argument really seems to be happening more because of what they said and how their reaction calls into question their commitment to diversity (To which they are not very committed it turns out).

If Ubisoft had just said, "that wasn't the game we made this time, but next time we'll do better to take this into consideration." Provided they actually followed through then the next Ass Creed (to borrow the brilliant abbreviation from ZP) could set them up to be in an even better position.

They made an excuse, and while people may be concerned with the inherent problem of mono-sex, mono-ethnic games, those same people are sick and tired and fed up with all the lame lack luster excuses.

they shouldn't have to apologize, maybe they made a great game, just acknowledge that Women might want to play that game, and consider them in the planning process for future titles. This is absolutely the fault of Ubisoft shortsighted planning and lack of responsibility, and has little to nothing to do with development costs and effort.

Blood Brain Barrier:
"Ubisoft's catalog is sausagefest even by video game standards."

Yeah, but so are the history books. Isn't it some kind of central tenet of some branch or sub-branch of feminism that women are largely left out of history? (not that it needs to be - it's common sense by now). There's a consequence to that - people associate the epic adventures of assassins, princes, and knights with males. So it does make a little bit of sense to view historical adventures (constituting most of Ubisoft's catalog) like Assassin's Creed featuring a female heroine as a little bit cartoonish, less grandiose and less serious. Even if that is total nonsense from the perspective we are privileged to have now.

Will people stop defending Ubisoft for this crap. If it was because of that they could just say it was that. They pretended like it would cost to much when it would of costed next to nothing compared to the actual budget of the game. I guarantee they spent more on how the crowd moves then it would take to make a female playable character.

Honestly the real reason is probably because they didn't think about it at the time but the reasons for that go into the problems within ubisoft.

Karadalis:
Having a colored assasin makes absolutely no sense there since a) why should they be involved in the countries affairs? Wheres the personal investment, at that time people of color where migrants at best and not exactly that deeply involved with the political ongoings, theres no drama to be had here. Dude comes over from the philipines and directly joins the french revolution in killing off a king he has no business of hating (yet)?

Ahem...

c) Impractical... having a black dude in a country that was whiter then cheesecake is like putting a black dude in a game thats about feudal japan being a successfull assasin there. You stick out like a sore thumb and they would simply hunt down your minority.. put a price on any information about colored people and mr super assasin would have no place left to hide or even to move around. I mean if the US of A could put all citizens with asian background into concentration camps during WW2 imagine what a monarch could do who could even care less about the rights of a minority?

France was not "whiter than cheesecake" during the French Revolution, or indeed, anytime throughout the last thousand years or so.

The only reason i can even think of thought for not including a woman is that a woman not wearing womans clothing during that period of time would be highly suspicious.

More suspicious than being dressed in that assassin robe in public?

Werent there actually laws that forbade women to wear trousers?

Fun fact: That law was actually put in place to stop women from wearing the pantalons that were popularized by the French revolution. Which means that enough women were wearing them around that time that the government felt they had to be outlawed.

Also they would have to completly change the gameplay mechanics, dont know about you guys but i wouldnt count on a female assasin doing parcur and jumping from rooftops in a dress. The game would have needed to be much slower paced, it would be alot more cloak and dagger then what assasins creed stands for.

I thought assassination was all about cloak and dagger.

Sgt. Sykes:
More importantly, I can't understand how people can blame The Assassin's Creed series of all things. In AC, you could play as an Arab assassin killing Christan bad guys; a half-Indian; a black guy rescuing slaves; a black woman; and I think also a white woman in one of the portable games.

Altair is clearly a white guy with an Arabic name.

Okay, okay.. canonically he's mixed race. But let's face it. He's a white guy. He even speaks with a weird American accent.

What's actually kind of funny is that while the in game reason as to why Altair is so white is contrived as fuck, there were actually plenty of "white" people living in the middle east at the time in the form of Turks, Caucasians and Greeks. The fact that they had to go for this ludicrous thing of making his mother some random West European does kind of go to show how much weight it carries that a character has some kind of connection with a presumed audience of that ancestry.

Blood Brain Barrier:
"Ubisoft's catalog is sausagefest even by video game standards."

Yeah, but so are the history books. Isn't it some kind of central tenet of some branch or sub-branch of feminism that women are largely left out of history? (not that it needs to be - it's common sense by now). There's a consequence to that - people associate the epic adventures of assassins, princes, and knights with males. So it does make a little bit of sense to view historical adventures (constituting most of Ubisoft's catalog) like Assassin's Creed featuring a female heroine as a little bit cartoonish, less grandiose and less serious. Even if that is total nonsense from the perspective we are privileged to have now.

Given that Ubisoft loudly trumpets the attention to historical detail they claim to pour into the Assassin's Creed games, I don't think popular misconceptions would be a valid reason for them to omit historical facts.

Shamus, you say that like one or two days of work isn't what Ubisoft puts into the character modelling anymore. They've had the same damn model since at least AC: Brotherhood (which, ironically to the current stance, actually let you pal around with ladies all you wanted, and could even make an all-female squad of assassins, if you felt so inclined), and they've just tacked different pieces of cloth, armor, and weapons onto it. The fabric even has a maximum height that it can sway and bounce, ffs. Hell, they even made a PS3 and PS4 port for AC: Liberation, which means the mythical female model that would take so much time and effort already exists! All the climbing, running, jumping, and wall-humping animations are already present, just recycle them again like they've been doing for years. What's hard about that?

(Also, if Tom Braider doesn't have a ballad, I'm not sure what I'll do)

EDIT: Hell, it's not like this is Saints' Row, where you have to worry about 1000 character customized features all interacting, trying not to glitch through cars, weapons, or layers fat transvestite beneath. These are stock models, of one of two varieties, with the occasional shader thrown a couple of notches for skin tone and grizzleness of beard.

Falterfire:
I haven't played Watch_Dogs specifically, but this particular example isn't a great one for proving depth of story - Having the main character blame themselves for things that went wrong in the plot is a pretty common trope. Tropes aren't bad, (and all good stories are built at least in part out of them) but if you're trying to indicate a character is deep, you should probably use something that isn't so universal.

It's true that it's a familiar trope in many forms of drama, but not so much in video games- and certainly not among the "grizzled white guy" stereotype it has become popular to mock in western-developed games. Take another look at the tvtropes link. There are only twelve entries in the whole thing for video games, versus twenty-two in live action television and three pages of entries under anime. And while I'm not familiar with every entry they list, I note that two-thirds of them are Japanese, half Japanese RPGs.

Also, as I said, many narratives would have made the clumsy step of having his sister blaming him for his niece's death, externalizing his problem at the cost of making the sister less sympathetic. Instead we see him blaming himself and her denying his reasoning, which makes her more likable and supplies a more credible reason for his narrative arc.

I'm not saying that Pearce is about to step out of a Victorian period romance or something, but some thought went into him that makes him a little more memorable than many of the stoic, monosyllabic GWGs. And I think the creators should get a touch of recognition for that, rather than just lumping him in with whatshisname and whatshisface.

Man could you imagine the insane backlash if they turned lara into a guy.. It would be amazing.. It's what popcorn dreams of at night.

Jasper van Heycop:

Mcoffey:
Ubisoft basically set those games up to fail.

That sounds like conspiracy-thinking to me. Why would they deliberately set up a situation where they lose money? Out of spite? Because of the "Patriarchy"? Illuminatii Lizard People?

It's fact that games with female protagonists don't get nearly as much marketing as games with male protagonists:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/games-with-female-heroes-dont-sell-because-publishers-dont-support-them

We know from our previous article that marketing spend is one of the few, if not the only, things that can overcome negative reviews. Television commercials, ads in magazines, and even shelf space in stores are all for sale, and the more you have to spend the better your game will sell. Games with only female heroes are given half the marketing budget as games with male heroes. That's an enormous handicap that cripples their ability to sell well. "Games with a female only protagonist, got half the spending of female optional, and only 40 percent of the marketing budget of male-led games. Less than that, actually," Zatkin said.

They're expected to fail, so they aren't given the support to succeed, so they do fail, leading to more expectations of failure. Think less conspiracy, and more self-fulfilling prophecy.

Blood Brain Barrier:
"Ubisoft's catalog is sausagefest even by video game standards."

Yeah, but so are the history books. Isn't it some kind of central tenet of some branch or sub-branch of feminism that women are largely left out of history? (not that it needs to be - it's common sense by now). There's a consequence to that - people associate the epic adventures of assassins, princes, and knights with males. So it does make a little bit of sense to view historical adventures (constituting most of Ubisoft's catalog) like Assassin's Creed featuring a female heroine as a little bit cartoonish, less grandiose and less serious. Even if that is total nonsense from the perspective we are privileged to have now.

On another note - what happened to silent protagonists? I've never played Assassin's Creed but it seems like the type of game perfect for the player to play as himself/herself. A sexless, genderless figure who speaks through the player choosing text options seems like it would suit the game perfectly. This kind of player character seems increasingly left to gaming history.

You said it yourself. It is nonsense, and it doesn't need to be this way, and as the makers of one of the most successful and influential gaming franchises in the last decade, Ubisoft is in a position where they could change that perception, but they don't.

And besides, there were plenty of female assassins, pirates, and even a few knights. Considering this is the same franchise with alien space magic shaping the world, I think having a female protagonist in a historic setting would be the last thing making the series look "cartoonish".

Shamus Young:
Ubisoft: Straighter. Whiter. Duder.

Taking the developer and publisher of Assassin's Creed Unity to task for their response to a lack of female characters is just too easy.

Read Full Article

Thank you for giving me more context on the subject. I wasnt ready kneejerk at them until I had some context for there claims and the counter claims thereof. I can safely say that ubi plays the money game safer than jackdaniels, microsoft, and Purina combined.

Im confused... Couldn't you play as a woman in the multiplayer of black flag? If they did it there and other creed multiplayers why not here?

Sgt. Sykes:
snip

Of course they don't HAVE to have diverse representation in this game. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is saying they have to. However, not doing so is a missed opportunity, which combined with their lame and patronising excuses for not doing so, risks alienating a portion of their fanbase they seem to either not know or not care about. Just because they're not obliged to go the extra mile, doesn't mean that their immune to criticism from us. Who's going to let them know that this is a dumb decision if we don't?

I agree, that in the past the Assassin's Creed franchise has a good track record (by AAA standards) of giving us alternatives to the Grizzled White Dude to play as... which begs the question, why are they now taking such a conspicuous step backwards, telling us that something they've already done before is now 'too much effort'? What's more, despite the fact that they have, in the past, offered a range of protagonists, I still wouldn't claim that their approach to this has really been good enough. As was mentioned in the article, AC:Liberation was relegated to a handheld spin-off of AC3 that was hardly marketed at all. When you got to play as "a black guy rescuing slaves"... that was DLC; and you say it all with "I think also a white woman in one of the portable games". At least, at the very least, the diversity has been there in the past. However, said diversity has been, quite literally, marginalised. Even in regard to the main games: Altair was, supposedly, a Syrian... who spoke with an American accent and who's face you never really saw. Connor was half Native-American... who's Native heritage becomes irrelevant about an hour into the game, so he can spend the rest of his time hanging out with white dudes.

It's not good enough; and until Ubisoft actually has the balls to commit to the idea fully, they'll never know just how much of a market there can be for it.

And no, people wouldn't be so mad if you could only play as black women. You want to know why? Because that would still be one game in a sea of homogeneous white dudes that was offering something different. Nobody wants an industry that is homogenised in the favour of black people. Nobody is asking for an industry where white dudes become completely unrepresented. They're asking for options. They want diversity, and they're pissed off that nobody is offering it to them.

Finally, you say "Don't like it? Don't buy it." as if the people who were complaining had all already decided that they were going to get Unity. I'll admit, I loved Black Flag, and until E3 I was looking forward to seeing what they could follow it up with. However, I don't have a current generation console yet, and may well not have for at least a couple more years, so it's kind of a moot point for me either way. As it stands, unless Ubisoft can find a satisfactory way to salvage this, I hope people's generally underwhelmed response to Unity is reflected in sales. One poor performance won't kill the franchise, and nobody at Ubisoft will weep. They may, however, if we're lucky, start asking themselves a few questions about how they can do better.

Oh no! The most common demographic in the developed world is being catered to the most! It's almost like these companies are a business or something that wants to please their largest demographic of consumers...

While we're at it, why don't we just start making white male's votes count for less in countries where elections are held to make sure they're not overly represented there too.

Maybe if we complain enough it will magically increase the female demographic in the consumer market to more than double to make it to half of the AAA market? [/sarcasm]

Look, equality doesn't mean that businesses ignore their target market composition and give every group no matter how minor equal attention as the larger groups. It should just mean that 1 female is considered just as valuable as 1 male as a consumer reference.

As I've established several times, the AAA market is NOT the same market that the ESA reports on. ESA's 47% females to 53% males market composition includes iOS gaming and whether or not a person has ever looked sideways a solitaire game on that new fangled internet box. We know from 2010 when the market split was 40%/60% that there was a HUGE disparity in gaming demographics that the AAA market was seeing. This is because 80% of females who owned consoles owned a Wii as their primary console. The male demographic showed up at 41% owning Wiis as their primary.

This demonstrates a HUGE difference in console and video game buying practices. It means that the actual target market that AAA developers were looking at on the PS3 and 360 (many AAA games never saw the Wii due to power disparity despite the much higher market share) was less than 20% female at best (the actual number is 17% I believe)and there's no evidence to demonstrate that the female demographic has significantly changed their purchasing behavior at large since then. Especially with a boom in iOS games that may provide everything they were looking for in the Wii. This all even assumes that females own consoles at the same rate that males do when that's not necessarily the case. Males likely own consoles at a higher rate which would drop the female target market even lower.

Additionally, women do display differences in preference of genre in nearly every form of media we have. Music, Movies, Literature. It would be naive to assume that the sexes enjoy the same genres in the same rates.

That being said, my wife is a serious AAA gamer (she's quite happy that COD offers female characters). So I'm not saying they don't exist. Just that when you're a company designing a game for the market you're going to see 80 men looking you in the face for every 20 women.

Let me ask you this. You have $100 to invest. Are you going to want to invest that in a product that the vast majority of your clients want to the extreme minority? Well, if you like money then the answer is obviously where more people, aka more money, is.

However, in this day and age, why not do our best to provide both where possible? I get that women characters can be controversial if you so much as add one curve too round, but it'd be nice to see more options as long as it doesn't impact the options I choose. If it's only going to be one character then I will consistently understand if it's always reflective of the number one gamer group. But if the character never so much as says a word then I've got to question why the character has to be any one person. I understand that Nathan Drake/Lara Croft has a ton of voice acting and motion capture and strong plot elements centered around their masculinity/femininity. So I'll never expect them to offer more options. The same goes for Enzio who has all the same things (i believe I recall him talking, not one of my most memorable games, honestly). But I can think of a ton of games where customizable skins are entirely viable.

Lightknight:
Oh no! The most common demographic in the developed world is being catered to the most! It's almost like these companies are a business or something that wants to please their largest demographic of consumers...

While we're at it, why don't we just start making white male's votes count for less in countries where elections are held to make sure they're not overly represented there too.

Maybe if we complain enough it will magically increase the female demographic in the consumer market to more than double to make it to half of the AAA market? [/sarcasm]

Holy strawman, batman!

Look, I am getting kind of tired of this argument from privilege being put forth constantly so let us just do it bullet point style:
A: Women are underrepresented in the gamer demographic.
B: Women are seriously underrepresented in games.
C: If women got better representation in games they might be more incline to buy more games.
D: More sold games = more profit
Ergo,
E: It should be in the interest of every producer of triple-A games to be as inclusive as possible.

This isn't hard. It is, in fact, very basic marketing practice. The problem is that gaming is in a self-reinforcing loop where minorities go unrepresented in games and gamers (a pre-dominantly white, male group) aren't too keen to share their cake. This in turn means that women are unlikely to go into gaming since it is obviously not a hobby for them (contrast make-up and men) and when few women become gamers it reinforces the idea that only men game and thus games are made for men.

The only way to break this cycle? Keep reminding the companies that women game too. Keep arguing for better representation for women in games. When women see that games are inclusive of them too they are more likely to take the chance of actually gaming (compare to walking into a sports bar full of Liverpool fans when you don't support Liverpool).

All these faux-capitalistic arguments only serve to highlight just how exclusionist gaming as a hobby really is. Especially when the arguments aren't coming from the developers or producers, but are coming from gamers that are already basking in the privilege of an entire media industry catering solely to them.

NinjaDeathSlap:
It's not good enough; and until Ubisoft actually has the balls to commit to the idea fully, they'll never know just how much of a market there can be for it.

I don't want to defend Ubisoft that much, but there were so many games on E3 this year, but from all of them, it was ACU that has received so much flak? Especially considering their track record - you may say it wasn't that much to begin with, but just compare with other AAA franchises and if anything, Ubisoft should get at least a pat on the head and encouragement rather than getting crapped at.

I mean criticism is fine, but seriously? I haven't watched the E3 coverage at all and the only information I caught was that ACU doesn't let you play as a woman. From about 6 angry sources. Seriously? Okay I also caught something about another Halo game. Does Halo allow you to play as a woman? Did it EVER?

Since we all love analogies, I'll make one up:

All the restaurants in a city serve only one kind of food. (At least the big ones; you can try some small strange bistros where you can get anything, but nobody can guarantee you won't get a hair, fly or rat in your soup or that you won't get mugged by the owner.)

There's one exception, a restaurant that not only serves good food, but on each day also provides some variations of their foods. One day however they just serve the same thing as everybody else (only it's still a much bigger portion). What's the reaction of the audience? BURN THIS DAMN RESTAURANT DOWN!!!

Sgt. Sykes:
snip

First off, I think a company so large it could practically fund a manned mission to Mars has gone a little beyond the point of being given 'points for effort'. However, as much as I'm in favour of calling people out for bullshit, I'm also in favour of giving credit where it's due; and as I've said... Yes, by AAA standards, the Assassin's Creed franchise has had, until now, a good record of diversity in playable characters. Take note, however, of the clarifying clauses, if you want to find the root of this backlash, "by AAA standards" and "until now". Notice also, my use of Assassin's Creed as a franchise, rather than Ubisoft as a published, because what diversity AC did have, was very much an outlier in Ubisoft's publishing repertoire. In pretty much all other IP's they own, they're just as bad, if not worse, than everyone else when in comes to homogenisation.

Judging by your comment, it seems your lack of exposure to much of the nuances in the way this fallout was created, has led to a misunderstanding of what people are actually angry about. When people at E3 saw the new Ac multiplayer featuring a bunch of identical white men, whereas previously a diverse collection of creeds and genders had been offered, a handful of gaming journalists took to twitter to make fun of it. They may have been disgruntled, yes, but it was hardly a storm of vitriol. It only became such, when Ubisoft's PR tried to cover it's arse with possibly the lamest and most condescending excuse they could think of, which was then immediately debunked by multiple sources inside the industry. As this column rightly says, making playable female models in AC would indeed be more complicated than just reskinning the male animations to look like a chick. However, it is possible, and well-within what a company like Ubi should be capable of. This leaves two possibilities: Either Ubi is lying to us, or their production process really is so bloated and arse-backwards, that even with half a dozen different studios working on one game, with the full force of the publishers finances behind it, they genuinely don't have it in them to programme female characters properly anymore. I shouldn't have to explain why neither of those states of being is acceptable, should I?

If you want your analogy to more closely match the situation as it stands, then it would look something like this...

- All the big restaurants in the city serve one kind of food

- One of the very biggest restaurants in the city serves only one kind of food... except on Fridays, when they'll put a different kind of dressing on their side-salad. All of a sudden, they stop doing this, removing the one shred of original and creative thought they had over everyone else.

- When people, rightly, ask why this is so, the restaurant owner peers down at them from a golden throne, using a tube of rolled-up dollar bills as a telescope, and explains that offering such a small concession of choice to the customer is now 'too much like hard work'.

- People start considering whether they really want to come back to the restaurant anymore.

(P.S. I don't want to get off-topic, but just for clarity's sake, The Halo franchise has had female character models in it's multiplayer since 2010, and in Halo: Reach, allowed you to make the protagonist a female Spartan. On top of this, the fan-favourite and most fleshed-out character in the canon is, and has always been, a woman (and no, the fact that she's an AI doesn't discount her any more than being "mono-gendered" discounts asari characters in Mass Effect).)

Gethsemani:
A: Women are underrepresented in the gamer demographic.

Are they? As my numbers show above, they represent less than 19% of the target market when even giving the numbers the most benefit of the doubt in favor of higher female numbers. When you account for games with female protagonists and customizable characters the disparity isn't that great and it makes sense why games with only one playable character would reflect the HUGE majority demographic.

I'll repost the the numbers below.

B: Women are seriously underrepresented in games.

How is this not the same thing as A? "Women are undderrepresented in the gamer demographic" vs. "Women are seriously underrepresented in games." Same thing.

C: If women got better representation in games they might be more incline to buy more games.

Yes. I agree. One of the reasons why so many more women owned a Wii was because Nintendo specifically catered to females. Not by representation in gaming but by genre choices. As stated, women express different preferences in genres in nearly every form of media from literature to movies. It is naive to think that this trend wouldn't also flow into gaming. Seeing as it's the Action genre that women dislike in those other medias we have a bit of a relevant problem here with your assumptions that they have exactly as large of a potential market for the traditional AAA games than we already see in male gamers. I'd posit that there's more a problem with variety of game genres than actual representation with a female avatar.

D: More sold games = more profit

You're making an assumption here. If females are increasing their purchases due to there being a female protagonist, wouldn't it follow that males would make less purchases of that game due to a lack of a male protagonist representing them? You could easily increase your female demographic by 50% but lose 10% of your male market and find a substantial decrease in overall sales because of the disparity.

E: It should be in the interest of every producer of triple-A games to be as inclusive as possible.

Here's the deal, you're an investor. You have $100 to invest. Now, you don't actually care about the market as a whole, you are but one entity and your goal is to make the largest return possible on that money. Do you invest in a game focused squarely on the vast majority of the gaming demogrpahic or do you try to make a statement by focusing on the extreme minority at the risk of alienating a non-trivial portion of the majority? If your goal is to make money, you're going to avoid that. If your goal is to make a statement of some kind then you may be willing to take a significant reduction in return and cater to a more niche group. But reminding large investors that women do make up a small portion of AAA gamers won't make them ignore the actual gamer demographics that express an interest in their games anymore than convincing them that albino people are under-represented gamers. Yes, it could be a chicken/egg loop but when you're the one putting money in you just care about the return and that's not bad. That's supply/demand. The internet is an easy place for people to shout and stomp their feet when they want something else but if giving them what they want doesn't translate into large returns then the actual product demand just isn't where the traditional demand is.

Now, I don't know if you're female or male. But as a male gamer I don't personally give a crap what my protagonist looks like as long as the gameplay and story is good. My wife feels the same way. It does not add or take away from my experience to have a particular avatar unless it's something familiar like Batman. I am an advocate of customisable characters because, why not? What do I care if someone else picks a female avatar as long as I can pick something I want too?

Thank you. After this week Jimquisition and Big Picture, I was afraid no one cared to read the interview that spawn this whole issue and just decided to jump into the hatewagon.

The problem with the mode is that it was a gimmicky way to allow for co-op, by including several copies of the same main character. The game was never designed around having the player choose the gender, name or background of Arno, even when playing by yourself, so when they shoehorned clones of the protagonist to allow for a co-op campaign, people found that the customization options were rather limited.

Bigeyez:
Im confused... Couldn't you play as a woman in the multiplayer of black flag? If they did it there and other creed multiplayers why not here?

Because this would amount to having two separate characters in Black Flag. One is Edward, the pirate landlord that gets to be the grandparent of Connor, and the other one is Jeannine, the pirate landlord that gets to be the grandparent of Connor... See the problem there?

Sgt. Sykes:

Does every game have to have a 'politically correct' cast, i.e. a white guy, a white woman, a black guy and an Asian woman?

Hey, why does it have 2 white people?

Next you'll tell me it has no Fromosexuals or Gindians. So racist and sexist.

NinjaDeathSlap:
First off, I think a company so large it could practically fund a manned mission to Mars has gone a little beyond the point of being given 'points for effort'.[snip]

Okay I actually caught some of the first 'making fun' tweets about ACU, like the Sterling's one. Honestly even those I found quite stupid because of the previous entries in AC.

I really don't see anything else except 'Most of the previous games had different protagonists than a gnarly white dude and this time they decided to cast gnarly white dudes. Big deal.' If the next AC game after ACU would be the same again, OK I'd be wondering as well, but not just yet.

As for their answer and the golden throne etc., as I said, a $billion budget is still a budget. They have to decide what to include and what to not include. Essentially instead of a woman character, maybe we got another map, a piece of story, a couple of weapons or something else. Or maybe they just decided to save the $million and a month of work.

I really don't have a problem with pragmatic budgeting either. It is just a fact of life. And even here I'd say Ubi deserves more credit than EA or Activision. At least they tend to give us big, good polished games and not a 4-hour barely interactive rail shooters or other bastardizations.

Now mind you I have no love for Ubisoft due to their handling of the PC platform but I can't fault them for the games.

I'd also like to know why exactly is including women as characters supposed to be required now. Mind you, I personally come from 2 different cultures where the gender dynamics are different than what I perceive from the US/UK/some other media. I really can't tell whether it's really so bad in those parts of the world that even games need to be held responsible, or it's blown up way out of proportion.

But to me it seems that how the gaming press treats the inclusiveness issue in games exactly mirrors how FOX treats videogames.

TBH the 'best' thing all this backlash can achieve is that the AAA publishers start using 'have women' as just another checkbox EVERY game has to have these days, like 'RPG elements', 'vehicles', 'microtransactions' and whatever is popular at the time.

I don't see how this is a good thing.

Edit I just realized the AC series actually has done more: it featured a HALF-Syrian and HALF-Indian. This is actually pretty huge considering how rarely we get to see mixed-race characters in fiction. Even in sci-fi shows hundreds of years into the future, we usually encounter just pure races unless there's some big deal behind it. Funny that.

Shamus Young:
Depending on where the female model is anchored to the world, her hands might float a few inches away from the ledge she's supposedly holding onto. Or perhaps her feet poke into the wall as she climbs. Or maybe she sticks her hand inside her hip when she's supposedly grabbing stuff from her belt.

This should really not be such a problem -- for Ubisoft at least -- as they use a middleware called HumanIK which mitigates these sort of problems. Skip through this video a bit if you're interested, it explains it better than I could here.

As other people said, the series at least had characters of different ethnicities, despite having only one game with a female main character. Oh yes, and although not in game, there was this asian female assassin in the short animated film Assassins Creed : Embers, who visited Ezio in his last days and helped him fend off an attack on his house.
Plus I would argue that despite a lack of female player characters, the series has had a lot of interesting female characters in them, which unlike in other games, they aren't there to be put in sexy outfits, they are part of the story and the events that unfold...leaders of rebellions, family members, guild leaders, the love interests and even an antagonistic one in Lucrezia Borgia(even if secondary to Rodrigo).
So come on people we don't even know what we will get with Assassins Creed : Comet ...

Sure the first excuse of it being costly for a company this big, even if it is more expensive, they have 8 of their studios work on one franchise, sounds like bullsh*t. If they had originally planned ahead, since development began in 2010 apperantly, they could have possibly implemented female assassins and worked it in.
This is the route they went with, as I said before, not making the characters more varied, is just a loss for them, because taking more effort, they really could have reached a wider audience, attracted new people to the franchise, but apperantly they think their current demographic is enough, or really wanted to go on this safe route.

However after learning about the fact that the player always sees themselves as Arno, this whole issue is meaningless on the basis that yes the option was never there to play as a female assassin BUT there was never any chance of playing as the other male assassins either.
This should have been the reason given at first, and there wouldn't be this much of a backlash ... there's just one protagonist, despite the 4 player co-op the big new feature they seem to be trumpeting which looks good, but would have been much better if the option was there to choose which character you want to play a certain mission.
I wouldn't put it past them to keep the 4 player formula in later games, if the audience response is positive, and maybe in later titles everyone can be a seperate assassin, any gender they like.

Honestly and truly, anyone who refuses to play a game series because the main character doesn't have BLANK in common with them is childish and shallow. I mean, so what? I played the PS Vita game, and Aveline had nothing at all in common with me. She was Black, Female, aristocratic, an athlete, a killer, etc. So what? I say again; so FUCKING what?

I really can not believe how petty this is.

Sgt. Sykes:
snip

That's... a large leap of logic from where we are right now. If your predictions are right (and I don't think they are), then more fool the publishers for not taking the issue seriously, and thinking that we will be so easily satisfied. We want diverse characters, not cynical, check-box driven character models with tits. If that's what the publishers will serve us in an effort to shut us up, we will notice, and we will continue to complain about it until they get it right.

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times... Nobody is calling for the arbitrary inclusion of women or ethnic minorities in every game. Nobody is suggesting imposing a legislative gateway, meaning that new games can't be published until they hit A, B, and C watermarks for supposed 'diversity'. Trying to argue that people who complain about a lack of diversity now are arguing in favour of that vision of the future, is either a painful misunderstanding of what the issue is, or a deliberate attempt to derail said issue out of fear of any sort of change. It's not a question of what videogames have to do, but rather what they should be doing, for their own good as much as anyone else's. The industry should be recognising that gamers have a appetite for something different than what their getting at the moment, and that there are large swathes of the market than are currently under-represented. Ubisoft, and other publishers like them, could stand to make even more profit than they do already, if they were willing to put out just one game each, annually, that sought to probe these currently untapped wells of money... except they'd rather pretend these markets don't exist, because appealing to them would actually require that they left their comfort-zone for 5 seconds and actually took a risk.

As was said, rightly, in the latest Jimquisition: Ubisoft is always harping on about how it wants to 'appeal to a wider audience'. It's this drive which is making them, ironically, shove the same pile of extra features they can think of into every single IP they own. Two games that I've played recently are AC4 and Far Cry 3. To be fair, I enjoyed both games; and yet, it still struck me, how two games that are allegedly in two vastly different genre's, settings, and even periods of history, basically had the same collection of side-quests and mini-games as each-other. This is not offering a wider range of choice. This is the exact opposite of that.

Here's the thing, Ubisoft... You're pretty much set for straight white dudes. Every straight white dude from my generation that I know already plays games like the ones you make. I'm not even being hyperbolic, literally every single one. You have more straight white dudes giving you money than you ever gonna need already, and you're certainly not going to get any more of us on board just by offering more of the same. If you're really sincere about 'appealing to a wider audience', then the first thing you need to do is start looking towards people who aren't straight white dudes; and hey, it's not like you're risking losing the business of the straight white dudes by doing that, because, shockingly enough, the idea of playing as a woman, or a black person, every once in a while doesn't actually scare most of us.

I don't want to see a future where the game industry is dictated to include women and minorities for the sake of including women and minorities. I want to see a future where that happens naturally because everyone agrees that it's a good idea. Trust me, there will never be a shortage of straight white dudes as videogame protagonists. If that's what you want, then they're always going to be out there. However, there is room for more than that. There is will in the market for more than that, and stubborn fans and companies alike denying that that will exists, and coming up with increasingly desperate excuses not to do it, is just really sad.

Bluestorm83:
Honestly and truly, anyone who refuses to play a game series because the main character doesn't have BLANK in common with them is childish and shallow. I mean, so what? I played the PS Vita game, and Aveline had nothing at all in common with me. She was Black, Female, aristocratic, an athlete, a killer, etc. So what? I say again; so FUCKING what?

It may have been less of an issue because you still had eight million other games that did represent you. It's very easy to say "so EFFING what?" when the issue doesn't affect you.

Lightknight:
Here's the deal, you're an investor. You have $100 to invest. Now, you don't actually care about the market as a whole, you are but one entity and your goal is to make the largest return possible on that money. Do you invest in a game focused squarely on the vast majority of the gaming demogrpahic or do you try to make a statement by focusing on the extreme minority at the risk of alienating a non-trivial portion of the majority?

First of all, even accepting your own numbers, female gamers are not an "extreme minority". That's just silly.

Secondly, not all investors are completely risk-averse. Not all games must cater to the largest demographic. Hell, more people play FPS than RTS, but RTS games still get made-- and make money-- because they have their own buyers, and are not simply trying to do the same thing as the biggest releases.

I'm fine with the criticism towards Ubisoft being lazy and not making more interesting characters because they don't want to fork over the cash.
I'm fine with the criticism towards Ubisoft being stupid by making up an excuse like it was simply impossible for them to make a female co-op character
All that criticism is fine and I support it.

But I hate how the debate is being focused less on Ubisoft's poor decisions and more on the fact that people are making the idiotic claim that Ubisoft is somehow part of a "straight white dude" problem.

For starters, this is Assassins Creed, a series that prides itself on exploring different cultures, a series that has had multiple games where you're not just a "white dude." But for some reason, the instant that Ubisoft does something stupid, all of the good they've done is forgotten. No, now they're just the part of the evil patriarchy forcing white men down our throats. I know that's not what this issue is about, but it keeps being turned into that. Just look at the title of this article. "Straighter. Whiter. Duder." It just provokes the extremes on both sides to come in and play, the people who think there's a literal conspiracy in the game's industry to keep the white man on top, and the people who think there is a literal conspiracy by the "SJWs" to take over the game industry.

I just want people to be aware of what the real issue is, and not spin it into just another us versus them fight that will be forgotten in a week.

NinjaDeathSlap:
Nobody is calling for the arbitrary inclusion of women or ethnic minorities in every game.

I'd say the message is already quite convoluted and mixed when carried in a way of sarcastic tweets, angry video rants and entitled blog posts, such as the way of The Escapist.

It will get even more mixed and filtered when getting to the CEOs and whatnot of the publishers. Do you really expect to get more from them than a 'include women' checkbox?

In fact it's probably difficult to get it any other way when 500 people are working on one game.

TBH I really hate it when there's a movie or TV show cast with, say, 4 white guys and 1 black guy. In many cases it just completely screams 'we needed to cast a black guy'. It didn't get very far from the period when the black guy was always the first to die in a movie.

All the talks about inclusiveness, when it comes to fiction characters, is just dodging the issue. Either we decide to disregard gender and race completely, or we let the artists/writers/designers decide who to include and who to not include. Both these options mean that we may end up being unhappy with a particular piece for not including what we'd like. Anything else is just dictating.

And I know, games are supposed to be both art and product. Okay. If anything, it means it will be forever just a compromise.

The industry should be recognising that gamers have a appetite for something different than what their getting at the moment

That's true, but that is more about diversity in game genres and mechanics - basically the BIG issues, rather than some details like the gender of the characters.

Really, a gender, race or other attribute of a character is a minor thing (unless it's a big part of a story, like pregnancy). Arguing so vehemently about this is just like arguing that a game should include a particular weapon.

Now, a call for "realistic, fleshed-out, 3-dimensional characters" makes sense, but if you just take out one aspect and make a big deal out of it, then it really just boils down to a checkbox.

Here's a test: would Tomb Raider, or Beyond G&E be vastly different games if they included guys as main characters? Or kittens? Or alien robots? The characters would need to change somewhat but it wouldn't really effect much of the games.

What I'm getting at is that when it comes to characters, gamers want better characters, which inherently means more diversity, but the actual message being sent looks more like 'need women' checkbox.

Ubisoft, and other publishers like them, could stand to make even more profit than they do already, if they were willing to put out just one game each, annually, that sought to probe these currently untapped wells of money...

Again, agreed when it comes to game mechanics and other major parts, but I fail to see how would including different characters help selling vastly more games.

It's almost implying that women would buy more games with women characters, black people would buy more games with black characters, or gay people would buy more games with guy characters, which is...

In other words, I've never bought a game, a book or checked out a movie or show just because character A is X or Z (not since I stopped reading/watching pieces about teenagers anyway). The important part is whether the character attributes make sense.

Okay, I get it that too many games these days have the same copycat main character, but what if each of those character copies would have distinct, fleshed out personalities? Would it STILL be that much of a problem that they look the same? I think the issue would be much smaller or nil. And if that's the case (I may be wrong), then the rants completely miss the target by pointing out the minor attributes like gender and race instead of larger story/character issues.

Your comparison of FC3 and AC4 sort of proves that - it's not that the characters look the same, it's that the games are the same.

Call of Duty gets so much flak because the games are the same, even though the characters themselves are actually quite varied (for the purpose anyway).

I don't want to see a future where the game industry is dictated to include women and minorities for the sake of including women and minorities. I want to see a future where that happens naturally because everyone agrees that it's a good idea.

I don't see the difference. Who is 'everyone'? What does 'good idea' means? If 'everyone' means artists and designers, then the best idea is to let them do whatever they want to do, and it's up to you to pick what you want to play.

It is certainly not good if every designer in the world suddenly decides that it's a 'good idea' to include minorities even into stories where it wouldn't make sense.

Which leads me back to the original issue - nobody has played ACU yet, we have no idea what the game story is - how can we know how including or not including women would affect it?

Trust me, there will never be a shortage of straight white dudes as videogame protagonists. If that's what you want, then they're always going to be out there.

Not sure where you get that impression from me. What I'm saying is that I don't actually care. I seriously believe that if every game from now on would have Asian females as main characters, I wouldn't care any more or less than I do now.

Silvanus:
First of all, even accepting your own numbers, female gamers are not an "extreme minority". That's just silly.

Less than 20% even with being the most generous with how we arrive at those numbers, not just a little minority like 40%/60%, but the extreme minority. Outnumbered by four times. I mean, sure, it's not 1% but it is a huge disparity.

Secondly, not all investors are completely risk-averse. Not all games must cater to the largest demographic. Hell, more people play FPS than RTS, but RTS games still get made-- and make money-- because they have their own buyers, and are not simply trying to do the same thing as the biggest releases.

AAA investors are. They want big and safe. I don't see anyone bitching about Stanley Parable not having more lesbian protagonists. It's the AAA games we complain about and these are the games with corporate investors most of the time.

RTS games are an interesting game model. They are actually have a decent proportion of female consumers from what little research I've seen. There are game types where this would be less of a risk than others. But there's at least decent evidence in the way of large AAA action games that would indicate a lower female participation than other genres garner. As I've said, the same goes for literature and movies.

Lightknight:
Less than 20% even with being the most generous with how we arrive at those numbers, not just a little minority like 40%/60%, but the extreme minority. Outnumbered by four times. I mean, sure, it's not 1% but it is a huge disparity.

Well, you can judge it that way, I suppose, but it's a significant chunk of the market. To call it an "extreme" minority still sounds absurd to me. It's a fifth. Marketers take fifths of the market into consideration, if they're any good at their job.

Lightknight:
AAA investors are. They want big and safe. I don't see anyone bitching about Stanley Parable not having more lesbian protagonists. It's the AAA games we complain about and these are the games with corporate investors most of the time.

RTS games are an interesting game model. They are actually have a decent proportion of female consumers from what little research I've seen. There are game types where this would be less of a risk than others. But there's at least decent evidence in the way of large AAA action games that would indicate a lower female participation than other genres garner. As I've said, the same goes for literature and movies.

And yet, I rarely see arguments that films and literature should stick to grizzly hetero white males, regardless of the genre. There's a more adult attitude, and I don't see why people who love games (as I do and, I assume, you do too) would want to hold those games to a lower standard.

As for AAA attitudes, that partway explains why the production costs of AAA titles is monumentally absurdly large, and yet rarely comes with a reflective level of quality in comparison with non-AAA titles.

People need to get realistic about what representation actually is. I would say that if you factor in that actual numbers on how many women are buying and playing AAA titles the representation is still a bit light but much nowhere near what people are making it out to be. Anyone with a functioning brain can realize that the studies that show 50% (or whatever close that number) include all games with anything from halo to candy crush and Ubisoft probably knows exactly what their demographics are. When the market calls for more female characters the publishers/developers will follow suit. Until then this is nothing more than emotion trumping logic.

Silvanus:

Lightknight:
Less than 20% even with being the most generous with how we arrive at those numbers, not just a little minority like 40%/60%, but the extreme minority. Outnumbered by four times. I mean, sure, it's not 1% but it is a huge disparity.

Well, you can judge it that way, I suppose, but it's a significant chunk of the market. To call it an "extreme" minority still sounds absurd to me. It's a fifth. Marketers take fifths of the market into consideration, if they're any good at their job.

Absolutely, I don't disagree at all. But when they're basing the only protagonist off of that market then they're going to lean a lot more heavily towards the 80%. Wouldn't you agree?

What's more is the actual number is 18.4% and this is the most generous number I can give them. If we take into account differences in rate of console ownership by gender (which I simply don't have numbers on or I would) or if we evaluate differences in preference of game genre then the number could dwindle even further. Still, even if it hit 10% that's still a valid demographic and we DO see games making that adjustment now. We've begun to get a lot of them recently and that's a good thing.

Please bear in mind, I know me presenting their side of things sounds like I'm against females as protagonists in games. I'm not against that at all and generally haven't been dissuaded by it. There were times where I was frustrated by Lara Croft's screaming in Tomb Raider but I loved the game.

Lightknight:
AAA investors are. They want big and safe. I don't see anyone bitching about Stanley Parable not having more lesbian protagonists. It's the AAA games we complain about and these are the games with corporate investors most of the time.

RTS games are an interesting game model. They are actually have a decent proportion of female consumers from what little research I've seen. There are game types where this would be less of a risk than others. But there's at least decent evidence in the way of large AAA action games that would indicate a lower female participation than other genres garner. As I've said, the same goes for literature and movies.

And yet, I rarely see arguments that films and literature should stick to grizzly hetero white males, regardless of the genre. There's a more adult attitude, and I don't see why people who love games (as I do and, I assume, you do too) would want to hold those games to a lower standard.

As for AAA attitudes, that partway explains why the production costs of AAA titles is monumentally absurdly large, and yet rarely comes with a reflective level of quality in comparison with non-AAA titles.[/quote]Actually, books only require one person and can easily be a labor of love rather than a corporate investment. The larger AAA movies often do stick to the white hetero males or have I been watching the wrong movies? It depends on the genre of the movie but there are absolutely still strong trends. As video game development becomes more and more easy for indie developers and small studios to gain access to the market (like books and movies have become), we will begin to see more niche games getting developed and the AAA studios will mimic the ones that work. I mean, look at the horror genre, everyone thought it was dead to rights and a few indie successes threw AAA gaming right back into the fray of true horror genre development. That is niche and yet profitable.

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