Hoo-rah: Natural Selection 2 Adding Female Marines

By Nathan Grayson on July 4th, 2013 at 1:06 am.

'Natural Selection 2 is the struggle for survival between two species – One species just got a whole lot tougher.'

In Natural Selection 2, you can play as just about anything. Gigantic pairs of teeth with tiny feet attached, mutant god elephants, space pterodactyls, scythe-armed devil wraiths, and, you know, men. But not human women. At least, not yet. Thankfully, that’s all about to change, as Unknown Worlds has unveiled a female marine design that’s, well, pretty freaking great. Better late than never, I suppose. So hurrah! Details after the break.

I’ll never stop feeling a bit sad when I have to celebrate the fact that someone in the gaming industry designed a female character model that’s merely inoffensive, but here we are. NS2′s female marine is armored for battle – not titillation – and it definitely shows. Here’s what Unknown Worlds had to say about her:

“The game industry has a history of depicting female characters inappropriately. Often, they are stylised to such a degree that they become sexual objects: While their male comrades are clothed, armed and armoured to fight, the female character is notable for the lack of any clothing at all.”

“This is not good enough, and it’s not a trope Unknown Worlds will entertain. Games are legitimate cultural influences, and game developers are responsible for the message they choose to convey to players. The Natural Selection 2 female marine is first and foremost, like her male colleague, a soldier. Her armour puts function before form, while adopting the science fiction, melee combat aligned design ques that have made the male marine so uniquely recognisable.”

Bravo! This isn’t just some throwaway one-off deal, either. The female marine comes in multiple variants (some only available to buyers of various special editions), with custom first-person view models to match. She’ll join the menfolk in NS2′s terror-ridden alien organo-swamps toward the end of August or beginning of September. For free!

Less heartening, meanwhile, was Unknown Worlds’ explanation of the wait, which basically boiled down to time and resources. In other words, the female marine was a priority, but not enough of one to charge straight onto the frontlines at launch. That kind of thinking is, as ever, saddening, but NS2 is also a first-person shooter and – brilliantly tactical though it might be – still aimed primarily at a traditional FPS audience: dudes. But hey, baby steps. This is progress, and I definitely can’t complain.

Now then, how about a female Onos? I mean, everybody’s been asking for one. Obviously. (Or maybe the Onos is already female? I am unsure. Also, very frightened.)

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193 Comments »

  1. Branthog says:

    I don’t understand. How the fuck is that armor supposed to protect her when it doesn’t bare her midrif or make her tits more pronounced?

    • 1Life0Continues says:

      Also, how can she fight without being in a tits and arse pose? I didn’t think that was possible!

      • MadJax says:

        Ladies and Mentlegen, the difference between Sci-Fi and Fantasy ;)

        • bleeters says:

          If only that were universally true.

          *Glances at Mass Effect*

          • Apocalypse says:

            You misunderstand him. Mass Effect is clearly Fantasy, as their females have stupid body armor :D

        • Nevard says:

          I’m pretty sure this is just the difference between good and bad content creators, there’s plenty of unnecessarily sexed up sci-fi and no need to make some weird genre war

          • gwathdring says:

            True. That said, a lot of Sci-Fi gets its fan service in *out* of armor. Especially in anything with Mecha where you can pilot the bad-ass armored thing in your underpants. I don’t think it represents a more socially progressive mindset, exactly, but in my experience Sci-Fi warriors of both genders are more likely to have substantial, protective-looking armor and there’s slightly less of a gap between the two in space-marine type scenarios than Magical Elven Warrior type scenarios.

  2. Totally heterosexual says:

    Yaaay.

    I don’t play this, but yay anyway.

  3. supernorn says:

    Apparently all the aliens are female, Nathan!

    Also what did you do to that header’s aspect ratio? tsk tsk!

    • MadJax says:

      I thought they were asexual and bred through some wierd gooey process, or spores… :/

    • sophof says:

      It took me a while to realize that it was the aspect ratio that was freaking me out about the picture, thanks :P

  4. pocketlint60 says:

    It’s kind of sad that this is progress. That being said, good on them.

    My favorite part of the design is that her boobs AREN’T the size of one of those mouth-with-feet monsters.

  5. Totally heterosexual says:

    Also im calling that, despite the fact that this an entirely positive thing, someone is going to complain about it here.

    It is RPS comments after all.

    • Branthog says:

      Well, for one, I don’t see any space on her armor suit for carrying sandwich-making accouterments. . .

      There, I tried. :)

    • gwathdring says:

      You won your bet the moment you typed the post, but if you’re still unsatisfied with self-fulfilling goals I’m sure you’ll find someone who’ll double your winnings.

      • jrodman says:

        Nah…
        It’s a complaint but not about the news.

        Personally, I like complaining. HOORAY FOR COMPLAINING.

        So long as it’s on the mark.

        This one is not my favourite ever, but I am OK with it. :-D

      • Totally heterosexual says:

        Well reading this section now, I was more right then I wanted to be. Sigh.

    • Fred S. says:

      Really, that armor is still totally impractical. Too many angled surfaces and shot traps. And that blue glowy thing over the center chest? Is that a target or what?

      • gwathdring says:

        They claim it’s “melee focused” in which case it’s not too bad.

      • Stardog says:

        Alienz dun got guns.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        She’s going to look glowing orange to me, anyway.
        and aliens don’t really shoot marines, they bite and spit!

  6. N says:

    Wow, lol.

    He gets what he wants, a female model that is identical with a male one etc. Then says:

    “Less heartening, meanwhile, was Unknown Worlds’ explanation of the wait, which basically boiled down to time and resources. In other words, the female marine was a priority, but not enough of one to charge straight onto the frontlines at launch. That kind of thinking is, as ever, saddening, but NS2 is also a first-person shooter and – brilliantly tactical though it might be – still aimed primarily at a traditional FPS audience: dudes.”

    Never satisfied, are we? Mechanical balancing and fixing major glitches will always take up a higher place on the to-do list than alternate skins. What the fuck.

    He continues:

    “But hey, baby steps. This is progress, and I definitely can’t complain.”

    Even though he just did.

    British humor.

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      Except it was written by an American…

      • Edgewise says:

        I kind of agree with him, though. Except for that last part…even if Nathan was British, I don’t really get the jibe. Aside from that, while I’m not saying that proponents of gender equality should be satisfied with less than the ultimate goal, I would say that you have to appreciate things like this as a step in the right direction relative to where we are. There’s a bit of hang-wringing going on here, combined with almost letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say. Nathan, it’s something to build on, so stop having so many caveats preventing you from being able to just simply be happy about it.

        Also, the current state of affairs isn’t that really bad, if you put things in a historical perspective. As “bad” as things are for gender equality, have they ever been better? And aren’t they still improving? This is just one more signpost on the road to a more equitable society.

        • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

          I kind of agree too, I did think that paragraph was fairly unnecessary. I just felt the need to be a pedantic pillock.

        • gwathdring says:

          I don’t believe in developmental models of history, per se. We can see both better and worse things looking back and our ability to look back is so tainted and twisted by our present selves that it has limited use with respect to social issues. Of course, our perceptive past *is* part of the present because so many people *do* believe in developmental models of history and are so otherwise interested in the past and becasue multiple generations of people live side by side. But I think looking a fair ways backwards serves less use than looking around or even a fair ways forwards.

          In any case, “It’s not as bad as it could be” or even “It’s been worse and it’s getting better” doesn’t mean we should necessarily be happy about it. For people who grow up here and now, now is what they deal with and what calibrates their emotional experience. We can point to lesser circumstances and more dire needs, but that rarely changes the power of one’s immediate experience. Being in no jeopardy of starvation does little to ameliorate the social pressure of being unable to find a job that makes you the social equal of your peers. It’s all relative, sure, that much I agree with you on. But I think you overestimate the scope of individual concern.

          Needless to say, those examples are not intended to be directly equated in severity to female models in multiplayer video games.

          • jrodman says:

            Well it’s useful to take a moment to be glad for progress (whether or not this is a good example we can leave aside). This can be done even while remaining dissatisfied at the distance that remains to go.

            Not that you were expressing any of this yourself in particular. I think people just tend to assume it’s one or the other when making their odd comments about not ever being happy.

          • gwathdring says:

            Ah. I’m mostly just making the case for focusing on inequalities first and absolute status second.

            Bear in mind, people don’t just act different, they think different. For my part, I’m perfectly content to criticize and gripe even as I rejoice, but that’s just how I’m wired. I’m not tough to please, so much as I am critical by nature and more apt to observe intently the things I care for and enjoy. An article you might write in a petulant state I might write while elated.

            The usefulness of feeling glad is rather different for different people.

        • AaronLee says:

          I hate to say it, but orienting based on; “Hey, it’s been worse” doesn’t really expedite the better solution. Say I was a raging alcoholic. Now I’m not pissing myself drunk every day. Woohoo! Mission complete. I think not. You still want to live a sustainable and dignified lifestyle at the end of the day.

          It’s good that we’ve got a female skin that’s not oversexed and is as practically armored as the male skin, but I hardly think it’s worth abject happiness. In my view that should be bog standard, not something we have to lobby for or a really salient thing. It says a lot that NS2 is in the minority for doing what they did.

          EDIT: OVERsexed

          • Edgewise says:

            @gwathdring

            I don’t believe in developmental models of history, per se. We can see both better and worse things looking back and our ability to look back is so tainted and twisted by our present selves that it has limited use with respect to social issues.

            You make it sound like it’s all subjective, and thus the past is just a wash. So what’s the point of doing anything? If no ground has been gained from suffragettes till now, then it all seems pretty hopeless! Besides, if it’s all so constructed and arbitrary, we can just create our own reality.

            No, I’m sorry, I think it’s pretty damn clear that women in the West have gained a lot of ground over the last century of struggle for gender equality. If you really don’t think so, I’d be curious to know why. In concrete terms, not just a muddying of the waters by claiming that we’re too biased by the present to form any real conclusions about the past.

            But I think looking a fair ways backwards serves less use than looking around or even a fair ways forwards.

            I don’t get why you see any value in looking forward. After all, won’t future generations be faced with the same problem that you describe us as having (i.e. being unable to chart any net progress)?

            @AaronLee

            I hate to say it, but orienting based on; “Hey, it’s been worse” doesn’t really expedite the better solution.

            It’s not so much “hey, it’s been worse” as “hey, we’ve actually made a lot of progress.” And that admission can help to improve things. After all, wouldn’t you be discouraged from exercise if it didn’t improve your health and fitness? It’s great motivation to know that a difference can be made, and a difference is being made. Also, as I said before, celebrating success is also about honoring those who have struggled to attain it.

            Say I was a raging alcoholic. Now I’m not pissing myself drunk every day. Woohoo! Mission complete. I think not. You still want to live a sustainable and dignified lifestyle at the end of the day.

            True, but it would be equally silly if you couldn’t celebrate your success at becoming sober. And I’m absolutely not saying that we should rest on our laurels…that’s partly of my point. I’m saying that you can continue to improve while acknowledging and appreciating the progress that we’ve made. I think some people have the idea that progress will grind to a halt if, for even a moment, we distract ourselves from the problems that still exist to celebrate what has been accomplished. Think of it this way: By not acknowledging great improvement, we are failing to appreciate what some have worked so hard to achieve.

            It’s good that we’ve got a female skin that’s not oversexed and is as practically armored as the male skin, but I hardly think it’s worth abject happiness.

            “Abject?” I suppose not…but perhaps something less extreme? Like just plain old happiness, for just a moment, of a rather mild variety, but not constantly undercut by a hundred caveats about how bad shit really is.

          • gwathdring says:

            You make it sound like it’s all subjective, and thus the past is just a wash. So what’s the point of doing anything? If no ground has been gained from suffragettes till now, then it all seems pretty hopeless! Besides, if it’s all so constructed and arbitrary, we can just create our own reality.

            Er. We do create our own reality to an extent. I mean … put it this way. Supposing every verifiable fact about the battle of Waterloo vanished without a trace. A bunch of false accounts remain. They neither contradict other verifiable realities nor each other. Well … what does it matter that the reality was different? It’s a problem of observables. If we cannot observe what’s happening (or happened) directly then we can’t know anything about it for certain. When we’re dealing with stuff like particles, there are ways around the problem. When we’re dealing with things like “how much it sucks to be female” … there’s no way around it.

            No, I’m sorry, I think it’s pretty damn clear that women in the West have gained a lot of ground over the last century of struggle for gender equality. If you really don’t think so, I’d be curious to know why. In concrete terms, not just a muddying of the waters by claiming that we’re too biased by the present to form any real conclusions about the past.

            Er … my point was more that we should be more concerned with what it feels like to live in the present than how well our modern vision of progress measures up to the past. Does it suck more to be a woman now than a man now in social group X? If so is that ok? If not, we should do something about it. Saying Noting that according to our current [ever changing] version of what is and isn’t ok and what goes for progress [into which is built a HUGE bias to see improvement over time because if we didn't feel things were getting better we'd be more likely to change them and also becasue we like feeling good about ourselves], things look better now than they used to … well, I don’t think that’s an especially important observation in the context of this discussion. Perhaps it’s an important observation in a broader, more philosophical that can afford to deal with issues like “What SHOULD our ideal world look like?” or “What IS truth anyway?”

            In the meantime, I mostly concern myself with present attitudes and the past couple of decades at the longest.

            I don’t get why you see any value in looking forward. After all, won’t future generations be faced with the same problem that you describe us as having (i.e. being unable to chart any net progress)?”

            If we look back to check whether or not we’ve progressed … well, maybe we have maybe we haven’t. It doesn’t really change where we are and our ability to look back clearly (in particular, further back than substantial living populations were teenagers at the youngest) isn’t especially great. If we look forward, though, we are armed with an understanding of the present that we can be more certain of. We can plan our actions based on what we think will happen, what we anticipate coming next. We can imagine our vision of what progress looks like based on our modern perspective of progress and try to make it happen.

            When I say present, I don’t mean right now this second. What qualifies as the present really depends on what we’re discussing. If it’s Supreme Court politics, the pertinent present is the lifetime of the current court and maybe further back if a substantial portion of the current court was part of the last one. If it’s video game development culture, the span is probably a lot smaller. Our perceptions of our past have great importance, too … but only becasue we believe they do. Note, too, the differences between history and data–and the places where the two get fuzzy.

            Data is of great utility. Knowing what happens when you drop a ball from a certain height requires a lot of data. Once that data starts getting more and more dependent on perspective, it becomes less useful. Analyzing it becomes a matter not just of reading, but of translation. Of trying to piece together what was meant not just from what we would mean by it if we wrote it now, but what we WOULD have meant by it if we had written it THEN. And further more what we WOULD have meant by it if we had written it AS SOMEONE ELSE. Then there’s the matter of understanding how reliable that someone else is. How much can you trust them to tell the truth? To understand what they were telling the truth about? And so forth.

            We’re getting rather deeply into information theory and historiography, but we don’t need to go anywhere near that deep for me to explain myself. I just enjoy it. :) My point is made clearly enough with this: our ideas of what is good and bad change over time. Our ability to asses how much better things are now, then, is less useful than our ability to asses how much better we would like them to be. We are creatures of contrast; when inequality is great, absolute quality of life matters less. Even if we accept a purely developmental narrative in which life gets better every few years without fail (and we should not do that) … we’re just establishing a new baseline. Being more well fed than any other human generation before you doesn’t mean very much if you’re socially oppressed to the point of being rendered more stressed, depressed, and ashamed than your peers. Inequality causes a lot of violence and a lot of pain–and it is almost entirely perceptive. Two people can have different lives and different successes and consider themselves equals; it depends on the social contextualization of their successes, failures, and general status.

            The history and psycho-social bits are just icing on the relativist cake (check out the Nation State system and the way nations rewrite their histories to create Nations out of disparate entities for a very clear example that’s easy to research). Our brains lie to us about reality all the time. False memories, sensory illusions, implanted suggestions, implicit associations. Then we lie to each other, or mislead each other unintentionally. Then we mislead ourselves and convince ourselves things were/are better or worse than they really were. Then the distortions are recorded, repeated, handed down. Then our children and their children are caught between their perceptions and our perceptions and their meta-perceptions of what they think is really going on outside all the fog and construction. Artifice and relativity are inescapable elements of human life. We might as well learn to work with them.

            To finally reduce this all to a single line: History has a place. Telling us how happy and satisfied we should be with our lots in life is not that place.

    • Nogo says:

      TRIBES thought it was worth doing and that game is 15 years old.

      Shazbot!

      • Apocalypse says:

        Shazbot to that. Oh wait, I think am doing it wrong, shazbot.

    • danw13335 says:

      I completely agree with you. We’re talking about a tiny indie studio that has been pouring their heart and souls into this game for the last 5 years. It’s not even a little bit unreasonable that they would choose to focus on gameplay and performance until now.

    • Leb says:

      Agreed. Last i read on RPS about NS2 was it took the devs an arm and a leg to get the game released and to the amazing state it is in now.

      And Nathan’s gonna go “why didn’t this take priority.” Maybe because they were busy making sure their game was released, bug free, polished, and packed full of content to keep the community alive?

      But no, drop all that, hire a female voice actress and get modeling a new body ASAP.

    • Nick says:

      what the fuck is this british humor I keep hearing about? Even if it were a thing, if it were british it would surely be humour.

      • bill says:

        I think it’s safe to assume that anytime you read the words ‘British Humo(u)r’ it will be written by an american who has no idea about what British people find funny.

        Every time I read it it makes my toes curl. I’m not sure what americans think constitutes British Humour, but I suspect they wouldn’t recognise it if they saw it.

        Not that there even really IS a British Humor, given that tastes in humour vary so much from person to person. Is there an American Humor? Would that be The Simpsons or The Hangover or Bill Hicks?

        • Reapy says:

          Comedy is generally based in culture and the tone, style and delivery of the jokes usually reflect that. I haven’t seen every countries comedies, but if you put a brittish comedy next to an American comedy next to a Chinese comedy, you will find the tone, delivery, and subject matter of the jokes quite different from one another. All are funny, just they each rub you differently.

          There really is a brittish style of humo(u)r, the same way there is an american style and chinese style (wife had a stint of getting import romantic comedy’s from china). That then leads to the light use of explaining an unfunny joke as brittish humor the same way American football is often ribbed at here.

          If you still don’t see it try watching both versions of the office, you should hopefully see the style differences between both versions of essentially the same thing.

  7. bigjig says:

    It’s a sad state of affairs when “inoffensive” is apparently the peak of art design. Clothe your female characters by all means, but god damn do it with a bit of style! She just looks as boring as the male space marines everyone keeps complaining about.

  8. Bhazor says:

    A new multiplayer skin is news worthy? Really? I mean it’s a decent skin, it fits really well thematically in that it manages to be every bit as mundane as the male marines, but worth a news story?

    Also I find it funny you give it a #1reasontobe tag for a game made by a team which doesn’t actually have a single woman working in game design.
    http://unknownworlds.com/about/

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      However, one ninth of their total employees are female, so you know, still doing better than most game studios. If you really want to nitpick, some of the community modders/mappers who are essentially unpaid offsite employees are female, so there you go.

    • Branthog says:

      I agree that it seems kind of pedantic to make this a part of *that* particular tiresome discussion. That said, I’m always happy to see as much variety and as many choices and inclusive variations as possible in any games where doing so wouldn’t counter the context of the story or game world.

      • supernorn says:

        We’re not talking about a skin here though are we. I’d say a free update that enables you to select gender in a multiplayer shooter is a rare sight, possibly even news worthy.

      • Bhazor says:

        “Inclusive”

        That’s why this type of thing, like the Massive Chalice gay marriage, bugs me. It’s variation for entirely the wrong reason. Instead of creating interesting variations “because awesome” or because it meaningfully adds to the game they do it because they want to be “inclusive”. If they want variation then great. But don’t try to paint it as if you’re taking some kind of brave socio-political stance just because you’ve added a character with the innie genitals rather than the outie genitals.

        If its all about “inclusivity” what about the millions of people with real tangible barriers? Deaf people who can’t play games because the sound cues have no optional visual cues, colour blind players who can’t differentiate red/blue/green (a combination of colours that is everywhere in games).

        • Nogo says:

          Just because you don’t find them interesting doesn’t mean everyone agrees with you.

          And it’s really disingenuous to say they should stop including features because they can’t include all the features, ever, so just stop, please.

          • Bhazor says:

            What’s interesting about it? It doesn’t add anything mechanically, its a common feature in every non “realistic” shooter (apart from TF2) and its just a tiny variation on the exact same generic space marine that every one on RPS mocks on sight.

            Do you really think this skin deserves that level of self satisfaction and a #1reasontobe?

          • jpvg says:

            You’re absolutely right, so why include females and not let’s say albinos for the heck of it, Why do we include females over all the others minorities in the gamercrowd?

            (Yes females are still a minority among the crowd that plays PC games, not in society obviously).

          • Nogo says:

            Call me crazy, but maybe some women are interested in playing as women? As you said, it’s a pretty common thing that games do, so why bother lamenting it’s inclusion or mention in another game that was lacking it?

            Is it worth a blog post, press release and a hashtag? Probably. It’s not like those are precious metals.

            jpvg: I believe I’ve addressed your argument in the very post you’re responding too. (Selectable skin tones would be a great inclusion btw!)

          • jpvg says:

            No you’re not answering it, why women? why favor women?

          • jrodman says:

            Why favor humans? Robots are the master race.

          • jpvg says:

            Because the amount of robots playing PC Games is probably possible to count on a single hand.

            My point is that the two traits that is being clearly appealed to @ white+male is selected not because white males are superior but because they are the largest traits separately White and Male not combined although that is probably the largest individual group within gamers so if you want to add a new trait that should be included alright awesome, pick the 3rd largest segment (and no that is not women, not yet, it will come in time but it isn’t here yet).

            Anything else is pure favouritism.

          • Nogo says:

            So you think games should kow-tow to the bottom line and all design decisions should be based on money?

            Well sorry, I think they’re forms of expression and I firmly agree with Unknown Worlds when they say “game developers are responsible for the message they choose to convey to players.” But hey, feel free to disagree with the devs themselves on the decision they made for their own game and go with the stance that crippled Sim City.

            Besides, you still haven’t answered “why not women?” because “including women discriminates against albinos” is not an argument and you should really be ashamed that entered you skull, much less left your mouth.

          • Bhazor says:

            So are you saying Gearbox are paragons of social justice for also including female space marines in Colonial Marines?

            Adding female multiplayer skins to your game? Great! But don’t try to pass it off as a brave stance against the tyranny of the evil big publishers.

          • smb says:

            @Nogo

            The original Metroid was released in 1986, its only playable character being exclusively female. That particular design choice from twenty-seven years ago deserves far more laud and praise than this “news” story. There’s a difference between designing games around specific characters with specific traits… and being all-inclusive (including every option so no one feels left out.) The latter certainly reeks of lazy market grabbing (mass appeal by including more demographics) rather than, say, deliberately designing a game for primarily female audiences.

            Then again, some people will call you sexist for thinking that “The Sims” is primarily aimed towards female audiences. For “promoting gender stereotypes!” and whatnot. Lately, I’ve heard arguments about “strong, independent women” in video games being shallow because it doesn’t respect that these women can still be sexually active. So what the fuck…? It’s no surprise that some developers don’t even bother. As it stands, you cannot design a game that every white male finds appealing, so how can we expect a game to appeal towards every woman in addition?

            We’re taking leaps backwards because of the outcry for gender “equality” I feel. Designers are now overly conscious about including female characters, to the point that it always feels hamfisted and done merely to quell the unrest, rather than creating something girl gamers actually find appealing.

        • jrodman says:

          Calling it inclusive (it is) doesn’t mean it’s the bravest act ever on the part of the developer. I think you’ve read into the scenario a bit too much.

        • gwathdring says:

          I would agree with you if female character options that weren’t arbitrarily sexual were more common in games. A lot of male gamers are just fine playing characters of whatever gender. But that comfort comes in part from being continually comforted by the industry. It gets annoying when all the best sci-fi films feature primarily male cast members and white male main characters. I would love for gender representation in games not to matter at all. But the default is way too often *male.*

          It’s not frustrating that they only had the time and money to do one character model with one skin tone of a single non-ambiguous gender. It’s frustrating that *yet again* it was a white male model. I’m with you that trying to include everyone starts getting silly. I’d much rather see someone start out with an all female cast that wasn’t arbitrarily sexual. Because why *not*? I also don’t care especially about NS2 doing it or not doing it. I’m thinking more about the big picture.

          Colorblind friendly modes and design would be great. Once you start getting into blindness and hearing loss … well, that starts becoming really difficult to design and can start compromising the intent and integrity of the work. Even colorblind friendly design can start to do that a bit. But this isn’t about making games more mechanically friendly to more people. It’s about social inclusion and representation.

          The whole *point* is that having more female space marines and more non-white space marines *doesn’t* have gameplay ramifications or even major artistic ramifications. It doesn’t require careful thought and design and it doesn’t change the game. Certain demographics are still disproportionately represented among playable characters which means certain audience members still don’t see people like them proportionally represented in the games they play nearly as often as other audience members do.

          If that means that every now and then, someone decides to make a protagonist female *just* to make a female protagonist? I’m just fine with that. If the gender wasn’t relevant to the character in the first place … well, isn’t it just as arbitrary to make it male? Why not add to the variety of the available games and be a little more inclusive and inviting to under-representated audience members when making unimportant design decisions? I think it’s more reasonable to expect that sort of inclusiveness than to expect color-blind friendly design which requires a lot more work and has much more significant gameplay and art design ramifications.

          • 1Life0Continues says:

            *applause*

            Eloquently stated. Firmly agree with this.

          • andytt66 says:

            I really wish there was a way to create links to individual posts here on the RPS forums. Wonderfully put, thank you.

          • gwathdring says:

            Awww, thanks. :)

            I could post it on my Tumblr which is mostly short news and thoughts about board and video games except when it’s about Ultimate Spiderman.

            Edit: Well, want it or not, it’s now here.

          • KhanIHelpYou says:

            You actually can link to individual comments using an anchor link: #comment-COMMENT ID. Unless you meant single comments, isolated from context.

            The date and time of posting in the top right corner of every comment is this link.

            This post is http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/07/04/hoo-rah-natural-selection-2-adding-female-marines/#comment-1300277

          • Reapy says:

            I think it’s a mistake to think that having non sexual female avatars in game will wildly skew the ‘core’ gamer audience ns2 is targeting from male to female. It is apps game, you never see your character model, the other side is all aliens, do you think there is a group of female players sitting in the wings going, oh shit, finally a realistically proportioned female avatar, now I can play it! Even if those people did exist, it would seem to me they wouldn’t be fun to play with as they would be missing 90% what is important about the game, the actual gameplay.

            If the ns2 people who could barley afford to get the game out didn’t pick a male character with a few skin textures I would honestly call that a bonehead move.

            I totally would love to have more women play games, but honestly if they aren’t playing fps in droves by now I would have to think its because of lck of interest in the gameplay rather than problematic character skins.

            The only way to get women involved in games is more female game designers making the games they want to play. Games are about gameplay, the actions you take, more than anything, it is what makes games a unique medium, it is what holds you and draws you into them…the form your player takes is probably the smallest component of what fails to hook and hold women, yet it is easily sensational for journalists to focus on.

            If we want women to game more in the ‘core gaming’ space, we need to look at game design, not art direction.

          • gwathdring says:

            @KhanIHelpYou

            Whoa … lifehack. Thanks for the info. I’ve wanted to link to various people’s posts tons of times and now I can. :)

            @Reapy

            I don’t expect this sort of thing to wildly skew the audience of a single game, no. But I don’t think women in general have as little interest for action movies and first person shooters as marketers tend to imply, either. Having more women working in game design would be great! But that won’t help if the only games they’re allowed to publish are either Girl games or Boy games with the requisite sillinesses like Only White Men are Space Marines.

            It isn’t so much about wildly skewing the audience of a game, in my book, as making the various members of your existing audience feel more welcome and included. Gaming spreads quite well by word of mouth. Women that enjoy games but don’t find them especially welcoming are going to continue playing themselves but aren’t going to work as gaming missionaries.

            Finally, it’s not so much about one game as the overall variety available. The more games that feature varied protagonists, the more people feel comfortable with *all* protagonists and thus the more comfortable they feel playing games. It’s little things like this on a large scale that make the gaming community feel less inequal, which is the best way to fight the nastiness and bitterness that exists in this community.

          • Bhazor says:

            It should have been there from the start. Hell Colonial Marines managed this incredible feat and even had it on day one. They didn’t feel the need to claim they were making a stand against the system though.

            The only shooters that don’t have female characters are those that are trying to be realistic and people react for the same reason they’d react about flying tanks or jetpacks. Or Latvian paratrooper shoelaces being tied the wrong way.

          • gwathdring says:

            Er …. I’m pretty sure most modern militaries have women. So not sure what you mean be realistic unless you’re referring to WWII shooters.

            As for gender in multi-player games, off the top of my head, some games that aren’t modern military shooters (though one of them could be argued as “realistic” anyway): TF2, Halo, Section 8, Counterstrike, Pirates Knights and Vikings. And then there’s modern military shooters.

            I don’t think NS2 saved the world, either, ok? I’m not too interested in patting them on the back. I’m just fully in favor of this sort of “inclusion” and I, too, would prefer if it happened right off the bat, or if a game had an all-female cast that wasn’t arbitrarily sexy (or rather context-inappropriately sexy in a dramatic way), and so forth and so forth. So I don’t exactly disagree with you when you say “Well, it’s not like they did something to be very proud of.”

            But I think it is still newsworthy because this sort of thing (adding female characters in later) doesn’t happen often, and even in many games that do include female models they sometimes have arbitrarily less clothing and deadly indentations in their protective armor and so on and so forth. And then there’s all the stuff I said before about broader context.

          • smb says:

            “Er …. I’m pretty sure most modern militaries have women.”

            Sure, but in most countries they are still barred from being deployed to the front lines of live combat situations, where these shooters take place.

        • AaronLee says:

          When the default choice in 90%+ of games is outie genitals and you’re an innie, I doubt it makes your day.

          I don’t really see why ‘this isn’t news worthy’ needs to be said. There are people interested to hear about this and those that aren’t can move onto other stories.

          • apocraphyn says:

            I doubt it would necessarily ruin your day, either. I prefer playing as men in games, but if the only choice is to play as a woman, I’m fine with that. My partner prefers playing as women in games, but if the only choice is to play as a man…she grudgingly accepts it. I can understand the situation, but it’s hardly the end of the world. You should be playing a game for the game, not for the character skin.

            It’s a nifty thing for them to implement into the game, certainly can’t complain – but the article was a little OTT and abrasive than it needed to be. As others have said, saying that they weren’t prioritising things correctly by focusing on fixing the game proper and tweaking balance over implementing a female skin is a rather short-sighted view to take.

          • Nogo says:

            apoc: They could have started with a cast made entirely of female marines, which would have impacted their work load in literally no way. But that would never happen. And that’s ultimately what’s being discussed here.

            For everyone saying “I don’t really care about the gender being played” you’ve got someone saying “but mostly white men play these.” Clearly we’re all very confused about how this representation thing should work, but for me it’s pretty simple: I just wanna see some goddamn risks for once.

            E: Alternatively, we all understand why this happened the way it did, priorities and such, but it is rightfully concerning that this industry has created a situation where “Patch Notes: Decided to include women” is even a thing to begin with.

        • aldo_14 says:

          I’d say anything improving depiction of who players are in a team-orientated multiplayer game is meaningful.

          Otherwise it could be 10 poly stick models for everyone.

          • Reapy says:

            Wrong. 10000 poly stick model with thousands of frames of hand drawn and procedurally blended animations.

        • OfficerMeatbeef says:

          You are equivocating the amount of people who have fairly severe hearing/vision impairment (who, fictionally or otherwise, would likely be denied frontline military enlistment) with the amount of people who are female. What are you even thinking.

          “If its all about “inclusivity” what about the millions of people with real tangible barriers?” You are a goddamn mess what are you even thinking stop it.

        • Anabasis says:

          Oh Bhazor, you lovable old concern troll.

    • danw13335 says:

      Why does it matter whether or not they have a woman working in game design? It’s a 9-person indie studio, not a 100-employee corporation – I’d say 1/9 is pretty good. You mention that you dislike inclusion for the sake of inclusion; yet would you be happier if they hired a woman for game design just for the sake of hiring a woman?

      • Bhazor says:

        #1reasontobe is supposed to be women who work in the industry giving their reasons for working there. Giving it to an all male team is like giving a BYA to a white guy.

        • El_Emmental says:

          So now the #1reasontobe is only for human with female sex ? (not even female gender – one of the dev might be a male sex humans, with female gender)

          Sexism in anti-sexism, now I’ve seen it all :|

          Are you a man, or a transsexual ? Too bad, you can’t be the originator of a reason for women to be in the video game industry, you’re either neutral or sexist, move along, only humans with female sex can improve the working condition of humans with female sex.

          Oh, and calling out a team of 9 devs for only having 1 female dev, when you haven’t a single proof they ever discriminated a female applicant, sure is classy. It is so cheap I can’t believe you’re the one who did it.

          Simply because a company/group isn’t aggressively doing ‘positive discrimination’ for a minority doesn’t mean they’re automatically negatively discriminating that minority. It also doesn’t mean they’re responsible for all the negative discrimination done to that minority by other groups/companies.

          The modding community, for years, had very little female devs, for many reasons, mainly the lack of female gamers for games with SDK (most of them being violent shooters – and we all know “girls can’t be anywher near violence”, according to sexist POV, held by both men and women) and the microscopic amount of female programmers also into gaming.

          According to your accusation, Unknown World should have refused half of their male devs, and try to find a female equivalent for all these positions.

          Despite being an indie studio almost nobody know they even exist.
          Despite being an indie studio struggling with money (before the release of NS2).
          Despite being an indie studio making a MP FPS with RTS elements (= very little chance of success, a MP-only FPS against CoD, and RTS elements while the RTS sector is dying), with a marketing budget smaller than the dev budget.

          What’s the solution ?
          Close the studio if you can’t get a 50/50 ratio ?
          Make “family friendly” games for Facebook/tablets/mobile phone so you can get money and women devs can join your project without feeling they’re not being feminine (thanks Cosmo & co for telling what’s feminine…) ?
          Join a giant publisher so you have a giant team of PR/marketing, full of female employees (and male bosses), to get a better M/F ratio ?

          Bad faith isn’t going to help fight sexism, it’s just going to fuel all the MRAs idiots “look, they’re not even logical, they ignore tons of factors and facts to place one of their overused tropes once again”.

        • Bhazor says:

          So now the #1reasontobe is only for human with female sex ?

          Yes actually.
          http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/13/may/1reasontorhi.jpg

          As for everything else you said I have no idea who you’re talking to. I didn’t say anything like what you just put in my mouth.

          Additionally the one woman in the team isn’t a developer, she’s in human resources. Also the art director of the team has a rape joke for his nickname, seriously.
          http://unknownworlds.com/about/

          CORY “SQUEAL LIKE A PIG” STRADER

          Truly these are the heroes of feminism.

          • El_Emmental says:

            “Also I find it funny you give it a #1reasontobe tag for a game”

            Where did Nathan Grayson awarded a “#1reasontobe” tag to the game ? All I see is a tag attached to the ARTICLE. The #1reasontobe tag is here regarding the news entry, not the game.

            I don’t see how a news, regarding an update adding a female playable character that is not in chainmail bikini, is not related to the #1reasontobe at all, when the twitter hashtag is about the positive aspects of the video game industry (despite the existing sexism), and the news is about a lack of sexism in the video game industry (character design) and video games (actual models showed ingame).

            Also, I don’t see why a hastag wouldn’t be able to encompass a larger subject after it greatly evolved after several months – to me it seemed obvious that such important element wouldn’t be frozen in time. Personally, if I was the author of the article, I would have picked the #1reasonwhy tag instead, but I’m not the author of that article.

            “Also I find it funny you give it a #1reasontobe tag *** for a game made by a team which doesn’t actually have a single woman working in game design. ***”

            And here is the reason of my entire post (after the #1reasontobe short paragraph).

            You’re making a statement without providing any context, in the middle of a discussion about sexism in the video game industry. “Oh, and they don’t have a woman working in game design – but don’t worry it has nothing to do with what we’re currently talking about, please continue”.

            It’s a very cheap accusation, thrown in there to support your disappointment at Nathan’s use of the #1reasontobe hashtag, and that’s disappointing.

            If you want to brought up the issue of a lack of women in game design, please do that properly, with arguments and possible factors, don’t just exploit the issue when you need it and throw it in the bin once it’s used.

            I mentioned:
            - the “positive discrimination” in companies,
            - the actual composition of the modding community,
            - mostly caused by the fact that most SDKs given to gamers were SDKs of shootersr/violent games (which, especially in the 90s, excluded most women because feminity, as defined my most men and women, isn’t compatible with violence)
            - but also due to the very small population of female programmers -and- gamers at that time (even male coders were super rare in the modding community)
            - the extreme difficulty in finding adequate developers when you’re an unknown indie studio
            - especially when you’re financially struggling
            - especially when you’re working on a game with an unsure commercial viability

            That’s the kind of context, factors and arguments you should have provided, if you were actually and honestly talking about the lack of women in game design. But you provided none of that, even after I posted my context/factors/arguments. Then, how can I believe your original post wasn’t a cheap accusation ? What’s convincing me ?

            You wrote “I didn’t say anything like what you just put in my mouth”, pretending your silence is automatically innocent, since you know, it’s silence. But you’re not the only one to perfectly know that a passive-aggressive accusation is just like lying by omission: it works perfectly when you place the silence at the right place at the right time.

            Examples:
            - you go to a birthday party “oh, you didn’t invited a black person”, “I don’t say you’re racist, but I don’t see a black person at that party, just saying…”. No need for context ? factors ? No differences if the scene happens in a country with less than 1% of black people, or in South Africa ? No need to know what is the social class, the suburb where that person lives ?
            - you join a company of 50 employees, and realize there isn’t any LGBT employee there (or they don’t publicly show it). Wouldn’t be it logical to see if there is some factors, some reason why, before insinuating the owner/boss/HR is homophobic ?

            “As for everything else you said I have no idea who you’re talking to” – I won’t say much about that sentence: only that trying to get me to resort to ad hominem so cheaply is quite disappointing. I mean come on, we’re not on a MRA blog, people are not that stupid here, (almost) everyone here fully know what an ad hominem argument is and why it means the end of the discussion. I won’t fall for it, sorry.

            PS: “Squeal like a pig” is a quote from a movie, from a scene where a male rape take place (male on male rape, with one male watching). And is a nickname, given by “friends”.
            Thinking that the quote itself, since it mentions the act of rape (with males only in that case), is an assault on feminism and anyone who mentions it is anti-feminism, is seeing sexism everywhere whenever it supports your views – and to be honest, such exploitation of that very serious problem is a great disservice to feminism.

    • elfbarf says:

      Keep in mind that there was an article when League of Legends remade a single one of their 100+ champions to be a bit more modestly dressed. Riot was praised for being so brave, meanwhile the majority of their female characters continue to ooze sex appeal. As one of their developers said, it’s hard to tell if a character is female if they don’t have large, exposed breasts.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Yes it is, it comes with updates for the game and I am happy to hear about that, some friends just bought the game as well, so I have to play again, and all just because of that news!

  9. Grover says:

    It looks like they put a slightly more feminine face on the male marine body to me. I guess we’ll see if her frame and height are any different.

    • supernorn says:

      It’s a completely new model. Along with the special edition versions.

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      They said they’d try to stick to the “default” (hope this is not chauvinist) hitbox for balance reasons. So I doubt the height will be any different.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        You’ve just brought back memories of my cheating swine of a friend who only chose oddjob in goldeneye due to his half height hit box. Grrr!

        • Droopy The Dog says:

          And also the ability to hide quite inconspicuously in exploded barrels. Best. Ambush. Ever.

  10. Shiny says:

    It’s good to know that there’s a vagina under that armor.

    Now if these bigots would just release eunuch and hermaphrodite models, we’d be making some significant progress towards gender equality in this game.

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      Don’t forget about the transsexual & transvestite models. She’s also a bit white, so I’m hoping we get either a melanesian or indo-pacific model shortly.

    • Nogo says:

      I’d say male and female models provide a fairly complete spectrum for gender expression. Dunno why you’re worried about dangly bits. Perhaps you were looking for porn and clicked here by mistake?

      • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

        Pretty sure it’s a reference to the recent Penny Arcade bullshit; that’s certainly what I was sniping at. If that female model has a vagina under her armour then I’m afraid it’s discriminatory.

        • Harlander says:

          I suspect that’s a degree of modelling fidelity that wouldn’t really benefit the game – so no discrimination there, phew

        • Nogo says:

          Ah, lol. Hard to keep up with their vitriol.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        No, see, it’s funny because people born with non-standard sex/gender expressions are totally unreasonable, and also freaks. Ha ha! Let’s all make fun of the freak! Get it?

  11. Oneah says:

    Honestly.. i’m probably gonna come out of this sounding like a douche bag but this feels more like a marketing thing than anything else. It ultimately has no purpose and has zero message in it.

    The fact that they are boasting about something that is common sense is rather sad really..

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed. Sadly the marketing worked wonders on RPS.

      • Prime says:

        You’re so adorable sometimes, Bhazor. You’re like the RPS version of Grumpy Cat, only spelt slightly differently…

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      Don’t agree there’s zero purpose – pretty sure a whole load of dick-swingers would be throwing their toys out the pram if they’d not bothered with a male at launch and gone with a female instead, to the point the game would have bombed.

      Just because it doesn’t appeal to you doesn’t make it pointless.

      I kind of agree with your last point, but as much as you might see it as ‘common sense’ it still isn’t all that common. Which, yeah, is pretty pathetic.

      • Dominic White says:

        “pretty sure a whole load of dick-swingers would be throwing their toys out the pram if they’d not bothered with a male at launch and gone with a female instead, to the point the game would have bombed”

        Exactly. Imagine the fury if a military shooter was released and you could ONLY play as women. The internet would burn for years.

        • Zombat says:

          “Oh, all the soldiers are women, how unusual. Time to get in some frags”

          Is what I’d imagine the majority response would be, people would be surprised by the gender role reversement but move on from it very very quickly and just play the bloody game they bought, everyone except the media anyway – who will bang on about the game being the spearhead of social equality, and cry about how few games have done it since, for years afterwards.
          Hell if I was a game dev I would do it just for the free publicity.

          • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

            You evidently have waaaaay more faith in your average FPS crowd than I do. Pretty sure if it was female only models in BF3 or COD there’d by angry internet manboys shouting about it until their vocal chords snapped.

          • mrbeman says:

            You occupy an alien planet. People can’t even add a (sane, unpornographic) female model to a previously male-only game without people like you decrying it as a marketing ploy.

            Do you really think – really? seriously? – that the internet gaming scene that spawned this timeline and the sort of people that wrote the “straight white male” post on the bioware forums would just sort of meekly ignore the entire lack of a traditional male model in a shooter and buy it in the same quantities?

            Despite the evidence of your own whining in response to this post and update to an indie game?

            Would you have whined if the model had never been added? I’m guessing not.

          • Shieldmaiden says:

            Even if that were the case, it’s not a fair comparison. Men are used to being represented in games. Even in the few games where you have to control a female character, they’re almost guaranteed to be designed with the male gaze in mind. A female model only FPS would be a blip, and an easily avoidable one at that.

            Have a random, food-based analogy: imagine eating plain, unsweetened porridge for every meal of every day. You get something more interesting once a week. Everyone else gets a varied diet, but whenever you complain about how it’s unfair, a few of them will shout abuse at you and anyone who agrees with you. Then, one day, everyone else has porridge, just once. They then turn around and say “Hey, that porridge was pretty tasty and it filled me up. I don’t know what you were complaining about.”

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            @Shieldmaiden

            I’m stealing that porridge analogy. I shall name it the Sheildmaiden Porridge Analogy

          • Shieldmaiden says:

            Why thank you! It’s nice to be appreciated.

          • Zombat says:

            This is the second time I’ve posted this as the first one disappeared, how strange…

            @mrbeman Wow way to skew my post, are you always such a poisonous troll?

            I didn’t say Unknown Worlds did this for publicity, I said that if *I* was a game dev I would make an FPS with female only models because it would get a ton of free publicity from liberal media and feminist groups, which would be a fantastic thing because publicity costs a lot of monies.

            And reason I’d go with female only models is the fact I’d probably get more publicity if I went with female only models, yet the development costs would remain the same because my artists would only need to make one group of models, one group of skins and one set of animations
            You can’t just stick a female head on a male model’s body because it wouldn’t look right. Aside from the lack of boobage (which isn’t too weird given physically fit women have less body fat which means less bust flesh), their height is different, their hips are different, and because the hips are different women walk differently.

            I’m not ‘whining’ at UW adding female models, my initial reaction was “I thought they already had those” because I’d prebought the game back when it was bundled with Overgrowth and I seem to remember hearing UW planned to add female models and showed some concept art.

            What I’m taking issue with is Nathan’s sanctimonious BS of “better late than never” and “not a high enough priority”.
            Unknown Worlds is a small team with very limited budget, I’m glad they spent their time and funds completing the game than spending it on doubling the work load for marines models, skins, and rigging. A feature that has zero gameplay value other than appeasing a small vocal minority.

          • smb says:

            @Bent Wooden Spoon

            Fans of any series tend to dislike having their game changed for the sake of pleasing a completely different crowd. Imagine if the next Tomb Raider game replaced Lara with “Luke Croft,” gun-toting survival bad-ass. Oh my, all of the white knights who would go berserk over that…

        • jrodman says:

          @Dominic White : Really? I’m doubtful, but want to run the experiment now.

          @Oneah: I think it’s sort of a statement only by accidental framing. Timing is a funny thing.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Sanctum has female only characters and nobody gave a shit.

        • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

          That is actually a fair point, but I can’t help but feel it’s the kind of game that appeals to a slightly more mature crowd than your usual run-and-gun.

          • Fatrat says:

            What a cop-out. Someone gives a good example to you, and you make an excuse about why it’s almost irrelevant to the argument.

            Reminds of me of another argument:
            1. “There’s no strong female characters in gaming!”
            2. “What about Samus, Lara Croft, Jill Valentine (etc…)”
            3. “Yeah well, they’re basically men with tits!”
            4. “….”

            … it seems you can’t really win when talking about this issue, even if you try to make a valid argument.

            That said, i’m not arguing for or against women being in games. Just pointing out how daft your response was. I’m not a fan of the stupid skimpy costumes we see most of the time, but i also couldn’t care less if i’m playing as a guy or a girl.

            I think we should just make all FPS games like Halo. Fully suited-up soldiers from head to toe. That way we can just “imagine” we’re a guy/girl without needing to worry about what’s really inside their virtual pants/knickers.

          • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

            You’re building a strawman – I wasn’t talking about gaming in general, I was talking about competetive multiplayer FPS games, which Sanctum almost falls in to, but not quite.

            I’d love to see the numbers playing BF or COD if the only choice was to play as a woman, I don’t think it’d be anywhere near what they are now.

            This also isn’t to say there aren’t FPSs with female toons, there are, but I can’t think of any where all the models you can choose from are women. Nor do I think a AAA pub would go anywhere near one.

          • Canisa says:

            It’s worth mentioning that a list of anecdotal exceptions does not make up for the overwhelming male-friendly trend.

          • Laurentius says:

            “I’d love to see the numbers playing BF or COD if the only choice was to play as a woman, I don’t think it’d be anywhere near what they are now.”

            And i think differently if newest COD would have only women in MP it would still be most popular MP FPS on this planet. Would it cause uproar and whining on the Interent or even calling for boycots etc, oh yes but seriously Interent among other things is also echo chamber for assholes. Constant whining about BIoware games hasn’t hurt their sales in any recognizable margin. Of course “good guys” of RPS stuff probably think that their crusade against ie. Sim City on-line DRM might hurt EA sales but let’s face it is bullshit. Interent whining brigade is pretty much irrelevant.

        • Asrahn says:

          Oh, you mean the skin-suit, hip-and-tits posing tower defense game?

          http://media.indiedb.com/images/games/1/14/13284/sanctum.1.jpg

          Yeah, great!

    • danw13335 says:

      But it’s not really common sense, is it? This is a rather small indie studio where everyone wears multiple hats. The person(s) that designed this could have been working on game balance or bugfixing, but instead spent their time on something that has no effect on gameplay. The type of thing that even huge studios like DICE, where modelers/animators have their own department, don’t spend time on.

      You can argue they did it just for the marketing, but then why assume any company ever sincerely does anything like this? Mirror’s Edge just had a female lead for marketing, etc.

    • mrbeman says:

      So if the game had originally released with ONLY female marine models, and their stated reason was “limited dev resources so we chose one gender and went with it,” I’m sure you’d've said the same thing right? And treated the later addition of a male marine (if indeed they’d made enough money to make such a thing possible) as a complete non-item?

      Of course you would have. Of course.

      • andytt66 says:

        “So if the game had originally released with ONLY female marine models …[you'd treat it]… as a complete non-item?”

        Yeppers. Having said that, I’ve just seen gwathdring’s response earlier in the thread, who does a sterling job of explaining why this isn’t a non-issue to bemused people such as myself. Kudos and credit is due.

      • aldo_14 says:

        It’s not exactly equivalent, though. Releasing with an all-female ‘cast’ would be notable as (virtually?) unique, and a massive deviation from the norm. The coverage would have to be prefixed as such, and the tone would be different through necessity.

        Sadly, at the moment adding female characters into the games is as noteworthy as adding new species.

        • gwathdring says:

          Would the tone have to be different? Do you mean the tone of the game, the press releases or press coverage?

          Certainly I don’t think a male addition to an all-female cast would be equally newsworthy as the topic of the article, because it’s less unusual, as you say. Whereas the all-female cast would be unusual.

    • mrbeman says:

      Also yes, adding a non-exploitative female model is certainly the height of cynical marketing ploys.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      When you’re one of the first in an in entire damn industry to develop common sense, that is pretty impressive, if only relatively.

  12. spectone says:

    Where do I go to complain about the semi-pornographic ads underneath the article? That “More from the web” one. Showing parts of naked women for click bait.

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      Apparently you should complain to yourself for your browsing habits, it’s partially based on that.

      Seriously though, I had a whole load of skeezy shit come up myself when they first added the Outbrain stuff, and I’ve got all my browser tracking disabled; even if it wasn’t I can’t think of anything in my browsing history that would result in me seeing crap like that. I tend to leave ads on for RPS because it’s the laziest way I can support them, but I’ve disabled the Outbrain shite in Ghostery because it’s bloody horrible.

      I’m actually terribly disappointed in RPS for even having it there in the first place, it really seems to go against their ethos and I’m pretty sure there are better options out there, even if they aren’t as lucrative. I blame Eurogamer.

    • Skabooga says:

      Yes, it would be heartening to see those ads go away. I’m sure the Hivemind is displeased with them as well.

      • gwathdring says:

        There was discussion about this in the forums. They do want to get rid of ads that bother people especially much. You have to inform them about such ads … but I can’t for the life of me find the post where the report process was explained.

        Sorry. I did search for it. :(

        • Skabooga says:

          Oh, thanks! I so often forget we have a separate forum here. I’ll do some searching myself and see if I cannot find it.

  13. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Well done, NS2 devs.

    Particular continued disappointments for me on this front are KSP (c’mon, make up two dozen dumb names and add eyelashes to the textures, job done) and Arma (Arma2 has a particularly unfortunate list of units in this regard, and I’ll bet a random item of TF2 junk that Arma3 won’t feature any female soldiers), and TF2 seems to be missing the most obvious trick by not having female character models ( A it’d look superb, B I’m fairly sure it’d encourage more spending on hats).

    • gwathdring says:

      Are the Kerbals even gendered?

      The ARMA thing is annoying though, especially since women have been involved in front line combat in many countries in official capacities for some time now. Even the US is finally backing the fuck down on that one.

    • Plint says:

      There’s actually a raging “discussion” on the Bohemia Interactive forums and ARMA III issue tracker regarding female soldier models. It is a horrific storm of both proud misogyny and weaselly excuse making, punctuated by about 1 or 2 sandwich/kitchen/periods/hormones “jokes” per page. I stopped reading about the point where someone dug up the Steam profile of a vocal pro-female-model poster and outed her a 16 year old transgendered girl in order to ridicule her.

      • gwathdring says:

        Holy shit …

        So much for the comments about this (the article topic) sort of move not being a particularly news worthy, bold or interesting statement.

      • KhanIHelpYou says:

        This whole thread on the bug tracker was a depressing read a month or two ago, didn’t know it had gotten that bad. I also saw people claiming that if women combat troops were included then it would lead to chaos with players using female characters to their advantage somehow? I think the implication was people would single out people playing female characters for better or worse treatment one way or another which is indicative of a way larger problem.

        Its hard to tell how many of the people commenting are core ARMA players and how many are Wastelanders and how that effects their attitudes. Either way its pretty much a cesspool and it seems likely Bohemia will stick with male combat and only a couple of female civilians.

  14. jonahcutter says:

    Cheers to Unknown Worlds.

    Even if it is partially marketing, it’s an example of marketing that is both good for the business and good for the community.

    “Play our game, where females are treated with the same level of respect as males.”

    Okay, not exactly marketing genius phrasing on my part. It needs a pro to come up with something snappier. But nothing wrong with the idea being presented.

    Now… what other games coming out soon(ish) arbitrarily only allow you to play as a male… hmmmm… I can think of one, and I’m very curious as to whether RPS writers will publicly debate it.

  15. Serenegoose says:

    I’m really glad unknown worlds did this and did it well. Thanks.

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    Not complaining at RPS as such, but this was news back when John Carmack included female marines in Quake 3. I think I’m complaining more at the industry, that this is news again. Also: where are the official distaff counterparts for TF2? The models exist. The fanfic comics exist. The idea of the Pyro being secretly female is a running gag! Time for the ladies, the pyro and female versions of the other eight classes, to bring the pain!

    The reveal that Samus Aran was a lady was almost thirty years ago now. My mostly-female co-workers all have games on their phones (okay, a lot of that is Bejeweled, but it’s a start). I’ve finally gotten my Mom interested in proper PC RPGs (in which there’s almost always female character options anyway) ! Why is this even still an issue? Sigh.

  17. WHS says:

    A lot of people seem to be missing the point that this isn’t news because it’s a female character in a video game but because it’s a plausibly designed female character in a video game. You could even mistake the model for a dude if you weren’t careful!

    • jrodman says:

      Practical combat armor!

    • Snafoo says:

      I think we’ve all done that at one point, late at night, after a few too many beers … good times.

  18. Shieldmaiden says:

    To all those who say they can’t see any practical value in this, do you not understand the economic sense in not implicitly excluding half of your potential customers?

    • Crane says:

      I highly doubt women comprise ‘half their potential customers’.

      Precisely because of issues like this one, and a myriad other social defaults and cultural conditionings, it is very likely the majority of people who own gaming PCs and are likely to hear about/be interested in NS2 are male.

      Unless you’re taking all of humanity as potential customers, in which case why are you alienating all the black people? The gay people? The people who can’t afford a PC powerful enough to run it?

      …I’m not certain what point I’m making here, it’s good they added this model and I’m happy to hear about it, I just take issue with your statement because it seems like you’re glossing over other problems to present this solution as being more important than it is.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        I’d argue that anyone with the means to buy or access a gaming PC is a potential customer. Heck, my sixty-year-old mother owns a reasonable gaming PC by virtue of the fact it’s quite hard to drop £400-500 on a PC and it not be. It may be the case that, all other factors removed, including the social and cultural ones you mention, that the game’s player base still heavily skews male, maybe even to the point where catering to women doesn’t make any economic sense. However, until that’s proven, I think it’s safe to say that this kind of thing can have a noticeable impact and is important.

        I guess I’m saying that if games as a whole were more inclusive to women (and yes, this does apply to race and sexuality as well, but those are different, albeit related, issues) then the gender split would be a lot closer to 50/50. Female character models are a big part of that.

        You’re right that it was a very broad, simplistic point, but the sort of comments I was responding to don’t exactly inspire me to engage in nuanced dialogue. ;)

      • Jimbo says:

        It’s also quite an assumption that all women (even a significant % of women) particularly care whether this option is in the game or not. Especially to the point where they would feel excluded or refuse to buy a game because of it.

        I don’t think women care about trivial issues like this half so much as some men want to be seen to care about them. The overwhelming majority of men wouldn’t feel ‘excluded’ by the prospect of having to play a female character model either – it didn’t seem to do Portal any harm, or dampen the excitement following the Mirror’s Edge 2 announcement.

        For most games it’s a non-issue, whether you’re asking females to control a male character or vice versa. It makes no meaningful difference. Western RPGs can be a little different, depending on whether you are inclined to play them as ‘yourself’ or as director. Many like to project themselves into the protagonist character in those games, so offering a choice of gender there can make a meaningful difference.

        • Shieldmaiden says:

          There is a big difference, to me, between definite playable character, like Lara Croft or Geralt, and a nameless avatar (or, in some cases, a lifeless cliche who may as well be a nameless avatar.) You’ll never hear me complain that I have to be a guy in The Witcher, because that isn’t the case. I have to control Geralt, an interesting character who, among many other traits, happens to be male. He isn’t representing me in any way, shape or form; he is someone else’s deliberately-crafted character and I’m guiding him through the game.

          Present me with a multi-player game and, unless it’s a RPG and I’m choosing to play a male character, I want a female avatar. It’s a representation of me in the game and I’m female. Not having that option isn’t necessarily going to stop me playing a given game, but it certainly makes me feel unwanted and ignored, if not actively excluded. It’s the fact that it’s an industry-wide standard as well. Virtually every game that doesn’t feature a specific female lead character (which make up a very small portion of games) allows you to play with a male avatar. Only a small number of them allow you to play as female. As I alluded to in an early post, it’s easy to perceive it as a non-issue when you’re in a position of extreme privilege and see people like you all over the media. You just don’t think about it.

          It’s not going to bother every woman, but it certainly bothers some women.

      • RedViv says:

        But that just highlights the circular nature of this argument. No girls because no lady models because no girls and so on.

  19. GernauMorat says:

    Good for them.

  20. Scoops says:

    Female Onos? Am I the only one who is concerned where its asshole went? It was there in NS1!

  21. Zephyrbal says:

    Concept art for the female marine goes back to the first concept art releases back in 2009. It was announced during the later beta that they weren’t going to make launch, but it’s been clear every time it was brought up since that they were always going to make it in.

  22. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I am now imagining Nathan’s best pick-up line to be “Hey, baby steps.”

  23. metalmechanic says:

    Yay, now I can use my Male to Female voice mod for VOIP and dance around my room with my wiener tucked in!!!

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      I think we can all agree that this would be the real step forwards here.

  24. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    I hate to be “that guy” but…

    She’s wearing makeup and her eyebrows are plucked.

    Still great, but can we get a woman warrior? We’re still getting models in armor, even if the armor is gender neutral.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      It’s not terribly offensive and lets be honest, the men avatars look like they’ve slapped on a bit of concealer as well.

    • Hisui says:

      The ignorance of this comment lies in the fact that you disregard the fact it’s meant for women. Dunno about you, but the overwhelming majority of my female gaming friends loves it when their avatar looks good and *female*. A muscle broad whose face is made up of scar tissue certainly wouldn’t attract a lot of female players to a game that is already adrenaline- and muscle-focused enough. Besides, the males look handsome as well.

      • MobileAssaultDuck says:

        > but the overwhelming majority of my female gaming friends loves it when their avatar looks good and *female*.

        Care to source that claim?

        Also, did you ever consider that feminism isn’t just about “what women want”. It’s about changing the entirety of how our culture perceives what is “Female” or “Male”.

        Feminism is not just for woman, it’s for men too. It’s for the gay guy who doesn’t want to get stared at for dressing however he feels. It’s for the straight man who doesn’t want it constantly assumed that he is some sex-fiend two-steps away from being a rapist.

        Feminism is about the redefinition of everything gender related, not just about pandering to females.

        Equating feminism to pandering to what females want is, ironically, extremely sexist.

        • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

          This thread is about the NS2 devs doing something cool (which I’ve done, further done the page) and I wouldn’t want to derail it, but seeing as you’ve brought this issue up…

          It is extremely arguable as to whether feminism considers men as fully as it considers women. It is very, very telling that your example of how feminism benefits men is that “we won’t be considered rapists any more”. Your “man’s benefit” from feminism is centred around a gender issue that primarily negatively affects women. You didn’t mention, say, the massively higher rate at which men kill themselves/are murdered/lose custody of their children in divorce cases. Very often when I’ve asked feminists about this I’ve been told that it’s because men are more violent, or men are naturally less inclined to integrate fully into a family unit. It’s just “men being men” – men’s gender defines their behaviour, unlike women. But when a gender issue negatively impacts women – i.e., unequal pay – that’s not just “women being women”, but a structural issue in our society. It’s never a structural issue to feminists when men are involved. Now this probably isn’t the time or the place for a fully-fledged discussion on this, but I want to say that there is very definitely room for doubt in what you claim – you can’t put your foot down and say “This *.ism is the truth and best for everyone and if you disagree with it you’re sexist.”

          That it’s “sexist” to imply feminism does not consider men and women equally is extremely worrying. Feminism is not gender – feminism is an intellectual position and is open to criticism like anything else. It is not “the truth” – to suggest that you’re sexist to criticise it shows what an unshakeable dogma it is to some people.

          I’m here to praise NS2′s devs for doing this. I’m consistently appalled by the treatment of women in games, and I consider it an indictment of the industry that this (having a female model when the game isn’t centred around one specific character) isn’t completely standard, but I’m not a feminist. Feminism =/= ‘equality’. It’s one position. You don’t have to be a feminist to have a fair, considered, egalitarian position on issues of gender.

          • MobileAssaultDuck says:

            I did not say “That it’s “sexist” to imply feminism does not consider men and women equally”

            I said: “Equating feminism to pandering to what females want is, ironically, extremely sexist.”

            Feminism isn’t about what people want, or pandering to anyone.

            It is about the redefinition of human gender. It is focused on the feminine side of things, yes, because they are still the lower side of the equality teeter-totter at the moment, but feminism does not end at females and feminine males.

            I mean, fuck, the fact I have to use the term “feminine males” to get a point across is exactly what feminism is trying to eliminate.

            We’re trying to get to a point where people don’t see gender first, or second, or even third.

            Gender should be as important as eye colour.

          • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

            OK, I appreciate the clarification. Feminism and men is clearly a big conversation and probably not well suited for this place, so long as we’re accepting that there are more potential positions on issues of gender than “feminist” and “misogynist”.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Capt. Eduardo del Mango – I’m going to massively generalise here and everything I write is based on common sense combined with personal experience:

            Feminists that I have met, by which I mean women and men who will take (moderate) action (like having a quiet word with a boss who rubs his crotch against his secretaries bottom in front of his male colleagues, asks for the offered wage to be brought in line with the mens pay in a job interview, saying no to microsoft when the ask for more T&A (Tits and ass) in a game they are publishing – all scenarios I have personally witnessed and been involved in) – feminists I have met are reacting to a perceived inequality. They see something unfair and they take the action necessary to change the situation.

            They find it very easy to perceive unfairness against women because they see it all the time. If they saw unfairness against men, they would do the same. I know we all like to look at the extremes, the loudest voices but they do not represent feminism in the same way that the amazing atheist and his cronies who describe themselves as mens rights activists do not represent the average man who wants a more equal world.

            If you see unfairness against men, then talk about it. Figure out the root cause and ask those responsible to change. This is what genuine feminism is about and it should be what genuine mens rights are about too. All I see is suicide rates being used to passively aggressively attack women with complaints of inequality of their own. I kid you not, I have seen this conversation (Paraphrased):

            Feminist: Women in my industry do not get paid the same as men

            MRA: There are far less women so you cant compare, also women don’t hold as many management positions

            Feminist: Kinda my point.

            MRA: Well, more men in our industry commit suicide

            Feminist: Its not unusual compared to the national average, in fact it’s slightly better.

            MRA: More men commit suicide than women total, have you seen the statistics for teenaged boys.

            Feminist: I have, what do you think is the cause of it.

            MRA: Teenaged girls who reject boys cause a great deal of harm to them.

            Feminist: So I should date a boy that I don’t want to because that’s what equality is to you.

            MRA: Perhaps if you were more interested in boys and less interested in making fun of them, you wouldn’t be a part of the problem and might actually enjoy dating the boy.

            Ok, I’m not trying to belittle the problem of suicide in teenaged boys, only the way it is used by those who claim to stand for equality for men.

            This is what we need to do, work out the cause of teenaged boys suicide, not guess at it and take that guess as fact, genuinely get to grips with it. Instead of bandying these issues around anytime someone is asking for equality with something they have noticed is a problem, we need to support every cause we can. Believe me, point me at the cause of male suicide rates and I will be all over it like a rash! Gender equality is two sides of the same coin, we can’t solve one without solving the other!

        • ividyon says:

          So uh, why are you bringing up feminism? They said that bikini plate sucks and they want their females to be presented just as respectfully as the male marines, so they give them exactly the same armor and they make them as badass as the male counterparts. That’s about it. The women in the armor are as pretty as the men are handsome. All is well.

          Also did you seriously just demand source on a statement about my personal opinion formed from observations of my own friends?

          • MobileAssaultDuck says:

            I asked you to source it to point out how silly it was bringing it into the conversation in the first place.

            “My friends think/say X” might as well be “I say X and invented fake people to back me up.”

            Even if you’re telling the truth, there is no way to confirm the statement and hence it isn’t worth mentioning.

  25. Cyberpope says:

    To be fair to Unknown Worlds that is a whole new model, rig, texture, animation set and voice set so I can see why they didn’t prioritize a whole new set of art assets at launch. One marine body with a bunch of variant heads is far less resource intensive. I’ll concede they took their sweet time implementing it though.

    Of course it’d be nice if more studios did put in the extra time to do this. SOE is on the ball wtih planetside, would it kill EA to throw a bit more money at Dice for the next battlefield?

  26. charlestheoaf says:

    Less heartening, meanwhile, was Unknown Worlds’ explanation of the wait, which basically boiled down to time and resources. In other words, the female marine was a priority, but not enough of one to charge straight onto the frontlines at launch. That kind of thinking is, as ever, saddening, but NS2 is also a first-person shooter and – brilliantly tactical though it might be – still aimed primarily at a traditional FPS audience: dudes. But hey, baby steps.

    This statement is very misinformed. Speaking from experience as a game developer working in a small start-up, character artists and animators are hard to come by and always spread very thin. So much development time goes into the creation of a high-quality, well-animated 3D character. It is very common that developers have to hold off on putting in entirely unique characters because of resourcing concern – of course something that is only a cosmetic change will get bumped down a few pegs.

    The female armor in NS2 is a cosmetic change only (in that selecting the female model changes nothing but your appearance to other players and your hand in first-person view). Meanwhile, art assets are truly needed elsewhere, and according to NS2′s development history they were constantly under risk of running out of money – which is why they came up with multiple sales during pre-release.

    Sorry, I don’t like to log on to complain, but this line rang as very disingenuous, and simply does not reflect the true state of small-studio game development. Tough choices are made all the time, and sometimes a dev doesn’t even get to make the choice – they can only accomplish what’s possible given their allotted time and resources.

    • Svant says:

      Which is their point, why not make the female model first? The fact that making a male and female, preferably different skin-colors as well is not high prio is their point.

      • charlestheoaf says:

        If they made the female model first, then they would still only have had a single gender in-game for this long.

        How many multiplayer first-person shooters allow you to change your character’s gender at all? You are underestimating how much work this really is.

        This is the first graphical character option to be put into the game (talking new character models complete with animations), and this FIRST option they put in was to allow people playing a human character to choose their gender.

  27. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    This is cool, but I have frequently played with women on public servers in NS2. I don’t think they seemed to be bothered by the male marines.
    I think the best thing about this is that some advocates who haven’t played NS2 might purchase it based on principle. That’s cool because this game deserves more sales.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Perhaps part of the reason for this is that NOT having female models is better than having butt and boobie females.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah well, they must be so used to not having that choice that they don’t bother anymore. Simply given up or something. Now i guess you should wait and see how many of them use the female character, that would be a more appropriate indicator.

      I mean, perfectly possible that people were privately sending the devs emails asking for this feature.

      And yes, i think i might give the game a try just out of appreciation.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Nice! I hope it has that effect. I don’t care if women want to play as a female character or not, but I’m certainly not complaining if they have the option. It’s an additional option for men, as well. I’m sure plenty of men will play with the female character.

    • harbinger says:

      Eh, and I’ll keep away from the game and anything new the developer makes. Which is sad, because after having played Planetside 2 and Warframe for a while with a bunch of friends Natural Selection 2 was next in line and I would’ve gotten a 4-pack.
      Now I’m even feeling sorry for having bought into the Alpha all that long time ago in the first place. And it’s not about the model, but the way they presented the whole thing all with Kotaku and Tumblr links and full of what nowadays goes as “social commentary” and apparently also silencing any people who might’ve a different opinion while trying to wring every bit of PR out of it.

      Keep making your games and leave the politics out of them. I hope it was worth it for you, since in the Steam Top10 this game is suddenly not after that “amazing announcement”, it doesn’t even appear in the Top100 list.

  28. felisc says:

    I’m tempted to play as a female marine and call her Kharaa Ellisson.

  29. SuicideKing says:

    BRILLIANT. I love their statement. This is ammo for the “women in Arma 3″ argument.

    Brilliant, brilliant.

    Yeah i agree with Nathan, it’s unfortunate that this wasn’t equal priority, but at least they did it and released a strong statement backing it (they weren’t apologetic to the male players, they were just like, fuck you, we’ll include female characters because we think it’s the right thing to do, so deal with it.)

    Hell, might even play Natural Selection 2 to support this.

  30. DXN says:

    Yaaaay! Good on ya, Unknown Worlds.

  31. RMkoro says:

    Not to be like, nitpicky or anything, but it’s “Oohrah,” not “Hoo-rah.”

    • gwathdring says:

      If I may nitpick, being nitpicky is just dandy. Prefacing it with “not to be nitpicky” is silly. ;)

  32. MarshallDan says:

    Get rid of that H in your version and you’ve got the USMC oorah down anyways. (0311, been there for an enlistment.) Now, while I can understand why some people are offended by skimpy outfits in video games, surely they can also understand why those things are there. It’s the same reason attractive girls model for super bowl ads, etc. They’re pandering to their target audience and that’s how they make money. Money which is needed, by the way, to make them games we all love. Much as some peoples’ political beliefs might make them wish it were so, there are no female marine grunts. I know, I’ve lived that life for years. They’ve done tests, we DID tests, and females don’t perform the job as well as males. IN GENERAL. Sometimes a female will outperform a male with no trouble, but the trend is that females make poor infantry in comparison. You have to ask yourself, which is more important: A strong, efficient army that never sacrifices combat effectiveness, or an integrated army with all the issues and variables that implies? Regardless, females aren’t currently acting as grunts, so putting them in here is kind of iffy for realism to me. And putting them in Arma 3 would be worse, given that its setting is present day.

    TL;DR: Females are not currently grunts, this sort of breaks realism, even more so for Arma.Far too many insinuations against something that really hurts nobody.