How Wasteland 2 Will Acknowledge Gender, Discrimination

By Nathan Grayson on August 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

If all goes according to plan, Wasteland 2 will be one of the most reactive, choice-driven games to grace PCs since man first rubbed two sticks together and invented the keyboard. Everything from juicy bits of dialogue to party members to entire locations can vanish or appear in an instant, all thanks to your actions. And wastelands, well, they tend to be pretty nasty places, radiation-scorched cesspits of violence, prejudice, and, er, waste. So naturally, some characters are going to hate you for simply being, well, you. inXile’s hinted at the system in Kickstarter updates, but I found myself exceedingly curious about how it’ll all actually come together. Here’s what the developer told me.

I adore Fallout 3, but even I’ll admit that it was hardly water-tight. If you poked at it enough, you’d eventually find holes: glitches, uninteresting characters, some sloppy quests, and so on. But there was one area where Bethesda’s Fallout revival fell flat on its face that I honestly didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me. And truth be told, that fact makes me feel a bit ashamed.

We want to be true to the individual characters, and not try to apply some sort of global morality.

No matter what physical sex you chose, the game treated you like a probably-straight male. RPS comrade and Boobjammer extraordinaire Jenn Frank pointed it out in a brilliant piece a while back, and after getting a glimpse of things from her point of view, it became glaringly difficult to ignore. Threats, reactions to my actions, the odd pick-up line – all delivered as though addressed to a default “regular” dude (especially throughout the main storyline).

That was bad enough on its own, but really the game just didn’t acknowledge much about what I was or who I was with at all. Sex/gender was only the beginning. And I think that’s a shame because a) it made the world go from living, breathing place to desert of unblinking, defective automaton dolls and b) letting people fully inhabit characters with day-to-day experiences different from their own both enriches those people and makes game characters more interesting. It struck me as a huge missed opportunity, especially in light of the fact that desperate, dog-eat-dog post-apocalyptic situations can explore these topics from angles that fantasy, futuristic sci-fi, and the real world can’t even begin to touch.

So I was quite pleased to hear that Wasteland 2 will pay close attention to precisely that. Party composition and your various characters’ identities will be under frequent scrutiny by wastelanders’ mistrusting glares, a holdover from the real world turned up to 11 by the fact that this setting isn’t particularly kind to those who hand out free hugs with reckless abandon. Or anyone really, for that matter.

At one point during my multi-part Wasteland 2 demo session, we came across a traveling salesman straining muscles and herniating discs to get his cart out of the mud. He seemed nice enough – at least, once we freed his wares from their waist-deep grave. Apparently, however, he could’ve changed his tune in any number of ways if our party had been even the slightest bit different.

“Here’s a merchant that turns into a store if you help him get his cart out of the mud,” explained inXile president Matt Findley. “Otherwise he’s just a guy that hates you. The conversation that he has with you is really dependent on so many different factors – the makeup of the party. He has different lines if you come up with an all-women party or if there’s a really high charisma male. There are little flags that he’ll react to.”

Wasteland 2 isn’t necessarily trying to make a statement, though. Rather, the goal is to portray a world full of interesting individuals – each with their own preferences and prejudices. This place certainly isn’t a kind one, so some will inevitably be assholes. Others might give you the benefit of the doubt simply because you’ve picked a certain sex/background or brought a certain character with you.

“That particular character loves all-women parties,” Findley continued, still referring to the merchant. “But some characters might not give any information to an all-women party, because they might have a problem with women. The idea is to make each NPC unique in their world view. A guy might be more likely to give women information or more likely to give men information. This guy specifically, I think he says something inappropriate, and then raises his prices.”

It’s an admirable attempt at infusing the world with its own internal realism, but also a risky one. What if most of the game’s male NPCs speak to women in overtly (or covertly) sexual fashions, whether being jerky or “nice”? What if a majority of characters of a certain gender or preference end up in negative roles or clustered into joke factions? Or – those concerns in mind – what if inXile ends up playing it too safe, creating an implausible wasteland of rainbow sparkles and butterfly kisses? For his part, Findley was confident that his studio has crafted a balanced, believable setting.

“We want to be true to the individual characters, and not try to apply some sort of global morality to all the characters in the world,” he said. “We want to allow the characters to be unique and to have their own world view and to be consistent.”

But when mechanics are tied closely to character and story, sometimes certain choices can garner preferential treatment despite a developer’s best intentions. Think of morality-based games where the “evil” side grants cooler powers. That sort of thing. In these situations, it’s not that left hand and right hand have never met. It’s that they don’t quite see eye-to-eye, and the message they write together comes out muddled and sloppily skewed. Again, however, inXile is doing its best to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

“Whatever your party makeup, however the world reacts to it, there’s nothing that’s like, ‘This is the right one. This gives you an advantage. This other one is the wrong one.’ There’s enough diversity in the characters that you deal with that no matter how it’s made up, there will be some advantages and some disadvantages,” Findley clarified.

“And then some of the reactivity is just cosmetic. It’s just changing the intro line or the exit line. If you come in with an all-women party, the only thing that might change is, when the conversation is over, he’s like, ‘Have a good day, ladies!’ As opposed to just, ‘Have a good day!’ Some of that reactivity just makes it a bit more personal, a bit more unique.”

Topics like  preference, prejudice, and discrimination won’t grind to a halt at physical characteristics, either. Wasteland’s world is quite far removed from our own, so it has its own set of histories, oppositions, and even atrocities. Various factions treat each other with utmost contempt, and those morasses of ugly, burbling hatred will color interactions between many characters, festering like a disease. Findley pointed to the Red Skorpions as an especially hateful group.

But again, it all comes down to individual characters at the end of the day. There are exceptions to every rule, and there are exceptions to those exceptions. For now, it’s just good to know that inXile is doing its damndest to carve intimate details where most developers would never even consider looking. Sometimes it’s not about the size or scope of your world. Without love for every last element – whether tiny minutiae or huge acknowledgements of the fact that anyone could be playing your game - it’s all just a giant waste.

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213 Comments »

  1. wodin says:

    At one pint I was worried I’d backed the wrong one as I had an eye on ShadowRun..however this to be honest sounds leagues away..ShadowRun was a good little game, this sounds like a ground breaking classic.

    • soulblur says:

      Your problem is that you stopped at one. Have at least three pints more, and you’ll stop worrying altogether.

    • MisterFurious says:

      Games often sound like they’re going to be ground breaking before they come out. They very rarely are when they do, though.

    • Gullinbursti says:

      I feel exactly the same way. I, at that time, backed Shadowrun Returns. I’m not regretting it, but I do think now that Wasteland would be much, MUCH more capable of making me feel like that first Fallout demo I played more than a decade ago. And the thing is, I can buy Wasteland too; it’s just that I would really love to have backed it back then, believing in it. It has gone a really long way from what its team presented on its first day in Kickstarter. It really will be a ground breaking classic!

  2. soulblur says:

    “Without love for every last element – whether tiny minutiae or huge acknowledgements of the fact that anyone could be playing your game – it’s all just a giant waste.”

    Well, I don’t know. Fallout 3 was great, but as you’ve noted, had issues that the developers clearly hadn’t thought through. That doesn’t ruin it. But I appreciate that you were aiming for something punny here.

    • WarderDragon says:

      But Fallout 3 was good despite its writing, not because of it. Writing and story is secondary to Bethesda – it exists to provide a reason to enter dungeons, nothing more. As long as RPG makers continue to see story as seperate and inferior to gameplay instead of being part of it, we won’t see stuff like Wasteland on a grander scale.

      • Echo_Hotel says:

        However if you overload on story and ignore gameplay then you get something like Final Fantasy 13 a 60 hour miniseries broken up by gameplay only slightly better than QTE’s.

        • adwodon says:

          That was a problem with over indulgence rather than story first game design.

          The Walking Dead is actually little more than QTE’s but its still a fantastic set of games thanks to the way they approached the QTEs as well as the quality of the story, including pacing and characterization.

          FF was a stupid, over indulgent mess of a game with second rate gameplay, which would’ve been bad enough if it weren’t then stretched to 60+ hours of straight corridors and tedious character interactions.

    • Bull0 says:

      I’ve played a great many games that don’t spend much or any time meditating on issues of gender and wouldn’t say that any of them were “a giant waste” as a result of it. I mean, there are other themes! I think this idea that without extensive examination of whatever the theme du jour is, a game is worthless, is missing the point somewhat. Or else, I’m missing the point. Equally likely.

      • Malk_Content says:

        I don’t think the problem was so much the game didn’t go into in depth examination of the issues, but rather your character choice wasn’t acknowledged at all if you didn’t happen to be playing a straight man. Like in all Bethesda games they are written to a baseline with no deviations, even ones they expect you to do in game like complete a quest line or go to a location.

        • Bull0 says:

          You see, I understand what the complaint is, I just disagree that it’s the show-stopper that that line made it out to be.

          • WrenBoy says:

            For starters he explicitly said that it wasnt just about gender. More importantly, he was comparing two games set in large wastelands, with one of the games actually called Wasteland, on a website which traditionally enjoys puns.

          • Bull0 says:

            Let’s just be clear – I understood the complaint, I got the joke, and I appreciate it isn’t “just about gender”. My point stands – just because a game doesn’t examine a particular theme, or have consideration for that variable in its design, does not invalidate that game by default, even if it’s a very world-buildy game.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Dont get me wrong, Im not trying to wind you up. I am fairly confident that you misunderstood Nathan though.

            He has just said that he adores Fallout 3.

      • jackass00 says:

        You must be really fun at parties.

      • tetracycloide says:

        You missed the point. Nobody said games that don’t deal with gender are ‘a giant waste.’ What was actually said is that all this work done in wasteland to incorporate these issues will be ‘a giant waste’ ‘without love for every last element.’ Which seems a pretty reasonable position to take, half-assing these issues from basically any direction or perspective feels crass and cheap ergo any effort spent would be ‘a giant waste’ without going full monty.

    • Triplanetary says:

      Actually Fallout 3 suffers greatly as a result of Bethesda’s high-school-grade writing quality. Fallout New Vegas, despite having a slightly less interesting setting, is a far superior game because its writing is just so much better.

      Obviously it’s a matter of opinion, but I don’t think Fallout 3 is “great” at all. I’ve never gone back to it once, whereas I frequently find myself going back to New Vegas.

      • Keyrock says:

        Agreed. Bethesda is great at making wonderful big open worlds for us to explore. They’re not so great at filling them with interesting characters and stories. Obsidian, on the other hand, excel at making great characters and writing good stories, they also had the advantage of having lots of experience and intimate knowledge of the Fallout universe, being essentially Black Isle 2.0 and all, so they were better at capturing the quirks and nuances of Fallout. Like you, I played through Fallout 3 once and that was it. I’ve played through New Vegas several times and continue to do so to this day, it’s just filled with so many more interesting characters and stories.

      • Wedge says:

        Oh c’mon, you didn’t think them trying to work a group of “vampires” into the Fallout setting was genious? Yeeeeah me neither =/.

  3. BobbyDylan says:

    And still you tempt us.

  4. gunny1993 says:

    This is the first thing i’ve read of this game that makes me think the rest of the stuff i’ve heard is more than just posturing (that person i met in the pub, isn’t a very good source of information).

    Colour me interested.

    • The Random One says:

      Conversely, this is the first time I felt skeptic.

      Small dev working atop a Subway will deliver the most alive, reactive, character-driven game world since their own game in the late 80′s? Totally.

      A group composed primarily, if not solely, of straight white dudes will make a game that speaks to the experiences of non-straight non-white non-dudes (as opposed to just straight white dudes not playing as straight white dudes)? NOPE.

      Make me eat my words, inXile.

      • ilves says:

        Well, the complexity of making a choice a primary pillar of the game usually comes down to the inflexibility of voice actors, with text only its MUCH easier.

        I can’t speak to whether they can accurately model the experiences of minorities or not, that’ll be something to see once the game goes live.

  5. Utsunomiya says:

    Nah, it won’t happen, it’s a dialogue-based RPG, it will be utterly impractical and fall on its face most likely.
    Would be an interesting idea to set in a game without text-based conversation system, though.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Actually it’s both IIRC. You can type in your own keywords which aren’t displayed. Just the most obvious ( and most important) ones are displayed.

      Someone should suggest them an option where there’s no diplayed replies though. Should be easy to implement and some hardcore RPG fans might indeed like that.

      Edit: Oh, guess I misread that second part. Oh well, I still like RPG’s that have a lot of dialogue.

    • Echo_Hotel says:

      Fallout 1 had the “Tell me about” button on the side of the dialogue tree window it was fun for some extra flavor text but I don’t think anything vital was hidden in those snips.

      • HadToLogin says:

        AFAIK only important thing you could learn from “tell me about” was that Fallout 2 shouldn’t happen because NOBODY knew anything about S-E-X :P .

  6. tnzk says:

    Sounds like a day one purchase pour moi.

  7. Lars Westergren says:

    I love, love, this kind of deep reactivity. The current king of this is of course Alpha Protocol. Reading through the Penny Arcade thread of this game leads to so many “holy shit, that could happen?!” moments.

    For instance. **spoiler!**
    You can in fact kill Marburg in Rome. If you make him dislike you enough in earlier meetings by being unprofessional and then selecting smarmy “suave” dialogue choices, he will get angry enough to fight you to the death instead of running away. But, this is the cool part, only if you have often selected suave responses with various characters through the game. Otherwise, he is smart enough to know that you are acting out of character and is just trying to bait him.
    **end spoiler**

    Games in development that I think are putting a lot of resources into this sort of reactivity and branching is Project:Eternity, Torment:Numenera, Age of Decadence.

    • Alecthar says:

      I’ve said and I’ll continue to say that Alpha Protocol is one of the finest RPGs ever made. Yes, some (most?) of the mechanics of play were a bit creaky, but I found the gameplay enjoyable once I got used to it. The atmosphere, characterization, plotting, and writing? Brilliant. I think the real genius of the game isn’t just that it reacts to your choices, but that the reactions are often both subtle and believable. For example, I love that if *spoilers* you choose to save Madison, but have a crap relationship with her, she’ll be enraged that you chose to save her, seemingly for no reason, over the people in the museum.

      It’s criminal that there won’t be a direct sequel, but I certainly hope someone revisits the idea. That’s a Kickstarter I would back.

    • DrScuttles says:

      Holy shit, that could happen?!
      Need to play Alpha Protocol again. Charmingly clunky and rough around the edges as it was, you always felt like you had an affect on the game world. And it had that Steven Heck nutter.

    • sinister agent says:

      Yeah, I agree, and I haven’t even played more than about a third of Alpha Protocol yet (played that third twice though, if that counts?). It did some really interesting, original things with dialogue and player agency, and for all its flaws I’m disappointed that there aren’t more games like it.

      Deus Ex 3′s persuasion conversations were fantastic, too. I intentionally spurned the slightly creepy magical pheremone upgrade so it wouldn’t spoil these for me by hinting at the ‘right’ answer… but I got the impression that it allows a couple of paths through the conversation to lead to a good result – which makes sense! People having a discussion like that DO argue and offend or bore or annoy each other but sometimes still reach an agreement anyway.

      I’m not all that bothered about Wasteland 2, frankly, but if they can deliver what they’re talking about here, I’ll be very interested indeed.

      • Emeraude says:

        HR’s conversational battles were an interesting concept that needed more time in the oven.

        Its worse offense to me though, was that the objective to reach and means to obtain it were random. You could reload the same save and do two totally opposite things to deal with a situation. Which, yes, was nice for re-playability, but killed any dramatic momentum and weight your action might have had.

        Really eager to see where Wasteland 2 is going.

        As for that Jenn Frank piece, as I’ve been saying: Mario is the ultimate feminist avatar as it is utterly meaningless.

        • Sunjumper says:

          Really?
          When Deus Ex reshuffled the way the conversation went it also changed the reaction of the character to what you were saying. So for me at least when I got to a conversation for the second time I was as tense and alert as the first time because I saw that what I said was eliciting a different reaction so that I had to readjust my strategy.
          These conversations were for me the proper Boss Battles in the game and I hope that someone does build and refine that system, especially because this was an instance where having better graphics did actually enhance the game-play considerably.

    • JackShandy says:

      Unfortunately, in my opinion, the story ended up so lumpy and all over the place that I wasn’t interested in playing it through once, let alone multiple times (This may be because it’s hard to provide proper pacing and exposition in a game with heavy choice, but I doubt that’s the whole story; choice didn’t lead to that terrible call-of-duty emulating first act). In that single playthrough, I couldn’t tell the difference between it and a game that only pretends to give you choice.

  8. Rizlar says:

    The trick is to do it in such a way that the player can appreciate the interactions (in the merchant example, he says something sexist then raises his prices noticeably). After being a bit underwhelmed by early screenshots (and having not played the original) I’m starting to get really interested in this.

  9. golem09 says:

    “What if most of the game’s male NPCs speak to women in overtly (or covertly) sexual fashions, whether being jerky or “nice”?”

    Then that is a clear statement of inXile about that postapocalyptic society. That males reverted to being dicks because they can physically harm women.
    Honestly I would find it very interesting if playing as a woman was an almost guaranteed disadvantage, making the wastelands even more ruthless. I’d even make that my first playthrough.

    • WrenBoy says:

      Yeah. The game acknowledging the character is a good thing in and of itself. It doesnt need to also be a feminist ally simulator.

      If the characters are assholes or even “nice” then thats fine as long as they are believable and interesting.

    • Teovald says:

      reverted ? compared to when exactly ?
      As for the treatment of women in a post-apocalyptic society, it could get very grim pretty fast if inXile wants to explore that theme in its entirety.

      • Dariune says:

        Yeh I agree.

        I don’t really feel it’s appropriate to starting spouting feminist views/ hopes on a Wasteland 2. The point here is that the game is reactive and the fact that they are displaying evidence to back this up.

        The fact that you have tried to link this to being a potential feminist / equal rights point is a little sad and takes away from your often valid arguments on the subject IMO.

        Your blog, your choice, but I felt this article was made poorer for its irrelevant content.

      • atticus says:

        That’s what I thought too. I don’t think a world in violent anarchy treats women very well.

        Do you think inXile will give the player controlling a female character the opportunity to use sexuality to get advantages in the game (i.e. sexual favors for money, items, etc)? It wouldn’t be totally out of place in the setting I feel, but the media backlash could get ugly.

        • Grover says:

          If they were trying to simulate what happens to lone females in a war zone dominated by male paramilitary organizations we’d be in a heap of trouble with the media. Rape isn’t going to be in a video game.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          Why would only women be able to trade sexual favours?

          • chargen says:

            In most of the sexual marketplace, that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it will always be. Males can do so as well of course, but with far fewer opportunities.

            Honesty is more respectful than idealism in regards to these issues.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            It’s a video game about a post-apocalyptic future, so I think it’s safe to say certain “honest” assumptions are kind of up for grabs. There’s no reason to think male prostitution couldn’t become a significant economic activity.

        • Baines says:

          As is, if the right/wrong people runs into a couple of “bad” gender encounters, then they’ll complain that Wasteland 2 is sexist or had (negative) gender issues.

      • golem09 says:

        Compared to now. Don’t play dumb, even with all that’s happening, there has never been more gender equality in the entire human history.

      • Apocalypse says:

        IF you want to make THAT game, than you should make a female protagonist non-optional. Could be an interesting game, but this is not the goal of wasteland 2.

    • Serenegoose says:

      I wouldn’t, because I want my fantasy post apocalypse games to remain a bit fantastical, and not delve pointlessly into sexism so that male players can play as a girl as ‘hard mode’ and tell themselves they now understand a bit of what it’s like. The idea of ‘you can only play as a girl if you’re prepared to be punished for it’ whilst unfortunately realistic, is best left out of most games for a very good reason (it’s a bit gross in real life as is, thanks, and some of us play games to get AWAY from hearing that shit)
      If you want actual realism in your nuclear wasteland survival, it’d be this: everyone’s dead. There are no survivors. Play as a cockroach.

      (Which aside, would be pretty cool, no? A race of suddenly sentient giant cockroaches, picking through the remnants of human society, and wondering ‘what the hell happened?’ and trying to work backwards and piece it all together.)

  10. cauldron says:

    And then some of the reactivity is just cosmetic. It’s just changing the intro line or the exit line. If you come in with an all-women party, the only thing that might change is, when the conversation is over, he’s like, ‘Have a good day, ladies!’ As opposed to just, ‘Have a good day!’ Some of that reactivity just makes it a bit more personal, a bit more unique.”
    So true.
    It’s very easy to do (i think) and just a few words here and there can bring a lot of immersion.

  11. Skull says:

    I would like NPCs to treat me due to my appearance. So if I made a ugly character in the character creator, maybe people can be a little more hostile and mention I am a ugly bastard when insulting me.

    Or if I am attractive, maybe some get jealous and refuse to help. Or I get builders pick up lies shouted at me as I wonder through town. Life like!

  12. InternetBatman says:

    I love to see this stuff. Looking at the screenshots, a large part of me wishes that Obsidian had the first kickstarter, and the project eternity engine powered this game. That’s a small quibble for what could be a neat game. I hope they don’t oversell it.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      > and the project eternity engine powered this game

      They both use Unity. But you refer to the extensions Obsidian created to do the pre-rendered 2D background look of Eternity I guess?

    • WrenBoy says:

      Personally Im pretty impressed with the way recent Kickstarted games are using Unity. I thought Wasteland 2 looked great till I saw Project Eternity. Then the Satellite Reign tech demo showed up.

      • Teovald says:

        Feel free to correct me but it looks more and more like Unity is the best thing that ever happened to indies : a good skeleton to build a game, saving a lot of time & cost to indies, with collections of assets and it is also compatible with Windows, Linux, MacOs, Android & iOS.
        What’s not to love ?

        • InternetBatman says:

          Some people like to complain about the $75 a month (plus $75 for each mobile platform) for pro, but I get the feeling they’re just complaining to complain.

      • Rubel says:

        Plus Dreamfall: Chapters. Unity is winning!

  13. Crosmando says:

    I liked stuff like that in Fallout 2. I remember playing FO2 as a male and dealing with Myron as an annoying geek, but it was even funnier when I replayed the game as a female and then meeting Myron again he was unable to even talk properly without jizzing his pants that an actual woman was talking to him

  14. lowprices says:

    I think putting prejudice into a game is always a bit of a double-edged sword. While it’s a part of the world games very rarely (intentionally) reflect, there’s always the risk that you’ll put off the people whose experiences you’re trying to portray. After all, if you have to deal with prejudice in your daily life, I can’t imagine you’ll be desperate to pay for a videogame that’ll face you with the same prejudice just for being you. It’s not a problem I have any real answers for, mind, and it’s better to include content for different perspectives. I guess we’ll just have to wait to the game’s actually out to see what kind of a job it does.

    • Crosmando says:

      Lol what. The real issue of putting social discrimination into CRPG’s is that you risk unbalancing the game. No one is going to play as a girl if it makes all NPC’s not treat them seriously or whatever, unless they plan to balance it by giving females some bonus. Which is why the gender/nationality stuff in WL2 will just be flavor stuff, a few extra lines here and there to acknowledge it.

      • iridescence says:

        Trick is to balance it so all NPCs are different. This also makes it more realistic and engaging. I’d hate to play a game where every character was either a sexist pig or a card-carrying feminist. Some NPCs may treat women a little worse than men , some may treat them a little better and I imagine a significant majority won’t much care one way or the other.

      • Sunjumper says:

        This is a game were allegedly the player has the ability to react how he or she wants.
        So if an NPC does not show the proper respect to my character I will shoot him. Balance restored.

        I am very interested in which way renown plays a role in situations like these and how strong it will influence the reactions of NPCs I have not yet met but might have heard about my party.

      • Caerphoto says:

        “No one is going to play as a girl if it makes all NPC’s not treat them seriously or whatever, unless they plan to balance it by giving females some bonus.”

        Another commenter said they’d do exactly that:

        “Honestly I would find it very interesting if playing as a woman was an almost guaranteed disadvantage, making the wastelands even more ruthless. I’d even make that my first playthrough.”

        I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be the only one.

  15. pipman3000 says:

    will there be racism? i mean not overt stuff like black people hanging from every tree in town just something like if you have a black person in your party some businesses might refuse them access or keep them segreted from white party members, i mean it is a post apoc shithole after all so of course the inhabitants of what ever rancid smelling trailer park town with turds everywhere are going to let their prejudices show now there’s no government forcing them to treat others equally.

    maybe there could be a random encounter where someone tries to go george zimmerman on you.

    • pipman3000 says:

      quest failed: try to convince the stanfjord pd your deceased party member didn’t try to murder a bus full of nuns with his bare hands

    • Gap Gen says:

      There’s a lot of fun things you can do with privilege and the party composition. So maybe, for example, if you’re an all-female party you get abuse and creepers zeroing in on you, but if you have men in the group the creepers stay at bay so they don’t get beat on. Or maybe if you’re in a mixed-race group, the white people can leave the black people to do a quest in a place that bans black people, but this strains the group as it feels like the white people are siding with the racists, causing long-term harm to your party integrity. Mass Effect kinda did this with Ashley – having a character who was otherwise relatable but was also a racist, and complained continually about her alien colleagues – although Mass Effect in general shied away from things that were genuinely shocking or morally difficult. I think various games have had certain places bar certain races, too – Arcanum was one, I think.

  16. AlmostPalpable says:

    As an average white male, it’s about bloody time someone put some thought and honesty into discrimination in games. Instead of being afraid to offend people they should just go with it because discrimination *is* offensive. It isn’t very good for gaming when any approach towards dealing with discrimination comes in a sugar-coated package that totally misses the mark and even insults its audience (Bioshock Infinite cough cough).

    I happen to live in a racist part of the country and have seen sexism and racism first-hand. It’s disgusting the way people will treat others based on their wonky beliefs (cough cough atheism) but it’s still something a lot of people are not aware of thanks to the mass media only using discrimination in the headlines when it serves a purpose like to sell more papers or to sell more tickets to a racist Will Smith film (all Will Smith films are racist, by the way). Gaming is a way to touch a very wide audience and get a message across, obviously this shouldn’t be the whole point of gaming but it’s like having a poem in a poetry book that makes you learn something about yourself and those around you, it can be a valid and meaningful part of a great thing when done right.

    • Sc0r says:

      Indeed. “When done right.” And that is where I’m cautious.
      I fully agree. It is a good thing, they address these issues the hard way. The gaming industry has been ignoring it for too long and look what it did. The main male player base is about the most sexist, self-righteous sub-culture you can find on the internet.
      I lost count how often I’ve heard phrases like “if they want equality, then it shouldn’t be bad to hit them anymore, too! DOUBLE STANDARDS!!1″ or “we aquired equality long ago, now ‘femnazis’ just want more” or “I’ve been nice to her all the time and she still doesn’t reward me with her body, fucking slut” and so on. Oh, and rape seems to be a funny thing for many people now.
      This is the number one reason why I’ve mostly turned my back on the “nerd community” or whatever you might call it. RPS is one of my few safe-havens, where the bigotry isn’t that strong.

      • Gap Gen says:

        One of the things that games could, in theory, do well is provide the experience of being someone else – for example, highlighting prejudice by exposing people who don’t experience abuse due to race, gender, religion, whatever, what it’s like to experience that. Quite whether the players will take that onboard is another matter, but the option is there.

    • LukeNukem says:

      “(all Will Smith films are racist, by the way)” [citation needed]

    • nuttycomic says:

      “based on their wonky beliefs (cough cough atheism)”
      “…tickets to a racist Will Smith film (all Will Smith films are racist, by the way)”

      Where are you getting this?

      Two different quotes that make no sense whatsoever. Citation?
      Atheism isn’t wonky, and Will Smith films aren’t racist. Doesn’t need a citation.

  17. DrScuttles says:

    Nathan, keep up the pant-moistening preview features on Wasteland 2 and we may forgive you for the Journey thing. Personally I’d rather see you dance for me inside a studio resembling an expressionist depiction of a human brain while dressed as a Pierrot, but Wasteland 2 stuff will do.

  18. tellrov says:

    “And truth be told, that fact makes me feel a bit ashamed.”

    I don’t get it. Were you ashamed because you bought a half-assed sequel? Hmm that’s understandable I guess but don’t take it to heart.

  19. Keyrock says:

    I hope they don’t go too far in making sure that every potential party composition will get an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. Real worlds aren’t fair, and certain characters should have it tougher than others. For example, it always bothered me how if I played an Orc character in D&D game, like, say, NWN2, other than a line here and there, there was really no difference to playing a human or an elf. You spend most of the time in the game in predominantly human locations, I would think that you would be very much discriminated against, if not outright attacked or lynched. Conversely, you should gain some advantages when dealing with the Orc tribles, but that’s a small part of the game so it wouldn’t equal all the discrimination you would have to face in Neverwinter and Highcliff and so on, and I would be fine with that, in fact, I would want it that way.

    • Rubel says:

      Good points! That gives you the choice of a different game experience based on character selection. But isn’t it more interesting to allow these changes to happen during game play, rather than during character creation?

      • Keyrock says:

        They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have reactivity based on things you determine during character creation (gender, race, charisma, etc.) and reactivity based on your actions during the game. The latter could modify or override the former, also. It sounds like that’s what inXile is going for here.

  20. Reapy says:

    Should have an attraction switch or be based on charisma when making a character. If high enough people will react to you differently, notice you more, hit on you more, and go out of their way a bit more to make you happy. Orr some people would dislike you immediatly for all the attention.

    You know, just like real life…attractive people live in little world altering bubbles where people act different then when they are around, then go back to normal when they leave, would be interesting to see this in a game.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Ugly people can have charisma as well, and most physical attractive people have the charisma of caries.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Indeed, otherwise how do you explain politicians?

      • trinka00 says:

        yeah i think the poster would obviously agree with you, but outside of the context of their comment, you’re raising a really good point.

        becuz I think the ideal charisma system for an RPG, which would be problematic to implement in CRPG, would be that, say an 18 Charisma would mean a very strong effect on people. And then depending on who your character was, this might translate to absolute adoration or complete revulsion. But it might also translate to interesting strong reactions in the middle, like an 18 Charisma repulsive type of character might be able to strongly attract in certain situations, the loyalties of people infatuated with repulsive things.
        or might be better suited to start a murder cult or something. both exaggerated examples.
        but a 3 Charisma character would be so invisible as to never have any kind of pull one way or the other.
        so it would depend a lot on everything else about the character being played.

        I know this doesn’t have any way of being incorporated into a CRPG system, but just agreeing with your point in general.

  21. Crosmando says:

    “It’s an admirable attempt at infusing the world with its own internal realism, but also a risky one. What if most of the game’s male NPCs speak to women in overtly (or covertly) sexual fashions, whether being jerky or “nice”? What if a majority of characters of a certain gender or preference end up in negative roles or clustered into joke factions?”

    Jesus. Nathan Grayson you are one gigantic dumbfuck. Send the rest of the planet a memo when you come down from the clouds and stop trying to shoehorn your dumfuck social-justice-warrior garbage into every article.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Cry some more, this is great stuff.

      • Crosmando says:

        It’s not but shameless Kotaku-level click-baiting garbage. The ad revenue must be coming in slow these days if Grayson constantly needs to drop “gender” and “discrimination” in articles to generate “controversy” and keep the dosh rolling in.

        • Serenegoose says:

          Missing the controversy in this article. It only seems to be controversial with you?

        • Sordarias says:

          Uh…..I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you do realize this article is ENITRELY about gender and discrimination and how the game’ll handle it, right? You DO realize that’s the entire point of this article — to ask how they’ll be handling it? How the fuck is this click-baiting garbage?

          Oh, right, you’re one of those ‘if anything talks about sexism or gender or discrimination, it’s ALL click-baiting garbage’ people, aren’t you? Because that’s the only logical discourse I can understand when comparing this to a typical RPS John Walker sort of thing. Even then I’d disagree, as I feel like John [usually] does a fantastic job on those articles, but they’re subjective so I’m not going to be like ‘you’re dumb for not liking them.’

          I am, however baffled by your apparent hatred of anything that brings up any semblance of gender or discrimination, especially if it’s going to be in a video game.

          • Crosmando says:

            ‘if anything talks about sexism or gender or discrimination, it’s ALL click-baiting garbage’
            But that’s true. This is a site for PC games, GAMES, nothing more.

          • darkChozo says:

            That’s always struck me as an incredibly silly argument. If RPS was a site that only posted about PC games in strictest terms, then it wouldn’t post this, but it did post this, so it’s not that.

            It’s basically No True Scotsman, but with an individual with a group. No True Steve, maybe?

          • MadTinkerer says:

            “This is a site for PC games, GAMES, nothing more.”

            Crosmando: I, at times, have disagreed and even been disappointed with the content of RPS. But I don’t demand that they change what they write. It’s their site. The RPS writers get to define the boundaries of their own content.

            But besides that, this article is all about the game itself. You’re either: just plain trolling, or failed to read the article properly and think you’re commenting about a different article, like the ones that are about bigotry in real life, which this article is not. If you want to fight, at least pick the right battle.

        • DrScuttles says:

          It’s an interesting experiment sometimes to, upon see curiosity-inviting replies to someone you had previously blocked, (temporarily) unblock them to see what frothy madness had caused you to do so in the first place.

          • soulblur says:

            I just noticed I could block people. I’ve never really had to do that here before. How sad. But because you cannot be polite, you, Crosmando, are blocked.

        • Apocalypse says:

          There is no controversy in the article. Jesus, I have met npcs with more rational though processes than you show in this topic. Start using your brain for more than your trained reflexive though patterns that make you rant each time you read the words “gender” and “discrimination”.

          Stop acting like a dog with pavlov reflex and start acting like a decent human being, before someone gets a newspaper and starts hitting you with it!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Gosh, someone got banned.

      • X_kot says:

        Thanks, Jim!

      • harbinger says:

        Good job man!

        Maybe if you ban everyone that disagrees with you and doesn’t jump through the same logical hoops only a highly skilled social justice warrior can, you are left with a cacophonic self-reinforcing viewpoint that is correct and your Blog will change the world by making everyone else but the most loyal lickspittles repeating buzzwords like “sexism!”, “misogyny!”, “female representation!” that you keep feeding them disappear from the face of the earth.

        • WrenBoy says:

          I suspect that if you disagree without calling someone a guy-gantic dumfuck you wont risk being banned.

        • Gap Gen says:

          The funny thing about liberalism is that a lot of people think it’s a sort of nice, woolly thing where everyone is entitled to an opinion and no-one should be excluded, whereas in fact it’s something that operates nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and sends highly-trained killers to shoot to death any bearded conservatives who deign to threaten its position in the global power balance. So in the grand scheme of things, a blog deleting and banning whenever it wants is pretty weaksauce. If you really want to throw it down with The Liberal Man, just start producing a newsletter advising people to commit random acts of violence in order to promote a unified Caliphate in the Arab-speaking world, and see what happens. Hell, the Met kettled people just for cycling together at the wrong time, but then the Met do get carried away exercising their monopoly of coercive force somewhat.

          Granted, that’s not to say games shouldn’t be a fun diversion, but suggesting that’s all they are, and that politics and social issues don’t permeate everything is pretty stupid.

        • Jim Rossignol says:

          Harbinger: you will notice all the people who disagree with us still posting freely on the site. Oh look, you are doing it right now!

          You get banned for insulting people.

          I don’t care if people hold stupid views, but they have to be polite.

      • chargen says:

        Marginalized and piled upon in the comments, and finally banned for having the wrong opinion. How bold and defiant in the face of harsh discourse. Do you really need to run away from such people?

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      How dare he discuss game balancing and game design on a blog about games? Just tell us how many explosions it has!

    • Stiletto says:

      Crosmando’s jimmies have been rustled. I’d say Nathan did a fine job at jimmy rustling.

      On another note, Crosmando can’t read headlines. Mission accomplished.

  22. RedViv says:

    I can think of three points where your choices are addressed in Fallout 3, outside of the actual quest lines. Re-uniting with Dad, speaking to the president, and Ron Perlman saying you have been good/bad/neutral with your karma at the BAZILLION GAJILLIONS OF ENDINGS part. Were there more?

    • Turkey says:

      The dumb “blow up Megaton” quest they dragged out in every demo when they tried to trick you into thinking the game had a lot of choices and consequences.

      • RedViv says:

        Well, yes. It mostly has the consequence of ruining an entire innocent town because For teh Evulz is deep moral decision-making, and is the one that is addressed in the first two cases I mentioned, but then stays self-contained within its quest line.
        Obviously it’s also mentioned by He Who Knows Everything Instantly on-air, but that doesn’t quite count.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Reminds me of Bioshock’s “Kill Child For Minor Personal Gain?” option. There are viable ethical dilemmas that led to the destruction of cities (see much of WWII, for example) but “because a random stranger told me to” isn’t the best one.

  23. P-Dazzle says:

    Oh another gender discrimination article. Jeez, someone is still trying to get laid.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Because an ulterior motive like that is the only reason a man would speak out against sexism. Just like only black people would care about racism, only jews about anti-semitism, and only LBGT people about homophobia?

      No. Empathy with other people and the courage to speak out are the only prerequisites.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        It’s true. I started talking about boycotting the Russia Winter Olympics, and sexy folks just, like, started flopping onto the doorstep like a Lynx advert. It was actually really embarrassing, which is why I decided to go ultra right-wing – I mean it was just getting exhausting.

    • Unknown says:

      Shit I didn’t know the best way to get laid is to write articles about gender and video games on the internet! I could have had women throwing themselves at me this whole time???

    • pipman3000 says:

      how sheltered do you have to be to think something like this. do you even go outside or talk to a person besides your dear old mother?

  24. Deviija says:

    As a multiple minority, I am very dubious of this discrimination angle. The article and quotes didn’t delve into the subject and how it’ll be represented in-game enough for me to put my wariness aside. I play games as escapism and entertainment and power fantasy, much like everyone else; I don’t play games to have real world bigotry and ‘you are The Other’/'you are hated’ reminders thrown at me, as I get that enough in daily real life and society.

    Game worlds of fantasy and sci-fi do not need to subscribe to Earthbound ideals and our human history and prejudices — because they are not Earth and they are not our human reality, no matter how much ‘grit’ and realism and similarities one puts into it. The moment dragons or radiation megascorpions or magic or medical foam curealls etc. come into play, it’s not reality no matter how one parses it. Keeping the prejudices and social morality aspects of our human cultures and history isn’t high on my list of things worth retaining for a game.

    I am not against reactive NPCs and having your gender/sex/personality/race/whatever acknowledged, but I’d rather the acknowledgements be of neutral or positive ways rather than any negative ones. I lack confidence that the subjects can be handled well. The thing is, our games are commonly written for that ‘default straight (white) male.’ How often do you run into heterophobia or racism against caucasians or men being looked down upon for being the weaker sex/for being a ‘hey sweetheart’ predatory sexual advance (with it being something other than narrated from a positive fetishized ‘oh baby, take advantage of me!’ light, but actual intimidation and threat)? Moreover, our reality does not have these things commonly either. So while it may be a novelty in-game, there is no real-world wariness and negative resonance associated like there would be for a real world minority. Bumping into sexism/misogyny, racism, homophobia, or outright exclusiveness by erasure (aka no non-white or non-straight or women characters in the world etc) is quite common in games. And again, as someone that experiences the negatives in real life, I’d rather not have social negatives reminded/reinforced in our fictional/fantasy/non-reality games.

    • Serenegoose says:

      This.

    • Infinitron says:

      Not this. Not this.

    • Crosmando says:

      Well that’s your problem isn’t it. Video games don’t exist to make you feel like a special snowflake, if that’s what you desire I’m sure you’ll find something else to your liking if you look.

      Asking game developers to specifically make games which are approved by your political-social-gender ideologies is nothing but asking for censorship.

      And the fact that you obviously went to the trouble of writing such a tl;dr wall of text says you probably care more about your little pet political and social issues than about this game (or any games).

      This basically goes under the category of the “plz make RPG’s easier and shorter because I’m a very important person with a partner/children/’life’ and I don’t have time for long hard games’. Except you’re asking for the game to ease up on displaying a harsh post-apocalyptic world because it might offend you (lol).

      Luckily InXile got Kickstarter funding to make a faithful sequel to Wasteland, not to make Social Justice Warriors Tumblr Approved (TM) games.

      • Serenegoose says:

        You’re a really boring and apparently insecure individual. One can depict a ‘harsh, post apocalyptic world’ without lumping in all sorts of hateful shit for you to masturbate over because you want to fetishise realism – but only the realism you approve of, the stuff that really gets you going, I mean the people not being dead of radiation, that’s a GOOD break from realism, the fact that apparently despite all tech being rudimentary, people can still get down to the oil wells that would be too deep for them to reach, and power machinery cobbled together from components that wouldn’t work, that’s GOOD break from realism.

        But women not being shit over? Why u want to dumb down my RPG?

        It’s really transparent, you know.

        • X_kot says:

          Little Crosmando is only acting out to get attention. If everyone will just block him and not respond to his behavior, he’ll tire himself out eventually.

      • Bull0 says:

        Oh, wow, you see, now I’m worried that I sound like you

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “Video games don’t exist to make you feel like a special snowflake”

        Except… they absolutely do. That’s precisely what nearly every video game is about. You won! You did it! You beat the thing! You figured out the stuff!

        Oh, sorry, you meant, “video games don’t exist to make people *who aren’t straight white men* feel like a special snowflake,” didn’t you?

        • iridescence says:

          “Video games don’t exist to make you feel like a special snowflake”

          Except… they absolutely do. That’s precisely what nearly every video game is about. You won! You did it! You beat the thing! You figured out the stuff!”

          Sorry to derail a bit but I really wish games -even some games – could move beyond this juvenile wish fulfillment fantasy BS. I have utmost respect for a game that tells the player: ‘You aren’t special or chosen and if you want your happy ending you may have to suffer a few slings and arrows first.”

          One of the things I just love about The Witcher 2 is that you can work your butt of trying to be the prototypical hero and….SPOILER….Not really accomplish all that much, even with the best possible ending. More games like this please. If we really want games to be taken seriously as art I think they have to move past this constant cycle of affirmation. (You’re awesome! You’re special! You totally kick ass!)

          • trinka00 says:

            totally. this is what is the most ridiculous and stupid thing about videogames is this ‘special little snowflake’ mentality about everyone of them.

            they’re all like dumb action movies. it’s like the sad fantasy of the office worker who goes home and tells a story to his girlfriend about what happened between him and the inventory manager that day…

            “and then he says…’Well, you know the rules, corporate said only two staplers per unit. So I think you just better go sit back down and keep that tie on. Don’t forget who writes the checks around here….’

            and, you know me, I’m not the kind of guy to sit for that, so I said “Fuck You” and i punched him in the face and then he exploded into a million pieces and i took the whole box of staplers and wiped my ass with it. and then i banged his wife on the coffee counter.”

            that is almost literally what happens in most games.

            it’s really depressing to think that most people out there are addicted to that kind of junk. that’s what happens everytime you try to play D&D…

            there’s always some weird, maladjusted loser who is insistent on playing this dark, mysterious ranger type of character. and the way they talk about the guy, it’s obvious they half wish the character existed just so they could fuck each other for the rest of their hideous eternities.
            and they want this dark, brooding ranger to be all Assassin’s Creed and be able to pull all this silly junk out of his ass, and charm anyone and stay mysterious and brooding and slay everything with one hit. goddam video game patriarchy. that’s what it is, it makes monkeys out of perfectly undistinguished and ordinary kids all over the world.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @trinka00
            I think you are reading a bit too much into the motivation behind creating and playing a typical power fantasy game but I definately wish there were more games with vunerable protagonists.

      • Dariune says:

        Seriously dude, somewhere in that detestable drivvel is an actual valid point. Problem is, you make those of us who feel this post was inapropriate look bad because now people are just going to remember your insulting rants instead of those of us who are trying to put a point across in an inoffensive and constructive way.

        Please … shush!

      • trinka00 says:

        it would be better if when you chose a women character, you had the ultimate ability that was unblockable to castrate any male character. This would cost a lot of stamina points, but it could be used sparingly.

        otherwise, what would be rad would be if they gave women characters the battle option of laughing at men character’s penis sizes. and insulting them and refusing to go out on dates with them too.
        or give an option to pretend to be attracted to a male enemy but after a certain amount of game time being able to ridicule them and not have sex with them.

        Men have been whining and crying for so long about their stupid sex drives and penises which, to tell u the truth, women think their boyfriends are ugly as hell. but men whine about everything, especially white men, about being a man and being white. and then black men whine about being a man and being black.
        every man whines about being a man and what ever else they think is whinable about them.

        and sure women whine, but in general, most of them just don’t care about video games so we don’t have to hear it. but men… whining, whining, whining. always. people like u. if i ever make a videogame, it’s gonna be about a castrated, parapalegic, blind, deaf man who doesn’t even know how repulsive and ugly he is, trying to roll out of a maze of deadly traps that just fall from nowhere and mash him up to little bits that all the pretty lesbians drink tea with. while talking about feminist theory. then the end game will be trying to escape out of the women’s bowels without being absorbed into their bodies as nutrients.
        that would be a game especially made for you to play.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          Um. Wow. Sad thing is, this is the only comment in this thread that the anti-feminist warriors are going to remember.

    • Unknown says:

      I can appreciate your point, but I think the greatest art reflects society instead of idealizing it. The best films/books/paintings/music/etc explore the darkness of the human condition instead of sugar-coating it. If video games want to be great art, they have to be willing to tackle difficult themes instead of just existing as wish-fulfillment. Of course, if you don’t want to play a game because it makes you uncomfortable, that’s your prerogative. But I don’t find “Video games shouldn’t have discrimination because there’s enough of that in the real world” to be a compelling argument. Would you make the same argument about other artforms?

    • Piecewise says:

      I hate to say it but if it’s gonna make you feel uncomfortable, then don’t play it. Don’t advocate censorship just because having people call you names in a game makes you feel bad. Also, I think it’s pretty naive to think that a game where differences are only viewed neutrally or positively could really be that interesting. There would be zero conflict, it would just be a saccharine tellytubbies land where all anyone would ever do is give you complements.

      Also, I hate to tell you, but not having a woman in a game doesn’t make it sexist. Not having a wide variety of ethnicity doesn’t make it racist. Not having an unreasonable amount of homosexuals, transsexuals or asexual doesn’t make it sexist either. Sometimes there just aren’t women around. Sometimes there just aren’t gay people around. Sometimes there just aren’t men around either. I understand your desire to see more diverse characters in game (Ie less protagonists that look like Nathan Drake) but them not being in a game doesn’t make the game sexist, racist or anything-ist. It would be like saying that Metroid is sexist because it only has one character and she’s a straight female.

      So no, not having a women in a game is no more misogynist then not having men in a game is misandry. Also, for the good of actual issues, please stop using “misogynist” to describe things like this. A male main character does not mean that the developers of a game have an all consuming hatred of everything female. If anything, if ANYTHING, it would be male Chauvinism. When you describe it as misogynist you undermine the force of the word and render real instances where it fits lesser importance.

      • Dariune says:

        This! Well said that man.

        Edit: Uh, or woman

      • Unrepentant says:

        *Begins slow clap*

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “It would be like saying that Metroid is sexist because it only has one character and she’s a straight female.”

        The analogy doesn’t really work because Samus, like most non-objectified female protagonists, is still an exception. And that’s kind of the point. It’s not about looking at individual games as if they exist in vacuums, it’s about looking at overall cultural trends, and overall, playable characters are still overwhelmingly white and male, and game experiences still overwhelmingly cater to certain assumptions and experiences that arguably and often – not exclusively and inevitably – map with certain demographics.

        No individual game needs to have characters that look such-and-such a way, but… is there anything wrong with including more diverse characters (as the bare minimum, bog standard, absolute least that could be done) and tailoring stories to them, or thinking about how game design choices might affect the emotions of a wider range of players? Attempts will fail. People will fuck up. Occasionally some white men will – oh heaven forbid! – feel offended, even with good reason. But that’s part of any art form trying to evolve and mature.

        “So no, not having a women in a game is no more misogynist then not having men in a game is misandry.”

        True in abstract, but, again, it’s a false equivalence in the overall context of game culture, and culture in general. Generally, men and women aren’t socially equal right now. And specific to game culture (part of the broader culture), one game not having women isn’t misogynist, but when most games don’t have women, or have women in objectified roles, there’s reason to be concerned.

        Your post is well argued as far as it goes, but try to understand how it might feel in aggregate with the heaps and piles of other arguments against even the slightest attempts to tip the scales away from straight white and male. Individually it all sounds fairly reasonable. Repeatedly, culturally, it can amount to silencing and othering.

        • Piecewise says:

          I would say you can’t expect to get more female protagonists in certain genres of games unless the demographics shift so that the sexes are near equal. I mean, when you look at games that women tend to play more often, there is a lot of gender equality. Character sex can usually be selected, at the very very least. Often times images like this one:
          http://andsohesaid.psychedelico.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/video-game-protagonists.jpg

          Are passed around as an example of how 30 something men are the bog standard, and its true that they are in certain genres. But the thing is that those certain genres is that the demographics playing them are generally men between 20 and 30. And the companies that make those games know that they’ll sell better if their protagonist is representative of their audience. This is why Indie games tend to be a bit more progressive in this aspect, since they don’t have the demands of selling 10 million units or being considered a failure.

          I hate to say it but the reason you don’t see more women as protagonist in certain genres is because not enough women play those genres to make the publishers care. It’s not so much chauvinism as it is emotionless economics. If this demo can’t make the returns necessary to include them in gunshoot 4, then whatever. Maybe they’ll feel awkward but at least EA won’t liquidate our studio. So until a game about a transgender space marine can rake in the necessary 30 billion dollars or whatever frankly outragous amount they expect today, I don’t think you’ll see it. The implications that the same game will sell better if it’s protagonist is the same as it’s buyers are worrying, but thats a societal thing, not a game’s industry thing.

          And I agree that the fact that games will sell poorly if their protagonists aren’t similar to their buyers is worrying, highlighting the fear of “the other” in all of us, but I still assert that it is in no way Misogynist, Misogyny is a word that has been overused to the point of being casually thrown around to demark any sort of perceived inequality. But thats not what the word means. The word means the HATRED of women. It isn’t “oh, I dunno if I wanna play tomb raider, since the main character is a woman and I’m a guy and I’m not sure how I feel about that…” no it’s “I’m going to buy this copy of tomb raider and then burn it, go home, and beat my wife because she had the gall to be born a woman.”

          Misogyny is too powerful, too high charged a word to be flung around like it is now. You can say that filling a game with giant boobed women for the players to oogle is a tactless thing to do, that it’s juvenile, or that it’s cynically attempting to use base sex drives to get people’s attention, or even, if it’s really bad, that it’s chauvinist. But not until they come out with a game where the objective is to hurt women and only women for no reason other then that they are women, that label of Misogyny is going to be going too far.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Misogyny is quite appropriate when used to refer to an overall culture, which an individual game may or may not contribute to even if its content, considered in isolation, is not explicitly misogynist. One stone placed on the scale may not do very much by itself, but if there are 500 other stones on the same side with it, well then… And we wouldn’t let the person who places the last stone to tip the scale say they had nothing to do with it because it’s just one little stone. That was mostly what I was getting at.

            I agree that most developers are being craven and simply hiding behind market demographics, and I’m sure a lot of designers who want to do interesting or different things have to cave in to pressure from the money people in the end. But to me that’s no reason to stop exerting pressure from the other direction. That’s a reason to do so even more. Maybe it’s unreasonable. But nothing in history has ever improved from people just being reasonable and taking the perceived needs of the money people as given.

            And the tail can wag the dog too. Every time an interesting, unexpected choice is made, it widens the number and “types” of people who take notice, until suddenly the old rules on who wants what have to get thrown out.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I have this theory that the idea that men can’t relate to female protagonists is a nasty vicious cycle fuelled by spineless/greedy publishers, who are too scared to do something different because it’s the right thing (my sister notes that she’s heard publishers use this argument). I have no idea if it’s even true that men won’t relate to female protagonists – there are examples where this is the case (Alien, for example), and I don’t see this putting men off. Then again, there could well be a whole population of people I’m avoiding for very sensible reasons that do think this way.

          • harbinger says:

            Except this perceived „culture“ isn’t based on any reality I am living in or experience. It is literally something that people like Nathan or John Walker repeat to themselves and their audience over and over again till they make it a “truth”, similar to how hunting heretics or witches worked back in the day.

            I believe other personas in historic contexts attributed similar techniques to deliver their points to the masses:
            “But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.”

            You know what rational people would like to see? Proof, metrics and numbers, facts and evidence of these “masses of problematic games” that don’t boil down to anecdotes, and not unending meaningless dogmatism and propaganda.

            On a similar argument I actually went through the last 100 Steam releases last summer to find out if there was any general truth to this apparent “overarching culture” of over-sexualized characters.

            I marked down the ones that this might apply to and came down to three titles: Age of Conan, Duke Nukem 3D and Dead Island Riptide. Two re-releases from respectively 1996/2008 and a game that RPS wouldn’t shut up about for weeks, nay months because of an optional item in a specific Collector’s Edition of the game.

            Is 3%, possibly even 5% of games for people that might enjoy sexualized characters in their game some sort of horrible ratio and INDUSTRY WIDE PROBLEM!?

            If you don’t believe me just do the same, go on Steam/GoG/Desura and take the exercise. The number of Indie games and similar outnumber the number of AAA releases by a huge margin nowadays anyway and most of the titles are things like Papers, Please, Guacamelee!, Cloudberry Kingdom, Take On Mars, Skulls of the Shogun etc. The ratio of even that seems a lot lower on Indie breeding grounds like Desura.

            Now go and compare that percentage with the newest movies or TV series coming out featuring the same and tell me what kind of “problem” there is.

            This is all the while entirely ignoring Social, casual, browser and mobile games mind you, which are statistically played more by women and are often more targeted towards them.

            On to the next argument about “female protagonists” being rare. This is a rather extensive list with games featuring female protagonists: http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/protagonist-female

            One claim often made is that it “was much worse” many years ago. Looking at some of the early games this doesn’t exactly ring too true. In fact there was a game from 1982 for the Atari 2600 called “Lady in Wading” which is described as:

            ”This is a double-ended cartridge that contains a re-release of Mystique’s Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em on one side and Lady in Wading on the other.

            Lady in Wading is a gender reversed version of Knight on the Town in which you are a lady knight trying to get to your prince. The game is otherwise identical, including the sexual ‘reward’ at the end.“

            The first game with a female protagonist I can remember playing is Cauldron from 1985 on my C64.

            Since then there have been dozen upon dozen of games that would fit your criteria: The Wheel of Time, Oni, No One Lives Forever I+II, Drakan, Legend of Kyrandia 2, Phantasmagoria, King’s Quest IV/VII, Septerra Core, Darkened Skye, Zanzarah.

            Always having had a liking for Adventures I can again remember playing dozens of them that would fit your “strong female protagonist” claim, even more recent ones like the Blackwell Series, The Longest Journey, Emerald City Confidential, Secret Files Series, Haunted, Gray Matter, Syberia Series, Nancy Drew Series, Still Life Series, Broken Sword Series, A Vampyre Story, Winter Voices, To The Moon, Edna & Harvey Series

            Another recent one I stumbled upon just a few days ago was AR-K: Episode 1 by a Galician company (because I really like Adventures). The first Episode is even free although I haven’t played it yet.

            Continuing off the top of my head, there are also a lot of other even recent games: Hydrophobia, Giana Sisters, Remember Me, Venetica, American McGee’s Alice Series, They Bleed Pixels, Aquaria, Velvet Assassin, The Path, Lucidity, Puzzle Quest, WET, Lume, Cargo!, Sanctum, Twin Sector, Iji
            Most of Carpe Fulgur’s games: Recettear, Chantelise, Fortune Summoners

            They aren’t just beholden to the half dozen games that people keep bringing up like Dreamfall, Portal, Mirror’s Edge, Beyond Good & Evil and Metroid.

            For all I know I’ve probably supported your almost religious cause since as far as I can remember more than a bunch of these whiny folks put together by actually buying and playing most of these games and not once have I thought less of them because they had “female protagonists”.

            But you’d think they might do better with the amount of prominence of this “issue” lately, you’d think they would sell bajillions because there is just so much of that latent interest in the market. Instead the developers of Hydrophobia recently went bankrupt and Remember Me went by relatively unnoticed.

            I like these games as many others and would also like more of them, but not through applying “social justice pressure”, dishonesty and borderline bullying tactics towards the game creators themselves…

            George Kamitani (a studio president, maker of almost a dozen games and accomplished artist) is suddenly a “cheap 14 year old boy” because a butthurt “games journalist” is displeased with his art style.
            David Jaffe is a “misogynist“ because he made a joke: https://soundcloud.com/ben-kuchera/jaffe-confrontation
            Nathans “Why this woman?” interview towards CDProjekt
            etc.

          • harbinger says:

            As well as trying to shame anyone that might enjoy their games anyway.
            The rhetoric being used reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgxEh-F_Cf8

            No, the people complaining couldn’t possibly look for software that might fit their taste better and play that instead, Call of Duty and Battlefield and all these other big franchises with an established userbase have to change to *suit them* and every single game that dares not abide out of economical or other reasons is being dragged through the mud, creators and all.

            Gods forbid something doesn’t bend, cause they’ll take a stand against it! http://jezebel.com/i-really-want-to-play-grand-theft-auto-v-but-im-not-g-727633804
            (The irony in such cases going by peoples heads, imagine a male “games writer” outright stating he won’t buy the latest Tomb Raider because it doesn’t have a male character as a lead or trying to actively pressure the game studio into that choice, he wouldn’t hear the end of it.)

            You know what there has been a shortness of in the last… oh say 10 or so years? Isometric reactive RPGs for instance, but apparently most of the people here couldn’t give less of a shit about *the games* because the really interesting thing about the first isometric post-apocalyptic RPG since 1998 (which had organized crime, prostitution, slavery, porn and even sexual slavery as major elements of its setting) is making sure that they did *gender representation* right…

            Nope games totally shouldn’t touch any interesting topics like racism, abuse, inequality, rape and all the other stuff or create multidimensional non-binary characters that have personality faults of their own (for instance reminiscent of movies like Gran Torino or American History X) in any other way than a Saturday morning cartoon would do it because it might *HURT PEOPLES FEELINGS*.
            A sincere “fu” to everyone that thinks in such a binary way.

          • iridescence says:

            ” instead, Call of Duty and Battlefield and all these other big franchises with an established userbase have to change to *suit them* ”

            Did you ever think that maybe some of them *want* to play CoD/Battlefield etc. rather than whatever game you deem appropriate for them? It’s not like Activision’s CEO is gonna be like “OMG! Some people are complaining on the Internet! We have to totally change our game around!” These people aren’t “demanding” anything. They’re simply expressing themselves as potential consumers and telling a company why they don’t like their product in its current form.

            I guess the hope is that eventually enough people will complain that it actually may start to hurt sales of these games but if that happens it will just prove that there is an underserved market.

          • The Random One says:

            Hey harbringer, good job saying that because you haven’t experienced something in games the people who literally get paid to play games all day long are lying about it, then telling us to be scientific and setting up an exercise where mysoginy is binarily and rigidly defined beyond all common sense and then telling us it doesn’t exist, then deploying the old and trusty “oh so you’ve been shot big deal I know several other people who have been shot” argument by comparing it to other media, then actually defeating your own argument by bringing up that most of the games are weird indie games (but not bringing up that if you repeated this argument during one of the AAA games mass release months, like November, you might get a lot more games that are mysoginistic, and those games also affect the industry in a more tangible way), then pretending that 5% of games aren’t too big of a deal but the ten or twenty games that you can remember star a female protagonist out of the presumed hundreds you’ve played are a 5% that ends the argument entirely, then shooting yourself in the foot AGAIN by showing a gender-swapped version of what seems a lewd game with a ‘sexual reward’ to be proof of equality in the industry’s early days, then posting several news articles which you believe are man being punished for being normal and most of us would see as unfortunate misunderstandings at best and justice being duly served at worst, then saying that demanding that a game should have a character of a poorly represented gender is the same as saying that one of the few games that have a game of the poorly represented gender should have the same one as always (because in your cute illusion sphere you have “proven” that there is no imbalance between gender), then writing a post so large that there is no way anyone can refute all of it in a sane way other than writing a long wall of text prefaced by a “good job” so it all looks sarcastic.

          • harbinger says:

            “Did you ever think that maybe some of them *want* to play CoD/Battlefield etc. rather than whatever game you deem appropriate for them?”

            Then what stops them? As far as I remember, signs in front of a place which were designed to keep certain type of people out or in shops preventing them to buy certain products were outlawed long ago. The fact of the matter is that there is a certain gender-bias between genres, themes and type of games that compose the market and certain parts of said market like the mobile/social crowd that are seeing that 75% of the player base of “Bejeweled Blitz” or “YoVille” is female is going to want to extract money from their most numerous customers.

            If 92% of all Call of Duty players or 96% of all EVE Online players happen to be male don’t you think they would rather want to retain that profitable user base than listen to what appears to be 4-8% of their market and possibly lose a lot more because of that?

            If people want to play a specific game they have the same chance as any other to do so without requiring any special treatment or consideration, if they decide not to do so this doesn’t mean that the developers did anything wrong or have to respond to their demands.

            *I* am not deeming it appropriate for anyone to play anything, the money they are spending on it does and creates the market forces at work.

            This is also the reason why all the complaining in the world about “female protagonists” won’t change anything if when games like Remember Me, Hydrophobia, all the Adventures games I brought up or whatnot come along nobody ends up buying them. If they’d sell 5-10+ million copies you can be sure that publishers wouldn’t remain “blind” to that fact.

            This is also why I’m saying that there is more need for numbers to make things clear to people and analyze causal relation in other ways than yelling “misogyny!”, “sexism!” together with short anecdotes of what might have happened monday morning.

            http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/141/videogames.asp
            http://www.casualnews.com/the-demographics-of-social-games-surprise-or-not/

          • harbinger says:

            http://readwrite.com/2013/04/11/why-mobile-game-developers-are-on-the-cusp-of-a-golden-age (see down about mid page)
            http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/06/03/96-percent-of-eve-online-players-are-male/

            “then telling us to be scientific and setting up an exercise where mysoginy is binarily and rigidly defined beyond all common sense and then telling us it doesn’t exist”

            What could be possibly more scientific than taking a large sample of all games released on a specific platform (for instance Steam being the most popular PC platform) or Desura if you want to include a lot of Indies and count the number of games that you somehow deem “problematic”.
            If you want you might as well extend it to an entire year but for the sake of brevity “the last 100″ is a lot less work.

            Obviously getting hung up over a plaster statue in a Collector’s Edition of a single game and writing at least 4-5 articles about it how you aren’t “giving up” over several months! And then claiming that this somehow proves an “industry problem”.

            The existence of content that some might find objectionable does not preclude creation or enjoyment of other content.

            Furthermore I actually said games with sexualized female characters in them (for people that like that kind of stuff), because by the rather rigid definition of “misogyny” (as David Jaffe also mentions in that Soundcloud interview above) I’d be hard-pressed to believe that you’d find more then maybe 3-5 games for the last 5 years or so, if even that, because you’d have to prove that they actively display “hatred for women” as intended by their creators.
            I’m sure it’s very tempting to make up your own definitions to apply to a lot more things you might not like, but that is only going to devalue the meaning of the word over time.

            I’m not sure what the hell most of the other stuff you were talking about was about. You’d be hard-pressed to find many “sexualized characters” in most AAA titles nowadays because you can be sure that if they are RPS is going to complain about them as a social justice issue, so you can basically go back and look at all of the game they did complain about and that is about the total number of PC games in that category.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            “Except this perceived „culture“ isn’t based on any reality I am living in or experience.”

            Oh hold on everyone, a man hasn’t experienced misogyny, feminism’s cancelled.

            “Nope games totally shouldn’t touch any interesting topics like racism, abuse, inequality, rape and all the other stuff”

            Yup, that’s what everyone’s been saying, excellent summary, we’re done here.

            No one actually wants to take your gritty, controversial games away from you, you know. Some people just want to see them done with more thoughtfulness and empathy than has generally been displayed so far – and have a wider range of people involved in and consulted for their creation. Wouldn’t that make them better? Wouldn’t that offer more choices to you? You might want to seriously think about why the suggestion stirs up such voluminous anger in you.

          • harbinger says:

            ”Oh hold on everyone, a man hasn’t experienced misogyny, feminism’s cancelled.”

            I’m happy that all you took out of all that bit about there being no statistical/rational evidence about any of that being a prevalent trend and maybe you should provide some if you want people to take you seriously that have their own faculties and can think for themselves not only relying on feely biased personal experience anecdotes is that I’m a man. Hey, at least something right?

            But what else could be expected from an experienced social justice warrior: http://falsecountry.net/blog/?author=1
            Oh but hey, I “cyberstalked” you now, is that what we call Rightclick-Googling an username you inputted voluntarily now? Maybe I should do that more often, so I don’t waste my time too much.

            ”Yup, that’s what everyone’s been saying, excellent summary, we’re done here.”

            Notice how I said in a multidimensional way that doesn’t resemble a Saturday morning cartoon.
            You don’t have to present everything in a binary “this is bad, kids” morality-ridden way. Games mostly already seem to manage this with killing other people in the way that they don’t always seem to present an NPC killing another one as “evil” but under (in games many, many) circumstances as justifiable.

            The truly interesting characters are the ones with the flaws that are represented in an incredibly thoughtful manner, compared to some late TV series for instance Breaking Bad where a man has good intentions and loves his family but ends up doing incredibly bad things to “protect” those including selling drugs to children which also change his character over time. The “red wedding” in Game of Thrones had the effect it apparently had because it brought home the point that life is no picnic and the supposedly “good” guys don’t always win.

            Sometimes you also can’t do anything against or “squash” inequality and you will have to deal with it.
            In Dexter we’ve got a serial killer with an ethics code. The Borgias is a series that makes you empathize even with an incredibly corrupt and morally bankrupt lot of characters.

            The friendly slaver, the likeable racist (which is often copped out of in fantasy settings by using fantasy races and using simplistic reasoning behind the prejudice “orcs killed her family” or “dark elves stole her baby”), the societies with variedly different moral compasses and values. Doing the right thing out of the wrong reasons, doing the wrong thing out of the right reasons.

            That kind of stuff… all the while adding reactivity choices for the player to influence.
            Then it is left to everyone to take away from these experiences what they will, but I hardly ever believe that the moral cudgel is the best or most effective way to try to make a point and accomplish anything.

            For instance I expect many of the characters in the newest GTA to resemble some of these traits and be very interesting, as they also often did in the past.
            Going by various internet replies to these topics I get the feeling that most people want binary feel good “hero saves the day by helping the enslaved” tripe regurgitated ad infinitum.

            Not only that, but they apparently can’t stand playing as a character that isn’t an entirely blank slate that they can project their personality upon or holds views that aren’t exactly pertaining their own (because possibly they might experience something new or it might hurt their feelings or it might be scary or something…)
            http://otixero.com/post/55251896489/gavin-moore-why-do-we-want-girls-to-play-girls-and

          • WrenBoy says:

            @The Random One

            …telling us to be scientific and setting up an exercise where mysoginy is binarily and rigidly defined beyond all common sense

            Its actually surprisingly useful to define something rigidly. Take for example misogyny in videogames and videogame culture.

            This term, as far as I can tell, has mainly been used to describe objectification of women within games and to the insulting language used against women by the people who play them.

            While both objectification and insulting language are well understood it takes a rigid (but hopefully accurate) definition in order to be able to measure it.

            Im not sure if either objectification of women or insulting language towards women are decreasing, increasing or remaining static but I would certainly be interested in finding out.

            On the other hand, the word misogyny itself can be used to describe basically any male behaviour. In this thread, its being used to describe the apparent rarity of female only protagonists in videogames for instance. If it could be shown that objectification of women was decreasing and insulting behaviour was decreasing I think it would be honest to say that misogyny was decreasing even if there were few games with female protagonists.

            Also, it is much more convincing to use actual figures than to claim that if group X feels it exists then it must. Relying on what a group feels to be true is a well known method to accept errors. Objecting to it is not claiming that group X are lying, its just using well established methods to determine reality. That being said, Harbringers method of determining whether games contain objectification of women could be improved, as it seems to rely on his personal assessment rather than a more useful, rigid and pre-established criteria.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            “and maybe you should provide some”

            Yes, it seems completely worth my while to put together some basic gender studies and media analysis 101 for someone as bafflingly angry and hostile right out of the gate as you (while calling for rationality, strangely enough). It seems especially fruitful since you can’t, apparently, even operate a search engine. And I’m sure you just love having enlightening tete-a-tetes with people you pre-emptively write off as “social justice warriors” (though there are probably worse things to be, really).

            You have no interest in discussion, you just want to trade salvos. I only jumped in here because I think you’re amusing. Anyway thanks for promoting the blog, and good luck with the boiling rage!

      • harbinger says:

        I think you’re quite possibly barking up the wrong tree: http://i.imgur.com/wRzxuhz.png

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          Cyberstalking. That’s a good look for you. Goes well with the wall of bilious text. Totally makes you seem reasonable.

        • Piecewise says:

          Oh god, Bioware? It all makes sense now.

          The irony is that despite bioware and EA’s shallow pandering attempts to have gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships, it all comes off as massively token and is handled about as well as a faberge egg is handled by a garbage disposal. Honestly, the way that EA and bioware hide behind the LGBT community and attempt to explain away any and all criticisms of their many, MANY horrible ideas and policies as nothing more then bigotry is frankly sickening.

          Wait…Citadel dlc is best…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHHAHAHH…ahhhh.

          Yep, you had me thinking you were an actual human-being for a while there. These Bioware Drones are getting more and more life like every day! But they’ll never truly be able to pass for human until they program them to realize that Citadel is the worst thing ever made by a human. It’s literally 10-15 hours worth of the worst possible, most awkward fan-fiction level, remedial level writing in existence. It single-handedly ruined several characters, shattered all tension involved with the reaper attack and basically just made anyone with any sort of taste or knowledge of the written language want to vomit out their eyes.

        • iridescence says:

          “Then what stops them?”

          Maybe if you actually listened to their complaints you’d know. I don’t see it as an either/or thing like you seem to. If there’s an optional female character model or an NPC addresses your character as a woman if they are female, how will that stop any sane male from enjoying the game? Things they are talking about in articles like this are really pretty small changes that could expand their market with little cost or risk. I mean, in this article you have an indie dev talking about making the game more reactive to what gender you choose. Something that seems to improve the game for both men and women players, but you still have the usual suspects freaking out because “OMG! Women are being catered to!”

          Sure a majority of gamers in a lot of genres are men but most of those men aren’t so hung up on keeping gaming their own little “no girls allowed club”. I really believe that only a small, ignorant but unfortunately very loud, minority feel that way.

          • Fred S. says:

            No, you don’t have players freaking out because women are being catered to. What you have are people objecting because they are being stereotyped as misogynists simply for existing (“male privilege”, “rape culture”). You like female character avatars in games? Well gee, so do I. You going to complain about how I like them decorated? Get over yourself.

          • iridescence says:

            “What you have are people objecting because they are being stereotyped as misogynists simply for existing….”

            Um…Did we read the same article?

          • jrodman says:

            Fred S. has a history of crazy talk when women come up.

          • Fred S. says:

            Where “Crazy talk” means “won’t conform to your stereotypes”.

          • jrodman says:

            No, the problem is that you willingly, deliberately conform to a paper-thin stereotype all too well.

          • Fred S. says:

            Only in your limited worldview.

          • jrodman says:

            You keep projecting.
            I doubt you know much about my world view, but yours apparently includes putting male privileged in scare-quotes. That’s a pretty amazing limitation.

            Let’s review. We have an article about how a game intends to portray a gamut of personal views and reactions to gender in NPCs. You react by claiming that real people are being called misogynists for existing, because of the concept of male privilege.

            So you were acting butthurt over an accusation that never happened and made a claim that is false on its face. In other words, crazy talk.

        • Deviija says:

          I actually find this really juvenile and eyeroll-worthy. I also don’t find what relevance that has to the discussion. Ooo, there is a group supporting LGBT characters and representation in Dragon Age. Ooo, there is a group that discusses social issues in BioWare gameworlds. Ooo, there is a group that I helped mod with. Ooo, there is a group that liked Garrus. Okay, keep on keeping on with those rock-solid responses, you shiny diamond.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I care about issues like this, and I understand your concern, but I think it’s just as important for games to confront and examine real-world prejudices as it is for them to be safe spaces for people. What we need is both kinds of games, not any one kind. And that’s going to mean that games need to go to places that may be uncomfortable for some people. That is absolutely fine; nobody’s saying you can’t be offended, whether or not they “get it wrong.” Well, some people are saying that, but they’re dumb. :)

      Seriously, though, you absolutely have a right to an opinion, but games need to be able to confront social issues like racism and sexism head-on. Will some games do it poorly? Yes. But we need games to start doing it, and that has to start with doing it poorly. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner is as hamhanded and tedious a message film as ever existed, but it was a start. Roots comes across today as overly earnest and more concerned with a message than fleshed-out characters, but it was a start.

      And yes, I’m aware that plenty of black filmmakers were tackling such subjects way before white filmmakers and TV producers did. My point is that the preachiness and piousness of things like Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Roots introduced black issues to a mass audience that had never thought about them before. Maybe they didn’t do the best job, but they tried. To get good at anything, you have to fuck up first. Games will not get good at handling race and gender and sexuality unless they’re embarrassingly bad at it first, and they can’t even be embarrassingly bad at it if they avoid it entirely.

      If inXile fucks up on discrimination in Wasteland 2, then by all means, let’s critique it! Let’s have that discussion! But at least they’re trying. If you don’t like that, you don’t have to play it, and if you do play it, you have every right to be annoyed with the way it’s portrayed. But I do think it’s important that someone does it, just as it’s important that there are games which allow for safety from those prejudices. No art ever advanced by ignoring issues people care about.

      • Caerphoto says:

        That’s basically what I wanted to say.

        There is a need for this sort of thing because, while it may make some people uncomfortable because it reflects experiences they’ve had in real life, it also makes others uncomfortable precisely because it’s not something they’ve ever had to deal with.

        If a game like this can make the stereotypical white male player feel uncomfortable about being treated badly purely based on who they are in the game, that’s a good thing – it helps drive home the idea of what it’s like to live without privilege, and helps people empathise with others about something they’d ordinarily not even have to think about.

      • Deviija says:

        I am definitely not against serious subjects being broached and portrayed. I believe I even stated that at the beginning of my previous post, there. For everything you outlined, it can be important, absolutely. But do I think games will delve into the intricate and important issues, and portray them with their due worth and gravity? I am not so certain about that. I haven’t seen games do too much of this really well so far. There aren’t really any Roots or Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner games, to use the examples. Ones that handle the tough subjects with the time and depth they deserve.

        In a game, like here, where it just might be flavor text that changes (if that is indeed all it is, for a few lines here and there)? Then I do not really find it something that brings up the importance of such subjects and the portrayal and what it means, so much as it is just for flavor that has no real commentary beyond flavor? If that makes sense. That is my concern, and where I come from not wanting to have prejudice just thrown at the audience/player just for some flavor.

        But, the game isn’t out yet and there is not much to go on beyond the interview/article. It is for that reason, too, I repeat that I’m just dubious about how things might be handled. It could be handled well, it could be nuanced and not at any minority’s expense, it may even just boil down to ‘I don’t like you for nondescript reasons.’ As I say with most things (and you internet stalkers can verify): We’ll see. :3

  25. GigaCosmoShark says:

    Getting really tired of this bullshit…

    • Dave Tosser says:

      My, what a coincidence!

      I’m tired of /your/ bullshit. Gosh, we have so much in common, us both being tired of bullshit. Let’s be friends.

  26. Carlos Danger says:

    Hope they plan on more for the game then a hat tip to the grievance industry to carry them. It gets so old dealing with 2 dimensional people who only defining characteristic seems to be their genitalia or the amount of pigmentation in their skin.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      I’d say most people trying to reclaim space from patriarchy, heternormativity, white supremacy, etc. would agree with you on that last bit. That’s even kind of the point.

      • Carlos Danger says:

        Yeah but mostly they seem to just be looking to replace them with their own bigotries. Just gets old to me as I don’t think of people as what they are but who.

        Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

        • Gap Gen says:

          This seems relevant: http://www.upworthy.com/why-it-shouldnt-be-difficult-to-write-believable-female-characters?g=2

          I think if you’re making a world, it’s important to distinguish what the world believes from what you believe. In GoT, society obviously has strict gender divides but Martin doesn’t write female characters who only fit inside that mould – in fact a big theme in the series is people trying to survive in or escape their role defined by class, gender, race, size, whatever. By contrast, Dr Who started to creep me out to the point that I stopped watching it purely because Moffat has some pretty conservative views of gender that permeated the show (as well as Sherlock).

          • WrenBoy says:

            Im only familiar with the GoT TV show but it seems to me that this is a large reason for its success.

            I dont think its as easy as just clicking your fingers and deciding to do it though. Plenty of otherwise good writers are only at their best when writing their own gender.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Oh, granted, but then part of being a good writer is being able to write characters who you don’t immediately relate to.

          • WrenBoy says:

            To be clear, what I am saying is that the ability to convincingly write characters of another gender is a good skill for a writer to have but it is not necessary. There are plenty of excellent writers who dont show any ability to do so.

            Obviously it does make it much more difficult to be a good writer if you cannot do this. Im certainly not saying the two are unrelated.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “Yeah but mostly they seem to just be looking to replace them with their own bigotries.”

          Why do you say that? Equality isn’t widely considered bigoted.

          • iridescence says:

            I’m sure he is the type who will claim that “reverse” racism/sexism is keeping him down and we just *can’t* understand how hard it is to be a rich white male in today’s western society because…you know…affirmative action!

          • WrenBoy says:

            I assume hes talking about feminism.

            Feminism is sufficiently broad so as to include many conflicting ideas. Equality of sexes and misandry are both being promoted by different schools of feminism. Neither school is more or less feminist than the other.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            “Equality of sexes and misandry are both being promoted by different schools of feminism.”

            Any examples to back that up?

            “Neither school is more or less feminist than the other.”

            I honestly can’t think of any thinker, activist, or organization who practices or preaches “misandry” and has any currency within contemporary feminism. And there are some easy arguments to be made that man-hating, fictional or otherwise, would categorically not be feminist. So, again, examples?

          • WrenBoy says:

            …and has any currency within contemporary feminism

            That is a satisfyingly weaselly clause.

            In any case give Separatist Feminism a google. Separatist feminists do not support heterosexual relationships, nor do they condone working with or having personal or casual relationships with men. Separatist feminists believe that men offer no positive contributions to the feminist movement and will only keep patriarchy alive.

            That is probably the most openly and honestly misandrist feminist movement but there are other subtler examples also.

  27. Turkey says:

    I don’t think we’re ready for video game characters. We need to go back to paddles hitting a dot around and really think about some things.

  28. A Bunny says:

    I want this game!

    Someone steal Lord Custard’s wallet and give me all his things.

  29. pipman3000 says:

    what happened to the days when ganmes were meant to be GAMES instead of this touchy feely check ur privildge stuff. now let complain about how games should be treated like serious works of art and literature instead of mere games when we will get the gaming version of some of the greatest artists alive such as george r. r. martin, creator of the greatest book ever written, or HBO, creator of the greatest tv adaption of the greatest book ever written

    • Gap Gen says:

      I honestly cannot tell how much irony is in this here thing (EDIT: reading your other comments in this thread, quite a lot I imagine). But yes, it would be interesting to go back to a time when games were designed to train kings and generals to win real battles and achieve political objectives. I hate the newfangled idea that games don’t reflect on anything, and are just spotty kids wanking into a console all day for no gain.

    • trinka00 says:

      i have a new game…
      it’s DOS and it’s called Suck This Dick In Your Face…Becuz You’re a Man And I am Raping You….

      see? there’s never even been a game remotely like that. so that’s why there’s a reason to talk about it.

  30. gi_ty says:

    In all honesty after reading way too many posts of either side, it really comes down to personal choice. If the creators want to make it anyway they want they have license to do it. All the foolish complaining and angry comments are pointless. You should not be angry for someone creating something you don’t agree with, just avoid it. So much energy expended on pointless arguing when in fact you really have no control over the process unless you want to start making your own games. RPS does a fantastic job of covering the ideas and mechanics behind the games they’re reporting on, only to see it turn into some kind of feud over any variety of bigotry. Its all a bit silly and unnecessary.

    • trinka00 says:

      Actually, i don’t think anyone is trying to tell the game developers what to do.
      Of course they can make whatever game they want to make.
      And no one is saying that anyone else should only play certain kinds of games either.
      A lot of this conversation is people talking about how they see things, how they feel about things, how they wish things were, maybe if they could make their own game. and no one’s to say one opinion is more valid than another, right? no one appointed any judges here, this isn’t court.
      going by your criteria, there’s really no reason to talk about anything.
      what you’re saying is kinda like if I came over and told you about how I had a crush on Elizabeth and Alexandra but I just didn’t know who I liked more. and then you say… ‘well burn them down to the bones and then see how much you care about the differences between them’
      thanx…but that’s not what anyone is talking about.

  31. volturnus says:

    Nathan Grayson, First of His Name, Internet White Knight, Protector of Women and Upholder of Equality, King of the Politically Correct, is hereby declared absolutely full of shit.
    You can join John Walker in Bullshitcastle.

  32. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I bet you everything it will look something like this:
    -a certain percentage of NPCs hates women;
    -ABSOLUTELY THE SAME PERCENTAGE of NPCs hates men;
    -and so on.

    At least that’s what it sounds like. If you want to show prejudice, but also avoid making a statement, you are, in fact, making a different statement.

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