Assassin’s Disunity: Ubi’s Excuse For No Female Character

By Alec Meer on June 11th, 2014 at 9:03 am.

There are four playable characters in the upcoming, co-op-focused Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and all four of them are blokes. Glowering blokes most probably, but that remains to be seen. It’s a real shame not to have a glowering lady amongst that line-up. This is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon in the mainstream games industry, with its precious demographic targeting and fearfulness to depart from the proven profitable path, but in this instance Ubisoft has exacerbated the situation by arguing that the decision to go chaps-only is purely down to the additional work needed for the likes of animation and costumes.

It is worth observing here that that no less than nine studios (ten, according to some reports) are working on Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Every single employee at all those was apparently too busy already to create a female character model. Presumably they were all working on the game’s six different special editions instead.

Pressed on the issue by Videogamer at E3, Ubisoft technical director James Therien claimed that “It’s not a question of philosophy or choice in this case at all… it was a question of focus and a question of production. Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here.”

Claiming that the situation was “unfortunate, but a reality of game development”, Therien argued that including a non-male character would mean adding “a lot of animation, a lot of costumes. It would have doubled the work on those things.”

Perhaps, right about now, there are people involved in the game who are desperately wishing they had doubled the work. Instead of, for just one example, making six different special editions of the game. Clearly I know that staff, workloads and disciplines aren’t transferable in that way, but it does speak to the troubling priorities here. Time will be found for what seems directly profitable, but will not for making a multi-protagonist game even slightly inclusive. That is the reality of game development.

I don’t doubt for one minute that significant additional person-hours and costs are indeed necessary to make this sort of thing happen. Blockbuster games in 2014 involve an unholy amount of resources, and even apparently small additions or changes can’t be undertaken lightly for fear of letting the whole side down. The problem is that someone, somewhere, ultimately refused to greenlight those hours and costs – no doubt despite appeals to do so from other staff – and it’s that kind of tunnel vision that so needlessly causes upset and bad PR.

Making the resources excuse all the more bewildering is that we’ve previously seen Vita game (later released for other platforms, including PC) Assassin’s Creed Liberation have a female star and, for example, a major female NPC assassin character in Assassin’s Creed IV. Perhaps none of the work required to achieve that is recyclable, or perhaps the effort involved in making and animating those characters was so overwhelming that they can’t face doing it again, but it’s hard not to feel doubtful on either point.

A shame, because as well as the clear social issue here it’s simply dispiriting to see a successful series not strive harder to try different things after all these years and all those glowering chaps. Let’s just hope it’s not too late to add a female protagonist to that quad of murderchums after all.

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421 Comments »

  1. laijka says:

    This coupled with the fact that they are holding off on releasing finished Wii U games just makes me lose what small respect I still had for Ubisoft.

    • Lexx87 says:

      I have to say I agreed with that. You’ve spent x on game, but y people haven’t bought the console to play it yet.

      Why not wait until more people buy the console? I mean there’s the argument if the game is good enough it could help sell consoles itself too.

      • BooleanBob says:

        People aren’t buying the Wii U in large part because of a dearth of third party releases. I mean Nintendo are putting out their own high quality fare as usual but they only have so much development heft. So waiting for the install base is self-defeating; you either put your games out and hope they draw an audience on merit, or you hold tight and contribute to the certainty that your (finished!) game never gets an opportunity to sell.

        Of course, if you have no confidence that your product isn’t middle of the road filler that even in the best circumstances would only be picked up by the gullible and spendthrifty …

    • Globragzu says:

      So they’ve had an Arabic Assassin Altair in the AC1, an Italian Assassin Ezio in AC2 + Spinoffs, a half native American Assassin in AC3 Ratonhnhaké:ton, a half black African-French Assassin Aveline in Liberation, a British Assassin Edward in AC4, where Adéwalé, a black slave was also playable.

      That among other things like this disclaimer before every game: http://i.imgur.com/AWseIAy.jpg would indicate that they have a team that generally wants to keep the “multicultural” aspect of the franchise in sight.

      Then they also published games like Child of Light that this site and others officially praised them over lately for their “courage”.

      But you’re “done” with UbiSoft because they dared use the same character (Arno) four times for an Optional CoOp feature and didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of budget on creating (at least) another character with everything that entails in a game set during the French revolution?

      Boy I do sure see why they should pander to you and not the 10+ million people that bought their last game: http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/02/10/assassins-creed-4-black-flag-sales-reach-10-million

      • Syra says:

        I don’t get it, they always have female playable characters in the multiplayer, and I bet they will again here. Why can’t they use those assets? Yeah it’s obviously a whole different team working on it… but this just comes down to planning and story they probably have a reason for each of those 4 guys in the story and they cast them all etc and they didn’t think ahead and plan for a chick and now it’s too far in to change.

        • nearly says:

          They’re actually not even doing the traditional multiplayer modes since the game in general is supposed to be very multiplayer-centric (meaning this isn’t some optional half-baked co-op mode they’re showing off but the actual intended experience of the game). My concern is that other games have had female assassins or women doing fighting. Is that not going to happen in this game at all? Why would there need to be twice as much animation?

        • Shodex says:

          They probably will have a female character in competitive multiplayer again this time. But those models are notably lower quality in comparison to the singleplayer, as is usual for games. And have a much smaller moveset since in multiplayer all you ever do is free run and 1-hit 1-kill assassinations. No combat, no interacting with the game world, no cutscenes, etc. So not only would they need to make a new female character that is up to snuff with the single player standards, but they would need to record a whole new set of combat animations and more. Plus I assume all the character customization will be available for the co-op players, so you’d have to refit and remodel every in-game set of armour to work with a female body type.

          Why bother do this for an optional co-op mode when the way we’ve been doing optional co-op for years is generally just clone the main character.

      • Fox89 says:

        The big kicker though is that these male Assassins are customisable. New hats and coats and weapons are all part of the ‘art’ resource – exactly the same people who would have worked on, you know, women.

        The issue is 50% ‘you can’t play as a woman’ and 50% ‘different kinds of hat are more important than women’.

        • Veritas says:

          Aren’t the hats more important?

          • CheeseOnToast says:

            [quote]The big kicker though is that these male Assassins are customisable. New hats and coats and weapons are all part of the ‘art’ resource – exactly the same people who would have worked on, you know, women[/quote]

            Character models aren’t the problem. It would generally be the work of just one or two people (character artists)to make the actual female model and clothing variations.

            It’s animation that’s the big time sink. Splitting the animators’ time between male and female playable characters that all have the same move set isn’t trivial. It’s not double the work, but it’s still a very significant chunk.

            Artists are specialists, so you can’t just say that they can all move from making hats to animating women. They’re two different jobs.

            I’m not excusing them for not including women player characters, but I see statements like yours all the time.

          • Canisa says:

            @CheeseOnToast Just use the same animations for both models. Problem solved. There is no excuse for what Ubi is doing. It’s pure misogyny.

        • Fox89 says:

          @CheeseOnToast

          Our wires have got a little crossed here. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the work that animators do and how much time it could take, I just didn’t include them as I don’t believe new animations are really required. Do female assassins stab people in a more feminine way than male assassins? I know plenty of games that use the same animation rig for their male and female characters.

          OK, I concede, we’d have to leave out the jiggle physics on the breasts. I think I could live with that.

          • Syra says:

            Surely female assassins only use poison, for ’tis a woman’s weapon!

          • kalirion says:

            Walking & running animations, and so anything you might do while walking and running would be different. Also, all kinds of new clipping problems need to be avoided, or other issues depending on how the physics engine works. Wouldn’t want to stab your boob by accident.

          • Shadow says:

            Animation would also likely involve hiring a new performer for the motion capture. Women in (good) videogames are absolutely not copy-pasted male characters with tits. Movement is completely different, and if every character’s supposed to have an extensive wardrobe, even the same outfits would need to be carefully fine-tuned for a female body.

            I’m not excusing the lack of female characters, but rather trying to dispel the notion implementing one is anywhere close to easy. Especially compared to adding more men if you already have a base male model, animations and clothes.

            In all likelihood, they’ll be adding more characters via DLC, so all this rage might very well be for nought.

      • Jannn says:

        Yeah I saw the results of the poll they held among all 10 million buyers (quite the poll). Turns out none of them wanted a female character in the game. Not even if the amount and quality of hats remained the same. Not even if there would be MORE hats of EXTRA HIGH quality. So that says it all. There seemed to be one journalist (so much for anonymous polling) who did want female characters in the game, but nobody should listen to him because he is old fashioned.

        • panda42 says:

          Isn’t it the other way around?

          • Jannn says:

            You would expect that, that is why everybody was so surprised at these poll results. I assume everybody has read them by now, because the officially measured opinions are very, very, very (very) important. Who would not want more hats of extra high quality?

            10 million buyers can’t all be wrong, can they? No female playable character, even if that would cost us hats. There you have it. Case closed.

            Other producers should be very, very wary of including playable female characters in their games, if they care about (their) money. So much is certain now. Alternatively, if they insist on including playable female characters, they should also at least include a massive amount of hats. And make sure they are all really high quality hats.

            I’d say about 10 hats per female. Of course, if you think more, please write it down.

      • Flopper says:

        Every time I see an article like this it makes me chuckle. People making an issue out of a non issue. Something to bitch about on the internet. I’ve never understood why people are so obsessed with having female characters in a role where a female just isn’t believable.

        All I see when I read these articles is the white knighting of the mythical “woman”. Wut is that? If I fight for their rights in video games maybe they’ll let me touch a titty.

        • Canisa says:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Corday

          Name: Charlotte Corday
          Time Period: French Revolution
          Known For: Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat

          Take your ignorance elsewhere, please.

        • tigerfort says:

          Assuming for a moment that you’re not a pure troll, what exactly is it about the existance of Anne-Marie Charlotte de Corday a female assassin during the French Revolution that you find so unbelievable? Do you also insist you shouldn’t have combat-oriented women in games about, say, vikings or pirates, despite the well-attested historical examples of female pirates, viking warriors, etc?

          ETA: ah, yes, I see you do precisely that.

          • Scaryfaced says:

            To be fair, calling Corday an assassin seems like a bit of a stretch, considering the context that title seems to have in this situation. She asked to enter the man’s house, who happened to be living in a bathtub, and stabbed him once in the chest while the man wrote. That sounds far closer to politically motivated murder to me, an incredibly mundane murder at that.

      • dangrak says:

        Considering it is the French Revolution, and one of the important art works of the Revolution (Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People) features a powerful woman, it would be extremely appropriate to include a female assassin in the game. I agree with the point of this article, which is that – while a studio shouldn’t be forced to include diversity for its own sake – it would not really be a stretch to imagine a playable female among all of the other characters in the game. Excluding a female when there are four playable characters almost seems like a conscious decision on their part.

      • The Random One says:

        Wait wait, is that true? Are the four coop characters just the same character in four different colours of clothes?

        Because if so, I feel they could have saved a lot of grief by just naming it Assassins’ Creed: Dukematch.

      • tetracycloide says:

        I love how your ‘diversity’ list boils down to ‘Look how many kinds of white dude you can play as! You can even play as half a black guy that one time or a half native american that one other time!’ It’s crazy that this is such a high water mark for diversity that you’d go through all the effort to list it out like that.

    • AvatarIII says:

      That’s a bit harsh. Movie studios do it all the time, withhold movies until they are best positioned to make the most money, and no one bats an eye, why should game studios be held to a different standard? surely finishing a game and waiting to release it is far preferable than releasing a game before it is ready, right?

  2. eleclipse says:

    Honestly the real sad thing is that they have to justify why there’s not a female character.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Why is there no Indian character? Or an old character? Why is there no autistic character. Or a disabled one?

      The next AC should have Brown Hair white guy, An Indian Midget, a Polynesian woman and a geriatric Spanish homosexual, as the main payable characters….

      Actually that sounds pretty awesome.

      • HiFiHair says:

        Rather than extrapolating the inclusivity argument out to breaking point, we could at least start with some representation of women. Perhaps even, if you can you imagine it, equal representation of women. I mean women only account for half the world’s population, almost half the addressable audience (47% according to ESA in 2012).

        • Tyrian says:

          Over 50% of the world’s population lives in Asia. Why can’t we play an assassin from China, India, Mongolia, Indonesia, etc? Why are they neglecting this key demographic?

          • darkChozo says:

            99.9999999% of the known universe is empty space. Why can’t we play as a sentient gaping void?

            (also an AC set in not the Western Hemisphere would be cool but that’s another story)

          • SanguineAngel says:

            To be honest – why indeed?

          • SIDD says:

            “Over 50% of the world’s population lives in Asia. Why can’t we play an assassin from China <snip"

            Maybe because Assassin's Creed: Unity supposedly takes place in Paris during the French Revolution, and I'm fairly confident that 50% of the population in Paris around 1789 weren't Asian…
            However there's a fairly good chance that roughly 50% of the population in Paris in 1789 were female.

          • Great Cthulhu says:

            That calls for the linking of this.

          • CubanAmazon says:

            @darkChozo

            It might not be the intent but that reply sounded like Asians are being paralleled with absolutely nothing of value.

          • Baines says:

            As SIDD said, the game isn’t set in Asia.

            But people *have* asked for an Assassin’s Creed set in Asia.

          • darkChozo says:

            @CubanAmazon

            Ah, my bad. My point was about scoping statistics (Asians in revolutionary France vs. Asians in the world), but I think I got distracted about the thought of playing as a spacial anomaly in an assassin robe and made things too obtuse.

          • Shodex says:

            @SIDD Over 99.9% of Paris in 1789 WAS empty space though.

          • Jimbo says:

            Well over 99% of the population of Paris in 1789 weren’t even assassins, so if you ask me at least one of the assassins should not be an assassin.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            @CubanAmazon

            Hey now! Some of my best friends are sentient gaping void, and I don’t think I much like what you’re implying there.

        • hungrycookpot says:

          This is a historically themed game about killing people, and historically I’d imagine about 99.999999% of killings were done by males. Your argument does not make sense.

        • Flopper says:

          Let’s research combat roles… 50% of women were ninjas? Assassins? Soldiers? You’re full of shit. There is not equal representation of women in combat roles anywhere. Even countries that let women serve in any kind of combat role… It’s rare and odd. So they should include niche shit. We need a midget assassin IMO. They are under represented in video games.

      • Bradamantium says:

        I hate no internet commenter more than the sort who pops up in these kinds of articles to exaggerate inclusiveness into a big, crazy joke. I’d rather play as all those characters (and what even is a “generic Spanish homosexual?) than Yet Another White Guy, especially in a story set at a point in history with a pretty good selection of women, including one that’s *actually* an assassin.

        • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

          Geriatric: ger·i·at·ric
          ˌjerēˈatrik/
          adjective
          adjective: geriatric

          1.
          of or relating to old people, especially with regard to their health care.
          “a geriatric hospital”

          noun
          noun: geriatric; plural noun: geriatrics

          1.
          an old person, especially one receiving special care.
          “a rest home for geriatrics”

          That said, playing as wheelchair-bound Spaniard (ex-conquistador?) who recounts tales of his bygone romantic conquests would be pretty amazing. I would play the hell out of that.

        • All is Well says:

          Absolutely this – not only do they not understand the position being presented, they also consistently produce the same tired joke/argument: “But if we have a female protagonist, we will also need to have a representative of every other group possible in the same game! Examples of minorities, lol!”
          I think the worst part about them though is that they always seem to imply that wanting to play as, for example, a Polynesian woman, is somehow unreasonable.

          Edit: Well, not *always* – BobbyDylan did admit it could be awesome.

          • Hahaha says:

            Wait so other cultures that to be fair are just as underrepresented as main characters in gaming than woman characters are somehow not as important and should be ignored to focus on getting more female characters in games?

          • All is Well says:

            @Hahaha
            Yes, that is exactly what I was saying! I wasn’t actually complaining about a specific type of poster and post, but rather arguing that women should be represented in games *instead of* the mutually exclusive category of people belonging to “other cultures”. Well done, well done indeed.

          • BobbyDylan says:

            Please don’t misunderstand, I’ve not nothing against there being a female playable character, or characters of other ethnicity. To the contrary, I’m all for it. Like I said, if the 4 characters were different and had different skills that would be an awesome addition to the game (where’s at the moment they 4 of the same guy).

            What I’m against is forcing a Dev to change it’s artistic vision to pander to political-correctness that will see us get a Designed-by-committee game. If Ubi don’t’ want a woman as a playable character, fair enough. They’ve made games with women as characters before, and will do again. This time, they didn’t and I don’t see an issue there.

            That said, this asscred looks pretty dull. The environments looks great, and I might get it eventually for that. But till then, I’ll be sailing in the Caribbean.

          • RedViv says:

            Please don’t throw the words “artistic vision” around in a massively tailored and marketed and test-grouped entertainment product like this, being produced by more than 900 people all around the world. Please do not.

          • SuddenSight says:

            BobbyDylan – the issue here is not a compromise of artistic vision. The issue here is that (1) Ubistoft did not make a female playable character (which makes yet another game with a white, male lead, but whatever, I don’t buy AAA games anyway) and (2) they made a COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS EXCUSE.

            They didn’t make a female character because they didn’t have enough time? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It’s really not that hard. Tons of video games, even games with ultra-real, current gen graphics have (*gasp*) females!

            So, this article isn’t really intended to make Ubisoft add a female character. We just need to call out the stupid PR guys on their awful, awful, totally bullshit excuses. It’s fine to not include a female character, but accept that you will disappoint a lot of people if you don’t, and DON’T MAKE AWFUL EXCUSES. It just makes you look dumb.

          • hungrycookpot says:

            Except that I just heard the same bellyaching in the FarCry 4 trailer about “Why is he a white guy!?” It’s always something

          • Shodex says:

            @hungrycookpot Not only that, but these same people were complaining about the new Tomb Raider and giving it all sorts of flak for a trailer. Remember Me also sold terribly. Why should developers put time and money into making female characters if they just don’t sell?

    • stonetoes says:

      Poor, poor ubisoft, why won’t those mean old journalists just leave them alone and stop calling them on their bullshit? All they want is to ignore half the planet’s population, is that so bad? :’(

      • akstro says:

        I know, right? They already made a game with a character that was black AND a woman! They even had a black character in the DLC for AC4! Why can’t all four playable characters be male…

      • SpectralThundr says:

        Poor poor little social justice warriors, when will they end their crusade of forcing diversity on every industry just to try and be politically correct and all inclusive for the sake of it.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I don’t think it’s about social justice, really. I think the under-representation of pretty much everyone in games is a symptom of inequality in broader society. But when specifically talking about under representation in games I think most of us are really just begging for more variety – bright and colourful pantheons of creative, unique and exciting game protagonists. But, because this lack of variety is in part a symptom of an unequal society stemming from various areas, the issue is both bogged down by that social justice ideology and must surely be tackled at that level in order to address it. This is what I think, anyway

          • SpectralThundr says:

            I’d say the majority of it is of the social justice nature, that and wanting clickbait, it’s not quite as bad here as it is on Polygon but it happens enough of a regular basis on RPS to noticet the progressive agenda being pushed loud and clear. The fact of the matter is 95% of hardcore gamers are male, males are the target audience. So it would make sense to me that most protagonist in game are also male.

            That’s not to say I’d have anything wrong seeing more female leads, the Tomb Raider reboot was fantastic, Jennifer Hale also did an excellent job voicing FemShep in the Mass Effect titles as well. What I take issue to are the Anita Sarkeesian’s and Danielle Riendeau’s of the world who are clearly trying to push a feminist agenda within the games industry to try an force change by way of demonizing the industry as a boys club for boys along with stating misgosony for good measure.

            It’s so completely obvious and face palm worthy at this point.

          • tetracycloide says:

            Do you have any idea how utterly ridiculous you sound first saying ’95% of hardcore gamers are make’ and then complaining about when it’s pointed out the game industry is a boys club?

          • SpectralThundr says:

            When your target audience is 95% male what do you expect, marketing towards women? That being said there are females who work in the industry, and more of them than the average progressive would believe.

          • tetracycloide says:

            So what you’re saying is Anita Sarkeesian’s and Danielle Riendeau have a point. Does the phrase ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ mean anything to you? Apparently not.

      • Shadow says:

        Hyperboles weaken any argument. As if the entirety of womankind played videogames, as if there was even one gamer woman for every gamer man (wouldn’t that be grand?). How many male gamers are there for every female one, honestly? I’m not looking to troll here: I’m genuinely interested in actual statistics. Any surveys around?

        • Sleepy Will says:

          300 girls and 180 boys in my sons school (primary) school identified themselves as a “PC gamer” when surveyed about hobbies. Not an earth shattering population, but a thought provoking result for our hobby.

          • Shadow says:

            Interesting, but many people in general play videogames when they’re little, and it’s no reflection of whether they’ll stick with them when they grow up. Perhaps the industry is more widespread and visible now than it was when I was growing up, changing society’s perception of videogames, so my personal experience needn’t mean anything. If videogames are seen as “cooler” and less of a young boy’s thing, compared to 15-20 years ago, I could see more young people in general sticking with them.

            Still, it’d be nice to see a current survey targeting teenagers and young adults. I suppose that’s about the defining age range when kids decide whether videogames were a thing of childhood and that they’re “too old” for them now, or that they’ll remain a significant hobby for many more years to come.

          • Sleepy Will says:

            If there was a significant reversal, as most people seem to assume there will be, the question has to be asked, why? One perfectly valid theory is that games are marketed and created for boys and girls are excluded from the hobby. Another is that the overwhelming number of boys who identified themselves as console games all get a PC because they need one and find games there too, so it would be lovely to see some actual research. It would also be lovely however if we could just make our games more inclusive without quibbling over the cost of doing so, which pales into insignificance compared to the profit this game will generate. Not that I am under the illusion that people are lovely, most of them are deeply unpleasant on many levels.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            How about a survey of ~2200 households in the U.S.? Maybe you’ll find enlightenment somewhere around page 3?
            http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2014.pdf

            Now my question: Before decrying the lack of survey data, did you make any attempt to look for survey data?

          • Shadow says:

            I didn’t search, and I wasn’t “decrying” anything. I asked a genuine question. Now, that study seems interesting, but the presentation is ambiguous at times.

            The third page mentions “game players”, but what’s that? It could be anything from a hardcore gamer to a bored woman playing Farmville at work or some little mobile game on the bus. Is my grandma considered a gamer because she plays Candy Crush or Solitaire every now and then? I’d understand a close to 1:1 ratio if we bring the most casual examples under the same definition.

            And then the next page talks about “game purchasers”. One might think we’re talking about the same category, but it’s not. Someone who purchases a game needn’t be the actual gamer. The easiest example is the mom (or dad) who buys their kid a videogame but never actually plays any.

            So bottomline, and most likely you’ll have something disparaging to say about this, but I’m not sure about the validity of this particular study. At least in the relevant sections, it seems eager to throw up numbers, implying they’re all connected but ultimately without much care for accuracy.

          • Sleepy Will says:

            To be fair to the study, it states quite simply that 48% of gamers are female. Unless you are suggesting this is a lie, it appears to answer your question without having to crosslink to any other data.

            Now if you are going to try to distinguish between types of gamers, “does my grandma count because she plays candy crush and solitaire” well, that’s you being elitist. “You’re only a gamer if you play games I like”. Is candy crush a computer game. Yes. Does your grandma play it. Yes. Is she a gamer. It’s hard to say no, isn’t it.

            You may well decide however that all of those 48% are grandmothers who play candy crush and thus, because you wish to exclude “casuals” from your elite little group, they do not have the right to have games made that they would play. Don’t worry, elitism exists in every form of life; turn up to a car enthusiasts club in your fiat 500, take your halfords mountain bike to nant y arian, try to make a movie on a handycam to see it in action, but don’t expect to be taken seriously.

            What a shame that someone forgot to tell Thomas Vinterberg that he wasn’t a proper film maker! What a shame no-one told Schumaker he was a crap driver. What a shame no-one told Tracy Moseley she wasn’t a mountain biker. Good job you’re here to keep your grandma in her place, out of your hobby.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            I imagine you think I’m being bitter, and you’re quite correct. The reason is that these comment threads bring out people the way that food left out in a dark kitchen brings out insects and I’ve an equal amount of patience in either case.
            Even you, surely among the least offensive of these, are still wrapped up in your own assumptions.

            You request evidence, but don’t seek it. You present your mind as open, but present your arguments with a heavy male majority as the default, supported by only a web of unevidenced assumptions. Will, up there, made points about your cherrypicking of definitions that are equally relevant. These aren’t the actions of someone interested in more information on the subject, they fit more closely to an individual that would like validation of their pre-existing beliefs.

            It’s not that you’re wrong to doubt that ESA survey. It seems reputable, but it’s also clearly been “sanitized” for public consumption. Those facts are as cherry-picked as your definitions, and details on methodology do not seem to appear within. There’s contact information on the last page of the pamphlet. The footnote of the table of contents gives both the likely name of the study and the name of the agency that conducted it. That knowledge could probably be used to find the raw data, but I’m not going to do it for you. Time to decide how much you really care about knowing.

          • P.Funk says:

            @Sleepy Will

            If you can’t comprehend how important it is to differentiate between the various types of gamer when collating statistics then you fail to understand the conversation. If we call grandmas playing solitaire and cell phone users playing farmville and console gamers playing Assassin’s Creed all the exact same thing then we are generalizing very different market groups.

            Go ask an Ubi or EA marketing person if they market games between those demographics as if they’re the same thing. They don’t. Selling cell phone games is very different from selling console games. Collecting statistics on them as if they’re all the same creates incorrect assumptions because when we talk about female protagonists in gaming we’re clearly not talking about the casual cell phone market where none of those games has story lines or massive trailers at E3.

            Its not about elitism, its about understanding what we mean when we say “gamer”. Most people don’t self identify as gamers when they just play Candy Crush. When you look at broad statistics like how many people in the whole population play something considered a “game” on a digital device you get numbers that would make anybody tracking the market share for a major console laugh.

            Who are we talking about when we discuss gender inclusion in AAA game titles? Not the people who play Farmville. That’s not elitism, thats simply understanding the breakdown of the different markets and subcultures.

            I also like the fact that while criticizing the commentary on the lack of female inclusion in mainstream gaming we’re all ready to defend the inclusive right to use the term “Gamer” with respect to all gamers. I find that ironic.

          • Potem says:

            I don’t think anybody cares whether or not grandma claims to be a gamer, it’s not about “inclusion”, it’s about establishing which demographics adhere to different types of experiences. if you dilute the term gamer to the point where it can’t accurately describe anything useful, making it a hollow buzzword (much like how the advertisement industry works, hilariously), you forfeit your ability to understand the dynamics at play. Either we narrow down the scope of the term, or we stop using it, because saying “gamers are 50% female so games should always insure equal representation and market to both men and women equally” is either plain delusional or downright dishonest.
            in any case the public for traditional “core” gaming is still overwhelmingly male, whether you believe it is an issue or not is one thing, but that’s just a fact, and the more “niche” you go, the more the gap widens.

          • SpectralThundr says:

            Liberal progressives and dishonesty go hand in hand to begin with really. And if you don’t buckle up and go along with their righteous cause they label you things to try and shame you into going along with the vocal minority.

          • tormos says:

            anecdotally I know twice as many women as men (6 to 3) who’ve played at least one Assassin’s Creed game to completion

    • Gap Gen says:

      There have been a bunch of female highwaymen, pirates, etc, so it’s not entirely unrealistic to have a female character here (and sure, there were plenty of black people who weren’t still in Africa FOR SOME STRANGE REASON I WONDER WHAT COUGH COUGH). Also, this goes into Templar time travel hoodoo, so unsure they’re likely to play the realism card on this one.

      • HiFiHair says:

        Also flip it around. For decades now cinema has been getting away with casting white British and American actors as characters in place of actors of ethnicity appropriate for the geographical or historical context. See the bulk of movies adapted from Biblical stories for example. I’m all for ignoring, what I would consider to be pedantic, arguments in favour of notional historical authenticity if it means we can advance greater diversity and representation. Creed takes so many liberties with history in it’s fiction anyway I don’t know how the authors could reasonably justify an aesthetic authenticity, but not a narrative one.

        • cpmartins says:

          Because they don’t have to. Their game’s main demographic is 15-25 males. Do you think they care to cater to a group that makes them no money? And it’s all about the money. Don’t think for a second that had they known their product would make double the profits if female playable characters were included that they wouldn’t. But it won’t. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s their game, they can do whatever they damn well please.

          • pepperfez says:

            Big corporations aren’t actually omniscient. They may not think adding female characters to their games would bring them female customers, but they may also be wrong about that. I mean, it’s not like Ubi has demonstrated a perfect understanding of what their customers want in the past.

    • Chalky says:

      Anyone who’s played video games recently should realise that the correct roster should be 2 white guys, a black guy and a woman.

      What the hell, Ubisoft?

    • TheVGamer says:

      The justification is always there, behind the closed doors. Only now are they saying it to the public, really.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      I feel like the type of people who complain about this shit all the time are so much more preoccupied with race than any of the rest of us. I’m just here to play a game, I really don’t care if the main character looks anything like me.

      • Jannn says:

        Are there any inequality issues in the world? And if so, can a big game in any way help? If so, should it? If so, how?

        • Harlander says:

          (added quote because I messed up the reply)

          Are there any inequality issues in the world? And if so, can a big game in any way help? If so, should it? If so, how?

          Yes, maybe, yes, by the methods described in a better answer to your second question

          Less glibly, I’ve no personal idea about whether or not, and how, a AAA game might help with inequality, but it certainly should if such a way existed.

          • Jannn says:

            Agreed, and second question not really difficult to answer for a (big) game me thinks.

      • P.Funk says:

        @Jannn

        Not caring is its own evil and has done more than its share of harm to the world, but quietly.

    • Opellulo says:

      You can almost hear the friction between the artistic and marketing department in every AC game: they started with a muslim, middleastern protagonist, a non biased view on religion and an interesting take on history; down the line they were forced to bloat unneccessary yearly exits, move the focus to America and scrap all the overarching plot and themes…
      But they still try to do little innovative things like in Liberation where they put a female mixed heritage protagonist in a simplicistic (but still rare in videogames) take on slavery.

      Right now in some Ubisoft studio there is a concept artist with tons of design for female assassins swagging in the marketing hallways yelling “I told you so!”

    • Shuck says:

      Unfortunately our shooting game could only have one type of gun. Adding more guns would have required extra work on animations and models that would have more than doubled those costs.
      – said no game developer ever

      • shadowmarth says:

        A perfect example of a gameplay-relevant thing to use your time on.

        Completely unlike this trivial nonsense.

        • The Random One says:

          Then why waste time on gameplay-irrelevant things like making characters look like humans, or making the game level look like a real city? “Destroy the cube amalgam marked in red. Other cube amalgams will chase the cube amalgam you control if you enter their pursuit cone.” That’d be sure to save a lot in animation.

        • Shuck says:

          Alright then, “Unfortunately our urban game could only have one type of building. Adding more building would have required extra work on textures and models that would have more than doubled those costs.”
          – said no game developer ever

    • Alexrd says:

      Indeed. Not only is this a completely non-issue (isn’t Ubisoft free to create the game that they want? What’s stopping RPS to create a game that caters to all their social causes and minorities?) but you don’t see this idiotic social “journalism” rant to studios like Rockstar and the like who can do no wrong…

      Double standards and strawmen, is what this is…

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      So true. SJW’s and their endless demands and drama, pfft!

  3. DarkLiberator says:

    Interestingly, when people were asking for female characters in Killing Floor, apparently the chief excuse by Tripwire was animation and hiring voice actors (eventually they did release one). Could easily be the same problem here.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      I think Ubisoft has enough money for one ore voice actor.

    • Clavus says:

      Main difference is that Tripwire’s budget for Killing Floor was half a brick and a bag of crisps. Assassins Creed Unity has ALL the budgets.

      • Reapy says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised though that since they went all ‘call of duty’ with AC having yearly release cycles they actually are very short on time and limited to what features they can add. I recall reading and article about the animations in AC and how they pretty much hand jammed all the transitions in the game which was a ridiculous number of frames, and it looks to me that they have modified many of those animations for the latest game, so it is very possible they can’t reuse existing character animations in Unity.

        I do think it is quite possible they are only capable of putting out one ‘set’ of character animations of a high enough quality with the time they have allocated.

        On the other hand, a female assassin as a lead character would be ridiculously awesome and they should do it next time around.

      • nearly says:

        On the other hand, they are releasing new characters and funding game development that way. That means design work, voice work, no reason the animation for firing a gun needs to be any different. The shopkeeper is already a woman.

  4. Taidan says:

    Showed trailer to my better half last night, had to endure the now-yearly furious rant about lack of female protagonist in a primary Assassin’s Creed game.

    Please Ubisoft, if you won’t do it because it’s the right thing to do, at least do it for little old me.

  5. AlwaysRight says:

    Surely it can’t be ‘that’ difficult (I’m guessing). Previous games had tonnes of playable female characters in the multiplayer. Blag Flag even had the Aveline DLC which had a playable female lead.

    • Surlywombat says:

      This. Unless they skip the (really very good, no honestly try it sometime) multiplayer backwards they are going to be adding the animations in.

      So why aren’t they doing it? I would guess its because if it is full story game coop (is it?) it will be Saints Row style, with everyone playing the main character from their POV. Rather than say, Dead Island’s magically appearing companions (when played SP). If Ubi have decided that the character is male in this Assassin’s Creed then the conceits of the premise (experiencing the memories of specific individual) means the one thing they cannot do is give customisation without altering the lore of the universe.

      So yeah, it probably all comes back to picking a male lead (again), which is disappointing. Especially since Aveline was far more interesting than any other AC protagonist. So they have shown they can do it.

      If it is four separate assassin’s, then yes. Very poor show.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        Did you watch the trailer? They have created an entirely new set of animations, which when context bound to every object in your environment, is a MASSIVE undertaking.

    • Excelle says:

      I’m sure a huge company like Ubisoft doesn’t have any other female protaganist animations they could repurpose and modify for this game.

      Oh wait.

      If it’s such a huge problem, then they’re making everything from scratch (or near scratch), and they need to learn something about reusable assets. It’s not hard.

  6. Geebs says:

    To give ubi more credit than they probably deserve, it also doubles the amount of QA needed; which is probably already crazy given the factor by which the complexity of level geometry has increased. This would explain why the characters all have the same build as well.

    Ref: YouTube is full of assassin’s creed wall-humping animation glitches

    • basilisk says:

      AssCreed: Liberation, a small production for handhelds made almost entirely by the Bulgarian branch of Ubisoft, starred a female protagonist with about a dozen different outfits. She used essentially the same animations as Altaïr/Ezio/Connor, and it worked perfectly fine.

      I really hoped Unity would finally feature a female protagonist. I strongly suspected there would be more than one playable character this time, but not a male-only crowd. The games have a very good history of strong female characters; seems a shame to miss this opportunity.

    • SaintShion says:

      Doubles the amount of QA needed? That’s complete bullocks. They have to test the animations and moves, which would likely be similar to whatever they have already. There wouldn’t be any difference between a female character and a male character. Each character has to be tested separately to make sure animations are hooked up properly, regardless of gender.

      All of the bull that they mention is a smoke screen. They could have easily made a female character on the cheap and shared an animation set. Female characters can walk similar to male characters, and murder the same. They simply chose not to. VO is cheap for a game of that size. Hell, even models and textures are relatively cheap. What they really didn’t do was plan for it. If they had planned early on, they would have had it. There’s no amount of spin that can make up for their complete lack of foresight.

      • glyphyyy says:

        With new animations, models, audio, skeleton and textures there will defiantly be a new player controller added to the code. Meaning there will be a lot more testing than just the ‘animations and moves’.

        As somebody who spent 3 years QA’ing games, please don’t assume its just testing ‘animations and moves’.

        • darkChozo says:

          That’s only if you give female assassins their own animation rig. There are plenty of games that have female models that animate identically to their male counterparts, in which case you’d only be testing the model and textures, which you’d have to do anyway for nonidentical coop partners.

          • Geebs says:

            It’s a law of diminishing returns issue, though, isn’t it – for a last gen or mobile game you can get away with doing collision detection with bounding boxes, but with 1080p standard these days you’re in trouble if somebody’s arm clips through a wall. Add in inverse kinematics or indeed any sort of physics, and you have to check every inch of the geometry again in case your character starts falling through the level or pinging into orbit.

            If you look through any game, there are half-finished, unused assets in the final release – not because they’re too lazy to take them out, but because of some bizarre dependency that caused the protagonist to turn inside-out in one cutscene when they tried to remove them.

        • SaintShion says:

          Yes, if they went full bore and did all of that. Considering how little effort they’ve seen to pay, doubtful. However, it’s still just part of a checklist or two. I’ve spent 6+ years in QA and 2+ years in production, and adding a character, even with VO, animations, etc, is not going to be x2 QA budget for a AAA publisher. That was what I was referring to. That statement was complete nonsense. Yes, more time, but nearly negligible for a major publisher’s QA department. AssCreed is a huge AAA franchise. Their QA budget would be hardly affected.

          If we were talking about an indie dev, then I’d say hell no. They’d have to make the same guy in 4 diff colors =)

          The problem now is that it’s too late for a female assassin for the core game development wise. Any attempt now would just be a botched job.

  7. BobbyDylan says:

    Instead of allowing you to pick one of 4 characters, they should have allowed you to almost “create” one.

    • karthink says:

      You can create your own character in Unity, appearance, costume and all. That is, you will always appear as Arno, the protagonist, but others will see you as the character you’ve created in their games.

      As long as, of course, you create a male character.

      • Snidesworth says:

        I’d be surprised if they bothered to let you customise your character’s appearance/face/etc, given that you’ll never get to see it in action. Equipment and clothes, sure. You’ll see those on your Arno.

        I assume that they cut female characters because the player would never actually see them (save for in a customisation screen) or they’d need to make an alternate protagonist for the game. That is obviously a lot of work, but I find the decision to always play as Arno strange. Maybe the first time through a mission, but repeat plays/helping out others would be a great place to mess around with your own customised assassin. In terms of gamefluff you can distinguish the two as reliving Arno’s memories and playing a customised avatar to fill in the blanks in another researcher’s dive.

  8. amateurviking says:

    All this talk of extra work with animations points to a much more fundamental problem in design: the ridiculous, ridiculous degree of sexual dimorphism that seems to be standard in animation and character models in games (a good example are the soldiers in say XCOM).

    I guarantee that superhumanly athletic, acrobatic assassinie types would move and look if not the same then very similar regardless of gender.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Then what’s all this fuss about? Labels?
      The main character is most of the times a cypher, so it doesn’t really matter who he is. That’s like complaining Half Life should have a female option.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Well I think the gripe is about variety in general representation, not specifically player choice

      • P.Funk says:

        The point he’s making I think is that if you can’t include women simply because you can’t afford to pay to animate them then they’re saying they can’t afford to animate the quivering bosoms that no doubt any female assassin would have.

        I would happily play a female assassin with diminutive A cups and the frame of what looks like a non-buff 18 year old boy than some curvy sumptuous vixen who somehow manages to carry out unlikely feats of acrobatics without having the counter weight of her enormous mammaries throwing her off balance on the landing.

        Seriously, all they’d need to do if they didn’t animate them differently is do a new face and get a chick to do the lines. Why not just have a tomboy female char? Oh right, cause if we make female characters they still need to sell to horny teenage boys.

        • SpectralThundr says:

          You just answered your own question, why spend the money when your target audience barely has any women in it in the first place? Or does this generation of confused males get off on playing a female in games as some sort of fantasy?

          • P.Funk says:

            I think you’re missing the point that everyone keeps saying this isn’t about women being marginalized on any level but really when you break it down there’s hardly any specific reason that doesn’t lead back basically to that on some level.

            Are you just saying that its all okay because they’re making money? Making money seems to be a good excuse to be any kind of asshole you want I guess.

          • SpectralThundr says:

            What I’m saying is that until women are flooding the industry out of being actually interested in video games, the progressives likely aren’t going to see much diversity in this field in regards to female leads in games. That being said however there are plenty of titles that have strong female leads or strong female supporting characters.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      I have to say when I played AC Brotherhood and Revelations I never found myself thinking “Hang on, that female assassin has the same move set as that male assassin! IMMERSION BROKEN!”

      Seriously, we’ve had female assassins in the series for a while now, I can’t see why they’d need extra animations at all, assassins move quite lithely (if that’s how female characters would be different) and they all wear big robes which will cover a lot of differences anyway.

    • lordfrikk says:

      Disregarding boob armour and the like, there’s quite a difference between female and male gait. Whether anyone cares about such level of detail is really the question, though.

      See: http://www.biomotionlab.ca/Demos/BMLwalker.html

      • Baines says:

        What I learned from that BioMotionLab link is that the more female you are, the more you lean back while walking, while the more male you are the more you lean forward. I do wonder how they decided that someone was, say, 60% male though when classifying their data. (Or did they just pick the extremes and fill in the rest where it conveniently fit?)

        As for the recognizable hip swaying rolling gait, it can be achieved either by setting the model to fully female or by instead setting the model to fully light. (Fully light ends up even more exaggerated than fully female. Though the gender slider appears to be given more importance than the weight slider.)

      • nearly says:

        Watch a youtube video of Hawke from Dragon Age 2 with swapped gender animations. The animations they create for women are always incredibly sexualized and hardly look how anybody short of a sex worker actually moves.

      • P.Funk says:

        I never realized that all women had insanely wide hips and walked as if they were in heels 24/7. I should complain to the Tomboy ex girlfriend I have who never ever looked anything less than like a normal guy when she walked.

      • Ninja Dodo says:

        @Pfunk: It’s pretty disingenious to suggest that “men and women move differently” is the same as saying “all women move exactly like this” or that female animation must be either completely gender neutral or hyper sexualized.

        For a combination of cultural and anatomical reasons there are real differences in the *average* movement of men and women. Any one individual can exhibit varying degrees of masculinity or femininity in their movement and plenty of women do not move in an especially feminine way (which is why animation sharing can work given similar build, see Femshep), but the distinction is a real thing. As an animator, if you’re moving all male and female characters exactly the same you’re not doing your job properly.*

        You don’t have to have over the top hip swaying to make movement specifically feminine. For a good example of distinctly female animation look at Disney’s Tangled. Rapunzel moves in a way that’s not only specific to her as a character but also specifically feminine (incidentally a significant portion of the Disney animation team were women).

        * generally speaking, degrees, exceptions, etc etc

  9. thekeats1999 says:

    Funnily enough one of the women executed during the French Revolution was done so under the grounds of assassination. Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont. Could have added an air of authenticity to a game about stabbing people.

    Frankly I can see Ubi releasing one as premium DLC somewhere down the line under the pretences of listening to the public.

    • mickiscoole says:

      Or alternatively, They *were* planning on having it as DLC (or even in the main storyline, yet kept from the marketing materials, which wouldn’t be the first time that Ubisoft has done that) but now have to re-evaluate because it might look like they were only adding her because of public outcry.

    • Gap Gen says:

      There were also women who dressed as boys to escape service, travel, make money, etc, so Ubisoft could retcon it that all the characters are women in disguise without changing any assets at all.

      • The Random One says:

        The final game will reveal that all the characters in all Ubisoft games have been women all along. Except Globox. Globox is alpha as fuck.

  10. moocow says:

    Sure, there’s no female protagonist in Assassin’s Creed, but there’s still Far Cry… uhm ok, Watch (underscore) Dogs… Splinter Cell…

    Look, you’ll maybe be able to play as a female in (Tom Clancy’s) The Division (by Tom Clancy, in memorium), and they love recycling assets and ideas in all their games, so by 2016 they’ll have a female character model and it won’t be a problem!

    • Heliocentric says:

      In Rainbow Six Vegas 2 I set my character female because then it was easier to figure out which gruff voice was who.

    • Bradamantium says:

      Far Cry 3 actually had a female co-op character. And one of Watch_Dogs’ bigger story criticisms is that they went with the tired Grizzled Guy, Dead Girl method of plot and character development. Plus, with AssCreed, they have a series seven titles deep in the main series. They could afford to take a bit more of a risk.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        They did take that risk. AC: Liberation had Aveline (who was a pretty good character, though a bit bland like Connor.)

        Unfortunately it was on the doomed Vita and rather buggy, so it bombed sales-wise.

  11. Cinek says:

    making six different special editions of the game. (Clearly I know staff and workloads aren’t transferable in that way, but it does speak to the troubling priorities here.)

    FYI: problem isn’t only in a fact that you cannot transfer the resources like that, but also in a fact that creating 6 different special editions is in fact cheaper then creating animations alone for additional character (that includes hiring actress, days of motion cap, then weeks of implementing them into the game) – not to mention all of the other stuff.

    It’s not a matter of priorities – their argumentation makes perfect sense from business point of view – simply put: it’s significantly cheaper to build just one type of character. That’s why you won’t see 100kg assassin, or 2m tall 70kg weight assassin, and for that matter: female assassin. If you’re complaining – why only about females? How about slim people? Or fat people? Or very short people (I imagine dwarf would make an ideal assassin)?

    • Harlander says:

      Do people identify as being slim or fat to the same extent that they identify as being a man or a woman?

      • Cinek says:

        Yea, sure, I always pick characters of the same build, sex and ethnic background I am in a real life if the game allows that.

        • khomotso says:

          It seems like most people are this way. I’ve never understood it. You’re given a new setting and a new set of experiences and you want to just play as … you again? That feels like a pretty cramped imagination.

          Given a choice of characters, I always go for the ones I’m not. My argument for including different kinds of characters would not be so much about taking a principled stand as that it would just be more fun.

          • Distec says:

            Apparently expressing myself as an avatar in a virtual world is a product of “cramped imagination”. Glad I know this now.

          • Joshua says:

            I’d say that imagining how you would react when thrown into different circumstances is part of the appeal of games where you can play as your own character. I always play as “myself” as a blueprint, and then see how the story can change the nature of a man.

        • Banyan says:

          “White male” is the most politically and socially advantaged demographic. I can see why white dudes wouldn’t want to pretend to be someone other than a white dude. It’d be the opposite of a power fantasy, and most AAA games are power fantasies.

          As a male with a skin color that doesn’t usually appear in video games, I usually pick female avatars, since I’d rather spend hours looking at the backside of a woman than of some frat bro.

    • stonetoes says:

      You’re right, so if they can only make one character type, they can make them all female right? Funny how it didn’t work out that way though.

      • Cinek says:

        Yea, they could – and it worked just fine in, for example, Tomb Raider.

        Also note that this game is set in 18th century, educate yourself on the history and women rights – you’ll see that back in 18th century females doing anything related to killing were an extreme rarity if not to say: unseen – therefore unsuitable for the storyline. Arguably – dwarf assassin would make more sense than a female one.

        • basilisk says:

          As pointed out by thekeats1999 above, please read this:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Corday

        • Volcanu says:

          Assassins were also pretty rare full stop. And they generally didnt do anything as fancy as parkour-ing their way into buildings before leaping 100ft into a hay pile. Besides the whole plot of Ass Creed with it’s Templar vs Assassin mumbo jumbo and supernatural powers is way more far fetched than the idea of a female assassin – particularly as other posters have noted, genuine examples of a few remarkable women who did assasinate people or engage in piracy or what not, do exist

          Assassins Creed seems a funny choice for us to get all “its not plauuuusbile” about. Its also not plausible that Leonardo Da Vinci would be working for a global brotherhood of assassins and would lend an actual working hanglider to his friend, so that he could swoop across one of the pre-eminent ciies in Medieval Europe dropping bombs on people and starting fires with it’s fire cannon.

          Anyway, to give Ubi some credit- they did do an Ass Creed game previously with a female protagonist so you would have thought there were some assets to use there, if only to make the multiplayer a bit more interesting than sulky blue hood guy, sulky red hood guy and sulky green hood guy….

        • Cockie says:

          Maybe the female assassins were just so good at it that nobody ever saw them.

        • stonetoes says:

          Seriously, you’re arguing there couldn’t be female assassins in an AC game because it wouldn’t be historically accurate? You must recognise how ridiculous that is.

        • Ostymandias says:

          no YOU educate yourself. for christ’s sake, the game is set during the French Revolution, you know that extremely bloody, society-dissolving event that kicked of emancipatory struggle throughout Europe:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution#Role_of_women

          ugh

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          Speaking of Tomb Raider, why can’t we play Larry Croft?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Ass Creed is not a cheap series. I defy you to watch the entire credit reel for the latest Ass Creed game and tell me they had a limited budget.

      • Cinek says:

        EVERY production has a limited budget and EVERY production is a compromise in terms of included (and not) features within that budget.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Oh, I’m not arguing that they could blow up the moon if they wanted to, just that I find the specifics of the argument unconvincing – I don’t see why you’d need new animations, or even anything beyond a new face and voice actor (and hell, they already have female character models and voice actors as NPCs). I’d be more convinced by a blunt “we didn’t want to or care”.

          • Bluerps says:

            If I remember correctly, this is how Bioware did it for Shepard – they took BroSheps animations and applied them to a female character model. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked reasonably well, and it certainly didn’t consume a huge amount of ressources.

    • darkChozo says:

      That’s only if you assume that a female model has to look and move significantly differently than a male model. We’re talking about athletic super-parkourers that regularly wear figure-obscuring cloaks; it doesn’t strain belief that a female assassin could look like a male assassin with a different face, voice, and maybe some boobs.

      Case in point, take a look at the header image. Would you disbelieve someone if they told you that one of those cloaked figures was a woman, just based on appearance?

  12. Eukatheude says:

    Does it really matter THAT much to you who your player character is?

      • Eukatheude says:

        Just answer my question.
        I’ve been reading this site for what, five years? I’ll go away when I want to.
        I don’t give a rat’s arse who I play as. Man, woman, trans, whatever. I’ll enjoy/not enjoy the game just the same.
        I’m honestly asking if and why it matters so much to other people.

        You on the other hand are just flaming, so if anything you should be the one leaving, or kindly shut up. ;-))))

        • Cockie says:

          Alright then, yes it does. Happy now?

          • Eukatheude says:

            And why does it matter that much to you? As in, preventing you to enjoy the game at all?

          • Cockie says:

            Not in the way that it prevents me from enjoying a good game. But gaming for me is about experiencing things I couldn’t in real life, and game makers always going for “male dude killing stuff” means a lot of those possibilities are simply neglected. I want variety. So if AAA developers would start making female protagonists it would be a sign that things are going in the right direction, and if they don’t (AGAIN) and then give a lame excuse why is a disappointment.
            To be frank, to me the originality of the choice of the protagonist tells a lot about the originality of the game itself.
            Honestly, it’s okay if you don’t really care, but it’s not okay to tell everyone “I don’t care, so you’re dumb if you do care” like a lot of the commenters here are saying.

          • Eukatheude says:

            Yeah, but in this case it would be “female dudette killing stuff” instead. I doubt much would change as far as gameplay, content, plot and so on.

            I agree with you, but on the other hand harmless comments like mine (ok, I realise it might have sounded a bit dickish) are met with invitations to go away, sometimes even by the writing staff!
            And that is as big an issue in my opinion, as in the eyes of many it just discredits the efforts these people are making towards real problems in gaming (discrimination, misoginy, homophobia etc.).

            Sometimes it borders fundamentalism, either you agree 100% or are a horrible human being and should get the fuck out. And that really gets on my nerves; I already had to edit a few things out of my response to rustybroomhandle.

          • Cockie says:

            While that’s true (and that’s why I’m not really interested in AC anyway), if it doesn’t really affect the gameplay and plot, what harm would it do to not make every main character a man? If nothing else, it would be a way to make a game stand out, so “no budget” is a silly reason (which is what I’m most upset about).
            For the rest, 99% of people who ask “why do you care” don’t actually want to know, are just saying “stop caring” and are impossible to argue with, which is why people get fed up and just say “go away”.
            It’s hard to spot the one non-jerk between all the jerks.

          • Eukatheude says:

            I agree, I wouldn’t mind some more cast diversity too. Not something I’d write an article on, though.
            And yes their excuse is pitiful.

            Not in my experience, though that largely depends on the site you’re reading.

          • Cockie says:

            Given the fact that people think diversity would be fun, and that ubisoft apparently doesn’t know that, how are they going to find out if people don’t write articles about it? The article was more about the fact that their excuse is bollocks anyway.
            Well, your comment didn’t really come over as a genuine question, and most people with similar comments on this article are just being rude. So it was hard to know, you know? The RPS comments are usually great though, that’s true.

          • Crazy Horse says:

            I don’t see how Ubisoft would not be aware of the the diversity angle. They’ve been a successful business long enough to know to put careful planning and research into their demographic targeting. That they may have made a financial mistake in no female chars is a possibility but I doubt it was a decision made lightly.

            Cockie, you admit to not being interested in this game in the first place even if it was “a female dudette killing stuff.” It would be very informative to see just how different the discussion would be if commenters would only rant about or otherwise deplore those creative works in which they were actually interested in buying in the first place as any kind of avatar.

          • The Random One says:

            “I don’t see how Ubisoft would not be aware of the the diversity angle.”

            Especially considered that in their latest non-AAA offerings there’s been:

            - A game in this very same series that stars a female assassin
            - A game that’s essentially a coming-of-age story for girls who want to be princesses
            - A colourful platformer in which there’s a female character who’s a crazed, bucktoothed barbarian

            I’m not even angry about the sexism, I’m just appalled that they didn’t see this coming. It’s like they’re trying to insulate their AAA games in a dudebro bubble.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think role models are important for people who have so few in games. Having everyone in games being a white man would be a message saying “this is not for you”.

      • Orija says:

        As a non-white person, I find your implication that I can’t identify with a white person offensive and patronizing.

        • RaveTurned says:

          What about the other implication that by not having non-white characters, white players are never asked to empathise with anyone outside their own race. That doesn’t bother you at all?

          • Orija says:

            I am more bothered by the backlash when such things are rammed down their throats.

          • pepperfez says:

            “Rammed down their throats” is an expression that gets used a lot in these topics and it’s basically never appropriate. The only people actually feeling threatened and attacked by racial/gender diversity in games are hardcore white supremacists/misogynists. Others may be sick of these discussions, but would barely notice the actual changes.

          • SpectralThundr says:

            Holy hell talk about reaching. And like a typical “progressive SJW white knight” right to the reaching and accusations of misogynists and or racists. When the majority of women start flocking to the games industry or *gasp* even admitting to playing video games to begin with, I would imagine we will see many more female leads in games.

            I personally preferred Jennifer Hale’s representation of Shepard far more than Mark Meer in Mass Effect, enjoyed the hell of of the new Tomb Raider reboot, as well as Beyond Good & Evil. Enjoyed Mirror’s Edge, Splinter Cell also has a strong support female character in Grim. Along with a large supporting class of strong female characters in the Mass Effect series on the whole and the Dragon Age series. This myth that there are zero strong females or black (Is black politically correct these days? It changes so often it’s hard to keep track) characters in game when there is plenty of proof to the contrary is flat out insane.

            All this is as usual is progressives shoving diversity for the sake of shoving diversity.

      • Hahaha says:

        I think I see what the problem is if gamers are looking towards game characters as role models….. fuck me

        • darkChozo says:

          Imagine, people identifying with characters in a fictional work! What is the world coming to?

          • Hahaha says:

            Indeed what the fuck and to choose someone from gaming the form of entertainment which has got some of the worst writing standards out of the choices to pull from is mindblowing.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            Connor is not a character. He barely speaks, and always have that stupid look on his face.
            He’s just there to be your avatar.
            I bet this time it will be the same.

          • darkChozo says:

            Good video game characters are usually not a product of writing so much as design. There’s a reason why there are so many iconic video game characters who are mute; while, say, Gordan Freeman is basically a blank from a writing perspective, the way he looks and the way he interacts with the world is so strong that people can still identify him as a character and not just a player stand-in.

            Admittedly, role model is probably not the right word, unless you go around shooting aliens all day. Symbol might be better, something along the lines of a superhero or a Disney princess where the character itself is often secondary to what they represent.

            EDIT: AC characters are a bit of a weird one. Altair was a bit of a blank slate, but Ezio and Edward were reasonably well developed characters in themselves (haven’t played any of the others, personally). And, arguably, their shared design cues means that Protagonist Assassin Guy is almost a character unto itself. So who knows.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Hi, yeah to me it really does matter. Not just whether the character is female or male but also variety in every aspect and the depth of character in general. To be honest I am just sick of seeing the same archetype character in every big budget game I play. Even in games where the protagonist is little more than a cardboard cut out cipher for the player that should not prevent decent writing or interesting characters.

  13. rustybroomhandle says:

    This implies that all four playable characters have the exact same animation sets, costume choices, voices and abilities.

    That does not good!

    • Gap Gen says:

      I admit I didn’t see any difference between them in the preview videos.

    • Jimbo says:

      As far as I know they aren’t really different characters per se, but just multiple instances of the same main character. Each player probably remains the protagonist on their own screen, but is displayed as backup assassin on the other players’ screens. I would presume this also works a little like Saints Row where if you are playing co-op and go into a cutscene, you each see the cutscene as though your character is the protagonist.

      I don’t think they are just lying when they say that it would be a huge amount of extra work to offer both a male and female lead (Mass Effect style). The people who are suggesting they would only have to make a new character model and leave it at that simply don’t understand what they’re talking about. And, arguably, including a female character option but doing it halfassed would be worse than not doing it at all.

  14. WhatKateDoes says:

    They can shove their game up their ass. I turn a blind eye to this kind of thing most of the time, but such a lame-ass excuse deserves nothing. If even CoD can make the effort, why cant they?

  15. Amnesiac says:

    Little did you know.

    One of them used to be a woman. The game is figuring out which. s/he is very convincing.

  16. stonetoes says:

    So how many studios would they need to implement female player characters? How big of a budget? When a publisher this huge with this massive a franchise makes these bullshit excuses they are essentially saying that they will never bother with female characters, no matter how many resources they have.

    When games like this and GTAV have multiple characters and obscene budgets yet still don’t bother they are giving tacit permission to all the game developers to not give a shit. If the big boys don’t bother, why would anyone?

    • Cinek says:

      If the big boys don’t bother, why would anyone?” – because female protagonist might be most suitable for the storyline (Eg. Tomb Rider or Transistor). Or because deep character customization was deemed to be one of the key features of a game. Or because game is aimed at a female audience. Or because adding different types of protagonist (be it male/female/fat/slim/tall/short/black/white/etc.) was cheap to do while at the same time increased list of features.

      • stonetoes says:

        And yet many still won’t bother. The point is that developers now don’t even bother to include female characters when they have a massive budget and multiple characters, so two of the big excuses trotted out are rendered null and void…and they still went with it. This takes the pressure off other developers to even consider it, or feel obligated to even attempt inclusivity.

  17. WhatKateDoes says:

    That’s your privilege. Literally.

    Lol, looks like someone’s comment got deleted. :P

  18. Flukie says:

    Why on earth does this matter?

    They have already had several female characters in AssCreed before and will continue to do in the future.

    I don’t get what you are going for here?

  19. shadowmarth says:

    This is a purely cosmetic issue, and I sincerely doubt anyone will actually care. Unless there is full on character creation from the start, then I would wager you are all just versions of the main character (and I doubt they’d bother justifying that other than “hey other assassins”). In that context a female character model doesn’t make any sense. Why is anyone stirring up controversy over this total irrelevancy? Talk about the game maybe.

    • basilisk says:

      I care. And there seem to be quite a lot of tweets floating around from people who care. The fact that this and many other articles on this topic exist should be enough proof that someone, somewhere, cares.

      • shadowmarth says:

        I mean to say when the game comes out. I would be shocked, SHOCKED, if someone seriously thinks “man this game is fun, but I just can’t enjoy it if I can’t play as a lady.”

        Alternatively it could be shit, and no one cares that way.

        • basilisk says:

          I played all of the AssCreed games. And every single time I thought it would be fun if I could play as a female character instead. Not that I’m not enjoying it as it is, but it would have been a nice thing to have.

          I get that feeling with all third-person games; I just like watching women being awesome, I guess. But that’s hardly the point: the point is that they had the chance to do this, and chose not to.

        • Harlander says:

          When Captain Renault says he’s “shocked, shocked!” he’s not actually surprised at all.

          You know that, right?

          So you’re trying to say that you’d be very unsurprised to find people turning down the game because they can’t play a woman, but you’re trying unconvincingly to hide this from visiting Nazi officials?

          Weird.

    • Chris D says:

      It’s not purely a cosmetic issue.

      It matters that 50% of the population are consistently told they have no place here, in both the fictional world and in “gamer culture”

      It matters that the other 50% of the population consistently only see women portrayed as quest objectives and rewards.

      But if that’s not enough for you then it also matters because brooding male protagonists have been done to death a hundred times over and pretty much any variation from that can only improve the game.

      • shadowmarth says:

        I have absolutely no doubt that there will be an AC game with a female protagonist sooner or later. It’s basically inevitable. I don’t think that will make it any better a game than any other on that merit alone.

        But that’s really completely beside the point. There are ample games with character creators and gender options. This is a story-focused game with a male protagonist, and you have no authority to tell the writers what gender that character is. Did you make an outcry about Transistor and Tomb Raider not allowing male characters? This argument is just absurd.

        • Chris D says:

          It’s clearly not just a game about a single white male protagonist if it’s got multiple playable characters is it?

          And no, I didn’t protest about the maybe 2% of games that feature a female lead. Context matters.

          • shadowmarth says:

            Did you not watch the actual introduction of the game, or not actually read the post, or what? You co-operate on single-player missions. For the single player you are the named, male assassin. Presumably they will hand-wave there being four of him because you can never see their faces, so they’re just friendly assassins. It makes no sense for you to be this character, EXCEPT when you’re playing with your friends you’re suddenly a woman.

          • cpmartins says:

            You should really stop pulling ridiculous numbers out of thin air and just check them before you make yourself look bad: “In a sample of 669 action, shooter, and role-playing games selected by EEDAR in 2012, only 24 (4%) had an exclusively female protagonist, and 300 (45%) provided the option of selecting one.” So, that’s 49% of games that allow (or force you) you to play as a woman.

        • Lex says:

          There is already an AC game with a female lead … called Liberation … She was also the lead of a dlc for Black Flag.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        “The White Male Patriarchy is why I’m not a winner”

  20. BooleanBob says:

    I don’t think Ubi were obliged not to create four dismally dreary identikit beef-o-broods to choose from, but I very much agree that it’s a missed opportunity to provide more interesting differentiations than in waistcoat breasting, hood peak or quarter-hour variations of macho o’clock stubble-icity.

    Even from a calculated and cynical (ie profit-driven) perspective, it seems like they stood to gain more sales from girl gamers drawn in by a female avatar than they’d have lost from men scared off by the possibility of, what, contracting cooties? But Ubisoft’s marketing bods have presumably put more thought into it than I have.

    Presumably.

    • Gap Gen says:

      You say that, but creating artificial social divides is a conscious marketing tactic, designed to focus resources on a smaller segment of the population to maximise the effectiveness of a game’s advertising: http://www.polygon.com/features/2013/12/2/5143856/no-girls-allowed

      To anyone who says that this isn’t an issue – you being played, sucka.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        “To anyone that doesn’t share my opinion: you’re wrong”. Not exactly an earth-shattering platform, is it?

        • Gap Gen says:

          Wasn’t quite what I meant by the last line, but sure, the idea that E3 isn’t a gaudy, week-long advert designed to get people to buy product and generate buzz isn’t that controversial.

      • BooleanBob says:

        I was being glib, it’s totally an issue. But I’m not sure why it has to be one. Did Valve concern themselves over whether inclusion of Zoe or Rochelle in the Left 4 Dead games would cost them sales? If the ‘marketing science’ is as incontrovertible as that (well written and thought provoking) Polygon article seems to insist, surely Valve would have been obliged to go with an all-male cast in their games, as Ubi have here? There can’t be that much divergence in 2009 vs 2014 cross-platform demographics, can there?

        • Gap Gen says:

          I think the argument is more of a broader trend than being an absolute rule in every specific case. Sure, there are a handful of female protagonists out there, even if, say, Lara Croft was played for titillation back in the ’90s. In any case, I’m dubious that Valve is a typical games company, to use your example: they’ve refused to release a sequel to their flagship title because they don’t feel like it – not something you’d see Activision doing much of.

          • Hahaha says:

            How much hate would they gain and loss of gamers “trust” would they lose if they released something that was not deemed up to the quality of last offerings….

  21. Horg says:

    Maybe they could free up some resources by not shoehorning Uplay into any more titles. Just saying ¬ ¬

  22. 9of9 says:

    Are you shitting me. I kind of just assumed that there’d be a variety of avatars, including female ones, to choose from in the same way that you could in every other Assassin’s Creed multiplayer instalment.

    I can kinda buy this argument from some studios but what the flipping hell, Ubisoft, there’s been fully animated, free-running female characters in, I think, literally every Assassin’s Creed game since the first one. Why, all of a sudden, “we don’t have the resources” now?

    I mean, the whole of the Assassin’s Creed franchise runs off state-of-the-art animation tech where things like re-targeting animations from one skeleton to another is a thing. That’s why it has always been a non-issue in the past. What gives? Are they raising the animation quality so high they can’t themselves be bothered to achieve it? It doesn’t even look it. I don’t see any revolutionary leaps (pun so not intended) in the tech. If they could do it in AC4, they can do it here. I call bullshit.

  23. Gormongous says:

    Ubisoft should talk to Bioware. After all, there were male and female versions of Shepard, so twice the work must have been done over the course of three Mass Effect games. How that did not bankrupt all of EA is a trade secret that Ubi ought to get its hands on.

    In serious mode, what a load of shit. It’s a little refreshing to hear a developer be honest that diverse representation is too much work for them to bother, but only just barely, especially when the thing they’re using as an excuse is a solved problem in dozens upon dozens of AAA games, including previous games in their own franchise!

    • Geebs says:

      Ass Creed is a particular problem because of how close the characters are to the scenery at all times. Last gen, they solved this by giving everybody who could do parkour the same generic animation; but this generation, the higher fidelity means that the fact that everybody moves exactly the same will be that much more obvious.

      By contrast, Bioware were at least even-handed in that both male and female Sheperds were perfectly capable of getting stuck in mid air and then levitating into the skybox; so there is that.

      • Jdopus says:

        Also worth noting that Mass effect actually has pretty terrible animations. There is substantially more work involved in Assassin’s Creed’s character designs, given a big focus of that game are the fluid animations in combat and while free-running.

        Off the top of my head and with my limited knowledge of games design, I imagine Assassins creed almost certainly has one of the most expensive character creation processes of any video game. I can’t think of any other games that have as many animations for the main character.

        EDIT: And I just realised the comment below that I hadn’t read was making this exact point. Oh well.

  24. Ninja Dodo says:

    Nobody who hasn’t seen what goes into implementing animation in a game has any business commenting on how much work this is or isn’t.

    It’s worth noting that the most prominent female option in a major game, Mass Effect, uses the same animation for the main character. It works for Femshep, mostly, but given how particular Ubisoft is about animation I doubt gender neutral anims were ever considered a serious option. If you make that choice you either do it properly or not at all. With the ridiculous amount of animation that goes into an AC game, if ANY game could make this argument it’s probably this one… though at the end of the day with resources like that it’s a question of priority. Someone made the call that a larger game was more important than creating an alternate playable character.

    They could’ve added lady sassins, but at the cost of a smaller game.

    • Harlander says:

      Conceivably worth it, especially given how bloaty AC games can get.

    • WhatKateDoes says:

      I think you may have invented an awesome archetype: Lady Sassins. They’ll kill you, but not before giving you some scathing commentary.

      P.S

      I think it was only in Mass Effect 2 where the lack of female mo-cap was notable (and in 3 the *did* mo-cap proper):

    • 9of9 says:

      Let’s not forget that we’ve had Lady Sassins in literally every other Assassin’s Creed game ever.

      • Ninja Dodo says:

        Except they re-did the entire move set for AC3 and probably again for this game by the looks of it, so it’s not like they can just plug in some old stuff from Liberation or multiplayer.

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          If by “redid the entire moveset” you mean added a couple of new animations. Just stop taking marketing bullet-points at face value. Please.

          • Ninja Dodo says:

            Sorry, no. You don’t know what you’re talking about. http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1018058/AI-Postmortems-Assassin-s-Creed

          • Geebs says:

            Thanks for posting that! Blimey, they go to all of that work, and the only bit you really notice as a player is when the animation system goes wrong, or two characters do the same animation at the same time. Fascinating.

          • HadToLogin says:

            @geebs: I remember some Pixar movie commentary (Toy Story 3?) where they said they had one massive problem with stupid shadow. They so didn’t want to do it, because it’s so not noticeable when it is there. But they had to do it, because when it wasn’t there it was only thing you could see.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      They must surely be producing a wide range of animation sets for the vast range of NPCs they tend to have roaming the streets. If previous AC games are anything to go by, there will be plenty of different female NPCs moving in many different ways and often some more prominent NPC who will have many of the same or similar range in animation sets as the main character.

      Given the massive tasks involved and the massive number of people working on the game the extra work would not be at all impossible to budget if it was something they really wanted to do. They just don’t want to.

      Personally, I wish wider representation across the board were more of a focus in AAA in general.

      • Hahaha says:

        Most of the npc’s do jack shit apart from walk around, maybe firing off a canned animation that is used by all npc’s

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      Then again, the animation director of AC3 (who also worked on ME1 and 2) tweeted this: https://twitter.com/GameAnim/status/476638349097058304

      His argument in replies basically comes down to: would only redo walks and idles, and maybe cutscenes. That still sounds like a lot more than a few days work to me, but ok.

      [edit: also he neglects to take into account anything other than animation work]

      Either way, they probably should’ve put that effort in, instead of more other stuff.

  25. Turkey says:

    They didn’t have women back then. Honestly, read a book once in a while RPS.

  26. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    If they want to make a game with all male main characters they can make a game with all male main characters. I don’t care, they’re not forcing anyone to buy the game.

    If enough of their customer base have a problem with it, they need to vote with their wallets and stick to buying games that offer an equal split of gender-related features. But my suspicion is about 0.001% of their customer base actually have a problem with it – when it really comes down to it. So in that sense this becomes rather a non-issue in my opinion.

    I mean, they’re not depicting women in a bad way or anything – like some games do. They just don’t have any female main characters this time. Not sure what they’ve done wrong here really.

    I think RPS need to sometimes choose their targets a little better.

    • Alec Meer says:

      ” I don’t care”
      “my suspicion is”
      ” in my opinion”
      “I think”

      • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

        Ouch. Really? you went with that?

        Okay…

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        Yes, because as we know the centre-left social-liberal opinion is the objectively correct one, and everyone else is just deliberately being a pantomime villain.

        • Chris D says:

          I like to think that “Giving a shit about somebody who isn’t you” is objectively correct, yes.

          And if you don’t want to be treated like a pantomime villain then stop acting like one.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            I will say it again lest I was unclear: your opinions of morality are not objective. There is an insufferable degree of whiggery on both left biased sites like this one and right-biased sites too, where other viewpoints are immediately dismissed as outdated, immoral, or otherwise OBJECTIVELY incorrect. This is patently rubbish. Try taking your opinions to, for example, an Islamic country, see how objective they look then.

            “Giving a shit about someone other than you” is more nuanced than continuously and tediously defending their perceived interests on the internet. I am terribly sorry if you lack the depth to realise this.

          • Chris D says:

            ” …..where other viewpoints are immediately dismissed as outdated, immoral, or otherwise OBJECTIVELY incorrect. This is patently rubbish.”

            So you’re saying that saying a viewpoint is objectively incorrect is objectively incorrect? If not please explain what you do mean by “patently rubbish” if not that.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            Dismissing other people’s morality as objectively immoral is, indeed, a silly thing to do. Obviously there are extremes, most people would agree that it is a bad thing to sexually abuse a child for example, but within something so minor as representation of women in a historical videogame, I think that it would indeed be bizarre to peddle one’s own viewpoint as definitive.

            Incidentally, I find the leftist social liberal “My opinion is rooted in tolerance” agenda hypocritical in the extreme, since by definition this requires intolerance of those who are perceived to be intolerant. In reality, they have one set of allies and one set of enemies, same as any other political grouping. “Tolerance” is a sham. I might dislike them even more on a personal moral level, but at least free-market libertarians don’t allege to be anything more than an interest group, fighting for what they think is best. I don’t agree with them, but they’re up front about it. The conflation of social-liberalism with some kind of fundamental natural law really gets my goat, however.

          • Harlander says:

            I find the leftist social liberal “My opinion is rooted in tolerance” agenda hypocritical in the extreme

            A political figure states, on the record, his views that homosexuals should endure restricted civil rights.
            Other individuals vociferously criticise this view.

            Do you find these two examples of intolerance to be equivalent?

        • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

          Yes. The latter group is, in effect, intolerant of homophobes. That’s why the word intolerance is so unhelpful and dishonest. In reality, two different political ideologies are having a debate, and there can only be one winner. I think this debate is very helpful to mature political decision making. Dehumanising those who don’t agree with you (homophobes, the hardline religious, many of the elderly, etc) and invalidating their right to having an opinion is deeply damaging to political discourse. The bottom line, in your example, is that person A wants to invalidate the political agency of homosexuals, and person B wants to invalidate the political agency of those who dislike homosexuals for whatever reason.

          For what it’s worth I don’t attach myself to either camp, since I personally favour autocratic government. If, however, we are going to do democracy (and it seems feted that we are), then I believe we should at least make a go of it and do it properly. To continue with your example, if vastly more people support gay rights than do not, then the politician in your example will not make much progress. If lots of people support curtailed gay rights then he will. Points scoring over who is more tolerant is not relevant to the policy in hand.

          • Harlander says:

            Yeah, I think I’m seeing the disconnect-

            I personally favour autocratic government.

            Orrrrrr maybe not.

            Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to hash out an agreement here today. Thanks for keeping it polite, though.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            I try to be polite. *I* don’t personally want to curtail any specific group’s political agency (well, unless you count “literally everyone including myself”)

      • kwyjibo says:

        It’s almost like thought is frowned upon in the comments. Maybe RPS should just move onto Youtube entirely.

      • Geebs says:

        “unfortunately”
        “presumably”
        “perhaps”
        “I don’t doubt”

        You could have gone after the actual substance of the post, which was extremely weak.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          I feel that this is actually getting to the root of the problem with these posts. While RPS’s heart seems to be in the right place, it seems to come from just there. It’s all heart and no brain. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent well considered frame of thought behind these posts. They seem to be written mostly from a ‘I saw something I didn’t like, so I shall vent’ kind of mindset. It leads to sloppy thinking and as the posts tend to set the tone for the comments, the seemingly inevitable trainwrecks that consistently follow.
          Not that I don’t like dancing around in the flames, but it does make these discussions quite tiresome after a while. Worse, even, it doesn’t tend to improve the situation, as RPS often chooses the wrong hill to die on and prefers to alienate people rather than convert them to their cause, perpetuating the trainwreck cycle.

          • jonahcutter says:

            That’s similar to my reaction to RPS’s coverage of these issues: They are passionate in their stance on a relevant issue, but provide an often shallow and immature reaction.

            It really stood out to me when they boycotted the Penny Arcade convention. They abandoned their responsibilities as journalists because it made them feel, as someone described it, “icky”.

            I’m going to say when your response to the intersection of gender attitudes/politics, social media culture, game design, and commerce is to stop being journalists because of “icky” feelings, you don’t have a mature, reasoned grasp of the complicated issues at hand.

            So yeah. RPS has its heart in the right place. In general though they just haven’t exhibited more than a shallow, at times poorly reasoned, response.

    • shadowmarth says:

      Can’t agree enough. There are plenty of juicy, ripe targets for controversy in the games industry. This is a completely mundane non-issue being picked on for some reason…? It’s not like it’s a slow news day. Perhaps he wants to abuse the E3 traffic for a soapbox.

      • darkChozo says:

        Part of it is the absolute nonsense of their PR response, I think. The idea that it’d be fiscally impossible to include female assassins in a series that has featured any number of female assassins, including in playable roles, is just absurd.

        Someone said that the game will use the Watchdogs model of always playing as the protagonist on your screen; if that’s true and they’d said that the coop models are just protagonist stand-ins, I imagine this wouldn’t be much news.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Shh, Remeber me had a female character and all, represented a genre seldom seen on PC, but it was buried beneath COD articles or whatever. This hasn’t done a disservice to the feminist cause, no siree.

      • Grygus says:

        You mean other than the seven articles they posted about the game, including a WIT? You must mean other than those.

      • vagabond says:

        Was that that game that a bunch of publishers said no one would want to play it because it had a female lead, and then the developers stuck to their guns and got it published with the female lead, and then it turned out that no one wanted to play it?

        • RobF says:

          Yeah but they didn’t play it because it was a bit shit not because it had a woman lead.

          • vagabond says:

            Unfortunately I’m not sure that anyone can definitively answer the question of “shit game or female lead?”.
            Deadpool, a game released at the same time, which was even worse (~10 points lower metacritic) seems to have garnered higher sales. Then again that might be “known comicbook vs new IP”; it’s probably too complicated to say.

          • shadowmarth says:

            Except that it’s not complicated to say. Deadpool is as mainstream as it gets without having his own movie, and new IPs have a tremendous uphill battle even if they’re good. Which reviews suggest that game was not.

          • vagabond says:

            Except that it is. There are a number of factors that can explain low sales: female protagonist, new IP, shit game, advertising spend, and the list goes on; You’re dismissing the one you don’t want to be true, without any evidence that it has no influence.

    • derbefrier says:

      well RPS(and the game journalism industry as a whole rather) has to pick their battles in relation to video games(since they are a video games site first and foremost) that limits the field of which battles they have to choose from. some could say it would be much more effective to bring attention the horrible way women are treated in say, Islamic countries were women don’t even enjoy the same basic rights most of us do and are very literally treated as second class citizens but then that would have nothing to do with video games and they would be forced to drop this whole pretense, which honestly i think would be good for the debate and the movement as a whole. If i am completely honest I don’t care how well women are represented in the latest ubisoft game. To me its just not important, it doesn’t hurt anyone, no ones freedoms are being compromised or impeded it just is what it is and the world will continue on. It wont be easy to get me to be sympathetic to something like this. Contrast that with whats happening to women under sharia law in some Islamic countries(which seems to be mostly ignored by the mainstream media) and you have my attention. we have true human rights violations going on there unimpeded by a journalistic and feminist community that seems to largely ignore this(I must admit i could be wrong here but if they are and its not getting past popular feminists blogs or whatever there’s a big communication problem). What i am trying to say is there are bigger fish to fry than some video game no one will care about in 6 months and it would be nice to see this passion in the comments directed at something that will have a real impact on peoples lives. This…..to me is more about feeding the super ego than about real change that will improve peoples lives. Maybe it comes from a sense of helplessness in regards to more important women rights issues. here we can see some real results while in other places it wont be as simple as backing some corporate d-bag in a corner threatening them with character assassination.

  27. Seafort says:

    Don’t they have female characters in the MP side of Assassin Creed?

    It such a sad state of affairs that some “suit” has looked a pie chart and said “no women avatars, they don’t equal enough monies” and so they are excluded.

    It’s going to be quite funny if the competitive MP has women models and their excuses are shown to be BS :)

  28. SanguineAngel says:

    I doubt the exclusion of female playable characters is a malicious exclusion. It’s just another case of executives not wishing to rock the boat.

    I would guess that Assassin’s Creed Liberation was a toe in the waters of testing reception of a female protagonist. Using the sales figures from that (poorly advertised spin-off distributed on a niche platform and ported a year and a half later for digital distribution only and again poorly advertised) they have justified internally a decision that a female protagonist will damage potential sales.

    In fairness marketing wisdom tends toward the devil you know anyway so it’s more experimentation than I suspect many publishers would allow. But it’s still stupid.

    Speaking as a gamer, I long to see a vast range of protagonists in my games; gender, ethnicity, shape, culture, personality and all those wonderful things that make human beings unique and wonderful.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Crikey, I didn’t even realise that existed. Goes to show I suppose. Was this very heavily pushed?

        • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

          Yes. She was also the star of the PSVita AssCreed, which later got a full console/PC port IIRC.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            Yes that was the Assassin’s Creed Liberation game I mentioned above. I didn’t see anything in the way of advertisement for this DLC though, although to be fair I did not play Black Flag so that does not mean it was not heavily publicised but my impression is just that it was not.

            I guess that my point is a niche release on Vita (and a console/pc port released a year and a half later) of a spinoff and a piece of DLC can’t really compare to a full blown AC release with all Ubi’s budgetry and marketing guns to bear and if those uptake figures are being used internally to justify not using female protagonists then that strikes me as somewhat skewed.

  29. P-Dazzle says:

    The game is set during the French Revolution, not the Womens Liberation Movement.
    If they were to put a female lead in it would just feel wrong, as if they were appeasing all the loony liberal wishes.

    • Harlander says:

      You might find this article enlightening:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_French_Revolution

      • P-Dazzle says:

        Not enlightening at all. I bet in the game you will see women protesting/marching/fighting along side men.
        But this game is about the assassins. The guys that climb buildings and run over rooftops, and for these tasks you would choose the stronger sex surely?

        • Chris D says:

          If you want to talk realism then assassins wouldn’t climb buildings and run across rooftops at all. You’d hide in plain sight and slip some poison in their tea when they weren’t looking. I’d probably choose the sex that does most of the menial tasks, are not considered a threat and are generally treated as if they’re invisible.

          On the other hand if you want a game about the fantasy of being a superhumanly agile assassin then fair enough but you have lost any claim to the realism argument at that point.

          • Harlander says:

            There’s also female NPCs in the AC games who do the same amount of rooftop-traipsing, so that argument falls over within the context of the series anyway.

            But P-Dazzle’s initial comment read more like “there were no women involved in the French Revolution”, and that’s what I was addressing.

        • darkChozo says:

          Not citing sources because I’m lazy, but I’m pretty sure climbing is the textbook example of the kind of activity female physiology is better suited for. Not that it matters, considering that the assassins are quasi-supernatural anyway (or at least they were at some point, AC lore is a bit beyond me).

        • lordfrikk says:

          Stronger sex! Leave the feeble women down on streets and let the MEN do the rooftop parkour!

          Now, where’s my sandwich…

        • zora_db says:

          Charlotte Corday, Charlotte Corday, Charlotte Corday.

          …and this is why even silly computer games need to represent women better; apparently actual history is tl:dr for most gamers.

    • pepperfez says:

      Google up “french revolution assassins” and check the first non-AssCreed results.

  30. harcalion says:

    Just personal experience here. I know many women that have only played (or started playing games with) Assassin’s Creed. I don’t know if it is for the setting(s), the (murdering) power, the acrobatics or what, but almost all the female gamer friends I have are AC players. It makes absolutely no sense not trying to cater to them in the first coop multiplayer game of the series (maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what the press has been saying) and also one that has some customisation of the avatar.

    For the record, I will always choose the female avatar, if possible, excepting those games with romances, multiplayer or online tracking (like Dragon Age: Origins had). My only exception was in Bloodlines, when my female Malkavian fell in love with another female Malkavian and was one of my best moments in gaming. Maybe it makes a difference if the setting is modern, in that it is assumed that anything is allowed. Shouldn’t be different in fantasy settings or alternative history games like AC.

  31. Elevory says:

    This is their game, not yours.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      Apparently RPS et al now believe in the death of the author before the product is even released.

    • lordfrikk says:

      You should never express discontent with anything that isn’t yours.

      • cpmartins says:

        You can. But to make a difference you have to go beyond, and not buy the game. When the game inevitably doesn’t sell because they decided not to put women as a protagonist, then you’ll see a difference. But will it really? Maybe if this was a valid issue, it would. But it isn’t, so it will sell just fine.

        • pepperfez says:

          And remember: Before you don’t buy it, you absolutely must not mention that you’re not buying it for a reason, or that you would buy it but for one thing. If anyone is in any way aware of your objection, you’re a clickbaiting social justice warrior misandrist.

          • Faxanadu says:

            You wanna play? You wanna see how many hits we get with “clickbaiting social justice warrior misandrist” versus “misogyny sexist” in so-called gaming journalism?

            You lose.

  32. Detocroix says:

    There’s this, already quite old animation tech, called as re-targetting animations. They quite literally could have made different proportions skeleton (female) and re-targetted all the animations to that skeleton. You can find free scripts for that if you don’t already have the system setup (which I’m 100% sure they do, otherwise they wouldn’t even have female npcs in games).

    You can do the same for the female model. Sure someone would have had to actually make the mesh for the female, but they could have, literally, used all the male textures on the female EXCEPT for the face. Normal maps (high polygon model to low polygon model light details of sort) would definitely work and the loss of quality would be something along the lines of 10% (barely noticeable).

    In the end, realistic female body (clothed) is not THAT different from male body. Sure if they want massive hips and tits and butts… erm I mean “heroic fantasy female” they’d have more issues with just re-targetting things.

    Aaand the voice overs + facial tracking are expensive / slow to do, but visually it would have been only a week’s worth of work.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      That’s nice in theory but retargeting animation to differently proportioned characters only works out of the box if you’re okay with a lot of jankyness and kinda sorta mostly works result. Seriously. I’m working on a game with retargeted animation right now and it’s a nightmare getting contacts and intersecting meshes to play nice.

      [edit: basically, it's worth the effort but depending on the constraints you choose the amount of work can be significant]

  33. zachforrest says:

    screw Ubisoft and their janky ass game.

    Ignoring any other implications, 4 beardy clones standing next to each other looks wank as shit anyway.

  34. RGS says:

    I bet it is quite a bit of extra work actually, if it’s to be done properly.

    I’m all for equal rights (actually it *is* really important to me), but in honestly I find some of these topics on RPS kind of irritating. What do you think the breakdown of gamers is for a game like this, or most ‘non-casual’ violent games? Sure there are plenty of female gamers out there, but I think it’s still about 90%+ blokes. I think there was a poll on the Star Citizen forums not that long ago and it was about 97% guys.

    If more women played these types of game there would be more options, but they tend not to (in enough numbers) hence the extra expense isn’t deemed worth it.

    I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be good to have a female option, but I don’t really think it’s outrageous not to, particularly considering the sex of the vast majority of the customers.

    Certain products are aimed at certain audiences. I don’t play the AC games personally, but as I say I imagine they’re mostly targeted at guys (as are the majority of ‘hardcore’ or ‘action’ games). Should all products targeted at a female audience also include male options (for the 3% of guys that will play them)? I don’t think so.

    At the end of the day publishers will go to where the money is. Sure you can say that women don’t play these games as there are not many female protagonists to pull them in, but I don’t really think that’s the whole picture.

    EDIT – Star Citizen results:

    Male: 97%
    Female: 2%
    Other: 2%

    Note: Excluding joke responses for Other, we get totals of: Male 98.10%, Female 1.67%, Other 0.23%.

    • karthink says:

      > If more women played these types of game there would be more options, but they tend not to (in enough numbers) hence the extra expense isn’t deemed worth it.

      More women won’t be playing the AC games unless Ubisoft makes efforts to accommodate them, such as by allowing the option to create female assassins for co-op. (You can create male characters in Unity, by the way, not just pick from a pre-populated list.)

      > Sure you can say that women don’t play these games as there are not many female protagonists to pull them in, but I don’t really think that’s the whole picture.

      What you’re saying is, Ubisoft doesn’t care about inclusivity because women aren’t a big enough customer base for them. Which is correct. But they won’t form a big enough customer base if Ubisoft keeps ignoring them. Ubisoft’s always looking for a bigger market, and sure puts a lot of effort into lowering the skill floor needed to play their games to attract more gamers. So why not this?

      And none of this even touches the non-economic reasons for being inclusive.

      • RGS says:

        As I say, I do really believe strongly in equal rights, so don’t get me wrong here. But I also hate when things go too much the other way for the sake of political correctness. I don’t play the AC games as stated, but they strike me as a CoD type of demographic, i.e. mostly male, action orientated players. And I bet that’s supported in reality by statistics.

        As a very crude comparison, should a Barbie game *have* to include playing as a guy and a G.I. Joe game *have* to include a female option? Is it sexist not to do so when the target audience for each is 98% one way or the other? Stuff just doesn’t get made that way when the figures are so skewed to a certain group (and I don’t personally have a problem with this).

        Funnily enough (and possibly contradicting myself a little here…) I would be annoyed if say Star Citizen, Skyrim or Fallout didn’t include female options, as they’re open-ended role-playing games and I think it’s very important to be able to choose a character which reflects your sex, particularly if you like to play as I do ‘as myself in another world,’ rather than as ‘another in another world.’

        Maybe I just don’t care enough about AC (and similar titles) to give a damn, but it seems like a blokey type game made for blokes and thus I care about as much as having a female character here as I would a male character in Tomb Raider (another game for which I have zero interest and not the best example either). I can’t think of a truly female oriented AAA game of the top of my head, but if a dev wants to make a female lead and forgo a male counterpart, good for them – I don’t have a problem with it.

        In principle though I just think it’s wrong to expect/demand full representation all of the time regardless of the developer’s creative wishes, budget and target audience.

        When Kingdom Come: Deliverance announced that they only had a male lead some people got annoyed and called ‘sexist!’ He’s white too – Even worse – LOL! (I’m not joking either, some people really moaned about this too, despite the setting and era…) Warhorse explained their reasoning behind the single character choice, sex, race and whatnot (budget, story and historical constraints) all of which were perfectly reasonable. But quite frankly they should never have had to explain themselves in the first place (FYI – You can now play as a female in the prologue. Something I’d personally rather not have had as I don’t like character swapping for immersion purposes, but never mind…).

        Sometimes I think things have just gone too far IMO and people insist on full representation for everything even when it’s not necessary, relevant or financially viable.

        Meanwhile, back in the real world we have cases of far more severe inequality… Half of which can’t be talked about because then you might risk offending someone’s religion (which is clearly far worse then pointing out massive sexist goings on and totally unequal values on how groups of individuals believe men and women should live their lives…)

        • Fox89 says:

          The essence of your question seems to be: Why should a game company cater to a small demographic?

          My answer to that is simple: because that would make them not jerks.

          Let’s say, hypothetically, that 98% of the Assassin’s Creed audience is male. Now imagine you’re a female, and Ubisoft have just turned around and said “You are only 2% of our player base, so we don’t give a shit about you.” How do you think you’d feel? Now how do you think you’d feel if you saw men on the internet (who Ubisoft DO give a shit about) defending this by saying: “But so few women play this game so who cares?”

          There is no such thing as a blokey game for blokey blokes and girly games for girly girls. There are just games and the people that play them. So why not make them inclusive for everyone?

          • Crazy Horse says:

            Oh, but there are blokey games for blokey blokes. They exist now only as phantoms but I have seen them and bring you tidings of them. Not to worry — only minimal amounts of children and animals were harmed in the making of them.

          • vagabond says:

            Really?

            It seems to me to be generally accepted in all other forms of media that there are particular genres that attract a very skewed gender audience. Is it really that difficult to believe that the computer games about stabbing people in the face or pretending to be a soldier or a spaceship pilot attract an enormous male audience and that by and large women are uninterested in them?

          • The Random One says:

            Generally accepted by marketers, maybe.

          • vagabond says:

            No.

            Anyone seriously arguing that the male readership of romance novels would be ~50%, if only the barriers to men reading them were removed, is deluded.

    • Philomelle says:

      Have you considered that a lot of women simply didn’t answer that poll?

      Because I’m a woman, I’m a Star Citizen backer and I didn’t even know that poll existed.

      • WhatKateDoes says:

        *waves* Hiya! that must be us, the 2% :D

        ..actually ditto, what poll? Their forum is not exactly the most wonderful place to hang out in the world.

        • RGS says:

          Yes, I’m sure that a lot of women didn’t answer the poll. I’m sure a lot of guys didn’t either. But I do think it gives more of an insight into numbers than the irrelevant ‘I’m a gamer because I play Angry Birds and Farmville’ surveys.

          All I’m saying is that generally speaking the demographic for these types of games are *massively* skewed towards guys and in some cases I think it’s not right to expect equal representation as in actual fact it’s not a remotely reflective representation of those actually playing the game. If it was easy to do, sure, but I think that to implement it properly would likely be at a financial loss in terms of extra sales and if you’re not going to do it properly then why bother (in fact then it would look even worse, no?) For some games it simply isn’t necessary and goes against the dev’s intentions (KC:D for e.g.); nothing remotely to do with sexism/racism.

          I don’t really get why less women play ‘proper’ games, but it certainly is the case and I think it’s much more than just marketing (there are *plenty* of genres to choose from, many of which are totally sex irrelevant). I suppose despite that, games are generally geared towards stereotypical male activities such as fighting, racing, shooting, war/strategy and sport. Not that these interests are exclusive to guys of course, but just generally speaking.

          In the past my sister played Quake 3 SP through with me ( I watched as she played over a few evenings to eventual completion – and she really enjoyed it!) and I even managed to get my wife to try Hidden and Dangerous 2 (sadly not her thing :(), but these days my sister only really plays stuff on the iPad and my wife on her phone. Neither play very often and that seems to be the same for most of my female friends too. It’s not that they’re not playing as they can’t play as a female, there just doesn’t really seem to be the interest there (my sister is actually interested in games in terms of mechanics and graphics, which is lucky as I work in the industry and talk about them *a lot,* but just not fussed about playing them/would rather do other things).

          EDIT: Ha! – Just remembered I did actually help to get a friend of mine a job in the industry years ago (we studied art together, I taught her 3dsMax). She was into games, but more along the lines of old school console fare, platformers and the like (Oddwold and so on). We’ve not spoken for years, but I think she was more into the art than the games which generally reflects my experience in the industry overall – Last large developer I worked for most women were in HR and marketing, those actually involved in *making* the games were mainly animators and the majority of them were more into ‘animation’ than ‘games,’ i.e. “I could just as easily be making movie assets.” I’m not saying that plenty of women don’t play games/make games/love games or anything of the sort – Just that from my experience the interest in the medium from women in general seems to be *far* less than from guys.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            I think it’s not right to base your fictional protagonist’s gender, ethnicity, religion, economic status or any other damn facet based on the equivalent prevalent statistic of your perceived ‘target audience’. When did we get the idea that game protagonists had to mirror the player in order to be relate-able? Who decided that gamers were that broken that we cannot cope with playing from a different point of view, anyway? It doesn’t even make sense

          • Philomelle says:

            Actually, it only gives you insight into the gaming forum culture. Most women simply don’t go anywhere near gaming forums precisely because of the behavior you demonstrate in your comments (pulling out bullshit reseach that less women play games than men), and because the atmosphere on these forums is mostly that of a boys-only club.

            Integrating into those clubs is very hard and often not worth the effort! Even if you do get comfortable enough to share your gender with a handful of people, that doesn’t actually mean everything is going to go fine. You can’t talk about the same topics because of modern social norms judging men and women differently. Women aren’t “allowed” to be sexually open, for instance. I remember once dropping a few words about my kinks in a chatroom with people who were already talking about sex and who I’ve known for well over a year. I immediately got two requests for cybersex from two people, one of whom I’ve known for a very long time and another who I knew was in a relationship at the time.

            Most of the time, it’s much easier to quietly enjoy the game and say nothing about your gender, while pretending to be either male or a transient amoeba on the forums. The only games where I got zero problems with dropping my gender mid-conversation and getting no flack for it are Guild Wars 2 and WildStar (both have large female playerbases).

            So no, your scientific evidence and insight are bollocks because they come from a poll conducted in an environment where 90% of women would much sooner stay silent or pretend to be male in order to not deal with sexist and excluding bullshit.

            EDIT: I really hope you never share what you said in that edit anywhere with your name attached. Claiming that game artists and writers are not real game developers because they contribute something other than coding is a surefire way to spend the rest of the month in surgery after a deeply unfortunate impact knocked your teeth out of their sockets and lodged them into your tongue and throat.

          • RedViv says:

            Word.

          • RGS says:

            There will always be jerks on forums, but there are plenty of decent people too (this goes for all topics of conversation).

            Also I’m not saying that you have to play as a likeness of yourself in a game, that’s just my preference. I totally get why most people like to role-play as another character. I personally like to represent myself, but in another world. Either way, I think gender choice is important for role-playing games, but not so much a story driven action game (as said I don’t play AC, so could be wrong).

            Plus, the target audience is *massively* important. Though I admit publishers often get things very wrong the amount of money spent on market research is huge. I’d imagine that the percentage of women playing the AC series must be very low or they’d have spent the extra money on a female PC.

          • Philomelle says:

            But the issue is not jerks. The issue is men who are trained from birth by current social customs to expect different behavior from women than they would expect from themselves, thus making it hard for women to casually spend time in a company of men and vice versa. The other issue is that gaming forums have been seen as “boys’ clubs” for years because the very same social customs that dictate women cannot discuss sex, also dictate that technology is a “male” toy.

            Women don’t want to spend time on gaming forums because they are soaked in social norms women are completely sick of dealing with, therefore polls like that won’t work because women won’t answer them in the first place.

            And your argument about target audience is just as bollocks as your Star Citizen forum poll, given that an overwhelming part of AssCreed’s online fandom is female.

          • RGS says:

            What I said was that the majority of women were in HR and marketing rather than involved in the actual development. They do help to sell the game and obviously recruit good people to make the game, but what I meant is that they do not actually create anything in terms of the product and in many cases would be happily working in another field other than games – i.e. ‘I’m not here because I love games.’

            What I said about some of the animators being happy to just create artwork was the truth. I’m not making some big statement here. It was the same for some of the guys too – ‘Just like making cool stuff in 3D, not that into playing games.’ But from my experience this was more so in the female contingent and/or the games they liked were ‘casual’ titles. Some of these people came from or eventually left for a film SFX company and they often preferred it as there were no limits to what you can make (polycount etc). Some of these guys/gals are very, very talented and produce fantastic results. I would certainly class them as ‘making the game,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re into games, but rather they were into art, 3D and making something very ‘cool-looking ;).’

            Honestly, I’m not here for an argument or to offend anyone. But I don’t think that it’s fair that every title which doesn’t have full representation of all races and both sexes is somehow sexist or racist. This is particularly the case when the game in point is clearly targeted at a largely male audience and the extra work required to implement a female version is very likely not financially viable.

            My further points about the lack of women that are into gaming was a personal observation. In part I am questioning ‘Why this is?’; I honestly don’t believe that it’s down to lack of female protagonists. In fact when my sister used to play games she’d not mind playing as a guy. I wouldn’t choose to play as a woman myself, but if it was a linear story based game (that was worth my time), I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with it and wouldn’t be demanding the shoehorning in of a male PC.

            Finally, I can’t be any clearer when I say that I’m sure there are many really hardcore female gamers out there, both playing and making games. Naturally I have no issue with this at all (how/why the hell would I/could I!! What!?!) Just that their numbers are/seem to be tiny in comparison to the amount of guys (and this is thus reflected in budget/choice of avatars as seen today).

            This feeling of an imbalanced men to women ratio has been reflected throughout my life through friends, people I’ve met (both in and out of the industry), going in and out of game shops and on forums. I’m not making some sexist point here – Do you see it differently?

          • RGS says:

            @Philomelle

            OK, well to be honest I’ve never felt remotely tempted to discuss sex on any forums, so I can’t comment on that. I’ve also never seen it brought up, maybe it’s more of an MMO thing (which I’m not into, aside from SC).

            I go to forums to talk about the game(s) and generally I have no problem in doing so. I don’t even think about whether someone’s a guy or a girl. There are some girls I know from forums and they seem normal enough to me, just talk about the game like everyone else. I don’t think ‘Ohhh, it’s a girl’ or anything and I’ve not seen bad comments from others. Sure, sometimes I admit it’s a bit of a surprise, but that’s just due the the gaming demographic as mentioned (or if it happens to be a war/strategy title). If anything though it’s along the lines of ‘Oh, cool – I wouldn’t have expected a girl to be into this’ (even 1 in a 100 for some strategy games :)) rather than anything else. Some mods/community managers (employees) are female – Again, not seen any problems here; everyone gets on very well just as they would in ‘real life.’ Of course there are always idiots, but they’re massively in the minority and don’t hang around long.

            Of all the forums I frequent the SC one is probably where I’ve seen more tools than elsewhere, but it’s a big group of active members so that’s to be expected. I just ignore them when I see their posts pop-up (Twitch feed appears to be when they like to strike the most….). There also seems be quite a large number of decent folk though. I don’t see why gender has to really come into it. If someone says something offensive I’d just ignore them and move on. Lack of any accountability will always make the idiots shout out what they’d otherwise (maybe) keep to themselves.

            As said I don’t play AC (any of the series), so maybe I’m totally out with believing it’s mostly played by guys. It just looked like that type of game to me and I felt RPS were going on a crusade about a game made for guys with a 95% male demographic not getting a female avatar (at extra dev expense) just because… So they must be sexist.

            If there is a strong female presence though it seems odd that the publisher wouldn’t have pushed for a female avatar as their primary concern is target audience and ultimately revenue.

            Also, I haven’t seen any sexist behavior at any of the companies I’ve worked for. All I was saying is that proportionally the development side of things was 95% male, whereas HR and marketing depts tended to have a higher percentage of women than men (particularly HR). Of the women involved directly in the development a higher percentage of them were not that into games (compared to the guys), but enjoyed their jobs and were good at them. That’s just my experience, nothing more.

    • Globragzu says:

      They should have really improved on that female character creation and their marketing by spending at least half of their budgets on attracting female players, at that rate maybe they’ll get 4% like EVE Online: http://www.vg247.com/2013/06/04/eve-online-96-of-players-are-male-ccp-fine-with-that/

  35. karthink says:

    Mass Effect 2 had FemShep and VanderlooShep share the same animation rig and animations, and it showed. FemShep would “lean” on railings without touching them, and so on. Mass Effect 3 seems to have gone a step or two backwards in this regard. (There’s also this.)

    But at least Bioware provided the option, and the series was much richer for it.

    • Philomelle says:

      Let’s not forget that it took Bioware three games to implement female Turians, for the exact same reason (insufficient resources and how it would double the work), even though the only visible difference between Turian genders is the shape of their headcrest.

      • Joshua says:

        If I recall correctly, the stated reason was that they simply hadn’t come up with a design for female turians, which is a bit silly when you think about it (female eagles vs male eagles?). So it’s more a…
        “We didn’t include women because we couldn’t possibly give them the character design they deserve” thing.

        Hmm.

  36. natendi says:

    I read this article when there were no comments, 30mins later there were 100!

  37. GernauMorat says:

    Apart from anything else, the reason give by Ubi is clearly bullshit.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I wish this is the comment I had left.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      Yeah, I think this is the crux of the issue. I think both sides of the argument would actually have more respect for Ubi if they just said “actually we don’t care about this”, rather than trying to look all neutral and inoffensive.

      • P-Dazzle says:

        I played Fifa 2014 (foot-to-ball, right?) earlier and there was not a single woman in either of the 2 teams.
        I am going to phone the police.

        • WhatKateDoes says:

          lol?

          Most comical trolling example EVAR? You bring up foot-the-ball, possbly the greatest example of marginalization ?

          • P-Dazzle says:

            You think women should play alongside men in “foot-to-ball”?

          • WhatKateDoes says:

            Actually I’m not sure about that one, sports are a tricky one, but you do apparently? Completely omitting the fact that women ALSO play football, though you’d be hard pressed to know about it due to the overarching issue we’re talking about.

          • Joshua says:

            Hey, putting women and men side to side actually works really well in ball-to-korf.

  38. AngelTear says:

    Ok, Ubi, making animations for both genders is too expensive, I understand.
    So, what about 4 female assassins? That’s just one gender, right?

    By the way, while you’re at it, you could try some different skin tones, I’m sure they don’t cost that much.

    • Sian says:

      Oh, no, no, no. They’d need separate animations too. You know, all black people walk with a swagger, constantly making gang signs, and all of us white people have a stick up our arses, goose-step about and can only wave by saluting. Native Americans can only move crouched and Asians (yes, ALL Asians, no exceptions) can only shift from Kung-fu pose to Kung-fu pose. And so on.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Oh man, now i really want to see the kung fu walk done all the time… by everyone.

        …and now i have to see shaolin soccer again.

    • dE says:

      Dark Souls 2 (and 1 to a degree) shows how it’s done right. Perhaps the best anecdote out of it’s release on the consoles were all the Forum Posts by people claiming a very odd bug. Their character had suddenly switched sex! They came up with all sorts of theories how this could have happened.

      “Some invader must have hacked me!”
      “I explicitely remember falling to death, maybe that was it?”
      “Must have been that laughing urn”

      The utter beauty of what had happened was a stroke of genius. At the very start of the game, there’s a coffin. In the original release, when you got into it, the game reloaded the area and sent you back on your way. No text, no nothing. It actually changed the character’s sex without telling the player.
      The beauty of that, many many people did not notice until several hours into the game. Simply because the game doesn’t have the usual boobwindow and bare midriff armor variants for female characters and never references the playercharacter by their gender. Thus players didn’t notice that under all that armor, their character had changed. Armor, Robes and Clothes look almost the same on both sex, with minor differences in proportions.

  39. Danda says:

    It won’t be hard for me to boicott Ubisoft after how awful (and sexist) Watch_Dogs was.

    It’s funny, a(nother) game about progress and revolution that goes backwards. Good bye, Aveline!

  40. Ostymandias says:

    i’m more pissed it’s set during the french revolution. don’t get my emancipation and/or reign of terror mixed up in your b-film science fiction alien time travel meta-plot please

    and if you really have too, please at least set the next one in 1917 in russia, and have me play as assassin-Trotskij (Stalin could be a time traveling templar, those are the bad guys right).
    that’s a game i would buy

  41. Jaywoah says:

    This is not a book. This is an interactive adventure. A multi-million pound interactive adventure at that. Give us choices. Give us the freedom to make the story our own. Don’t use the same tawdry excuses rolled out for old media that stuck to the same old characters and plots. You have the power to give your audience a more varied, unique and personal experience than ever before. And the money and skills to do it. Laziness is not an excuse.

    And pay attention to your subject matter. Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

    ÉGALITÉ, bros.

  42. smeghamr says:

    “Flourish the pinkiee!”

  43. Philomelle says:

    Okay, so they cannot give me female character options because they spent all their budget on the male character customization. There is just one question left.

    How far can I customize my male character? Because if there’s only male char customization, then it ought to be amazing. Can I, for example, customize my male character so he looks like a woman with the fanciest, most perfectly trimmed of false mustaches?

    Because I just might forgive them if that happens.

  44. kwyjibo says:

    Remember, you can’t just have one female character, you need at least two for it not to be tokenism.

  45. twaitsfan says:

    So how many of the outraged here are going to boycott Ubisoft? They’re out to make money. You can wail and gnash your teeth as much as you want, but unless the bottom line is affected, it’s all just a lot of noise – albeit noise that might make some folks feel better.

    The battle is better fought giving press and emotion to devs and games that write authentic and representative characters. “The Cat Lady” is a prime example. It’s not perfect, but the character is a real, flawed person. It was refreshing and captivating.

    • pepperfez says:

      Can you imagine a state of mind between “totally unconcerned” and “outraged”? Like, “grumpy” or “disappointed” or “feeling I’m being bullshitted”? Because those are all more descriptive of the tenor of this article and the supporting comments than “outrage”.

  46. Shooop says:

    What makes this so stupid is previous AssCreed games have had female assassins. They didn’t use any noticeably different animations or clothing and fit right in.

    It’s just Ubisoft being lazy again.

  47. cpt_freakout says:

    “A reality of game development” indeed, and what a sad reality it is.

  48. IonTichy says:

    What, this one again?
    *wraps up popcorn and moves quickly to other room*

  49. Silenus says:

    I’m no ally of the SJW brigade, but given the time period, a female assassin wouldn’t really be out of place. After all, one of the defining paintings of the French Revolution (that is when the game is set?), the Death of Marat, was of the assassination of a Jacobin leader by a woman, Charlotte Corday. So female assassins would have a sound basis. Black, muslim, transgender otherkin, less so.

  50. bobsterfetto says:

    I don’t have a problem with this and the game looks fun. *runs away giggling*

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