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Rii
25-06-2011, 05:01 AM
For those unfamiliar with it, the Bechdel Test is a basic test of gender inclusion in film and other media. The criteria are as follows:

1. [The game] must have at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something other than a man.

You can argue about the value of the test or its applicability to games - any RPG which allows one to craft a female character is likely to sail through, for instance - but whilst doing so let's also play along, yes?

Bonus: Are there any games that would fail the Bechdel test with men in place of women? Would Mirror's Edge? That's an honest question, I haven't played much of it, but knowing how FPS games generally work the possibility would seem to be there...


Enough! I'll lead off with a few:

1. Portal / 2

Ok, so Chell never actually speaks (going back to that point about the applicability of the test to games...) and GlaDOS is a machine, but whatevs.

2. Bioshock 2

Passes the test with flying colours. In fact Bioshock 2 has probably the strongest female presence of any game I'm personally familiar with in having no less than four well-crafted and highly individualised female characters (granted, Tennenbaum only has a minor role and was developed largely in the original Bioshock) and this in a game that is hardly bustling with characters and one of whose most significant themes is fatherhood.

3. Starcraft: Brood War

Sarah Kerrigan and Raszagal of the Dark Templar. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is also likely to notch up a win here, featuring Kerrigan as a main character and focus of interaction with Nova definitely appearing and Selendis also likely to put in an appearance. And they're probably not going to be swapping fashion tips.


Question: Does No One Lives Forever pass the Bechdel test? Obviously Cate Archer as the protagonist is notable in itself, but my hazy recollections don't reveal whether she ever actually speaks with another female character. Certainly most everyone else in the game is male. What about the sequel?

soldant
25-06-2011, 05:55 AM
but my hazy recollections don't reveal whether she ever actually speaks with another female character
There's a female villian and IIRC they do talk, but given that most of the other people in the game are male, they probably refer to men at some point though indirectly.

Rii
25-06-2011, 06:43 AM
There's a female villian and IIRC they do talk, but given that most of the other people in the game are male, they probably refer to men at some point though indirectly.

Yeah I vaguely recollect a Helga-like secondary villain in the game, just not whether they ever actually spoke!

As I understand it the criteria doesn't prohibit women talking about men, but rather talking only about men, and I think that caveat is only meant to cover talk regarding relationships and the like in any case, i.e. if the only dialogue between women concerns how they see themselves and each other in relation to men, it doesn't count.

The Witcher is a game which falls at this last hurdle I believe. Carmen and Shani talk to one another, but the conversation is all about Shani's jealousy at Geralt having brought Carmen to the party and Carmen's amusement at Shani's cattishness. Brilliant scene mind you, but yeah...

solipsistnation
25-06-2011, 06:46 AM
There's a female villian and IIRC they do talk, but given that most of the other people in the game are male, they probably refer to men at some point though indirectly.

The point isn't whether they talk about men AT ALL-- it's whether they're just in there to discuss whatever the men (presumably the actual interesting and developed character) are doing and the women's relationships to those men, or whether they're doing things themselves. If they're fighting the men for territory or whatever, and the two women discuss how to defeat the army of the men they're fighting, I think that still passes the test (although it would really depend on context and it could go either way).

Mirror's Edge has the protagonist and her sister, and the game is, IIRC, about saving her sister who has been framed for murder, so I think that passes.

soldant
25-06-2011, 07:29 AM
Yeah I vaguely recollect a Helga-like secondary villain in the game, just not whether they ever actually spoke!
Oh I forgot that one. I'm talking about a thinner, older woman. I have a vague recollection that she explodes or something.


If they're fighting the men for territory or whatever, and the two women discuss how to defeat the army of the men they're fighting, I think that still passes the test
I suppose it passes then?

Rii
25-06-2011, 07:50 AM
Oh I forgot that one. I'm talking about a thinner, older woman. I have a vague recollection that she explodes or something.

LOL. Clearly the take-home message here is that we both need to play NOLF again. :P

Kadayi
25-06-2011, 08:55 AM
The Witcher 2

Triss & Sile talk a bit in Flotsam about what the latter is upto.

Half-life 2

Alyx & Mossmann I'm fairly sure have a talk about events beyond the appearance of Gordon Freeman

Mirrors Edge

Faith does talk to her Sister about what's going on

Mass Effect 2

Pretty sure Jack and Miranda talk about Cerberus a lot

Dragon Age 2

Hawkes mother and Sister talk about recovering the family estate iirc.


TBH, the inherent problem with the the Bechdel test is that games put you in the role of the protagonist/directing the protagonist and that effectively means that unless in the case you're directing a female character with dialogue, you are reliant on cut scenes or triangular conversations. Books, films & TV have it easier because you are an observer rather than a participant.

Grizzly
25-06-2011, 10:09 AM
Mass Effect 1: Several instances, especially evelator rides.

Oblivion: Unless all mud crabs are male.

Dirt 2: Although not more then a taunt or two.

Hmm. Mirror's Edge would indeed fail the reversed bachdell test. THere is no heard conversation between two men.

Baldur's gate 2: Pretty obivous.

Lilliput King
25-06-2011, 10:31 AM
Yeah I think Mirror's Edge would indeed fail the inversed Bechdel test. I think the Witcher passes. Fairly sure Triss chats with someone at some point. Possibly Adda. Maybe another sorceress.

Heliocentric
25-06-2011, 10:34 AM
Obviously all non character driven games are out. Games with themes of loneliness and isolation tend to find conversation scarce. Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 actually passes if your character is female despite being a sausage party. Another ubisoft sausage party that passes is splinter cell conviction. I think beyond good and evil fails unless you count the orphans.

Team fortress 2 fails, as do most shooters.

Stense
25-06-2011, 10:49 AM
Would Bioshock 2 actually pass? It has plenty of female characters, most of whom are nicely realised. But do any of them actually talk to each other? The only time I can remember two of the female characters having a conversation is when it's between Eleanor and Sophia Lamb, and thats about Subject Delta, a man. Sorry if thats being a bit picky or if I'm missing the point and criteria of the test. I did very much enjoy Bioshock 2, and that it had such a strong female character list was a real strength for it I thought.

Rii
25-06-2011, 10:53 AM
TBH, the inherent problem with the the Bechdel test is that games put you in the role of the protagonist/directing the protagonist and that effectively means that unless in the case you're directing a female character with dialogue, you are reliant on cut scenes or triangular conversations.

As my mentioning Portal indicates, I think the second qualification can be fudged a bit in the case of games. Although Chell doesn't speak, I think it's fair to say that Chell and GlaDOS are interacting throughout the course of the game.

Allowing this sort of thing means that in merely having a female protagonist a game is most of the way to passing the Bechdel test. And that shouldn't be too hard what with females being half the population. We should be fair drowning in games that qualify, yes? ;)


Would Bioshock 2 actually pass? It has plenty of female characters, most of whom are nicely realised. But do any of them actually talk to each other? The only time I can remember two of the female characters having a conversation is when it's between Eleanor and Sophia Lamb, and thats about Subject Delta, a man. Sorry if thats being a bit picky or if I'm missing the point and criteria of the test. I did very much enjoy Bioshock 2, and that it had such a strong female character list was a real strength for it I thought.

Yeah there's definitely a lot more of the characters talking about one another than directly to, but I think it passes: I recall a therapy-esque audiolog conversation between Dr. Lamb and Grace Holloway.

Stense
25-06-2011, 11:26 AM
Ahh yes, I'd forgotten those bits with the therapy sessions.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 may pass the test. Ignoring that you can play a female character, there are various cut scenes and asides where 1 female NPC talks to another. More often than not Kreia plotting, twisting or toying with one of the other characters like Visas or Mira.
Neverwinter Nights 2 also seems to pass on that basis.

Rii
25-06-2011, 11:31 AM
Yeah I think Mirror's Edge would indeed fail the inversed Bechdel test. I think the Witcher passes. Fairly sure Triss chats with someone at some point. Possibly Adda. Maybe another sorceress.

Oh yes, Triss chats with Philippa through the mirror, although I think most of the conversation is about Geralt. At least the only bit I remember from it is Philippa admonishing Triss never to reveal what she knows to Geralt.

Incidentally, I never found out what that was!

There are clearly problems in taking the Bechdel test too seriously even aside from getting bogged down in the details of what precisely does and doesn't qualify, but I think it makes for a useful starting point in terms of thinking about gender representation in games and elsewhere. I know I was surprised when I cast an eye over my film collection just how few actually pass the test, and it's not like I'm wallowing in blockbuster beefcake here!

thegooseking
25-06-2011, 12:30 PM
The Longest Journey must pass, since April and Emma spend a lot of time talking about things other than men (even though they also spend a lot of time talking about men).

Lightbulb
25-06-2011, 12:54 PM
Oblivion: Unless all mud crabs are male.


You win the thread. :lol:

Icarus
25-06-2011, 12:55 PM
Batman: Arkham Asylum: passes, I think? Don't Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have a brief natter?

nayon
25-06-2011, 01:05 PM
The Witcher 2

Triss & Sile talk a bit in Flotsam about what the latter is upto.

Half-life 2

Alyx & Mossmann I'm fairly sure have a talk about events beyond the appearance of Gordon Freeman

Mirrors Edge

Faith does talk to her Sister about what's going on

Mass Effect 2

Pretty sure Jack and Miranda talk about Cerberus a lot

Dragon Age 2

Hawkes mother and Sister talk about recovering the family estate iirc.


TBH, the inherent problem with the the Bechdel test is that games put you in the role of the protagonist/directing the protagonist and that effectively means that unless in the case you're directing a female character with dialogue, you are reliant on cut scenes or triangular conversations. Books, films & TV have it easier because you are an observer rather than a participant.

HL2 doesn't count then. They're talking about a man (Gordon Freeman)

Heliocentric
25-06-2011, 01:20 PM
mossman and alyx talk about relays and the quality of work being done. it passes.

Megagun
25-06-2011, 01:24 PM
In Deus Ex, there's a female Versalife employee that buys a potted plant from a woman in the Wang Chai Market

Drake Sigar
25-06-2011, 01:40 PM
The Longest Journey (both of them) is king (or rather, queen) here. The protagonist is female, she’s not created solely as fapping material for teenagers, and she regularly converses with other women who all talk about a variety of subjects. April Ryan is the closest video game approximation to a real woman we’ve ever gotten.

Kadayi
25-06-2011, 02:34 PM
HL2 doesn't count then. They're talking about a man (Gordon Freeman)

Underlined in bold as you apparently missed it: -

Half-life 2

Alyx & Mossmann. I'm fairly sure have a talk about events beyond the appearance of Gordon Freeman


I believe the purpose of the thread is to find examples, not try and pick fault with the examples people have given (let's leave that sort of thing to lesser forums).

Wizardry
25-06-2011, 02:54 PM
Almost all RPGs I can think of, with the exception of some dungeon crawlers.

Basilicus
25-06-2011, 03:19 PM
Bioware and Bethesda obviously do very well here. The Tomb Raider games might be some of the best examples. Lots of dual-women discussions and almost never about men. Often about women, in fact, such as Lara's mother or Amanda.

Cable
25-06-2011, 03:35 PM
left 4 dead 2, in the passing i'm pretty sure zoe and rochelle exchange at least some words about zombies (which may be male or female).

8-bit
25-06-2011, 04:31 PM
1. [The game] must have at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something other than a man.

Bayonetta.

I don't think this is a very good test.

The JG Man
25-06-2011, 04:43 PM
Or maybe games are just better at it? Or more likely, we happen to be finding the few only examples and they happen to be in more known games. In thinking about it myself, I was trying to think of recent games, and then it occurred to me in Darksiders - there's one female angel. Surely there must be others?

Rinox
25-06-2011, 04:48 PM
Bayonetta.

I don't think this is a very good test.

The test is great in itself, but it doesn't apply as well to gaming as it does to books or films because games try to stay away from too much narrative exposition (since they are games, and not books or films).

vinraith
25-06-2011, 04:54 PM
The test is great in itself, but it doesn't apply as well to gaming as it does to books or films because games try to stay away from too much narrative exposition (since they are games, and not books or films).

Also, it's a test of inclusion, it's useless for detecting exploitation.

8-bit
25-06-2011, 05:17 PM
Also, it's a test of inclusion, it's useless for detecting exploitation.

Ah, the op didn't mention that, I take it back then.

does vtmb count, not many of the npcs actually interact with the others but I was thinking maybe the whole Therese and Jeanette incident might count? a lot of the conversation is about daddy issues I think but not all of it.

the persona games would count too.

Skalpadda
25-06-2011, 05:29 PM
Made me think about this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omw9rUTypao). Sorry, carry on.

Ansob
25-06-2011, 07:06 PM
In Deus Ex, there's a female Versalife employee that buys a potted plant from a woman in the Wang Chai Market

This kind of thing along with a fair few others in the thread illustrate the complete absurdity of applying the Bechdel test verbatim to a game. For a film, which is less than two hours, a single count is probably enough to indicate that the film-makers weren't utterly misogynistic; but in the case of a 10+ hour game, having a single occurrence of two women talking about something other than men doesn't indicate anything meaningful about the game's attitude to the non-male genders.

Otherwise, 99.9% of CRPGs are going to pass on length alone...

Lilliput King
25-06-2011, 07:16 PM
8-bit: A good question. Are the conditions of the Bechdel test satisfied if

MASSIVE VtM:B SPOILERS SERIOUSLY WOAH

*both women are the same person*

TillEulenspiegel
25-06-2011, 07:21 PM
This kind of thing along with a fair few others in the thread illustrate the complete absurdity of applying the Bechdel test verbatim to a game.
Well, it was a tongue-in-cheek "test" to begin with, but you're absolutely right. If we want to attempt to apply it seriously to games, we have to consider how much dialogue is in the game, and what fraction of it is between two women.

The vast, vast majority of games barely have recognizably human characters as it is, male or female. We're quite a long way from a Buffy equivalent.

Jake
25-06-2011, 08:05 PM
I can't remember clearly, but I don't the male characters in Silent Hill 3 talk to each other at all so it would fail the reverse test. It has a female protagonist and villain.

8-bit
25-06-2011, 08:29 PM
keeping on the horror theme, I am pretty sure that the fatal frame series has no male characters and parasite eve would probably come close too. I don't know how much interaction there is between female characters as I haven't really played much of them so someone else would need to confirm that.

Rii
25-06-2011, 10:24 PM
This kind of thing along with a fair few others in the thread illustrate the complete absurdity of applying the Bechdel test verbatim to a game. For a film, which is less than two hours, a single count is probably enough to indicate that the film-makers weren't utterly misogynistic; but in the case of a 10+ hour game, having a single occurrence of two women talking about something other than men doesn't indicate anything meaningful about the game's attitude to the non-male genders.

Otherwise, 99.9% of CRPGs are going to pass on length alone...

I would suggest that there's an implicit minimum threshold of character significance criteria to be met also.


Bayonetta.

I don't think this is a very good test.

Heh. Yeah, the real problem is that neither passing nor failing the test says anything of significance about the content of the game.

Urthman
26-06-2011, 12:18 AM
Bayonetta.

I don't think this is a very good test.

Worrying about the Bechdel Test in Bayonetta is like complaining about the two-gun limit in Duke Nukem Forever. There's just so many other things going wrong it hardly matters.

nayon
26-06-2011, 01:25 AM
Underlined in bold as you apparently missed it: -

Half-life 2

Alyx & Mossmann. I'm fairly sure have a talk about events beyond the appearance of Gordon Freeman


I believe the purpose of the thread is to find examples, not try and pick fault with the examples people have given (let's leave that sort of thing to lesser forums).

I misread, I apologize.

However I disagree with you. Just listing points without discussing them is not really useful. This isn't an encyclopedia, it's a forum. "Forum" implies discussion.

Kadayi
26-06-2011, 01:36 AM
I'm not disputing forums are for discussion, but this thread is about finding examples that fit the criteria of the test. If it were a case that what I wrote was somehow false or ambivalent then indeed there would be room for discussion on them, but with respect to the HL2 example it's a straight call.

agentorange
26-06-2011, 09:03 AM
Winter Voices.
Arcanum.
Recettear.
Red Faction: Guerrilla.
Neverwinter Nights 2.
Almost all the Shin Megami Tensei games, and a lot of other JRPGs (FF, Dragon Quest).

Lambchops
26-06-2011, 12:28 PM
Longest Journey is the obvious one to go for here.

VTMB easily passes if you play as a female character, there are plenty female characters in the game who don't talk to you about men.

Jaxtrasi
27-06-2011, 11:36 AM
BloodRayne...

I second "this isn't a very useful test".

Even if we usefully restrict it to "major characters" you still have enormous quantities of sexualised vamp-taunts-sexualised vamp all over the place.

hamster
27-06-2011, 11:45 AM
Well if we get to questioning things that much, i think one should also question what conclusion could actually be drawn from the test. I guess the statement being made is that media that doesn't pass the Bechdel test are male-centric and blah blah blah - you know all that gender equality, feminist stuff. But I think the test is unfairly narrow. Female characters, talking to other female characters, about something not male related? How applicable is the test to games anyway, since most if not all games are about shooting shit up?

solipsistnation
27-06-2011, 03:55 PM
Well, yeah, it wasn't originally aimed at games, which are a different sort of thing from traditional narrative media like movies and comics.