Let’s play Male Protagonist Bingo


Occasionally while surfing the interwebs, you’ll stumble upon a Cool Thing from a few years back that you absolutely missed in the moment, but is both fascinating and painfully applicable now. I failed to notice that this post I love is from 2014, so while some of the examples are slightly dated, playing the associated game is still a frustrating experiment in awareness.

So let’s play Male Protagonist Bingo.

The creator of this thought experiment originally posted this as a Patreon-supported bit of content on a site called Make Me A Sandwich, which is dedicated to exploring how NOT to sell video games to women. So before we go any further, please go support the creator if this is up your alley. Also, in reaching out to ask permission for covering this piece, the creator let me know their most current work is this tabletop role-playing game, which focuses not only on battles against evil but also managing emotional costs and PSTD between missions which is crazy brilliant — so maybe consider grabbing that too.

Thank you, Anna Kreider, for letting us cover what we’re about to get into. (Also worth noting that Make Me A Sandwich is now a Patreon under Anna’s name because, predictably, the site had to shut down in 2016 due to harassment. Long, forever sigh.)

From Anna’s original post about the origin of today’s game:

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Just last night I was bitching to my husband about how unbelievably DONE I am with stories about MANLY MEN PUNCHING THINGS AND BEING MANLY BECAUSE THEY’RE MEN.[1] So I decided to write a post about how unbelievably unoriginal most games protagonists are, but I didn’t know the best way to do it. I hacked away at it for a while and wound up with an outline that would have been 3000 words.

No one wants to read 3000 words. Hell, I don’t want to WRITE 3000 words.

And then I thought – bingo card! Let’s make an amusing feminist meme work for me! A picture is worth a thousand words and all that. …well, okay. Ten pictures is worth 3000 words. It’s the exchange rate.


Woof. There’s a lot here. Anna begins to unpack some of the biggest characters in gaming. Snake: passes the test.


Then somehow Marcus Fenix doesn’t go Full Bingo? Consider me shocked.


Oh Joel, no:


Then… wowzers:


Again, this post went up in 2014, so I’d like to think there’s been progress since then. I’m not gonna do Anna’s level of art but let me try out a few characters from games I’ve been playing or replaying:

Prey’s Morgan: there’s a lot of question marks depending on how you play but your history is established and you’ll notice I did the appropriate thing with the square for psychological problems.


Dead Space’s Isaac Clarke: good for you mr. science man with brainghosts

Unnamed Protagonist from Blackwater: The Video Game (better with Kinect) on the Xbox 360:

So have some fun in the comments and submit your best and worst or most neutral moral alignments.

Still can’t believe there’s no Bingo for Marcus Fenix. I’m now doubly interested in all of this? Again, this isn’t necessarily a measure that a protagonist is “bad” but it is a pretty excellent measure of the industry being boring as hell and also, of course, ignoring the stories of half the population in an effort to churn out some grey nonsense.

Again, support Anna’s work here.


Top comments

  1. kagechikara says:

    Wow. There's so much concern trolling and tepid whining about SJWs these days that seeing straight out and out sexism is actually kind of adorable. You do you, sexist dude.

    (FYI, though, women do buy games. In fact, they buy ~42% of the games, as of 2017 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/232383/gender-split-of-us-computer-and-video-gamers/). Maybe next time, maybe rephrase to "if women wanted to buy more games..."? Just a thought. Don't want people debating facts to get in the way of your message.)
  1. satan says:

    The ‘killed my wife/child’ thing is what I am most sick of, it is just so incredibly lazy, was so disappointed that Fallout4 did it.

    • robotslave says:

      There aren’t a whole lot of even somewhat-socially-acceptable motivations for mass murder, so you shouldn’t be too surprised that a few of them are getting used over and over again.

      The problem this points to is not a lack of creativity on the part of game studios, but the apparently insatiable desire of players for games in which the goal is to kill dozens or hundreds of people, and feel good about it.

      The other thing a creator can do is replace the human targets with humans who’ve got a bit of a fig leaf over them (zombies, bipedal aliens, giants, nazis, demigods, orcs, etc) but then you end up with players complaining about the familiarity of these stand-ins. Which also dodges the bigger question.

      I do think that the demand for mass-murder games can be explained without necessarily impugning the morality of players who want to play such games, but that demand is strong, and should be accounted for when we ask why there are obvious similarities between the games that serve that demand.

      • onodera says:

        Maybe the problem lies in mass murder being so readily accepted? AC: Oranges helpfully tracks Bayek’s vital statistics. Mine has run about 500 km and has killed three and a half thousand people. This number unnerves me. Yes, your son has been killed by evil assholes, but instead of killing the handful of people involved you have now killed a sizable chunk of the royal army simply because your pet eagle keeps showing you treasure chests?

        • robotslave says:

          The fact that mass murder is so widely accepted as a motif in games yet remains stubbornly unacceptable in society suggests to me that the mass-murder video game might not be a problem in and of itself.

          I can’t even argue that the game category is tired or played-out, since there still seems to be a whopping huge demand for it.

          There’s a growing demand for other kinds of game, true enough, but for the time being, at least, that growth isn’t coming at the expense of demand for mass-murder games.

        • Nucas says:

          my favorite implementation of those stat screens was in Alpha Protocol which also featured an “Orphans Created” statistic.

      • ChiefOfBeef says:

        I did a skim-read down my Steam list and what stands out is that of the games where I kill people in the hundreds or more, games about war and politics are most prevalent. Games about simply snapping or doing something for personal reasons or criminality are in the handful. This seems to be a superficial thing: war and politics seem more normatively justifiable than crime and personal grudges. Few though are buying these games for the politics or because they want to learn warfare out of curiosity; the only games catering to that are strategy or the good Rainbow Six titles. The games where we kill multitudes of humans are popular for the same reason as those where we kill multitudes of human stand-ins like zombies and mutants: they are the most challenging.

        Honestly, any game where you are killing loads of things people and people-substitute seem to be a lot harder than those where you kill less. It means when you overcome a challenge, the accomplishment is immediate, whilst with other games you have to wait for the next design-mandated beat change to know if what you did worked, often leading to an anti-climatic feeling(looking at the Arkham games). Assassin’s Creed games have lots of killing, but this is held back by the stupid repetitive cutscenes and the hours-long tutorials and hand-holding the games do, building frustration to the point where players tend to restrain themselves less than the narrative should allow considering the main character is supposed to be sympathetic.

        • Archonsod says:

          I don’t think they are more challenging – most shooters tend to be based on reaction and reflex rather than requiring any thinking. Given most people game to unwind that’s probably a large part of why they’re popular; you can play them while switching off.

          • ChiefOfBeef says:

            Though I didn’t specify shooters, but all games which feature lots of killing of humans or humanoid NPCs, I disagree. Developing muscle-memory and aim is a challenge because they are actual skills. Then, applying them makes it a thought process: using them to the best effect requires having ideas and refining them.

          • aepervius says:

            Chiefofbeef what archosond meant is that the deeper reasonning process are probably switched off. Yes there is learning process, but it does not really involve cause&consequence morality things, in most of those shooter it is mostly an arc reflex between visual and motor center – it does not seem to involve much of the rest.

          • DeepFried says:

            @aepervius I think thats a stereotype, probably created by people who don’t actually play shooters much.

            Almost every shooter I can think of that I’ve played involves more than just skill and reaction, the vast majority either require tactical thinking, or other decision making e.g. how to progress an objective, where to explore etc. If you “switch off” while playing a shooter, you’re either extremely practised at it or you’re really not very good at it.

      • Nucas says:

        it may be cliche but i need that narrative hook to buy into the game’s world. not necessary *that* hook, but some kind.

        watch________dogs is my go to example for this phenomenon. in the first one, the protagonist is a world-weary street criminal who gets handed a magic telephone. he feels like he caused his nephew’s death, and goes to extreme lengths to “protect” his sister and her remaining family, fucking up everything he touches. it works. i can buy into how and why this guy is killing like 500 guys, even if you want to play like a sociopath and kill people and take their cars.

        watch______________dogs 2: you’re a likable early 20s hacktivist.

        that’s it.

        it was such a jarring clash between the narrative setup, and the encouraged murder-oriented gameplay loop. young hacktivist is for no reason a murder man? i just couldn’t get into and never bothered finishing it.

      • grimdanfango says:

        It’s an interesting point. Lots of people want mass-murder-simulators, but seemingly most of them also need the game to constantly reinforce that the killing is justified and that they aren’t evil for doing so.

        There’s a pretty strange disconnect there. More and more, I’m finding myself leaning away from most mass-murder-simulators, pretty much for this exact reason – games didn’t used to trouble themselves so much with creating this twisted imagined reality where the slaughter of thousands is “fine because they’re evil”. Doom 2016 was a breath of fresh air because it absolutely reveled in “kill everything because obviously that’s the only reason you exist!”

        These days I just can’t get behind anything that’s trying to earnestly convince me the terrorists need to be slaughtered to the last man for the greater good… it just tastes too much like the real-world crap we’re constantly fed on TV.

        • DeepFried says:

          honestly I feel like “mass-murder simulator” is a charged and misleading term. For one thing “murder” is defined specifically as an unlawful killing of another person, in the context of shooting an enemy in a battle, or killing a violent monster its really not applicable.
          That’s not to say there isn’t an awful lot of “murder” in games, but I wonder if its really about the murder, or more about the mechanics. We enjoy shooting things, its a fun mechanic, to be challenging the targets should be moving, to be more compelling they should shoot back… at that point you’re basically modelling two sentient beings trying to kill each other, that’s unfortunate but its also the simplest way to make a fun “shooting game”.

          • grimdanfango says:

            Well, I’m afraid I’m one of those insufferable lefties who considers that there’s almost no situation involving the taking of another’s life that I wouldn’t consider murder. “Lawful” killing to me is just mass-consensual excuse-making. I don’t consider any army or police force exempt from responsibility.

            I was mostly using the term “mass murder simulator” to be flippant though… I’m no hypocrite – I love a bit of murder-simulation. I just think as a species we should stop lying to ourselves and formulating justifications for it beyond “we’re impulsive animals with sometimes intensely violent primal urges”. I think the real world would stand to be a lot better place if we stopped pretending there was any good reason to kill another actually-living person, and just got on and enjoyed pretending to kill each other in games instead.

    • Turkey says:

      They made so many baffling decisions with that game. It’s like they just threw darts at a board filled with post-it notes with the hottest gaming trends written on them when they decided what to put in it.

      • MazokuRanma says:

        A recent Jimquisition covers this very topic, noting that Ubisoft has indicated at shareholder meetings that they design ‘games-as-a-service’. This specifically leads to what you mentioned, where they chase popular gaming trends and make a perfectly serviceable game, but not one that is particularly interesting or memorable, and is easily replaced by the next one.

        • AngoraFish says:

          Dude, ‘games-as-a-service’ is simply Ubisoft code for constructing a continuous flow of income generating micro-transactions. Chasing popular trends, on the other hand, is more commonly known as ‘capitalism’.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It does have one redeeming feature as a prime motivation though. A revenge story can play out at a slow pace, the slower the better. It removes the “gotta save the world” pressure that makes the player wonder why they have to bother with a ton of side missions.

    • Risingson says:

      It’s even more: that women trauma that the narrative ignores to focus on how it affects the men. Let’s google “Women in Refrigerators”.

      There are many characters that feel like plot devices. Even in a supposedly “politically incorrect” comic book film as “Deadpool”, they do resort to this kind of narrative. And I really believe that it’s just being lazy from part of the producers.

      As said many times before, feminism in narrative improves everything: it does not only focus on making the feminine characters better, but because of the wonders of intersectionalism, it improves the rest of characters making the dilemas, traumas and motivations more human. Which is something a small section of gamers do not like at all, as I seem, and that small section is very noisy.

      • upupup says:

        You cannot ‘put’ feminism into anything as it’s a social and political movement, not a story element. If what you mean is to use less stereotypes and clichés related to women then that would not necessarily improve a work either, as lacking them is not what makes a work good. Stereotypes are nothing more than tools and inherently neither good nor bad; it all depends on the execution and why they are there. They can be executed effectively or even brilliantly, but also poorly or abysmally. Using them in this manner can do things such as free up narrative focus as the reader believes themselves to ‘comprehend’ the character without much explanation so that attention can be shifted to the aspects that matter for the purpose of the story, these expectations can also in turn be subverted or subtly twisted to create a different effect when appropriate.

        Their presence isn’t in and of itself a sign of laziness, as doing away with them may or may not suit the story, because it’s how they are used that matters, not whether or not they are used at all. This is no different for a game where overly indulging in giving each and every character an elaborate background can both bog down its pace. That too is not necessarily always the case, which is the important distinction to make: it can be worse or it can be better, so changing a work to have more or less of it does not by itself improve it. In fact, making these changes in an existing work cannot improve it because by making those changes you create something new and different that in turn should be judged based on its own merits and how it works as a whole. This broadens our ability to tell different stories and gives more depth to how we approach them, which simplifying stereotypes to always be bad ignores and as a result does nothing but push people to misguidedly limit themselves in order to serve a pointless norm.

        • mlj11 says:

          Well put.

          • Risingson says:

            No, it isn’t. You both ignored the word INTERSECTIONALISM. I put that in CAPS.

            And you try to say that being cliché and repeated ad nauseam does not necessarily means it is bad. Well, it does.

          • upupup says:

            Intersectionalism is a form of critical analysis used in sociology and likewise not a narrative element. The way you’re using and repeating the term is meaningless. I also explicitly state why clichés and stereotypes are neither necessarily bad nor necessarily good bad above. Saying that this is wrong and that you’re right because you’re right is not a retort to that.

    • MilangaConFritas says:

      You can play as a woman on F4, so the trope change to “they kill your husband” if you do. That trope with the Shawn story and the Institute makes a lot of sense and gives you some motivation.
      The problem with F4 is they fail to construct a bond with your wife/husband and the result is that kill is meaningless for the player, because the lack of attachment for the player to that NPC.

      • Coming Second says:

        It’s pretty obvious fem Lone Wanderer is an afterthought. The focus of the opening cinematic is upon the soldier trudging home – a soldier whose training and use of power armor makes a lot more sense to cast in the post-apocalypse than, uh, a lawyer. All of the traditional tropes line up far more obviously for the guy, too – dude shot your wife and took your kid in front of your eyes, [Growly Movie Voice] now… he’s out for revenge.[/Growly Movie Voice]

        I’m all but certain that when Bethesda were making the (fucking awful) decision to voice the main character, they did the guy first, and once it became apparent they had enough resources to make the protagonist female too, they threw that in later.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Sure it’s a tired trope. But it’s gender neutral.

      Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice female protagonist just had it as the plot mcguffin: murdered husband.

      Gosh, a man turned into a prop in a female protagonist’s storyline. Tsk. For shame, gaming.

      Seriously though, It’s a tried and true plot device with inherent diversity. Available for women too!

  2. Pich says:

    when did Metal Gear get a “Gritty” Reboot? alos i kinda disagree on the Loner part, Solid SnakexOtacon 4 lyfe

    • 9812398123 says:

      I don’t get what the problem is with male gender roles in popular fiction. Like, the feminist just describes something, she calls it a problem, and just expects us to go “yeah I see the pattern THEREFORE its a problem”. No, it doesn’t need to be, and from what I can discern, isn’t. Men have the hero’s journey. If women don’t like that, maybe they should learn a thing or two about self sacrifice and not wining about the world being “unfair” or “not getting enough”. Exactly like this girl is doing. Which kind of proves the point why men make better heroes. We actually can do heroic things. All this girl’s useful for is self-serving hagging.

      • comic knight says:


      • cniinc says:

        Man, these bots things are getting a lot better. Full sentences, now! Of course, this is actually not specific to this article at all – the bot is likely looking for any article on the web that has the words “male protagonist” and has a woman’s name as the writer. Notice how there aren’t any actual references to things stated in the article. Logic, of course, is lacking, but then again they’re designed to make emotional arguments, not logical ones. It seems, whether this is a bot of the algorithmic or the flesh-based MRA variety, that bit was never installed.

      • Nevard says:

        Whoof, what century did you crawl out of buddy?

        • aepervius says:

          I know somebody like that on another forum he simply always craft post such as taking the opposite argument and exaggerating it to make the position ridicule. Most probably this was not written by a MRA or anybody really believing it, but just somebody wanting the comical effect or to reinforce the stupidity of a position. Although the person I thought of make it in a clever way, here the numerical poster just exaggerated and it was clearly trolling and baiting for comments.

      • robotslave says:

        But all of that is really beside the point, isn’t it?

        What we are most interested in, good sir, is hearing your thoughts about ethics in video games journalism.

      • Troubletcat says:

        Bloody hell, you really beat the stuffing out of that straw man, nice work mate!

        AND you managed to work in the claim that it’s impossible for women to be heroic! Really makes your deep resentment for half of the population clear for everyone to see.

      • grimdanfango says:

        Men have the hero’s journey

        Hah, in what sense do we “have” it?

        The only way I can see is that we have the apparently deep-seated need to imagine ourselves in that role, as some odd surrogate to actually doing anything genuinely heroic in our lives.

        I say “we”, lest you think I’m one of those bothersome women-types encroaching on your manly manhood… but in reality I find re-enacting “the hero’s journey” in my head ad nauseam about as tedious as most women apparently find it.

        Why not go actually do something heroic with your life… give blood, go vegan, do some charity work… and maybe try playing some more interesting games while enjoying your new-found sense of heroism.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        > Men have the hero’s journey

        The Hero’s Journey and the monomyth was Joseph Campbell pointing out that there are several recurring themes in historical mythologies, and it could be interesting to explore why, what they are, and what they mean.

        Jumping from that to thinking of it as a template for the only story worth telling is a stretch. In fact, I think you have to have a pretty small and dull imagination to do so. There are so many other fascinating stories worth telling of humans irrespective of their gender.

  3. MazokuRanma says:

    I don’t think I agree with putting Supernatural Powers on there. That seems to be something used pretty heavily in cases outside of this situation as well. Or maybe I’m missing something. It is part of how to not sell games to girls, and I’m a guy, so is that something women really don’t like? I would have thought supernatural powers were fairly gender-neutral as a sales pitch for a game.

    • 9812398123 says:

      Nothing is ever gender neutral enough when you can make money on patreon amirite.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Spot. On.

        What more would you expect from someone – regardless of gender – who professes to be too lazy to type up her own thoughts (I mean, 3000 words; I can do that in a half hour after work) and resorts to meme posts to “make her point” (which amounts to”I’m sick of this, so it’s bad…).

        But hey, never fear. RPS thinks they can score points, so their actual writers will pick it up and do your work for you.

        Honestly, RPS…don’t fall for stuff like this.

    • Archonsod says:

      She’s simply using cliched attributes of male protagonists. Her argument isn’t that these cliches are specifically off-putting in and of themselves, simply that the cliche is somewhat overused.
      That said I suspect supernatural powers are something more associated with female protagonists than male ones (which is probably interesting in and of itself).

      • AngoraFish says:

        Actually, supernatural/superhero powers are surprisingly rare when it comes to many of the most well known female protagonists.

        Black Widow doesn’t have any, she’s just very good. Wonder Woman’s superpower is owning an invisible plane, a lasso, and never aging so that she can always look hot. Catwoman’s superpower is liking cats. Buffy doesn’t have superpowers, she’s just very good at fighting.

        Men, on the other hand, often have complex powers such as flying, firing webs out of their hands and superhuman strength. Others have prodigy-like technical/scientific ability.

        Having super powers is very much a male protagonist trope.

        • beleester says:

          Buffy has superhuman strength and agility – she might not glow or look overtly magical, but it’s there. The very first episode, she casually rips open a door in her way.

          Wonder Woman’s lasso is magic, and she herself is superhumanly strong and tough. And yes, owning a magic item counts as having superpowers, unless you want to claim that Green Lantern doesn’t have superpowers.

          Also, how you can list well-known female protagonists and somehow skip Sailor freaking Moon is beyond me.

          You just cherry-picked two non-powered heroes and claimed it was a trend.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Sailor Moon is so far from the Western mainstream as to be completely invisible to the vast majority. Seriously dude, most Westerners are unaware that anime even exists, and they certainly aren’t watching it. You need to get out of your anime club in the dorm room and check out what’s typically on free to air television for a bit.

            Regarding Buffy, sure, there are some inconsistencies in how she has been presented, but for the vast majority of the series she does virtually nothing that might imply super strength at all, mostly she just does karate moves.

            And I haven’t been selective, these are self evidently the examples that the vast majority of westerners will be most familiar with. The only superheroes in this category not mentioned, such as supergirl, are female reboots of an original male trope.

          • MazokuRanma says:

            I don’t believe Wonder Woman would count as having supernatural powers, and I would say the same for Green Lantern. Having access to a tool that has supernatural powers is not the same as having them yourself.

            I do agree that skipping the entire ‘magical girl’ genre misses a huge chunk, though. Also, barring those specific examples, tons of comic book protagonists on both sides have them, such as pretty much every mutant.

          • aepervius says:

            AngoraFish dude , sailor moon is one of the first and most widespread anime/cartoon which was shown in the US and Europe. You may be right when it comes to anime in general, but when it comes to Sailor moon, whole generation know about it. Heck in France there are many anime which were well known before anime were a phenomenon : Sailor moon, Goldorak, Capitain Future (Capitain Flame). They were simply presented as wednesday cartoon without having the “origin” coutnry being special among other cartoon from the US or France. It is only later that Anime began to be a genre recognized as its own.

            But sailor moon being not well known ? You could not be further away. What it was not well known, was that it was “anime” msot simply saw it as a cartoon.

          • Janichsan says:

            I don’t believe Wonder Woman would count as having supernatural powers,…

            Wonder Woman is literally a goddess, has superhuman strength and speed, and can fly (without the jet). If that’s not supernatural, I don’t know what is…

          • Blackcompany says:

            Yasmine Galenorn’s magical trio of half fey sisters. Merry Gentry, Anita Blake, from Laurel Hamilton. Selene, from Underworld. Buffy. Wonder Woman. All women. All Supernatural.

            Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure John McClane’s only superpower is “being a smartass.”

            But hey. Can’t be too selective. There’s money to be made from gullible fools trying to score make believe points by paying someone to literally do nothing more than talk about their personal beliefs…as if there isn’t an ENTIRE INTERNET where those same beliefs, espoused upon at great length, aren’t readily available for free.

            PT Barnum would have made BILLIONS in the 21st century…

          • Shinard says:

            “Regarding Buffy, sure, there are some inconsistencies in how she has been presented, but for the vast majority of the series she does virtually nothing that might imply super strength at all, mostly she just does karate moves.”

            You… you didn’t actually watch Buffy, did you.

        • Phantom_Renegade says:

          Did you ever watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I feel like you haven’t. Because almost every single episode a mention is made about how she’s the mythical ‘Slayer’ imbued with magical strength, agility and visions. Hell, that was the plot of the entire 7th season. That she had magical strength.

  4. mlj11 says:

    So would FemShep from Mass Effect “pass” this test? Afaik the series has a huge female customer base.

    • 9812398123 says:

      Who cares if it passes her silly test or not. This is another “spoiled princess” throwing a temper tantrum that its not all about her. It isn’t. The irony of her talking about how games don’t appeal to women while criticizing games that appeal to men is RIDICULOUS and truly imbecillic.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        It was a lighthearted ‘bingo’ chart. I can definitely see someone throwing a tantrum here, and it isn’t her.

    • MazokuRanma says:

      To start, I don’t think it’s meant to be taken too seriously, so keep that in mind. That said, I opted to go through and try it, and it’s fairly complicated for Shephard, largely because you can customize her appearance and background. That said, if you make her white and go full renegade, I think you could make an argument that she gets bingo on the second row. Oh, you also have to alienate the entire crew as a matter of course to justify ‘loner’.

    • Razgovory says:

      I tried the Princess from Super Mario Brothers 2 and scored an alarming number of slots. I don’t think this was meant for video game characters, because a lot of them are going to get things likes like “loner” and “killing spree”.

    • Godwhacker says:

      Given that she’s ‘Female Shepard’ rather than just ‘Shepard’ I think the test can be applied.

  5. 9812398123 says:

    Another spoiled princess upset that its not all about her. It isn’t. Games are innately competitive, puzzle based, strategy based, and reaction-time based. They’re the same reason why men play more sports than women, and why they play other games like poker and blackjack more. Men are ok with losing and like the rush of potentially winning. Games, period, I mean all games, are innately male. Having male centered characters is a reflection of the male customer base. If women wanted to buy games I am more than sure a guy in the leading role wouldn’t stop them.

    What was stopping them buying Perfect Dark Zero in millions of quantities?

    • Wednesday says:

      Oh fuck me this is the dumbest comment on RPS for absolutely ages.

      Your argument that she’s wrong is essentially GAME MAN THING SILLY WOMAN? Really? Really?

      Really though?

      It’s funny, whenever I read crap like this I’m left to wonder just how many women you have functional relationships with.

      • Stevostin says:

        You forgot to answer his arguments.

        • SBLux says:

          They conveniently always do.

        • Troubletcat says:

          What arguments? He made a bunch of bullshit claims with absolutely nothing to back them up. Doesn’t really merit a detailed rebuttal.

        • Sarfrin says:

          His main ‘argument’ is literally ‘all games are innately male’; a statement so facile it’s utterly worthless as an argument. But if you want that addressed, here you go: men and women both play and make games, so they’re not innately male.

          • Stevostin says:

            His argument his that they are that way because… your answer, while appreciably indeed an argument doesn’t really answer that. For instance, he says that games are competitive by nature hence male. Me I do agree that science backs the “competitiveness is more of a male trait” (with all the caveats assiciated, ie it’s about group trend, not individuals) but I do disagree that games are competitive by nature. I think games like farmville or the Sims are great exemple of “female game design” with an emphasis on collaboration, social interaction, breeding, continuity. I suspect the whole “hero” concept is by nature a model for men and an occasionnal not great but decent at best charming item for a women (although typically pretty much the opposite I guess.

            See, that’s an exemple on how to adress his point and get the discussion productive. The trick is to actively wanting to engage in the discussion rather than dismiss it.

        • Wednesday says:

          Seriously? Where do you guys come from?

          His arguments? Do I really have to wade through that Gish Gallop bullshit? Patently rediculous crap needs a long form essay? Perhaps I should hunt down some flat earth era while I’m at it an engage in a formal debate.

          Anyone over the age of 15 should be able to intenify how that is just garbage.

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          I dont know if you know how the burden of proof works, but it’s up to the claimant to back his shit up, not us to do all the work to discredit him. He made a bunch of blatantly nonsense claims, then you decided it was up to the replier to be the one to do the job of discrediting that obvious bollocks.

          • Stevostin says:

            It’s relevant when claims goes against the state of the base of knowledge on a matter. But if you do not know that yes, studies have shown unambiguously that competitiveness is more common in male than female group, it’s just you not being on the level of the discussion and it’s no one obligation here to educate you.

            Maybe you knew that and wants to contest something else but we can’t know if you don’t tell.

          • Wednesday says:

            The level of discussion?

            Staggering. Truly staggering. Yes, males are typically more competitive, but this does not mean that women are not. Plenty of women in my life are plenty more competitive than me. Plenty of women are ok with losing and like the rush of winning. Turn on your television and put on the commonwealth games

            The rest are tired generalisations. He arbitrarily decides that an entire art form is “male” inherently, which essentially means in this context “mine”.

            Really says something about the male priveldge on show here. If this was some white supremacist saying “blacks are inferior” would we really need much more than “shut up”. Can I not assume a base line sanity? Does every comment have to go back to first principles?

            You’re not some arch rationalist standing up for truth in the face of groupthink. You’re a pedant defending a sexist.

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            I can’t disagree with the argument that men are genetically predisposed for competition, but to assert that video games are a “man’s world” is just so much fucking nonsense I can’t even begin to dissect it. There is (or was in 2010) a near 50 50 split between men and women playing video games, not to mention there is a vast library of video games and movies with strong and well written female and male characters. It’s not much to ask to leave shitty clichéd tropes by the wayside and replace it with actual writing.

          • Stevostin says:


            You need figures from who buys those $60+ AAA games to be relevant to this discussion. The bingo itself isn’t about the games you mention. In a way you’re arguing against the whole bingo premisses rather than that guy you don’t like because you identify him as sexist.

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            I didn’t mention any games. Nor did I say the bingo was any good (I think it’s a shit metric, and it’s biased since there are plenty of decently written male leads out there). I’m arguing that the guy I replied to is an angry bigot, and nothing g you’ve ‘argued’ so far has done anything to convince me otherwise. The “Oh please, games are for men” trope is tired and ridiculous, and you’re a dick head if you support it.

          • Stevostin says:

            What you mentioned is irrelevant here as you were replying in a topic defined by somebody else. Initially an article about doing male protagonist in AAA game based on a creation of someone frustrated with them in such game. Then someone answered on topic to that in a way you disagreed, but you didn’t adress his argument. When I pointed that out to you you replied with a generic figure (a fair share of games played by women) irrelevant to that original topic (that is specifically about the kind of gaming covered in RPS and other video games website, ie played significantly less by women – question there being whether it’s chicken & egg story or whether it’s here for deep reasons no one can really change. So yes, to be on topic here you need to adress the portion of gaming that was relevant to the person who created the bingo/ the present article /the person you’re answering to. Just sayin’.

            Also to clarify I certainly didn’t try to convince you about anything on a specific person because my point is that either we discuss argument either there are no real discussion. If you want to be part of the discussion stick on topic, address arguments with arguments, don’t discuss people or second guess their intentions – not for ethical reasons, but for practical reasons. You can’t prove someone to be wrong on an argument with anything else than rebutal of his argument. Racists aren’t inherently wrong on stuff, including races, their wrong bc their arguments are wrong. And if it were to happen some argument were right, nothing would change that, not even the person who stated it being a dick.

            Good news is that it also benefits you. You can do a whole dick move to try to dismiss an argument by insulting, second guessing etc ie all those things that are dick moves in a debate, you can still come up at anytime with a good point and it will (at least by me) be recognized as such. Actually I do hope you’ll do because no, I don’t agree with that guy. But having ppl actually discussing in a productive way matters way more to me than having the right buddies in that anonymous space.

          • Wednesday says:

            Christ Stevostin.

            You’ve run up and down this thread defending a vile argument made badly. He begins the post with a comment calling her a “spoiled princess” and then makes the thrust of his argument “you can’t comment because games are for men.” That’s an ad homein fallacy. He then presents are lot of assumptions posited as facts, which even if they were true, in no way prevent a woman commenting on the state of things. That’s both begging the question and the non sequitur fallacy.

            That’s three logical fallacies in one short paragraph. His argument is not being engaged with because he is not arguing in good faith. Yet you insist on hitting every post with your false debate captain persona, but you’re insisting we engage rationally to what are essentially tired, very old and very well refuted sexist crap.

            You’re not Socrates, you’re a Sealion. You’re not a guardian of reason, you’re a condending pedant.

          • Stevostin says:

            1) You can simply call me Stevostin

            2) Can you show me one quote of me defending his argument?

            3) While you’re at it, did you find the post where I actually refute it?

            4) Did you find the part where I agree that his opening insult is bad on all fronts ?

            5) Did you find the part where I explain why, despite his crude expression, he actually presents argument? Obviously you’d make a better use of your obvious and appreciated reasoning skill by addressing that directly.

            6) Now some tell – despite great (better than mine, hand down) use of the philosophical lingo that has to match good reasoning capacity, you do all that to conclude in attacking me, personnally.
            I didn’t attack you. I didn’t attack anyone.
            I am pretty sure you’ve been irritated during all that read to that point. It’s cognitive dissonance. You know what it is, because I can see you’re smart. And you know that despite being by nature hard to spot the one of your side, that is a clear tell. You know what’s an ad hominem, you know what negative role it plays, you know how it looks for the first one who uses it, yet you couldn’t help to make that bully move on me. And I know some part of you is pissed because, yes, you are better than that.

            I am tired of that day trying to show otherwise smart and nice people they’re getting collectively crazy so I can’t guarantee I will adress any further comment here. I just come from a real clear comment thread where people are actively willing to attack russia in Syria, stunningly unaware that they’re begging for nuclear fire on their heads at doing so.

            Mass hysteria has always been a companion for human groups. Just this time the consequences have ramped up beyond the imaginable. It may look like a game but as said MLK, we must learn to live like brothers, or we’ll all die like idiots.

          • Wednesday says:

            So, see where I called you a codecending pedant and you responded by saying we’re all guilty of mass hysteria?

        • Lars Westergren says:

          “Nevertheless, I must insist: DEBATE ME.”

        • Martel says:

          I’m convinced that’s also your account. And if not, there is no argument in what they said anyway, you’re just labeling yourself as a misogynistic douchebag along with them, not “curating the discussion” like you are telling yourself in your head.

          • Stevostin says:

            Please find the posts where I showed what the argument is and/or the post where I actually addressed it (proof of concept) so that your own comment has a chance to be relevant.

      • antelpe says:

        “GTA V is a MALE CRIME WORLD simulation, what do you expect? Flowers to womans?”

    • kagechikara says:

      Wow. There’s so much concern trolling and tepid whining about SJWs these days that seeing straight out and out sexism is actually kind of adorable. You do you, sexist dude.

      (FYI, though, women do buy games. In fact, they buy ~42% of the games, as of 2017 (link to statista.com). Maybe next time, maybe rephrase to “if women wanted to buy more games…”? Just a thought. Don’t want people debating facts to get in the way of your message.)

      • Velthaertirden says:

        If I understand correctly, the statistics are from 4000 persons only. This could be pretty biased if you look at the sales figures of, e.g., Call of Duty.

        • Troubletcat says:

          4000 respondents is actually a pretty good sample size assuming it’s actually a representative sample of the population, which they say it is.

      • Skiddywinks says:

        The link only mentions percentage of gamers, not percentage of people who buy games.

        Also, there is no definition of gamer (not that there is a set one, but I’d like to know how they define one).

      • Uncle Fass says:

        This statistic covers mobile games too. Someone downloading Angry Birds is put in the same category as someone else playing big-budget AAA games for ten hours a day.

        I absolutely would love to see more diverse protagonists but this ‘fact’ is constantly misinterpreted.

      • aepervius says:

        It is an oft touted statistic but a misleading one. Try to Split it by genre and you will see why. “Murder simulator 745” type of game neither have 42% female player nor have they 42% female buyer which is an even more important statistic. So if you set out to develop such a game, and it is quite clear that CoD and battlefield francise sells, then you will target that demographic. Rince and repeat for rpg, sport game, race games. The same way other genre are not targeted at men, because they dont appeal to men.

        So yes, 42% peopke using video games are femake but this is the same as saying 50% women are worker, it says nothing about what type of wirk or earning (Doctor ? Nurse ? Ceo ? Street sweeper ? Engineer ?) Same fir 42 % gamer it is misleading without knowing what oercent per game genre, plateform and how much is the real spending.

        I have only anecdotial evidence of that, but from all women i know in IT, in my gaming group, rpg group, board games, discord etc… etc… only obe buy console game, a few of them buy some stuff fir candy crush and that is it. So while strictly speaking probably half play game (yes counting candy crush as game because they give money for stuff in it), the amount of money involved is small compared to all men, and for all practicallity for AAA or A or indy game – mostly men.

        Now this is an anecdote because i dont know 4000 persons like that study but it is enough as an anecdote to show why “42% gamer are female” is borderline a lie when speak of most of the game we are speaking in rps.

        God i hate typing on mobile…

      • triste says:

        It’s great that you like statistics, here are some for you.

        Only 7% of FPS players are female: link to quanticfoundry.com

        While the type of games each gender tends to gravitate towards and play is very interesting, an even more interesting statistic is probably the usage and engagement based on how long each gender spends both time and money on games in general which shows an even more drastic difference. Here we have major data from the UCLA regarding College Freshmen and their relationship to Gaming with 165,743 participants from 234 colleges all across the U.S. to look at: link to i.imgur.com

        Note the amount of time spent on games for each gender, especially for 6 hours a week and beyond.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Sure women “buy games”. But they don’t buy all games at the same rate. Neither do men.

        A far more insightful statistic, or set of them, would be to show who buys which kind of games more. Because of course video games are as eclectic an art form as any other.

        A good 2-part article discussing this is here:

        link to medium.com

        There are strong general trends in which types of games are preferred by which gender. But acknowledging that wouldn’t allow one to parade around claiming “women buy 42% of games”.

        They don’t buy 42% of all types of games. Not remotely.

      • datreus says:

        If you’re wondering why very few women play FPS games, take a look at some of the comments here.

        Women know that the genre is a toxic sump of misogynist neckbeards.

        I play R6S with my fiance.

        The nicest thing you can say is that about 80% of these dudes have quite literally no concept of how to interact with a woman.

        It’s not because women are genetically predisposed away from FPS it’s because they know better than to play them.

        • Stevostin says:

          Clearly the first time I played a FPS I first thought to check what the FPS players were saying in the forums. Did that also the second time. You’re never sure!

        • aepervius says:

          re datreus comment /post that would maybe be true if there was online fps only. But see that trend is the same with offline fps and similar game. So toxic community cannot be the reason. At some point you got to admit maybe just maybe some gender have assymetrical activity interrest. Ps, when i hunted nobody was disrespectful of the few women also hunting but the point is they were damn few. Assymetrical interrest and just not only gender construct.

    • Highcradle says:

      Good lord. Could you could come off as any more of an entitled and dismissive prick?

      I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d like to see some variety in the characters and options available to me. I don’t want every protagonist to be practically interchangeable, which is the point of this article.

      And if that variety comes at the cost of some of those interchangeable white male power fantasies, you know what, all the better. Having a game with a character and story that shows a different perspective, be it a different gender, or race, that is, if it isn’t clear, a good thing.

      I personally, as a guy, prefer playing a female character. In games, that lets me experience vicariously things I couldn’t in real life. And, by your stance, then as part of the customer base, there should be more such games as their a reflection of me as the customer base. And you know what, games with guys in the leading roles do tend to make me decide against buying them, because they’re all more often than not the bloody same character. (Speaking hyperbolicly)

      What was stopping them was people like you who did and still do perpetuate this idea that games are solely for men. That they shouldn’t change, shouldn’t become more inclusive, shouldn’t explore all the possibilities having a greater customer and character base could offer.

      It’s so close-minded it’s stupid, especially because if the video game industry wants to grow, it needs women, and other groups, in order to do so.

      • ChiefOfBeef says:

        But the problem with the Male Protagonist Bingo, as was highlighted on Twitter years ago, is that the more well-rounded or developed a character is, the more spaces they check on it. It even applies to female characters.

        It was never intended to be an easy to understand method of illustrating the narrowness of game character types, but to score points and signify allegiance to certain ideas that triggered a certain consumer revolt that year. It’s exposed by the apparent ignorance of the characters and game content that were the targets of the MPB card.

      • Stevostin says:

        All perfectly legit preferences but you didn’t adress his arguments either :(

        • Farnsworth says:

          No. They posted baseless assertions. There is no argument there, even if you want to declare it otherwise.

        • Godwhacker says:

          OK then: Women enjoy both sports and games just as much as men, but historically they’ve played them less, because they’ve been seen as ‘male’ activities. That social pressure is dropping away all the time, which is why we’re getting more articles all the time asking why the people in these games are mostly burly dudes who punch everything.

          I see more women in the gym every year. Women’s football is getting more coverage. The board-game bar I go to sometimes (which is admittedly in Dalston, so may be unrepresentative) has a pretty much 50-50 gender split. Basically, the idea that playing games is some sort of masculine urge is bullshit and needs to be called out.

          • lrbaumard says:

            Lol shout out to Loading Bar

          • Stevostin says:

            I don’t get your premisses. If the enjoyed something « just as much » then they did it just as much.
            Let’s not be misleading. Women didn’t enjoy pc gaming covered by RPS just as much as men.

            Agree with your trend that being said. But one can note the more social the games, the more interedting to the female audience. This fulfill the prefiction of social sciences.

          • cpt_freakout says:

            @Stevostin it’s interesting how less coherent you get when people actually engage with the bullshit the other commenter spouted. It’s like the comment itself was actually bullshit after all.

          • Stevostin says:

            Or when I type on my phone rather than on my desktop. Just a (crazy, I know) hypothesis.

    • Sarfrin says:

      Oh dear. Please take your boring MRA trolling somewhere else. It’s not welcome at RPS.

      • Stevostin says:

        Bullying isn’t debating. He formulated arguments. In the general interest answer them or pass.

        • grimdanfango says:

          I can’t see any arguments, just baseless misogynistic ranting. Would you care to summarize the cogent arguments you see in his post, and think we should be addressing?

          • Stevostin says:

            If you can’t see how to participate in a discussion the sensible move is to let people who see how do it. Jumping in and trying to prevent that instead is a dick move IMO

        • datreus says:

          This isn’t primary school debating class. Those rules might be great in your head but no one cares. The guy is being a gutter MRA, he doesn’t deserve ‘freeze peach’.

    • KillahMate says:

      You’re on the wrong website, pal. Move along now.

      • Stevostin says:

        Another bully. You are not discussing points in the section dedicated to discussion. For now you’re the one in the wrong place. Join the civilised crowd that enjoys reasoned, well behaved discussion or at least let it be.

        • KillahMate says:

          What you mentioned is irrelevant here as you were replying in a topic defined by some other troll. Someone answered on topic to that troll in a way you disagreed, but you didn’t adress his argument. Just sayin’.

          Good news is that it also benefits you. You can do a whole dick move to try to dismiss an argument by insulting, second guessing etc ie all those things that are dick moves in a debate, you can still come up at anytime with a good point and it will (at least by me) be recognized as such. Actually I do hope you’ll do because no, I don’t agree with that guy. But having ppl actually discussing in a productive way matters way more to me than having the right buddies in that anonymous space.

    • Ejia says:

      All games have wangs huh

      Well this explains why I like to play them I guess

    • Razgovory says:

      I hope to God you are just a kid. To have a full grown adult know so little about PC games is troubling.

      • Stevostin says:

        Would be more convincing if you were actually pointing out what are the obvious issues in his post.

        • Sandepande says:

          Slight misogyny but hey…

          Why are you so keen to defend such an obvious troll/throwback?

          • Stevostin says:

            I don’t see why you should consider yourself mysoginistic. FTR like the vast majority of ppl here I am not a woman.

            My motivation is that I care about a discussion space producing discussion rather than a food fight (i am 42. Don’t know for you but I am past the food fight stage for quite a while now). Hence I follow, and insist on everyone following, the well known rule of debating.

            For instance, you discuss the arguments exclusively. Namely you don’t discuss the people nor their motivation. If you’re right you can show it with arguments. If you can’t, you’re not right. I see you think you’re right. Good! Show us.

        • Menthalion says:

          The thing obviously wrong is that none of the things he puts forward in his post are arguments, only postulations.

          People just stating opinions as evident truths without any facts to back them up disqualify themselves from reasonable discussion automatically.

          So no idea why you keep harping on about the basics of discussion when you so easily step over he wasn’t in one from the start.

          • Stevostin says:

            I understand the limit isn’t obvious and can’t be established by the grammar alone. Clearly his post is assertive, polemic and not sourced. In his case though it’s still argument because it’s build like this:

            [established science fact] men groups show more competitiveness than women groups
            [he points out] games with their win/loose outcomes are inherently competitive
            [he makes the deduction] hence games are inherently more interesting to male and it makes more sense to target their audience

            All of this in a context where player numbers for games covered by RPS (or its readership) seems vastly male.

            So you can see clearly he fidn’t just throw opinions at us. You mistaken for opinions some phrase that were actually establdhed knowledge.

            Now the good news is that as it’s an actual argument, you can efficiently adress it by arguments rather than throwing your own opinion at him. See above for an exemple on how to do so.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      The whole ‘men are more competitive/logical/insert fallacy, therefore there are more male gamers therefore it makes sense that all game protagonists are (one dimensional, reductive) male (charicatures)’ has been done to death, and is so childish that it doesn’t really deserve a proper response. What does, however, it that the commenter chose to open with, “another spoiled princess upset that its not all about her”. If you make, or choose to defend, such a comment (and even call its detractors “bullies”), you’re making your a pretty clear statement about how much of a prick you are.

      • Stevostin says:

        If you agree there’an answer but feels it’s below you to provide it at the very least don’t pollute the space dedicated for answers with your lack of it. If it’s easy to disprove him, then do just that. If you can’t, the it’s actually not easy to disprove him : you just wish it were.

        That being said you’re totally right his opening insult was against the need for a discussion and ill behaved. I don’t see how you go from there to “and that is the omly thing that shoul be discussed”. Discussions are build on argument and for one you correctly assessed he was making one, and not new at that. So the obvious thing seems to address it, especially as you imply you know well how to. Share with us!

        • Troubletcat says:

          No matter how much you try to pretend the post we’re talking about here is a rational argument deserving to be treated as such, the rest of us aren’t buying it. Treating it as such is both a waste of time and serves to legitimise “””arguments””” that don’t deserve a response.

          • Stevostin says:

            You’ve mistaken the fact that some agree with you with the fact that all agree with you.

            You incorrectly think that the amount of people on each side matters to whether the discussion is productive or not.

            It’s in our global interest to have productive discussion.
            It’s not in our global interest to have instead a food fight.

            Either your post try to be productive, either they try to shut down discussion/thinking by throwing slimy things at people you don’t like. Whethere there are one, ten or the whole room doing that doesn’t change the fact that each person doing that is actively acting against a productive discussion.

            You’ve just witnessed a rare thing in a thread : an attempt to detrolling. Now of course I can’t prevent your inner troll to take over if you really wish so. But I think your heart is in the right place and that you can agree it’s better to promote the high road by actually walking on it. Don’t tell people they’re deplorable. Be great.

          • Troubletcat says:

            No, see, I’m smart enough to understand the detriment you do to actual conversation by acknowledging baseless hatemongering as a valid discursive position. That’s all I’ll say about it. If you’re still legitimately confused about why an intelligent and well-meaning person would flat-out refuse to engage with this kind of post, I suggest you watch this playlist on youtube: link to youtube.com

    • ArcusC says:

      “Spoiled princess”. You have hit the nail on the head right there, but perhaps not in the way you intended to.

      I take it with your username (and certainly your comments) you may just be a troll, but as several other commentators have complained, let me address your points just for the argument’s sake.

      No kind of sexism is “adorable”. End of.

      Of course women buy games. That’s what we’ve been trying to argue for quite a while now. It’s getting tedious, to say the least. Indie games are much more on the ball than AAA titles on this, but it just goes to show that the major publishers still to a large degree don’t dare focusing on anything but a “brute male” protagonist. More and more big titles give you the opportunity to play as someone different from that, but only as an extra option. Very few actually force you to play as a character not from the “usual pool” of protagonists, a pool which is still very much based in the 1980s.

      Many people would like a lot more representation in games, be it gender, creed/beliefs, orientation, race, or what have you. I am used to playing games as someone completely different from me, and by all means, in RPGs this could be a good thing. In other types of games, I would like to be able to choose more freely. Depending on the game, I may feel so detached from the character I’m playing that the whole story line means nothing to me.

      A bit more variety would go a long way, is what many of us are saying. I highly doubt that a lot of the cis male gamers out there feel particularly closely matched with most of the stereotypical male protagonists either. :)

      • Stevostin says:

        Some updated points from other posts around:

        – it seems agreed upon that women don’t play games with heroes to start with nearly as much as male do (Angry birds, Candy Crush, the Sims, Farmville being the usual suspect for the largest part of the 42%…).

        – the point to adress is about men are competitive, games are competitive hence games are more for men (in a nutshell. See above)

        Now on to your point: my experience is that male predominantly play male and female, female if they can. My main source for this are hundreds of players met in wow. Or my own kid and his pals. Don’t get me wrong : I do myself enjoy the occasional sex change inmy games. But I suspect it’s more of a gamer delicacy, call for variety etc. Or the good old “if I am about to spend hours behind an ass, I’d rather get the pretty one”.

        • Menthalion says:

          A blanket statement that games are competetive is again nonsense. There’s tons of game genre’s that aren’t.

          Storyline FPS’s as mentioned here especially are not. There’s no one to compete against, unless you consider the AI to be.

          And that AI has been crafted to give people enough opposition to make them feel good about themselves, but not more than that.

          It’s funny how the AI in that way usually is a much better narrative tool than the protagonists backstory.

    • sdfex says:

      Games are competitive and males are competitive, therefore males are innately games.

      Let’s argue all of the other things that are “innately” male!

  6. ChiefOfBeef says:

    This wasn’t funny the first time and even back when Johnathan McIntosh posted it on Twitter, the hashtag was filled with examples proving almost no male protagonist gets a full line if assessed honestly, like the above examples are not. Max Payne was never blaise about killing, has not had a ‘gritty reboot’ by virtue of always having been gritty and the last title in the series being a follow-on of the first two and he isn’t cold and aloof. Also he is not a ‘criminal’ by disposition, unless Batman also is but the MPB creator doesn’t think so. What is apparent both from the hashtag and the above article is that the better written the male protagonist and the better the story they are in, the MORE spaces they check on the card. Joel is the first one I’ve seen where they actually get a line in an honest assessment.

    An honest assessment though would acknowledge there is a reason why better-written characters get more spaces than more cliche ones: more ground is being covered by deeper portrayals. Heroes have some villainy and villains have something heroic going on: so any decent character always gets the anti-hero free-space. Characters need flaws for there to be causes for stories and tension in them to happen and these characters need to be in settings that fit those stories and be moulded by those settings. I don’t think the Cookie Monster with his near-zero MPB score is going to last long in Gotham or an apocalyptic world.

    The design of the whole thing: the categories and their placement, say more about the creator than they do about male protagonists.

    • ChiefOfBeef says:

      Also, someone tweeted a better one: link to twitter.com

      Just to note: I do not use the ‘SJW’ term myself because of the pejorative connotations of it and most people targeted with it see it as a clear signal to not listen to a person, which I don’t want in either direction.

      That said, what is the point of the article? I would have thought it was to start a discussion, but Brock Wilbur writes as if this was something to have fun with among friends, people who ‘get it’ and are just assumed to agree with his and Anna Kreider’s point of view.

      We can have reasonable discussions about specific characters, but the topic as framed is male protagonists in general and starts from a premise which a lot of people are going to disagree with right from the start.

      • Hoot says:

        I know this Brock guy is new to RPS and still finding his feet but every one of his articles I’ve read so far has been either poorly written, poorly researched or carelessly inflammatory.

        I guess RPS becoming a corporate entity hasn’t kept EVERYTHING the same, such as the quality of the writing team.

    • DoubleG says:

      “I don’t think the Cookie Monster with his near-zero MPB score is going to last long in Gotham or an apocalyptic world.”

      Actually, Cookie Monster can more than handle himself. Educate yourself so you don’t look like a fool. If you read the comics from the SS Expanded Universe you’d know that Cookie Monster was a driven Special Forces operator EVEN BEFORE he lost his family to the milk cartel. You just sunk your argument, chump

      • Catterbatter says:

        Pure gold.

      • icarussc says:

        Uh, is the ‘top comment’ button not working, guys? Mods, a little attention here? This gentleman/lady needs some attention.

    • Prosper0_cz says:

      Best comment, so far. By far more valuable than the one pinned. Well done.

    • Apocsol says:

      Max Payne is a parody of all these elements in a Film Noir OTT setting, right? I mean, gosh, I hope so or that name was a BIG mis-step.

      More to the point though, I wonder what you’d replace these traits with, for action hero lead characters of any background or gender? I mean, you’ve got a limited number of reasons for someone to be justified in going on a big explosive killing spree for a few hours of game time, right?

      The ethnicity and gender points are the clearest seemingly easy fixes though; enjoy a more diverse cast.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Not really funny and they even recycled it. I’d rather have another analysis of male stereotypes again or a 3000 word piece on female characters or whatever.
      There’s some kind of discussion regardless.

  7. BTAxis says:

    Hmm. Doomguy?

  8. Dewal says:

    Isaac is not really a hardened veteran. In the first episode he’s just an engineer in the middle of a lot of shit and then, of course, it hardens him.

    But yeah, the old, gritty, sarcastic and violent protagonist is a big cliché. But more a critic against unoriginality than sexism, I feel.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      but he DOES check the ‘crew cut field’ :)))

      • aepervius says:

        The things is , crew cut is pretty much the norm for any people in space. Last time I checked the women which go in space or in the army do not exactly have wild flowing hip-long hair (when they are in space – on ground and for photo op it is another story).

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Yeah, you have to have short hair to save money on VFX for the zero-gravity bits.

    • simontifik says:

      I started reading your comment and immediately thought of Isaac from Binding of Isaac. He ticks quite a few boxes too; Male, White, Bald/Crew cut.

  9. Evan_ says:

    I think I would have preferred that 3000 words. Hell, I often read that much word without even noticing. Often before breakfast.

    Them casuals..

  10. Carcer says:

    How does Morgan Yu tick “military rank” and “makes a living being violent”?

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Yeah, I find Prey’s inclusion really weird here; especially since there is absolutely no canonicity to Morgan’s sex one way or the other, and nothing changes when you select one model or the other except a few props in your starting apartment and a few voice lines.

      I’m not sure I’d really agree with “Loner” and “Killing Spree (humans)” given that Morgan has a pretty well-established past on the station interacting with the cast, you can run into and talk with these people, and unless you’re specifically going for the achievement to kill everyone for no reason, you will probably only end up killing two humans when you play, both of whom attack you first.

    • DoubleG says:

      It’s a pretty major part of Morgan’s backstory that he/she’s sacrificed hundreds of prisoners to make a living.

      • Ryos says:

        A backstory that is essentially irrelevant to the playable version, given all the memory shit and whatnot.

    • Stevostin says:

      This. Nearly all of the boxes are BS on him. Maybe less posturing and more playing next time.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bozzley says:

      Technically, Morgan Yu isn’t the protagonist of Prey.

    • mlj11 says:

      The article posits a narrative that has to be adhered to, you see…

  11. Zeframmann says:

    How is “supernatural powers” a square on this? That includes Buffy, Sailor Moon and the entirety of the “magical girl” genre.

    • robotslave says:

      None of the squares are gender-specific.

      It’s supposed to be a list of tropes that lots of male video-games protagonists oversample, not a list of tropes that apply only to male protagonists.

      I mean, Daria would have around ten squares covered, never mind someone like Tank Girl or Bayonetta. The point is that they’d have, say, half the listed traits compared to their male counterparts.

      • ChiefOfBeef says:

        But that’s not true: very few male characters get a line, but as a proportion more female ones do. The better developed a character is, the more squares they check off which makes the exact opposite point that was intended by the Male Protagonist Bingo card.

        • robotslave says:

          Good point, “silent protagonist” could easily be included as a square in this bingo game.

          You don’t seem to like this bingo game; is it perhaps because you have serious concerns about ethics in video games journalism?

          • beleester says:

            Did you know? You’re allowed to dislike people making bad arguments even when they’re on your “side.”

          • mlj11 says:

            Didn’t you hear? The war has been won. Games journalists are truly more transparent, and even list any potential conflicts of interest in their articles now. I hereby grant you freedom, robotslave. You don’t have to repeat propaganda anymore.

          • ChiefOfBeef says:

            I played it on Twitter when the hashtag started. My contribution was the Civilization meme-version of Gandhi. If the thing was played for laughs, it’s fine, but the creator didn’t do that. They wanted to have their cake and eat it: the purpose was simultaneously to highlight limited male protagonist tropes whilst also not being something which even most cliche male protagonists score bingo on. The first defeats the latter.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I would have replaced that with “over-the-top weapon” — like the Gears chainsaw gun or the big swords in Devil May Cry or Final Fantasy.

      • Sian says:

        I thought that would fit into the “Guns, lots of guns” category, but yeah, yours would have been a better name.

  12. DevDante says:

    Solid Snake totally would’ve made bingo. I mean: guns, lot’s of guns? Check. Psychological problems? There are no people without severe mental issues in the MGS world. And as for lots of armor… I thought that the only consistently returning plot point in the entire series was about a bunch of dudes trying to make their armor the most ridiculously over-the-top awesomest bigger-than-the-other-guy’s-armor in the world.

    God I love that series.

    • Sian says:

      The bingo card’s for characters, not entire franchises, so Snake’s antagonists don’t count.

      That said, the way I play Snake he mostly has one gun because sneaky non-lethal options are very rare.

  13. Spinkster says:

    When was Isaac Clarke in the Military? I thought he was a mechanical engineer working for a mining corporation.

    • April March says:

      My memory has him as a civilian contractor for a military operation, but I think you’re the one who has it right.

  14. likeyeahwhatever says:

    So freakin hilarious.

  15. Abacus says:

    Incidentally, what would female protagonist bingo look like?

    ‘Primarily wields a bow’ would surely be the FREE square.

    • po says:

      I think the female version is this:

      Female Armor Bingo

    • NathanH says:

      Some ideas: Supernatural Powers, Ranged Attacks, Princess, Reporter, Healer, Cleavage, Nonstandard Hair Colour.

      • Ejia says:

        I know Jade from Beyond Good and Evil (the first female protag I thought of when I read “reporter” even though I guess she’s more of a spy) has some sort of supernatural powers, but I can’t seem to remember what they are.

        • beleester says:

          They’re never properly defined. The Domz reveal that they want her because she is the “Shauni”, but never explain what that means. It might explain why her staff glows when in combat?

  16. NathanH says:

    Oh relax everyone, this is just a bit of fun.

    Scanning through my Steam currently installed games:
    Corvo from Dishonoured 2: 18 (BINGO!)
    Emily from Dishonoured 2: 11
    Hawke from Dragon Age 2: 9
    Shepard from Mass Effect: 15–16 (BINGO! depending on haircut choice)
    Garrett from Thief: 9
    Tilo from Ghost of a Tale: 0
    Whatever that guy from Shadow of Mordor is called: 11
    Geralt from The Witcher : 15 (BINGO!)

    Edit: Dex from Dex: 5

    • Doogie2K says:

      I got 17 for B.J. from Wolfenstein: The Newest Ones, including three bingos (column one, rows three and four). Yet despite being the literal embodiment of video game protagonist cliches, he still feels decently well-realized. Little maudlin at times, but I guess you would be if you woke up from a 14-year nap to find that the Nazis had won the war and were seconds away from doming you.

      • Ryos says:

        It’s almost like these tropes dont actually mean that the character is poorly written.

        • mlj11 says:

          Shhhh! We musn’t say anything negative about the agenda…

          • Sian says:

            You might want to re-read the article. This isn’t primarily about sexism, it’s about male protagonists all having the same boring traits. There’s a lack of imagination where male protagonists are concerned, that is all.

        • Doogie2K says:

          You’re right, and I wish more people took notice of that before howling about the Ess Jay Double Yous. It’s just an exercise meant to point out some writing blind spots/shortcuts/easy cliches, not All Characters Who Fill This Card Are Bad. A bit like the Bechdel-Wallace Test: the beginning of analysis, not the end.

  17. Helixagon says:

    RPS has gotten so boring, so lazy and so pandering. None of these ideas are unpacked, none of these values are criticised or examined in any level of detail. Just “I noticed some patterns, how disappointing that patterns emerge in storytelling”.

    • robotslave says:

      Trenchant criticism there, Doctor Healthyself.

      • wraithgr says:

        Right? And how about those movie critics who haven’t even made a blockbuster themselves, how dare they point out flaws without a step-by-step guide on how to correct them! /s

  18. Taintslapper says:

    As an avid fiction-addict that spends a lot of time reading, I see this as less a problem with gender/race inclusion and more a problem with cliche writing.

    That being said though, if we were to ignore as many categories on the bingo board of male banality we would pretty much be playing the video game adaptation of “Murder She Wrote”…which, I’ll go against the grain here, I don’t think would be a big seller.

    • upupup says:

      You need not wonder, there are actually several Murder She Wrote games! Sadly, they don’t seem to be very good, falling squarely within the bargain-bin adventure game category.

  19. Muzman says:

    People get all mad about this in some places, but it’s meant to be fun in a way. The Bechdel Test is too, believe it or not. Something that gets you to think about how things are written (or not, as the case may be).

    Video game protagonists were largely created by people who grew up on bad 80s action films (that and Wolverine) and now they have replaced bad 80s action films as the thing young dudes do of a weekend.

    In games you also get other aspects that form the tradition. One being that murder is mechanically very simple. Other forms of interaction are technically complex to a much higher degree. So you and up in that fun ludo-narrative space where it’s hard to decide what makes a character and what does not. Like Nathan Drake is a somewhat light adventurer character, but if events in the gameplay are taken at face value is history’s greatest monster.

    Luckily for characters like this I think there’s a detachment built in to that sort of gaming where people pick and choose what is “story” and what is “game” and assemble their impressions accordingly.

    With that in mind we can probably think of loads of gaming by dudes where none of this stuff was all that important. Whether or not the protagonist was a tortured beefstick anti-hero wasn’t a huge selling point one way or another. It does become an interesting question as to why a lot of these things keep coming up though. My guess would be that as often as not it’s a case of ‘writing is hard’ and ‘these things can be fun’.

  20. Rinox says:

    The Phelps one really is a disservice to the character…

    The whole point of his military backstory is that he snapped under pressure. I wouldn’t count someone with severe PTSD and guilt about his cowardice/war acts as a ‘hardened veteran’.

    Other questionable labels, to a smaller or larger degree: criminal, vigilante, makes a living being violent, killing spree (humans).

  21. Siimon says:

    I have questions!

    Is Anna Kreider’s Patreon taking credit for the #metoo movement? Or is she just saying that #metoo is the most popular thing on her forum?

    “Women and non-binary femme people”
    How can you be non-binary and femme?

    • Doogie2K says:

      I suspect that means having a broadly feminine presentation/personality without identifying as either female or male, though someone more knowledgeable can correct me.

  22. upupup says:

    Sorry, but this is a jumbled mess. Your intro isn’t an intro because nothing mentioned in it connects to your subject and the subject itself is nothing but a couple of pictures, without any further thoughts or information, as if that by itself is supposed to be funny or thought provoking. It reads like a few strung together tweets rather than an article and is about as coherent.
    If you really want to talk about the use of clichés as a tool in games to create audience appeal then go and do that and offer an argument why you think it’s good or bad, in a humorous manner if you want to discuss something that amused you, but the way you went about it here comes across as lazy and insultingly dull.

    • Creeping Death says:

      Welcome to the top quality writing you can expect from weekend RPS.

    • Menthalion says:

      I must agree a lot of the reactions have been of far higher quality than the article itself. Refreshing in this day and age, but hardly something to strive for as a site.

  23. Stevostin says:

    There are two very different ideas that seem mixed up here.

    1) playable characters that are popular with the male players aren’t as much popular with female players

    2) games should most of the time seduce the whole player base (all genres) with the same unique playable character.

    I don’t think anyone disagree with the former, nor does anyone doubt that one could do a similar bingo with protagonists by female for female.

    But If movies have constantly failed at making a highly popular for all genre single protagonist a regular setup, rather creating a group of characters from various races, genre and sometimes, ages, I don’t see how game designer coukd solve this with a Silver Bullet. Unless you offer the ability to pick your character I dont see how you consistently adress all audiences.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Games nor movies need to work out how to appeal to both genders equally in a single game. All there needs to be is a wealth of different and interesting games.
      As a male gamer of over 25 years, I find myself increasingly bored rigid by archetypal “games that appeal to men”… because such an overwhelming majority pedal the same tired old tropes over and over again. I don’t especially care about whether they appeal to both sexes equally… I’d just like to see more attention given to *anyone* who isn’t a military-fetishist meathead who’s never read a good book in their life.

      This only really applies to the Triple-A space, there’s actually a fantastic goldmine of compelling ideas in the indie space these days… so I’m not actually all that concerned. I just wish the Triple-A publishers would stop trying to harvest everything good for their own profitability, and leave the interesting ideas alone to thrive. The more separate the two industries, the more we can all get on with enjoying the good stuff while all the meatheads diligently wander down HMV and pick up Call of Duty 57.

      • Stevostin says:

        I read your post twice because It looks sensible yet I am still scratching my head : what point of mine did you actually adress? Dud I miss something?

        • popej says:

          I suspect they’ve read some of your other comments…

          • Stevostin says:

            Even so. I mean what he says I found interesting, it’s just how this is in any way an answer I can’t see.

  24. Rashism says:

    The Punisher crushes it.

  25. Ryos says:

    Snake never had a gritty reboot and morgan yu does not make a living being violent. morgan is a scientist.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Depends on whether you consider Solid grittier than regular 2D Metal Gear.

      • Ryos says:

        2d metal gear had a serial killer taxidermist who wanted to remove snakes hips for his puppets

    • CaidKean says:

      There’s also the fact that David (Solid Snake) is half Japanese, which to me makes it sorta weird to simply put him as just ‘white’, as if his ‘whiteness’ erases his other ethnic background.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bozzley says:

      “Morgan Yu” is a scientist. Who you play as in Prey isn’t exactly Morgan Yu.

    • Grizzly says:

      Remember the prisoner you meet in the psychotronics lab? The one who is scheduled to be eaten by mimics unless you let him go?

      Morgan’s job involved the choice where you don’t let him go, because typhon material created from humans is how neuromods are made, which is what the game reveals when you do just that.

  26. brucethemoose says:

    Lara Croft gets the right column bingo. Heck, she gets a few more if you’re kinda loose with the trope interpretations.

    2B comes close. Fills alot of the board though.

    • Kamestos says:

      I thought of Lara but didn’t think of 2B. You’re totally right.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Yeah. I thought on it, and I think 2B is proof that you can use tons of these tropes and still have a good, reasonably original character.

        In other words, the tropes aren’t bad. Gender and ethnicity aren’t the core problem. By process of elimination, the writers and/or their bosses just suck :/

  27. Mehve says:

    For a lark, I held up the character of Rincewind (from Terry Prachett’s Discworld) and he scores horribly on this thing. In fact, considering that I don’t think it’s ever explicitly stated that he’s white, his dark humor is par for the course in any Discworld novel, and he technically fails the “supernatural powers” bit, he might actually manage to blank this thing!

    …I don’t think anyone would be surprised at this. Mind, he does drink a lot of beer at times – that’s manly protag material, right?

    • KDR_11k says:

      He’s a weirdness magnet, has improbable fleeing skills and (once) cast a magical spell from the Octav. Under the power of Sourcery he could even cast regular magic. Though of course on the Discworld the definition of “supernatural” is rather vague.

      The non-cover art of him always depicts him as white though. I mean, the covers aren’t really canon (given that Twoflower has literal four eyes on one) but in the official Discworld comic he looks the same as he does in the videogames.

    • Ejia says:

      Isn’t the reason Rincewind can’t cast magic is that his head is basically filled with one giant spell from the Octavo? I can’t remember if and when he activated it.
      But then magic is everywhere on the disc, so even if he could cast spells that might be seen as perfectly natural, and not “super”natural. Maybe the way he’s favored by the goddess of luck counts.

  28. KDR_11k says:

    The free square should be “improbable healing powers”. Whether they heal bullet wounds in seconds or just stick a band-aid on it or pop a painkiller.

    • Sian says:

      I think that’s more of a mechanical convention to keep games playable, not a character trait. It’s not a lot of fun, having to wait weeks or months while your character heals if he isn’t outright crippled by the seriousness of his wounds.

      • benzoate says:

        Oohh, this would be a fun _insert fps game_ mod. Your measure of success at the end would be measured by the shortest amount spend recovering.

        I’m thinking something like:

        Doom 1 – congrats you vanquished the demons back to hell, and it took you 74.2 years of intensive care and rehab. For fun you could include the cost this would incur to you personally and/or your healthcare system.

  29. DLZ says:

    Well then, is RPS shilling the patreon of someone using her “poor oppressed wammen” status to make a buck as another “culture critic?” Why yes, I think they are.

    Now where have we seen that before?

  30. NickAragua says:

    I can’t believe nobody’s done Duke Nukem.

    Military Rank: Nope
    Title or Designation instead of Name: Nope
    Criminal: No, not really (unless you consider drugs or prostitution to be crime, or mass murder of alien scum)
    Vigilante: Yep
    Killing Spree (Human): Nope
    Hardened Veteran: Unknown (not enough back story) (yeah, I know)
    Blase about killing: You betcha
    Loner: More or less
    Cold and Aloof: Probably
    White: Yeah, ok
    Dark Humor in Face of Danger: Yep
    Biceps as big as your thighs: What do you think all those steroids are for?
    Anti-hero: I dunno.
    Makes a living being violent: Technically he doesn’t get paid for it, so no?
    No patience for politics: Unknown. Probably yes.
    Guns. Lots of Guns: Well, duh. Yes.
    Brooding: Nah.
    Psychological Problems: Not a one.
    Lots of Armor: Nope!
    “Gritty” Reboot: Nobody reboots Duke Nukem.
    Bald/Crew Cut: Yep
    Scowls a Lot: Unknown, probably not.
    Supernatural Power: Nope
    Killing Spree (Aliens): Hell yeah
    Revenge Story: Nope.

    We’re fairly likely to get a bingo on the second row, considering how many times he’s gone up against various aliens and robots. However, does it count if the veterancy is attained during the protagonist’s games? After all, he starts out as a *self-proclaimed hero*.

    Also, he doesn’t get to “lots of guns” until Duke Nukem 3D. If you recall, back in the first game, he was armed with just a nuclear pistol and a can-do attitude.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure that nobody even considers marketing Duke Nukem to women.

    Finally, does female Morgan Yu really count as a “male protagonist”? Just doesn’t seem to fit the basic definition of the term.

    • Addie says:

      He ends up us the president of the United States at the end of Forever, which shows at least a little patience for politics.

      Revenge story? The over-riding theme of the whole series is “No-one steals our chicks – and lives”.

      So yeah. Even for someone as one-dimensional as Duke, this is a bit of a vague game of bingo where you can debate most of the scores.

  31. Spacewalk says:

    Meanwhile, those of us playing Bullshit Anonymous Internet Commentator Bingo are really raking it in.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Angry mysoginist, check!

      Obvious concern troll, check!

      Contrarian pedants, check!

      I just need the wildly insecure MRA for a full house.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Underrated comment.

  32. CeeJay says:

    I’m not sure why Supernatural Powers is on there. I feel like for the kind of cookie-cutter toxic masculine hero being envisioned that should be narrowed down a little. Supernatural Powers That Involve the Word Blood? Supernatural Powers By Rob Liefield? Something like that.

    I also don’t feel like Joel from Last of Us is a bingo based on a fair reading of his character. I’d say “Hardened Veteran,” “Guns, Lots of Guns,” “Cold & Aloof,” “Blase About Killing,” “Anti-Hero” and “They Killed My [X] I’ll Make Them Pay!” are all pretty questionable for him. (And I mean, I’m not super-invested in Joel as a character or anything, it’s just his arc and character in that game is factually the opposite of most of those things.)

    I’ve definitely had this thought about more than a few protago-dudes in games, though. This article made me laugh. Thanks.

  33. BaronKreight says:

    What about Spelunky or Isaac? Where are these on this table? Wait. How about Will from The Long Dark? Far Cry 3 tourist guy? The one and only Link from Zelda? I can go on and go on.

    • Durgendorf says:

      FCIII douche actually scores really low, since he didn’t have a history of violence going in. Which is shocking, given that’s what makes it SO BAD.

      There really needs to be a white savior tile.

  34. Durgendorf says:

    Way, way too generous to Marcus. The third Gears was a genocide roadtrip against a sentient enemy that could speak his language. He nearly runs the table on that alone, and he’s not even the worst of his crew.

    Not ticking “psychological problems” ignores that his dad looks like a musclebound version of Freud.

  35. SaintAn says:

    Should the new weekend staffer really be exploiting such a sensitive topic as clicbait for profit? You even pinned someone ranting to the top to create even more fighting and increase the clicks. This is the type of stuff that belongs at shitty tabloid blogs like Kotaku/Gawker Media and Polygon that make a living off exploiting social justice for profit and damaging the causes they exploit in the process. (I call it social justice fracking.)

    If you want to cover social justice topics then that is good as long as you are delicate, well informed, thoughtful, and sensitive to the subject.

    • Risingson says:

      Let’s put a trigger warning, yes. “If you love this homogeneous narrative you may be offended”.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Your post is wrong on basically every point.

      Putting down the writer, thinking the pinned post is a rant, saying that sexism in games needs to be addressed delicately…

      Yeah, that last is the worst. You don’t get to dictate how the victims of sexism communicate about it.

      • Stevostin says:

        I can’t see exactly what victim you’re referring to. Do you mean “women victim of video game industry not making AAA female protagonist”? Isn’t it a bit over using the victim card? I suggest we keep using “victim” for it’s original meaning, ie victim of a crime, to avoid putting a girl with no interest in CoD at the same level as a victim of a physical aggression (to play it low key).

  36. DodoSandvich says:

    So this is terribly miscommunicated with the novelty bingo card. The bingo card is worthless and communicates nothing.

    What it’s actually about as there is written is:
    “how unbelievably DONE I am with stories about MANLY MEN PUNCHING THINGS AND BEING MANLY BECAUSE THEY’RE MEN”

    So I think what you want is reduce the bingo card to is 25 squares saying “Macho and not much else”. And I can understand women being totally uninterested in those types of protagonists. Frankly, I am too.

  37. Agarthan says:

    Wow, endemic toxic masculinity spewing forth from mainstream media products. How unusual. It’s almost as if the mince the capitalist media system squeezes into consumer’s eager throats is unexamined stereotypes and tropes that have proven to generate the most amount of profit. HOW WEIRD!

  38. Apologised says:

    Nathan Drake comes out okay on this one interestingly.

    Batman if I’m reading this right, weirdly doesn’t get a single bingo, but does practically score every other box. That whole “no guns” and “no killing” rules come to his aid there. Also “Makes a living being violent” is a contentious issue. I mean, Bruce Wayne makes a living by running massive mega-corporation with his dads name on it.
    You could argue that “punching crime in the face” is a hobby. And is the Batman an Anti-Hero? Is he a loner? I mean, how many Robins and Batgirls has he got at this point? I mean wasn’t that entirely the point of the LEGO Batman film? The best Batman film we’ve had in 20 years?

  39. LapsedPacifist says:

    Okay, I’ll play!

    Guybrush Threepwood!

    Military Rank: No
    Title or Designation instead of Name: No
    Criminal: Mighty pirate, so yes.
    Vigilante: Nope.
    Killing Spree (Human): He only cuts with his wit.
    Hardened Veteran: Not a hardened anything.
    Blase about killing: No.
    Loner: Not at all.
    Cold and Aloof: Not even close.
    White: Yup.
    Dark Humor in Face of Danger: Lots.
    Biceps as big as your thighs: Scrawny.
    Anti-hero: Just plain hero.
    Makes a living being violent: Sort of? We don’t see him doing much piracy, all told. More freelance treasure-seeking.
    No patience for politics: Unknown.
    Guns. Lots of Guns: …does the Destructomatic T-47 armor-piercing Carnage Delivery System with auto-loading and fax-modem, count?
    Brooding: Not even close.
    Psychological Problems: As sane as the next man. Unfortunately, the next man is Murray, so…
    Lots of Armor: None.
    “Gritty” Reboot: Not rebooted, not gritty.
    Bald/Crew Cut: Flowing locks.
    Scowls a Lot: Hardly ever.
    Supernatural Power: Not particularly.
    Killing Spree (Aliens): Nope.
    Revenge Story: Nope.

    …I have… no bingo. Okay, okay, let’s try another example.

    Manny Calavera!

    Military Rank: No
    Title or Designation instead of Name: No
    Criminal: He’s working off time, but not for crime. Like any good Noir protagonist, though, he’s framed. More than once.
    Vigilante: No.
    Killing Spree (Human): Nope.
    Hardened Veteran: Nope.
    Blase about killing: Not even close.
    Loner: No.
    Cold and Aloof: Heart of gold. Well… ribcage of gold.
    White: …um… no skin. But he was, in the way Americans reckon this, probably Hispanic ante-mortem.
    Dark Humor in Face of Danger: Tons and tons.
    Biceps as big as your thighs: No muscles.
    Anti-hero: Noir protagonist, but more heroic than not.
    Makes a living being violent: No. He gets people to sign on the line which is dotted.
    No patience for politics: Maybe?
    Guns. Lots of Guns: _A_ gun?
    Brooding: On occasion.
    Psychological Problems: Suprisingly sane, given what lif… death puts him through.
    Lots of Armor: Nope.
    “Gritty” Reboot: Not rebooted, not gritty.
    Bald/Crew Cut: …sure, let’s say bald. I mean his boss has a comb-over _somehow_ so…
    Scowls a Lot: Fixed grin.
    Supernatural Power: Not when off duty.
    Killing Spree (Aliens): No.
    Revenge Story: …sort of?

    Maybe try something that’s not meant to be funny? Lessee… Gabriel Knight?

    Military Rank: No
    Title or Designation instead of Name: No
    Criminal: No.
    Vigilante: No.
    Killing Spree (Human): No.
    Hardened Veteran: No.
    Blase about killing: No.
    Loner: No.
    Cold and Aloof: No.
    White: Yes.
    Dark Humor in Face of Danger: Not really.
    Biceps as big as your thighs: Nope.
    Anti-hero: No.
    Makes a living being violent: Writer.
    No patience for politics: No.
    Guns. Lots of Guns: I can’t recall ever having one.
    Brooding: A bit byronic.
    Psychological Problems: Not… really.
    Lots of Armor: No.
    “Gritty” Reboot: Not rebooted, not gritty.
    Bald/Crew Cut: Mullet.
    Scowls a Lot: No.
    Supernatural Power: …in traces? I mean, it isn’t really explained what a Schattenjäger’s powers, if any, are.
    Killing Spree (Aliens): No.
    Revenge Story: No.

    You know what, these are all old if occasionally remastered or given sequels. We need something new. Conway from the sublime Kentucky Route Zero?

    Military Rank: No
    Title or Designation instead of Name: No
    Criminal: No.
    Vigilante: No.
    Killing Spree (Human): No.
    Hardened Veteran: No.
    Blase about killing: No.
    Loner: No.
    Cold and Aloof: No.
    White: …probably.
    Dark Humor in Face of Danger: No.
    Biceps as big as your thighs: No.
    Anti-hero: No.
    Makes a living being violent: Deliveryman.
    No patience for politics: …not applicable.
    Guns. Lots of Guns: God no.
    Brooding: Melancholy, more like.
    Psychological Problems: Let’s say yes.
    Lots of Armor: No.
    “Gritty” Reboot: Not rebooted, not gritty.
    Bald/Crew Cut: No.
    Scowls a Lot: No.
    Supernatural Power: Sort of, but what isn’t a bit magical on the Zero.
    Killing Spree (Aliens): No.
    Revenge Story: No.

    Y’know, it’s almost as if video games have all sorts of protagonists and all sorts of tropes if you look past the terribly-written-AAA-tripe bubble. Now you might say that I picked my examples with malice and aforethought, but these are the examples *I* happen to like and the one where effort was made to write the game properly. I’d pick an RPG but you pick your own gender and, as often as not, your personality in most of those but… oh! I have one!

    Geralt of Rivia!
    Military Rank: No
    Title or Designation instead of Name: No
    Criminal: No.
    Vigilante: No. Professional.
    Killing Spree (Human): Yes.
    Hardened Veteran: …hardened?
    Blase about killing: Depends on how you play him, but let’s say yes.
    Loner: Not even close.
    Cold and Aloof: Heavily depends on how you play him, but he cares a lot about a lot of people.
    White: Very.
    Dark Humor in Face of Danger: Yes.
    Biceps as big as your thighs: Not really.
    Anti-hero: Yes.
    Makes a living being violent: Very.
    No patience for politics: Yes.
    Guns. Lots of Guns: I’m going to say yes. I mean, it’s swords and other killing cutlery, not guns, but let’s be fair here.
    Brooding: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There’s just as much snarkifying as brooding.
    Psychological Problems: …given what happens to him? No.
    Lots of Armor: Lightly armored.
    “Gritty” Reboot: Not rebooted, not gritty.
    Bald/Crew Cut: Well you can cut his hair as you like in W3, but canonically I believe he has flowing locks or a ponytail.
    Scowls a Lot: Habitually.
    Supernatural Power: Plenty.
    Killing Spree (Aliens): …monsters? Technically given the lore, half the things in this setting are aliens.
    Revenge Story: No.

    Plenty of squares, no bingo.

    • c-Row says:


      Military Rank: NO
      Title or designation: NO
      Criminal: NO
      Vigilante: NO
      Killing Spree (Humans): YES

      Hardened Veteran: NO
      Blasé about killing: YES (in a way)
      Loner: MAYBE?
      Cold and aloof: YES
      White: YES

      Dark Humour: NO
      Biceps as big as your thighs: NO
      Anti-Hero: NOT REALLY
      Makes a living being violent: NO
      No Patience For Politics: NO

      Guns. Lots Of Guns: YES
      Brooding: NO
      Psychological Problems: NO
      Lots of armor: YES (though the HEV suit isn’t as bulky as others)
      “Gritty Reboot”: NO

      Bald/Crew Cut: NO
      Scowls a lot: NO
      Supernatural Powers: NO
      Killing Spree (Aliens): YES
      They Killed My…: NO

      Though you could argue that many of the boxes didn’t get ticked due to lack of characterization.

  40. jezcentral says:

    SJW: Female characters are under-served by being represented in shallow, trope-y ways.


    SJW: Male characters are under-served by being represented in shallow, trope-y ways.


  41. Zaxwerks says:

    I’m sure you could fit more categories on there like…

    1) Will have dark hair.
    2) Will have a square jaw.
    3) Will say “it’s just a scratch” even if his leg’s been blown off.
    4) Mostly gets shot in the shoulder.
    5) Can go days without needing to pee once.

  42. fish99 says:

    Nearly all the protagonists people are listing are from action games, and mostly from shooters so it’s hardly surprising they’re quite cliched.

    Minecraft Steve scores 1 square.

  43. DatonKallandor says:

    I’m not sure I’d agree with Max Payne being makes a living being violent because – unless you count the awful third game by a different team entirely – his job was being a policeman. In a universe where police brutality is seen is a bad thing not our universe.

  44. DeFrank says:

    I’m either too smart or too stupid to debate on the internet anymore, and I don’t know which.

    So probably too stupid I guess.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      A strange game.
      The only winning move is
      not to play.

  45. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    Might be a day late, but I’ll take a crack at it:

    Frank “Covered Wars Ya Know” West:

    Military Rank: NO
    Title or designation: NO
    Criminal: NO
    Vigilante: NO
    Killing Spree (Humans): YES (at least closer to the end when the military shows up)

    Hardened Veteran: NO (unless shooting photos counts as war fighting)
    Blasé about killing: YES (but he’s mostly killing zombies)
    Loner: YES (technically, since he only leads civvies to safety)
    Cold and aloof: NO (he cares about saving as many lives as he can)
    White: YES

    Dark Humour: NO
    Biceps as big as your thighs: NO
    Anti-Hero: NO
    Makes a living being violent: NO
    No Patience For Politics: YES

    Guns. Lots Of Guns: YES (though he’s more busy with axes and traffic cones)
    Brooding: NO
    Psychological Problems: MAYBE (when you consider the crossdressing)
    Lots of armor: MAYBE (depending on outfit, but it doesn’t do much)
    “Gritty Reboot”: NO

    Bald/Crew Cut: YES
    Scowls a lot: NO
    Supernatural Powers: NO
    Killing Spree (Aliens): YES
    They Killed My…: NO


    Michael DeSanta:

    Military Rank: NO
    Title or designation: NO
    Criminal: YES
    Vigilante: MAYBE (I forget if he can do those missions)
    Killing Spree (Humans): YES

    Hardened Veteran: NO
    Blasé about killing: YES (but in some instances he seems semi-reluctant to kill)
    Loner: NO
    Cold and aloof: NO (but there’s no tile for loud and boorish)
    White: YES

    Dark Humour: YES
    Biceps as big as your thighs: NO
    Anti-Hero: NO (nothing heroic about him)
    Makes a living being violent: YUP
    No Patience For Politics: YUP

    Guns. Lots Of Guns: YUP
    Brooding: YUP
    Psychological Problems: AND HOW
    Lots of armor: MAYBE (that one mission with the bank, but the armor goes away after)
    “Gritty Reboot”: NO

    Bald/Crew Cut: YES
    Scowls a lot: YES
    Supernatural Powers: MAYBE
    Killing Spree (Aliens): NO
    They Killed My…: NO


    Okay, admittedly those were comedic examples, let’s try a pure shooter guy

    William “B.J.” Blazkowicz

    Military Rank: YES
    Title or designation: NO
    Criminal: NO
    Vigilante: MAYBE (does killing Nazis count as vigilantism?)
    Killing Spree (Humans): YES

    Hardened Veteran: YES
    Blasé about killing: YES
    Loner: NO
    Cold and aloof: NO (he speaks in a monotone, but he cares about the resistance people)
    White: YES

    Dark Humour: NO
    Biceps as big as your thighs: AND HOW
    Anti-Hero: NO
    Makes a living being violent: YES
    No Patience For Politics: MAYBE

    Guns. Lots Of Guns: AND HOW
    Brooding: MAYBE (does minor introspection between missions count?)
    Psychological Problems: NO
    Lots of armor: NO (unless his bulk comes from inches of kevlar we can’t see)
    “Gritty Reboot”: MAYBE (depends on how old you were when Wolf3D released, the original had some dark stuff)

    Bald/Crew Cut: AND HOW
    Scowls a lot: YES
    Supernatural Powers: NO
    Killing Spree (Aliens): MAYBE (if Space Nazis count as aliens)
    They Killed My…: NO


    Hell, I’ll even trudge out DoomGuy

    Military Rank: YES (lore has it he was a Private)
    Title or designation: NO
    Criminal: NO
    Vigilante: NO
    Killing Spree (Humans): NO (unless demonically possessed zombies count)

    Hardened Veteran: NO (he was a private stationed on Mars)
    Blasé about killing: YES
    Loner: YES
    Cold and aloof: NO
    White: YES (when not drenched in blood)

    Dark Humour: NO
    Biceps as big as your thighs: NO (he’s buff, but not ridiculously so)
    Anti-Hero: NO
    Makes a living being violent: MAYBE (he doesn’t get paid for this)
    No Patience For Politics: YES

    Guns. Lots Of Guns: AND HOW
    Brooding: NO
    Psychological Problems: NO
    Lots of armor: NO
    “Gritty Reboot”: NO

    Bald/Crew Cut: MAYBE (comic book DoomGuy has some wild hair)
    Scowls a lot: NO (chainsaw grin)
    Supernatural Powers: NO
    Killing Spree (Aliens): AND HOW
    They Killed My…: YES (his rabbit)


    Maybe I’m just not playing the right games

  46. Kittim says:

    This entire article is cancer.

    Fuck gender politics.
    Fuck identity politics.
    Fuck any kind of politics.

    It’s fucking computer games, I play them as a relief from this poxy world.

    Stop bringing these political agendas into the realm of make believe.

    You’ve made the real world bad enough as it is.

  47. Parovoz_NFF says:

    >Oh Joel, no

    We are talking about the zombie apocalypse setting here and you are surprised to see the cliche protagonist?

  48. Parovoz_NFF says:

    link to i.imgur.com

    What do i win?
    It is funny though that the only ones who managed to pull the legitimate bingo are Joel and Cole Phelps (definitely not the first protagonists who come in mind when the whole “how unbelievably DONE I am with stories about MANLY MEN PUNCHING THINGS AND BEING MANLY BECAUSE THEY’RE MEN” thing starts) yet Duke Nukem passes the test with flying colors.