In a fairly rare turn I would like to take a moment to weigh in on the recent 'scandal' and 'outrage' surrounding Ubisoft's decision to not include female avatars in their upcoming games Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed: Unity. While we normally stay away from topics like this, avoiding the controversy and trying to stay on the subject of bringing you reviews and previews of games, this particular event is something that I just wanted to discuss a moment.
Ubisoft has historically included female characters in their games as important NPC's as well as having them play the role of the main player character. Titles like Beyond Good & Evil, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Velvet Assassin, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation all have either a main player character that is female, amidst a great many other titles that contain important female roles. They have proven that they are fully capable of animating and writing a story centered around a female, or written quality roles for supported female characters and thus have a fairly decent track record when it comes to including the women in their games.
Admittedly the recent handling of why Assassin's Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4 do not have a lead female protagonist was poor at best and could have certainly been approached in a different manner, but that is not the issue that I am concerning myself with. After all, a large number of companies run the risk of a media meltdown when things are not handled in the most 'politically correct' fashion. When I am most concerned about is the sheer level of entitlement that 'gamers' of both sexes are showing.
Reading through responses at sites such as IGN and Kotaku is enough to set my blood boiling. Gamers and anyone that simply feels they need to chime in are spewing comments fueled by hate fire for Ubisoft not including a female protagonist (or even a female re-skin) in their upcoming titles. From silly comments like 'Not representing half of its audience seems like a big issue to me' to the more extreme of claiming that Ubisoft is a misogynistic organization hell-bent on deflating the important of the female gender, claiming that they are just adding to the pile of misrepresented females in gaming (albeit player characters or gamers themselves). A few wonderful gamers are trying to point out that Ubisoft is entitled to do whatever they want with their intellectual property and sadly, these are the gamers that are either being attacked or simply glossed over.
It is those gamers, those shining examples of humanity, that I would like to stand behind. These gamers aren't concerned about gender equality in games for the simple fact that each game is the brainchild of a writer and/or a group of writers. These writers are entitled to their story, and the factions that are spitting hate are exhibiting their complete obliviousness to that fact, instead screaming about what 'they' (the gamers) want, what 'they' see as correct, or what 'they' deem important in gaming. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes, but when you start attacking a developer or publisher because their opinion differs from yours, you begin to sound like a whiny and entitled brat, an image that is no good for any gamer.
If you do not like the mechanics, story, or otherwise perceived injustices of a specific title, then do not buy it. Gamers have historically been fairly open-minded (in my experiences which may be limited, but I have been an avid gamer and part of the gaming community for two decades plus) and if they are going to show that they are so close-minded to the idea that someone else is making something they love and cannot respect that fact, do we, as gamers really want them around? As I said, everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes, but are the developers, writers, and product managers not entitled to create the game that they want to write? Why would they have to change what they created to meet your needs. That whole idea makes no sense to me and frankly, spits in the face of every developer with the freedom of creatively developing their own stories.
Personally I could care less whether the player character is male or female, though I admit that more often than not I tend to play female avatars when given the choice, but I do not play a certain game because I can play those avatars; I play the game because of the story / style of gameplay being offered. Maybe I live in a fairy-tale world where I feel gamers should be a bit more respectful of the people that are developing the stories and games that are driving their hobbies, and I am alone in my thinking, but I would like to see developers not being slammed because they did not cater to a specific audience. It is those very writers and developers that have the choice to create the game they want to create, or not create a game at all.
I'd be curious to know what some of you think regarding what I believe is a non-issue.
Article by Robert