Fans Disappointed With Ubisoft’s Lack of Gender Choices in Upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity

Fans Disappointed With Ubisoft’s Lack of Gender Choices in Upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity

It’s been a fun week of demos, conferences, and mostly announcements for First Person Shooters. Between announcing games in which people shoot each others’ heads off, Ubisoft announced the newest entry into their Assassin’s Creed franchise. The game is the first game in the franchise to offer co-op play, allowing up to 4 players at once. That’s all fine and dandy, but fans are disappointed with Ubisoft for something besides them announcing another AC game; fans are upset that the game will feature no playable female characters. Alright, you may be saying “Hey, dingbat. Lots of games don’t feature female characters”, but it’s pretty silly when other games in the franchise have featured playable female characters. With 4 main protagonists in the game, surely they could have put one in.

So what’s Ubisoft gotta say about this lack of gender choices?

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets…Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

DOING THINGS FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN IS HARD. I get it, it’s true that having to animate, design, and whatever else a female character would add production time to the game, but really? For a company like Ubisoft, who has been releasing an Assassin’s Creed game almost annually, to play the workload card is a little absurd. How about spacing the games out a little more to add this one customization in? The company went on to explain that designing a female character is increasingly difficult because they  don’t have a”female reader for the character” at their disposal, nor do they have “all the animations in place.” A spokemen went on to explain that designing a female character is different from a male one, because they look, act, and walk different. After he said that, the world smallest violin was played for him.

It’s not only fans reacting to the statements of Ubisoft either, as other game developers have added their voice to the subject matter.

Jonathan Cooper of Naught Dog calling  them out for being both lazy and…incorrect? This one  from Tim Borrelli from 5thcell is in response to female characters looking and acting different.

One last one from industry types (I forget who they are with)

All in all, fans and developers aren’t happy with Ubisofts response and laziness on the matter. Come on Ubi, you’re not an independent developer struggling here; the Assassin’s Creed franchise is a huge one and we expect more out of they. They should probably use some of that Babyz and Dogz money to fix this fiasco, but we probably won’t see that happen. Who knows how this will change future Assassin’s Creed games or ever the upcoming Unity.

BLOG NEWS!

For those who subscribe or check in regularly, you may notice the domain has lost the “wordpress” and is not just a .com! Exciting times people. We are now a registered domain! Will the blogs level of terribleness lessen? PROBBBBABBBLLLLYYYY NOOTTTTTTT

 

 

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Nintendo at E3: More Gender inclusion (Is that a female Link!?)

Nintendo’s digital event went live this morning, and they showed off an array of games including the first footage of the upcoming Zelda game, Smash Brothers, and Yoshi title.

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As we discussed during last year’s E3, Nintendo has really been upping the amount of female protagonists in their recent titles. They are continuing this trend this year by announcing several games with playable protagonists who are female.

-Hyrule Warriors currently features 3 of 4 female characters as protagonists, including Impa, Midna, and Zelda.

-More female characters in Smash brothers than ever before, including new entries such as Palutena, Wii-Fit Trainer, and a female villager.

ZVO

However, the biggest news seems to be coming out of one of Nintendo’s biggest franchise: The Legend of Zelda. While unconfirmed, it seems as though we may be a Link whose gender is up for customization. I…can’t tell. Link has a ponytail and is certainly looking a lot more feminine than in previous entries. It could honestly go either way: is Link becoming more androgynous, or can you change the character’s gender? With the news of the gaming being more open world, it’s not unlikely that Link will be more changeable than ever before. Guess we’ll find out as more details about the game come out.

 

Update: Nintendo Reaffirms Stance on Same-Sex Relationships in Tomodachi Life

 

Last year Nintendo responded to a glitch found in their popular Japanese 3ds Title “Tomodachi Collection” that allowed players to enter into same-sex relationships with a patch. We discussed the issue a bit on here and it was admittedly a strange case, as the glitch enabled occurrences such as male Miis becoming pregnant and only allowing for same-sex male relationships.  After the patch was released the response to Nintendo’s action seemed to die down, however the argument has since resurfaced upon Nintendo announcing the game (Tomodachi Life) for North America and Europe. Since then an online petition and miiverse community movement called “Miiquality” have been created to move Nintendo to allow for same-sex relationships in the NA/EU versions of the game. Community members have taken to Miiverse, twitter, facebook and most social media outlets to let Nintendo know of their desires. This week, a representative of Nintendo responded with this statement:

“Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life…The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation ….We hope that all of our fans will see that Tomodachi Life was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary.”

TLDR: “We’re not trying to be progressive here”.  Unfortunately this is just another strike in Nintendo’s list of things they’re behind the times on.  This could have been a momentous move for Nintendo to show that they are progressive, but instead they chose to show that they are behind the times once again. With other family oriented companies like Disney making strides in representing the LBGT community, it’s unfortunate that Nintendo isn’t following suit. Even from a financial standpoint, the publicity and buzz Nintendo could have created by responding to requests positively could have extremely helped sales of the upcoming. Instead, they’ve only served to anger and disappoint a growing population of their community. They’ve handled this situation like they’ve handled to Wii U  (HAHAHAHAH GET IT. BADLY)

It’s a bizarre world in Tomodachi Life

Then again…Maybe a bizarre, strange experience like Tomodachi life isn’t the best place for Nintendo to make such a stance….or any statement. Regardless, Nintendo needs to step into the modern day.

UPDATE EVEN MORE!!

 Nintendo has released an official apology regarding the subject:

We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch. At Nintendo, dedication has always meant going beyond the games to promote a sense of community, and to share a spirit of fun and joy. We are committed to advancing our longtime company values of fun and entertainment for everyone. We pledge that if we create a next installment in the Tomodachi series, we will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.

Meh. Seems reasonable enough. To be fair, the original patch that Nintendo released for the Japanese version wasn’t removing the ability to have same sex relationships, it was a patch released to fix a glitch that occurred when players brought over a Mii from another 3ds that inadvertently marks those miis as the wrong gender. They were REALLY trying to not take a stance either way. Perhaps this movement may see the fruits of its labor in future installments of the game.

New Study Suggest Video Games May Be Enforcing Racism

They did it everyone. They found the link between playing video games like Kirby and being a bigot…Well, not really. However, A recent study coming out of Ohio State University has found some interesting findings regarding racism and video games. This study may make your reconsider your next gaming choices.

In Saints Row you can be a thug of any race or gender! Or not, I haven’t played it.

Published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science the study questioned what  happens when white video game players find themselves playing as black video game characters in violent video games. The first experiment had 120 white students play the violent video game Saints Row. Participants were randomly given either a white protagonist or a black protagonist in the game. Furthermore, players were given one of two missions – break out of prison or go to a chapel without harming others. After each play sessions participants were given the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to reveal any hidden biases they may have had by having participants link white and black faces to either negative or positive categories. The results found that players that were using black avatars were more likely to link negative categories to black faces than those who used white avatars. Similarly, it was found that players who played the more violent mission were more likely to agree with the statement “It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites”.  Yeesh, that’s harsh.

We’re getting into some scary findings here kiddos, but it doesn’t stop there. A second experiment was conducted to further these findings. In this follow up experiment, 141 more white college students were asked playing either WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2010 or Fight Night Round 4. As in the previous experiment, participants were assigned either a white or black avatar and then given the IAT to measure their biases. However, after each play sessions participants had the opportunity to give their unseen partner (presumably their opponent) a punishment in the way of hot sauce, which the participants knew they disliked. The results found were inline with those of the previous experiment; players who played as black avatars were more likely to associate negative categories with black faces than those who played as white characters. In regards to the hot sauce portion of the experiment, players who played as black avatars gave their partners 115% more hot sauce than those who played as white avatars. Clearly, something about playing as black avatars makes white players want to dish out some hot sauce.

What this suggests is that something about playing as black avatar characters, especially in violent scenarios, reinforces negative stereotypes about the black community in white video game players and makes them more aggressive towards others. While it’s a general perspective to believe that more minority characters will make general audiences more empathetic to people of colors, this study suggests that negative and unbalanced minority characters may only fuel further racism and bias. Regardless of this study’s findings or not, clearly there is a lack of balanced and progressive minority characters in the video game industry.

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One thing the study does not do is offer reasons why this may occur, other than their go-to embedded racism. Embedded racism may be the perpetrator, but one must consider that there may be something more at work. It would be interesting if the same experiments would be done with a control group of only black video game players: would the same results be found or would the results be flipped. One consideration the study does not offer is disassociation: players could potentially be more likely to be more aggressive when they have a further distance between themselves and their character. Not relating to their character on race may be making players relate less, and thus become more aggressive and more likely to act out. Of course this doesn’t offer a solution as to why they would be biased towards racial stereotypes, but it’s a consideration.

This study tells us something that we already know: negative characters lead to negative attitudes and actions. Playing as a violent killer is negative, regardless of the race of the character or player. I’m not suggest we pacify or censor our games, but instead me more conscious of the media we’re consuming and how it effects us. It often is more fun to be violent in a video game than not, but perhaps we should only be giving our gaming palettes opportunity to be violent.

IGN: Why We Need More Gay Characters

IGN: Why We Need More Gay Characters

Here is a link to a great piece by Luke Karmali of IGN about the lack of gay characters in video games. While he does note that representation and inclusion are up considerably in the last few years (mostly in part due to western studios such as Bioware and Naughty Dog), it is still an uphill battle to get proper and adequate representation for the LGBT community in gaming.

"Gone Home" is one the few games to feature a LGBT relationship.
“Gone Home” is one the few games to feature a LGBT relationship.

Growing up is hard. Growing up in a world where you find it nigh on impossible to catch sight of someone you can relate to is harder. The inclusion of gay characters in games leads some to believe that one day there will be no heterosexual characters they can choose to play as, that this is a slippery slope that will inevitably cause entire entries in popular franchises to be populated exclusively by LGBT characters. Such a premise is ludicrous. It’s also the exact reverse of what’s facing young lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially transgender gamers – who are represented even more poorly still – in most titles today.

I won’t say much more about the article, as the author has already said everything much more elegantly than I could ever, so please take some time and give the article a read.  For more articles about the LGBT Community and Gaming, check out these articles:

Can Video Games Alleviate LGBT Bullying

Kickstarter for Documentary about LGBT Community in Games 

Nintendo UK creates the ” Nintendo Girls Club” on Youtube

A few months ago during E3 I asked the question whether Nintendo was being more gender inclusive after the inclusion of lead female characters in most of their E3 line-up. Yesterday, the Nintendo’s Girl Club youtube channel popped up on youtube, giving further evidence that Nintendo is really stepping up their efforts to appeal to a wider audience.

The introductory video (posted above) promises trailers and news presented by the channel’s host  Jorgie Porter and other female fans of Nintendo games and franchises. All in all, it seems like the channel will be just that: female gamers talking about games and news relating to Nintendo. It’s a welcomed and novel approach, and it does show that Nintendo is at least trying to appeal to female gamers. I doubt we’ll see any hard hitting insight on the channel, but it’s good nonetheless. This comes after many divisions of Nintendo have launched a marketing campaign to appeal to a wider demographic of gamers, including commercials and games that more widely appeal to a greater audience.

If you are or know a young girl that is a fan of Nintendo then they may enjoy this new channel. I realize this entire post reads like a advertisement for Nintendo, but I thought it was something worth noticing.

Check out more videos on the Nintendo Girl’s Club Youtube channel

 

Research Claims There’s A Connection Between Sexist Video Games and Rape

Research Claims There’s A Connection Between Sexist Video Games and Rape

A recent study coming out of Stanford is claiming that there’s a scientific connection between sexist video games and rape. Honestly, the study is more about a connection between video games and self-objectification, but we’ll go with that they’re claiming for right now.

A sample of the sexualized avatars used in the study

The study evaluates shifts in perspectives on rape culture and physical embodiment after playing with sexualized in-game avatars. The research group went about examining these shifts by having groups of female gamers play with highly sexualized avatars and then having them answer questions regarding views on rape and sexism. A control group of female gamers playing with non-sexualized avatars were used in comparrison to those with the sexualized avatars. The study found two things: The first, that gamers who were playing with sexualized avatars were more likely to give into myths about victim-base rape culture and that, two,  when the groups were playing with characters that mirrored themselves (including having their real life faces posted on the characters bodies) the proponents were  even more likely to give into victim-blamed myths about rape.  What the research contends is that gamers embody characteristics of their avatars, which alter their real-world perspectives as players with more sexualized avatars were reported as having much more body related thoughts than those without sexualized avatars. This would contend that sexualized avatars create more self-objectification than non-sexualized avatars.

What’s this mean? It would suggest that sexist female avatars and characters have negative effect on female gamers. Beyond the consequences of being more susceptible to myth about rape, which is what the study focuses on, the research seems to suggest that inaccurate representation of females in games have harmful effects on how female gamers are viewing themselves and females in general. While the study doesn’t go into the effects that sexist video game characters have on men, it does provide evidence that sexism in video games has effects on how gamers view women, which is certainly a great issue.  With a lack of accurate a fair female representations in the gaming world, the surplus of sexist and inaccurate video game females is showing to have more and more effect on female and male gamers alike.

 

I’m not really doing the research justice, so please go check out the link to the research study’s paper that was published in Computers in Human Behavior