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Developers call out Ubisoft on their stance regarding playable female characters

K.N.W.

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Feb 24, 2014
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The could had made transgender charcters.... Same animations, same body and skeleton but with long hairs
 

Pseudo judo

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May 15, 2005
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Ubisoft can choose and not choose what ever character types they see fit and we as consumers have a choice to buy it or not. They are not beholden to us in any way to change their vision of an established franchise. No one is begging Hideo Kojima for a female version of Snake. Gamers don't want to play a female version of Snake.

I don't believe in forced political correctness in creative endeavors. If you want more female characters then be the change you want to see in the world. Go out there and make it happen.
 

Infinite

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Feb 6, 2010
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If this wasn't a next gen game with some of the most complex rigs in the gaming world i'd be inclined to agree with you. However, that's completely false. It IS asking for much due to the complex nature of everything involved. And it's not worth it in the end because the person wouldn't even know that they're playing as a female in the first place.
You really can't speak for them though
 

figadapaura

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Feb 16, 2014
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If this wasn't a next gen game with some of the most complex rigs in the gaming world i'd be inclined to agree with you. However, that's completely false. It IS asking for much due to the complex nature of everything involved. And it's not worth it in the end because the person wouldn't even know that they're playing as a female in the first place.
I'm not denying that, I just meant comparatively.
 

sjay1994

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Dec 13, 2012
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If this wasn't a next gen game with some of the most complex rigs in the gaming world i'd be inclined to agree with you. However, that's completely false. It IS asking for much due to the complex nature of everything involved. And it's not worth it in the end because the person wouldn't even know that they're playing as a female in the first place.
Wasn't the entire crux of the PS4 reveal that it was "easy to develop for"

Simple guess is that the AAA market is too scared of making a leading female character.

Probably after BGAE ubi felt female leads didn't sell well. Same with Mirrors Edge.
 

Crossing Eden

Hello, my name is Yves Guillemot, Vivendi S.A.'s Employee of the Month!
Feb 14, 2014
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Agreed.

This whole animation thing is flimsy.

Even though, AC:U probably has the most complex animations in the series.



The idea that it requires double the work for a female character makes little sense to me. I mean, they have had female multiplayer characters in the past for AC, Aveline used most of Connors animations for liberation, etc.
And the result of that is that the animation for Aveline wasn't as fluid or natural as it should have been. It was jerky, there were clipping issues, people wouldn't be where there needed to be, Aveline sometimes displayed some very unnatural looking feats of strength. To avoid all that and get to the quality bar that they're trying to reach would take up lots of resources and development time on something that's the user would not be aware of in the first place. In fact, I bet the company would get scrutinized for reusing animations and not doing a good job of making them convincing or they would do all that extra work and other aspects of the game would remain unpolished by the time of release. Which doesn't benefit anyone in the slightest.
 

Interfectum

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I dunno, seemed to work perfectly fine in Halo 1 and 2. Wasn't seamless, the second Spartan just disappeared, and players were fine with it. What I'm saying isn't anything radically new.

Keep in mind I'm only taking this position for co-op/multiplayer. If it's a single-player game then it's more understandable, I think.
Ahh I misunderstood exactly what you were asking for. I see your point and it's a shame that Ubi is the target for this considering I think they have come a long way and are a lot further ahead than a lot of developers in the area of inclusion.
 

sjay1994

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Ubisoft can choose and not choose what ever character types they see fit and we as consumers have a choice to buy it or not. They are not beholden to us in any way to change their vision of an established franchise. No one is begging Hideo Kojima for a female version of Snake. Gamers don't want to play a female version of Snake.

I don't believe in forced political correctness in creative endeavors. If you want more female characters then be the change you want to see in the world. Go out there and make it happen.
I'm not mad there is no female character or option.

I'm just baffled by their reasoning.

They should have just did what rockstar did and said "We didn't want to make a female character"

But then again, they would have probably gotten even more flak. R* can get away with it because they are R*.
 

Cyrano

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Dec 20, 2010
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Female characters are really easy to do and you can be super-lazy about it. Especially with a character that's hooded 90% (100%?) of the time.
 

Anura

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May 10, 2013
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Ubisoft can choose and not choose what ever character types they see fit and we as consumers have a choice to buy it or not. They are not beholden to us in any way to change their vision of an established franchise. No one is begging Hideo Kojima for a female version of Snake. Gamers don't want to play a female version of Snake.

I don't believe in forced political correctness in creative endeavors. If you want more female characters then be the change you want to see in the world. Go out there and make it happen.
Comments like this are always silly... Nobody is forcing the developers to do anything but through our complaining we are changing it like you said we should. Didn't you see tomodachi life and the 180 on Nintendo's stance?

Also the "creative endeavor" always seems so forced when we're talking about AAA games filled with market research and only the safest choices possible
 

sjay1994

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And the result of that is that the animation for Aveline wasn't as fluid or natural as it should have been. It was jerky, there were clipping issues, people wouldn't be where there needed to be, Aveline sometimes displayed some very unnatural looking feats of strength. To avoid all that and get to the quality bar that they're trying to reach would take up lots of resources and development time on something that's the user would not be aware of in the first place. In fact, I bet the company would get scrutinized for reusing animations and not doing a good job of making them convincing or they would do all that extra work and other aspects of the game would remain unpolished by the time of release. Which doesn't benefit anyone in the slightest.
Yeah, Aveline did look weird in motion.

But the female MP animations looked fine.
 

Galactic Fork

A little fluff between the ears never did any harm...
Dec 9, 2005
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On my phone so not the best image but

from this it looks like they specifically designed 3 assassins for you to be so not random NPCs. You make very good points but again from Ubisoft's standpoint why? I'm not disagreeing with you I'm just asking if you were them why would you put time into additional animations when you could easily just copy Arno's and use random male grunts.
They planned on it, but cut it because they felt it was too hard.

There have been women assassins in previous games, so obviously they exist, but none of them were in France in that time period apparently. They had a great way to show a diverse number of assassins while still having a guy main character.
 

Fliesen

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Feb 18, 2014
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I don't believe in forced political correctness in creative endeavors. If you want more female characters then be the change you want to see in the world. Go out there and make it happen.
So you're the guy who put Conker into Project Spark!
the good old "if you want it, go make it yourself" way of handling things ;)

Someone please make a Conker game, i'm super lazy :(
 

The Librarian

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Apr 22, 2008
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If you played watch dogs its just like that games hacking and tailing. Press a few buttons and bam you stay in your single player world but now another player is either after you or you're after them, but to you they look like any other NPC and vice versa. Once that is over your single player missions just pop back up on the map.
I haven't played Watch Dogs so I really can't speak to that. I'm mostly saying that, for multiplayer and co-op modes, story reasons aren't necessarily these impossible obstacles that can't be overcome.
 

NastyBook

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Sep 29, 2013
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The everyone seeing their player as the main character is a much better excuse for why they omitted female models, wonder why didn't they lead with that in their initial answer?
Yeah, that actually makes more sense. However, I wouldn't have had a problem with one player being the MC if it gives the other three players the means to customize their Assassins.
 
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I dunno, seemed to work perfectly fine in Halo 1 and 2. Wasn't seamless, the second Spartan just disappeared, and players were fine with it. What I'm saying isn't anything radically new.

Keep in mind I'm only taking this position for co-op/multiplayer. If it's a single-player game then it's more understandable, I think.
For better or worse, Assassin's Creed team takes their narrative really, really seriously.
 

Kuldar

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What I'm trying to say is, the things the Animus can do are so arbitrary because it's fantasy space science magic. For some reason the Animus can do all sorts of shit but it can't let you see yourself as a woman. You can relive your ancestor's memories through your DNA (although you don't even need that anymore) and 4 people can relive the same person at the same time without causing any inconsistencies. But playing as a woman is where they draw the line. Playing as, I don't know, Annette instead of Arno is where the science magic stops.
Of course all of this is arbitrary and they can choose to change the way everything work and allow anything.

If we try to find an explanation in the lore of AC, the animus technology is tied to DNA. The idea is that the whole history of your ancestors is written in your DNA, so you get the DNA informations of all you ancestors. The animus create a VR where you can explore the memory. The main problem with this exploration isthat you have to do what your ancestor did, to act as he/she acted, to be her/him. If you succed, you synchronize with the memory. The synchronization is the way to know if the simulation is working. The VR is built with the DNA information of the selected ancestor. So if the selected ancestor is a biological man, the VR will make you to relive the memory as a man. Maybe it could change a man in a woman but it's so strongly tied to the DNA than the synchronization would not be possible.

As I said, it's only a way to find an explanation with the actual lore of AC Games. They could just say "a new version of the Animus allow gender change" and then you would be able to choose the gender of the main protagonist.
 

AdrianWerner

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I mean literally just putting a different skin on a character during co-op missions isn't really asking for much. Not that I'm asking for that, but the idea that it's similar to having a male version of Lara Croft is absurd.
Ermm...but you still wouldn';t be able to play as female character. If you want non playable female characters then there are plenty on the streets of Paris.
 
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The situation is getting ridicolous once more.

I don't know it the ubisoft claims are true, they said they have redone the animation system completely, at the same time these opinion by industry professionals are worth considering.

The fact is that this is the nth "non issue" : developers are not obliged to use female characters in their games.
They are not using a male character in a context where a female one was obviously the best fit.
It's their choice, we should respect it. There are 4 playable assassins in the game, 4 is not statistically relevant!

If anybody has serious problems playing a character of one specific gender he/she should ask himself some questions.

Those ridicolous complains are getting out of hand. Focus on real equality problems folks!
Equality is not imposed equal(by counting them) representations in games or other media.


Poor ubisoft, after giving us a game and a DLC centered on a female assassin, a strong femal character in ACIV and a game with a supposed gay antagonist, it has to deal with this.
Here's the issue with saying "It's their decision, we should respect it" and this isn't just about Ubisoft: It's "their decision" to make 95% of all games with mostly male casts. It's "their decision" to make 99.9% of all protagonists white, straight, and cis. Now, that's fine for people who happen to be white, straight, cis, and male. But for everyone else (especially, oh I don't know, 50% of the population), I guess tough luck for them? Sorry, I find that rather hard to respect. And hell, from what we know of the industry, it's not even always the developers decision and they are forced to make accommodations for the publisher. For example, Naughty Dog had a hell of a time even getting Ellie on the front cover of The Last of Us. And now when a developer is actively saying "we were going to have women... but eh, too much work", again, I find that very hard to respect.

In regards to " Equality is not imposed equal(by counting them) representations in games or other media."

Looking at a sample of 669 games that had protagonists with discernible genders, only 24 had exclusively female protagonists.
So of that group, 3.5% had an explicit female lead. Now, imagine for a moment how those numbers look for minorities.


Action had the most female protagonists, shooters had even less, and role-playing games had exactly one game with a female only hero.

Go team.


“Games with a female only protagonist, got half the spending of female optional, and only 40 percent of the marketing budget of male-led games. Less than that, actually,” Zatkin said.
But of course, that's totally not a problem.





Now, to be fair to developers, from the same study:

in all three genres, a little under 300 games gave the option of a female lead.
So they are getting better at at least giving you the option to choose the gender of your character.



One more study, based off a census of the top 150 best selling games:

http://www.popsci.com/entertainment-amp-gaming/article/2009-09/first-ever-video-game-census-finds-minority-characters-underrepresented

89.5% of characters are male.
85% of characters are white.
Asians are the only others group overrepresented: everyone else is grossly underrepresented.


Do I really need to go on?



So yeah, if you are fine with those statistics, then sure, let's just let the industry keep on truckin'. Let's not pretend, "LET THE DEVELOPERS MAKE THE GAME THEY WANT" is an okay solution.
 

inm8num2

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Apr 3, 2012
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MMOs prove this is not true at all. Tons of teenage males play as women in those games.
True, and I certainly was overgeneralizing, but I think that perception being held by the big publishers is what drives their productions.

Regarding your point, not that I'm contending, but are there any statistics for what kinds of female characters young males are playing? I would find the distinction between playing as female humans and female non-humans (e.g. orcs) interesting.

My gut feeling is that some MMOs, dealing in fantasy settings, might appeal to different sensibilities than a modern or futuristic war setting would.
 

sjay1994

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I haven't played Watch Dogs so I really can't speak to that. I'm mostly saying that, for multiplayer and co-op modes, story reasons aren't necessarily these impossible obstacles that can't be overcome.
Well I have played watch dogs, and it is a bit hilarious seeing a chubby woman moving around with Aidens animations.
 

Asriel

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Oct 29, 2011
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Ubisoft can choose and not choose what ever character types they see fit and we as consumers have a choice to buy it or not. They are not beholden to us in any way to change their vision of an established franchise. No one is begging Hideo Kojima for a female version of Snake. Gamers don't want to play a female version of Snake.

I don't believe in forced political correctness in creative endeavors. If you want more female characters then be the change you want to see in the world. Go out there and make it happen.
These mindnmbingly naive statements are why I never venture into Neogaf threads regarding issues like this. Lest I be called the PC police.
 

Laconic

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Jul 29, 2013
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Ubisoft can choose and not choose what ever character types they see fit and we as consumers have a choice to buy it or not. They are not beholden to us in any way to change their vision of an established franchise. No one is begging Hideo Kojima for a female version of Snake. Gamers don't want to play a female version of Snake.

I don't believe in forced political correctness in creative endeavors. If you want more female characters then be the change you want to see in the world. Go out there and make it happen.
.
 

J.W.Crazy

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Didn't Naughty Dog explain the lack of female human enemies in TLOU by saying they couldn't fit the animations in the limited RAM? If other developers and posters here are claiming you can justs use the same animations for males and females why didn't they call out ND too? Brushing it off as "a day or twos work" kind of ignores the money involved as well.
 

jay

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I'm not exactly sure what the debate going on is. Every game has some finite amount of resources and what's done with them reflects what is important to the developer/publisher. So are we arguing about inclusiveness being something that should have been important to Ubisoft? All the specifics on costs and animations and crap seem to obfuscate that actual issue.
 

Crossing Eden

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You really can't speak for them though
You kinda can, if you're informed about what the game is like so far thanks to actually listening /reading interviews instead of feeding into headlines from journalists who were purposefully decided to ignore parts of their own interview.

I'm not denying that, I just meant comparatively.
Comparative to other games it would be asking for a lot. The end result is that you get a very unconvincing female doing very unconvincing things or you get an game that has less quality because they focused on an arbitrary aspect of development.
Wasn't the entire crux of the PS4 reveal that it was "easy to develop for"
Probably after BGAE ubi felt female leads didn't sell well. Same with Mirrors Edge.
"Easy to develop for" doesn't mean that the character rigs get simpler. Higher fidelity graphics=higher fidelity models=more work and time dedicated to making them look and feel natural and convincing. Also Ubisoft has had female leads before in their games. Two years ago they released AC:L, last year they did a re-release of it in HD. And this year they released Child of Light. Ubisoft is not afraid to make a lead character that is not dissimilar to other leads in gaming. The AC series is a perfect example of that. Considering they've had a female main character already.
 

nynt9

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It is really nonsensical that a studio as huge as Ubisoft with hundreds upon hundreds of people working on Assassin's Creed can't hire a voice actress to redub all of the protagonist's lines and create a female model for players to choose from.

Bioware does it and they are a relatively small studio, divided into thirds mind you, that build huge and expansive worlds. Hell even the voice actress for FemShep stated she would love to play a female lead assassin for Ubisoft.

I believe that every game that stars a new protagonist each iteration, like Assassin's Creed or Far Cry should let you choose between a set male character and a set female character. Otherwise you alienate half of your install base and insult them with petty excuses. Shame on you Ubisoft.
If not including gender options for a protagonist in a story based game is "alienating and insulting half your userbase", where are the people asking for a male version of the protagonist in Rise of the Tomb Raider?
Yes, I know mine is a dumb argument but I'm using it to highlight the absurdity of the quoted post
 

figadapaura

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Ermm...but you still wouldn';t be able to play as female character. If you want non playable female characters then there are plenty on the streets of Paris.
I already said I wasn't asking for it. And I'd hope there's at least one notable female character in the game that isn't just in the crowd.
Comparative to other games it would be asking for a lot. The end result is that you get a very unconvincing female doing very unconvincing things or you get an game that has less quality because they focused on an arbitrary aspect of development.
No comparative to having a completely different character to play as for the entire game. With her own animations, voice acting etc. Comparative to that it's not asking for much.
 

benny_a

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Didn't Naughty Dog explain the lack of female human enemies in TLOU by saying they couldn't fit the animations in the limited RAM? If other developers and posters here are claiming you can justs use the same animations for males and females why didn't they call out ND too? Brushing it off as "a day or twos work" kind of ignores the money involved as well.
But not fitting the animation in the limited RAM is not the same as claiming they have to redo all the animations.

Naughty Dog said to have human female enemies would have meant they had to re-rig the animations for all the enemies, which would have allowed to have human males and human females but they said there just wasn't enough time.

You can bash them (and Sony) for that decision that they should have done it and delayed it or that they are dumb for managing stuff badly but it is not the same, even though both things have to do with animation.
 

sjay1994

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If not including gender options for a protagonist in a story based game is "alienating and insulting half your userbase", where are the people asking for a male version of the protagonist in Rise of the Tomb Raider?
Yes, I know mine is a dumb argument but I'm using it to highlight the absurdity of the quoted post
Well, I typically think the female swap of a character is better in terms of VA, etc.

A male tomb raider (2013 version) would be fucking terrible since Lara Croft and the characters from that game were fucking nothing.
 

Bizazedo

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"Market studies" is often talked about in these threads, but rarely qualified. It's entirely possible for market research to be done poorly, and with lower quality standards, since market research is usually kept secret and is not peer reviewed or anything like that. So I'm always wondering if it's not a loop feeding back into itself- the product is made for males, the research says males play it more, so let's continue to make it for males.
That's a very good point. I'm sure at least some of the studies are caught in that error or are just crap studies.

The question, then, is, are there any that show the opposite? Are there more or what % of females play this genre? If there are any studies that show a huge %? Even one?

I could relate anecdotal stories, but that means nothing.

It's a lot of money to do these so I can't blame these games for focusing on males.

MMOs prove this is not true at all. Tons of teenage males play as women in those games.
"Tons"? Citations, please. Again, anecdotal means nothing.

I would agree, though, that a larger portion of MMO players are female than in other genre's by comparison. Almost definitely. Thing is, though, that's why I qualified it with genre in the first place. I really want to know what the gender breakdown is between different genre's, for curiosity sake if nothing else.
 

fijim

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You can bash them (and Sony) for that decision that they should have done it and delayed it or that they are dumb for managing stuff badly but it is not the same, even though both things have to do with animation.
Obviously they did it on purpose to promote the patriarchy
 

AdrianWerner

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So of that group, 3.5% had an explicit female lead. Now, imagine for a moment how those numbers look for minorities.





Go team.




But of course, that's totally not a problem.


.
I wonder though if the problem isn't that big budgeted games are mostly action games full of violence. Looking at other, more developed mediums, like TV, books or movies, the violent action stories aren't as popular among women as among men, so they also tend to be heavily male-centric in their cast. Similiarly those stories that do appeal to women usually have them as leads.

I'm simply not sure if we should assume that women actually want to play all those violent games, even with female leads, to a degree that men do.
 

Karkador

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. Also Ubisoft has had female leads before in their games. Two years ago they released AC:L, last year they did a re-release of it in HD. And this year they released Child of Light. Ubisoft is not afraid to make a lead character that is not dissimilar to other leads in gaming. The AC series is a perfect example of that. Considering they've had a female main character already.
Yeah! See, ubi did a female lead once. And then they made a HD remake of it! That's TWO bones thrown your way, female gamers. What more could you possible want...
 

Crossing Eden

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I already said I wasn't asking for it. And I'd hope there's at least one notable female character in the game that isn't just in the crowd.


No comparative to having a completely different character to play as for the entire game. With her own animations, voice acting etc. Comparative to that it's not asking for much.
So you're saying that you want to look at another player who's avatar is a female who's using animations that motion captured from a man and are made specifically to play as a man while wearing outfits specifically designed with a male character in mind? And let's not forget the clipping issues.
 

Crossing Eden

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Yeah! See, ubi did a female lead once. And then they made a HD remake of it! That's TWO bones thrown your way, female gamers. What more could you possible want...
And yes let's completely ignore Child of Light and BeyondGE while we're at it for the sake of making a sarcastic post. Should we also forget the loads of female MP characters in the series with their own backstories too?
 

Kinyou

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Didn't Naughty Dog explain the lack of female human enemies in TLOU by saying they couldn't fit the animations in the limited RAM? If other developers and posters here are claiming you can justs use the same animations for males and females why didn't they call out ND too? Brushing it off as "a day or twos work" kind of ignores the money involved as well.
I wonder if we'll see female enemies in uncharted 4. I get the ram issue but female enemies have been avoided in the uncharted games as well. (Heck, most games avoid them)
 

J.W.Crazy

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But not fitting the animation in the limited RAM is not the same as claiming they have to redo all the animations.

Naughty Dog said to have human female enemies would have meant they had to re-rig the animations for all the enemies, which would have allowed to have human males and human females but they said there just wasn't enough time.

You can bash them (and Sony) for that decision that they should have done it and delayed it or that they are dumb for managing stuff badly but it is not the same, even though both things have to do with animation.
The point is they would be using separate animations for male and female characters. Other developers and some of the posters in this thread are saying Ubisoft could just use the same animations for male and female characters. One is claiming limited resources the other is claiming limited RAM but the end result is both lacking female specific animations. How is that not ultimately the same issue? If Ubisoft can use the same animations for male and female characters why couldn't ND?
 

Ascenion

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They planned on it, but cut it because they felt it was too hard.

There have been women assassins in previous games, so obviously they exist, but none of them were in France in that time period apparently. They had a great way to show a diverse number of assassins while still having a guy main character.
I didn't know that, and yeah female assassins exist so I expect to see some. Most people seemed to be focused on the co-op aspect and are ignoring the rest of the game. Actually given Aveline's(AC:L) heritage I expected her to be teased for this game in some capacity.

I haven't played Watch Dogs so I really can't speak to that. I'm mostly saying that, for multiplayer and co-op modes, story reasons aren't necessarily these impossible obstacles that can't be overcome.
I agree if it was a separate mode, which it could be like the normal multiplayer (which I'm not sure Unity has). However Ubi chose to integrate the co-op with the story mode so sacrifices had to be made with respect to maintaining Arno as a unique individual within the game while keeping everything seamless.
 

Bizazedo

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I wonder if we'll see female enemies in uncharted 4. I get the ram issue but female enemies have been avoided in the uncharted games as well. (Heck, most games avoid them)
Violence against women is also a ratings issue in some regions / countries.
 

Fliesen

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If not including gender options for a protagonist in a story based game is "alienating and insulting half your userbase", where are the people asking for a male version of the protagonist in Rise of the Tomb Raider?
Yes, I know mine is a dumb argument but I'm using it to highlight the absurdity of the quoted post
i think it highly depends of whether the protagonist is interesting, has a backstory you care about (like Lara Croft) or is just a generic almost-blank-slate (like Aiden Pearce)

i don't think the game would have been at all different if it wasn't about uncle Aiden avenging Lena but rather auntie Aisha Pearce.
With Lara, the fact that she's not just young of age but also a girl is very relevant to the story, as she herself believes to be not just outgunned but physically inferior to the "pirates" and she learns that
by shooting hundreds of dudes ...
she can overcome this perceived weakness and over the course of the story her enemys slowly learn that she's not the scared, weak girl anymore.
it's really hard to do that kind of arc with a male protagonist. - look at FarCry 3, similar "coming of age" moment, totally botched execution.

also, it's not about any single game, but the gaming landscape as a whole, i believe.
it's not "MAKE UNITY'S PROTAGONIST A GIRL! / MAKE EVERY GAME'S CHARACTER USER GENERATED " but "how about we get more games with interesting female protagonists" with unity being just the continuation of the trend we don't like.