The Creed of Assassin’s is very excluding

There are all sorts of statistics out there that will tell you that, despite outward appearances, women play video games. It’s true they really do. I also personally know this to be true, as my wife is also a gamer. While her game tastes are no where near as indiscriminate as mine, she is willing to to try pretty much anything, with a proviso. That being that she wants the option to play as a female.

And looking over the selection of upcoming titles from E3, it is evident that the male centric lead roles are truly continuing, with only a couple of titles having female leads, Mirrors Edge and Tomb Raider. It is very easy to see why people think women don’t play games, when there aren’t many games with main or significant female characters.

I am reasonably fond of the very male centric Assassins Creed games, and the introduction of co-op in Assassin’s Creed Unity is an enticing thought, as we are always looking for new games with the wife. But she won’t play it, as there is going to be no option for co-op female character. You could argue she is being stubborn, hell that she is missing out on a potentially fun experience. But games are inherently designed to empower the player, and I get that a lot of that empowerment is lost when you are forced to play a burly bloke. Regardless this doesn’t explain the backtracking, exaggeration and seemingly full blown lies that Ubisoft have told to explain the lack of a female co-op model. It’s almost like they are ashamed of female gamers.

The negative portrayal of females in games has been consistent for the last 30 years, going all the way back to Custer raping an indian tied to a pole, and I believe it is one of the main issues that stops games being taken seriously. Hell in the Assassin’s Creed games the only use females have are to distract guards by using their feminine wiles, making women little more than a tool. It is no wonder she likes games like Dark Souls, Skyrim and Mass Effect, which lets her play as a female, and have (almost) no overt sexulisation of women. Or indeed games where no gender is assigned at all like in Banished or Xcom.

And yet games with strippers and prostitutes as NPC ‘objects’ are still very common, in games as recent as Metro Last Light and Hitman Absolution. There is a very old adage that goes sex sells, and I fear that  no matter how progressive a society we become, that’s not going to change. However there is a world of difference between a scantily clad woman advertising a toaster, and a scantily clad npc who you can casually murder. A lot of games don’t actively encourage you to do so, but there are little to no penalties for the brutalisation of females. Hell Red Dead Redemption, whose main character is actively against the abuse of women, gives out a trophy for tieing up a woman and dropping her on the train track. Presumably you are meant to give out a little giggle as the body is squashed and the cheevo notification pops up.

And doing so doesn’t make you a bad person. Hell a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have give it a second thought. But since I have started blogging, I realised I have a deep love of videogames, and I am proud of what they do. But when games put yet another brothel section, or have unrealistically bouncy boobs squeezed into yet another ludicrous outfit. I get the feeling that is similar to seeing a drunken girl flash her “tits” on a night out. It is meant to be sexy, fun and flirtatious, but it isn’t, it really isn’t. It is just a little bit sad. And I think game developers, publishers and the buying public need to do better.

Twitter @hangmansj0e

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