“Female bone structure
is just different,” says Joe Ubisoft. “Are there spiders in
there? We just don’t know.”
— creeping horror
(@redfivetwo) June 11,
You’re probably already familiar with Ubisoft’s choice (yes, Ubisoft, choice) not to include playable female characters in the new Assassin’s Creed game and their follow-up nonapology about how they totes meant to put women into Far Cry 4, but then they just… didn’t? On top of the perennial favorite defense, “why are you b*tches making such a big deal about it, must be on the rag or something amirite bro?” I’m hearing a lot about how when you get down to it, this is a business decision and Ubisoft, in the end, is trying to make money. We should respect their right to make as much money as possible, because that is what they’re trying to do.
I will address Ms. Rand first. Even if we accept that businesses are not beholden to any kind of ethics—which is not a safe bet—the “good business” defense only works if the thing you’re doing results in people wanting to buy your product. 48% of gamers are women—women who now have access to games which include them. The success of properties like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Borderlands indicate that inclusive games are good business. Moreover, the gaming industry, particularly from the consumer side, is becoming increasingly self-aware of its history of sexism… which means it’s becoming an increasingly poor investment to make games that erase or mistreat women.
The larger issue here is not that they made a game without women. There are lots of perfectly good games without women. I personally played the sh*t out of Black Ops, and my only complaint was that women were (at the time) barred from US combat units in real life. The problem is excluding women for the wrong reasons, like excluding playable women in a game set in a period of history when women were well-represented on battlefields (which is to say, up to the end of the American Civil War and beyond). Another really bad reason to exclude women is because the project ran out of time or budget. The last few things a project works on are unimportant details they know might get scrapped. If there’s a good reason not to have women in a game, they won’t be on the list at all, but if there is, they should be right up there with all the other main characters. Women are not an option. Women are not a last-minute add-on. Women are more than half the population of the planet, and almost half the population of gamers. And yet Ubisoft puts us last. Literally.