Eliot Lefebvre unleashed a relatively impassioned soapbox piece on Massively this week.
I agreed right away on the example of Rockstar as a developer that tends to be sexist. I’ve commented on this before here on my blog. I really wish Rockstar would get with the program and let us play a female protagonist.
Based on poll numbers I’ve seen for other games, I would guess 50% of players might play as a female, with 30% as a real preference. Googling to test my guess, I find a poll on the All Points Bulletin forum that shows nearly 50% would make a female character, for example. Other polls for open-world single player games like Oblivion are far more favorable in terms of actual female players.
Infer what you will. I’ll just keep lamenting that Red Dead Redemption made me play (or rather not play, and send the DVD back to Gamefly) as a male. I could have been in a world of gun-toting cowgirl joy.
It’s very complicated, of course, but surely given the enormous amount of investment to make a game, asking for equal treatment in voice over, cutscenes, and romances isn’t asking too much.
In the above pic that I cut from a Rift screenshot, you can see the treatment of women in Rift. I really don’t have a problem with this Ethian-style desert dweller look, although the shoulder guards here are just plain awful. I also don’t have a problem with this sexualized fantasy art style, which has been a cultural norm since Frazetta, Vallejo, and Royo.
My logic breaks down, however, as the Massively article and Spinksville point out, because of the huge non-equity. If loincloths are the going style for the Defiant culture, then the men should be wearing them too.
I should be seeing oiled gladiator pectorals shining in the sun, just like I see in the art of the above-mentioned venerable fantasy art standard-bearers. Instead, we see full suits of armor. And then you’ve got Shyla, queen of the high elves, who fights in her panties.