Public Service Announcement

This hasn’t come up before, but I’m a huge Assassin’s Creed fangirl.

Well, not anymore!

I highly encourage anyone who has ever met a woman to be loud about this. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, whatever. Write letter if that’s your thing.

Don’t give them any more money. I won’t be buying this game, and I won’t be buying Black Flag, which I was planning to (Not that it’s much of a loss; AC3 was a complete and utter storytelling disaster, which is why I hadn’t gotten Black Flag yet anyway).

This. Can’t. Be. Acceptable.

edit: Boyfriend chimes in with the real explanation: “It’s not just the animation, wouldn’t they have to redo all of the voice acting so that other characters sound condescending when talking to women? That would be a lot of work.” Marry me. Oh, wait.


  1. Keleri says:
    The backlash against Ubisoft has been awesome. I haven’t seen any stan defenders but I’m not part of the fandom.

    not just the animation, wouldn’t they have to redo all of the voice
    acting so that other characters sound condescending when talking to
    women? That would be a lot of work.”


    1. Elisabeth says:
      My take was that it would be too much work to animate her boobs and butt jiggling with every step she takes, because we can’t have a female character who isn’t blatantly sexualized at every possible opportunity. But that theory works too.
  2. bushes289 says:
    Even the animation director of Assassin’s Creed 3 has called bullshit on how difficult it would be to implement female characters:

    For a game series equal gender representation you should check out Dragon Age. As in not only amongst the protagonists but most of its known world leaders are female, which you almost never see.

    1. actonthat says:
      Dragon Age is on my to-do list! Right now Fable 2 is eating my life, but I hope to get to it soon.
  3. Ezequiel Ayoroa says:
    The worst excuse I’ve ever read. ‘It’s just not possible’ should be ‘we’re too lazy’ They hit the nail on the head with the Mass Effect example.
    And it is such a waste. On all games in general, yes, but on this game in particular: specially considering the attitude towards women of that era and the stuff they could play with. It would give the assassin an advantage, for starters.

    Putting asside the lazyness, I don’t really see any sexism. Then again, I never do. That’s why I’m here I guess.

    1. Muphrid says:
      Maybe it’s technically true that abject indifference to a particular group isn’t the same as outright hatred or dismissiveness toward that group. I think it still reflects an attitude that, in this case, an audience that would want to play a female character simply does not matter to them enough to put the model into the game.

      Whether that stems from abject indifference or outright dismissiveness doesn’t make that any less shameful, in my view.

      1. Ezequiel Ayoroa says:
        I can’t help but agree with you. The reason, as I said in another post, seems to be to please the target audience-because guys can only play guys y’know?
    2. Farla says:
      Putting asside the lazyness, I don’t really see any sexism.

      …this is pretty much textbook, since it’s saying a man can be done and a woman can’t, thus distinguishing solely on gender.

      Simple laziness would have been to say they didn’t want to bother making any alternate protagonist regardless of gender, as opposed to that they totally did but it’s just impossible, and there’d still be the underlying sexism of the default protagonist always being a guy.

      1. Ezequiel Ayoroa says:
        I think the gender chosen is male because the majority of gamers seem to be guys and Ubisoft is all about money. If they had to choose one gender (which they didn’t, really) they’d choose the one ‘more likely’ to sell more. Although, if that is the reason, then it is even more insulting.

        So I can see the sexism now, but it is more of a problem of the community perpetuated by lazy gaming companies.

        1. Farla says:
          I think the gender chosen is male because the majority of gamers seem to be guys

          One of the interesting thing about gender arguments is that if you listen long enough, you realize that all situations always justify the same thing, even when they’re completely opposite. Women don’t play videogames? Well, no point in giving them female characters, then. Plenty of women play videogames? Well, no point in giving them female characters, then.

          It’s the same reasoning you’ll see with books, where everyone knows you have to have male protagonists to entice the rare male reader in, unless it’s a male-dominated genre, in which case everyone knows you have to have male characters because that’s who your readers are. It’s the same reasoning you see in schools. Whatever the state of things is, it’s always given as the reason why things have to end up being only about guys.

          1. Anai says:
            Also 47% of gamers are female. Sexism in the video game industry and in the games was the topic of the speech I ran all season on the college speech and debate circuit. The “most gamers are male” isn’t an argument when it’s that close, not to mention that many males have no problem playing as a female.
            1. Ezequiel Ayoroa says:
              >Also 47% of gamers are female
              I had no idea. It makes me quite happy, to be honest. Thanks for the info.
              1. actonthat says:
                The last sourced stat I read was actually 49%, so it’s even more insane.
          2. Ezequiel Ayoroa says:
            >Plenty of women play videogames? Well, no point in giving them female characters, then.

            That is the most retarded thing I have heard.. today. Jesus.
            Not saying the other one is good, mind you. I enjoy playing a femMC in games(does it sound creepy to anyone else?)

  4. illhousen says:
    Well, to be fair programming a set of animations for a female character would indeed be a hard work. After all, it is a known fact that woman’s spine has at least two ball joints that man’s spine lacks.

    Then you’ll need to ensure that no matter what the character is doing, she always displays either boobs or ass (better both) to the camera.

    Clearly, it requires a different physics engine, so it is an understandable decision not to go there.

    1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
      All that, plus animating her breasts bouncing at every movement eats up a ton of processing power.
  5. Sam says:
    In addition, Jonathan Cooper, who worked on ACIII, blew this argument of theirs out of the water.

    Also, Ubisoft is forgetting that they already made a female character who was disguised as a guy for ease of pirating (James Kidd/Mary Reed), which means she had the same motions and mannerisms as the men around her while still being a woman. Imagine that… Hmmm….

    1. actonthat says:
      That’s the most bizarre thing– in AC3 there was a playable female assassin in multiplayer. They had to go out of their way to not include her again.
  6. Farla says:
    “It’s not just the animation, wouldn’t they have to redo all of the voice acting so that other characters sound condescending when talking to women? That would be a lot of work.”

    In all seriousness, I wonder how much this is going on in various games. You rarely see people balking at picking the character’s gender when it’s a game with no story, but if it’s got a rugged white guy being manly and in charge as its characterization, well, having it be a woman would require rewriting the whole story section to be about something girlier, like being told what to do a lot.

    1. actonthat says:
      I think that’s one of the reason I like RPGs so much. You get that forced-gender-neutral writing where there’s just too many play options to tailor character reactions to gender, so even if they think all the wimmins playing just up their cooking skills, it doesn’t make any sense to actually do two whole sets of game dialogue.

      We saw what happens with a strong woman getting the spotlight in Other M, about how 6’2″ 200lb bounty hunter Samus Aran is a clingy mess with Her Man, as well as in the latest Lara Croft, where they felt the only way to have her character develop was to rape her (no joke, the dev literally said that).

      So, yeah… it’s one of those Poe’s Law moments when you laugh and then realize it’s probably not far from the truth.

      1. Negrek says:
        I love the Metroid Prime series and was so, so, so mad about Other M.
  7. bushes289 says:
    I actually participated in a Ubisoft playtest session last year, the
    game was Watch Dogs (do not play it) and I was the only female in that particular
    session. In one of my (many) criticisms I brought up the fact that all of the mooks were male, this seemed like a really weird oversight to me especially since the game takes place in modern times and the mooks were security guards and policemen, professions that noticeably have women in them in real life. The playtest overseer guy assigned to me noticed my comment and jokingly said said something about how I was representing women’s views or something along those lines. His tone wasn’t condescending and he clearly did not intend any offense but it struck me as odd, I was just a playtester surely there were women working on the game who were capable of giving a “female perspective.” I figured I was over thinking it and didn’t bring it up with him because there wouldn’t be much point, he worked in the playtest department and therefore had nothing to do with the vile sexism Watch Dogs is overflowing with, seriously do not play that game.

    Then you read something like this blog post that really puts it into perspective:

    How many people on those nine development teams working day and night on Unity are women? I’m sure they exist but they’re probably few enough that there is some… apprehension in bringing up potentially sexist issues out of fear of being dismissed and not taken seriously. It’s also a fact that many companies will only hire a token women so they can point to her when accused of sexism and outright refuse to hire any more.

    1. actonthat says:
      Sometimes I read stories, which are almost always anonymous, from women in the industry about how hellish it is but if you tell anyone it’s hellish you get blacklisted, and then I just go sob quietly in a corner.

      This is a great article about this incident in particular that brings up the fact that female devs make literally 1/3 of male, and that the objectification by men probably results in this feedback loop where they don’t take women seriously, so no women are there, so no one tells them to take women seriously, so they don’t…

      There are a limitless amount of these stories. Google at your own risk.

    2. PassingBy says:
      Whilst it’s admittedly only a small fraction, one thing I have noticed is people criticising having female enemies in games as ‘misogynistic’ and pointing out the violence against women as proof of ‘male fantasies’ of hurting women, whilst ignoring the same violence against male enemies. Admittedly, I’ve mainly seen this on more social-justice orientated sites, usually the ones where they jump on any little thing as evil and proof of sexism; but going from those reactions, I can totally understand a company NOT wanting female enemies if that attitude is actually more common than it seems (I’m pretty cut-off from things, so… Only have what I see online for these things)
      (Meanwhile, I have no idea about the Sexism in Watch Dogs, so can’t comment on that particularly, sorry :/ )
      1. bushes289 says:
        I’d think female mooks would be a troubling thing only if there were no male mooks, like that Hitman Absolution trailer from a couple of years ago. I haven’t heard a single complaint about the mix of female and male mooks in games like Bioshock Infinite, Dragon Age, Mass Effect 3, etc.

        When there is a mix of mooks the females also avoid the animation exaggeration female characters are subjected to, they move, dress and die the same way as the males. Because the violence is aimed equally at both genders there is no sexism. But there is plenty of sexism to go around when the mooks are solely male (men are expendable) or solely female (fantasies about hurting women).

      2. Farla says:
        Whilst it’s admittedly only a small fraction

        I don’t think the games that happily ignore what almost all women agree they’d like are in thrall to any tiny subgroup.

        Furthermore, a quick google gets me nothing but guys complaining on entirely male-dominated forums (complete with “well I’m not a woman but” featuring heavily in the threads) about how it makes them uncomfortable because women don’t belong on battlefields.

      3. Farla says:
        In fact, here’s one of the examples:

        I found two people identifying as female in the thread, neither of which had any problem with it. And yet, despite men being the one raising the issue, there was still someone saying God damn so tired of the feminist movement from the angle of “we want equality… but not in these ways”. Female soldiers exist, have them in the game, who cares. You can’t have equality in only positive angles, that’s crap.

    3. Farla says:
      I’ve seen company guidelines that actually say that if you want to diversify, you have to shove all your minorities into one department first, because if you spread them out evenly, everyone around them will view them as whatever negative stereotype and not listen to them or work with them properly.

      If you’re the only woman who speaks up, you’re no longer their coworker, you’re that manhating feminazi bitch who should never get another raise. And thanks to the fact people perceive women who speak up less than men as dominating the conversation anyway, you also spent the time shouting down everyone else. That’s not how to work in a group!

  8. SpoonyViking says:
    Act, not that I doubt either you or The Mary Sue, but do you have a link to Ubisoft’s official announcement? I’d like to write a post about it, but my research-fu is weak, it seems – I’m only finding sites commenting on the subject, not anything directly from Ubisoft.
      1. SpoonyViking says:
        Thanks a lot! :-) You don’t happen to read Portuguese, do you?
        1. actonthat says:
          I do not, unfortunately.
          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Shame, I wanted to do a shameless plug for my friend’s site. :-P Thanks again for the link!
  9. Anai says:
    Out of curiousity, where do you stand on Anita Sarkeesian’s views? I watched her entire series because it had some great material for my speech and I thought she had great points, but I have to really disagree with her on “violence is for males so even having a woman MC be violent is still sexist because violence and aggression are males” thing.
    Unless I completely misunderstood her. >> which is possible.
    1. Farla says:
      I don’t follow her stuff because it seems pretty Feminism 101 and running video on my tiny computer can be trouble. You’ll have to link to where you think she’s saying that for me to judge.
    2. actonthat says:
      Shamefully, I haven’t actually watched her videos (I have a weird hangup about watching videos… it doesn’t make any sense, don’t ask).

      If I had to venture a guess, though, it would be that she was addressing the Katniss Issue– just slapping male-coded traits onto a female character is not progressive, because you’re still saying the only way to be strong is by acting stereotypically “male.” The way to fix female characters isn’t by making them, to swipe Farla’s wording, honorary men, but to make them well-rounded people whose personalities don’t conform strictly to either typical gender set.

  10. Doortothe says:
    Meanwhile Nintendo goes “it only took us like a day to make female Robin for Smash Bros”. They’ve been doing a great job at including women in their games. Nearly half of Hyrule Warriors’ character roster has women (including DLC characters and counting Shiek and Zelda as one person). Then we have Smash Bros where Villager has both male and female versions, Wii Fit trainer also has two gender options but defaults to female. We get both male and female Robin. Lucina is a playable character instead of the alternate skin she was originally going to be. Rosalina has been showing up in just about every Mario game recently. Shulk has a costume where he’s in his underwear so there’s some girl fanservice to counterbalance the male fanservice in Zero Suit Samus. They’re not perfect of course (looking at you Cia) but they’ve been making a lot of steps in the right direction.

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