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Published on February 26, 2015 By Frogboy In PC Gaming

Interesting article on Kotaku today in which activist Anita Sarkeesian expresses what she’s looking for from game developers.

Ultimately, she is looking for games to keep 8 guidelines in mind when making games:

1. Avoid the Smurfette principle (don't have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less "girl" or "woman.")
2. "Lingerie is not armor" (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
3. Have female characters of various body types
4. Don't over-emphasize female characters' rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character's.
5. Include more female characters of color.
6. Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
7. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
8. Include female enemies, but don't sexualize those enemies

So how does Stardock do?

Let’s take a look at Stardock last released game, the popular, critically acclaimed PC strategy game Fallen Enchantress:

1. Avoid the Smurfette principle (don't have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less "girl" or "woman.")

Our last game, Fallen Enchantress has female leads and allows players to design female units in total equality with males with equal resource allocation (i.e. we spent an equal amount in the form of hundreds of thousands in art costs) on separate clothing, armor.

Stardock spent hundreds of thousands of dollars creating unique character models and assets to ensure that both males and female units could be created by players.

 

2. "Lingerie is not armor" (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)

Same. Fallen Enchantress female armor was functional, practical. As you can see in the above screenshot, the armor is not only not “lingerie” but it lacks breast definition because real female armor wouldn’t have that.

 

3. Have female characters of various body types

We include multiple models for male and females in the game. As any game developer can tell you, this was a non-trivial cost, especially to a small studio because it meant we had to create different types of armor (our armor is not a texture being applied).

 

4. Don't over-emphasize female characters' rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character's.

We modeled our units proportions based on real world measurements.

image

In Fallen Enchantress, players can design their own units, leaders, etc. Multiple body sizes included.

 

5. Include more female characters of color.

Done.

Literally any color you’d like. Even blue.

6.Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.

Done.

7. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic

Done.

8. Include female enemies, but don't sexualize those enemies

image

The Villain, Ceresa was female

and

according to statistics the most popular HERO of Fallen Enchantress was…

 

image

Procipinee. Queen of the West, heir of Amarian. The world’s most powerful channeler of magic.

 

But wait…that’s not all…

>50% of the source code in Fallen Enchantress was written by women (plural) and much of the art in the game was created by women.

I look forward to Ms. Sarkeesian holding Stardock up as the model of what game studios should be doing.  In fact, her and her allies are welcome to find any modern game or studio that has comparable representation of women both in terms of in-game characters as well as development.

I won’t hold my breath.


Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 27, 2015


In fact, her and her allies are welcome to find any modern game or studio that has comparable representation of women both in terms of in-game characters as well as development.

I bet Polygon has a team assembled right now to write all about this.

 

on Feb 27, 2015

There's no gender difference stat-wise in our units -> "You are downplaying positive female traits to subdue the role of women."

Include said positive female traits -> "Why are there differences between the genders? We want equality!"

 

 

 

on Feb 27, 2015

This seems to be a major sore spot for Stardock, I wonder why that is? If you're doing such a great job representing women (I'm not saying you aren't) then why do you even feel the need to post a passive aggressive article like this? Congratulations, you're doing a good job. Feel better?

I'm simply confused by this dismissive attitude toward discrimination or objectification and those who comment on it. Has Anita Sarkeesian singled out Stardock for unfair treatment or criticism? It would make the motive behind these posts a little bit easier to understand.

on Feb 27, 2015

Wasted effort. They are all bathing in their own awesomeness.

on Feb 27, 2015

NGC7000

This seems to be a major sore spot for Stardock, I wonder why that is? If you're doing such a great job representing women (I'm not saying you aren't) then why do you even feel the need to post a passive aggressive article like this? Congratulations, you're doing a good job. Feel better?

I'm simply confused by this dismissive attitude toward discrimination or objectification and those who comment on it. Has Anita Sarkeesian singled out Stardock for unfair treatment or criticism? It would make the motive behind these posts a little bit easier to understand.

 

I don't think it's passive aggressive. It's pretty active.

I'm pointing out the hypocrisy. They don't really want these types of games. They don't really care.  Their "issues" are just a fig leaf to give their cause some semblance of legitimacy.

If they really cared about this kind of thing, they (like Kotaku) would have covered Fallen Enchantress.  Kotaku was one of the few game sites that did not cover Fallen Enchantress.  

These guys are just like the people who claim to be environmentalist while driving an SUV 60 miles each day.

on Feb 27, 2015

Yep.Champagne socialists the lot of them.

on Feb 27, 2015

Frogboy

I'm pointing out the hypocrisy. They don't really want these types of games. They don't really care. Their "issues" are just a fig leaf to give their cause some semblance of legitimacy.

I've seen enough to believe that some of the issues are real, but you might be right about certain groups or individuals seeking to exploit real problems for personal gain. The message, at least in broad strokes, is one that I agree with. I know many women who do care about games like FE and Galciv, and some of them gravitate toward Ms. Sarkeesian because they don't feel that they a loud enough voice of their own. Being a man, my perspective is skewed and I have no shortage of potential advocates, but I must acknowledge her success is giving voice to some of those people.

 

Frogboy

If they really cared about this kind of thing, they (like Kotaku) would have covered Fallen Enchantress. Kotaku was one of the few game sites that did not cover Fallen Enchantress.

Perhaps, but it's often more productive to focus on what's wrong than what isn't. It's at least plausible that FE wasn't mentioned because it wasn't seen as a problem. I don't read Kotaku, however, and could be wrong about their motivations. For my part, I agree that women are well represented in the game (but not gaming in general). We can speculate about why they didn't acknowledge FE, but they probably should. The carrot is mightier than the stick, and they're doing everyone a disservice by not pointing out good examples as well as bad ones.

 

Ashbery76

Yep.Champagne socialists the lot of them.

As an actual socialist, I find such people quite annoying, but I haven't seen any reason to believe that Sarkeesian or her associates are poseurs. They seem to believe strongly in what they are saying, at the very least. I don't completely dismiss greed or self-aggrandizement as motivations, but that neither confirms nor refutes any arguments. I'm not for or against her, but I'm sympathetic to some of her observations and hate to see them ignored.

on Feb 27, 2015

I've seen enough to believe that some of the issues are real, but you might be right about certain groups or individuals seeking to exploit real problems for personal gain. The message, at least in broad strokes, is one that I agree with. I know many women who do care about games like FE and Galciv, and some of them gravitate toward Ms. Sarkeesian because they don't feel that they a loud enough voice of their own. Being a man, my perspective is skewed and I have no shortage of potential advocates, but I must acknowledge her success is giving voice to some of those people.

 

People can be lying douche bags just out to get themselves power and still pimp a cause that has legitimate concerns.

 

In the US, we have massive problems in the black communities, rampant drug use, teen pregnancies, prostitution, and an absolutely horrendous level of gang violence.  That doesn't make Jesse Jackson any less of a blackmailing con artist when he goes to see some corporation for a "donation" in return for not smearing them with the racist label.

 

That said, while some of the issues may be real, gender equality is 99% bullshit.  Study after study on a variety of social inequities has been debunked.  The great pay scale gap is actually in the opposite direction.  Women make more than men with the same work history and education, they just take a year off for a kid here, two years there.  Then some lying asshole with statistics comes out and says look, she was hired ten years ago and she's not making as much as the guy next to her that didn't spend three years of it raising kids!

 

As an actual socialist, I find such people quite annoying, but I haven't seen any reason to believe that Sarkeesian or her associates are poseurs. They seem to believe strongly in what they are saying, at the very least. I don't completely dismiss greed or self-aggrandizement as motivations, but that neither confirms nor refutes any arguments. I'm not for or against her, but I'm sympathetic to some of her observations and hate to see them ignored.

 

As an equal opportunity asshole that likes to offend all parties whenever possible, I find them all hilariously entertaining.

 

Their typical work on the subject is like walking into a hospital ward, seeing all the babies wrapped in pink and blue blankets, and going "OH MY GOD! Those poor girls are being forced to wear pink!"

 

Sarkeesian in particular is just a profiteering troll, taking a perfectly legitimate field of research and putting entirely subjective slants to everything she does.  Her bias is wholesale, slander is her work in trade.  She runs around talking about how this or that hyper sexualized character is just horribly degrading to women, but completely ignores all the hyper sexualized male characters that accompany them.  Her most egregious example is the attack on comics for having women in skin tight clothing doing strange poses.  All those male super heroes with the ripped muscles in skin tight clothing are hyper sexualized as well, are they not?  Where are all the liberals complaining about how being surrounded by all these unrealistically buff people is damaging my sense of self worth?  My poor manhood is just being crushed under the weight of all these beefcakes!

 

There are actual issues, like how a few of the second rate writers responsible for thousands of issues had torture fetishes and threw the odd scene in there, but the best you could say about Sarkeesian is that she trades in tripe, taking a valid point and just pissing all over it with hyperbole and absurdity.

 

If you actually care about this sort of thing(I've already determined it to be a whiner baby issue and only look at this stuff for amusement myself) then do some research on the subject.  The roving lynch mob of absurdity has no bar too low, and delights only in tearing down.

on Feb 27, 2015

"Lingerie is not armor"

 

Some people know how to suck the fun out of everything.

 

 

on Feb 27, 2015

Borg999

"Lingerie is not armor"

 

Some people know how to suck the fun out of everything.

 

 

 

But it honors the female form!  No one bats an eye when there are heavily muscled and shirtless male barbarian characters in games.

on Feb 27, 2015

barbarian

 

OMG!!!  US MALES NEED TO CONDUCT A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST BLIZZARD FOR OVER SEXUALIZING THE MALE FORM IN DIABLO 3!!!  They need to make more males be flabbier and with beer guts to make us middle aged and overweight male geeks like myself feel better!!!!

on Feb 27, 2015

Stanley Tarrant

Reduced 73%
barbarian
Original 618 x 600



 

OMG!!!  US MALES NEED TO CONDUCT A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST BLIZZARD FOR OVER SEXUALIZING THE MALE FORM IN DIABLO 3!!!  They need to make more males be flabbier and with beer guts to make us middle aged and overweight male geeks like myself feel better!!!!

 

I don't know about none of that, but I can say that if this guy falls, he's dead. 

on Feb 27, 2015

Stanley Tarrant

But it honors the female form!  No one bats an eye when there are heavily muscled and shirtless male barbarian characters in games.

It would have made your point much better to have followed up with the character art Froggy provided for one of the SK minor factions a while back (I think it was Swamp Giants, or something like that).  The trollish followup that was given instead doesn't help anything (of course, the source for the topic is horribly trollish as well).

on Feb 27, 2015

I seem to recall one of the minor heroes in LH had noticeable cleavage.

on Feb 27, 2015

I agree with the point where are the realistic men. The strongest usually are 170 pounds. Everyone has fat almost. I hate being sometimes. A man never has an excuse for being weak there is nonthing he can't pick up. He never hurts. Being disabled is no excuse.

Women have an excuse they are only tough when thet want to. If you are a guy there is no excuse for not being superman,  even if your disabled, and a million years old.

This isn't a debate about women avatars,  but honestly no one cares if men are never in games as long as there are women. What I'm asking is never make a game that is demaskulised where men are minor,  but keep it equal

I think what they mean by color is asia,  mexican, or african, but this is a moot point in space games.

The reason theydidn't mention fallen enchantress is it doesn't back their point.

i've noticed something over the years,  both men,  and women know how to play chess. Excrpt a lot od times the women that know how to play chess don't want to. On the other hand the men that know how to play chess like the game. This only applies to thosr that know how to play chess is that alot of times this gives men a fealing of control while women get bored.

This is one of several diffetencrs between men, and women. The difference has more to do with interest not a superority complex, but if we were going to be realistic women were wrongly bring oppressed untill the 1800's.