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David Cage: “Games still have to deal with some kind of sexism”

Friday, 1st March 2013 12:38 GMT By Dave Cook

Beyond: Two Souls writer David Cage has stated that he didn’t consciously make the game’s star female, and that the games industry still needs to think hard about the issue of gender. He believes the tide is slowly changing, however.

Speaking with MCV, Cage said of his decision to cast Ellen Page as his lead in Beyond, “I don’t feel I consciously ‘opted’ for a female character, it is just the story I wanted to tell that drove the decision.

Cage continued, “What always surprises me is that this is not a question anyone would ask to a novelist or a film director. Their audiences would never question that a female character could make their story as interesting and powerful.

“Games still have to deal with some kind of sexism, especially as a lot of the time they’re focused on violence. Male characters tend to have more muscles and fighting capabilities. Female characters usually have an impressive breast and primitive psychology, they are the reward for the brave male hero.

“Gamers are also mainly male, and some of them may not find a female character appealing, unless she is as sexy as Lara Croft. This is changing: partially because gamers are demanding stronger characters and better scripts.”

Recently Cage also stated that there should be no difference in content between games and films.

What do you make of the above? Are we starting to see a real shift in the way women are portrayed in games or is are the above problems still rife in the industry?

Let us know below.

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20 Comments

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  1. Tavarish

    Ripley from Aliens, there is one example of strong female lead for action oriented role. BioWare, in my opinion, also gave strong female lead in form of female Shepard. So yeah, personally I’m all for strong and deep female characters in games and not some dolled up sex figurines.

    On whole “Lara Croft is sexy” thing I’m not sure if those PS 2 era triangle breasts made anyone “sexy”, heh.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. _LarZen_

    I think there is still a good way to go. And what I find strange is that we can have so much violence in games and most people don’t react to it.

    But as fast as there is some sexual themes in a game there is big noise about how horrible this is.

    On that part games has a long long way to go.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. ItsMe

    I can’t even listen to David Cage anymore. He could end world famine and I’d still think he’s annoying and arrogant.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. alterecho

    Recently, i’ve started seeing females as a spirit in a female avatar and males as a spirit in male avatar. So just shut up and enjoy the game :)

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Tavarish

    @2 At least in US sex is That big shameful thing, even thing like showing bare breast in TV is big NO NO, but violence is somehow seen as ok-ish thing to show even to kids. Just today laughed how CSI in latest episode, that airs in prime time, showed decapitation like nothing.

    That “Sex and sexuality is shameful thing, but even brutal violence is ok-ish” -thinking is crossing over more and more to Europa. That must be said tho that Europa is very splintered on this front and how said things are seen, handled etc. varies from country to country.

    Handling of sexual and violence themes needs to be discussed on cultural level across the western countries and not just on gaming level as it’s effecting all levels society and not just us, gamers.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. silkvg247

    I don’t think games are generally much of a problem, I think the media is.

    Booth babes. I mean seriously.. Why? Why do they even exist?

    Game promos.. cosplaying semi naked chicks to help with “promotions”. Why? Why do girls never get portrayed as normal civilized human beings in any video game promotion.

    I can look at most “video game news” photo shoots and literally play a game of “spot the normal gamer chick”. It’s like they don’t exist. Or they’re hidden in the background behind the massive tits of some cosplaying promo chick who has her breasts in focus of the shot, naturally.

    We haven’t moved on in the slightest from the days where slapping a half naked hot chick on a car would help it sell.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Espers

    @1 re-watch the video of bioware mass effect 3 and notice the ” strong ” female Shepard … she looks like a male, she’s animated like a male, she walks like a male ….. this is NOT what the gamers want, they try to give the illusions that this is what the gamers want …. female are females and that’s why we like them as gamers because of their nature … you can make a female carry a gun but you can let her stay as a female and this is what they were aiming for in the reboot of tomb raider … this is why she was appealing because she looked and acted like a female

    .. but then again .. they re-posted the opening in another video with these people saying, ” I am strong, I am courageous, I am .. bla bla bla ” <== you blew up the experience …. gamers are not gonna buy the game due to this crappy video but because of other elements that make the game appealing.. tomb raider didn't need this kind of cheap promotion !!

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Tavarish

    @7 Sure BW could have done better job with fem Shepard render. Give her own set of animations, but when you say “she looks like a man” I disagree and think you haven’t seen custom fem Shepards. Those look really nice. I would also argue that we can model and animate that Awesome Female rather easily if effort put into it, but writing her and making her authentic is tricky part.

    Also on whole “New Tomb Raider looks like a female, acts like a female I kinda disagree”. To my eye she looks like a girl and acts like girl, when she isn’t slaughtering tens of men without flinch. I can see where they wanted to take her as person, but whole trying to be cinematic story about personal growth is some what ruined by whole murder spree before and after mental struggles. Or how she is wounded, cold, afraid etc., but in next second she is running, jumping, sliding and killing around like any other action hero.

    Tho as men, I assume you are a man, making “authentic female leads” can be hard because… well we are mean. Argument could be made that gaming need more women as writers and input makers. Let women shape women in games.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. PEYJ

    A lot of interesting points here.

    @ Tavarish

    I agree about your point on TR but I don’t believe it is necessary to have a woman shape female characters. In fact, that would be just as sexistic, only here it would be towards men.

    @ _LarZen_

    “I think there is still a good way to go. And what I find strange is that we can have so much violence in games and most people don’t react to it.”

    Agreed. It’s a growing problem that is being ignored by many because “it’s just a game”. Exept when a lunatic goes on a killing spree, then it’s caused by COD. Two treches with no chance of reaching each other.

    @ silkvg247

    Yup, they are relics and should be a thing of the past. Personally I find it patronizing towards me as a man, as I feel that they are their to blind and attract me.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. DSB

    @silkvg247 I know you’re not a feminist inquisitor, but I think a lot of feminists are truly hostile and demeaning to women.

    They’re not allowed to make a living looking pretty, they’re not allowed to make a living being sexual, they’re not allowed to dress up for anyone or anything, and if you ask a feminist why, they tell you it’s humiliating on behalf of those women, and it makes them look stupid.

    In other words, if you don’t do like the feminist, you’re a stupid bitch, who can’t handle herself.

    Really, those people are the ones who think less of those girls, and since men are both simple and horny enough to be blamed for liking something as harmless as goodlooking women selling products, we are somehow criminal in doing so.

    Why is there a reason to think that those women aren’t perfectly capable of serving their own interests? Isn’t that a basic right for all of us? They can say no at any point, and personally I have a hard time accepting that a booth babe is somehow a powerless, unwilling little child in need of rescue. I think they’re perfectly capable of handling themselves.

    Is it really too much to ask for a little respect for those women instead of always patronizing them and victimizing them? I’m not saying that’s you, just that that’s the usual approach to those subjects.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. silkvg247

    @DSB: It’s not that I particularly mind that they’re out there, nor do I judge or have any opinion about the women themselves for picking that career. Nor do I care much if guys are more likely to buy “sexualised” products (though I personally think it’s an insult to their intelligence).

    My beef is it’s pretty much the *only* time I will see women in games or tech media. There is no coverage of normal everyday girls. There has to be ying to the yang, you know? It’s like they don’t exist, it’s like I don’t exist. The media forces me to be, and remain, a minority; because I’m either a hotty tottie flashing my pikachu boobs or I don’t exist at all.

    It would be the equivalent of say, never showing a single shot of a geeky guy outside a game store, instead showing oiled up Hercules guys grinning at a cam. Every time. On every news story. There’s no grey area for bog standard gamer women like there is for bog standard gamer men.

    Also, regarding booth babes specifically, surely you can see how their presence, en masse, would only ever put off “bog standard girls” from attending? We’re not daft, we know it’s aimed at guys, and so it makes us feel like we’re entering a space that is reserved for men. Thus the problem of tech/geek girls being a silent minority remains a problem, repeat.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. salarta

    I think David Cage referring to the whole “Lara Croft being sexy” thing is one of the reasons the series started to die out, because that detracted from the actual character, but I’m honestly glad that he didn’t talk about the new “Tomb Raider” at all. It breaks far more of the things that were good about the series and character than it fixes things that were bad.

    @11: As a guy, I’m disappointed we don’t see more of normal female representation as well. However, at the same time I think that a lot of times the “normal” women will start turning themselves into those more physically attractive types once they start getting noticed, because our society prizes physical appearance so much for women. I’m considering how Morgan Webb eventually started wearing sexually appealing clothes on FHM covers for her articles, and I think even Felicia Day to some extent fits this issue. She doesn’t go around in bikinis or anything, but her costume for The Guild (admittedly following RPG tropes so it may not count) shows a lot of skin including cleavage.

    Truthfully, any more specific ideas of “normal female representation” to me are probably different in a lot of ways from what you mean, but I agree on the general concept. We don’t need all represented women to look like or become models.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. MadFingerz

    @10 Agreed, I imagine that many girls like prancing around like that and are totally happy about it and what is demeaning for them is seeing other women shove their ideals and morals on people’s throaths while pretending they are doing so on the pretty chicks’ behalfs.

    @11 That is true too but I think things are changing, albeit slowly. But the other day I was surprised when on the day after the PS4 reveal a tv show had a specialist talking about it and what it would mean for the industry and the specialist was….a woman. And she knew more about tech and stuff than your average bloke. I should say, I wasn’t surprised that such a woman exists, but in seeing that the show invited her and not some guy.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Bomba Luigi

    Man like Boobs. Man creating 3D-Model Woman for Videogame. Man make what he like.

    Primitiv, Simple, Man. You can’t Change that over Night.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. DSB

    @11 I know that’s the case, like I said, I wasn’t putting you in with “that crowd”, it just made me think of it.

    Although I do strongly disagree with some of it. Sexuality still doesn’t serve to exclude intelligence, power of will, or anything else. You can do and possess all of that at the very same time.

    That’s a notion that people like to project onto sexuality, and I have no idea why. I don’t think sex is stupid, I think it’s often quite deep, I don’t feel any dumber for desiring women, and it also doesn’t run my life or change my decisions, even if it may be a welcome part in them.

    In terms of beauty being oppressive to normal people, that’s hardly a crime, is it? Should Monet make himself worse at painting because it might upset people who suck at it? Should Coppolla deliberately dumb down his scripts because they might make lesser writers feel inadequate?

    I would hate a world that worked like that, and I think most people would too. People have every right to worship ideals, they have every right to strive and excel, even if they’re just biologically lucky winners.

    Aren’t we the ones responsible for how we feel about that? Personally I love normal women, they have nothing to feel bad about. We’re all insecure, but being insecure because of a boothbabe is silly.

    I do fervently agree that it’s a shame if boothbabes were somehow to become the only feminine attachment to tech and games. But singling them out just because some companies suck at targeting and portraying women also isn’t fair.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. Clupula

    @7 – Never met a woman who was in the military, I see.

    Did you honestly expect a female Shepard to be skipping and giggling when Jacob flirted with her? Maybe ask Garrus if he can hold her gun for her while she and Miranda go shoe shopping?

    Christ.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Clupula

    @6 – At the same time, as I disagree with 7, I disagree that booth babes don’t serve a purpose. And if a woman likes to dress up like a character, let her. If she gets paid for it, all the better.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. manamana

    I’m still in love with Faith. She is my one and only.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Rafa_L

    I’m all about being happy the way you want, as long as people don’t deceive eachother, if a girl wants to marry a rich guy, and said guy wants a beutiful wife for show, good for them. If a girl (or guy) wants to live out of looks, go ahead. People judge too much. Saying that, no problem with beautiful people living the way they want or being “used” in any way.

    The only problem I think is what silkvg247 said, in the current scenario, it’s hard to find “normal girls”, in the sense of they are not rewards or just boobs. And that alienate lots of people.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. DSeer49

    @18 same here :)

    #20 1 year ago