Today on Twitter, Tom Abernathy (who currently works at Microsoft Game Studios where he launched Halo: Reach and has worked in the past on games like Destroy all Humans! and The Saboteur) went on a mini-rant about the lack of female protagonists in games. His full rant is as follows:
I’m tired of those of us who care in the game industry complaining that there aren’t enough female protagonists while those of them who make the money decisions keep responding, “Gee, we’d love to, but the market data is clear. They just won’t buy it.” I hear that from WOMEN in those money/marketing positions, too. And they say it while agreeing with the principle of the thing. Since when did it become okay to NOT do something we know is in best interests of our kids, just because our profits won’t be as obscene? I am all for obscene profits, but I want my daughter to see and play characters she can relate to. SHE wants that; nobody put it in her head.
I’ll freely admit, as sensitive a dude as I am, this didn’t become a concrete issue for me until I started seeing how much more excited my kid got when there was a girl onscreen she could identify with. She asks for “girl songs,” “girl movies” and “girl games.” Why shouldn’t she have that? I had that as a kid. She’s a consumer. We’ll buy it. I’ll MAKE it. We can’t be the only ones. I know we’re not. As I told @leighalexander for her article, I’m DYING to write more female protagonists. I do everything I can to make that happen.
I am less than successful. This angers me and, when I look at my little girl, breaks my heart. It’s not right. Forget the data. Scale down the budget accordingly if needed. We are not serving half our audience in the manner they want and deserve. Not good enough, gamemakers, dammit. Not good enough. Here endeth the lesson.
*claps* We need more writers and developers like Tom. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the following excuses for not putting positive female representations in games or not using marketing that excludes women:
- It’s too expensive
- It’s too risky
- It doesn’t test well in the metrics
- It wouldn’t make good business sense
Justifying excluding women, people of color, and diverse depictions of human beings for the sake of running a business is a damn disgrace. I don’t care how important you are at Company X, there is downright no excuse for exclusion.