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I've killed a lot of women recently (in games)


Pob
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I first noticed this in Watch Dogs 2 a few years back. A large proportion of the combatants I was up against - both cops and gang members - were female. Perhaps even 50%. It took me a while to get used to, but I put it down to being a new trend of games actually acknowledging that women exist as more than just sex objects and victims.

 

I've recently been playing Days Gone and The Last Of Us 2, both of which present a similar, brutal post apocalyptic worlds where the strong subjugate the weak and survivors are grouped into warring militaristic and fanatical factions. Again, it feels like 50% of the (non-zombie) NPCs I shoot, stab and bludgeon are women.

 

It feels to me like the kind of horrible gangsters you get in these games - the type who ambush innocents, execute enemies in cold blood and who wield power over the weak, are much, much more likely to be male. Is that not what happens in real-life warzones? Of all the police brutality I've seen recently in the US, not once has it been perpetrated by a woman, although of course there are plenty of female police officers in riot gear present.

 

This is something I'd like to see a woman's take on. Is it realistic? Is it the kind of equal ops representation that women want to see? On the surface you could say, well 50% of the population are women so why would women not be equally represented in raw numbers? But, for me, one of the terrifying things about these lawless scenarios is that the dark side of masculinity would be unleashed, and one of the great things about civilised society is the growing influence of women. Films like 28 Days Later and The Road depict dystopias ruled by violent men, not a 50/50 split of violent human beings.

 

It definitely feels worse when I kill a female NPC even though they are functionally identical to the male NPCs, just with different character model and voice acting. I'm trying to work out whether that's just an instinctive reaction, or whether there is more to it.

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Dude opinion: It’s probably a bunch of people who don’t understand what gender equality is about, trying ham-fistedly to make a more gender-balanced game, in good faith or otherwise. I could see someone deciding to do a tally on how many characters you see and concluding that if about 50% of the 1000 humanoid entities that ever appear on screen are women, then who cares if they’re generic grunts and the main story characters are still ten guys and one woman.
 

I was thinking earlier that in Control there’s a pretty even split between the major NPCs in your “team” on gender and how rare that is.

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Currently playing TLOU2 and have zero problem with cleaving a woman or man in the head in this game. They are trying to kill me! 

 

Personally I find it refreshing that we have a better mix of people represented in general instead of just white blokes. 

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15 minutes ago, Alex W. said:

Dude opinion: It’s probably a bunch of people who don’t understand what gender equality is about, trying ham-fistedly to make a more gender-balanced game, in good faith or otherwise. I could see someone deciding to do a tally on how many characters you see and concluding that if about 50% of the 1000 humanoid entities that ever appear on screen are women, then who cares if they’re generic grunts and the main story characters are still ten guys and one woman.
 

I was thinking earlier that in Control there’s a pretty even split between the major NPCs in your “team” on gender and how rare that is.

 

Yeah. It's like, if you're going to have better representation, it really helps to have rationale for it as well. I always think about Omar in The Wire. On the surface it's refreshing to have a gay gangster in the mix, but then you start to understand that Omar could only ever be a kind of lone gunman unaffiliated gangster because he's openly gay.

 

TLOU2 is great because of the resourceful, realistic women in lead roles. That's all good. It's the unexplained presence of so many violent female grunts that it making me think. Games don't have to strive for 100% realism and it's perfectly acceptable for a game designer to say "yeah it wouldn't happen, I just want to my game to have an equal spread of men and women". But in something as realistic as TLOU2 those things stick out.

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If the game is set in the present day, sure, I can understand that it's probably unrealistic to have a 50-50 gender split of enemies.

 

In a theoretical post-apocalyptic wasteland like TLOU where a lone wolf is probably not long for this world and belonging to a group is important, I think it makes more sense. It's a world where the ability of the group to pull together, share responsibility and ensure that everyone has a base level of survival skills, including combat, is everything, regardless of gender.

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Thinking about TLoU specifically, having not played it, isn’t having a pretty even gender split pretty typical for zombie/post apocalypse fiction? It’s often not meant to be a militarised environment, more like the ordinary day to day curdled and brutalised.

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7 minutes ago, Benny said:

It's kind of hilarious yet also depressing that the industry's unspoken answer to better representation and equality in AAA games is to make sure you have to kill a LOT more women and minorities than before.

I don't get this. Is this one of those "damned if you do damned it you don't" scenarios?

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4 minutes ago, df0 said:

I don't get this. Is this one of those "damned if you do damned it you don't" scenarios?

 

It's more of a general commentary on the prevalence of violence in games in general. In that, depressingly, "equality" ends up meaning more of it commited towards more marginalised groups. I was ecstatic that a vast majority of the forum's favourite games last year were non violent.

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24 minutes ago, Benny said:

 

It's more of a general commentary on the prevalence of violence in games in general. In that, depressingly, "equality" ends up meaning more of it commited towards more marginalised groups. I was ecstatic that a vast majority of the forum's favourite games last year were non violent.


There are certainly limits on what you can do for representation when the only two commercial game genres are “sport simulation” and “contextualised violence”.

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14 minutes ago, deKay said:

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has noticeably more female “baddies” than any other AC.

Yes, however because of the armour I often do not notice until after the kill. Of course, playing as Kassandra it doesnt feel as bad.

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Videogames are in transition just as much as the general workplace is. More and more women are becoming protagonists in videogames. I don't really see the issue. the amount of videogames with women is increasing. And an open world game, for example, you'll have no choice but to kill women. And men.

 

 

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I also noticed this while playing TLOU2, as well as the seemingly conscious inclusion of more ethnic minority characters in leading roles than we've typically seen in games. The number of leading women characters in games in the recent PS5 showcase was also something I remarked on at the time.

 

While I agree that the number of antagonistic women NPCs in TLOU2 could be called into question, you could argue that you spend the game playing as a woman who is a bloodthirsty, violent and a capable killer, so why shouldn't the baddies be the same? I do get what the OP is saying, though - in The Road, which the developers of TLOU are openly indebted to, all of the antagonists are men, and while it's not quite as imbalanced in The Walking Dead comics, another big influence (and, from what I've seen of it, the TV series), I'd still say the large majority of baddies are men.

 

That said, I'll take it as a step forward to fairer representation of gender, even if it is a bit on the nose. I think, ultimately, we want to get to a point where the inclusion of women characters, as well as ethnic minorities and other under-represented groups, is so normal as to be no longer be remarkable, and while the number of female protagonists in games is definitely on the rise, Uncharted: Lost Legacy is the only AAA game I can recall in recent years with a primary protagonist from an ethnic minority (though she is still voiced by a white actor). No other examples spring to mind, anyway.

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2 hours ago, Jg15 said:

Yes, however because of the armour I often do not notice until after the kill. Of course, playing as Kassandra it doesnt feel as bad.

 

"After the kill" implies you feel some level of regret. Which sounds sounds weird tbh. Would it feel somehow worse if the pixels you were controlling represented a male?

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49 minutes ago, sdmilne said:

 

"After the kill" implies you feel some level of regret. Which sounds sounds weird tbh. Would it feel somehow worse if the pixels you were controlling represented a male?

Well, yes I suppose in a weird way it would. Someone already mentioned Days Gone and it definitely feels morally wrong in that instance, especially as you are playing a male character. Again the female characters are not obvious as everyone In a zombie style apocalypse is wearing hoodies, beanies and baggy looking trousers.

 

Going back to AC there is also the satisfaction of defeating big male characters (and there are some big lads to fight) with Kassandra. Not that Kassandra is in any way weak of course, she is as big as some of the men she fights, but playing as a female character I often feel less remorse for killing, especially men (and yes, I am a man myself).

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13 minutes ago, Jg15 said:

Well, yes I suppose in a weird way it would. Someone already mentioned Days Gone and it definitely feels morally wrong in that instance, especially as you are playing a male character. Again the female characters are not obvious as everyone In a zombie style apocalypse is wearing hoodies, beanies and baggy looking trousers.

 

Going back to AC there is also the satisfaction of defeating big male characters (and there are some big lads to fight) with Kassandra. Not that Kassandra is in any way weak of course, she is as big as some of the men she fights, but playing as a female character I often feel less remorse for killing, especially men (and yes, I am a man myself).

 

All a bit odd in my opinion.

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12 hours ago, Jamie John said:

While I agree that the number of antagonistic women NPCs in TLOU2 could be called into question, you could argue that you spend the game playing as a woman who is a bloodthirsty, violent and a capable killer, so why shouldn't the baddies be the same? I do get what the OP is saying, though - in The Road, which the developers of TLOU are openly indebted to, all of the antagonists are men, and while it's not quite as imbalanced in The Walking Dead comics, another big influence (and, from what I've seen of it, the TV series), I'd still say the large majority of baddies are men.

 

That said, I'll take it as a step forward to fairer representation of gender, even if it is a bit on the nose. I think, ultimately, we want to get to a point where the inclusion of women characters, as well as ethnic minorities and other under-represented groups, is so normal as to be no longer be remarkable, and while the number of female protagonists in games is definitely on the rise, Uncharted: Lost Legacy is the only AAA game I can recall in recent years with a primary protagonist from an ethnic minority (though she is still voiced by a white actor). No other examples spring to mind, anyway.

 

Just to reiterate, it's not the amount of female protagonists doing traditionally male things (in games, this usually means killing people, let's face it) that I was thinking about when I started this thread. Nor would a female antagonist be remarkable. It's the cannon fodder, which appears in large numbers. Based on my perception of the real world, where seemingly 99% of violent acts are committed by males (please note: not a real statistic), it feels a bit simplistic that game designers are going with equal representation for their waves of NPC goons.

 

In reality I expect it's a way to stay apolitical rather than trying to explore exactly what the demographics would look like in these scenarios. I mentioned it because it takes me out of the games a bit, and after killing and maiming a whole load of women in Days Gone and TLOU2 I started to wonder if it was the right approach.

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@Pob - don't get me wrong, I get what you're saying and I agree that it does seem off, but I think including women and men 50:50 is at least a step in the right direction, even if it doesn't make sense in TLOU2's particular narrative. I think having the same number of female and male infected is fine, but you're right that equal numbers of male and female human enemies, given the type of world that the game presents, is perhaps unrealistic. I haven't played Days Gone yet, but I imagine it's the same sort of thing with that game world, too.

 

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