Female Gears of War protagonist 'hard to justify' says Epic

Art director Chris Perna says idea for female hero is "interesting," but unlikely due to negative sales implications.

Gears of War 3 brought female playable characters to the franchise for the first time, but it is unlikely that a lady would ever be a protagonist in a future installment.

That's according to Epic Games art director Chris Perna, who told OXM that a future Gears of War game with a female lead would hurt the title's sales potential.

"That's certainly interesting but I don't know," Perna said. "If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that."

Perna also spoke about positive reactions female gamers have had to Epic's portrayal of women in past Gears of War titles at cosplay events.

"They feel empowered," he said. "They put on that armor and they walk around with these massive weapons and I think they get a kick out of it; I get a kick out of seeing it.

"From what we've heard, when they play the game they feel empowered and they feel good," Perna added. "Some of the feedback I've heard from women that I talk to is that if we'd made these women more feminine and more stereotypical it wouldn't have been so nice."

Gears of War: Judgment launches March 19 exclusively on Xbox 360. For more, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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Discussion

1262 comments
BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

Here's an idea. How about a female lead that doesn't act like the feminine stereotype? 

Pabz117
Pabz117

It's a video game, like it's any more tough to justify that beings inhabitted beneath the Earth's crust... no one knows how it would affect sales but surely it's not that much of a risk? It doesn't make a difference to me whether I play as Samus Aran, Master Chief, Sam Fisher or Lara Croft (ahem, although I am guilty of playing around with the camera for the latter, oh come on who didn't!), they're all awesome characters and the story and gameplay is the most crucial thing to get right anyhow. It would indeed be interesting.

rocketsatdawn
rocketsatdawn

That's a shame, I think it would be awesome. I absolutely love the Gears of War games and it would be nice to see the affect of the war from a woman's perspective. I am really looking forward to playing as Baird mind you; Marcus barely had more personality than a goldfish. 

I think that they should consider having a female protagonist for future games anyway, or at least have it in addition to the male character such as they did in Mass Effect. That was massively story driven and they managed it, so it cant be that difficult. My Female Shepard was mean as hell. She rocked!

I know that a lot of of guys like playing as female characters; games such as Mass Effect and Planetside 2. I play with a lot of guys on Planetside that wear the body of a woman and they love it. For me it feels awesome kicking ass without having to play as a dude all the time. Its a nice change and can sometimes make me care more for the character. Also its bound to get more girls interested in the franchise.

keyb0red
keyb0red

DOA and DOA2 had awesome female protagonists

If those same 4sskicking, kungfu fighting ladies can somehow be featured in Gears of War; albeit decked in requisite army camo wielding a mean minigun, that would be perfect

just my 2 cents.

urtin3
urtin3

I don't care about what sex is my character as long as they are cool, interesting, and not annoying

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

I would have no problem with a female lead in a dears game, though I have not bought a gears game new... and I own only part 2, I wish i knew why gearbox is weird about female leads... they would make less? have they heard of a game called, tomb raider?! that exsisted on years on just sheer sex appeal, and had little to NO gameplay value whatsoever... though crystal dynamics has changed that somewhat...

JSMcMaster
JSMcMaster

This guy sounds like an idiot. I don't care either way about the sex of the protagonist, but his justifications are just silly and fairly sexist. I'm glad he "gets a kick" out of seeing women feel empowered

sepir
sepir

Not a fan of the series, although I only really played about 30 minutes of the first one. When I was younger if there was a choice I always picked the male character (being male myself), all the way up until about my fourth play through of Mass Effect when I made a Fem Shep. Since then if there is a choice I choose female.

If there is no choice then it just needs a character that fits the story. That of course is subjective, so nearly every time there is at least going to be somebody who disagrees with the developer.

chrisrooR
chrisrooR

I have no problems with it, but I will say that there's more of a connection if I'm playing with a sex that's consistent with my own (male). 

Also, you want to cater to the largest percentage audience that plays your game, so it really makes sense to make the lead character male in many of these games that can only hire a single voice actor due to budget constraints.

triple_b2k
triple_b2k

Yup, need to stick with the same generic male for the lead role.  Can't risk having a girl mess things up.  Typical gaming industry.

monowasp
monowasp

I have no problem with female leads, they should try it.

vatorus
vatorus

Girls in games are sooooo stupid...

LoganWesker
LoganWesker

whatever, GOW has already "jumped the shark" it won't be around as long as initially believed. 

be_skeptical
be_skeptical

I have no problem if they don't want to do a game with a female protagonist lead, but I'm sick of playing dudes all of the time.  If they won't let me play as a woman, I'll just pick another game that does.  I'm not saying it's bad, I'm just less interested in playing a dude yet again as I have had to do for the 80% or so titles out there.  

There are only so many times that the revenge-seeking masculine hero must avenge the death of the fair maiden/family/children/whatever that I can take.  Now that many games (mostly RPGs) have introduced the ability to choose a gender, I prefer playing as my own gender, and I gravitate toward games that allow me to do that.  No harm, no foul, no cries for gender parity, just no giving them my money.  I reserve the "can only play as a dude" for the really good games.  

MasterBlade7123
MasterBlade7123

Yo I could careless if the protagonist is a God, Alien, or Human, a It, Male, or Female, Black, White, or anything in between, just make it good. Also, we need more female protagonist. I can't think of any other than Tomb Raider, Metroid, Assassins Creed Liberation and Mirrors Edge.  

Klikandclick
Klikandclick

Damn, does it really matter THAT much? When it's all said and done you're still just playing a video game, why does the community have to get so uptight about things like this? It's unnecessary.

Buck_Swaggler
Buck_Swaggler

"If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that."

Because Metroid never sold, right?

Freboy
Freboy

When you make shooters, it's very important not to take any creative risks. The protagonist must be a white, heterosexual male and he must use assault rifles to kill terrorists, aliens or robots. If you stray too far from this formula, people may not feel comfortable shooting terrorists/aliens/robots and you may not sell as many copies.

It's good that the developers know what narrow-minded, emotionally immature people we gamers are. 

shantd
shantd

I don't see how it would affect the gameplay one way or the other, so I'd play it either way. But I'm not going to hold it against the developers for sticking with a male protagonist. They're in this thing to make money, like it or not. People need to learn to deal with that.

Serpentes420
Serpentes420

This simply confirms what we all knew, the Gears of War franchise is predominately played by pre-adolescents, adolescents, and males that still think like the two afforementioned groups.  I had thought we might be beyond not buying a game because it stars *gasps* a woman, but to those pubescent mindsets I guess playing as a woman might hurt their fragile manhood.

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

Let me turn this around.

In this futuristic world, all computer systems are breaking down. As a result, all people skilled with computers AKA asians are forced to remain behind the front lines and repair computers. Besides, asians are weak anyway and wouldn't be good in battle. The only asians allowed on the front lines would be those who are illiterate.


Even if this was the case in the fiction, Epic could never justify putting an asian as a main character, because the majority of people who play the game are white males and therefore could never, ever, identify with someone who is asian. And besides, they wouldn't want to lose money


See how damn offensive that is? Now replace "asian" with "woman" and "computer repair" with "making babies" and you get my point.

Rotondi
Rotondi

@tightwad34 Like shoes, boots can also be used to protect the feet when walking around.

razor_rj
razor_rj

@MasterBlade7123  How dare you forget Oni (Konoko) and Operative Cate Archer from No one lives forever !

scaperat1
scaperat1

@Klikandclick Everyone wants to be a revolutionary, I guess. 

Why can't ninja be white? It's not fair. Fight the power.

pip3dream
pip3dream

@Klikandclick Mostly staying on the sidelines of this, but diplomatically have to say - It does matter. The age old issue of equality for humanity is one of The Biggest Issues, and it will be for a long time.  If we want to say that games are art, and I think at this point, an overwhelming amount of people DO want and believe this - Art reflects the social context and times it comes out of, and it also has the power to do the reverse and effect social change.  I *DO* hear where you're coming from, at the end of the day, gears of war is about shooting the shit up.  But it also has a narrative, and it SEEMS like they care about what this narrative means and the impact that it has on us as players - and in order to really have that impact, it inevitably will come to face with these types of social issues.

vatorus
vatorus

@Buck_Swaggler 1 game that sold well compared to the hundreds with male protagonists...riiiiiight

ToughCritic28
ToughCritic28

@Buck_Swaggler Omg... one example.  And it's hard to even consider Metroid an example because Metroid's gender is not obvious to everyone that plays.

And "tough to justify" does not equate to "impossible to implement".

chun-IDGAF-li
chun-IDGAF-li

Epic Games art director Chris Perna, you just made public how retarded and mentally ill you are.

jcr8
jcr8

@Freboy  You say that sarcastically, but its totally true. Why else do cod and gears of war sell so well.

vatorus
vatorus

@shantd It's not about the gameplay....it would just be stupid to have a girl protagonist

MKrutko
MKrutko

@majoras_wrath 

Its all about context. I think in reality, if we needed women to stay behind and breed for the good of the survival of the human race, it would happen. Doesn't matter how offensive it sounds, its a plausible scenario and could happen. 

vatorus
vatorus

@majoras_wrath your analogy is retarded....if computers were breaking down where do you think the repairmen would go?  If mankind was on the brink of extinction, would you have women making babies or fighting a war and risking their lives?  They would make babies....idiot

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

@majoras_wrath 

I get that you find it's lore really creepy and offensive. I'm fine with it, in it's logic it makes sense if you really really wanna emphasize how desperate the human situation is. 

If i could give an example of a much lauded piece of fiction that always made me feel really awkward about, it was Y: The Last Man. Where basically adrocide (death of all males) happens. 

I'm just saying, that really twisted settings can still make for good fiction. That's all. 

xiaoyangguang
xiaoyangguang

@majoras_wrath Your point is completely invalid. The myth that all asians are smaller and weaker is just that, a myth. I have lived in east asia.. And I think most players wouldn't care at all if the main character is an asian, it would probably even be refreshening, however a woman can't be put in in all instances as easy. And if you don't understand that, well go read a book then. As for other things, it's pretty clear you are a feminist troll..

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

And yes, I realize the metaphor isn't perfect because only women can make babies while anyway can repair computers yadda yadda. The point is that I'm reducing someone to what I feel is their basic utility.

triple_b2k
triple_b2k

@Suikogaiden Gears 3 has 2 females A.I. companions that are on the front lines through out the game (you can play as them in co-op). We're talking about a video game here, not real life.  Games like Tomb Raider have female leads and people love that series (along with up and coming titles like Last of Us).  Female leads work, the industry is just afraid the little teen boys won't want to play as a girl because  they're insecure morons.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@robotquest   I won't lie I am a bit sexist, but I agree, why? I mean they do make up at least half the population and there are a ton of female gamers out there who would love to see more females in games. More happy gamers = a better market. And they really should get any sort of equality they want.

Buck_Swaggler
Buck_Swaggler

@ToughCritic28 @Buck_Swaggler 

Because Tomb Raider, Bayonetta, Heavenly Sword, Portal, Lollipop Chainsaw, Mirror's Edge, FF6, FFX-2, FF13-2, Beyond Good and Evil, Silent Hill and Ms. Pacman never sold right?

sheikweight
sheikweight

@chun-IDGAF-li in other words he's suffering from "EPIC Retardation" Nyak.Nyak.Nyak.

Alphasir
Alphasir

@vatorus

Because... umm... we don't want wemmenfolk in our video games, I guess? Us middle-class heterosexual males have such fragile senses of identity that we are completely incapable of connecting emotionally with characters who in any physical way differ from us? 

I was completely unaware that as a gamer I was apparently incredibly immature and narrow-minded. Thanks for informing me.

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

@SaudiFury @majoras_wrath I gave my thoughts on that earlier, I'll copy paste what I said

"Fair enough, however, I would contend that very few sci-fi works do anything to raise awareness. They quite simply do not have the nuance or depth to do so. Add to the fact that many tropes such as "women making babies while men fight alien zerglings" are simply there as a lazy handwave for why they cannot simply write good female characters, and I don't have much sympathy.

Compare GOW to a Handmaids Tale. Both have women treated as objects meant for breeding, both do so as a response to disaster, but in GOW it is only because the writers needed an excuse to only show guys (it is telling that when a female is shown in battle, it is because she is "infertile" and therefore useless otherwise). In the Handmaids Tale, it is a sympathetic and horrifying portrayal of what happens when women become just objects. Handmaids Tale also provides a way for these women to escape their predicament.

 That right there, is the difference between a sick nerd fantasy and literature

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

@xiaoyangguang @majoras_wrath it's a metaphor meant to convey a point, not to be taken 100% at face value. 

You are right though, asians come in many different shapes and sizes, so it would be silly to assume that all asians are weak right? Yet somehow this myth persists.

Now consider women. Women differ in size, strength, attitude, abilities...well, lets just say they are human right? To try and claim that no woman could ever take a mans place is to be lazy and rely on tired, wrong, stereotypes.

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

@majoras_wrath you just won't let this go, will you? listen, if you have a problem with this, why don't you just email Epic with your concern? Cause lord knows the people here don't want to hear you talk anymore

robotquest
robotquest

@triple_b2k @Suikogaiden In the Gears universe, women only fought on the front lines in 3 because they were needed to make babies. Only infertile women fought before that, because fertile women were invaluable in order to preserve the species.. They were almost driven to extinction.

Changed in Gears 3 because, well, they got even more desperate for troops.

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

@majoras_wrath @SaudiFury 

fair enough, it's your opinion. 

I wanna ask how the 'women making babies' a trope? I'm thinking about it, and i can't think of a lot of movies or popular pieces of fictions (old or new) where that situation is used. 

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

@SaudiFury @majoras_wrath I think I would be more willing to give GOW the benefit of the doubt if Epic didn't go forward and make statements like this. It truly makes me question the sincerity of their narrative, and makes the "women making babies" trope seem less of a horrifying consequence and more of a lazy crutch. 

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

@majoras_wrath @SaudiFury 

While i can't speak directly to Handmaids Tale because i'm not familiar with it. I will disagree with one aspect about the GOW fiction, the idea that that when a woman shows up on the battlefield early on in GOW because she's infertile - ergo now useless - i think is that if you only see it that way. It's always came across to me that they're trying to paint a very desperate picture, it's not like the men of the cog (does anyone not get the message when you hear people are part of the 'cog') can just walk away from conscription. Apparently they need more kids, and if they can't do that then they need her at the front with the men - that's what I thought at least. 

It's why in GOW3 i found it rather clever how they made the inclusion of women at the front. As similar things have happened in real life in places like Russia, China, and Israel where there were not enough men then they started needing women. Same thing is happening right now in Syria with it's civil war. 

Yes it is indeed twisted, and apparently the cog haven't figured out how to mass produce test tube babies, but it seems like what they need women to do. 

no one can really be afforded an escape from that scenario in an apocolypse.

xiaoyangguang
xiaoyangguang

@vatorus @xiaoyangguang @majoras_wrath I'm sorry if I said wrong, it'sa myth that they are much smaller. Japanese are much smaller but so are they called the "little people" by the chinese etc, however, I'd like to say that, most westerners arent 6 feet or taller. Neither are asians. Even if more westerners are so. But the difference isn't that much anymore. The reason why asians were shorter before s because of lack of food etc. Not because of their race.

xiaoyangguang
xiaoyangguang

@majoras_wrath @xiaoyangguang  

The problem with your opinion is however, most normal men are stronger than most women on the planet, those that are so diverse that they are stronger than the common man, is actually very few in numbers. This is not the case with asians though. If you take two persons, both of the same weight and size and same training, I'd be damn surprised if the woman stood a chance at all, because quite frankly as you americans put it. Women are not built for the same things as us men. If you want a tiny minority into your game, then make it yourself? You live by some liberal fantasy, h*ll had it been for the LTGB scene, then none of us had been around. Respect each for their value as humans? Yes sure, but embrace all kinds? nope,,

I do however like some games with female main characters too, but they must be convincing.. And I don't see how you'd get a strong female character fighting beasts to be so.. Usually those stronger female characters are more ugly in real life too, considering that women "should not" be too athletic or muscular. Problem too with games, whatever way they would put the female character, it would be deemed sexist... be it that she's ugly, or beautiful... Also most gamers are male so those games that have mostly male buyers should cater to males and not females.

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

@majoras_wrath @Fryboy101 nonono. you aren't disagreeing with them, you are blatantly announcing that everyone who has a different opinion than you is wrong. And all you've been doing is trying to hammer that into everyone's head that you're right about this topic and everyone is wrong.  I can handle the criticism, maybe it's you who can't if all you're doing it telling people they're wrong.  This game is very male oriented.  You find that to be sexist, so you come in to this comment thread and comment on everyone who has something to say about the gender inequality in these games, something that has been known since the first game came out.  You are practically telling people that their views are wrong, and if you don't find this sexist, you're a terrible person. Well, then label me and 99% of this comment thread terrible, because in a game where we know it's more oriented to one gender, we don't care. There are better things to care about then a damn gender in a damn game.  And i don't care that you can find some sort of rebuttal after this, I'm done arguing with someone so closed minded.     

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

@majoras_wrath @Fryboy101 you're not exercising your right, your practically yelling at this comment thread that your belief is correct and everyone else is wrong. I've got nothing to prove to you. They made the game the way they did, and just because you complain doesnt mean they will change anything.  

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

@Fryboy101 @majoras_wrath I apologizing for exercising my right to free speech (not)

If it bothers you so much either 1. Come up with a good argument that I cannot argue against or 2. Stop coming to the comment section.