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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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Gears of War: Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment

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1256 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.

ShinjiEx
ShinjiEx

I'd be interested and would probably buy GJ if the lead was a girl but meh

killip
killip

It's a game franchise that always highlighted it was alpha male. It never pretended to be anything else. When 3 had you playing as Anya all I thought was "marketing ploy" to grab more people to the franchise.

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

This is gonna be a long comment so i apologize...

I think something many people are not getting or liking is maybe that games are still first and foremost a commercial art, much like movies. They cost multi-million dollars to make, to advertise. You've got lots of people who'se jobs are on the line that your next game pays the bills and grows the company for the next game. 

I think when people at these companies talk about sales, they're going by what the numbers are telling them. They can figure out who is actually buying their games and who isn't. Because again, if you can't pay the lights, nobody except whoever bought your game is gonna give a rats behind about artistic vision or integrity. 

If Epic was some non-profit developer then there is no excuse NOT to make a female protagonist in a game like Gears of War. But they're not. I often hear how 43% of gamers are women, but that's considering the total audience under the umbrella of gaming. and were talking - often in these articles - the triple AAA big budget games. who'se audience is STILL primarily male. Even in a game like Bioware's Mass Effect 2 doesn't do nearly as well as shooter #3000, and even with the option of playing a female (who is often considered the better voice acted of the two) was only played by 20% of those who picked up the game. I'm not saying deny the option at all, but that's a whole new set of models, testing, voice work to make essentially two games nearly carbon-copy of each other (that's a lot of extra work for 20% - even if many of the people at Bioware themselves preferred Femshep). Then you got female-only series like Beyond Good and Evil and Mirror's Edge (both games that i love btw) and they either tanked or didn't do as well as expected - and we are STILL waiting for sequels to those games. Only major reason Tomb Raider took off was because she was not just a woman but also a sex symbol (ever think why some guys make that comment "i'd rather look at a woman's behind for x hours"?) . Metroid is the very odd exception and even then they've screwed her up once or twice.

I would look to the smaller players who are up and coming to push the diversity, long before i look to Epic, EA, Activision, Sony and the others.  But when one or a few of them finally make it work, you'll see the rest will follow.  

People are arguing about principals and what's right, and please believe me - i get it - i'm a minority too and i'd like to see more different protagonists. Again, people forget, that it is a business, and you gotta pay the bills. These companies are big enough to try to figure out who is their audience and who'se gonna ACTUALLY go out and buy the game. 

I'm just talking about the money aspect here, i'm not even talking about when people wanna bring up sexism, racism, bigotry in portrayals, which seem like a mobius loop of someone somewhere is gonna make a big stink. meanwhile if you carbon copy the treatment to the typical white male lead the complaint is she's a stereotypical 'bad ass' chick who'se just a guy in female form. Again a mobius loop of complaints (abusing what are supposed to be very powerful words), from people who probably didn't even buy the game... 

stalin_ksa
stalin_ksa

Unless the game takes place in a kitchen

AngryOldFeral
AngryOldFeral

Female protagonists in Gears Judgment wouldn't make any sense. Real-world "feminism/gender-equality" debates aside, the world of Sera where the series takes place is a patriarchal society where during the course of the Locust War, most females were either rounded up for breeding purposes or support roles. 

The only reason female front-line soldiers were present in Gears 3 was to emphasize that the COG had fallen into disarray and they were so low on troops that even support units (like Anya, a radio operator) were now being forced to fight for humanity's survival. 

Since Judgment is a prequel, you'll most likely be seeing the series' usual agenda of a male-dominated cast. 

Victorious_Fize
Victorious_Fize

The only game that brings out true equality to women is Arcana Heart because there is no men, therefore there is no sexism.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Maybe the problem is that most of the women I see in games have the same problem as the "bad-ass" women I see in some Hollywood movies; They are not real strong women; just girls with guns behaving like men.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Yes, this is true; look how little Tomb Raider sold...

Oh wait, you meant "Woman", not "Sexual object", my bad.

Jarek011
Jarek011

Such bull... Things are getting way out of hand with gender issues or even overall political correctness. Trying to force "gender equality" (In quotes because men and women will never be  exactly the same in every way) leads to inferior products. 

Take a look at Hollywood, trying to force strong female protagonists leads to extremely biased reviews where  apparently the choice to cast a female protagonist is worth more than things like cinematography, story etc. Perfect example: Bridesmaids. One of the worst movies ever made, rated insanely high due to casting women doing what you usually see guys do.

I don't want that shit in my games, and I would be one of those lost sales the article refers to.

Ichigo2013
Ichigo2013

I'd play it as long as the female lead isn't built like a stick.

LandauTST
LandauTST

Actually I'd be more inclined to play it...The main character never really appealed to me. Not that it made the games bad but I think a female protagonist would make things more interesting.

ptown58
ptown58

Option for either like Mass Effect, play through twice with slightly different stories.

CraZkid37
CraZkid37

Haven't they heard? Female protagonist is the IN thing now. Perhaps you are missing the fact that there are so many female gamers out there. Fine be worried about losing male sales... you will replace them with brand new female fans. Epic needs to get with the times.

Meanwhile, the last of us devs refused to take the female character off of the front cover of the box and move her to the back like they were asked to based on this very argument.

Scarshi
Scarshi

Being shot in the face by any woman after telling her to "leave it to us guys and go make me a coffee" will end any argument of who will be doing the fighting. If she can lift the weapon, she can use it. End of argument.

I go to the gym with professional women bodybuilders. Try telling them to lay off the testosterone. I dare you.

Amity6
Amity6

This is such bull. These companies are so concerned with reaching the brain dead broad audience that none of them will ever have the balls to have female protagonists. Im a little tired of playing as these ultimate badass men that show no emotion see Gears of war and every Call of duty. 

Axile11
Axile11

there was a female assassin in the Assassin Creed series, a victory for the ladies, holla!!!

freefadi7
freefadi7

Everything went wrong since women demanded "equality" instead of "justice".....BIG DIFFERENCE!

Sahle123
Sahle123

Hey look! An article.

...

:)

ronan32
ronan32

if people want men and women to be represented equally in video game form then make a game where all you do is shoot female terrorist, i bet they don't do it..it's ok to shoot men though.

ronan32
ronan32

it's just beta males doing the white knight thing that always fails to get them laid..that's where all the whining is coming from. 

GamerBaboo
GamerBaboo

lol, here we go again on the "you so sexist" posts. It's a FACT that a game like GEARS is largely played by folk who prefer a male character , cause the game is based on a more "dude" attitude. I wonder what these "oh ye mysoginy" people will have to say if there's an announcement of "bayonetti" where a guy's pubic hair make his costume!

EmphaZima
EmphaZima

I'm ecstatic that gaming is now at the point that companies have to be apologetic and defensive if the protagonist isn't female or an ethnic minority.

Serenity138
Serenity138

i would much rather a female lead character and i am a guy

AiGeeEn1
AiGeeEn1

just another reason to create a 5th Gears of war game...ok so what else is being recycled these days..

ronan32
ronan32

it's their game they can do whatever the hell they like, ok nerds? i see nothing wrong with a female protagonist but i just wouldn't buy that game, i need to be able to some what understand and identify  with my character, and what man truly understands a womans motives? as i said nothing wrong with it i just wouldn't play it.

Allan_X
Allan_X

Who here would be up for an Oni sequel by Rockstar, using the RAGE engine?

I'd play that. Oh, would I play the hell out of that.