Industry Shouldn't Shy Away From Women In Games Discussion, Dev Says

"I think that's a good discussion to have," CEO of Magicka studio Paradox says.

The role of women in games--and in the industry itself--has been a hot topic of late. Talking about what it means for a company like Ubisoft to not include female playable characters in its major games is a positive discussion to have, according to Fredrik Wester, CEO of Magicka and Hearts of Iron publisher Paradox Interactive. Wester says he would have never expected the industry to be talking about this a decade ago.

"It has matured a lot," Wester said about how he feels the industry has changed in the last decade since Paradox was founded in 2004. "We now discuss things that we've never discussed in the past. Like female characters now with Ubisoft. I think that's a good discussion to have. I would have never expected that ten years ago."

When Wester first came to E3 in 2004, the show was dominated by violence and sexual themes ("and a lot of booth babes," he says). While violence and sexuality are still found at E3 and within the industry at large, Wester says he's encouraged by how far video games have come.

"We now discuss things that we've never discussed in the past. Like female characters now with Ubisoft. I think that's a good discussion to have. I would have never expected that ten years ago" -- Fredrik Wester

"It hasn't all changed, but it's changing in a direction that I actually like," Wester said. "We're a billion-dollar industry now. 15 years ago it was a bit shaky to work in the games industry; not anymore. Now it's a hot-shot business and everyone wants to be in gaming."

Asked what his take is on the current discussion about women in games, Wester said Paradox always tries to "mix a lot of different things" in its projects. He acknowledged that you don't see many women in Paradox titles because the studio has a big focus on historical games (Hearts of Iron and Europa Universalis are two) and men often dominated the history books.

At the end of the day, Wester said he'd like to see more women play games overall because that will not only allow developers like Paradox to make more money, but communities will be more well-rounded and better off for it.

"We want to want to attract more women into the games industry as well," Wester said. "There are still women who are on the fence to play hardcore console and PC titles. If we can get them in as well, we can have a better community, sell more games, and we can make even better games going forward."

How do you go about getting more women to play games? Wester pointed out that in Sweden, the percent of female developers is only 11 percent (globally it's around 22 percent). If more women get into development, you'll likely see more women start playing, too. "I don't think you need to force things into games that will come naturally if you have a good mix [of men and women making games]," he said.

This matches up with what EA boss Patrick Soderlund said last month, when he claimed that there are probably so few female video game protagonists because "boys tend to design for boys and women for women."

Paradox currently has a number of projects in the works, including Hearts of Iron IV, Magicka 2, and Runemaster. Magicka 2 was announced at E3 during Sony's press conference. However, Paradox has signed only a timed-exclusive deal with Sony for the game, so it's possible it could come to other platforms later.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

75 comments
Monsterkillah
Monsterkillah

Ok is this a clickbait article?

Who did this? Caroll? Still with the old classic agenda?

Cos im telling ya this is aint good...wheres the Witcher 3 gameplay footage?

People dont like to be tricked Gamespot...dont try to fool us

RogerioFM
RogerioFM

What? Where is my Witcher 3 gameplay? :(

fallenstaph
fallenstaph

these aren't the witchers you're loking for, either way broken link :(

prats93
prats93

This doesn't look like Witcher 3 to me.

yoda101280
yoda101280

damn gamespot and their broken links, I clicked on a link to witcher 3 footage not this mess.

Rakou
Rakou

I'm actually a Chipmunk trapped inside a human body.


I'll be pushing on getting a 50% Chipmunk representation in the gaming industry now.

alkimome
alkimome

Stop this crap, stop pushing political feminist agenda on games.

charlievo
charlievo

damn the Gays are taking over.  Worst than Zombies.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

First off, when people bring up the 40% of players being women thing, where's the data that says they're buying full-priced games?  Why would a company pull in millions trying to woo a crowd more into facebook and mobile games?  The fact is that these are different markets, so until someone presents hard evidence that more women are buying AAA titles - FOR THEMSELVES - nothing's going to change.  These mega-corps are inherently risk-averse, and we wouldn't see the complete lack of female representation if there wasn't some form of market data justifying it.

This is less an issue of sexism and more an issue of the bloated budgets in gaming nowadays making it hard to take the risk.  It'll take more than just a game with a female lead to bring women into AAA gaming, but rather a whole host of them, done in a respectable manner.  It's going to take lots of content, lots of marketing, and a whole bunch of time, and I don't think this largely spineless industry has what it takes.

Guest1001
Guest1001

Uhh ... the industry doesn't shy away from the discussion of women in games. However, it almost certainly does shy away from the discussion of everyone else in games. When's the last time we saw an article on Gamespot about black people, hispanic people, Asians and the disabled in games? We occasionally see an article about g@y people in games (such as the G@ymer convention) but it's still rare compared to women in games.

And God help you if you try to discuss the poor portrayals of men in games (the unrealistic body standards, the fact that men are the enemies killed en masse, the number of male characters tortured in games compared to women, etc.). Nothing frightens a game journalist more than hearing that maybe men can be victims in games; Jim Sterling will tell you to "man up" and call you a crybaby before you know it.

alenth
alenth

Not this again.....


Just play the games, period.

ziggyww
ziggyww

There is not a single problem with having women in the games industry if that be development or journalism.

I think the argument of saying 40% of gamers are female so 40% of the game  industry should be female is just plain stupid.

To me that's like saying 50% of drivers are female so 50% that work in car manufacturing should be female although its just under 25% The reason this is, is simply because it is common knowledge that degrees which focus of electrical engineering, physics, Car design, Motorsport course have mostly male applicants so mostly males are qualified to work in the car industry.

Why can't people just be logical and use this common sense towards the games industry...Oh great 40% of gamers are female but are 40% of people which pick game development course female?

I myself haven't done a game development degree but there was such a course at my university which said a lot of the same rooms we used and throughout the whole 3 years I was there I knew of TWO girls which was on their course and despite each year had around 50 people that's 150 people in with two were girls, That's makes a percentage of 3%.

Some males needs to stop thinking women aren't able to do the job, same as some females need to stop thinking that only because 40% of gamers are female that figure doesn't come close to representing the percentage of females which go to university to get a relevant degree to then work in the game industry!

All PEOPLE need to hire people on their skills for the jobs and nothing more and stop through the sexist card down whenever a female isn't hired. Same goes the other way. Honestly people how hard is that?

quakke
quakke

This kinda useless articles. How about instead of doing these which have no usefulness, you instead raise the cat on the table. "Industry Shouldn't Shy Away From Innovation and Originality In Games" 

How many games have become bland Covershooters because CoD and Gears has done soo well, how many Racing games have ditched their originality to play like Burnout (the FPS of Racing games)..

musalala
musalala

My take is its just money, I don't think the people making decisions are willing to risk 10's of millions of dollars on an unproven market (women) when they know there is a high probability of success  with the established market 

( men).This creates a self perpetuating cycle where less games with female characters are made because they believe they don't do well.The solution is that in the blue moon moments when a game with a female heroine is released female players should support the crap out of it


Its kind of sad that Tomb Raider is given the full AAA treatment as COD or A Halo and then fails to meet expectations It communicates to the suits that women in lead roles don't make money. If you are a female gamer and you didn't support Tomb Raider and are complaining about lack of female gaming icons you are part of the problem.

pellep
pellep

femnazis everywhere :(

kalmah_winter
kalmah_winter

Women playing videogames?! NOOOOO!!! IMPOSIBIRU!!!

*commits suicide*

Now seriously, has anyone of you played Touhou? A game made of young girls and heavy duty ordinance, for teh comments of internet and the amount of cosplay made by real girls you find around you can conclude it's quite popular amongst women, and then you get the male fanbase, funny thing, the only fighting game I got at my PC is Touhou 12.3, because, why should you conform with a Hadoken when you can get a Sure-Fire Master Spark? This comes from a guy who never flinched once when playing the Dead Space trilogy. Anyway, is not really that girls dont play videogames, they just have their own preferences, making a videogame for both genres usually requires to tone down stuff like "we are grimdark grim" or "Squad Bravo move on my target" which is usually related with girls.


TL;DR: add more female archers, special agents and mages at videogames.

fig56
fig56

Why can't we just play video games and have fun doing so. Why must we have this political nonsense infect the gaming industry in such fashion? I remember when games were about having fun with friends and family. Now it's turning into some type of affirmitave action where you have to meet certain criteria in your games or the activist groups start protesting about things that have nothing to do with having fun playing a damn video game. Articles like this make me SICK!

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

There's far more vomiting of PC garbage than there is discussion going on.

isshiah
isshiah

Stop discussing and start doing. Otherwise, you sound like a non-committal politician.


"We're moving towards a mindset which will allow us to begin getting ready to start thinking about it."

aeluron1989
aeluron1989

This is obvious. I like girls. We shouldn't be turning some of the brilliant minds they can have. It will also kill the stereotype slowly. Men who can't accept this need to grow up. Things are changing. Who cares if they have boobs and a vagina and are gamers or work in the industry.

It will make our own experience much better. There is no good reason to be against this. NONE.

TheGreatGhoul
TheGreatGhoul

I think its a good thing that the gaming industry become more popular with womens and I don't have any problem playing a female character.

I often play with my girlfriend, its a good activity to be togetter or she play a lot by herself when she want to play some girly games I don't like.

That said, the only thing that I don't want is a girly gaming industry.

I don't want the games to become like most of the cars in the automobile industry we have today which are mostly made for girls, sissy and old grand-mothers.

We have to pay like 50 000$ to have a car that look bad ass instead of been cute.

Maybe I sound macho but its the sad truth.

Deano
Deano

what's this obsession with getting 50% female representation in everything, seems like any game coming out that doesn't have a playable female character is now "controversial". 

REDShadowG
REDShadowG

I am bisexual and not a misogynist but all these "Industry shouldn't shy away from women protagonists, from LGBT characters" articles are making me sick.

Why don't they post articles like "Industry shouldn't shy away from DRM-free games, free DLC, no online passes" etc. ugh.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

I want to hear someone else in the industry actually give support (and for stated, logical reasons) of Tom's rant about the female hostage in Rainbow Six Siege.  THAT would be interesting.

oflow
oflow

Also I'm waiting for the day when  these developers actually address the rampant racism that exists in gaming.  Every black person isnt a gangbanger, pimp, ex-con, overly huge bald guy, or jive talking pimp...

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@Guest1001 Yeah.  This too.  I'm more upset that we can't even have latino/a NPCs without them being stereotypical "ese" types, or that only Bioware seems to care about representing gays respectfully.

altnamejag
altnamejag

@musalala Tomb Raider only didn't meet expectations because those expectations were stupidly high.


"Astonishingly, the publisher hoped to sell between 5 and 6 million copies of Tomb Raider in its first month, which would have placed it amongst some of the fastest-selling games ever. It managed 3.6 million, which by most standards is an extremely impressive launch."

altnamejag
altnamejag

@fig56 Some people like playing video games with good characters.  There's been a distinct lack of good characters of the non-grizzled male variety.


Hence, there are complaints.

aeluron1989
aeluron1989

@isshiah Actually no. It's much better to say something then nothing at all. Sure something might not be done but it's worse to say nothing at all and be in denial. Learn to look for the silver lining. So much hate. Let it go.

fede018
fede018

@REDShadowG how sad, you don't want to see your community represented on videogames. It's not going to happen if people don't talk about it

swedsihfrog
swedsihfrog

@spacecadet25 well, Ubisoft said they had male hostages too in the game, but the female model was ready for the demo and the E3 presentation, so they went with it.

I would imagine that this put an end to the controversy (especially since this one was a little bit blown out of proportion, since the game is still in Alpha (which means "not feature Complete").

It was more of a pb in AC Unity since they clearly said there that there would be no female protaganist, despite the fact that they already have the basic animation keys to one from the AC game on Vita.

Boogy32
Boogy32

@oflow
First season of Telltales The Walking Dead had a black leading character, who was a university teacher I believe. Although he was also a convicted murderer, so... yeah...

musalala
musalala

@oflow I was telling my friends how Szach for FFXIII is an example I half expected hm to pull out a fried chicken wing mid while he was being the "token black guy who is funny" act 

Deano
Deano

@oflow yeah and the evil villain is always the white male 

Pewbert
Pewbert

@oflow Name the games where the only portrayal of a black person sticks to those stereotypes.

musalala
musalala

@altnamejag @musalala So SE were wrong to believe that an already existing IP with a long profitable history like FF, Elder Scrolls could pull down big numbers? Publishers don't promote games with females we complain and say thats why they fail, publishers promote games with females we complain they are spending too much money, there is no pleasing us.

DamnILoveGames
DamnILoveGames

@altnamejag Implying you can't have a male character unless he's a grizzled badass? I'm quite sure you don't mean that but you know, you might want to watch your wording.

isshiah
isshiah

@aeluron1989 @isshiah not dignifying the 'controversy' with a response is better than lying, which doing nothing after telling us you will do something, is.


Also, what anger? 

alenth
alenth

@fede018 @REDShadowG Hundreds of gamers from different minorities don't give a crap about, if it is part of the creative process ok fine, but all they want to have is fun not attention.

REDShadowG
REDShadowG

@fede018 @REDShadowG Yes, I'll see you 1612311212 years from now when the bigoted homophobes of GS finally get convinced that LGBT are normal people.

oflow
oflow

@Deano @oflow had nothing to do with who the villain is the point is they are all hollywood shuffle-esque stereotypes.

altnamejag
altnamejag

@musalala @altnamejag I think the expectation that all AAA games are going to pull down FF or CoD numbers is unrealistic, yes.  I mean, Resident Evil 6 was in the same boat.  Didn't mean expectations at launch, and took a year to reach 5.2 million sold.


And yet its one of Capcom's highest selling games.  Didn't meet expectations and is in the top five for units sold for Capcom.  Sound familiar?

altnamejag
altnamejag

@DamnILoveGames @altnamejag Not at all, though I may have missed a hyphen.  Its the AAA studios that are implying men don't shave enough. :D  I welcome many more types of male characters.  Heavyweight body builders, bishounen pretty boys, Coach from Left 4 Dead.  Heck, can you imagine Audie Murphy in an FPS these days?  Steve Rogers pre-super-soldier serum.  You'd don't see characters like him these days.

Deano
Deano

@oflow @Deano well of course misrepresenting a white male as the bad guy all the time is no problem to you, but misrepresenting black people is a problem

oflow
oflow

@Pewbert @oflow  But just off the top of my head:

Black guy in any fighting game (particularly DOA5 hes the quintessential black clown pimp), any black character in a Japanese made game, GTA San Andreas, Vanquish, Gears, Deus Ex.  The only semi normal black character I can think of is the guy from Star Hawk.

DamnILoveGames
DamnILoveGames

@altnamejag Funnily enough I just shaved today. I'm going to write a complaint about how offended I am at the lack of clean shaven males and how under-represented we are! But seriously, I'd actually like to have a game where the character slowly, if at all becomes a badass. I don't know if you watch anime or not, but regardless there's a character called Shinji in a show called Evangelion, and throughout that entire show he never becomes stronger. He remains weak and afraid of the situation surrounding him. I think it could be interesting to see that represented in a game. Only problem would be people complaining the main character is too much of a wuss and wouldn't man up, but to be fair, I think too many protagonists have the badass-itis disease. People like Jason Brody who go from guy on holiday with his friends to gun wielding hardass in a few minutes. I don't mind shooting stuff, but it takes you out of it if your character just becomes a firearms expert out of the blue.

Pewbert
Pewbert

@oflow @Pewbert I looked at that list and most of it is complaining for the sake of complaining. I mean look at some of the fields in that chart ...

Criminal and/or killer -:- Athlete -:- Non-Human -:- Can we trust him -:- Excessive Slang -:- Humungous -:- Not Playable


Now pretty much every single game in existence is going to have at least 1 of those types of characters and when a black character is introduced he or she will most likely fit into one of those fields (as would any non-black character). You will find that white characters will fill each of those fields too.


As for "token", well devs can't really win can they. They leave out black players and get called racist, or they add black characters in and they are labelled as "token".

The "grape-y" thing was weird and smells of desperation, as if the guy who wrote that article was just trying to find more reasons to justify his silly claims.


To sum up - white people are bad guys in games, black people are bad guys in games, white people are stereotyped in games, black people are stereotyped in games etc etc .... Once you start picking and choosing you become in danger of becoming racist yourself.

oflow
oflow

@Pewbert @oflow you dont even understand the point of the article (when you say you dont get the grape-y thing) which is kind of why these stereotypes are so rampant in games in the first place.  If you dont see a stereotype as negative (primarily because its not really directed at you) of course you dont see a problem.

Its sort of like how a lot of non black people dont see racial profiling as a problem, but ask any black person and it is.

Let me redirect the same question you asked me:

Name some black characters that arent stereotypes.

Pewbert
Pewbert

@oflow  First I will address the racial profiling thing. I can see why an innocently normal black person would get annoyed about being stopped and searched by the police, but when you look at the stats (These are for England, from 2011) -

Possession of an article with a blade or point in a public place or on school premises
White – 4518 (72.26%)
Black – 1034 (16.53%)

-----------

Per-Capita:
White: 1 in every 10,670
Black: 1 in every 1,803

So you are a cop and you are fulfilling your stop and search requirements for the day. Who do you stop and search, bearing in mind that these stats say that a black person is 10 times more likely to be carrying a knife than a white person. It sucks for the innocent guys that this is the case, but it is what it is.

As for the stereotypes, well all game characters are a stereotype of some kind. The typical rough soldier with family issues, the hacker with anti-social disorders, the sports star with massive ego, the sociopathic gang boss, the fragile person who need saving again ... and on and on. No matter what job/personality/mentality you give a character, he or she will have a stereotype attached to them. You are simply picking out black game characters when you could do it for all game characters.