'Women are the new core,' says Microsoft narrative designer

"The world is changing, it has already changed, and we have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with it," says Tom Abernathy.

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A narrative writer for Microsoft Studios has said that "women are the new core" and that creating more diverse stories, including more female characters and ethnicities, will make for better games.

Speaking as part of a presentation at GDC 2013 (written up by GamesIndustry and Polygon), Tom Abernathy--who has worked on Halo: Reach, The Saboteur, and Destroy All Humans--said the games industry hasn't kept up with today's social culture and that the market for video games is changing at a pace that developers and publishers aren't keeping up with.

"Our audience is leaving us behind," Abernathy said. "The world is changing, it has already changed, and we have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with it."

Abernathy pointed to various studies that show the diverse makeup of modern gamers, including research by the Entertainment Software Association and casual game developer PopCap which states that adult women now make up 30 per cent of US gamers.

"Women are not a small special market on the fringe of the core," Abernathy said. "Women are the new core."

Abernathy also said that more diverse games would be good for the business of the games industry, because more diversity would bring in a wider audience and therefore generate more money. "But you need to persuade people that it's OK, and won't hurt sales but might help them," he said.

"Nobody in the room admits to being against making characters female or nonwhite," he added. "But they're scared because they don't know how to defend that choice to their bosses."

"Our industry, our art, and our business stand to gain in every sense simply by holding a mirror up to our audience and reflecting their diversity in what we produce," Abernathy said.

Discussion

659 comments
Shinkada
Shinkada

A huge, huge majority of games today either feature character customization or are from first-person perspective where gender and ethnicity don't matter. This is a bit late, but then I suppose that's what happens when your work history consists of recycled archaic crap like Halo and The Saboteur.

You'd have better luck counting games that DON'T allow for mixed gender or race where it actually matters.

iowastate
iowastate

political correctiness my ***** what you call PC or diversity is the life and the way of the world.

1wikkid1
1wikkid1

Since when does PopCap know anything about gamers? Their main market IS the adult woman, no sh!t they design games with that market in mind. On top of that... it's been like what? ... 2 days since you guys had an article about some studio complaining that they couldn't use a female lead because it wasn't considered suitable for the audience? Again, we have opposing views expressed at the same time... effectively meaning that we don't know anything. Because what we thought we know, is wrong according to the next guy... good plan, must've had the same coach as the guys in DC, but that's a separate topic.

CaptainErebus
CaptainErebus

Keep your political correctness crap out of my video games.

Sahle123
Sahle123

From what I observed Women are objects that the media loves to scrutinize. If both genders are truly equal, why can't refer to people and other genders unanimously? I get so tired of reading BS like this all the time--and NOT only gamespot.

Overlord93
Overlord93

Wii sports, angry birds and nintendogs are not core.

HoseyWosey
HoseyWosey

I think myself and many others are sick and tired of feminists and other politically correct imbeciles ruining things for the sake of their political agenda.  It's getting very old and annoying.  People are beginning to get pissed and I think organized campaigns should be initiated to protect the artistic integrity from the feminist dinosaurs and their obsolete agenda.

bluefox755
bluefox755

I don't think the liberal mouth pieces on here understand one key factor: with the exception of a few, we all love women, so much in fact that we hold them to the same EQUAL standard as everyone else.  We don't patronize them and hold their hands and protect them from all the big bad mean sexists.  I think I speak for alot of guys that feel like everytime they log onto a gaming website, or turn on the tv, we are being told why we should feel guilty because we are men, and by extension, are sexist...or if we are white men, are racist.  This projected soft bigotry by guilt ridden media types is quite exhausting.  So yeah, we make sandwich jokes, not because we hate women but because we are tired of you all telling us we should feel guilty.  Grow a thicker skin.

Bamul
Bamul

In these comments:


Idiots and sexists... idiots and sexists, everywhere!

wolfbm
wolfbm

Is this how current gamers now think? Are we still in the era pre womens rights? I read half way through the comments on here and couldn't beleive how many "men" are posting how this is such a bad move or not needed. Open your eyes that video games are not strictly a male oriented hobby. The most idiotic of comments being that women only play angry birds or "casual games" since it requires less hand eye coordination. Its a wonder how any of you with these ideas have a gf or wife (probably don't).

My wife owns almost as many games as I do. The problem is quite evident that when we walk into EB (Gamestop) the selection of games that even allow her to play as a female are quite slim. As gamers all of us want to connect to who we are playing and I may be able to connect to Marcus Fenix being im a male but it would be harder for a woman to.

Maybe the reason most of you knuckle draggers haven't seen women in game stores or online is because; A: Games aren't giving them the female option or B: most women play as male characters (WoW) just because if one of you mama's basement dwellers see a female player in game it seems to make you think it is your opportunity to try out your best pick up lines on her. These comments are pure chauvinism in full force. Don't bother posting your hate I won't respond to people with an infantile mentality.

Dangerous231
Dangerous231

but theirs more woman in the world everywere so i dont mind lovely ladys being the core

Dangerous231
Dangerous231

i dont know if i agree totally with that. hard core gamers mostly at this point are  males but if it well change from  males to females  oneday we well see. i personally cant wait to see the kinect 2.0 b/c i believe it can help hard core gamers be even more into the game their playing .just think your in a horror game and your about to walk into a house/room and you call out is their anyone there with your real words with the power of the kinect 2.0 or if your about to pick a lock on a game and you do it with your real hands on the screen with the power of kinect 2.o or lets say your playing GTA v and your at a club and they push you on stage stage and your have to really sing and read the words off the screen to keep while singing and you have to make sure to sing all words right inorder to keep the crowd from booing you to past that level. also you can have somthing for kids life story time and as your read to them you both watch in in action on the screen  i dont know about you but i think thats next gen to me also might i add with the leaked specs of the next xbox makes it already 10 times more powerful  then the xbox360 so the next xbox well most likely be on par with the ps4 so the next xbox well look beautiful.

damienrage
damienrage

This is bullshit, fuck Microsoft!  Basically what they are saying is they want more Kinect games and mobile type of games which will be free to play and will end up costing you way more than a 60 dollar game. Women who are real gamers are gonna play the same shit guys play. Boycott these fucks! I wanted the next box just like I had the 360 and PS3 this gen. If all these Orwellian rumors are true then I'm just gonna buy the PS4 and a Wii U when they have some games that really catch my eye. Just this morning my Comcast went out, I will be damned to pay 400-500 bucks and 60 bucks (30 something on discount) for Xbox LIVE gold and be able to play my system. Not to mention all the shitty interactive advertising they're investing in, that's why they want a shitty Kinect built in with every console.

Nachoking2k2
Nachoking2k2

I've never seen a grave dug so deep before things even begin.

Bradjune80
Bradjune80

We want the facebook and Iphone audience.  Have they actually studied the types of games women gravitate too or are they just saying stuff to sound PC.

Link3301
Link3301

Core isn't defined by age, race , and/or gender. Core is the term for gamers who games as a hobby and spend a large amount of time playing a variety of games.

Lulz_Security
Lulz_Security

Screw Microsoft, they've totally lost it. This , no used games, always online, its just dumb, I'm going PS4

Lulz_Security
Lulz_Security

Microsoft has completely lost it. Kinect, not mainly focusing on gaming for next Xbox. No used games, always online just to use it. Hell with them, I'm going PS4 this time around.

bluefox755
bluefox755

INCLUSION!!  We must acknowledge everyone...because all people are the same, and do the same things, and all deserve to have their feelings protected and made to feel special...ugh, it's all so phony and annoying.

bluefox755
bluefox755

This is merely a shameless attempt to bring hipsters and progressive types into the fold.  Trying to connect the company to topical, hip, positive ideas.  If it was sincere, or necessary I might say it's a good thing, but it's not.

St0Ne4Ge
St0Ne4Ge

So 30% of gamers are women who once played angry birds on their phone, that's not a new core. How are women the new core gamers? I'll check how many women are in the game store next time I pass by, I've only ever seen one and she worked there. I don't understand what he is trying to say.

LustForSoul
LustForSoul

Making female protagonists is a choice. It's not a new core, there's been plenty of them. This guy here just wants some positive media attention, saying it's good to have women and colored people in games. Why even mention colored people? Cry for attention.

NINEINCH-Tool
NINEINCH-Tool

fuck ms in the rear if they think a few words are enough to point them out as a forward thinking bunch.

kohle36
kohle36

Dear Gamespot:

Please go do some actual games journalism, instead of this E-hollywood crap that's become the new staple for 'news' publications on the site. If you want to do a piece on the subject matter, cool do an editorial style article like some of the editorial staff have already done. You think this particular guy is really influential in the industry and his random musings are that important? Cool, do a piece following his career and the sorts of influences that have shaped him and he left on others.

But this..."[provocative quote], says [insert name of publisher exec/ developer / analyst / Cliff Bleszinski]" is utterly devoid of any useful information and is really only good for starting flame wars. Of course, this is good for traffic, and because of this, you probably won't stop any time soon, but know that when you publish this dribble, you are effectively reducing yourself to lazy gossip columnists. If you think there's a story here, go research and write a proper article.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

"Women are the new core"

If by core you mean a core source of income then I find that doubtful when you consider that the "social market" (well still in it's infancy) is already showing sings of decline.

If you mean that they play as many/more) "core games" as/than Men then I find that very doubtful as in my experience, a lot more of who I would consider "core gamers" are Men rather than Women.

NINEINCH-Tool
NINEINCH-Tool

oh btw. The house cleaning and sandwich making jokes are shite....clean your own damn room you smelly fuckin ape.

DrKill09
DrKill09

The core of what?  Housecleaning?  :P

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

What's this "Women" thing this article talks about? Are these the mysterious sandwich makers I keep hearing about?

91210user
91210user

Hahaha, they put a Bioshock Infinite screenshot, which has the '1999 mode'... back in 1999, women were the core in media!

Troika1
Troika1

This is idiocy.  The core is and always should be product (game) excellence & innovative content. 

If the game is good no one cares how many characters of this gender or that gender are in the game.  Make good games and drop the political correctness propaganda. 

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

@iowastate Diversity existed before today in much richer ways than anything anyone has accomplished in recent years. And now suddenly diversity in less relevant traits is what entertainers should focus on, and *you* are saying this has nothing to do with political correctness despite there being many more directions that could've been taken. Sounds to me like your head is just full of guano.

wolfbm
wolfbm

@bluefox755 "So yeah, we make sandwich jokes, not because we hate women but because we are tired of you all telling us we should feel guilty. Grow a thicker skin."

Yeah and one little  "joke" that we should grow a "thicker skin" about is a dangerous mentality to have. It only took one mans ideas to start a holocaust. Granted an extreme example but using offensive jokes to make people feel better about themselves is a slippery slope. The scary part is that you honestly don't seem to realize that indeed there is a problem that not many games are women gamer inclusive. Outside of the Mass Effect Series, Skyrim, and Fall Out there aren't many options for a woman to play as a female. This "white knight" ,as you like to call being a human being, sees your mentality and am done with you.

bluefox755
bluefox755

@wolfbm I have a girlfriend, who is also a gamer, and she, like I, thinks this white knight attitude that folks like you assume would be offensive if it weren't so laughable.  Women don't need you to come to their defense, they're not fragile little creatures that can't stand up to men, so yeah, you don't speak for men, and according to my girlfriend, you don't speak for women either.

bluefox755
bluefox755

@Link3301 But this is what they do, EVERYTHING is about gender, race, etc...the one's who claim to champion diversity are the same one's that see color and gender first.  This idea of forced inclusion is poisonous...remember the kid that got picked last in gym class?  Well I remember one year, the teacher started putting the kid on a team forcibly half way through picking teams, he wasn't athletic, but up until that point, he at least had his dignity.

BJCentral
BJCentral

@Lulz_Security Dude shutup! Your so damn gullible to believe rumors and speculation or you just a fanboy that was gonna get a ps4 anyway. What there doing is very smart because they need to attract the girl gamers so there system can evolve.

JJames3dCG
JJames3dCG

@St0Ne4Ge Agreed. You don't see many, if any woman at the games store when you go to buy them, preorder, or when waiting in line for the newest console to release. That and the normal in most relationships, is the guy loves playing games, and the woman hates it. What they are noticing is that many woman are playing these casual games, like angry birds, because it doesn't take much hand eye coordination to do. Not because they are the new core. (and I want to end this by saying that sure there are exceptions to this norm, but thoe girls are the rarity, not the norm)

GamerNerdTalk
GamerNerdTalk

@kohle36 I really hate to burst your bubble, but women in the games industry can change the way we play games. This could be huge. And yet here you are simply saying talking about females in games is a waste of time. Or dealing with other races is a waste of time.

You are so insanely naive to think that this is a waste of time. I want to see more fleshed out female characters like Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite, or Yukari Takeba from Persona 3.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@Yulaw2000 I think there are a lot more women in online multiplayer games than people realize, but for obvious reasons they choose not to use their mics.

BJCentral
BJCentral

@DrKill09  Your sexist man! don't forget who cleaned your diapers and had to take your damn crying when you were a child.

bluefox755
bluefox755

@wolfbm @bluefox755 Hit a nerve did I?  Maybe try not being so judgemental, and don't treat the women in your life like they are helpless...your holier than thou/soft bigotry attitude is worse than overt prejudice, because some people take you seriously, that attitude is the REASON the holocaust happened, you idiot, that's right, you take care of your women, shield them from the world, clearly they would be lost without such a strong man in their life, lol.

wolfbm
wolfbm

@bluefox755 @wolfbm White knight? Really? If being upset as a male because you read 33 comments from guys posting that basically women are uncapable of playing anything other angry birds; and then stating my anger is being a white knight...then so be it. I call it being a married man with 2 teenage daughters not appreciating the veiws of some of these posters. If that mentality offends you then I don't know what to tell you or your "girlfriend".

damienrage
damienrage

Yeah, I really hope all the hardcore female gamers support the new Tomb Raider because they are behind in their projected sales. I've argued with female gamers on other sites who believe that they make up a  bigger percentage than most recognize. There are a few but still I have yet to find them. Most women I know don't give two shits about games and usually say the same thing. Most of them only like Mario cart or the old school games like Ms. Pac man, Donkey Kong and such if they are 80's babies.

JJames3dCG
JJames3dCG

@GamerNerdTalk Well I think were the confusion comes in is where Abernathy states that women are the "new core" and that they are basically focusing on the wrong group of people by marketing/making games for guys. That statement is simply untrue. But the idea of having women more IN the games, or different nationalities for the characters is fine. Great even. But to say that woman are the new core gamer is just not true. Like I stated before in a previous comment, if that were true you'd be seeing a huge influx of woman in your local games store, or on the forums, or playing with you in games. But we're not.

Nerdloc
Nerdloc

@GamerNerdTalk Straw man much? He never said anything is a waste of time, just that this article has absolutely zero merit as a proper news story. Why don't you stop projecting so much and do something worthwhile with your time? Unless you genuinely believe white-knighting every chance you get is somehow productive? If so then please, carry on.

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

@wolfbm @bluefox755 Please show me a single female GSL competitor. Oh wait, you can't. QED