Well, I had made a good start on writing my first post since the re-launch as a Patreon-supported blog – a 2-parter about The Last of Us because OH MY GOD SO MANY FEEEEEELS. But then it came to my attention, thanks to the wonderful Brenna Hiller, that Capcom will not be including any female playable characters in Deep Down, their free-to-play dungeon delving game, “because of the story”, which is some Grade A bullshit.
Kazunori Sigiura, one of the game’s producers who gave the interview prompting this story, has not offered any explanation for this other than the lack of female characters is “for reasons tied to the core narrative”. However, I did some digging and managed to find this description of the game’s plot:
The stage of the story is New York in 2094. A member of the Ravens with the ability to read the residual thoughts that dwell on items earns his livings by clarifying the story from archaeological sites of ancient cultures. At one point in an excavation in the Czech Republic some ruins from the late 15th century are found. The presence of a mysterious city and the memories of an ancient civilization can be found in the site. The hero receives the request to investigate the ruins and to read its memories.
So let me get this straight. You’ve written a story set in 2094, where psychometry is a thing that exists and is well-enough-known that it is put to commercial use. And that story features people who, despite all of the future tech, wear plate mail and hit things with medieval weapons, because psychics. But that story can’t have any women because… because……..because………….
Oh right. The story. It’s not Capcom’s fault. They wanted to include female characters, only that nasty story wouldn’t let them! Honest! It’s the truth! Would Capcom lie about something like that?
All sarcasm aside, this is an incredibly asinine and disingenuous reason to completely omit half of the world’s population from possible player representation. Stories are things written by people – they don’t spring out of some magical thought vacuum. Neither are they things that are received from on high, perfect and immutable, that must be transmitted without any change from its original form. If you’re incapable of telling the story you want to tell while also including female characters, that says a lot about how you look at the world as a creator, none of it good.
But much as I’d love to write a gloriously sarcastic screed about the fact that Kazunori Sigiura and the rest of the Deep Down team do some soul searching about how deeply, deeply fucked up they are for being “unable” to write a story that features any female characters at all, Brenna Hiller has already covered that territory better than I could. (Yes I linked it twice. That’s because her piece is amazing and you should go read it.)
I could also play the numbers game and cite why completely ignoring female gamers as a huge potential market is stupid and short-sighted. Forty-four percent of gamers are women, women control 80% of household spending, women make the majority of consumer purchases, etc etc etc… But you know what? The types of people who try to claim that there “aren’t enough” female gamers to justify making games less shitty toward women are operating entirely on confirmation bias. I’ve written enough about the business reasons for not wanting to piss women off. I don’t need to go there again.
Nope. Instead, I’m going to provide a(n incredibly non-exhaustive) list of dungeon-y games that have still managed to include playable female characters, either as avatars or party members, as a way of illustrating how incredibly not hard it is. (I mean, come one. One. One character. Even that is better than none, guys.)
Games that somehow(!) manage to combine dungeons and wimmenz*
EVERY MMO EVER
Phew. That was SO HARD.
* Many thanks to my Google+ peeps who helped with suggestions for titles when all I could come up with was “UH FINAL FANTASY. ALSO BIOWARE”.