Now that the E3 dust has started to settle we can focus on some of the stuff that happened earlier this week in more detail.
When asked about why there was no female playable assassin in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed game, Ubisoft made the bad decision to try and justify it. They said that a female assassin was planned, but that they didn’t have the resources to implement it because it would’ve require too much extra work and “business is business” after all.
I call bullshit on that. It’s been well known that adding a female character to a game doesn’t increase the budget much (if at all), and many of the same animations and actions can be applied to both male and female characters. Even Jim Sterling addressed this issue (2 years ago) by asking people in the industry how “hard” it is to add female character models and the answer is... not hard at all really:
To add more fuel to the fire, Johnathan Cooper (animation director of Assassin’s Creed 3) and Dan Lowe (senior tech animator on Watch Dogs) both chimed in over on twitter about how absurd Ubisoft’s “claim” was, both stating that not only would it have only been about a day or two’s worth of work, and that female mocap is virtually indistinguishable from male mocap.
And for a game about the French Revolution, a revolution that women played a very significant role in, it’s pretty pathetic to be handed 4 playable white male characters and not a single female in the roster. So either Ubisoft had no intentions and were lying to try to reduce backlash, they decided women wouldn’t play the game so no need to add one, or that someone purposefully removed the female protagonist halfway through development for seemingly no reason. No matter how you slice it, Ubisoft’s bullshit excuse can’t stop us from seeing through their smoke-screen.
Nintendo’s Inclusivity Bullseye
And this is the other story that’s circulating right now. Nintendo showcased more playable female characters in one game than most of the other big corporations had combined. Nintendo is, at the moment, leading the pack with female protagonists and characters.
And this... my friends... is why representation is important.
There was such a want from fans, such a desire to have more women in gaming, that THIS is one of the bigger stories going on right now. It doesn’t matter if some of the female characters are questionable sexual icons (such as Bayonetta), the fact that there are women AT ALL is making headlines. It’s all anyone’s talking about of E3 at the moment.
The roster is pretty diverse too. Zelda, Midna, and Impa in Hyrule Warriors. The cutesy squid paint characters of Splatoons! The possible addition of a female link in the upcoming Wii-U Zelda title (more on that later). Bayonetta sporting Nintendo themed cosplay costumes. The incredibly diverse list of female characters in Smash Bros which now includes Kid Icarus goddess Palutena. And the ability to pick a female protagonist for the upcoming Xenoblades sequel. Ya gotta hand it to them... they found an underserved market and they FILLED it. Kudos Nintendo!
Inclusivity is not a bad thing, and it’s when game developers and artists and writers start EXCLUDING people that they usually run into trouble. Ubisoft excluded women from being playable characters and tried to fib their way through it, and that’s pissed people off. Meanwhile Nintendo has said “here’s a ton of female characters, have fun everyone!” and that’s making positive headlines. And inclusivity doesn’t mean “forcing” people to play as stuff they don’t want to play. In pretty much every one of Nintendo’s games it’s a CHOICE that you decide. Don’t wanna play as a woman? Fine. Don’t. But at least the option is there for people who do. And given how much press this is getting, a lot of people DO!
”No One Said That Was Link”
That’s what Aonuma said about the title character in the open world Wii-U Zelda game they showcased. And there’s a lot of little hints to back up that it might not have been link.
The lack of a master sword. The ponytail. The very androgynous features. The presence of a crossbow (which is usually Zelda’s signature weapon). The unusually un-Link like attire. The different colored Epona. For all those reasons, plus Aonuma’s cryptic statement, a lot of fans have been speculating on Zelda being the main protagonist this time... or at the very least a female character of some sort taking up Link’s mantle.
I’m actually just hoping at the very least they’re going a Skyrim route where you’re able to pick a gender to play as. I don’t mind if it’s Zelda, a female Link, or an entirely new character. Just give us the OPTION, Nintendo. And please... don’t keep us waiting on explaining your cryptic response. It’s only going to foster false hope if it just ends up being a very effeminate Link.
Can we just take a moment and appreciate that Nintendo is essentially making a family friendly shooter with a unique gameplay mechanic (squids and paint) and prominent female protagonists? I didn’t know what to think about this title when I first saw it, but now that it’s had time to sink in a bit I’m really onboard with it. The designs are cute, the gameplay idea interesting, the colorful non-violent nature a gem in sea of gritty brown desaturated shooters, and it just looks FUN to play.