You know what the absolute worst possible thing you could do, when you’re already being roasted by the Internet (and other game developers) for not including women in a major franchise and offering a fairly lame excuse for doing so? How about not including women in yet another game, using the same lame excuse?
Alex Hutchinson, director of Far Cry 4, admitted to Polygon that, yep, there are no female playable characters in the game. To Hutchinson’s credit, though, at least he had the decency to be upset about it.
We had very strong voices on the team pushing for that and I really wanted to do it, we just couldn’t squeeze it in in time. But on the other hand we managed to get more of the other story characters to be women. We did our best. It’s frustrating for us as it is for everybody else, so it’s not a big switch that you can just pull and get it done.
Yesterday when we covered this, it degenerated into the usual argument about whether or not women play console games, which they do, and whether or not women played this particular console game, which is patently ridiculous. This isn’t about quantification; even if you could somehow prove, mathematically, no woman has ever played a Far Cry or an Assassin’s Creed game, it’d still be a problem that female playable characters are a line item to be cut. Why shouldn’t a group have an objection to being written off, especially when they’re half the world’s population?
No matter who we are, we’ve all had a moment where we’re told we don’t matter for some stupid reason or another. And it hurts. More to the point, though, this is just one of a massive pile of moments where women are told, by publishers, developers, and other gamers, that they don’t matter. Say this is a paper cut. Now apply a thousand paper cuts to the exact same place, and you start to get an idea of the problem here.
The implication here isn’t just that Ubisoft doesn’t care about women; it thinks its own customers don’t care about women, that women matter so little that they’re a “feature” instead of a default. Sexism in gaming as a subculture is a thorny, complex problem, and nobody seriously thinks Ubisoft including a female assassin or having a woman running around with a harpoon gun in the Himalayas is going to solve it. All anybody really wants out of Ubisoft is to not make that worse. And that shouldn’t be too much to ask.