Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity News for PC

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The Last of Us voice actress Ashley Johnson has criticised Ubisoft for failing to include playable female characters in Assassin's Creed: Unity and called for developers to include "stronger females that are not just the damsel in distress, the love interest or oversexualised".

The Last of Us screenshot

"I'm sort of coming at this as an actress but also as a female gamer," Johnson told VideoGamer.com earlier today while discussing the controversy over the lack of playable female characters in games.

"Assassin's Creed: Unity is a great example of when I saw the gameplay and saw that [in] their multiplayer you do not have the option to play as a female. I was like, 'Give me a fucking break! It's 2014! How many video games do you have to make to realise maybe have an option to have a female be in there?' And maybe not just on PS Vita.

"But it did make me upset. There are so many female gamers...," she continued. "I don't know what the percentage is at this point but there are a lot of females that play video games and it would be nice to see stronger females in a game that are not just the damsel in distress, the love interest or she's oversexualised. She doesn't even necessarily have to be a badass. Just like a normal female character."

Johnson, who won a BAFTA for her role as Ellie in last year's The Last of Us, doesn't believe that it's only females who should be better represented in games either, but males too.

"And not just females," she continued. "On a broader spectrum, also male characters. Have a good story, have real characters and... I think the audience is changing so hopefully that'll change a little bit more."

Co-star Troy Baker, who plays The Last of Us' Joel, praised Naughty Dog's game for its strong line-up of female characters, but said that he didn't want to see developers start adding "obligatory" female characters as a marketing ploy.

"What I don't want to see happen is have the obligatory female character in there because that's what marketing says we need to have," he said. "I think that's almost even more disrespectful than not having women in the game.

Assassin's Creed Unity screenshot

"But clearly there's such a large demographic – I'm getting rid of the term 'female gamer' because you're just a gamer, we don't have to [identify] by gender – but there's a large portion of gamers that are women that feel marginalised. They don't feel like this game... it's irrelevant to them. And that's where games are going. It's a very relevant way for them to immerse themselves in the story."

Ubisoft faced criticism last month over its decision not to include playable female characters in Assassin's Creed: Unity, and its reasoning for not doing so.

"A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes," technical director James Therien told VideoGamer.com at E3. "It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it's something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision... It's unfortunate, but it's a reality of game development."

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot later responded by saying that the company was "working on" diversifying its characters for future games. "We want to spend more time on the worlds and characters in our games," he said. "You will see more and more of this at Ubisoft. We'll try to be less like we have been in the past with some characters. We'll try to extend more diversity."

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User Comments

Syme's Avatar

Syme@ Nxs

"There was no reason for that as it does not affect the game"

Except perhaps for people who aren't straight. You put a version of yourself in the game. It might be a silly fantasy world, but I think some people might like to keep their sexuality.
Posted 10:29 on 21 July 2014
DanDaMan's Avatar

DanDaMan

We don't need a main female character in every video game but we do need more. I've grew up playing a lot of rpg's and almost all of them have included the option for a female character. Just look at mass effect sure male Shep was on a the box arts but many people played fem Shep who were both men and women, I in fact like many others preferred fem Shep to male Shep because of the great voice acting.

I'm a white male and most games will have white men as the main character because the industry still sees us as the main target demographic for a successful game. I knoe a lot of gamers of different ages, genders and race yet a huge chunk of the games industry is ignored which means we lose a lot of great characters and we alienate a lot of gamers.

For any saying they don't care or who think there are going to be only female characters or all games will have a arbitery female lead them you don't get the point. Many white men didn't care about minorities having equal rights but that didn't mean they didn't deserve it if you don't care about the issue fine but that isn't a valid reason to complain about this debate. The idea here isn't to only have female leads its simply to have more because women are half of both the real and gaming population so deserve to be represented more in games and because there are so many great female voice actors who can help create amazing female characters and these people lose out when are games all contain gruff white men with beards and guns.
Posted 09:45 on 21 July 2014
Kuldorn's Avatar

Kuldorn

In the multiplayer part everyone is raging about, you all play the main character and nobody gets to pick anything about the appearance. Think everyone is forgetting this, of course you cannot suddenly change sex just because you are in a multiplayer session.
Posted 09:33 on 21 July 2014
KamSage's Avatar

KamSage@ Nxs

I don't think this is entitlement at all. Wanting equal representation is important, especially when it's not happening. No one is entitled to equality, and that's why it's such an important thing to fight for because everyone deserves it but many aren't given it.

In the AC example, historically, technically and creatively there is no reason to not include playable females, but Ubi were making lame excuses for no proper reason about their decision to not include them anyway. By making these decisions they've increasingly alienated their fans and consumers because of these excuses, even as they claimed to have envisioned including female playable characters from the start but that they didn't want to put the time and effort into fulfilling it.
The problem with Ubisoft is they care more about minimising costs then putting all their effort into their creative ideas. So they cut female characters because it'll save them a bit of money. If it was cut because of some creative reason many might not have cared, but it wasn't. The world of gaming still has men dominating the character roster whilst women are still the minority of playable characters, even though the male to female gamer split is around 50/50. There's a clear lack of representation of their consumer audience, and that's bad in all sorts of ways for them and us.

To everyone who wants to see someone explain this topic better than I, look up Manveer Heir's GDC talk from this years, it was fantastic.
Posted 09:24 on 21 July 2014
skidoosh's Avatar

skidoosh@ VGSteve

That's all well and good Burns, but unless she jumped from the window, scaled the adjacent building then jumped an unfeasible height into a cart full of straw, she's not an assassin!

This is a joke for anyone who thinks I'm being serious. Point well made Mr Burns.
Posted 21:06 on 20 July 2014
Bremaine's Avatar

Bremaine

I think it'd be nice to see more female protagonists in video games, but I honestly believe not many people care. I have a feeling that a lot of female characters could care less too.
Posted 20:57 on 20 July 2014
Nxs's Avatar

Nxs@ BalsamicSteve

Either I did not express my in a coherent manner or you did not understand my point. (I'm going to go with the former as that happens when alcohol is involved.)

I'm not saying diversity will ruin games, again, could careless about who the main character is as long as the game is fun and I can skip the cutscenes. What is going to ruin games is the incessant bitching and entitlement people seem to have when who they are, what they do and what they believe are not represented in a game.

The ability to choose male or female in a game is not a bad thing! The bad comes from all the whiners that think game devs have to cater to their every whim. That's what pisses me off.

No one is ever going to make a game that pleases everyone. It is never going to happen! You know it, I know it and most gamers know it. But what happens is, as shown in this thread and a ton of others, is that if the vocal minority bitch about something being excluded from a said game it steam rolls into a bunch of crap.

To prove my point, look at the whole Tomodachi Life bs. Pro gay ppl had a hissy fit because there was no same sex relationships in the game. Kotoku reviewed it and stuck no same sex relationships in the negatives!!!! There was no reason for that as it does not affect the game.

Do you ever hear people complain that gays are in a game or that a woman is the hero or that a black person is the hero? Hell no! Why? Tis cause it honestly does not matter.

The whole point of a game is to break away from reality and do things you can't/won't do in real life and have fun! When you start taking real world issues and interjecting them into games, it can and will ruin them because people just can't ignore the things they don't like about a game and move on.

My apologies for the rant, but it really does burn my ass when people bitch about what a game could have been rather than what it is.

:D
Posted 17:02 on 20 July 2014
yellowsapphire's Avatar

yellowsapphire@ KamSage

Part of me thinks that the reason they do comment is because they genuinely don't see a problem. And if a vast majority of the industry is catered towards them, why would they? They name a few token examples of good female characterisation, usually the only few good ones, and state that that's enough right?

There's no need to change, change is bad, and because female characterisation - whilst it's getting better (and it is, let me make that clear) - is still generally ('generally') poor, 'change' to these folk invariably means either pink fairies, princesses and reservoirs of tears or a 16-inch-waisted, high-heeled dominatrix type with double G boobs jiggling about the place. This upsets the status quo, man! Can't be doing that!

And this is why it needs to improve and needs to change. It's getting better, and it really is, don't get me wrong, but we can have female characters that can tell a worthwhile, interesting story and be an amazing game *all at the same time*.

It's happened before, and you know what? The world hasn't ended.
Posted 15:49 on 20 July 2014
BalsamicSteve's Avatar

BalsamicSteve@ Nxs

I think you've contradicted yourself there. If it doesn't matter who you play as in a game, surely it won't then "ruin games" to add optional females into more of them? Since it doesn't matter who you play as right?
Posted 15:05 on 20 July 2014
DaveSimonH's Avatar

DaveSimonH

If nothing else it's a good way of providing a little more variety to the gameplay. If I have the option I'll generally play as male character, and then female character for second playthrough.
Posted 14:54 on 20 July 2014
burtburt's Avatar

burtburt

Well I played Assassin's Creed the Vita. And if having a female lead character involves changing into huge dresses every 5 seconds and flirting with guards I'm not interested.
Posted 13:13 on 20 July 2014
Nxs's Avatar

Nxs

Fine! Make every single hero in a game a woman from here on out. Would that actually change anything? If most every game had a female lead instead of a dude would that change the story or how it played? What if Crackdown's hero was a two foot tall tranny moon monkey? Would that have changed the way the game played?

Of course not!

Nobody cares because if the game is good it does not matter who you are! If the game is fun, you play. If it sucks, you don't. Who gives a hind tit who or what you are when you play it!

This kinda of ***** is what will ruin games!
Posted 02:07 on 20 July 2014
Woodfella's Avatar

Woodfella

I'd like to echo the thoughts of Kamsage... Nobody cares if you don't care...

You cun*s
Posted 21:57 on 19 July 2014
KamSage's Avatar

KamSage

Honestly, if you're a bloke saying 'who cares' or 'this isn't an issue' or anything similar, you are not the ones entitled to an opinion on female representation in the media. This isn't about you because this isn't an issue for you. If a woman says it's an issue to them, they have the right to want it to change. As much as I, being a white male, don't want white men to be the hero all the time, it stifles possibilities, representation and generally creative possibilities.

If nothing has changed, and misrepresentation or under representation continues, people should continue to complain. Just because you've heard it repeated for a month doesn't mean anything, apart from you getting annoyed over an argument you clearly have no investment in, has changed at all. And if you don't care truly about this debate, why are bothering to comment?
Posted 21:10 on 19 July 2014

Game Stats

Release Date: 14/11/2014
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 287
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