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Troy Baker: Having the “Obligatory Female Character” is “Even More Disrespectful Than Not Having Women”

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Women and video games have had a troubled history – the industry has been mostly catered to male gamers, and despite some great female characters being around for years, it seems this is still not enough for some people.

When asked about the whole Assassin’s Creed Unity debacle (we didn’t write about it, because reasons), Ashley Johnson, who voiced Ellie in The Last of Us, told VideoGamer.com:

“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 realize maybe have an option to have a female be in there?”

Here’s the very interesting part from the interview, as her co-star, Troy Baker, had a counter-argument of sorts that goes against the people repeatedly banging the all-inclusiveness drum:

“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. I think that’s almost even more disrespectful than not having women in the game.”

Baker went on to say that gamers are quite a large demographic, that we shouldn’t have to identify by gender. However, he also cautioned that women (and other groups) could still feel marginalized:

“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 marginalized. 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.”

For those of our readers who missed the Assassin’s Creed Unity debacle, the TL;DR version is that playable female characters are not available, and Ubisoft said that it simply cost more money to do more animations and art assets. This gave most other media outlets enough fuel to fire the debate for days, if not weeks … we simply didn’t cover it because Assassin’s Creed is too big and well known of a franchise for our site.

This is similar to the Deep Down controversy, where the hate and screaming for all-inclusiveness just kept getting piled on with no respect to the game creators themselves. We simply want more unique gameplay experiences here at Niche Gamer, and more options for everyone – definitely not an all or nothing scenario like many of these forum-goers seem to want.

Should game creators just make games that are fun, and not focus on target demographics? Would you rather see games that focus on good experiences, instead of including specific types of characters in the cast? So what do you guys think?

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Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer, Nicchiban, and Pretentious Media. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer.