October 10, 2014

Sexism and Sex in games from a dev

This will be the first in a series about challenges that comes up as a developer. These problems and questions tend to come up in all the different phases of development often repeatedly and I thought it's worth discussing.

While this was the biggest headache I've really had as a developer outside of setbacks and conflicts. In the early development stages I took serious consideration of what types of characters I would have and how they would behave. One character I thought I would have written to be a little flirty and another to be a quiet and clingy type while the others were fairly standard. Turned out even in early stages the question came up of what this would say about women in general. I tried to explain my side only to realize my side apparently didn't matter and arguing was futile at best. I charged ahead though with the mentality that providing context and keeping it low key would be least offensive and things might be fine. I also considered adding a small sidequest for romance of which I also considered the bioware route of including an illicit scene that was still very pg which got scrapped in the favor of a more unspoken romance expressed through gestures and looks, very subtle material.

Outside of the game I questioned why I insisted on finding women to help in the process as an actual goal as opposed to "just post and see who wants in" kind of mentality. Not to be too obnoxious about it but I simply had easily 10x more complaints about every facet of the process coming from the women than the men and more requests to change key elements of the game. If I'd approved even a quarter of those requests it would've been an entirely different game. So like a good dev I kept them all written down and am working on a new story for that as a just in case. The flip side of that is of course the fact that it worried me how the men basically just did what they were asked and apparently didn't look for ways to improve. I can understand trusting in me hoping that I know what I'm doing or not wanting to corrupt the artistic integrity but it's better to speak up than leave me in the dark.

Once I finally got in production and started getting scripts and art together suddenly it's like an explosion of accusations about what a sexist I am for every little detail. It had me concerned to the point I spent easily over a week just trying to please everyone with revisions. I'll admit the first revision of "flirty" read more like slutty once it was read out loud to me by one of our voice actors, and maybe the original costume designs were too form fitting but after a few days I just thought at this point they were pissed that I chose to use women in a combat situation. So on the 4th day I came back with designs for men telling everyone no women in the game at all and they were double pissed that I wasn't going to include women as main characters anymore. I thought it was hilarious how many really wanted at least the medic to be a woman compared to the sniper or other roles. Honestly at that point I'd already dealt with so many complaints. Here's the short list: she's too fat, skinny, boney, round, curvy, big breasted, too small of tits, too small a waist, too small feet, too big a head, too big of eyes, too long hair, too short hair, too long fingers, too long legs, she's too short, and oh so many more. I had well over 50 different designs up for voting each of them taking roughly an hour of work to complete and not one of them came close to making a majority happy. So I asked for everyone to pick their favorite parts and send me the list with a basic number guide for each body part and which picture and do it that way only to find most of them didn't know what they wanted. Suddenly all the complaints of a feature being too big or small didn't matter when they realized there was every size from non-existant to the moon they settled on the original which they complained so much. I don't mean picking the actual original but using number guide voting the result was identical to the original which just left me with a kind of facepalm moment.

Then we finally get to making the 3d model and it's basically the same thing all over again but in 3d which means things are suddenly too round or too jagged or unsymmetrical. In this case we were actually renting a 3d scanner for the day and I asked everyone to volunteer to step in the machine prior to the unveiling of first character models and I then pointed out how I'd used a part of every member of the team pointing out their particular part on the model and not a single complaint was had. Though I'm not sure the exact reasoning or logic behind how that works but I must say human psychology is a funny thing at times.

I can only imagine how much hair I would've lost if I'd decided to include even a suggestive fable like sex scene. Though in playing through my own game I kinda still want some of the characters to hook up so maybe next time around.

1 comment:

  1. You're doing the total whorizontal, son. What you must do so as not to fall into the Abyss o'Misery is follow us and wiseabove...

    Grrr. What's your address again in the hereafter, dude?? Mine is: 111 Rock-Solid-Ave, MilkyWeight, Seventh-Heaven - an intense, stuccoish mansion in a cul-de-sac with mountain biking trails you may conform with your thots AND a sassy, savvy, passionate antidote: an ultra-intense, kick-ass, party-hardy every, single, evening with avatars, faeries, cereal killers and front-row-seats (plus, we gotta lotta IQ-to-K2, if ya know whatEYEmean HintHint). Everything and more!! is YOURS in the Great Beyond with our eXquisite ostentation.

    Wanna join me? ...cuzz the other realm aint too cool, brudda.