It's Too Bad Epic Games Considers Female Protagonists Tough To Justify In Gears of War [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled It's Too Bad Epic Games Considers Female Protagonists Tough To Justify In Gears of War [UPDATE]

Because seriously, how badass would a female protagonist be?

Recently, OXM published excerpts of an upcoming interview with Epic Game's Chris Perna where they talked about Gears of War: Judgement and female characters in the Gears universe.


It got me thinking. When Gears of War 3 debuted playable female characters, I realized first-hand just how empowering they were to play. Truthfully, there's so much testosterone in Gears that it's a wonder that anything other than men can exist in that world.

But they do! And look no further than Claudia Black's signature sultry but fierce performance with Gears 3's Sam to see just how well women fit into the universe... outside of that unfortunate "women only exist to make babies" thing in the lore.

Still, the inclusion in Gears 3 was progress. Might we ever see a female protagonist, though? ...probably not, according to the aforementioned interview. To quote:

Is it possible a future Gears game could feature a lady in the starring role?

Alas, it seems the market might have issues with this. "That's certainly interesting but I don't know," Perna mused. "If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that."

What to even say, though? Again we have an instance of decisions being dictated wholly by business—business that limits itself to one specific demographic. You've probably heard all of that before, and frankly, as much bullshit as it might be (hello! even Epic acknowledges the great female fanbase in Gears, nevermind the whole "women are half of the population" thing, and the insulting implication that guys cant relate to girls—on and on), as awful as it is for anyone outside of the 18-25 year-old male demographic to have to justify itself just to exist... putting those things aside for a minute?

It's heartbreaking to read this, because I think a female protagonist could work, and it would probably be amazing. Anecdotal, but online, you see most people playing as the female characters anyway: so there's not this complete aversion and unmarketability, I don't think. People would be down for it.


I reached out to Epic to ask about specific stats: how many people were playing as women online? They told me that they don't give out exact numbers on that information, but what they could tell me is that about 10% of the total userbase has gotten the "Battle Mistress" medal in Gears 3. That's the medal you get for playing at least 25 matches as a female character.

Oh well. I'm sure Judgement will be just grand, but I definitely look forward to the day—should it ever come—that I get to play as a female gear as the lead.


UPDATE: Epic Games contacted me to add the following statement to this story:

"We have lots of strong, intelligent female characters in the Gears universe and we would never rule out a female protagonist for any of our future games, Gears or otherwise."


Epic: a female Gears of War star would be "tough to justify" [OXM]


Copied from my post on a similar article on Jezebel;

I think part of the problem with these female characters in a combat role is that every time they're written, it's always ''GRR LOOK AT ME! I am a strong woman! Look guys! I'm a strong woman! Look at me! Strong woman! look what i'm doing! Hey, look! I'm a strong woman! Hey guys! GUYS! Guys! Look, I can do what you're doing! ONE LINER! HEY! Flexing muscles. Sarcastic comment. I am so gritty and cool. I can hang with the boys, look at me! I am so strong!''

If it's just an average, mature woman who doesnt sit there and draw attention to their gender every 4 seconds, or go out of their way to look ''tough''.. then it's fine. We don't need a cast of Michelle Rodriguez's running around.

Too often there's a woman in a combat role, character or not, who whenever she enters the room, all the guys go ''Oooh watch out! She's so tough!'' and then she punches someone on the arm, ''LETS GET TO IT BOYS.'' and sits in a chair with her feet up on a desk. Clearly trying way too hard to act a stereotypical 'tough'. A female character is fine, but the BAD GIRL act bullshit needs to stop. It's just plain annoying.

Halo did it right for the most part. Halo 2, I remember there being a few female Marine squadmates and they acted just like male squadmates, didn't try to draw attention to their gender or put themselves out there with a tough girl act. They, like everyone else, just did their job and moved on. Equality.

Like I said, we don't need a Michelle Rodriguez in every game. I don't think anyone has a problem with female characters. Alyx Vance is one of the most celebrated characters in gaming, and it has nothing to do with gender. She's just a good character. If we can get more good female characters around, bring it! But enough of the tough girl tomboy act in any kind of combat scenario.

That goes for film and TV as well.