Living in the internet age is pretty weird. We’ve gone through a paradigm shift from being afraid to meet people from online in real life to having the possibility of meeting many friends and significant others in and outside of cyberspace. It’s been quite the change. With this openness, increasing ubiquity of access, and wider spread of ideas, the internet has sort of developed its own culture. This has happened to the degree that even specific social networks and sites have their own flavor or subculture; people have a mindset about Reddit, Tumblr, etc., and those sites tend to have self-identified traits. Perhaps more than traits, each of these subcultures perpetuate their own style of memes, and each amplifies their frequency of use to a different degree. Even though they existed long before the internet, memes have seemed to really pick up a lot more steam in the past few years. One area really affected by the memetic culture of the internet is advertising. In particular, social media profiles for products have adapted more humorous approaches to gathering support and fan attention. Nerdy properties were quick to jump on the meme bandwagon, and less geeky products were equally as quick to add memes and other genre references to their plans. I want to talk about both a bit more, since not only do they both show the proliferation of nerd sensibilities to the greater public consciousness, but this usage also shows how companies are making an effort to cater to what people want a bit more.
Ever since Ubisoft’s conference at E3, it seems like the whole internet has been shitting on them, and why not? If any gaming development team—or any development team of any media—in this day and age seriously expects to use “it’s too hard” as an excuse to exclude female characters from their games, then they need to be told by thousands of people that their stance is wrong. Period. For once, though, the incensed denizens of the internet weren’t alone. We were joined by several prolific voices in the gaming community, from those who worked on Assassin’s Creed (the series being scrutinized, in case you forgot), to mocap specialists, and even other game companies. Yes, indeed: the public and the industries seem to be ready for more games with female stories.
So, game companies, why aren’t you doing anything about it?
I’m not complaining: companies that willingly agree that this trend of throwing female characters under the bus in favor of more comfortable male characters is kind of fucked up is, well, unexpected and appreciated. Yet it’s easy to agree with these things—especially when they make your company look good—when you don’t actually have to do anything about them. While I did, and still do, laugh at the jibes made at Ubisoft’s expense by Insomniac Games and Breakfall, they’re not exactly remedying the issue. But they’re not alone; I’d hazard to say that most everyone else is in the same boat of confusing the representation of women in video games with video games that feature female stories. While both are very much needed in this medium, we are suffering a drought of the latter.