Thursday, March 29, 2012

A HIStory of Men...

Yesterday, I saw an interview with creative director Alex Hutchinson explaining how a female protagonist just wasn't feasible for Assassin's Creed III's setting:
"It's always up in the air," Hutchinson said. "I think lots of people want it, [but] in this period it's been a bit of a pain. The history of the American Revolution is the history of men."
Maybe he just couldn't think of any women. With that in mind, I thought I'd help come up with a few ideas for games starring prominent women throughout history:

But all kidding aside, people who agree with Hutchinson argue that women didn't play as much of a role in certain historical events. I take issue with that only because they don't seem to consider the idea that women's roles are not what gets written in history books or taught in schools.

Regardless of your opinion on what and how important women's roles were during certain events (we could probably argue about that all day), I simply ask... WHY NOT? Why not make one up for a game? Wouldn't that just be cool?

(Velvet Assassin, which, if nothing else, had an intriguing lady protagonist inspired by real life.)
I found this quote from Hutchinson the most problematic:
"It felt like, if you had all these men in every scene and you're secretly, stealthily in crowds of dudes [as a female assassin], it starts to feel kind of wrong," he said. "People would stop believing it."
I have to disagree with this for a couple of reasons:
  • For me, not having to deal with true-to-life realism in games is exactly one of the reasons why I play video games. And sorry, Assassin's Creed lost the realism factor for me at the part where I get hooked to a virtual-reality machine that reads my genetics and allows me to control the memories of my ancestors in a 3D space. What I'm saying is, just because it might not seem totally realistic or believable, obviously doesn't mean the idea wouldn't be cool or fun; thus, realism is a terrible reason for why women aren't protagonists in games. And, no offense, but I really hope that people aren't learning world history from Assassin's Creed games.
  • Do people not like playing female protagonists? I beg to differ with all the love for Mass Effect's FemShep. And how many guys play female avatars in other games? I doubt having a female protagonist would hurt sales of Assassin's Creed. (For more on this topic, I refer you to this great article over at The Mary Sue titled, "Why Some Men Are Playing Women, and Why Developers Should Take Note.")
  • And again, if it's the historical factor where "the history of the American Revolution is the history of men," I would say it doesn't have to be. Want stealthy ladies? There were women spies during the Civil War, and women who dressed up as soldiers to fight in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.
My overall point is, if you don't want to have a woman as a protagonist in Assassin's Creed, I just don't see historical accuracy or realism as a valid excuse.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I've Been Up To...

For someone who writes everyday, I've been terrible at keeping up with this blog... I was thinking that now that I'm not a games journalist anymore, I can actually write about games strictly for fun (ha!). For those who don't know, I recently became a writer for Gameloft NYC, composing dialog, scripts, and other in-game text. I didn't want to make a big deal out of changing careers, as I was never one who intended to use my journalism career to land a job in the industry... In fact, I hadn't ever thought I could make a living writing about or for games at all.

After thinking about it for most of 2011, I decided that keeping up with the games news cycle and writing thousand-word articles for little money and no health insurance wasn't for me anymore. Though I was getting plenty of work, the checks became smaller and arrived much later... some never came at all. And don't get me wrong: there are many people who love the flexible freelance life of a games journalist, and there are even some who get paid handsomely (or decently) for the good work they do -- but I was not either of those people... not anymore anyway. I also truly loved the outlets I worked for and the editors I worked with (too many to name here), as well as the work I did. My favorite part of it all was speaking with developers and at least attempting to ask the tough questions, write the uncomfortable articles, and look at games from a different perspective. So my dilemma was that I felt I no longer had the meddle to be a games journalist anymore, but I still loved writing and I still loved games. When I saw the opening for a writer at Gameloft, I applied for it on a whim, totally unsure if anything would come of it. And here I am...

Do I miss games journalism? There are definitely parts of it I miss. Though I loved being a games journalist, and thought I'd be doing it forever, I absolutely love my job now. Who knows what's next, but until then, I'll continue to help make games (still feels weird to say that), wax about games here,* and play the crap out of them... on my own time and not on deadline. :)

[*I guess I should probably say the opinions expressed on this blog do not represent my employers -- past, present, and future. Hope that covers my ass well enough!]