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Elsa avatar 1:17 PM on 08.28.2009  (server time)
Guess the Gender! (updated!)

I did an earlier blog on the lack of female avatars in online shooter games (Link is here) and one of the excuses commonly used by Developers for the lack of females is that they need separate animations and character builds. While the faces and voices in many online games are customizable, often the same body is used for all characters of that class or team to make for ease of programming. This is done in many games including SOCOM, Resistance 2 co-op, and will apparently be the format used for MAG.

So... here's 2 pictures of soldiers. Guess the gender. Both could be male, both could be female, one could be male, one could be female. I'll post the actual pictures on Sunday, but for now, just take a guess... what are the genders of soldiers A and B?

I think my main point is that it's difficult to tell a female soldier from a male when both are dressed in full kit. In fact, shooter games are one of the few genres where it's quite easy to hide gender due to the equipment they generally carry.

Here is a picture of one of the soldier designs for the S.V.E.R. PMC in MAG... to the right is the same figure with my avatar's face added (not added well... but I'm sure that most developers... though maybe not all... have the ability to do a better photoshopping job than I did!).

My point is that it takes very little to give female gamers a better sense of immersion in shooter games - all we really need is a female face to let us better identify with our character. We don't need giant boobs, tiny waists or other unrealistic male fantasy version of a female soldier. In my previous blog, Ashley Davis made a comment that I think may very well be true... developers aren't designing female avatars for women - they are designing them for men. Possibly it's time they had a look at what women want.

5 easy ways to make male/female avatars in shooter games:

1. Use sleeves. This tends to cover the "hairy arm" musculature that men have. While women also often have hairy muscular arms... well, we really don't want to go there. Hands aren't really as big an issue as devs seem to think.

2. No need to change the bottoms. It's not like the male avatars have packages anyway. I guess this is realistic... in battle I rather think that it would shrivel up and hide if bullets were actually flying and any guy walking around the battlefield with a giant boner is just going to look rather silly. The waist gear usually hides the waist, and well, an ass is an ass.

3. Use chest gear or armour... this easily covers the lack of boobs. While boobs are nice, they're not entirely necessary in creating a sense of immersion for women in a war based game.

4. Use hats. If you don't want to bother with hair, give the female soldier a feminine but short haircut and use helmets and high necklines to further blur gender lines.

5. Add an option for a female face. Surely a good avatar designer can design a soldier character that can look masculine, but still look somewhat feminine with a female face added.

Playing a video game is about immersion. I'm not a male and have a hard time scratching my non-existent balls, leaving the toilet seat up or doing competitive farting. I'm not asking for much, I'm just asking that devs quit making lame excuses for lack of talent and quit thinking that they have to offer a men's version of a female soldier.

Regarding animations... just watch the first few moments of this video...

Did you immediately recognize the bouncing boobs and sashay of the female soldier?? Did she run that much differently from the guys? Again, we're talking immersion here and to be honest, most females in a military role are not overtly feminine - they're simply soldiers.

So, I'll be interested to see how many of you get the "Guess the Gender" portion of this blog! Give it your best guess!

... and this blog will provide me with future ammunition as a link source when whining about lack of female avatars in future shooter games... because every once in awhile whining works... and being a wife of many years, I'm good at whining! :)

For those that didn't click the links in Parsley's comment... here's the correct genders! (oh, and kudo's to Parsley for actually managing to track down the right pictures!! Parsley is either an image search genius... or has way too much time and should be playing games instead!!) :)

Soldier A is Male
Soldier B is Female

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