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Epic: a female Gears of War star would be "tough to justify," but existing female cast are a cut above the usual stereotypes

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Initial post: Feb 19, 2013, 3:15:23 PM PST

Epic: a female Gears of War star would be "tough to justify"
But existing female cast are a cut above the usual stereotypes
By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell

Gears of War packs more machismo into its little finger than the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger pack into their ridiculously inflated torsos, but according to Epic's art director Chris Perna, the franchise is a hit nonetheless with female players, who regard its female characters as "empowering".

"In Gears you kind of need dirt," Perna explained to OXM in a Gears of War: Judgment interview - read all about it in our next issue, which hits shelves this Friday, 15th February. "If you want to create this attractive, stereotypical, sexy female - a lot of games do that and it's kind of cliché at this point.

"You see the implants and the blonde hair and pants and you roll your eyes - it's almost like the game geek's idealisation of what a woman should be. I think because we didn't go that route we have more believability... we've got more butch characters.

"They're still feminine," he went on. "Anya in Gears 3 comes across as being very feminine, and I think it works."

Click to view larger image
Perna discussed positive reactions to these portrayals from female fans at Gears of War cosplay events. "They feel empowered," he said. "They put on that armour and they walk around with these massive weapons and I think they get a kick out of it - I get a kick out of seeing it.

"From what we've heard, when they play the game they feel empowered and they feel good. Some of the feedback I've heard from women that I talk to is that if we'd made these women more feminine and more stereotypical it wouldn't have been so nice."

Gears of War 3 introduced playable female characters to the series for the first time, in the form of the aforesaid Anya and newcomer Samantha Byrne (other female PCs have been added via multiplayer DLC). Given this move, I asked, 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."

Judgment introduces Sofia Hendricks as Kilo Squad's medic. According to a GameInformer bio, "she joined the fight against the Locust after being exposed to the horrors of war as a media correspondent towards the end of the decades-long Pendulum Wars. Having seen terrible things during battle, she sets out to ensure that war is properly waged, and that ethics must not be sacrificed for victory."

Thoughts? For more on the new Gears of War, peruse this immense single and multiplayer hands-on, and don't forget our new issue, out on Friday. (Incidentally, the shot above is the work of Gears comicbook artist and all-round comicbook legend Jim Lee.)

Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 3:19:16 PM PST
I call BS. Not every female in gaming needs to be some hawt chick. Just think of all of the male protagonists that we've seen that has been dog-ugly; why do devs feel that the reverse can't be true? Not really a rant at Epic, more of a rant at the maturity level of many devs who make these types of decisions.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 3:19:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013, 3:27:04 PM PST
DVvM says:
Why does anybody think a female action hero is hard to justify?

Just watch Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3 over and over again and you'll get it. I mean, Vasquez would in no way be out of place in Gears of War.

If you're making a game about soldiers, and you're thinking of having a female protagonist, it's okay to have her be pretty butch. Women in the military frequently are pretty butch. It wouldn't seem weird.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 3:21:38 PM PST

Seriously, Ellen Ripley is such a special, memorable character because of this. Last time I checked, it's easy as frack to justify a strong lead female character.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 3:25:23 PM PST
EXACTLY!!! Thank you. Too many people look at a stereotype and just keep perpetuating it even when it makes sense. In this IP, female Gears makes sense because they're losing so it would force men to bend on their belief of not allowing women in combatant roles. It's not like they have many other options.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 3:29:38 PM PST
DVvM says:
It's important to keep in mind that just like a male action protagonist is not supposed to represent "all men" (Marcus Fenix is exceptional in many ways), there's no need to ensure that your female protagonist represents "all women." If you have a setting in which there's institutionalized sexism, and you want to have a heroine as your lead, then it's totally legitimate to make her extra-badass for having to overcome whatever she had to overcome to become who she is.

I mean, sure it's cliché, but this is Gears of War we're talking about.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 3:38:14 PM PST
"If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that."

I get what he's saying, but I don't think that games sell less because of a female protagonist. Does Gears sell more than Bayonetta? Sure, but I think that has a lot more to do with what's popular than with what reproductive organs the protagonist has.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 5:05:45 PM PST
Kr155 says:
They need to have a female lead that's big tough butt ugly and doesn't care.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 5:18:21 PM PST
Well, there's that plus the fact that the story for Bayonetta is just wackier than a bugs bunny cartoon while tripping acid.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 5:25:11 PM PST
DVvM says:
It's also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy:


Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 5:28:17 PM PST
Zak Iarih says:
But... but it wont be gears without the stereotypical bulky military guys shouting obscenities every 3 seconds

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 5:31:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013, 6:38:16 PM PST
DVvM says:
The women I've known who had been in the military tended to be into tattoos and piercings, cussed every third word, wore their hair short, and really liked heavy metal music.

I had a former marine in one of my classes once as a graduate student. She was kinda scary (but also totally rad.)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 5:39:16 PM PST
There are no ex-marines. Just saying. Look it up.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 5:57:51 PM PST
Epic, meet Samus Aran.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 6:21:38 PM PST
DVvM says:
Okay, fair enough. She just completed her tour and returned to civilian life. I'm not sure what the correct term for this is.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013, 6:24:21 PM PST
StriderNeo15 says:
Girls shouldn't be fighting Aliens they should be giving massages to and cleaning up after the men that are fighting aliens.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 6:30:39 PM PST

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 6:32:06 PM PST
"Former Marine" is the term that those people prefer.

Don't worry, Daft may be a former Marine, but I don't think he's one of the ones who actually gets upset when people don't know the proper term.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 6:40:41 PM PST
DVvM says:
Now I've learned a thing and edited my post to make it look like I always knew that! Hooray.

You're actually been in the military, is my experience that women who had been in the service tended to be less-than-conventionally-feminine fair?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 7:00:18 PM PST

They also tend to be promiscuous (this is not a criticism), and they love the attention lavished upon them by the males. I think they are often treated unfairly (either positively or negatively), and I'm glad I never worked with any females directly. The Infantry was still an all-male job.

We have a cadence for this, too:

"They say that in the Army the women are mighty fine.
"They look like Phyllis Diller and walk like Frankenstein."

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 7:00:55 PM PST
Wow, that is amazing.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 7:01:14 PM PST
Depends really. When I was in I worked not only with Air Force but Army and Marines often while deployed (especially in Iraq). From what I saw typically the rough and tumble jobs would attract the more "butch" types (as you put it earlier) while other careers like those around the hospital, admin stuff, and so on would typically have the more feminine types. Heck while in Iraq I saw plenty of Army chicks over at this little hair saloon they had on the installation trying to give people a feeling of home. They'd be in there getting their hair and nails done knowing full well it won't last (and in my opinion didn't look great because the local nationals ran it) but they wanted to feel like they were being pampered like back home.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 7:05:26 PM PST
As an Army guy, I can tell you that we always checked out the Air Force women.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 7:05:57 PM PST
I'm not going to fall into the trap that you've placed here. I will say that virtually everyone who has served is much more likely to be job-oriented and driven than those who have never served in my personal experience. However, this doesn't make them less "feminine" but actually more appealing imo. I find independence and being driven immensely attractive in someone that I spend any time with. I guess that these aren't traditional traits of being seen as feminine, but that word means something different to all of us.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013, 7:08:13 PM PST
Well naturally lol. I did some work around the hospitals on the installation and saw more than a few lookers who weren't supporting an Air Force uniform.

A few of the Navy girls I saw in Iraq as well weren't bad.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  32
Initial post:  Feb 19, 2013
Latest post:  Feb 19, 2013

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