1. #1
    LoyalACFan's Avatar Senior Member
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    *No Spoilers* Ubi's new approach to female characters

    Alright, so, I think I'm generally a nice person and I'm loathe to open a can of worms like this online, but after Unity's fiasco with the whole "animating women" controversy, it seems like Ubisoft took kind of a strange approach with their depiction of female characters in Syndicate. I mean, yes, we have Evie, and she's great (IMO she should have been the sole protagonist, Jacob is a friggin dolt) but it strikes me as odd that they still only gave her about half as many story missions as Jacob (and even said as much before release).

    On the flip side, they added a ton of female enemies, which is... another strange one, honestly. It feels like they, in an attempt to show how equal they believe women should be, just stuck a bunch of female NPC's (correction- two female NPCs cloned over and over, since there are only like five enemy character models) in Blighter uniforms as if to say "hey look, equality!" So rather than using Evie as their beacon, they've got her still playing second fiddle to Brash Assassin Hero Man while female enemies are abundant all over London and two thirds of the city's generic gang leaders are women (which is pushing the boundaries of realism to the breaking point honestly, this is supposed to be 1860s London and you've got women leading over half of the city's organized crime. Come on now).

    I mean personally, I didn't think the controversy over Unity's lack of female co-op characters was justified (everyone plays as Arno on their screen, so rigging a female avatar just to show up on your partner's screen is a lot of work for very little tangible gain) but it's to see Ubisoft keep stumbling all over themselves when it comes to gender. It just comes across as lip service to buy themselves a ticket on the PC train, rather than a genuine attempt to promote female characters in gaming. And is it stupid that there are so many women in leadership positions in 19th-century street gangs, or am I just a horrible sexist bastard?
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  2. #2
    HDinHB's Avatar Senior Member
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    Yeah, they even made the Queen a woman! Talk about pandering!

    Friggin' dolts are people too.
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  3. #3
    LoyalACFan's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by I-Like-Pie45 Go to original post
    are you affriliated with gamergate

    do you get insecure when you see women in positions of power

    or are you a misandrist who only wants positive 100% portrayals of women and are made when theyre made out to be villainous
    Hey, I can take a lot of guff, but don't go calling me a gamergater
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  4. #4
    I think this is more of a post-controversy reaction that wouldn't have appeared if there was no controversy in the first place. If you'd go into the game with last year's scandal not taking place, would you really think about this kind of stuff? Now, of course this is a hypothetical question that's impossible to answer for certain, but I don't think so. You'd probably find it more nice and progressive rather than PC pandering as a response to a scandal.
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  5. #5
    LoyalACFan's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by Farlander1991 Go to original post
    I think this is more of a post-controversy reaction that wouldn't have appeared if there was no controversy in the first place. If you'd go into the game with last year's scandal not taking place, would you really think about this kind of stuff? Now, of course this is a hypothetical question that's impossible to answer for certain, but I don't think so. You'd probably find it more nice and progressive rather than PC pandering as a response to a scandal.
    I really doubt it. Having Evie as the lead would have been actually progressive. Having a bunch of random female gangsters controlling the city is just... historically inaccurate and hard to believe. That's why it feels (to me) like they just slapped a few women character models in there as a response to last year's outcry. They didn't really do anything all that progressive.

    Let me put it this way, having Evie as the star would be believable because the Assassins have always been portrayed as a gender-inclusive group (at least since AC2, I don't remember any Assassin women in Masyaf). Having women as the primary leaders of bloodthirsty 19th-century gangs is NOT believable because street thugs aren't exactly famed for their forward thinking. Both of those things could be perceived as an attempt to show female characters in empowered roles. One of them requires far less actual work and risk than the other. Guess which route Ubisoft took.

    Like I said, it feels like lip service that came about as a direct response to the heat they got last year. I really don't think they would have made the "creative decision" to have women leading the Blighters had there been no controversy, because it's dumb.
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  6. #6
    I haven't finished the game, and I might agree, except that so far Evie Frye is friggin' AWESOME! So I am not seeing the second fiddle thing. Also this post feels like picking the nit just to pick it. At least Ubisoft is putting in a female lead at all. So I am not going to stomp on their toes when they are taking steps in the right direction. My two cents.
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  7. #7
    D.I.D.'s Avatar Senior Member
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    Female gangsters - yes. Senior female gangsters - yes. (More detail.)Representation of gangs in general - no, but it's a game. In life, most gangsters are just trying to make money and not get caught, and only a small proportion are really dangerous in a fight, but in a game we need everyone to be a hard bastard who won't stay down for less than ten stab wounds (or at least, for a gang to be a decent challenge). Given how completely screwy any battling game is in relation to violence it's not really worth worrying about gender balance, but the female gangsters of the age were prosecuted for vicious assaults. This wasn't a new thing but a continuation of a criminal culture which probably has no beginning - i.e. this 18th century account of women banded together to commit coordinated violent robberies:

    In February 1788 Martha Cutler, Sarah Cowden, and Sarah Storer were brought up in the Old Bailey on a charge of highway robbery. This crime was a most serious offence, not only for its distressing and violent nature, but also on account of its fearsome reputation.

    Their victim, Henry Solomons, maintained that he had being going about his business in Whitechapel , in June that year, when he was accosted by three or four women at the end of an ally. Solomons testified that the women made use of obscene gestures and ‘very bad expressions’ and pushed him into a passage that led into a house. As Solomons was ushered into a small room and thrown down onto a bed, where with two women restraining him, a third took over fourteen guineas from his person. When the ordeal was over, he was let up and told to go about his business. Solomons and a number of other witnesses, including a policeman, were able to identify the three women on trial.


    While the violence is overplayed within the gangs, it's maybe underplayed among the general population:

    "One startling image from my family's memories of life in the slums… was of women fighting in the street," writes O'Neill. "The phrase that at first puzzled me when I was told about it was one woman taunting another with a roar of,'Come on, get your blouse off !' It had to be explained to me that the women having the fight might well possess just the one blouse and they would rather strip down and bare their bosoms to their neighbours rather than risk spoiling their garments."
    ... but again, it has to be so that you see the enemies as distinct from the populace.

    I really wish they'd gone later with the setting of Syndicate. Things get much juicier in terms of street crime a little later, when the lack of weapons regulation became a dramatic problem for policing.
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  8. #8
    LoyalACFan's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by darksavior1977 Go to original post
    I haven't finished the game, and I might agree, except that so far Evie Frye is friggin' AWESOME! So I am not seeing the second fiddle thing. Also this post feels like picking the nit just to pick it. At least Ubisoft is putting in a female lead at all. So I am not going to stomp on their toes when they are taking steps in the right direction. My two cents.
    She only has half the number of story missions that Jacob does (of course the amount of time spent playing as each character is variable depending on how much you use each of them for side content). But I'm not trying to step on Ubi's toes at all, I'm actually trying to prod them MORE in the direction they were headed when they made Evie a playable character. I just don't want to see them go "hey we're PC, remember that game we made with all those women in it?" and then go back to making games with weirdly sexist undertones. I just thought putting in a bunch of female gangster NPC's was a strange route to take, and one that felt a little disingenuous.

    Originally Posted by D.I.D. Go to original post
    Female gangsters - yes. Senior female gangsters - yes. (More detail.)Representation of gangs in general - no, but it's a game. In life, most gangsters are just trying to make money and not get caught, and only a small proportion are really dangerous in a fight, but in a game we need everyone to be a hard bastard who won't stay down for less than ten stab wounds (or at least, for a gang to be a decent challenge). Given how completely screwy any battling game is in relation to violence it's not really worth worrying about gender balance, but the female gangsters of the age were prosecuted for vicious assaults. This wasn't a new thing but a continuation of a criminal culture which probably has no beginning - i.e. this 18th century account of women banded together to commit coordinated violent robberies:




    While the violence is overplayed within the gangs, it's maybe underplayed among the general population:



    ... but again, it has to be so that you see the enemies as distinct from the populace.

    I really wish they'd gone later with the setting of Syndicate. Things get much juicier in terms of street crime a little later, when the lack of weapons regulation became a dramatic problem for policing.
    Well yeah, women have been committing violent crimes since the dawn of time. That's not really my point. I actually read up a bit on the Forty Elephants before I made this post (just to make sure I wasn't talking completely out of my ***) and they sound more like AC2's Thieves' Guild than an actual "gang" fighting in the streets. More con artists than mobsters. But the real distinction to be made is that it was an ALL female syndicate. I'm not saying a woman would be incapable of criminal leadership, I'm just saying that it feels really inauthentic that over half the city's male street thugs follow female leaders. That's not how gender dynamics worked in 19th-century Europe (and that's still largely true today). It's like they're saying sexism just wasn't a thing in 1868, which is kind of uncomfortable; it feels revisionist. Granted, I'm only halfway through the game so maybe I'm missing a little context, but I'm kind of hung up on why they decided to do it this way.

    IDK maybe I'm totally wrong about the dynamics of organized crime. Or maybe I really am a chauvinist bastard
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  9. #9
    I-Like-Pie45's Avatar Senior Member
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    its inherent to your kind
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  10. #10
    EmptyCrustacean's Avatar Banned
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    Originally Posted by LoyalACFan Go to original post
    I really doubt it. Having Evie as the lead would have been actually progressive. Having a bunch of random female gangsters controlling the city is just... historically inaccurate and hard to believe. That's why it feels (to me) like they just slapped a few women character models in there as a response to last year's outcry. They didn't really do anything all that progressive.

    Let me put it this way, having Evie as the star would be believable because the Assassins have always been portrayed as a gender-inclusive group (at least since AC2, I don't remember any Assassin women in Masyaf). Having women as the primary leaders of bloodthirsty 19th-century gangs is NOT believable because street thugs aren't exactly famed for their forward thinking. Both of those things could be perceived as an attempt to show female characters in empowered roles. One of them requires far less actual work and risk than the other. Guess which route Ubisoft took.

    Like I said, it feels like lip service that came about as a direct response to the heat they got last year. I really don't think they would have made the "creative decision" to have women leading the Blighters had there been no controversy, because it's dumb.
    You're not sexist because you think women back then couldn't have been gang leaders - they wouldn't have. That's logical.

    You're sexist because you don't apply the same realistic standards to anything else in the game. This is Assassin's Creed - we're talking pieces of Eden, pre-human aliens, a grappling hook, an electricity bomb... does it really upset you that there are female gang leaders? Really? Of all the things. Ubisoft don't have to pander to anybody. They only take into consideration what they feel is going to generate more sales - more women in strong roles = more female fans. Syndicate is generally very light hearted as well so realism is even less relevant here.


    The whole realism argument always feels like a cop-out for someone just not coming out and admitting they're personally not comfortable with this change because they're not used to it.
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