Half the people who play video games are female. Maybe ten percent of all games feature women as playable characters. That figure could go as high as eleven percent if the protracted lawsuit to canonize my Tetris fan fiction pans out.

Making more games that are explicitly about women, or that give players the option to choose their gender and appearance seems like a good thing for everyone. More variety, more inclusiveness. More walking atrocities when we are given the ability to adjust individual facial features. There is no downside. Every year the white dude with a gruff voice seems increasingly obvious and ridiculous as a go-to protagonist.

Dude.This week at E3, a trailer for the newest Assassin's Creed game featured the same climbing and stabbing and icon collecting you've seen in other Assassin's Creed games, now in a different location with better textures. It also teased co-op with three other players. All of which happen to be dudes.

People started to wonder why one of the four playable murder buddies couldn't be something other than a white male. This, and the larger issue of player representation, became a pretty active topic within hours. Not just among a handful of gross nerds like me, but between a lot of normal people as well. Soon the game's creators felt they had to respond.

The reason you can't play as a woman, they explained, is that it would take far too much work and too many resources for their 700-person studio assembly line to implement. They would have to make character models, like the ones that had been made for the non-playable women already in the game. They would have to implement a new set of animations, even though a former employee pointed out that motion capture sessions with men and women revealed very little difference in their movements.

No one believed any of the above. Instead of admitting that they simply didn't put much thought into the issue, the Assassin's Creed devs fired off even more excuses for not including playable women. Do any of these sound plausible or even make sense?

  • Every codex entry and tutorial would have to be rewritten to be more suitable for female sensibilities. That's a lot of work!
  • We would have to completely rework the crowd dynamic physics and AI, allowing for all the permutations that might occur when a woman walks through a group of people and they all simultaneously tip their hats while formally saying "M'lady." This, in turn, requires a great deal of additional animation and voiceover work.
  • All weapons and armor would need to be remodeled. Smaller knives with really big jewels. Armor that's way more revealing. You know, stuff that all women like.
  • Our incredibly rich story would have to be rewritten. See, there are certain things that motivate a male character to move the plot forward. Concern for loved ones, ambition, curiosity, pride. From what we understand, none of these things apply to women.
  • Cutscenes? They'd have to be completely reworked. New camera angles with plenty of lingering zooms on the player's lips, chest, and ass. Lots of work.
  • Our artists would have to create entirely new assets for the player's footprints. Sure, they would only need to whip up a slightly smaller impression of the left foot and right foot. But think about how many footsteps you take over the course of a game. Imagine how many prints you'll be leaving behind. Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? The more I think about it, the more it seems like a massive undertaking.
  • In this game about ancient alien races, time traveling DNA memory virtual reality, and rubbing elbows with every historical figure for no particular reason, having a woman fight against multiple men at once would simply be too unrealistic. We would have to put in a lot of work to come up with some plausible narrative conceit to explain this impossible scenario. Like ghost boosters. Injections of ectoplasm that grant short term boosts to the player's abilities and activate some sort of bullet time mode. Just spitballin' here, though admittedly that could fit into the fiction with a few minor tweaks.

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell (@DennisFarrell)

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