November 19th, 2008

Gender is a tough thing to get right in an open-ended game. Sadly, I haven’t had time to play as much of Fallout 3 as I’d like, but what I’ve seen so far I’ve enjoyed. Still, I can’t help but gripe about the treatment of my character’s gender. At the literal moment of your first-person birth — yes, that may even top first-person porn — you get to decide whether your avatar is male or female. From what I can tell, however, your decision doesn’t really change things. The story of you breaking free from the vault appears the same. Only the way people speak to you is different.

Well, kind of. This game is heavy in dialogue, but the only real change there is the addition of a few gendered pet names, like “girl.” Men will still speak to you coarsely and expect you do to dirty jobs like setting off bombs. Prostitutes will still talk to you flirtatiously. Every so often the game will throw in a word or two as if to say, “Yeah, I remember you’re female,” but really, you get addressed as if you were male.

On the one hand, I appreciate that Fallout 3 gives players the option to pick their genders — unlike, say, Far Cry 2, which offers a whole cast of killers to pick from, none of whom are women. At the same time, in a game that’s as heavily scripted as Fallout, I can’t help but think that leaving gender up in the air was a bad idea, artistically. Sure, you could call it empowering. Whatever a man can do, why not a woman? But frankly, people speak to girls differently than they do to boys. If the dialogue was gender accurate, we’d be hearing a lot more, “What do you think you’re doing with gun, little missy?” and “Oh, you’re going to blow up my town? Haha, I’m so scared.” Whether we like it or not, even our most basic communication changes depending whom we’re addressing.

Nice try, Fallout 3, but at the end of the day it sort of feels like you stuck in the female character option so male gamers could have acceptably curvy asses to stare at while still acting/being talked to like men. And if you approach it that way, that’s a pretty wimpy thing to do. We wouldn’t want to upset anybody by treating them as if they were actually female, right? Don’t worry though, Fallout 3, I still heart you.

Tags: female characters, gender, language, new games

40 Responses to “Hey Fallout 3, don’t call me ‘girl’”

  1. Duoae Says:

    I’ve been playing as a guy on my first playthrough but was planning on being an evil-based female (on hard difficulty) as my second playthrough – partially because the black-widow perk will allow me to easily kill all the men in the game (as more of your enemies are men in my experience)…. but i was also thinking of roleplaying a ‘vampiress’ with the night person and cannibal perks.

    Can’t wait :)

  2. I Wanna Be The Guy Too Says:

    If Fallout made more NPCs condescending towards female players they’d get a backlash, which is what they’re avoiding since the Oblivion topless backlash. Misinformed people would think “Topless orcs and now pejorative npcs? hmm… Could Bethesda be misogynistic?”

    Besides, Fallout 3 doesn’t seem to be the kind of place to discriminate against race or gender too hard, as there are plenty of strong, violent, threatening and frightening female characters in the wastes as there are men.

  3. Andreas Says:

    First off: Love your blog, great combination of topics.

    Second: I’m thinking maybe this is one of those either-way-you-lose scenarios. If the producers had made the dialogues too gender-specific it probably would have come across as stereotypical and annoying. Still, I see your point.

    It makes me think of Mass Effect, which I loved partly because it was so gender-neutral (or, perhaps I should say masculine-neutral). Apart from the heteronormative sexual episode – which, frankly, didn’t bother me too much – the dialogues and storylines were identical no matter your gender. And, considering this was in the future, the optimist in me kept thinking “well, maybe feminism actually has come somewhere in a few hundred years”, making it believable. The fact that a lot of the people you socialize with aren’t even human – making the probability of them falling into a human sexist routine even slighter – only makes it even more believable.

    So, hey, it’s 2277 in Fallout 3. Maybe only the not-sexist folks survived the nuclear holocaust. :D

  4. Tina Says:

    One thing that annoys me a bit is how the gamedevelopers make their games “gender neutral” in a way that is clearly male-centered. For example, yes, as a female character you still get flirty invitations from female NPC’s – but they don’t even put any flirtatous men in the game to avoid male gayness but still be able to say their game is not sexistic, since the NPC’s respond the same way to male and female characters. This is something you can see in Mass Effect, where the xenosex was with a “Well we’re actually both male and female but we look and talk female”-character for females as well as males, making people doing the wave for not being homophobic. You can see it in Fallout 3 (not to mention Fallout 1 or 2, can’t remember which, where girls can marry wither a boy or a girl but guys only can marry the girl). I recently played the maybe four year old game Vampire: The Masquarade – Bloodlines, where there are plenty of girls – from random human girls in bars to a slave to vampiric night club owners – who will respond flirtatously to you unregarding the gender of your charachter. No male blood dolls though.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s OK to treat girls the same as guys, but not the other way around – and that’s depressing.

  5. Andreas Says:

    And while we’re on the subject (kinda), the same kind of silent homophobia sort of put me off in Fable 2.

    Well, ok, it’s probably one of the better games on the market in offering gender-open relationships, but specifically male-male desire evidently still has to be packaged in this rather twee, semi-tongue-in-cheek way. I’m specifically thinking of the prostitutes in Bloodstone: The male prostitutes are the funny, for the heterosexual masculine player non-threatening fatso pathetic stereotype, while female prostitutes were the sultry, sassy kind. Tiring.

    (At least I can’t recall seeing any serious attempts at sensual male prostitutes, I may be wrong here though)

  6. Duoae Says:

    @ Tina, that’s a very good point and i think it stems from the society (specifically US and UK since i don’t really know the others well enough) producing these games. Let’s face it, men are coming around to the idea of other gay men – we’re up to the point of intrinsic pseudo gayness in heterosexual male activities and bonding rituals (which i don’t think existed 50 years ago) so progress is being made.

    At the same time we’ve got stuck in a bit of a rut with the stereotypical ‘gay female’ while simultaneously ignoring the gay male aspect so @Andreas, yes it is annoying that the prostitutes aren’t equal but then there’s the opposite side of the coin to look at as well. Most of the gay male populace of Bowerstone were fit, healthy not bad-looking men while the gay women were all pretty dull and frumpy and plain in contrast to the prostitutes.
    I think that at least games like Fable 2 are addressing the fact that these elements of society exist and don’t put them under the rug. It may all be cartoony but once the idea is seeded in the general populace that immediately starts to open the mind to the facts and eventually leads to acceptance in some of those people.

    With regards to VtM-Bloodlines, i thought there were men who you could seduce in the clubs as well? I remember being a male vampire (the seducing ones – i forget the name) and not being able to interact with the men but with the women so i assumed that the men would be there for female characters? If that wasn’t the case then it’s a shame.

  7. Naseer Says:

    The bugs don’t help either. I’ve been called guy and dude in dialogues, when I should have been called gal and dudette.

    Of course, as a gal, you do get a couple of unique perks.

  8. Ben Abraham Says:

    At the risk of coming across as though I’m trying to dismiss your entire argument, didn’t you at the start call out Far Cry 2 for not including a female lead protagonist? If the alternative was to go the Fallout 3 route and treat the gender differences as cosmetic, then why would you then equally criticise a game for choosing to avoid that issue?

    Seems a bit like wanting to have the cake and eat it too. Okay, maybe not exactly, but it’s not as if it’s a small thing to re-write and re-record every line of dialogue in the whole game to account for your difference in gender. I can’t think of a single game that’s pulled that one off successfully (closest I can think of is Mass Effect, but I think even it suffers from some of the same problems you identified in Fallout 3).

    Finally, if you wanted to be really pedantic, you could say that the entire storyline might potentially need to be modified and re-written because of the different possible treatments and reactions of a male or female character. That’s actually fine by me, but it won’t go down well with the publisher. ;-)

  9. Thoughts On Being Female in Fallout 3 « Chungking Espresso Says:

    [...] (thanks to Jonathan Mills, Kateri, and Denis Farr for the links on related posts by Twyst and Heroine Sheik) is that the tailoring of graphics, dialogue, and sound effects to a female avatar have been [...]

  10. SomeUnregPunk Says:

    i wish game developers would create true gender differences in games like entire conversations being changed to fit the gender or the race.

    Like the game of Saint’s Row 2, you can design an stereotypical gay male but no one treats you any different than if you created a stereotypical gangster. It’s kinda of annoying that they’ll give you the option and yet no change comes to the game other than what you look like. I played a really fat black nudist guy and other than hearing the bystanders yell, “That only works if your a hot chick” none of the other conversations really changed.

  11. Fallout 3 Broken Steel man Says:

    My sister tried to play the game Fallout 3, she did not like the game she likes to flash dressing, as I do not like games for girls.

  12. Hunter Says:

    Hey, if you´re putting it that way, they had to choose the lesser of two evils. It was either some girls ranting about how they are not being treated as female or getting accused of being misogynists. They were going to “blow it” either way, because you just can´t please everyone. I´m a girl and personally, I don´t mind at all. I get enough discrimination in real life already, thanks. See, when I play, I don´t think of myself as a female gunner; I just see myself as a gunner.

  13. hoge ranking google Says:

    Just wanna state that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this. “Though thou has never so many counselors, yet do not forsake the counsel of your soul.” by John Ray.

  14. Yabas Says:

    2011…

    Way cool, some valid points! I appreciate you making this article available, the rest of the site is also high quality. Have a fun….

  15. girls escorts Says:

    girls escorts…

    [...]Heroine Sheik » Blog Archive » Hey Fallout 3, don’t call me ‘girl’[...]…

  16. Joe W Says:

    Excellent piece Bonnie

    Unfortunately I think it’s more a matter of laziness on the part of Beth’s writers.

    I often considered when playing Oblivion; why do so many characters say the same lines with different voices? Think about it;

    Breton voice: “Why, you’re the hero of Kvatch!”
    Kahjit voice: “Why, you’re the hero of Kvatch!”
    Nord voice: “Why, you’re the hero of Kvatch!”
    Argonian voice: “Why, you’re the hero of Kvatch!”

    Replacing the Khajit phrase with something that meant the same thing but used different wording would give the game more variety, give you more of a feel for the races and potentially save space in terms of the actual sound files themselves. The only explanation is laziness in execution.

    New Vegas has included sexist responses from Ceasar’s Legion but even then, sexism was sort of used as a mark of evilness rather than represented as all-pervasing within the game world. Skyrim has similarly been criticised for having overlty racist Nords whose reactions to the player don’t really change according to their race.

    I’ve often thought of doing a Fallout: London mod and thought of having skinhead and yardie factions where your starting reputation is directly affected by your race, even if their are no explicit dialogue references to it.

    Remember that the commercial gaming industry will always just do what it knows and what it can get away with; it’s up to modders to provide the alternative and as we’ve seen countless times (especially with Valve’s titles) the alternative representations put forward in the modding community will eventually trickle up (Hopefully).

    @Andreas, New Vegas did “gayness” a bit better; with Archie who was written as gay but with it never explicitly referred to; i.e. it’s part of a character’s backstory as opposed to a 2-dimensional piece of tokenism.

    @Hunter; that’s fine if you’re playing games where you’re a “gunner”, but games that revolve specifically around Role Play and player customisation should’nt work like that; it’s poor form on the part of developers to not acknowledge such player choices.

    - Joe (some feminist sympathising game academics dude)

  17. escort annonce fr Says:

    I think your blog is getting more and more visitors.;?-

  18. Elida Chaboya Says:

    I just want to say I am just newbie to blogging and site-building and honestly liked you’re web site. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You surely have amazing articles and reviews. Thanks a lot for sharing your blog.

  19. online trading academy dvd Says:

    First off I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question which I’d
    like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you
    center yourself and clear your head before writing.
    I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin.

    Any ideas or tips? Appreciate it!

  20. candy-crush-saga-cheats-tool-new-version-october-2013 Says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious
    what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a
    blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Kudos

  21. nike スニーカー 超歓迎 Says:

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!
    It’s the little changes that produce the largest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  22. シューズ 品質合格 Says:

    I’ve been browsing on-line greater than three hours lately,
    but I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all
    webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the
    net will probably be much more useful than ever before.

    Here is my webpage – シューズ 品質合格

  23. エルメス クラッチバッグ 新着 Says:

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a brand
    new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with
    helpful information to work on. You’ve done a formidable process and our whole neighborhood shall be grateful to you.

    Check out my site エルメス クラッチバッグ 新着

  24. 特価 新着 Says:

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my web site thus i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!\

    my homepage: 特価 新着

  25. Abbie Says:

    Fantastic blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any message boards
    that cover the same topics talked about here?
    I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable people that
    share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
    Appreciate it!

  26. amazon gift card code Says:

    Yoour means o&X66; e&X78;ρ&X6C;aіnіng the whole thi&X6E;g in this arti&X63;le is &X72;ea&X6c;ly good, &X65;very one can easily
    understand it, Thanκs а &X6c;ot.

    Feel frеe to ѕurf to my page :: amazon gift card code

  27. learn piano by ear malaysia Says:

    Hello, I check your blog on a regular basis. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

  28. www.cicexpo.org Says:

    Hello colleagues, how is the whole thing, and what you want
    to say regarding this piece of writing, in my view its in fact amazing designed for me.

    My homepage :: male health (http://www.cicexpo.org)

  29. chaturbatetokenhack.org Says:

    Hі there, I enjoy reading all ߋf ƴour articlе.
    I wanted tօ write a little comment to support you.

    Feel free to surf to my web page; chaturbate token generator [chaturbatetokenhack.org]

  30. http://www.sustainablevaluepartners.com/key/windows-7-professional-product-key.html Says:

    http://www.sustainablevaluepartners.com/key/windows-7-professional-product-key.html...

    Get lice shampoo and put it on your body ahead of likely to bed then wash it off the following early morning. You man need to perform this a few evenings but it operates. Any person who is diagnosed with scabies, also as their sexual associates and ind…

  31. web hosting companies reviews Says:

    Everything is very open with a precise description of the issues.
    It was truly informative. Your website is very helpful. Thank you for
    sharing!

  32. vapor cigarette health risks 2012 Says:

    Every weekend i used to visit this website, because i
    want enjoyment, as this this site conations actually pleasant funny information too.

  33. Slippers Says:

    Hi there! Quick question that’s completely off
    topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

    My weblog looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find
    a template or plugin that might be able to fix
    this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Cheers!

  34. Monserrate Says:

    Thank you, I have just been looking for information approximately this subject for a
    long time and yours is the best I have found out so far.
    However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the supply?

    Feel free to surf to my blog post :: car town hack – Monserrate -

  35. Michal Says:

    I loved as much as you will receive carried
    out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that
    you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often
    inside case you shield this hike.

    Also visit my webpage; codes for club penguin (Michal)

  36. duct tape craft videos duct tape wallet Says:

    I do believe all the ideas you’ve offered to your post.
    They are very convincing and can certainly work.
    Still, the posts are very brief for beginners. May just you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time?
    Thanks for the post.

  37. Beatris Says:

    It’s going to be end of mine day, but before end I am reading this
    fantastic post to improve myy knowledge.

    Take a look at my weblog; breast growth (Beatris)

  38. account online trading Says:

    account online trading…

    Heroine Sheik » Blog Archive » Hey Fallout 3, don’t call me ‘girl’…

  39. xanax without prescription Says:

    How do I know if I am taking Lipitor or the generic?

  40. mulberry outlet york Says:

    IL NE FAUT SURTOUT PAS ACHETER CE GENRE DE LUNETTES CAR ELLES N AUCUNE PROTECTION ET VOUS RISQUEZ DE METTRE EN DANGER LA SANT VISUELLE DE LA PERSONNE QUI LES PORTE. Pourtant, chaque jour sur ebay, il y a des centaines de contrefaons de Ray Ban qui sont vendues a des acheteurs qui sont persuadés d fait une très bonne affaire. Mais la bonne affaire, il n a que le vendeur qui la fait. Au delà de nos opinions, de notre indignation ou autre, Roger D ne s pas suicidé par hasard. Au regard de cette histoire, nous devrions avoir honte. Crise viticole oblige, les caves cooperatives ferment, on arrache un maximum pour toucher la prime, ce qui se récolte à la main principalement. Il reste cependant des coteaux trop pentus pour les machines, on parlera donc encore une fois dans toutes les langues dans nos hameaux jusqu mois d polonais principalement. Portugais et Espagnols arrivent par cars entiers, Tchèques et jeunes routards en stop ou dans des camions tout pourris. Ainsi, au moment de faire ma valise, je n plus qu vérifier ma liste pour tre sre de n rien oublié (genre mon lisseur à cheveux, mon chargeur de portable ou mes lunette de rechange). Et encore, je vous passe la fois où je suis partie 3 jours au bord de la mer. Bye et merci les gars! Il est tard. Une session internet nous permet de savoir que nous sommes le 8 mai, jour de l Nous lorgnons sur un boui boui et craquons pour un Bon alors, il y a le petit symbole juste en dessous, mais y pas de bouton. Où est la télécommande ?! Où est la télécommande bordel de merde ?! Ah la voila. J sur n pas une mauvaise idée de faire quelque chose à propos de l guerre absurde, coteuse pour les militaires franais et coteuse encore plus pour la population afghane, coteuse pour le budget des armées et le budget tout court. Chirac avait décidé de nous faire mettre un doigt de pied dans le bourbier en 2001.Visa breaks the acai scam circle

Leave a Reply



Heroine Sheik is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries Made Available in RSS.

Log in