Does the default gender for characters with multiple gender options matter to you?

Does the default gender for characters with multiple gender options matter to you?


  • Total voters
    1,050
May 31, 2018
248
I always appreciate when a game that has a gender option for the protagonist uses the female in some or most of the marketing. It's refreshing to see, whether I'm interested in the game or not. Diversity or not, I feel it's simply more interesting visually and contextually to see those characters as females as opposed to the standard males.

In the case of characters with male/female options in games like Smash, the concept of a default is a necessity unfortunately, and I think Smash does a decent job of mixing them up while also accurately portraying the characters well based on audience expectation (though I'll second those saying Corrin's default could be female). However I feel like it falls short in its options regarding them. Considering the option to set echoes as sub-slots on the character select screen, an option to set your own default would be appreciated.
 
Nov 12, 2017
740
It doesn't matter one bit to me, and that also means that if devs want to consciously pursue diversity in the default character choices it won't bother me in the slightest. Whenever I'm given choices I'll always tinker, every time.

If this matters to those who are underrepresented, let them have it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,244
Orlando, FL
When it comes to Smash, a couple of things disappoint me about the defaults:

-Female Corrin should absolutely be the default over male Corrin.
-Leaf cannot have the default colors of her Pokemon, which sucks because Red has the worst voice acting in the entire game and I hate playing as him.
-Daddy Ike should be the default over twink Ike.

Everything else is fine, I feel.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,652
Of course it matters. The default in games should be anything except the white male option.

I don't know how well randomization works. If I had not watched Giant Bomb's Quick Look before buying the game, I would have had no idea that there were male and female protagonists in Return of the Obra Dinn. Apparently it is randomized to begin with, and you are given the other each time you start a new game. Not that it makes a big difference for the game as there are a dozen of lines of dialog at most, but I would have preferred the choice.

Presenting a choice and randomizing the order of those would be better, but I see no issue with ensuring that the white male option is not first on the list.

I think it pisses me off more when there's not supposed to be a "canon" default gender but the promotional material heavily skews towards male.

I'm talking specifically of Mass Effect in which there was not supposed to be a "canon defualt" Shepard and there was a male dafult and female defualt that were supposed to be equal in terms of "canon shepard" but there was ZERO promo material with default female shepard and all covers showing the character face featured default male shepard leaving female shepard for the reversible cover of ME3, which out of the box came with male shepard facing out.
And unless this changed with the later games (I kept my created character) the male Shepard had a face-scanned male model that was clearly higher quality than any of the other options, including all of the female choices. They didn't even bother for them.
I'm glad they at least hired a very talented voice actress for the role.
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,469
As I said, I agree on Female Corrin, but Male Robin is fine as the default (tying back to the fan-favorite design thing, which just so happened to work out in Robin's case).
Which is a shame since Female Robin makes the story of Awakening way better if you pair her with Robin.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,987
I always go with whatever seems like the default and didn’t play a woman in mass effect until andromeda because of that. So... I guess it does?
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,270
And unless this changed with the later games (I kept my created character) the male Shepard had a face-scanned male model that was clearly higher quality than any of the other options, including all of the female choices. They didn't even bother for them.
I'm glad they at least hired a very talented voice actress for the role.
Ironically enough, i think the idea they used on Andromeda, in which both female and male are canon regardless of what you pick, is actually a clever way to handle it.
 
Oct 28, 2017
242
Ah crap I was reading a Dark Souls thread and thought of that game as an example for "default" gender when making the poll choice. Like the only time it matters is in the character creation screen itself, and I thought "who would care about that?" On the other hand, in something like Mass Effect, the marketing was centered on male Shep iirc. In that case it could certainly matter.
 
Oct 26, 2017
7,815
Madrid
Missing the "I personally welcome that male is the default, as it lets me check out how it looks like before I immediately change it to female; but of course acknowledge that having female as a default would be a huge step towards representation and against male-as-norm" option in the poll...
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,276
Was going to vote "no", then thought about it for a second and realized that when my young daughters grow up, this kind of thing might matter more for them (which means it matters to me).
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,094
Dallas, TX
It matters if there was clearly more work out into one than the other. Mass Effect is the one I always go back to where even though the female voice performance was better, the male character had a character model that was much better than anything you could make in the character creator for a female character.
 
I think I don't understand the poll. Can any clarify?

Is this about preference when selecting a default character in a game that allows you to customize characters?

If so, it shouldn't matter, as you will be able to customize as you wish.

What am I missing?
 

L Thammy

Spacenoid
Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,832
It doesn't matter to me personally, but if a default character is heavily used in the promotional materials, that's probably going to be the ones the fans perceive as the standard. That's the design they're sending out to the world and who they're earning their points on.
 
Oct 27, 2017
181
Depends on the game really and the intent of the writers/designers. I typically prefer characters to be fully fleshed out and written by the developers, rather than being a blank slate like Sheppard for example.
 
Nov 27, 2017
257
In smash they definitely should since male Fire Emblem protagonists tend to be the most boring, generic shit ever and they already have a billion generic fire emblem dudes from all the older games or side characters.
 
Oct 25, 2017
548
It reinforces male-as-default more often than not, whether through marketing or mindshare. Whoever is front and center matters.

How many people realize female Erdrick is a thing? How many people refer to certain customizable characters as "he"?
 

Morrigan

Armoring
Moderator
Oct 24, 2017
8,273
It doesn't bother me, but it definitely would be nice to see less "male as default" everywhere.

Why would anyone care?
Your profile says male. Your gender is always the "default" everywhere you go. True equality means non-males should not be constantly "other"ized.

Because never seeing your gender as the default sucks and reminds you that you are the "Other" in this hobby.
This.

I think I don't understand the poll. Can any clarify?

Is this about preference when selecting a default character in a game that allows you to customize characters?

If so, it shouldn't matter, as you will be able to customize as you wish.

What am I missing?
A lot of people just pick the default option and don't further customize. A lot of games also use this default template in marketing materials, giving less exposition to other options. It wouldn't hurt anything to mix things up and make non-white, non-male characters as the default option every now and then in games with character creators.
After all, people who "don't care", shouldn't be bothered if the default in the next Fallout or Cyberpunk game is an Indian woman, right? And those who do want to play a white male can just use the character creator to make the character they want. But since many people just pick the default, then that would give more exposure and representation to whatever is presented as the default and help normalize it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,011
No, I only care about default names.

Whichever one I like the most is the default design to me - feMC on P3 for instance. For some games, both characters "exist" in the canon (from the OP, Pokemon and Wii Fit), so I just pick whatever I feel like at the time - though it annoys me to no end that Krystal (Pokemon Crystal) was abandoned.
 

Ron Paul

It's Happening
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
5,400
Texas
Maybe I’m different than most here, but when I play a game I don’t like envisioning myself as the protagonist. I want the protagonist to be what the developer intended it to be, and whatever gender that is I’m fine with that. I mean you look at movies and there’s no protagonist gender options before the movie starts 🤷🏼‍♂️
That’s just how I view it
 
Jun 14, 2018
708
To me, no. I'll usually pick the girl version, they have better design 95% of the time anyway. For those who fight for more representation tho, yes, it matters a lot.
 
It doesn't bother me, but it definitely would be nice to see less "male as default" everywhere.


Your profile says male. Your gender is always the "default" everywhere you go. True equality means non-males should not be constantly "other"ized.


This.


A lot of people just pick the default option and don't further customize. A lot of games also use this default template in marketing materials, giving less exposition to other options. It wouldn't hurt anything to mix things up and make non-white, non-male characters as the default option every now and then in games with character creators.
After all, people who "don't care", shouldn't be bothered if the default in the next Fallout or Cyberpunk game is an Indian woman, right? And those who do want to play a white male can just use the character creator to make the character they want. But since many people just pick the default, then that would give more exposure and representation to whatever is presented as the default and help normalize it.
Thanks I see the point now. The poll and first post were not very good explaining the actual subject.

So basically, Now:


  • Games provide a White Male default. Even if you can customize it, the first thing you see is that design.
Proposal:

  • Games could vary the default gender and ethnicity as the first thing you see.

My opinion:

Seems like a very low impact change, I'm not sure of the actual repercussions down the line for representation if devs start switching the default. But since its a very low effort change, they could definitely try. Personally, It doesn't currently bother me as I always try to make myself in games so don't really care about the default.
 

Boy Wander

Banned
Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,377
UK
No. If the default is a bloke I'll pick him. If the default is a woman, I'll switch to the bloke. If the only choice is a woman I'll play as her. If it's a good game I couldn't care less either way.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,144
Hmm... I hadn't thought of it, but I do tend to like picking the "default" choice on stuff... since Villager has been in Smash, I usually create the default Smash Villager in AC, for example. And to me, it felt like (specifically that one version of) Female Corrin is default Corrin, so when I played Fates (kinda late), I picked her. So I guess from my perspective, yeah, it would be nice if they made the "diverse" choice the default choice, because whatever that is, I'm probably going to gravitate toward it.
 
Oct 27, 2017
480
I don't mind it, however I will say that playing AC Odyssey, I'm just ever so slightly annoyed that the ability previews in the skill tree show Alexios, even though I picked Kassandra.

In a game where multiple lines of dialogue had to be recorded twice for each character's name (not every line, obviously, but any time an NPC uses the PC's name), it seems odd they didn't go the extra ten feet to record videos of both Kassandra and Alexios doing the combat abilities. Especially considering how easy it must be to make those 2-3 second clips.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,310
I was surprised when Male Corrin remained the default in Smash Ultimate after Intelligent Systems essentially made Female Corrin the defacto Corrin.
 
I don't mind it, however I will say that playing AC Odyssey, I'm just ever so slightly annoyed that the ability previews in the skill tree show Alexios, even though I picked Kassandra.

In a game where multiple lines of dialogue had to be recorded twice for each character's name (not every line, obviously, but any time an NPC uses the PC's name), it seems odd they didn't go the extra ten feet to record videos of both Kassandra and Alexios doing the combat abilities. Especially considering how easy it must be to make those 2-3 second clips.
Video size most likely, not really the actual effort of making the video with another 3D model, but the size of the extra version of each clip.
 
Oct 30, 2017
66
It would be nice if more games did not default to a white man or boy but I understand the marketing imperative and as long as I am given the option to not play as that person, I do not give it much thought.


Mass Effect's marketing was nonsense, though.

The best case is when there is both a male and female character to choose from and you are simply picking between them.
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,869
Brazil
Considering the world works with "male as default" as default, it matters a lot because I know before anything that they got some care put into it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,343
I wonder if games are an exception to the rules of defaults? That is, when controlling for age, race, and sex, most people still pick the default or whatever option is offered first, or because of the role-playing/role-inhabiting roles people are more likely to pick someone that is like them in some way.

It'd be fascinating for a big company to do A/B testing on that. Just have half the gamers randomly get female character choice first, the other half male choice. The aforementioned games that do this I'm not sure if they have enough details on gamers to come to any conclusions (or if they were interested in sharing that.)
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,999
Maybe I’m different than most here, but when I play a game I don’t like envisioning myself as the protagonist. I want the protagonist to be what the developer intended it to be, and whatever gender that is I’m fine with that. I mean you look at movies and there’s no protagonist gender options before the movie starts 🤷🏼‍♂️
That’s just how I view it
You're male. Are you cis male too? Either way you have had an abundance of representation, so why would you ever feel the lack that others do?

Of course you think it's okay.
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,079
Worth noting, Female Corrin is apparently the canon one. Which makes Smash's choice to default to Male Corrin all the weirder...
She isn't. No corrin is the canon one for all games. Male corrin is the canon for BR and female corrin for CQ
I wouldnt say that.

Female robin and corrin are far and away more popular
Male robin is the more popular within the FE community but I dunno about the Smash community
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,977
She isn't. No corrin is the canon one for all games. Male corrin is the canon for BR and female corrin for CQ
Female Corrin is the one used in Warriors though.

Of course, this is spinoff material, but they also went out of their way to use Male Robin in the story mode, so it seems like this is the official branding.
 
Mar 3, 2018
920
I don't think it actually matters, at least so long as the option to change is clearly presented rather than buried. I think people mostly have a pretty clear preference for a gender (usually their own) in computer games, and will follow that. If you promoted Mass Effect with exclusively Fem Shep, I'm confident you'd still end with 3/4 of people playing with Man Shep, just because its a military sci-fi shooter and the market for that sort of thing is mostly male

Maybe it has more of an impact if the characters are more defined and different (like in Resident Evil), rather than being more or less self-inserts?

But I'd favour randomisation on the grounds that it certainly doesn't do any harm.
 
Oct 25, 2017
783
Doesn't matter to me because I never use the default if I have the option to change things. I also don't care who is used in the marketing material and all that jazz as well. That means that I am fine with people pushing for more diversity in the defaults if they want, because at the end of the day I don't really care who the default is.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,980
No, it doesn't matter to me as long as there's a choice for games where it's appropriate. I don't think that developers need to go out of their way to lead players to select certain characters. I think that they should go out of their way to offer that choice to people who want it.

I do think that it's cool when some games make the "Default" characters women, though, and I try to give them credit for it. For instance, I think Apex Legends does a really good job at this. There's no true "Default" character in the game, but the most balanced intro character -- the soldier grunt -- happens to be female. I think it's kind of cool that the standard soldier grunt, medic, and rogue characters are all female characters. Usually it seems like devs take the opposite approach.