So this game called Brink is coming out in a few days.
The game is selling itself on being very character driven; it allegedly has about a kajillion different character customization options and will allow you to take your character from single player to coop to competitive multiplayer seamlessly. And you know what? That actually sounds pretty cool.
Of course, every big-name mainstream game sounds cool on paper. And if there’s anything the Fable series has taught us, it’s that Peter Molyneux can go fuck himself.
Wait, no, what I meant to say is that if there’s anything the Fable series has taught us, it’s that marketers can promise anything they want about a game and it doesn’t actually matter if the game delivers in those qualities as long as plenty of people buy it on launch day.
So I was skeptical right away. As I always am. It’s basically my job as a consumer to be skeptical about things (as it is for all of us). But then I read something about Brink that immediately tore that skepticism away. It took it away and replaced it with a fresh batch of bitter cynicism.
Apparently for all the customization Brink offers, it will not let you play as a female.
There are a lot of RPGs that let you create your own character. Some games don’t let you customize your avatar to a very wide degree, but whenever a game gives you any aesthetic choices for your character, the first choice it gives you will always be gender. It’s the most basic and inherent choice we have when we want to create a unique avatar for ourselves, and it’s kind of important to a game that’s selling itself on appearance customization. I’d go so far as to say it’s as important to appearance customization as guns are to a first person shooter.
Apparently Splash Damage’s excuse for not including this vital feature is that it allowed them to focus on adding more options for the male characters. I guess that makes sense from a laziness standpoint. But it baffles me that they would think this makes sense from a design standpoint, because surely the point of having appearance customization in an online game is to add more diversity to the world, and if you’re going to remove the entirety of the female gender from your game then you’re effectively slicing the diversity of your world in half.
It would be like if Wizards of the Coast decided to remove magic from Dungeons & Dragons so that they could focus on balancing the weapon combat. You’re kind of missing the point, guys.
This is of course ignoring the fact that they’re effectively alienating their entire female audience, as well as any male players who happen to like to play as female characters (a demographic which I’m part of, by the way*). Who thought this was a good idea? Honestly?
So no, I’m not going to buy Brink. I’m not sure if I was ever going to in the first place, to be honest, but I think this design choice has told me enough about the developers behind the game.
This isn’t a boycott. It’s not like I’m abstaining from this game in the name of some sort of noble cause. This isn’t about morality. This is just pure common sense.
*EDIT: I feel the need to clarify that I’m not one of those guys who pretends to be a girl online. I generally play as a female character when the game allows me to, but that’s to add more diversity and variety to the experience.