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Opinionation: Aliens: Colonial Marines To Feature Only Male Characters?

Ellen-Ripley.jpg

Earlier this week an off-hand announcement came from Gearbox Software, the folks behind Aliens: Colonial Marines, the upcoming "spiritual sequel" video game based on James Cameron's tour de force of action-film-redefining incredibleness, Aliens - you know, the movie in which Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley goes from being out of her element and beset by anxiety to being one of the angriest BAMFs to ever grace the silver screen - wait, where was I?

Anyway, there's not going to be a single playable female character in the damn game.

Now listen, for most any other franchise, I'd be like "Yeah, that's video games for you, what you gonna do?" It's a frequently-troglodytic industry whose image of women is often...well did you hear about what they did to Samus in Metroid: Other M, or that whole Lara Croft rape thing, or...well, this s--t? But given the Alien franchise's history of pioneering strong female leads - especially the first two films, to which this is supposed to be a spiritual successor, right? - there's really no good reason for Gearbox leave out at least one strong woman. I mean, in one scene Ripley duct tapes a machine gun and grenade launcher to a flame thrower and marches right into the heart of a nest of Lovecraftian monsters that's minutes away from being vapourized by a 30-megatonne nuclear explosion. If you're going to be the spiritual successor to that, even if you're not going to pick up on the maternal rage part, you have to have some nod to the previous protagonist, no? Or how about the not-at-all accidental fact that, by the time Aliens' final epic ass-kicking rolls around, every single male character has been killed, incapacitated, or torn in half? Tell me James Cameron wasn't flipping the bird to stereotypical action movies with that one.

Anyway, I'm apparently not the only person baffled by this. There's a petition on the go to pressure Gearbox and Sega (the game's distributor) to include at least one playable female character in this multiplayer game. From the petition:

We believe ALIENS is the perfect starting pont for developers to start including playable females in more multiplayer shooters. And what better company to start this than Gearbox with the success of Borderlands and the benchmark shooter Brothers in Arms? There are many females that enjoy playing video games and are fans of the films who are tired of playing as a male all the time. Lets let Gearbox Software see how important this is to the ALIENS franchise!

What we want is the ability to create a CUSTOM female to represent ourselves just like the men can, in Multiplayer/Co-op in order for us to "Become a Colonial Marine" as well as accurately represent the other half of the United States Colonial Marine Corps!

As of now, the petition has had over 2700 signatures.

I've had my say. I'm not outraged, but I think that Gearbox has made a pretty stunning oversight. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

9 Comments

Rod said:

Wow. I look forward to their interpretation of Brokeback Mountain, where one of the playable characters is a woman.

The_French_Guy said:

@Rod:
...What does that got to do with anything about the petition or the game or aliens... or even videogame in general? *Blink*

Mikey said:

I signed the petition. I think it is pretty outrageous, if you ask me. I think it's stupid to make a game with only guys in it, in general. But to do that for a game based on a series that has been ICONIC for female empowerment? Ridiculous.

I'm majorly losing interest in this game. I kept checking out all the trailers, waiting to see a female anywhere, and no dice. It's like - "Ugh. Okay. So it's going to be one of THOSE military games..."

The_French_Guy said:

@Rod: Or a point and click game of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with only women players.

g_whiz said:

Good article. In its own way an epic miscalculation. Sigorney Weaver's Ripley was one of the most important aspects of ALIENS and the idea that women will always be off on the sidelines (especially when the apocalypse is nigh) while men go out and fight is an antiquated notion you'd think the "future" would be beyond.

Tom said:

Wow.

One of the most important parts of the original Alien was that the protagonist was a woman. Then in the second film it was a big "Don't mess with a mum/mom" message.

As much as I hope this petition goes through, I'm more disappointed that they didn't do something really cool with the series. Like how Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles gave us an alternate storyline that diverted from the disappointing third film, I hoped that Gearbox might do something similar with this considering Alien3 is the prime example of why producers shouldn't make decisions regarding story etc. It's a vast drop in quality from the first 2 films and Aliens: Colonial Marines could have given those fans who wanted a different storyline that gift.

Sadly it follows canon and we have to somehow go believe "lol everyone died, except Ripley because she's magical and despite there being no way an egg could get on board, there was an egg on board and also some marines have come to find out what happened, oh no ALEINSSSS!"

Mikey said:

I pretend Alien 3 and beyond didn't happen, Tom. I like to think that Alien 3 and Resurrection were just nightmares that Ripley's had in her sleeping pod.

Alien 3 basically said "fuck you" to Aliens. You can't do that if you're going to be a totally inferior movie.

Killing Newt before the movie even starts was one of the worst studio decisions in movie history, IMO. When I was a kid and I saw that, I was devastated. It made sitting through the rest of the movie torturous, because you knew that no matter what Ripley was going to have a bad ending.

Originally this game was allegedly going to follow the original Aliens sequel path (at least as far as Newt and Hicks being alive), but the studio got involved and nixed that. They didn't want the game basically saying that "the last two Alien movies sucked, and we can do it better". So now we get an all male cast, and basically a rehash of Aliens (without the diverse characters) with nothing really new.

Max said:

I know this is long, but you can handle it:

people know that customized characters in games are generally made up of assets someone already made and the player just gets to pick which ones to use, right? don't you think that would bring up the same old argument about how women aren't represented realistically? I mean, it's still someone, most likely a man, making the models that you use. so in the end, you get to mix and match your character from several different characters' parts that are still coming from a 'flawed' male perspective. besides, if they had that option in from the start no one would write an article lauding them for including the option. saints row 3 had some of the best character creation options for women around but everyone dogs on that game because you can run around with a big dildo and beat people with it. it seems like a lot of the responses to this post seem to rehash the author's sentiments and I get the feeling that most people didn't have their own opinion going in, but instead saw aspects of the author's argument that they could latch onto and regurgitate as their own.

also, I find it funny that to some people, female empowerment means that men have to be killed violently or otherwise removed. that's not equality. for one thing, it could be implied that all the men had to be killed off for anyone to believe that she was the only one going in; she was the only one available. for another thing, equality means everyone is EQUAL, so instead of trying to pull men down to a subjugated status that women always feel like they're in, why not elevate women to same level as men seem to be at.

I hate this whole argument about how women are always misrepresented, though, because it's based on women's perception of how they're being treated versus how they feel they should be treated. if a man treats a woman the same way he treats a man she usually ends up being offended. the difference involves replacing dick and fart jokes with vagina and period jokes. the problem, to me, seems to be that women don't want us to treat them the same way as we treat guy friends, but they still want us to treat them as equals. so they want men to conform to their ideal of how they should be treated, which still constitutes treating women differently because men don't interact with men the same way as women would like us to interact with women.

granted there are people out there that are just plain assholes and will do and say whatever comes to their mind to make someone upset or uncomfortable, but they do it to guys and girls alike. just because someone takes more offense to something than another person does, doesn't mean that the offender is prejudiced.

I got made fun of constantly growing up and just because I took offense to it didn't mean that the other person got in trouble or was considered to be in the wrong, and I didn't get to decry everyone in their family or racial group because they picked on me.

I know it's easier said than done from experience, but STOP getting offended and up in arms over the portrayal of women in games. men don't constantly complain about being shown in an unrealistic light. we don't complain that men are pretty much always the main villains in the game. we don't complain that we're portrayed as bloodthirsty single-minded killing machines. we don't rally around the fact that men in games look almost nothing like men in real life. we don't care that our humanity is removed for the sake of a specific portrayal of a character.

it would be easy enough to take offense to and write blogs and boycott games until we are represented how we truly are. it would also be easy enough to go make a game that shows john everyman in his natural environment with his natural behavior, but neither of these things make for a game that can be projected to sell well, and to play myself in a video game seems just plain boring. men embrace the false reality we're presented with in games because it's NOT real life and it allows us to play as that image of a certain kind of man. either that or we ignore the character completely and just play the game for its mechanics, eschewing any sort of association with the story.

the bottom line is, just because you take offense to something doesn't mean you're right about the intentions behind the matter, and you're really only justified within your own emotional space as to why it's such a big deal. other people may share your sentiment, but that doesn't mean you're right, and that includes my opinion presented in this post.

Mikey said:

Or, you know, we had our own opinions and decided to post them.

And wow, your post had a lot of generalizations.

And equating the misrepresentation of women in games to the misrepresentation of men in games? Seriously? I mean, come on...SERIOUSLY? lmao

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Mikey on Opinionation: Aliens: Colonial Marines To Feature Only Male Characters?: Or, you know, we had our own opinions and decided to post them. And wow, your post had a lot...

Max on Opinionation: Aliens: Colonial Marines To Feature Only Male Characters?: I know this is long, but you can handle it: people know that customized characters in games are generally made...

Mikey on Opinionation: Aliens: Colonial Marines To Feature Only Male Characters?: I pretend Alien 3 and beyond didn't happen, Tom. I like to think that Alien 3 and Resurrection were just...

Tom on Opinionation: Aliens: Colonial Marines To Feature Only Male Characters?: Wow. One of the most important parts of the original Alien was that the protagonist was a woman. Then in...

g_whiz on Opinionation: Aliens: Colonial Marines To Feature Only Male Characters?: Good article. In its own way an epic miscalculation. Sigorney Weaver's Ripley was one of the most important aspects of...

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