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Almost Totally Excellent

Gearbox Bows to Petition, Creates Playable Female Marines for Aliens: Colonial Marines

In July, Gearbox Studios began sharing details of its oft-delayed Aliens franchise game, Aliens: Colonial Marines, which would follow a single player campaign of a customizable main character joining fellow human marines facing off against slavering Xenomorph hordes, and both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes where players competed against xenomorphs and other players’ customizable marines. What the game didn’t feature, however, was the ability to create a female marine.

This struck many as pretty out of… well, character, for a series that included women like Ripley and Vasquez, both formidable soldiers in their own right. A petition was begun, reasoning that with yet another recent delay in the game’s release, Gearbox would have the time to create gender options. This weekend we got the exciting news that it actually paid off.

Community manager Chris Faylor delivered the news:

“I am happy to be able to confirm that female marines are playable in competitive multiplayer as well as co-op, complete with customization elements,” Faylor wrote to the petitioners. “This is something the team has been planning and working on for quite some time, and that work is finally at the point where we can confirm it will indeed ship with the game when it releases on February 12, 2013.”

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford stated unequivocally that there would also be female characters present in the game’s story campaign, saying that they’d been in the works for some time, but that the company didn’t want to show off unfinished concepts, so they’d remained completely silent on the issue of whether female characters were in the game. The four-thousand-plus-signature petition that included some of the original cast of the Aliens movies, however, changed their minds about keeping quiet, and so they revealed Private Jennifer Redding, a playable character in the story campaign, at PAX Prime this weekend.

To which I say: buuuuuuullpucky. (This minced oath brought to you by the discovery, by this writer, of the term “minced oath” this weekend.) The original cast of the movie your game is based on has joined a petition to include female characters, you’ve been working on them the whole time, and you can’t just come out and say “Hey guys, we’re working on female characters right now, actually! Check back in a couple months to see the results!” As The Escapist points out, the game was far enough along to have multiple trailers made from in-game footage while your female characters were still in the design stage.

So you underestimated fans’ desire for the more representative universe displayed by your source material. It’s okay, because you listened to them, and corrected yourself. Just say it. I guarantee that candidly admitting it and giving some lip service to how you learned a valuable lesson will only increase the number of people interested in buying the game. That said: now it’s up to all those people who supported the petition to support the game, and make some badass lady soldiers of their own.

(via The Escapist.)

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  • Thalia Sutton

    Truth. Big-business-style PR departments need to learn that gamers can see them through them, and that “politically correct covering-your-ass-style” non-apologies are not actually the optimum sooth-saying solution, as they just piss us off and make us resent the company and the project.

    And on another note–how could you even consider making an Aliens-based game without female characters? The movies starred a woman! *grabs them and shakes them* Is this an instance of trying to make money off something by people who know nothing about it? A mis-targeting of audience? Or is it simply more privileged oversight and incorrect assumptions about lack of women in the gaming market? Would love to hear more about that, with the background of the game’s creation, and the people behind it–if you’re interested on a follow up. :)

  • Matt Graham

    Well said.

  • John Wao

    Heck my favorite part in Aliens was when Vasquez screams: “LETS ROOOOCCCK!”

    When I invade Westeros that’s going to be my rallying cry.

    (Second favorite: “GET AWAY FROM HER YOU B@#$@!”)

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    I loved Vasquez, but my favourite line has always been, “Game over, man!” in that distraught whine.

  • Travis Kyle Fischer

    So we’re going to believe that an online petition actually accomplished something rather than than believe that a bunch of hardcore Aliens fanboys didn’t forget to include badass women in their ALIENS game.


    As for the Escapist’s theory… ever hear of a little game called World of Warcraft?

  • John Wao

    That’s definitely in the top 5.

  • Anonymous

    Oh I am so relieved to hear they will be included you have no idea.

  • Anonymous

    “And on another note–how could you even consider making an Aliens-based game without female characters? The movies starred a woman!”

    This was my first thought exactly when I heard about the issue originally. It just made no sense at all.

  • Laura

    Remember, Pitchford was the one tweeting that the people who voiced
    concerns over the Borderlands ‘Girlfriend gaff’ were being
    “sensationalist”. It seems like he’s uncomfortable having his company
    take responsibility for any dissatisfaction from fans.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just as skeptical that they weren’t, in fact, working on female characters. It just doesn’t make sense that a game based on the ALIEN franchise would fail to have female marines. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they specifically kept people in the dark about it just so they could surprise everyone with a reveal. The fact they have a female marine character in it suggests to me the developers are being genuine: it makes less sense to me that female characters/creation was completely absent from the game, than to think they went “oh crumbs, we’d better put these in!” and actually produce results so quickly.

  • Magic Xylophone

    ‘Bout time.

  • Sarah Nuckolls

    Sorry, I agree with a couple of the previous comments that I highly doubt that the game did not include female marines prior to this petition. It’s an Alien game and I don’t think anyone would make one without strong women to assume so, particularly of a company like gearbox who have done an excellent job with badass female characters in the past is idiotic. Alien is based off successful female badassery, well and aliens… Gearbox has a history of success with badass women… besides, giving credit to the petition would be a way better PR move than haha we were doing it all along. Crediting the power of an awesome fanbase to be awesome enough to shape their digital world is just sooooo much more pandering to fans and positive PR I promise you someone would have thought of it if it was true.

  • Melissia

    Not only stars a women, but some of the most memorable characters who WEREN’T the primary protagonist were women.

  • Evan Jones

    FPS characters are mostly guys, mostly. and it should stay that way if you want the genre to be UNREALISTIC and STAGNANT. one of the best things about the Alien franchise is that it had real women who could kick real butt. in Aliens we find out in the extended cut that Ripply was an “average” working mom. so you better watch out the next time you make fun of soccer moms because you never know. Besides having kick butt female team members don’t threaten my masculinity because i no longer feel like a neanderthal when i blow stuff up because i know my female comrades will be there hollering “Lets Rock!!” too