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What's with the name?

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If we got angry about this kind of thing we'd be angry all the time

Inclusion: What Jennifer Hepler’s Story is All About

Gather around, boys and girls, and let me tell you a familiar story. It’s about a person who works in the game industry, who said some things about games five years ago. Then a week ago, some gamers took screenshots of those things and photoshopped them next to a picture of that person, a nickname that drew negative attention to the person’s physical appearance, some completely unrelated quotations (made to appear attributed to the person) and added a list of descriptive words: “CANCER INFECTION BLIGHT VERMIN DISEASE SEWAGE PLAGUE WASTE.” Then they put it up on Reddit, in post calling the person “the cancer that is killing Bioware.” Upvotes and downvotes were voted, gamer rage was raged, and eventually moderators on r/gaming deleted the post entirely because that person from the game industry had started getting harassing calls on her home phone.

Shortly afterward this Jennifer Hepler launched a twitter account tied with her professional identity and was immediately accosted by requests that she commit suicide; imprecations that verbally reduced her to her genitalia and implied low intelligence and lack of subjectively appealing physical qualities; and accusations of forcing gay characters “down gamer’s [sic] throats,” moreover, accusations that she had a “fetish” for such characters and relationships.

Oh, did I not mention that this person who works in the gaming industry is female? That’s because I don’t want this post to be about gamers hating women. Do I think the fact that Hepler is female made some of the vitriol leveled at her more vitriolic than it would have been otherwise? …Possibly. Do I think that there were misogynist aspects to the specific words that were chosen to be used against her? Absolutely. But I think what this is actually about is some gamers violently reacting to a perceived scapegoat that they can blame for a trend in games towards a greater measure of inclusivity, a topic that is related in a number of ways to the acceptance of women into gaming, both as fans and creators.

First, lets take a look at what Hepler actually said, in 2006, in an interview about her job in general and also her work on the upcoming title Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware’s new tactical RPG in the fantasy genre and the first video game that Hepler had ever worked on (she’d done work in television and tabletop games before). Here’s the only quote from the original enraging image posted that can actually be found, sourced, and credited to Hepler. I’m going to display it in its original context, with the clarifying positions Hepler made that were excised from the original image. The paragraphs that were in the image will be in italics.

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

Playing the games. This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but it has definitely been the single most difficult thing for me. I came into the job out of a love of writing, not a love of playing games. While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesn’t have a good story, it’s very hard for me to get interested in playing it. Similarly, I’m really terrible at so many things which most games use incessantly — I have awful hand-eye coordination, I don’t like tactics, I don’t like fighting, I don’t like keeping track of inventory, and I can’t read a game map to save my life. This makes it very difficult for me to play to the myriad games I really should be keeping up on as our competition.

And with a baby on the way in a few months, my minimal free time (which makes it impossible for me to finish a big RPG in less than six months already), will disappear entirely. If there was a fast-forward feature on games which would let me easily review the writing and stories and skip the features that I find more frustrating than fun, I’d find it much easier to keep abreast of what’s happening in the field.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?

A fast-forward button. Games almost always include a way to “button through” dialogue without paying attention, because they understand that some players don’t enjoy listening to dialogue and they don’t want to stop their fun. Yet they persist in practically coming into your living room and forcing you to play through the combats even if you’re a player who only enjoys the dialogue. In a game with sufficient story to be interesting without the fighting, there is no reason on earth that you can’t have a little button at the corner of the screen that you can click to skip to the end of the fighting.

Companies have a lot of objections, such as how to calculate loot and experience points for a player who doesn’t actually play the combats, but these could be easily addressed by simply figuring out an average or minimum amount of experience for every fight and awarding that.

The biggest objection is usually that skipping the fight scenes would make the game so much shorter, but to me, that’s the biggest perk. If you’re a woman, especially a mother, with dinner to prepare, kids’ homework to help with, and a lot of other demands on your time, you don’t need a game to be 100 hours long to hold your interest — especially if those 100 hours are primarily doing things you don’t enjoy. A fast forward button would give all players — not just women — the same options that we have with books or DVDs — to skim past the parts we don’t like and savor the ones we do. Over and over, women complain that they don’t like violence, or they don’t enjoy difficult and vertigo-inducing gameplay, yet this simple feature hasn’t been tried on any game I know of.

Granted, many games would have very little left if you removed the combat, but for a game like Deus Ex or Bioware’s RPGs, you could take out every shred of combat and still have an entertainment experience that rivals anything you’d see in the theater or on TV.

Wow, you say, that’s pretty nuts. A person who works in the game industry who doesn’t like playing games? I mean, what is there in a game besides combat? Well, in the case of titles like Bioware’s Dragon Age and Mass Effect, there’s dialogue and character interaction. A ton of it. They’re considered to be a part of the RPG genre, which means you’re playing a role… and you’re given opportunities to play that role in dense social interactions, as well as in real-time or strategy combat situations. Hepler actually talks about this elsewhere in the interview: she complains that one of the frequent responses to her work on games is skepticism, mostly from those unfamiliar with modern games, that games even need writers in the first place.

So, Hepler is one person, on a team of writers, which is partnered up with teams of developers, visual designers, and programmers and more in order to make a game. She herself downplays the effects that her thoughts have on the game she’s working on in the same interview. Her viewpoint (that of the non-hardcore gamer) is valued but not always shared by the diverse group working on the game: “I’ve been lucky that the design department here seems to appreciate that input…whether or not they end up acting on it.”

Lets take another look at something Hepler said in the interview:

I think that the biggest detriment to more varieties of games being made which appeal to women and casual gamers, is simply the fact that people who don’t love games don’t become game designers. A game company tends to be filled with people whose best memories come from the games they played, who spend all their time swapping war stories with other gamers, and it’s not too surprising that they end up wanting to make games that recapture those experiences. A lot of ground has been broken in other media when someone who is dissatisfied with his existing choices decides to try something new (Samuel Beckett comes to mind, as the self-professed playwright who hated drama).

I think as games become more mainstream, more people of more varied tastes will join the field, and that will include women. I think right now, though, the biggest hurdle from the point of view of the companies is how to reach women once you have a product they would like. Most women, certainly all women who aren’t active gamers, can’t be targeted by the typical ads in game magazines or on gaming websites. It’s much, much harder to tell someone who doesn’t yet know that they want your product to go out and buy it, than to convince someone who is already looking for his next gaming fix that yours will be the best.

Again, I really believe Bioware’s Jade Empire would be a fantastic first RPG experience for most women, but I doubt many even saw it who weren’t already fans. And because of this, Bioware is unlikely to produce any games that streamlined again, since their more hardcore audience didn’t like the lack of inventory, easy combat and other features which made it so newcomer-friendly. I really believe that there is a large group of women who enjoy other genre products (from fantasy romance novels, to anime, to the Lord of the Rings movies), who would enjoy an interactive RPG story with some of the more logistical challenges removed, but I honestly don’t know how to let them know it’s out there.

These last two paragraphs? They’re what a lot of people have been saying to the comic book industry when it shows reluctance to move out of its familiar demographic. Lets do some word swapping:

The biggest hurdle from the point of view of the companies is how to reach women once you have a product they would like. Most women, certainly all women who aren’t active comics readers, can’t be targeted by the typical ads in comics or on comics websites. It’s much, much harder to tell someone who doesn’t yet know that they want your product to go out and buy it, than to convince someone who is already looking for his next comic fix that yours will be the best.

But interesting commentary on artistic mediums that mainstream society has decided are not gender neutral aside, lets get back to the rage.

So what is this about? It’s about some gamers who are intimidated by the idea of the story told by a game being more accesible to every player, removing some of the prestige that comes with playing a game to completion. A prestige that is manufactured by gaming culture in the same way that sports culture awards prestige for, say, supporting a winning team. Which is not to denigrate such kinds of artificial prestige, but rather to say that they are made of what the culture makes them of, nothing more. The option to play in a less technically difficult way does not actually denigrate the efforts of others to play in a more technically difficult way.

And those who are intimidated by the idea that games are becoming more inclusive in their technical requirements of the player are responding to a trend. A trend that makes gaming more inclusive, which has the beneficial effect of mainstreaming gaming and makes steps towards removing its stigmatized nature. As gamer luminary Jerry Holkins said only this morning:

Most enthusiast gamers “get” Angry Birds almost immediately, and move on.  For those outside our order – that is to say, the vast majority of bipedal sentients – the ubiquitous Angry Birds is one of the first opportunities to understand what their children are always on about re: vijamagames.  It’s ridiculously easy to get and subsequently play, made so by the fact that even my grandparents carry around portable touchscreen computers with perpetual access to the dataverse.  This is something even a life ass-deep in science fiction did not prepare me for.

These games also introduce these neophytes to the concept of downloadable content, free and paid, which only feeds the demon furnace of their addiction.  They don’t know they’re on something “soft,” they aren’t aware that they’re at the bottom of the roller coaster.  They’re just doing something fun, at a chronojuncture where “something fun” often has a digital component.

It was weird!  Playing videogames used to be weird.  There was a point where spending your time in this way had strictly Morlock connotations.  My mom used to worry about what she called my “spirit man,” my spirit man, simply because I kept my curtains closed for weeks at a time in an effort to maintain proper monitor contrast!  Maybe it was more the isolation and esoteric knowledge requirements of early gaming that brought with them the attendant subterranean cache, as opposed to the strict form.  And now, with a game on a phone, you could conceivably play it anywhere.  You aren’t limited exclusively to the bulbous cap of some deep mushroom.

This intimidation in regards to inclusion (of easier play modes, setting aside the inclusion of characters who are something other than the majority demographic) is the same sort of thing that Patton Oswalt was talking about when he railed on geekdom becoming mainstream. It’s the hipstery fear that if others can like what you like than you’re not as special a snowflake as before, except with the added gamer claim that you’re a special snowflake because you completed a challenge. Well, allowing others to bypass that challenge to play the parts that they like isn’t doesn’t actually make completing the challenge less enjoyable… unless what you actually enjoy is bragging rights and not the experience itself.

So, it does not actually surprise me that some people took Hepler’s five-year-old statements made while she was a single writer in a massive video game production as a threat to their idea of what the gaming industry should be like. And it would not surprise me if the fact that she was a woman exacerbated the response, thought, as I said before, not what I want this post to be about.

As for the harassment, Jim Sterling, who I admittedly have excoriated before, has something relevant to say:

This is the kind of behavior that justifies the FOX News stereotype of the basement dwelling, antisocial nerd. This is the kind of behavior that makes the Spike VGAs look like the perfect gamer show — because it’s crass, immature, and it sports the emotional depth of a wet paper towel. That’s how gamers look when something like this happens.

Inclusion! It’ll get everybody to stop believing that games are only for basement dwelling, antisocial nerds! Just as soon as we can some of the people who play them to stop acting like basement dwelling, antisocial nerds!

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  • Anonymous

    Jesus F’ing Christ. Jennifer, I love you, and I am a fan of your work. You are a blessing. You are a light at the end of the tunnel. Live and write and spread your vision. Please.

    For the matter at hand, what Jennifer craves in her games doesn’t make them not games, it makes them a different type. She’s a writer, so she obviously wants more writing in her entertainment. Such a medium would be a Visual Novel, whose gameplay is derived from making choices and social interactions.

    “Do I think the fact that Hepler is female made some of the vitriol leveled at her more vitriolic than it would have been otherwise?”There is no “possibly” here. The answer is yes. “Possibly” with a leading ellipse and italics would be the correct response to “could this same level of vitriol have happened if she WEREN’T a woman?” One of the photoshopped quotes is about women in gaming and all those vile words were next to it. I know you would like this to not be about her gender, but the truth of the matter is that it was and still is. Ignoring that would be harmful to future women writers in the industry … like myself.

    Further, someone said in a past article that gaming was a man’s last place to escape women, and if they got into it too, where would they go then!? Special snowflakes indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Part of my desire to downplay the role of her gender in the source of the harassment is because to emphasize it is to invite statements like “But gamers harass male developers too, just look at…” and then bring up the developer who was harassed during Blizzard’s RealID announcement fiasco or fat jokes about Gabe Newell, and invite argument about whether gamers are generally misogynist or not, which was beyond the scope of this post in the few hours I had to write it today. 

    But I agree with you. My statements regarding Hepler’s gender at the end of the post are closer to communicating my actual feelings. 

  • Anonymous

    Not having seen the original controversy, I’m having a really hard time following this article. I get that bad things were said/taken out of context, but posting these whole quotes has me lost…

  • Kaarel Jakobson

    Only yesterday did I happen upon a thread on /v/ where people proudly swapped screencaps of insulting comments on Hepler’s Twitter account. It was rather disgusting, to say the least. Admittedly though, I also recall Hepler making some fairly immature and dismissive comments about people criticizing Dragon Age II in those exchanges, but that doesn’t really excuse the misogynist neckbeard rage.

    Anyway, she calls Deus Ex one of the best games ever in that interview, so that gets her points in my book. 

  • Kath

    I think she’s suffered through a lot, and I think it’s utterly deplorable what people have said about her and to her. There’s no need for it, *but* it’s also important to note that she also lashed out at fans after a while (that’s understandable), but also one of the BioWare GMs did so too. Nuh-uh, that doesn’t help the matter at all. Doesn’t make what the fans are doing correct, not in the slightest.

    *However*, I can’t help but find her views on games largely ridiculous. You don’t skip parts in books – you miss the story. You don’t miss out bits of films or TV shows – you miss the story. You don’t skip the combat in games either – why? Because that’s the core mechanic for *ACTION* games. There’s plenty of genres, say the Adventure genre, which are largely combat-free and story-focused. If you think about Mass Effect, you play a soldier. The combat is justified, contextualised and sensible. Shepard is a soldier, and they enter into combat with enemies because, well, that’s part of being a soldier. You can’t roleplay a character like Shepard and gloss over the combat, because that’s central to their character.

    On top of this, BioWare have been increasingly criticised by fans for their progressively-poorer stories and gameplay, and with writers like Ms Hepler, I think it’s easy to see why. If you don’t like action games, why’re you even writing them? There’s plenty of developers writing less combat-focused games (Telltale Games, for example) who could use new writers for their projects, and they’re easy to pick up and play.

    I’d argue a setting like Dungeons of Dredmor’s “No Time To Grind?” would be much more appropriate – boost the experience, drop the number of enemies. It makes combat quicker (and arguably easier) but doesn’t remove it. That’s a sensible option to implement, because it can be toggled and doesn’t change the experience all that much. I can see where the skip thing would come in handy for development, but for release? No, not at all. I think it’s a very silly idea, to put it politely.

    With regards to women in gaming – MASSIVE strides have been made in the past few years, especially due to Nintendo and their DS handheld console. My mum isn’t what I’d call a traditional gamer, but she has a DS and the Professor Layton games. She also plays a lot of Popcap games on Facebook and what have you. See, the “casual” market is the *perfect* thing for a lot of women. Whether they’re mothers or just commuters, there’s something for everyone. Bejewelled on the iPod/iPhone, SomethingVille on Facebook, Layton on the DS – there’s plenty of non-violent games that people can easily pick up and put down without having to get wholly invested in them.

    But that goes onto another point – why is it seen that women don’t like violence? I’d say Roller Derby’s existence points out the massive flaws in that logic. Some women like violence, some don’t. It’s the same with men. The idea that women “don’t like or want it” in their games is just as problematic as the perception that women don’t like games. Why? Some women do like games, some don’t. Just like men. Instead of making games for women, all that’s needed is better marketing. Show women that it’s fine to be a girl gamer, in fact – show women it’s GREAT to be a girl gamer. Get the Frag Dolls into a prominent position, get Jen Hale into more protagonist roles and as the face of Girl Gaming.

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    I’ve been battling this on Reddit myself. Quick note, more of the quote was edited out to portray Ms. Hepler in the worst possible light. The statement “While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesn’t have a good story, it’s very hard for me to get interested in playing it,” was not included in the original offensive image, and it’s a very telling omission. 

  • Anonymous

    There are absolutely people who appreciate games for the narrative. Indeed, I recall seeing youTube compilations of JUST the narritves from several Final Fantasy games, so you could skip the game entirely and just enjoy the story. 

    And there’s people like my daughter, AKA The Kid, who pops past every cutscene, every narrative bit, even the text that explains how to play the game, just so she can get to the playing.  Of course, she also knows the cheatcodes to both Space Channel 5 games, so she can just sit there ar watch the game play itself, so there you go.

    The game portion of the game is rather hard to skip, but I get her point entirely.  Older players (raises hand) may remember Square’s attempt to write a game for what they thought the American “new gamers” market would like, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.  It was simple to play; sadly, that was a negative, at least to the hardcore gamers who were already buying games.  There was no one who thought it as a good gateway game for young children and new gamers, it was just seen as almost an insult to America. (Ironically, they ported the game to Japan, made it HARDER, and resulted in a better game that a lot of American fans went and imported.

    It truly saddens me that there’s still so many childish berks in this hobby.  A combination of never being told they’re ever wrong, supported by the (percieved) anonymity of the Internet has bred a staggering race of trolls who simply do not grasp that the people on the other side of the screen are actual people.  It’s like they’re all trying to be the sassy tenager from 80′s sitcoms, expecting a laugh track to kick in with each witty retort and withering insult.  Instead, most come off sounding like sterno-dazed homeless people.

  • Anonymous

     I was unaware of the original controversy. I simply read the article and skimmed the external links.

    It was not hard to follow. It does a fantastic job of summarizing this whole ordeal. How does a whole quote make somebody lost?

  • Anonymous

     Since I didn’t know what the links were to, I decided I didn’t want to feed the foment by seeking out the trolly original posts, so maybe it’s on me. But it would have helped me if the quotes had the parts taken out of context marked clearly.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe you wouldn’t skip the combat, but if they came out tomorrow with a Skip Combat version of Mass Effect I would be on that SO FAST. Yes, Shepard is a soldier, but I freaking suck at shooters. I’m just the worst. I had to walk away from Mass Effect because it was just too frustrating for me. Shepard is the soldier, not me, so give me a quick cutscene and lets get back to the story which is the reason I tried to play the game in the first place, and the reason I will probably try to play it again in the future. I really can’t believe the story would lose anything by letting me move past those immersion-breaking parts where I get poor Shepard killed 10000 times.

  • Anonymous

    Part of this is rough for me. I agree with a lot of what she is saying like the fact that the game industry needs to start trying to appeal to all gamers (especially women) beyond the market they already have, that games are made by men for men with experiences that are meant to appeal to men (combat and logic puzzles with multiple ego-stoking achievements and moments) and that the industry really has to rethink what games are and how they are created to appeal to the majority of people (something that I think we can all agree has happened on mobile platforms)

    What I disagree with is her assessment that video games are interactive forms of fiction that can rival the best of other mediums and that the solution to expand the audience for video games is to essentially remove the video game aspects. She specifically says that games need a fast forward button or a way to skip the game parts to get from one part of the story to another. That sounds awful. In fact, there used to be games like that where it was 90% story (often FMV) and you would just have to perform a few mouse clicks to get to the next part of the story. They were so bad. Worst thing ever. Throw in the fact that Dragon’s Age’s story was pretty poor and unoriginal.

    I hope we all can agree that the internet is filled with an incredible amount of vile trolls mostly made up of socially inept males and they are pretty much indefensible (though I have seen people try)

  • Kath

    And instead, you’d never improve? I suck at economic strategy games, yet it’s never stopped me playing the Anno games.

    Your cutscene ‘fix’ doesn’t work, either. The game’d just be cutscene after cutscene after cutscene. Where’s the fun in that? A better fix would be an auto-aim option to make combat much easier to get to grips with as the game would do most of the aiming for you, thus allowing you to concentrate on, well, downing enemies. Another “fix” would be to add a sort of “god mode” that makes the player invincible (or near-invincible) and bolsters their damage to unrealistic levels… but that wouldn’t work, because it’s an RPG, not “just” a shooter.

    The only real way it could be simplified is to add auto-aim and weaken the number of enemies (and their strength) somewhat in order to facilitate a player victory. Anything else would render the majority of the character development irrelevant.

  • Anonymous


    Here I was, expecting a well-written pithy gender piece involving internet harassment, and what I got was a philosophical, transcendent strike into the very heart of the question: why any human being has ever or would ever play a game. 

    I consider myself a gamer. I favor card games and tabletop RPGs because due to neurological differences I lost the ability to play effectively once console and computer games moved into 3D territory. It’s a problem with depth perception and spatial orientation, and I cannot very well combat monsters and such when I cannot tell where they are in relation to my character, or gun, or follow the trajectory of missile projection. The very last game I was able to play effectively was (and still is-HA!) Diablo for Playstation. Even Torchlight causes enough difficulties to be more trouble than it’s worth.

    Seriously, games like Skyrim, Fallout New Vegas, and Dragon Age 2 focus so much on character customization, storyline, quests and other such things, the actual “combat” portions are really second fiddle. I think that the popularity of minigames, puzzle solving sidequests, and being able to do things in a game like READ A BOOK goes to show that gaming is spawning an entire subgenre/world of what amounts to interactive films.

    Like, this goes so much beyond “throatbeard snowflakes don’t have the monopoly on gaming” into “you’ll pry my privilege from my cold, dead hands” and “what purpose do games and play serve humanity” territory.

    You are my hero forever.

  • Kaarel Jakobson

    Would that really be any different from just watching the conversations and cinematics on YouTube?

  • Kath

    R.E. the spacial orientation stuff – you might want to look into the indie scene. A lot of games like Dungeons of Dredmor, Terraria and so on are 2D (or isometric, or so on). Worth a look, anyway. If you’re on the PC, you can find a lot of them on Steam and GamersGate.

  • Kath

    ‘snot really the same, though, is it?

  • Anonymous

    Since I could play as the character instead of watching someone else play as the character, yes, it would be rather different.

  • Anonymous

    I have yet to play an RPG where the character development happens in combat, instead of in the choices I make outside of combat. But maybe Mass Effect works differently. I don’t know. I haven’t played more than a few hours of it.

    And I like to improve at things that I enjoy, not things that make me want to throw my mouse across the room.

  • Red Garner

     Here here!

  • Anonymous

     I watched a vid of the gameplay on Dungeons of Dredmore and it looks like something I would play forever. I *love* that it’s turn-based, which I definitely prefer. I’ll look into getting into Steam once my grants come in and I get some downtime because AWESOME.
    Thank you so much for the recommendation!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not familiar with the Jennifer Helper thing so I won’t comment on that, but with regards to that quote from Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins, I think you’re misunderstanding him a bit. I don’t think he seriously laments the fact that gaming is much more mainstream than it used to be (it would be crazy if it did, given the success it’s brought him). His writing is usually pretty ironic and tongue-in-cheek, and I read that column in that style.

    That’s not to say some ‘gamers’ can’t be incredibly defensive and protective about ‘casuals’ and ‘newbies’ getting in on their beloved hobby, though…

  • Hank Hill

    Honestly, I’m not shocked people are angry at the woman. She did say in an interview her least favorite aspect of video games is the gameplay, and that she would prefer the gameplay be skipped so people can just watch the cutscenes. Why even play a video game then? At that point you’re just making a movie you occasionally press a button to advance. That doesn’t sound fun at all, and it’s certainly not why we play video games. Nevermind that her writing is in fact very sub-par; her self-published book “M.I.T.H.: Operation Smoking Jaguar” proves that she’s not exactly well received in the realm of fiction and that there may be merit to all of this harassment. You can scold all these naysayers all you want for getting personal and attacking her, but I’m sure everyone here would be pretty angry too if their hobby was trampled all over by a particular company, let alone a woman who said “you know, I would prefer [hobby] be more like this, with all the [hobby] taken out.”

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    And your twitter account is one of those who has been harassing her.

  • Katie McMahan

    Oh, for the love of…

    I’m female, and this is silly. Not everything has to be a feminist rallying cry. Reddit et al, are upset because Bioware, a company that used to make (what I consider) excellent games (Baldur’s Gate, KotOR, Jade Empire) and has recently substantially declined in the quality of their work (see: Dragon Age 2 and TOR). Yes, these communities mock Hepler, because what she essentially embodies is the ‘casualization’ of the industry – ‘accessibility’ comes at the price of fun for a lot of people with gaming backgrounds. Games used to be substantially harder than they are these days – they were also more diverse (generic space background, generic military background, and generic Tolkienesque fantasy background). Essentially, gaming has become ‘standardized’, and does not offer the same challenge or creativity that it did in years past – generally. While this is fine for some genres and in some games, the fact that gaming as a whole has taken a turn for the ‘accessible’ – the casual – leaves gamers looking for a challenging experience with a bad taste in their mouth.

    These communities also make fun of other designers and writers – a /lot/ of other designers and writers. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, is treated with nothing but scorn for his hand in ‘ruining the industry’. But we don’t get blog posts and fanfare and drama about him, right? There seems to be so much hand-holding and rallying around females in the industry when they come under fire. Bioware should take the criticism of their writers (which, honestly, seem to be off on vacation somewhere – the writing for the Mass Effect 3 demo was so cringeworthy and cliche-ridden that I quit it after the first arc) with stride and use it to polish their works for the future. You know, like a professional company? Instead of running around crying and creating internet drama.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, a woman having a different opinion is certainly asking to be harassed. Yup. That’s a rational response.

  • Anonymous

    I found the backlash against her to be completely out of line (but her response along with several other Bioware employees was totally unprofessional and something i would expect out of a 15 year old on the world of wacraft forums, not professional adults). However, some of her comments in the quoted article just leave me shaking my head, particularly her comments on how in order to get women interested, gaming companies need to remove the more ‘challenging’ and ‘logistical’ gameplay elements.

    That is an offensive generalization if I’ve ever heard one, and I’m beyond tired of the assertion that women don’t play games because they’re simply ‘too hard’ and somehow need to be dumbed down to appeal to females across the board. Talk about missing the point.

    Women are poorly represented in games, and most female characters in gaming come across as a sad caricature in comparison to their male counterparts, tossed in solely for the sake of eye candy and devoid of any real personality beyond ‘hot chick’. The situation with this has improved some in recent years, but it is still awful. Not to mention, if you’ve played DA2, you’d notice Helper herself is guilty of this sort of characterization – not only with women, but with gay characters as well. Cis male characters recieve fleshed out personalities – women and gay characters end up being ridiculous caricatures that seemingly exist only for fan service. This is unappealing to many.

     It has nothing to do with games being ‘too hard’ for us ~poor little women~, and I’m frankly offended she would insinuate so.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Let me start out by saying that, obviously, the harassment, threats, and ad hominem attacks directed at Hepler are disgusting and unforgivable. No one should be treated that way for a simple expression of personal preference (or really anything, come to think of it).

    That said, I have some issues I want to bring up.

    “I don’t like tactics, I don’t like fighting, I don’t like keeping track of inventory, and I can’t read a game map to save my life.”

    That seems like a major impediment to being a game writer. Those mechanics are integral to the structure, and thus, the narrative, of the game. If she was, like, a character modeller or something, I could see disinterest in actual gameplay being kind of irrelevant, but for a writer?

    even if you’re a player who only enjoys the dialogue. In a game with sufficient story to be interesting without the fighting, there is no reason on earth that you can’t have a little button at the corner of the screen that you can click to skip to the end of the fighting.

    I have to say, if you’re skipping 70% of the package, at that point it hardly sounds worth paying $50 for.

    If you’re a woman… you don’t need a game to be 100 hours long to hold your interest — especially if those 100 hours are primarily doing things you don’t enjoy. Over and over, women complain that they don’t like violence, or they don’t enjoy difficult and vertigo-inducing gameplay, yet this simple feature hasn’t been tried on any game I know of.

    Jeez, gender essentialist much? I understand the point she’s making, but does she have to lay it all at the feet of women? She’s only exacerbating the reductive stereotypes her misogynist critics have of female gamers. Plenty of women like action gameplay, 100-hour games, and yes, even violence.

    “A lot of ground has been broken in other media when someone who is dissatisfied with his existing choices decides to try something new (Samuel Beckett comes to mind, as the self-professed playwright who hated drama).”

    An example from the gaming industry would have been nice. Beckett didn’t exactly “popularize” plays, did he?

    “I really believe that there is a large group of women who enjoy other genre products (from fantasy romance novels, to anime, to the Lord of the Rings movies)”

    They were books before that, did you know? Third-best-selling novel ever?

    “When writing Dragon Age 2, we weren’t aiming to make another generic boring fantasy story that you expect was written by some old white guy. That kind of writing is just out of touch with the tastes of most people nowadays. What we really wanted to create was a story that’d be an instant sensation, like the works of Rowling and Meyer. The kind of stories that bridge all demographics in their appeal.”

    Did she actually say this? Because this entire statement is completely stupid, full-stop. Fantasy stories by “old white guys” can be thrilling, powerful, and extremely popular with modern audiences (Lord of the Ring and A Song of Ice and Fire, anyone?). I’m all for diversifying the talent behind fantasy narratives, but the way she presents the issue is neither helpful nor true. Meanwhile, writing a story with the intent of creating “an instant sensation” is the worst kind of market-driven horse-before-cart shallowness. Great writing comes from a place of passion, not from an expectation of stardom. Furthermore, I love Harry Potter (can’t say the same for that inept garbage by Meyer), but I’d hardly call it a paragon of diversity. There are, what, two named black characters? Three asians? None of them with something like a recognizable character arc. Not that that’s a particular deficiency in the book. It takes place in the UK, after all, which is 90% white. I’m just saying, let’s not sell it as something it isn’t.

    “a nickname that drew negative attention to the person’s physical appearance.”

    Susana, I think you misread “Hamburger Helper” as drawing attention to her appearance. If anything, it seems like a commentary on her role in creating the games, as perceived by gamers who consider the action to be the true “meat” of the experience.

  • Brianna Sheldon

    I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind the ridiculous amount of hateful comments just because someone enjoys casual gaming. Because you know what? Some people like casual gaming. Casual gamers sometimes become hardcore gamers. Sometimes they don’t. I honestly don’t care if she’s classless herself – the people who are taking her out of context and being rude are out of line – and it makes me sad to see people being pissed off because “gaming as a whole has taken a turn for the ‘accessible’” – which I disagree with, to be honest. 

  • Anonymous

    Personally I share the harassers opinion, regardless of the excess of their actions. The fact is that Brandes Hepler is in fact a pretty bad writer who chose the wrong medium to express herself, and then tries to justify her point of view by pulling the “womanhood” argument in what I actually consider to be a fairly offensive and cliched view of women in general, or by making poor comparisons with other media that don’t relate at all.

    To make things clear let’s try to evaluate what’s really going on in here with all the insults on her twitter: These people are not hating on her because she’s woman. There are plenty of women working for the game industry (including writers) who are frequently praised even by die-hard gamer communties: think about Amy Hennig, who wrote for the universally praised Legacy of Kain series; think about Mary deMarle who was a lead writer for the Deus Ex and Myst franchises, both of which are venerated by the same hardcore gamers which are now targeting Hepler.

    Now let’s take a look at Hepler’s own arguments, and try to make some sense out of them. She claims she dislikes playing the games, which is already a controversial claim by itself. Writing for a medium you don’t enjoy or don’t understand is the first major step to do it wrong. Any writer who calls him/herself a professional must acknowledge the demands and limitations of the medium and adapt his/her style to it. This explains why writing a book is substantially different from writing a script for a movie, just like the former is substantially different from writing a script for a TV show. If don’t acknowledge these particulars and limitations, and instead prefer to complain about them, then you’re bound to commit mistakes, even if you’re the most talented writer that ever set foot on the surface of the planet. Complaining is exactly what Hepler does, when she mentions ridiculous features like a skip combat button and procceeds to compare it to the fast foward option of a DVD player. First of all, videogames are not films (even though she likes to act like they’re the same) and second, if you wanted to establish a comparison, books and movies are probably the worst two you can pick. This is because videogames derive from a completely different branch: board games; RPGs, and in particular Bioware RPGs, are even more associated to board games since their gameplay derives directly from Dungeons and Dragons rulesets. Now when you play a board game, you don’t do it for the story, you do it for the challenge of the gameplay. The same thing could be said about videogames. If you suddenly want to skip the most interactive and defining parts of a genre, for the sake of the story, combat for RPGs, puzzles for graphic adventures and matches for turn-based strategy games, you might as well be watching slideshows or movies instead. Plot acts as a complement to video games, and not the other way around. If you don’t have time to grind through combat or upgrade your party, because you have to take care of your kids (something that men do nowadays as well, by the way), then you should be reading books instead. Major game companies frequently adapt the game plots to prose and publish them either in novel or comic book format, which is good news to all the gameplay haters. Perhaps Bioware should assign Ms. Hepler to write these instead.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “This is because videogames derive from a completely different branch”

    Good point. Though I would posit that, for Dungeons & Dragons at least, you are playing for the story more than for the gameplay.

  • Phillip Tokatlidis

    Why are people turning this into an attack against females? She is clearly not a good enough writer to comic books, let alone video games, as shown here:!/CheFromElVidyo/status/171368017316429825/photo/1 Having a vagina (remember, she started the vitriol with that comment) does not exclude you from criticism, nor does it give you the right to shield yourself with it whenever someone thinks you’re doing your job poorly.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I can understand not wanting every article to revert into the same 101 stuff all the time, even if those discussions should happen at some point … overtly saying it was off-topic put me on the offensive.

  • Anonymous

    Not necessarily. During D&D sessions you don’t skip ahead combat and questing to hear the Dungeon Master talking. The story sets the mood, but it’s not essential to gameplay. In fact the most frequently addictive aspects of D&D are loot getting and powergaming, opposed to dragging descriptions and overly complex plots, which are frequently parodied within the D&D community.

    Another testimonial of gameplay prevalence over story and plot, is the alternate RPG subgenre known as Dungeon Crawlers or Multi User Dungeons. These games usually lack any story whatsoever and instead rely on simulating very detailed worlds and a number of random events. The multitude of possibilities is so overwhelming and the gameplay is so rich and detailed, that a lot of dungeon crawler players end up writing “chronicles” narrating their experiences in the game world. This is a perfect reversal of the situation, which actually translates better than adapting a story or a book to a video game; often the cutscenes feel like pitstops between gameplay, and the story feels disjointed and somehwat separated from what is being simulated via gameplay.

  • Anonymous

    Being a good writer has little to do with liking the game that sprouts from it. First of all, a job is job. Even if its a dream job, the most qualified people are given the job, and love of the output is not too often a requirement in any field, at least not given priority.

    Also, she isn’t hating on violence in general, she’s simply not good at the gameplay mechanics, and that makes it not fun for her. She clearly wants to be able to play the games she helps creates.

    I agree that less of what exists isn’t fair to label as “for women.” However, better marketing is only 1 step that the industry needs to take before it truly is “great” to be a girl gamer. Currently, it is merely okay, borderline not okay, depending on the game. Having more story-based games is simple inclusion, and that’s up to each individual development team if they think it would help their fanbase.

    And I believe she’s arguing for a pure story mode OPTION. Why are you arguing against an option you never have to take? So what if you think Jennifer will totally ruin her gameplay experience and she sucks at games blahblahblah? That’s her experience to ruin, not yours.

  • Anonymous

    Games are entertainment that you’ve paid good money for. To some, this is merely a hobby or a way to relieve stress – not induce it. If you like challenging yourself, awesome, but some people get actual headaches from doing stuff they find too hard or really not fun.

    And story-based games are awesome. You said “where would be the fun in that?” as if you’re incapable of understanding people find fun in different things than you. You’re looking at ME series currently as it is, stripped of its parts, rather than what a game *like it* *could be* to some people.

  • Adam Whitley

    You’re not doing a lot of playing though and I’ve played games where important plotline points happen in game. Just imagine trying to play skyrim and skipping through all the dragonslaying. I shudder.

  • Adam Whitley

    The storyline mode is just….it’s kinda silly and debatable if it would actually bring more people into the game vs. the costs it would make to include in such a fashion as to make it work. Better off making a quick time event game like heavy rain or something like Myst.

  • Adam Whitley

    i.e. vgcats

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t had a chance to play Skyrim yet (it’s waiting for me, soon my precious…) so I have no idea what that setup is like. I don’t assume that it’s an option that would work for all games, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring for some of them. And I can define what “playing” means for me, and I’ll let you define what it means for you.

  • Anonymous

    The article here stated very clearly that this wasn’t a feminist rallying call. Who are you really replying to?

    So you’re one of those that think Helper is ruining games? And where are you getting this “games have become standardized” statistic? Dark Souls came out not too long ago, and I’m pretty sure my grandma couldn’t casually play that. If you’re upset at Bioware “dumbing down” its games, say so. Don’t say the entire industry is getting worse, because of being merely inclusive, because that’s selfish, and exactly what the article is trying to bring alight: you hate that other people want to play the same games as you? Why? Challenge? Is there no “hard mode” in your games anymore?

    Also, please check to see if you’re not viewing the past industry through rose-colored eyes. You are likely a better gamer, so things are easier to you, and nothing will ever beat nostalgia. And I believe in the “old days” settings were pretty much “ambiguous black background” or “black background representing space.” What you mean AFTER the days of Space Invaders? Those games were too easy with their rings and stars and jumping! BAH!!

  • Anonymous

    She isn’t play-testing the game, just writing it. She didn’t say she doesn’t understand that players will get a certain item at such point (or that someone wouldn’t tell her that ahead of time – the entirety of quests may not be in 1 person’s hands). Writing a good story doesn’t have to entail in depth knowledge of the game’s mechanics, especially if they’re likely to completely change on other people’s whims.

  • Laura

    I’m honestly surprised at this post. I understand being disgusted at harassing behavior of that kind, but this person’s statements seem to be the exact opposite of what this blog agrees with and fights for. Why the post to focus on her defense, because she’s a woman working in the game industry? That’s not gender equality, that’s bringing her down to a ‘woman’ label and nothing else.

    What those people are doing to her is horrible, yes. But her interviews just feed the stereotypes about female gamers that we’re supposed to be moving away from. I love plot and story, but KOTOR wouldn’t be half as fun without the ability to *be* a jedi in gameplay instead of just watching cut scenes. I know I’m not the only girl who enjoys the ‘game’ part of’ ‘video games’, either.

  • Anonymous

    I demand a return to original flavor Legend of Zelda when you could lose your good shield to the spongemonster thingies and had to leave the dungeon and go back to the secret vendor to buy another one, then go back to the dungeon and try again, hoping that this time you could buttonmash your sword fast enough to keep your new shield from being eaten. Anything that doesn’t measure up to that specific level of fun is ANATHEMA.

  • Frodo Baggins

    I’m not saying there’s specific necessary knowledge she lacks, just that this form of extremely compartmentalized specialization seems, at best, less than ideal.

  • Lina

    Just because someone plays a game differently than you do does not mean that they are “not doing a lot of playing”. 

  • Lina

    Given that Mass Effect is supposed to be all about the choices and watching conversations and cinematics takes the choices out of the hand of the player, yes, it is quite different. 

  • Nonny Morgan

    Just want to add, in case you’re not aware, there’s going to be a Story Mode in the new ME game. I played it on the demo, and it is really very easy. I’m not used to FPS games at all, so the controls are such that I spend a good ten seconds or so freaking out about what button I push to move and what key does what, and augh. In the previous ME games, I’d end up dead before I could figure out what do to. I had no such problems with Story Mode; it was lovely.  I’m hoping it’ll let me get familiar enough with the controls that I can go back and play the first two games, cause I’ve really wanted to do so.

  • Lina

    The worst is that various anti-Helper things, including the false screenshot on homosexual relationships in ME3 purporting to be from the Bioware Social Network, had been posted off and on for the past few months in /gaming (and others?) and deleted repeatedly. I’m surprised that this one lasted as long as it did. 

    It’s things like this that caused me to leave Reddit, which is sad, because I loved /masseffect, /SRS, etc. 

  • Nonny Morgan

    Because that totally justifies all the crap people have spewed at her. You know, if they were just calling her out on what she had said, that would be one thing. Because, yeah, I can see how it’s angry-making. The problem here is not that people are angry, it’s that people are being misogynistic, abusive, harassing assholes.

    When people who have posted messages of support are also getting harassed, this is about far more than just disagreeing with something she said in an interview, and if you can’t see that, you’re fucking delusional.

  • Lina

    Adventure games (those games where there is “90% story and you would just have to perform a few mouse clicks to get to the next part”) can be wonderful — The Longest Journey is almost always raised as the epitome of the point-and-click adventure game, as well it should be – and I suspect that people like Helper would appreciate them a lot. There is a place for those who appreciate story over combat, and they should not be berated for it. 

  • Lina

    There are those who enjoy the “game” aspect of video games, and there are others, including your fellow commenters above, who do not. I prefer to play games on harder levels, but I do not discount those who play on casual or use cheats to kill all enemies on the board because they would prefer to play a game for its storyline. We all play games differently and have disparate opinions as to what makes a game fun. This no reason to attack people. 

  • Anonymous

    ::gasp:: Really?? That is so exciting I think I just broke a mirror from squeeing. Little starbursts are sparkling around my head, they twinkle to the tune of You Are My Sunshine. A unicorn just appeared and told me the secret of flight without wings. I AM VERY HAPPY RIGHT NOW.

  • Adam Whitley

    I said “not doing a lot of” not “not doing at all” and I meant it in regards to being able to skip over things like combat and actual gameplay to advance the story.

  • Adam Whitley

    No but her perpetuating inaccurate gender stereotypes should get everyone’s ire not in the form that it’s taken obviously but she deserves to be called out on the things she said as much as her attackers do.

  • Andrea Höst

    The sheer nastiness directed at the game writer is unsurprising if sad-making, but what the original post says to me is that there’s still a HUGE market for interactive stories and classic adventure games – everything from dating simulations to games like Grim Fandango.  These sub-genres are terribly under-represented in (English language) releases and they’re perfect for story-oriented people who want a little interactivity and customisation in their story experience.  [So glad Double Fine is heading back into classic adventure games.]  Seriously, I love story-based play.  I will pay good money.

    I also like the achievement of actually going through the combat, but I understand the sense of “missing out” if a RPG or shooter has a great story, but the gameplay style was just so completely not for you that you can’t bear to play it. I think it’s definitely a thing companies releasing these styles of games could consider as an “accompanying release” – maybe put out three to six months after the original game’s release at a quarter of the price with just the cut scenes, or an autoplay toggle or some kind of token
    “summary of encounters” where you wander around and never actually fight anything, but just get given some statistical results as if you _had_ fought.

    Instead of invective, it would be nice if this particular sad passage got some game developers thinking about the possibility of MORE MONEY.  More money is good, right?

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    This is like asking screenplay writers to choreograph fight scenes, too. 

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    I’m sorry if I’m assuming too much, but did you read this article? Or the full interview from 2006? Or the fact that she has not written a novel, but co-authored a graphic novel published by Top Cow? And she did in fact write tabletop RPG games? Why do people keep falling for these trolls without doing an ounce of research into the validity of the claims?

  • Matthew Sager

    You know I can understand where 
    Jennifer Hepler is coming from. I know i have played games before that I have thought hey you know what I really don’t feel like fighting this group of baddies or that Jello boss monster.I just want to see what happens in the story right after it or be able to do the new dialog options that open up right after those fights.. Some times this is due to the game having bad game play, but a good to great story to keep me in the game. Other times I only have a small amount of time between homework and real life so i want to find out as much about the story as possible. There are games were I will enjoy both gameplay, story and the two work so well together that i can really have one with out the other. 

  • Phillip Tokatlidis

    No, the claims are valid, you just refuse to listen to them. “It’s not a novel! It’s a graphic novel! That means you’re wrong lol!”.

    Since we’re on the topic of missing the point, look a little to the left of that image. That is a woman a great majority of gamers respect, not because she “has a vagina”, but because she excels at what she does and loves it earnestly . All you’re doing is getting a bunch of non-gamer feminists riled up over something that doesn’t even affect them or their cause (i’ve seen a lot of twitter/tumblr comments from people stating “I don’t know who this person is or what she’s done b-b-but I sho’ feel bad for her!”). In fact you’re doing more to detract from the feminist movement by proliferating this type of groupthink mentality than the people against feminism themselves.
    Lay off, and stop getting involved in things you don’t understand.

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    Okay, we’ll take the claims in the image one by one, how’s that?

    -Wrote one poorly received fantasy novel.
    She did not, she co-wrote a comic. If you say it’s the same thing, I apologize, I was trying to clarify. Elsewhere, people have said it was self published, it was not. I can’t say whether or not it was well received, there aren’t many reviews and I haven’t read it. One review from 2005 said it was cliche but fun.
    -Dislikes/does not play video games or RPG’s
    She stated in the 2006 interview that she enjoyed Deus Ex, but had trouble with the combat. She also loved and played Jade Empire and several old school games, such as King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. Again, this interview is almost 6 years old, so I cannot say what her favorite games are since.
    -Wrote DA2 Short Stories, worked on DAO and DA2.
    This is accurate, she wrote most of the dwarf stories in DAO, and wrote mostly for the character of Anders in DA2.

    Beyond this is the cut and paste of the interview that was heavily edited, the full context of which is at the beginning of this article and includes her words, “While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesn’t have a good story, it’s very hard for me to get interested in playing it.” This has been omitted from the tweet.

    The opposite of the image says that author wrote for tabletop RPGs. So did Ms. Hepler, as she stated in her 2006 interview, including Shadowrun, and that through her enjoyment of tabletop games she began her career in video game writing.

    I do listen to the claims, I am skeptic of the claims, so I research them, rather than cut and paste.

    What’s more, the point of the entire article here on The Mary Sue, is that this is not an attack on females. From the article above: “Oh, did I not mention that this person who works in the gaming industry is female? That’s because I don’t want this post to be about gamers hating women.”

    I’m doing my own thinking, I understand the issues at hand, and I’ll thank you to not be so dismissive.

  • Anonymous

    I wish there was a way to contact Jennifer and tell her how much I adore her, but I imagine she isn’t exactly clamoring for player contact right now… Anders is why I keep playing DA2, and, well, she’s just great in general… she’s one of my favorite writers. Bloody gamer culture…

  • Tyler Standifird

    Well how about action/adventure games like Half-Life or BioShock? Each have extremely well-fleshed-out stories with a very immersive universe, and all of the action takes place from the first person perspective. Even a game like Call of Duty has these moments. What they lack in substance, they make up for in style. It was a really unique experience in Modern Warfare 1 when your player crawls through the aftermath of an atomic bomb, just to bleed out as you’re controlling him. Sometimes the story has to happen TO the player as opposed to in front of him. THAT is why combat and gameplay are important to a story. That is what is so wrong about wanting to skip the story. I’m not afraid it’s going to hurt my experience personally, I’m afraid they’re going to hurt their own experience. How can you truly know a game if all you’re doing is watching someone else (in this case, your own computer/console) play the game in front of you? It’s akin to reading a full plot summary and passing judgment on a movie. It just feels insulting to fans of the medium.

  • Tyler Standifird

    I really do hate that gender is even mentioned in this. It makes defensive women lash out at men, regardless of their affiliation with Reddit or any others. My girlfriend is far more skilled at shooters than I. You want proof? I’m ilovemyLunchbox and she’s WaywardRaindrop. Go look up our Halo Service Records. You’ll see that she’s been playing far less than I have and she’s almost caught up to me in ranking, not to mention her amount of Daily Challenges completed. She is far from a casual gamer. And you know what? She doesn’t care for story. She skips all the dialogue in most games she plays. I’m the one who cares more for story. She tried coming onto me during a Mass Effect cutscene (where you can’t go back and rewatch the cutscenes, nor can you pause them) and I had to throw her off because she was blocking the screen! And I don’t like how the genders are being applied to which games we like to play. Oftentimes in these arguments I hear the Sims referenced as a “girly” game for girls to “play house.” I can tell you I put hours and hours and days and weeks into playing house in Sims 2, back in the day. The only reason gender is a thing at all is because people who are behind usernames and anonymity will say whatever they can to hurt people they’re mildly displeased with, so they targeted Hepler’s gender occasionally just to twist the knife. So please, world (and I don’t really mean the person to whom I’m replying right now), if you’re going to start lashing out at the people harassing Jennifer, do not include everyone in the same boat. I am tired of being accused of being a misogynist and a brute just because I don’t like Hepler’s writing, nor do I agree with her devaluing of gameplay within a video game. -I- never called her house and left her death threats.

  • Tyler Standifird

    You guys mistake this poster’s intentions. I’ve been in Anonymous for a while and OH MAN is it easy to go overboard when you’re mad at someone through a computer screen. What he’s saying is that she shouldn’t be surprised that people are reacting negatively to what she’s saying. Imagine your favorite movie is being remade or sequeled and one of the writers says they don’t like the movie or movies period. Do you trust that person to do your passion justice? So yes, they have reason to be mad. Do they have reason to call her at home and incessantly berate her and threaten her life? No. They just don’t realize it because they’ve been dissociated from reality when it comes to words. Unfortunately, yes, they are acting this way just because they disagree with what she said in an interview. You know how you stop this? Get the police to stop them from contacting her directly, and then just DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. The funny part about Anonymous is that they only have the power which they are given. They’re like a boggart. The second you turn your back and call shenanigans, they lose their control over you and wither away into the internet.

  • Tyler Standifird

    Again, you made one reference to casual gaming and the olden days, and everyone ignores the main point of your comment. I’m sorry your valid post got washed beneath the feminism. Like I’ve said above, gender shouldn’t even be an issue and it only is because people have made it so. If the same statements she put out were made by a male writer, they would have just called him a pussy-faggot and the internet would have seethed in its own rage without the media ever being involved. Unfortunately, a woman said it, the internet used the dreaded c-word, and the “sassy” subject lashed back. The last thing you EVER do when the internet taunts you is give it an ounce of credibility, let alone a goddamn Twitter account to flood.

  • Johnny Badhair

    “So what is this about? It’s about some gamers who are intimidated by the idea of the story told by a game being more accesible to every player, removing some of the prestige that comes with playing a game to completion.”

    There’s no prestige in completing the vast majority of today’s games. Why do you think everyone is always talking about a game’s length? It implies that completion is guaranteed given enough time, just like in a movie. In ye olde days you could play a game for a year and never finish it, because it was so difficult.

    I would like to know why everything should be “accessible” to everyone. If someone doesn’t like action or roleplaying games and has no time for them, why are they even playing them? So they can enjoy the third rate story and cringe-inducing dialogue? They should be playing adventure games, visual novels and dating sims (I mean proper ones, not BioWare’s), which have much better writing and no action. Or they could watch playthroughs on YouTube, or just forget about most video games and watch movies instead.

    So-called hardcore gamers don’t really care if some housewife wants to play Angry Birds or Farmville, even if they look down on those games. What they are concerned about is that their games will become more and more watered down. Designing a game around the idea that almost all of it can be skipped is going to have consequences.

    Everything is not for everyone. It’s true for music, movies and books, so why wouldn’t it be true for video games?

  • Karel Mika

    He’s talking about the 90′s fully FMV interactive movies. There were literally jsta few clicks included in the “gameplay” part to play another cut scene and all the games sucked. Good all point’n'click adventures are a different matter entirely.

  • Tyler Standifird

    I’ll tell you what is so very important about gameplay in video games. In a video game, the character embodies you. I don’t mean to say you self-insert into a video game. Take Mass Effect for example. My Shepard is a woman, and she is quite the badass. I go with Renegade options usually, but I don’t just hold the control stick to the bottom right at all times. Sometimes if I feel like the alternatives are something my Shepard would say, then she says them. I am very attached to her. What increases this attachment? The shit we’ve gone through together. MAJOR MASS EFFECT SPOILERS AHEAD! Who took down Saren and the geth? Not some soldier on my TV in some movie. My Shepard did. We killed Wrex because he was a threat to the mission. We killed Ashley because frankly, she was kind of a bitch. We were spaced in the loss of our precious ship and hit a goddamn planet. Two years later, we got up and started pounding mechs and were back on the tail of the Reapers in no time. We recruited and gained the loyalty of about a dozen of the galaxy’s most dangerous people, and we got to know who they really were. We listened to everything everyone had to say. We knew exactly who we were fighting beside and for in the final battle. In the jump through the Omega 4 Relay, my hands cramped from the tight grip I had on my controller as we survived a debris field and attacks from ancient, synthetic sentinels and boarded the collector base, not sure if we would be coming back from it. As Tali crawled through the vents, we pushed back the collector’s forces and cleared her way, keeping her alive. Not just for the sake of the mission, but because we’d fought hard through the years (though it may just be a few hours with a lot of time in between for me, but bear with me) and losing Tali would be devastating. We breathed a sigh of relief to hear that Zaeed, Dr. Chakwas, Kelly, and the rest of the crew made it back to the Normandy. Then again when we heard that the rest of the team were still alive after holding off the collectors so we could finish the job. Then, after knowing that we had precious seconds to spare after deciding to give the Illusive Man and Cerberus the finger and blowing up the collector base, we had to fight off a massive abomination with our lives and the lives of Mordin and Thane in the balance. Even after all my effort, my heart was pounding when I saw Shepard’s hand just barely grasp Thane’s as he slid to his certain doom. I begged for the game to put control back in my hands because I felt anxious watching Shepard and company run back to the Normandy on their own. Anything could happen at this point. When Mordin pulled me safely into the Normandy, I felt such relief I couldn’t even describe it. Just last week when I decided to rejoin Shepard again on a solo mission, I left her fate hanging in the balance and even now I fear for her reputation and well-being. We chose to kill a base full of innocent people and then destroy an entire star cluster and over 300,000 innocent Batarians all for the good of the galaxy, and now that very galaxy wants to see Shepard hang.

    Yes, I have an emotional attachment to this story and these characters. Whatever happens has my own fingerprint on it. Not just because of a couple of hours of dialogue options, but the dozens of hours of combat we’ve served together. I’ve felt her hardships and defended her friends. That is what is important about gameplay. You don’t want that in your game? Fine. I pity you for your diluted experience, but you can have it however you like. Just don’t you ever find yourself devaluing my experience and what makes a story engaging just because you aren’t willing to put forth the effort.

  • Anonymous

    One thing to remember is “if it’s not about you, then it’s not about you.” Most often when discussing sexism, there are those that are quick to think that something you’ve said is implied as an over-generalization against all of a gender, when in reality, it’s just about those with problems. If you don’t have problems, then you’re not the problem. Assuming I or anyone else meant ALL MEN when we say “misogynists” is not accurate at all, and spending an entire reply making that point is a bit in vain because, believe it or not, we know that not all men are problematic and we aren’t man-haters by default. Most of us have boyfriends, brothers, and father that we love and respect, which makes it hard near impossible to think of an entire gender being “bad.” Bringing up feminism, sexism, or women’s rights issues isn’t an automatic man-hating session, and I’m tired of people assuming it is.

    All that said, yes, gender roles are a problem. I could think of a lot more accurate ways to get women into gaming, even if it wasn’t true of all women all the time, but “less fighting” makes women come off as non-gamers, which I disagree with whole-heartedly.

  • Kate Lorimer

    I have to say that I find the shooty combat bits of Mass Effect 1/2 an annoyance to pushing the plot forward.  I played mass effect 1 on the xbox first time around, then replayed it and the sequel on PC where I’m happiest as Im total rubbish with game controllers.  Its not that I dont *do* shooty games – am a big fan of Battlefield 3 – but in Mass Effect I kinda wish it was ALL about the plot and rpg elements with more possibilities and detail.. in fact I wish there was more of a pseudo-star trek bridge/ship command element to it. Towards the end of playing ME2 I used cheats to make Shep invincible so I could get through the shooty bits as quick as possible – so I suspect I’d be the target of gamer rage too lol.

  • Kath

    There’s genres like what Ms Hepler is after. The Adventure genre, for example, is pretty much *everything* else. There’s rarely combat, but you can go around talking to people, exploring, solving puzzles and so on.

    BioWare make action games – whether they’re more along the lines of classic RPGs like Dragon Age or more modern, shooty games like Mass Effect. The action is *key* to their games.

    You can’t take the action out of action games, because they are designed, balanced and written around those segments.

    It’s like if you don’t like WW2 themes in films, why would you watch a WW2 film? If you took that ‘setting’ out of the film, what would you be left with?

    If you don’t like something, fine, but to suggest games of that nature should have their core gameplay skippable because you don’t like it is, well, frankly a bit ridiculous. Go play something else, there’s plenty of games around that don’t have combat.

  • Anonymous

    Unless something has changed in the last ten hours, the only quotes posted are the original interview from five years ago – not the interview as taken out of context recently. The article focusses on Hepler’s message and treats the outrage as an aside.

  • Kath

    There’s a difference here. You are, I assume, just someone who likes to play games. That’s fine. You can tweak games to suit your style or to focus on other things. That’s your prerogative and so on.

    But the thing with Mass Effect? It’s *supposed* to be shooty. Those sections tend to lead to plot advances, they’re important in terms of showing you what’s going on. Shepard is the sort of character who gets elbow-deep in enemies, they’re not the Stand Back And Watch type. That doesn’t change.

    But Ms Hepler is a writer in a world-famous studio who are known for their action-based RPGs. For her to turn around and say what she has is a little silly, I’d say.

  • Kath

    I don’t disagree she’s arguing for that option, but I still find it a bizarre thing as it doesn’t address the situation. The combat is core to many games. Mass Effect’s skill sets, to use that as an example, are ~90% combat-based in the first game, and 100% so in the second game. The game is designed, balanced, written and so forth around the combat.

    What I’m saying instead is that perhaps she’s playing the wrong genre, then. If she doesn’t care for action, why would she play action games other than to check the writing as part of her job? My counter-argument is that instead of raising the already-astronomical development costs and further complicating the writing of these games, she should instead look towards other genres.

    But also – why don’t BioWare have something in place to allow her to review the dialogue/cutscenes/conversations without the rest? Sounds more like slightly wobbly development to me, especially considering the sheer amount of writing that goes into their games.

    The adventure genre is pretty much what she’s describing. The Longest Journey and its semi-not-quite-sequel Dreamfall, Gray Matter, Keepsake, almost all of the TellTale Games catalogue – largely story and character driven games with little in terms of action segments

    See, if Ms Hepler joined the right studio with a bunch of other writers, the adventure genre could be rebuilt from its faded glory. They could write a Mass Effect-like game without the shooting, but with a focus on, say, investigating something on the Citadel. How cool would that be?

    I’m just saying that *maybe* having someone who doesn’t care for action is perhaps not best suited for a studio world-famous for its action games, and that maybe she would be happier and/or better placed in a different studio.

    That’s all. She’s free to have her opinions, of course, I’ll not deny her that.

  • Kath

    You’re welcome! Don’t forget to get it with the expansion too.

    But still – keep an eye on the indie scene. I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised by what I’ve encountered there.

  • Anonymous

    I really want to mash the like button.

    I think its safe to say that if you’ve been a gamer and on the internet for a long period of time you know that this environment sports all types. So the harassment from expected trolls aside you really said it perfectly here Tess:

    “She claims she dislikes playing the games, which is already a controversial claim by itself. Writing for a medium you don’t enjoy or don’t understand is the first major step to do it wrong.”

    And I believe that is really the focus here. You can fall in love with the games you play, so it’s easy to get passionate (maybe even reckless, tasteless or immature) when you feel like someone may ruin what you love.

  • Kath

    Women are getting better represented though. I’d say Jennifer Hale alone has been voicing some of the better characters in games – whether it’s the female Shepard, Trishka from Bulletstorm (“I WILL KILL YOUR D*CK!”) or someone else, she alone brings a lot of badass to female characters. On top of that you had a number of the women in Fallout: New Vegas (Cass in particular), the ones in Skyrim and so on. Before that, the adventure genre had a lot of good, strong women, such as my beloved April Ryan (<3) from The Longest Journey.

    That said, in DA2, wasn't Aveline a pretty non-standard character?

  • Kath

    Actually, hardcore games are probably happy playing Angry Birds too. Gotta get three stars on all levels, no? ;)

  • Bel

    A good way to keep your points from being taken seriously is by saying that we’re “holding feminism back” by defending women who are being attacked regardless of whether or not they “deserved it.”

  • Bel

    And yet people are doing it anyway, not to mention completely failing to acknowledge the differential treatment of people like Gabe Newell (for his weight) and Bobby Kotick (for his general evilness) and women who are harassed for whatever reason (Jade Raymond springs to mind).  They’re not the same.  David Gaider provides a perfect example of how they are not – he’s said most of the same things she’s said as well as acted just as unprofessionally, but I don’t see pictures of him circulating with comments on his appearance, much less any denigrating nicknames.

  • Kate Lorimer

    Thinking about it some more.. whilst I stick by my wishlist for *my* perfect mass effect game.. its maybe the type of combat that annoys me, as I said- I like battlefield 3, am looking forward to Aliens:Colonial Marines.. it may be that Im just not into this kind of “Gears of War” stylee combat.  Who knows.  I know that certain bits of ME2 were very exciting, and the critical decision of who you took on the missions had tremendous implications – eg using a biotic to generate the shield around the team in the collector base near the end.. I had a real “NOOOOOOO!” moment when Garrus got killed in one iteration of that play!  So in hindsight I would say that not all my shooty gameplay was a chore.

  • Anonymous

    You should totally play X-COM, if you’re looking for emotional attachment. You’ll cry every time you lose a veteran.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Choreographing a fight scene is one thing, but knowing how a fight would unfold is certainly helpful in envisioning one. Take, for instance, this passage from the Matrix screenplay:

    The Big Cop flicks out his cuffs, the other cops holding a bead. They’ve done this a hundred times, they know they’ve got her, until the Big Cop reaches with the cuff and Trinity moves—
    It almost doesn’t register, so smooth and fast, inhumanly fast.
    The eye blinks and Trinity’s palm snaps up and the nose explodes, blood erupting. The cop is dead before he begins to fall.
    And Trinity is moving again—
    Seizing a wrist, misdirecting a gun, as a startled cop FIRES–
    A head explodes.
    In blind panic, another airs his gun, the barrel, a fixed black hole–
    And FIRES–
    Trinity twists out of the way, the bullet missing as she reverses into a roundhouse kick, knocking the gun away.
    The cop begins to scream when a jump kick crushes his windpipe, killing the scream as he falls to the ground.
    She looks at the four bodies.

    Give or take a few adjustments, that’s pretty much exactly what ended up on the screen. What’s important to note is, not only do the screenwriters know something about fight scenes, and not only does that knowledge make the choreographer and stunt workers’ jobs easier from the get-go, but the specifics of the fight are integral to the story. The way Trinity moves reveals inhuman skill and power, which sets up the unreality of the Matrix itself, the first clue to the audience that everything is not normal.

    I’m not saying an intimate knowledge of martial arts is a baseline requirement for writing an action story. But it helps immensely for a writer to be in tune with what the gamer’s experience will be; their whole experience, not just the dialogue parts. How will the difficulty of a given fight play into the rising tension of the story? What weapons/skills does the player use in a given fight, and how are those set up in exposition? Which story points are feasible to translate with existing game mechanics, and which are too difficult? Now, I know she’s part of a team, so there are other people around her who can fill her in on these points. But wouldn’t it be considerably better if she had a sense of such things herself, so she wouldn’t have to play catch-up?

  • Peter Houlihan

     Except that you didn’t downplay it. You drew attention to it and then said that you didn’t want to draw attention to it, which isn’t really the same thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want to see a games industry that caters to everyone, casual gamers and, yes, avid gaming fans alike. I think the depition (or lack therof) of LGBT and female characters is a little embarassing.

    But my impression of this is that its more a reaction by a subculture to a percieved threat from an outsider who just happens to be a woman: I find it hard to believe that if a prominent male scriptwriter in the games industry said that they were interested in moving the focus of games away from, well, gameplay, that the reaction would be any different. Oh the language would be different, instead of being a c word he’d be a d word, but they’d have their twitter page trolled just the same.

  • Anonymous

    Frankly that whole interview is a mess. She frequently contradicts herself through different claims, which kinda strips away any credibility she might have had. How come she might have enjoyed tabletop RPGs if the main focus in these is actually questing and combat, which, in fact, takes up a lot more effort and time than in a video game? Omissions or not, she clearly states she doesn’t like playing the games; retracting that statement later on by saying she enjoys “the interactive parts” doesn’t make up for it: in fact, it makes it worst due to obvious self-contradiction. Then there’s her ace in the hole, the “womanhood” argument, which, as I’ve stated before in my previous post, relies on stereotypical portrayal of women as housekeepers and “breeders” who “don’t have time” (and this brings us back to the tabletop bit) to make a point. It’s disgusting and offensive to both women and men, and apparently a falacy she’s all too familiar with, given the nature of her latest retorts to the harassers.

  • Peter Houlihan

    “Bringing up feminism, sexism, or women’s rights issues isn’t an
    automatic man-hating session, and I’m tired of people assuming it is.”

    I agree, and I don’t think feminism is fundamentally manhating, but you have to remember that there are still Valerie Solonas’ and Mary Dalys out there and they do target all men with their commentary. Its unfortunate that this is so, but as a feminist its sometimes neccessary to make it clear that you distance yourself from that. MRAs face the same problem.

    Also, in fairness, the interview quoted in the article he’s commenting on did identify non-shooty gaming experiences as something women like, and shooty games as something men like. Which seems as much a slight against women as it is against men to me.

    As for the misogyny, I think he has a point, I don’t think the hate is because she’s a woman, its because she caused butthurt and butthurt idiots will say anything that might be taken as offensive.

  • Peter Houlihan

     ”See, if Ms Hepler joined the right studio with a bunch of other writers,
    the adventure genre could be rebuilt from its faded glory. They could
    write a Mass Effect-like game without the shooting, but with a focus on,
    say, investigating something on the Citadel. How cool would that be?”

    Thats an excellent point, and it would be f****ing amazing to see a grim fandengo II.

    We’ve seen the return of the cinematic musical and documentary, why not the adventure game?

    That said, adventure games died out because they weren’t making nearly as much money, it might be a pretty risky venture.

  • Anonymous

    ^ This. You have to know your way around video games if you intend to write for one. If you treat it like a book, you’ll end up writing a text that feels out of place with the rest of the game (a sin that many games have commited in the past and, unfortunately, still commit). If you have no idea how to make a plot appear as seamless when blended together with gameplay you shouldn’t be writing for videogames at all.

    If you want a good example of what I mean, I advise you to play Super Metroid. The game manages to tell a whole story and teach you a full set of intricate mechanics and tricks without relying on a single word. Plot events are so well masked within the gameplay it’s very hard for the new player to tell when a cutscene is actually taking place. And Super Metroid isn’t even an RPG, but a platformer, which makes this feat even more impressive. Ideally this is something every writer should ponder on before venturing on writing a plot for a videogame.

  • Peter Houlihan

     ”the game industry needs to start trying to appeal to all gamers
    (especially women) beyond the market they already have, that games are
    made by men for men with experiences that are meant to appeal to men
    (combat and logic puzzles with multiple ego-stoking achievements and

    I see this kind of statement alot, the trouble is that it attacks a sexist industry with, well, sexism.

    Your statement that men are all about logic and combat implies that women aren’t capable of or interested in logical deduction and that fighting is something best left to the men. And ego-stroking is a male thing?

    I can’t help but feel that this all stems from “there are no girls on the internet” syndrome. Just because theres alot of people doing something traditionally associated with men (like fighting games) the assumption is that they are men. The games industry already has hundreds of thousands of female customers who like Gears of War and Halo just fine. The challenge isn’t to attract female gamers, its to attract *other* female gamers and *other* male gamers. The resulting games won’t be more female, they’ll just be different.

    This isn’t to say that there aren’t issues of representation when it comes to women in games, there really really are. But I don’t think the solution to catering to the female market is to make Barbie the RPG. Women are people too, with as varied tastes and interests as anyone else and many of them love logic and combat and have highly strokable egos.

  • Kath

    But did they die out? Big Fish Games is doing really well with its more casual games (there’s a lot of story-based Hidden Object games for sale on their site), TellTale Games are going from strength to strength, with their recent releases including Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Law & Order, and in the works is The Walking Dead. Ragnar Tornquist, the writer of The Longest Journey and Dreamfall, is supposed to be starting work on the next installment within the coming months, I hope.

    I don’t think they died out, I don’t think they ever will. They just changed a bit.

  • Peter Houlihan

     I don’t defend the actions of the people trolling her, its not a nice thing to do, but I agree that this isn’t happening because she’s a woman, its because she said something unpopular. I also agree that there hasn’t been anything near this level of controversy when male members of the industry are attacked in an identical manner.

  • Peter Houlihan

     Hear hear, we need female characters with balls! :D

    I wouldn’t mind a few male characters getting saved either.

  • Peter Houlihan

     I’m with Tess, I think theres room for the adventure game genre, but what she described seemed to go beyond that, into films. Films are wonderful, I own several, but I don’t think a screenplay writer would necessarily come up with a good game. VGs are an interactive experience, I find it hard to agree that scriptwriters who disregard and dislike interactivity will write better, or even functional, games.

  • Peter Houlihan

     Are they? Cool. I just meant that the big budget titles these days seem to involve muscly men with guns more than puzzle solving. Theres exceptions to that rule, but things aren’t quite what they were in the heyday of monkey island and sam and max.

  • Peter Houlihan

     I agree that they’re out of line, but the point of the above poster is that being out of line to a woman =/= misogyny.

  • Matthew Nuckles

    Video Games are about the interaction, and for as laudable as bio ware cut scenes can be, you’re mostly just absorbing not interacting. There is a medium where you do have nothing but cut scenes, they are movies.

  • Anonymous

    While it might be true that most 90′s FMV games sucked, the statement they all did is ridiculous (as is the assumption that because a game sucks, every aspect of it sucks). Even if Gabriel Knight 2 is the least ‘game’ of all three GK titles, it is easily my favorite. There’s enough gameplay to keep it interacive, while the story provides an atmosphere of sexual threat and identity loss that I have yet to find outside the FMV ‘genre’.

    I like videogames a lot – from choice NPC interaction to fighting to solving complex puzzles, whatever. Yet I’m eager to let that all be for the time being to try out a 90′s FMV game. Not because I find story more important than gameplay, but because I also don’t find gameplay more important than a story that keeps up the drive to complete. And frankly, most game stories and/or characters are conventional. Not un-entertaining, but lacking. For one reason or another, the percentage nonconventional stories and/or characters is just better in FMV games.   

  • Anonymous

    “she would prefer the gameplay be skipped so people can just watch the cutscenes”

    “she would prefer parts of the gameplay be skipable so people can choose to go with the parts they actually enjoy, like just watching the cutscenes” 

    I fixed it for you! :D

  • Joanna

    Ok firstly, to those saying “Oh look, another article about how hard it is for women in the gaming industry”, shut up.  This is not what this is about.  This is about the attitude and sheer snobbery from gamers with their sense of self entitlement to bombard developers with insults and harassment.  I mean, I’m not a fan of Hepler’s ideals either, but christ on a bike if those eejits would actually stop and think about what they’re doing they might realize that “Hmm…. I’m making myself out to be a slavering neanderthal here, aren’t I?”  It makes me embarrassed on behalf of all gamers.  

    Secondly, some people don’t like combat in games.  I know right?  That’s human diversity for you.  However, I don’t believe in eradicating combat or giving the option to skip combat in games where combat is prominent.  If I’m playing an action space marine ninja, I expect to be doing action space marine ninja things.  A game is something you either win or lose.  I like the fact that I could be bad at a game.  If I have the option to skip combat without consequence, then what’s the point in having combat there at all?  What we really need for those who dislike combat, is something along the lines of ye olde point ‘n click adventures, or simply an RPG with no combat that just focuses on how your character interacts with the game world. Unfortunately, a lot of the gaming industry is too scared to make something that doesn’t involve some sort of hand-eye coordination and I think it’s mostly our self-entitled douchebag gamer that spoils it for the rest of us.    

  • Anonymous

    If I get insulted with gendered slurs, I respond I am perfectly satisfied with my gender. And I fully support anyone who does similar, be they woman or man. No one deserves to be targeted on what they are. Simple as that.

  • Meggie Gallina

    I really like everything she’s saying.  And I agree about the type of games.  I don’t love shoot-y games, and what frustrates me about RPGs is the inventory controls and all the boring stuff you have to do to get to the next point. 
    I know I’m the exact target for whom she’s talking about. I’d run out and buy video games, if only I could find one that seemed accessible enough to play but interesting enough to keep me involved. I’ve played a lot of Telltale’s adventure games up to this point, but I just ran out and bought Jade Empire, since she mentioned it in her comments.

  • Meggie Gallina

    The thing is, making things more accessible to others makes the new people spend money, which makes the industry have more money, which improves the rate of innovation. If you don’t want any new demographic groups to become gamers, you’re seriously limiting the type, amount, and quality of games that could be produced in the future with even more money.

  • Anonymous

    I keep seeing the trend here that if she’s a writer she should love and play the game, and that’s not at all required for any job. I know it makes sense to love Disney if you work at Disney World, but some people are just good at their JOB, and hiring just on periphial things like that could end a company in hot water, because making a job out of something can suck the fun/mystery/intrigue/fascination out of it, leaving skill to hold the game up. There are loads of people on the Bioware team that don’t play or even care about the games they’re making (like how actors don’t want to watch the movies they’ve made), just their job, yet this woman is getting huge amount of flak for it.

    Further, what makes you think that the development is wonky? There very much could be previewing processes for her work, but it’s not as if it would be finalized (final graphics, voice acting, etc) or even required. An editor would take control of her work. I think you guys believe she has a larger hand in the development than she really does.

    And it’s not to say that she doesn’t like what she’s writing (or even if that matters, a job is a job). I’ve written for several games I have no real interest in playing through out. And if I do, it’s merely to see my writing in action, which combat bogs me down from seeing. It’s not really a wobbly development process as it is a completely normal one. It’s not just 3 people sitting around a table swapping code, it’s an office in a company with people assigned to specific tasks for maximum efficiency, sometimes not even in the same building, state, or country.

    Worst thing Helper has said here is that her personal preferences would bring more WOMEN into gaming, when really, it would just bring more PEOPLE.

  • Peter Houlihan

     If you object to any woman being criticised regardless of whether or not they deserve it then, yes, I do think you’re holding back gender equality.

  • Peter Houlihan

     I couldn’t agree more, but do you think this particular woman is being targeted for her gender, or for her opinions?

  • Anonymous

    Since it was a direct reply to me, so I took it as a commentary on both me and the article, so I responded accordingly.

    “… did identify non-shooty gaming experiences as something women like, and shooty games as something men like. Which seems as much a slight against women as it is against men to me.”
    Yes, I agree. Not sure how much time Helper had to meditate on her answer, or if that matters, but there are plenty of other ways to encourage women gamers. There MAY be something to what she’s saying, seeing as casual gaming is dominated by women and story-based games are getting increasingly female dominated, too, but I do loathe the stereotype and wish it would go away, since I really don’t like the idea that only a certain gender is “hardcore.”

    And while I agree the harassment was not sparked by misogyny and maybe not even bred in misogyny, it’s still very much there, and it’s disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    I think you’re confusing watching a WW2 film and making one.

  • Spirit

    There is *interactivity* in the story mode = the conversation choices.

    Is there that sort of interactivity in movies? Nope.

  • John Radclyffe Lohan

    I think as sad as it may be, when a woman is attacked misogyny will play a part in the attack against her. Just as inevitably racism will play a part in an attack against a POC. Saying that this happens is not akin to saying that everyone does it. But trying to ignore and dismiss its occurence doesn’t help anything. :/ “Hey maybe if we don’t call it fire it won’t burn us!”

  • Anonymous

    The problem is, while in theory this sounds nice.. it simply doesn’t work this way. Gaming companies are making record profits – more people play games than ever. But the plague of half finished releases, rushed out the door is worse than ever. Triple A titles are pricier than they have ever been, and you don’t get much of anything to justify the price hike.

    We’re talking games with about 4-8 hours worth of content for $60, then several added day one DLCs for an additional fee. The increasing popularity hasn’t done much for game quality besides line the pockets of game publishers and given them the incentive to nickle and dime the consumer to death. Today’s games are bought and played by more people – yet you get a fraction of the content you did 5, 10 years ago – and you pay twice as much for the privilege.

  • Anonymous

    I am certain she’s being attacked for her opinions. However, in that attack people seek for weapons and (supposed) weak points and find sexism and Hepler’s gender. This is nothing better than cowardice. True, Hepler herself used sexism and gender as a shield to defend her particular viewpoints in the original interview, but I’d consider that born from… ‘clumsiness’ sooner than malice, as is the case with her attackers. One I can look past for a moment, the other not so much.

  • Jon Stone

    It’s the phrase ‘deserve it’ that serves you badly, since it’s clear in this case people feel she ‘deserved it’ for having a different opinion and not cowtowing to male gamers’ idea of how games work.

  • Tyler Standifird

    This is why I like the forum set-up more than a comment set-up. Basically, you mentioned gender and my little diatribe had to go SOMEWHERE, so it went behind your comment. There are plenty of women in this that are grouping all men who don’t worship Hepler as a writer and a woman that are automatically labeled trolls and misogynists. It’s already happened to me and I’ve known this woman has existed for less than 24 hours.

  • Tyler Standifird

    That is true. When Heavy Rain came out a couple of years ago, it got shit on all over the place because it was more movie than game. I would only give those accusations partial credibility because the game was only about five hours long, and something that’s $60 should hold your attention for more than five hours. It’s not like it had online multiplayer to extend its lifetime either. I bought it used from Gamestop, played it in one sitting, and gave it back the next morning. I wish more games like that WOULD come out. Sometimes the combat in games does get boring, though it’s almost always a necessity in the context of the game. If you can make the gameplay fun and simple without hampering the story, then by all means, release your game with as little combat as you like. My only issue is when they want to do it in a game like Mass Effect. As you say, an action space marine ninja’s gotta do what an action space marine ninja’s gotta do.

  • Peter Houlihan

     ”Since it was a direct reply to me, so I took it as a commentary on both me and the article, so I responded accordingly.”

    Fair enough

    “but I do loathe the stereotype and wish it would go away, since I really
    don’t like the idea that only a certain gender is “hardcore.”"

    Some of my best friends are sterotypes, but yeah, this doesn’t apply to most people I know. The biggest sims players I know personally are male.

    “And while I agree the harassment was not sparked by misogyny and maybe
    not even bred in misogyny, it’s still very much there, and it’s

    Thats the thing though, the article and Ms. Hepler’s tweets seemed to suggest that she was targeted purely because she was a woman… which isn’t accurate.

    I agree that the misogynistic language is wrong, I didn’t bother to read it myself but I can only imagine.

    “I think as sad as it may be, when a woman is attacked misogyny will play a part in the attack against her.”

    True, if its an internet battle and a woman is involved, the language will probably be anti woman. This isn’t right and I don’t defend it. I was just questioning whether the hatred of women was the root of all of this.

  • Peter Houlihan

     That sounds pretty spot on.

  • Peter Houlihan

     I don’t think that is clear. The issue for me is the manner of their attack and the language they used.

    I think that wanting games to be about challenge and interactivity isn’t a male gamer idea, just look at Tess’ (whom I’m assuming is female) analysis.

    In short, they have a valid point to make, which isn’t anti-woman. They just resorted to anti-woman language in order to make it. If she’d been a man the specific insults would probably have been different, but the tone and argument would probably have been the same.

  • Peter Houlihan

     The below comment was a reply to Jon Stone

  • Billy Bob Jim Patton

    This entire thing is blown right out of context. That’s the internet for you, glad there are plenty of people taking the right stand on it and telling it HOW IT IS and not how some internet big wig MADE IT.

  • Anonymous

    Again, I’m not assuming this is an option that would work for all games, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explored for some of them. And I can take care of my own playing experience just fine, thank you very much. I don’t need anyone else to fret about it. You play the way you have fun, and I’ll do the same for me.

  • Anonymous

    One thing to keep in mind about the interview is that it’s from 2006. It’s not an accurate depiction of her current views, and may have no bearing anymore on the work that she is doing. My views on a lot of things have changed since 2006 and I would be pretty irritated if someone dug up an old interview from back then and insisted I defend myself against it.

    Also, maselphie, stop saying insightful and funny things on this thread, my like button is getting tired. :P (No, don’t actually stop.)

  • Anonymous

    I so regret bringing up Mass Effect earlier in the thread. It was just an example to show that there is someone else besides Jennifer Hepler who is sometimes bad at games yet still wants to play and enjoy them. I don’t honestly expect them to go back and re-release it with a Story Mode–but I am so super excited that ME3 apparently has one. All I want is for future game developers to look at their projects and think about maybe including something like this. I don’t expect it on all or even most games. And you know, I wouldn’t even use it on most games. But sometimes, me and the controls don’t mesh, and I still want to be an action space marine ninja but if I have to take a pass on the challenging combat and play it out in my head instead of my hands to get to the next part of the game, then so be it.

  • AmyDamy

     I’m not a gamer so I don’t know but back in the day I remember Castle Wolfenstien ,could  be played on several levels the only games I play now if Civilization which has the same option. Do the games your talking about not have option like thats>

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    And the Princess Bride’s screenplay says something along the lines of, “They fight, and it’s the greatest fight scene ever filmed.”

    Now, keep in mind this interview is almost 6 years old. Ms. Hepler stated that she enjoyed a few games, and wasn’t good at them. Because she was new to the industry, she was playing games to learn about them, and was struggling. Her stance on games today is unknown, but not being good at them is not the same as disliking them: one can admire a painting without having the skill required to paint one yourself.

    If you don’t mind a personal anecdote, six years ago I wasn’t into games either, outside of the Sims and Tycoon games. Mass Effect changed that all for me, and while there are times I wish I could skip combat scenes to get back to the story, to find out what my decisions have brought about, I’ve still grown as a gamer, and my love of story is what brought me into it.

  • Johnny Badhair

    We’re not talking about accessibility, we’re talking about lobotimization and turning games into (really bad) movies even more than they already are. And for what? So a few women who don’t even like video games will buy them (e.g. the Border House crowd)? There’s no money to be made there. Meanwhile Call of Duty: Black Ops earns $1 billion without pandering to any weird non-gamers.

    The video game industry is huge, and has been for a long time. There is no shortage of money involved, and that’s exactly why there is less “innovation” now than there was in the past. It costs millions to make a game, and the people who hold the purse strings would rather drop that money on safe games that are likely to make a profit.

  • Matthew C. Egan

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments on this post.

    I worked as a gaming journalist for about three years around 2001 and I got to meet gamers of all varieties, sexes, education levels and hell even tact levels.  I can’t say that I’m surprised by these reactions at Ms. Hepler’s comments.  I know I’m not alone in not wanting someone who doesn’t like video games to be involved in MAKING video games.

    I can state that tactfully, or I can go on 4Chan and rage, but the point remains.  This post makes some bold statements that gamers want to keep things the way they are, like hipsters, because if more people like what we like, then it’s less cool amongst our fellow neckbeards (I hate that term btw).

    What is so wrong with gamers wanting more of the same?  What you’re saying here is that the industry should experiment away from what is working, what is selling games, because it might be more inclusive.  You’re telling gamers you want to take away what we enjoy quite a bit, by CHANGING games to be more inclusive, you also have to dilute them down and I have a hard time believing that you can do that without making them lose their value to folks who love video games like Mass Effect as both a gameplay challenge and a fantastic source of interactive storytelling.

    That said, Mass Effect 3 is said to have 3 modes.  A shooter mode, an RPG mode that plays like Mass Effect has always played, and a Story mode.  The story mode is said to be very easy and while you still have to point the gun and shoot at things they say it’s near impossible to die.  I think this will be a great experiment on BioWare’s part to invite gamers to try the game out on their own terms.  Some shooters fans might prefer a straight shooter experience where I’m going to play the game in it’s RPG mode like I always have.

    I worry though, at the end of this, whether Mass Effect 3 will suffer from the Jade Empire effect.  Will these casual gamers, male and female, even know that this story mode exists?  How do you reach these people when they aren’t tapped into Game Informer or gaming blogs, don’t go to GameStop or browse games already.I own an internet marketing company and what we tell our clients is huge on skimability.  If your website isn’t skimable, if you can’t quickly browse a page and get the gist of it within a few seconds, that web page has failed.  So how do you market this message, this “Mass Effect 3 is for all kinds of gamers” when our ADHD culture isn’t really listening?

    If going to all this effort to make a story mode, makes people like you happy, but doesn’t manage to sell extra copies of Mass Effect 3, or maybe it is popular with a small niche but doesn’t sell enough to warrant the expense that EA and BioWare had to go through to include that function in the game, should that still be done in future games?

    Is it so wrong that I want Diablo III to provide me with an updated experience from my Diablo II days?  Back when I was in High School living at home, staying up WAY too late to just go on one more Meph run before I passed out from sheer exhaustion?  As a customer, and one of millions of customers who will buy that game, new and old, is it so wrong that I want more of the same, and am willing to pay for it?

    By no means do I endorse the actions of those who assaulted this woman over the interwebs, but she also fed the trolls, which you should never do.  In responding to such attacks, that is when you become a part of the problem.  She declared that she isn’t a huge fan of the GAMING part of video games… yea, that’s enough to annoy some people when they find out she’s actually working on creating the thing they so enjoy.

    P.S. – I do want to direct some appreciation to the writer of this article, that the post wasn’t super focused on her as a woman, but rather as a non-gamer, in being attacked.  I feel that this blog often takes the overly reactionist/feminist stance of “OMG it’s SEXIST” and looks for areas to rage because raging gets more comments, gets more likes, and the more of these things you get the more hits you get, etc  I get that reality, but thank you for not going over the top and sensationalizing this particular topic, while I disagree with your feelings on the topic, you at least expressed them without resorting to a yellow journalism standard.  Kudos.

  • Adam Rollstone

    This was a well written article that did well to discuss the greatness of inclusivity, but calling it hipsterism either shows you’re intentionally misleading your audience or just don’t get it. It’s about ruining game-play for the sake of appealing to an grander audience. My example will be Dragon Age 2, what she was scapegoated for (but something obviously the whole team has a hand in) combat was mindless, waved based, entirely pointless slogs through countless re-spawning waves of enemies. Compared to DA1 which was a delightful tactical treat that was hard as nails (if you didn’t stack mages of course) IF you didn’t play on easy. I bare no stigma to anyone who picked easy mode (though I can’t speak for the sludgespewing crapfest that is the internet slumlords who are unfortunately semi on my side =/)

    This opinion is skewed, is the opinion shared by people who tend to rally against the ‘inclusivity’ of gaming. It’s okay to want more people to enjoy games, I’m down with that, but not at the cost of their fun for the audience that originally enjoyed them : ( If that’s what ends up happening because the majority wants it, okay, I guess. I hope we can find some compromise to please both, easy mode was there for a reason, DA2 was lazy design, not inclusive.

  • Matthew C. Egan

    I played easy purely because I didn’t want to mess with friendly fire. =)

  • Anonymous

    “Since I really don’t like the idea that only a certain gender is “hardcore.”

    Depends how you define hardcore. My brother is more into action and team play, I am more into puzzles and solo play. My brother’s skills at shooting stuff are more refined than mine, but his jaw can pretty much drop to the floor at how fast I can solve a puzzle compared to him.  

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     Yes, she used the unfortunate blanket phrase “women” when I believe she meant “female non-gamers.” That’s what the interview question was about, after all. I agree this was poor wording on her part, as well as casting all females as cringing at combat. But a sentence earlier, she said, “A fast forward button would give all players — not just women — the same options…”

    Yet, this isn’t the source of the harassment. It comes from the ideas that she hates video games (untrue, read the article), that she wants to force homosexual romances on gamers, (also untrue, that snippet was pure trolling and lies), and these, in turn, have fueled harassment that has become largely misogynistic in nature. Her “vagina” reply was unfortunate, but I honestly can’t blame
    her for lashing back with all the hate that was being flung at her.

    The meat of the debate, the discussion that we should be having: how to welcome new female gamers who are otherwise intimidated by the medium, is being lost in all the noise and insults.

  • Anonymous

    the article and Ms. Hepler’s tweets seemed to suggest that she was targeted purely because she was a woman”
    The tweet, yes, the article, no. Susana was pretty clear that she didn’t want this to be about her being a woman when she wrote it.

    “I was just questioning whether the hatred of women was the root of all of this.”
    As I said in a previous comment, it’s a real part of the problem because the quotes include how to get women into gaming, and what’s problematic is both Helper and the reaction to Helper here. She claims less combat is more woman-friendly, and those with few brain cells can and will use this against women now and in the future as the excuse of ruining games for them. Helper started it, misogyny perpetuates it.

    “Depends how you define hardcore.”
    Absolutely. I don’t like casual vs hardcore debates at all.

  • Anonymous

    @TheFeminineMissGeek Just because your technical crew is able to fill the blanks of your writing it doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to write sloppily. And keep in mind videogame writers deal with a way thiner margin of error than a scriptwriter for films. Frodo already pointed this out, when he described how gameplay can be used to convey the story, nd how the writer should always take that into account; this requires knwoing the games very well and consequentially enjoy to play them. If you read it again I’m sure you’ll find his point very hard to disagree with.

    Brandes Hepler might have aged, yet her attitude seems to remain the same, given the comments on her twitter and her later posts on the Bioware forums regarding the matter. She still stands by the same opinion that RPGs should indeed feature a skip combat button. It’s fairly hard to believe someone like that enjoys the gameplay part of video games at all. And given that a lot of people people agree that she is a fairly bad writer (myself included), I find it hard to escape the evidence. The harassment is certainly excessive, but the reasons behind it are far from wrong and unjustified.

    If you feel attacked because you enjoyed the 1st Mass Effect, then I’ve got good news for you, because she wasn’t involved in it. Major consensus within the hardcore gamer communities is that the serious took a wrong turn with the second game (and she wasn’t involved in it as well). She is however, part of the Mass Effect 3 writing crew, which is bad news.

    And finally I’ll leave another reccomendation if you want to broaden your horizons in general gaming knowledge. Play Diablo 1. It’s fairly outdated by today’s standards, but it’s a prime example of a perfect relationship between story, atmosphere and gameplay. Getting into the story is not mandatory to finish the game, but you’ll find yourself bumping into several in-game clues (opposed to mmandatory cutscenes) that gradually shed light into what is really going on; and due to this the player really feels like he/she is immersed into the game, because the story unfurls according to his/her actions, rather than forcing you to stop for a moment to let the plot develop. It’s a subtle difference that has major consequences on how your perceive a game. It can be compared to learning something by force, and learning something by the sheer pleasure of it. Besides the game actually features some brilliant writing, that ranges from simple dialogues to beautiful poems. My favourite will always be the halls of the blind piece, which is a clue for a subquest in the mid-levels. You can read it here:

  • Anonymous

    Come now, we know that’s not true. There’s a perfectly good post box at the end of the page for you to start a new “thread.” ;)

    Instead of become what you hate, try not overgeneralizing people and respond to them as individuals as you would obviously like to be addressed.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think adventure games died out, but the genre has become a very small blip on the radar. Most gamers don’t even seem to know what an adventure game is anymore, thinking it’s any game that has an adventure in it.

    I do think that the DS and TellTale have helped give adventure games a much needed boost, but it’s not exactly an adventure game candy land out there either, which also means I can’t be all too precise in my tastes for story anymore either.

    In other words: I want GK4, dagnabbit!

  • Kath

    Levels? I assume you mean difficulties? Yes, games have different difficulty levels but they (generally) alter the balance of the game, or increase the difficulty by creating more enemies, or even it might just make them more intelligent.

    But even an easy difficulty can pose a challenge to players. Fallout: New Vegas spawned some VERY difficult enemies on the easiest setting, for example.

  • Joanna

    It’s ok to like what you like.  It’s just that in game design you gotta be careful when trying to please a wide audience cos sometimes it it just doesn’t work and the quality of the game as a whole could suffer.  Too many chefs and all that.

  • Anonymous

    That’s so nice of you to teach us women how to correctly conduct feminism. Here we were doing it completely wrong until you came long. I wish I could like your post more than once!

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     Hi Matt! I really enjoyed your comments. Here’s a few of my thoughts in reply.

    “You’re telling gamers you want to take away what we enjoy quite a bit,
    by CHANGING games to be more inclusive, you also have to dilute them
    down and I have a hard time believing that you can do that without
    making them lose their value to folks who love video games like Mass
    Effect as both a gameplay challenge and a fantastic source of
    interactive storytelling.”

    I’m seeing this sentiment a lot, that somehow a fast forward button will destroy gaming. I disagree. A “fast forward button” will not delete content. If you wish to challenge yourself, the challenge is there. It is not removed to simplify or streamline. I believe it can be done, and ME3 will let us see how effective it is with “Story Mode.”

    There are two popular mods for Dragon Age: Origins. One is called “Skip the Fade,” and the other is called “Skip Fights.” I’ve used both. While I love DA:O and have played it multiple times, I’m not a fan of the tactical combat. I have beaten it twice without mods, but on repeat playthroughs, I’ve mashed that “skip fight” button and watched Darkspawn fall around me, then I go along my merry way to see what Shale has to say when I choose not to destroy the Anvil of the Void this time.

    What if “skip combat” was an unlockable feature? What if you, John Q. Gamer, played the game, unlocked the skip/fast forward feature, then handed your controller to your non-gamer friend? I think the idea has merit, it’s the execution that matters.

    Anyhow, getting into marketing, I had no clue that there was an option to play as a female in Mass Effect. I’d just heard it was a great game, thought “what the hell,” and gave it a shot when it was on Steam sale. Imagine my surprise to discover that I could be a woman marine, that the game was story-centered, that I could actually romance that cute lieutenant. I had no idea this was even possible, and had I not looked at it on my own, I never would have known.

    Games like these are not marketed towards women, which is why the FenShep trailer was more than fan-service. If you tell a non-gamer about the amazing story in Mass Effect or Portal, they’ll probably not believe you, or not appreciate the great level of writing that is actually in these games, nor accept the idea that it can have a tremendous emotional impact. “Yeah, yeah, you shoot people in the head. Not for me.” And they miss out. And that’s unfortunate.

    I’m not a hipster gamer. I want to share my passion with as many people as possible. Not at the price of losing quality of the games themselves, but I think it can be done. No one gripes about an easy mode, and I think “Story Mode” is a great concept that can be pulled off. We’ll see.

  • Anonymous

     TheFeminineMissGeek please notice that there are plenty of “unfortunates” in her comments and that most “rights” seems to be interpretations of your own, rather than actual claims. The fact is that she seems to dislike a crucial part of video games, which is gameplay, and it’s very hard to turn that around. The hamfisting of homossexual relationships is more of a gag than a serious claim by the harassers (and trust me, I know some of these people and where they come from, to be exact). I can also guarantee to you this is not a matter of sexism as there are plenty of women involved in the gaming industry that are frequently praised by their efforts, even in these hardcore gaming communities. Think about Mary DeMarle who was a senior writer for both the latest Deus Ex game, and the Myst franchise. Think about Amy Henning who single-handedly wrote half of the plot for the Legacy of Kain series, a franchise most hardcore gamers lament to have been cancelled.

  • Anonymous

    What does “The resulting games won’t be more female, they’ll just be different.” mean? What else can women do to change games but give it a feminine touch? And this isn’t automatically the same as casting Barbie as the main character. What I’d expect if more women were to get involved with games is more developed and more diverse characters and stories, the addition of the female gaze, reduction of the porn-appeal of female characters (without reduction of their sexappeal), a more diverse choice of female appearances in particular for fighting games, etc.

  • Anonymous

     ”She did say in an interview her least favorite aspect of video games is
    the gameplay, and that she would prefer the gameplay be skipped so
    people can just watch the cutscenes. Why even play a video game then? At
    that point you’re just making a movie you occasionally press a button
    to advance. That doesn’t sound fun at all, and it’s certainly not why we
    play video games.”

    You may disagree, but I think it’s actually a pretty sensible idea. Personally I’ve always found the story the most compelling part of most video games, and I’ve often been frustrated by having to play through a boring or difficult bit to get to the next bit of story. I like the sound of the Mass Effect games, but have never bought one of them as I can’t really be bothered with the gaming side. Including a gameplay-skip feature is just the kind of thing that might actually encourage me to purchase them.

  • Anonymous

    Frankly I do believe the greatest breakthrough yet to be made in video games, especially RPGs, is escaping the same old gameplay>cutscene>gameplay binary structure that often leads gameplay lovers to find plots to be dragging and plot lovers to find gameplay as something repetitive and tedious. It is perfectly possible to blend gameplay with plot in an almost seamless manner. The key is not to force players into an “on rails” gaming experience. For this, sandbox gameplay and freeroaming are essential. Rather than investing in a fixed plot and a full script of subquests, RPGs should try to simulate some of the inpredictability and randomness that occurs in real life. A good way to do this is by having randomized maps and quests in certain parts, running along with the main quest, yet always altering the course of it slightly, forcing the player to “adapt” to the game instead of “memorizing” it. This would also ensure the player would always have something different and new everytime he starts a new game, which adds to replay value, and contributes for the valorization of the product.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t it be both? I seriously doubt she’d be receiving this level of vitriol if she wasn’t a woman in the male-dominated gaming industry.

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     Re: @Tess27:disqus

    I do not feel attacked, but I keep seeing people say they do not like her writing. I’m curious as to what parts of her writing you take issue with? The general consensus is that DAO was great, and her part in the game appears to be the dwarven storylines. In DA2, her main contribution was the character of Anders. Not being a SW fan, I haven’t played KOTOR, nor do I know her contributions to that story.

    She is not on the ME3 writing team. This is false information that apparently has not yet been fully squashed. The forum post that claims to be from her regarding gay relationships in ME3 is pure trolling, and the mods on the Bioware forums have said that it is not true.

    Skipping combat is not the same as skipping gameplay, especially in story focused games such as those made by Bioware, and a large portion of great games out there have no combat at all.

    Regarding her recent statements on videogames, I wonder if you have links? I haven’t seen anything about that, and my searches on the forums have come up empty.

    The reasons for harassment are NEVER justified. I don’t care if someone flings fresh monkey poo in my face as I walk down the street, I will not stalk them on twitter, harass them and anyone who supports them. There is NO reason whatsoever to treat someone the way Ms. Hepler has been treated, especially over a difference of opinion.

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     Re: Tess27 I agree. This whole thing is a mess, and bad things have been said by both sides. I never said it was a matter of sexism, only that some people are resorting to misogyny to fuel the fire. And I haven’t played Dues Ex, Legacy of Kain, never finished Myst, so I can’t give a good opinion on them, sorry. But it’s always great to see women succeeding in creative roles in gaming.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a saying that a wiser and better feminist and progressive than I am uses fairly often.  It’s along the line of “damn you assholes for forcing me to defend someone I don’t like.”  And it’s used when what could have been a valid point of criticism turns into a bunch of slurs against the person based on looks/race/gender/weight/non-cis-ness/etc.  From what I gather, that’s partly what happened here.  It seems it’s a little more complex though, in that part of the criticism-that-could-have-been is basically “Don’t change games to appeal to non-straight-white-dudes even more than they already do!  We don’t want to lose any more privilege!” or maybe more of a “Don’t change games to appeal to a broader base of people, because then it loses it’s hipster cool factor.”  Seems there’s some of both in here, and both of those criticisms are pretty stupid.

    I don’t personally think that Hepler is a very good game writer if I base my opinion purely on the Smuggler story in SWTOR, and particularly on Corso Riggs, a companion character for the Smuggler.  But for all I know, those parts of the story and the whole of the companion may be Hall Hood’s doing (the other writer for the Smuggler), so I really can’t say.  I can tell from the parts of the interview quoted here that Hepler is a fairly sexist person, and Corso Riggs certainly represents some similar gender binary thinking.

    But otherwise, I think Hepler said some interesting things in that interview, and her viewpoint is valid and worth considering.  That people have attacked her to the extent and with the vitriol they have is deplorable and indefensible.  And damn them for it.

    EDIT: Was using her former Twitter acct name as her proper name, fixed.

  • Peter Houlihan


    Actually, I can see where you are going with that:

    She justified her arguments on the basis that they aided inclusivity for women and so the reaction became about how including women is ruining gaming?

    If thats the case (the Reddit thread is gone so I can’t check it out) then yep, their misogyny fuelled by her sexism.

    I still stand by my assertion that if a man had given that interview there could easily have been the same reaction with different rhetoric.

  • Peter Houlihan

    I think thats a very valid point for more junior roles. But I think senior creatives have to love the medium they work in to do their job properly.

    That said, I don’t know the ins and outs of exactly what she does every day, maybe she just types dialogue. Her comments on what she’d like to see in games in the interview suggested to me that she had at least something of a design role.

  • Anonymous

    What part of my reply was ignoring her main point? Katie’s post itself was more about gender than the article or my reply to her post was combined. Saying how everyone ignored her main point and is focusing on the non-relevant stuff is actually you.

  • snackz

    well anyone wanting more of a story will like ME3 it has that option. IDK why one would want to skip the combat tho but I, apparently, am a rarity in the gaming world

  • Anonymous

    DA:O is indeed considered to be a good game by the general public, but the parts she wrote are often considered to be the poorest. I couldn’t comment on DA:2, since I haven’t played it nor I intend to. Thing is, she’s not the only crappy writer employed by Bioware: the whole company became plagued with bad writers from the minute EA took over, which means others are as guilty of the sudden decrease of quality in writing as she is. However she became the symbol for this new dark age in Bioware, not only because of her writing skills but because of her controversial views and obnoxious ways.

    She’s not the only one being actively mocked though. Another favourite target is Stanley Woo, who became infamous due to his modus operandi as a forum moderator. As regarding her involvemnt in Mass Effect 3, I was not aware of that, thanks for the info.

    Regarding your comment on combat =/= gameplay, what you said is clearly true, to a certain extent, but you must realize that combat is a defining part of RPG gameplay since RPGs are direct descendants from tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, from which Bioware games, in turn, borrow its ruleset directly from. Having an RPG without combat, (especially a DnD derivant) is simply inconceivable, because it goes against the primary goal of any RPG: simulating quests and combat in a fictional world. Quoting directly fromt the wiki article on RPGs:

    “Games that emphasize plot and character interaction over game mechanics and combat sometimes prefer the name storytelling game. These types of games tend to minimize or altogether eliminate the use of dice or other randomizing elements”

      This means that on the classic stat-based RPG, the plot is a purely complementary element to help set the mood and boost player immersion. For purely story driven games there’s already a separate video game genre that focuses exclusively on plot development and character interaction: the Visual Novel (VN) genre which is very popular in japan, although still widely unknown in the western hemisphere.

    Finally regarding Hepler’s forum posts I’m affraid I couldn’t provide you with any links. I was either linked to them or read screencap compilations, and pretty much like you just said the Bioware forums are a fairly messy place when you want to find something in particular, if you’re not a regular.

  • Anonymous

    Scene: Boyfriend watching me set up a new game of DA:O

    BF: Why are you playing on easy?
    Me: Because I hate dealing with friendly fire.
    BF: But that’s more realistic. You’re setting the air on fire! People will get hurt when you do that!
    Me: But I’m a mage. It’s magic. Surely I can tell the magic who to kill. It’s my magic! Don’t tell me what kind of magic is “realistic.”
    BF: ::blank stare, walks away::
    Me: ::continues happily running around the Circle Tower::

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

    With respect, I disagree. While the dwarven areas were not my favorite, (hm. Now I’m wondering what WAS my favorite…. oh, Urn of Sacred Ashes.), it wasn’t “crappy” and it didn’t ruin the game for me. As for Anders, he was one of my favorite characters, they took him in a very ballsy direction, and his writing made me sympathize (SPOILERS) with a character who essentially was a terrorist. So I have a difference of opinion. Hopefully, people won’t make me the subject of personal attacks because of this. But you’re calling her a crappy writer and saying the attacks and anger towards her are justified based on one area of one game (that you enjoyed) that was weak?

    Regarding combat in RPG’s, I certainly don’t think it should be removed all together, and neither does Ms. Hepler. They are a popular aspect of the genre, but not the only aspect. In fact, I’m not that big a fan of all of Bioware’s gameplay mechanics (DA2 in particular) and keep coming back to the studio and replaying the games out of love of stories. Does this mean a gamer like myself doesn’t deserve to play or enjoy these games? Certainly not. Am I any less of a “true gamer” because I turn easy mode back on when frustrated or plow through a few repetitive combats with mods? I don’t know. No True Scotsman fallacy applies.

    No one is calling for combat to be removed. ME3 is doing something interesting with combat vs. story, trying to cater to different tastes without oversimplification of either. I’m eager to see how it turns out. A ‘fast forward’ button certainly isn’t the best idea, but she offered it up not for the hardcore gamers, but for noobs who are curious but intimidated. What this whole discussion has devolved into, well. I can’t see many female non-gamers wanting to join in our fun now.

    Now, as I said before, the screencap of Ms. Hepler’s working on ME3 is fake, so chances are the others are fake as well. It apparently is a hobby of haters on various loathsome websites to create fake screencaps of forums to encourage nerdrage. Don’t fall for it.

  • Tyler Standifird

    @ your post-script: I liked that too. I like this whole discussion a lot more than others I’ve found on the topic. I was directed here from a VERY biased blog where the author spent a long webpage shitting on male gamers as a community. I spent a great while articulating the psychology behind the gamers and why the sexism and the casual accusations were two separate issues, and so on. Basically, I spent a long time tactfully disagreeing only to be silenced because my reaction wasn’t the ENTIRELY UNANIMOUS “I am disgusted, mysogynerds are terrible, Hepler is a goddess among writers!”

  • Tyler Standifird

    I don’t remember, was friendly fire even a thing? I remember setting up runes all over the place but I don’t remember incinerating my friends…

  • Anonymous

    On any difficulty except easy, certain spells had a friendly fire component. I don’t know if runes did, but the big aoe fire goes boom! ones definitely did. If you’re not great at the tactical aspect (like me) it was pretty easy to accidentally incinerate Alistair. The poor dear.

  • Kath

    I’ll concede that, but I believe the idea behind my point stands. If you’ve got no interest in one aspect (and, with action games and Ms Hepler’s views, a MAJOR aspect) then it can affect your ability to work to your optimum.

  • Kath

    Those are some great ideas (although I’d disagree with calling it “the female gaze” because some of us girls prefer to look at other girls), and ones that are being implemented in some measure by some studios.

    But that doesn’t mean giving it a “feminine touch”.

  • Kath

    You’re referring to a few games with wider strokes there.

    4-8hrs tends to refer to the single-player campaigns of First Person-Shooter or Third-Person-Cover-Based-Shooters (e.g. Call of Duty and Gears of War respectively), and the former tend to have a focus on the multiplayer aspect which can be infinitesimally longer. $60 for a game you get 100+ hours out of isn’t bad, is it? Pretty much every other major genre (Strategy, Roleplaying, Simulation, etc) is by far and away above that figure in terms of their length.

    As for the DLC argument – Very rarely do games actually ship with Day One DLC, and if they do it’s usually to do with pre-orders. Some publishers are better than others w/ regards to DLC, with EA considered one of the worst for it.

    With regards to the pricing – games are actually cheaper than they used to be, even when adjusted for inflation and so on:

  • Kath

    Skip the Fade existed largely because it was a massive pain in the arse.

  • Kath

    Don’t ya think it’s a bit pointless, though? “Guys, let’s introduce a story mode into the third bit of the trilogy!” So, those who feel less able to play the game due to its mechanics can do so… and miss out on two thirds of the darned story. Seems silly to me.

    P.S. Mass Effect isn’t an FPS ;) Just me being ridiculously picky there. It’s a TPS/RPG Hybrid – Third-Person Shooter/Role Playing Game Hybrid.

  • Anonymous

     I don’t think you’re living in the same world I am. Dragon Age 2, an RPG? Abysmally short and filled to the brim with dlc. Example:

    It released with not one, but two day one DLC packs – Exiled Prince and Black Emporium. The game itself is about half as long as its predecessor.

    Portal 2, a puzzle/strategy game: $80 worth of day 1 dlc and about 7 hours worth of gameplay.

    Arkham City – action-adventure: day 1 robin dlc, and a 10 dollar online pass locking the entirety of catwoman content to one account. 12 hours of gameplay if you have the online pass unlocked.

    The upcoming Mass Effect 3 and its much trumpeted improved rpg elements and story modes? Day 1 DLC – to the tune of over $800 worth in total.

    I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. If you think day 1 dlc and rapidly shrinking content is a rare thing or something restricted to shooters, you’re sadly mistaken.

  • Phillip Tokatlidis

    Just as a side note, I also find it quite funny how all the feminists (not just this blog) are jumping behind Jim Sterling’s defence.

    Wanna know more about the man himself? Look no further. 

    The guy is a hypocritical douche willing to take whatever side necessary that grants him more page hits to inflate his already massive ego. Siding with him serves you all zero credibility.

  • Anonymous

    I think she’s got a valid point – besides, just because you like the combat in one game doens’t mean you’ll like it in another. For example, despite loving the story, I’ve never been able to play through the first Witcher game because the combat was terrible. On the other hand, I enjoyed Demon’s Souls a lot because of the combat, despite the almost non-existent plot. And then there’s games Planescape: Torment where the writing pretty much carries the game.

    The point is, the combat in games isn’t always going to appeal to everyone, even gamers who might like combat in other games.

    In any case, it’s incredibly pathetic that some “gamers” felt so threatened by her comments that they resorted to harassing her like this. If you really need a target, go after the executives at Ubisoft who seem convinced draconian DRM is important even as it causes more and more people to boycott anything they publish.

  • Dan Toose

    As someone who has been in the games industry for 17 years, all the while praying for more gender equality, I find the abuse Helper has been subject to, to be offensive and wrong.

    I must say though as someone who has been in her shoes as a writer in game development, I find her comments to be professionally odd.

    When you go to work as a writer for a published project, a part of your job is to serve the project. While it is completely natural to want to have more of ‘You’ in there, in terms of your tastes and beliefs, to truly do your best, you need to ensure your work gels with all the elements around it. Game developers who isolate their work from the rest of the team, even subconsciously, are letting the team down.

    Dragon Age is an RPG – Not a story. If she wants to skip the gameplay to get to the story and that’s it, then it simply sounds like she either wants to be working on an adventure game, or simply writing novels or screenplays. This is not uncommon in game dev – You also get animators who just want to work in film.

    I don’t blame Helper at all for feeling that way – I’ve felt that way too… But there’s no way on Earth I’d ever tell the world about it, because you’re essentially admitting you don’t believe in the experience of the project you’re contributing to. Game dev is hard, and team morale is a big deal, and even if you don’t personally value the work done by some of your team, it’s not something to bring up.

  • Adam Whitley

    Anonymous internet posters go for the throat, without fail, irrespective of anything.

  • Anonymous

    This is bullshit…

    Nobody picks on Hepler because she’s a woman,
    and fat. She gets picked on because she represents everything that’s
    wrong with the gaming industry. She wants to turn games into casual
    story hour, to make everything easy so nobody is troubled by things like
    ‘dexterity’ or ‘learning how to play’ or ‘talent’. To appeal to the
    lowest common denominator. It’s unfortunate that she unknowingly became
    the face but that shit happens. No one is crying for Kotick and we’ve
    been calling him a money-hungry jew for years.

    She is a writer
    for a company that until Dragon Age 2 was regarded as a decent
    developer. The reason people hate Anders isn’t cause he’s gay, but
    because he is SHOVED DOWN YOUR THROAT unless you make the *exact* dialog
    choices. Since Hepler is responsible for writing him, she gets most /
    all of the blame for DA2.

    Then the Twitter fiasco, when redditors
    raided her and bombarded her with ‘hurtful’ text, she should have
    ignored them, reported them, whatever. Who cares, they’re just random
    assholes on the internet right? But no, she had to turn it into a GAMER
    GURL fight, which nobody puts up with. Especially reddit.

    short Hepler, if you can’t play the games, either find the time to
    appreciate them or don’t fucking play them. You want a movie, subscribe
    to fucking Netflix. Saying that you want to skip what hundreds of hours
    people put into making a fun game all because you wanna sex your
    husbando is just disrespectful and selfish..

  • Adam Whitley

    To heavy rains’ credit it did have alternate endings to extend the replay value. My friends LOVE the game and play it over and over trying to unlock all the endings.

  • Brenna Winsett

    “That seems like a major impediment to being a game writer. Those mechanics are integral to the structure, and thus, the narrative, of the game. If she was, like, a character modeller or something, I could see disinterest in actual gameplay being kind of irrelevant, but for a writer?”

    This is somewhat like saying that if a screenwriter isn’t interested in casting, makeup, costumes, direction, etc, then it is an impediment to their ability to write a film. Gameplay is of course integral to the gaming experience but the fact is that she as a writer probably has almost no input or ability to change the gameplay to begin with. Her writing work is probably completely divorced from the gameplay design, and not by her decision. 

    Plus she’s working with other writers who include people who are more passionate about gameplay, it’s not like she is controlling an entire production.

    Would it be useful if she loved gameplay and could bring that to her writing? Sure! But think about it … how often does that actually happen even with writers who love gaming? I can think of very few games where the nuts-and-bolts things like “how combat works” or “how your inventory is arranged” are actually addressed in or enhance the story narrative, and that’s been the case for decades. If that’s a problem, then it’s not her fault and not her burden to correct. 

    “I have to say, if you’re skipping 70% of the package, at that point it hardly seems worth paying $50 for.”

    If she’s happy to shell out 50 bucks for something she’s going to skip through, but you don’t have to skip through it, how does that hurt anyone? 

  • Adam Whitley

    You know I never actually thought about what it would be like for the people who spent all that time and effort into something just to watch people skip over it. Although perhaps it might be more rewarding for them knowing people have the option of skipping over the….well actual game part of it I guess …..and choose not to because people loved what they designed so much?
    I still feel like games should be something you play for at least twice as much as you watch it.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “If she’s happy to shell out 50 bucks for something she’s going to skip through, but you don’t have to skip through it, how does that hurt anyone?”

    I’m not saying it hurts anyone. My point is, will enough consumers be willing to pay that much for such a small fraction of the product for it to be a profitable venture for the developers?

  • Kath

    A few games out of the dozens that release each month.

    Dragon Age 2 comes with Black Emporium in *every* new copy, and The Exiled Prince was free if you got the pre-order edition.

    Portal 2 had ~$80 of cosmetic tripe that has absolutely no effect on anything (and it’s even kinda hidden), and was ~6hrs long.

    Arkham City had the Catwoman pass in the box, and does so if you buy the game new. The Robin pack was an “early release” (arguably) with certain editions of the game, otherwise it came out roughly a month after the game did.

    Mass Effect 3 – well, I don’t know if I’d call it $800 of DLC, because pretty much all of that is only available IF you buy all of the merchandise. I wouldn’t think you were missing anything if you didn’t get any of it. It’s like saying Fable 3 had an £8/$9 weapon because there was an unlock code in the novel – kinda doesn’t ring true.

    See – there’s different kinds of DLC. Portal 2′s DLC has no effect on anything or anyone at all (I certainly don’t agree with it, don’t get me wrong), so one could just put that down as an annoyance, whereas – say – the Catwoman stuff has an effect on your game.

    A number of major publishers are bundling some of the DLC with their new games as a sort of anti-second hand purchase device. EA’s Project Ten Dollar (Shale in DA:O, Cerberus Network in ME2) exists to try and reclaim some money from used game sales by taking some of the content (always non-essential, but anyway) out and supplying it as a ~$10 code you can buy if you get it used. It’s caught some less observant new purchasers out too, though.

    Some companies are worse for DLC than others. 2K Games have really been taking the piss with it – Dawn of War II: Retribution, Saints Row the Third, Space Marine, even Civilization V – DLC, DLC, DLC. Retribution has about £50 of DLC if you buy it separately (which is roughly twice the price of what the game cost new), Saints Row the Third is… last I checked, on about £30/40, Space Marine is on about £25. That’s a LOT of DLC, and a lot of it is quite pointless. And they haven’t stopped with most games (only Retribution now, I believe), so there’s more to come.

    I don’t care for DLC too much, it depends more on the game and what’s being implemented.

    But I don’t particularly agree nor disagree with you. Are shooters shorter than they were? Yes, that’s pretty much a fact. But they themselves have changed. Whereas, say, Unreal was a single-player game, it had a focus on story and that experience. Now, a shooter would tend to have its focus on the multiplayer aspect due to the prevalence of things like Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

    But other games? No, I don’t think you’re *generally* getting less content than you did before, but it’s hard to say as games have changed.

  • Raptorendame

    I think most guys don’t even see the point why what is being done is wrong. Just discussed this with a few guys in my job-school a few hours ago, things got pretty heated and I’m still too worked up about this things to write something nice and useful.

    Whyt I want to say is that I think they just don’T notive HOW disgusting it is what they say. Whatever.

  • Anonymous

    The guy is a hypocritical douche willing to take whatever side necessary
    that grants him more page hits to inflate his already massive ego.
    Siding with him serves you all zero credibility.

    Thanks for the heads up.  Please keep in mind that just as women are not a monolith, neither are feminists, and so while some folks and sites and blogs that self-identify as feminist have thanked Sterling or supported him somehow, not all feminists have.  If you’re inclined to think ill of all feminists due to the actions of a few, that’s your problem.

  • Anonymous

     She apparently also wrote a comic book which was poorly received (M.I.T.H, I think it was called). Other than that she had little to no experience other than wiritng plots for pen n’ paper’s. I wouldn’t hire anyone with that kind of experience to write for a major company’s blockbuster videogame. Other than that she also claimed in her 2006 interview that one of her mentors was Mark Costello, writer for the 7th Guest, which is an absolutely horrid and very poorly written game (I’ve played it myself). Finally there’s her own comments on writing the story for Dragon Age which were previously posted by Frodo Baggins:

    “When writing Dragon Age 2, we weren’t aiming to make another generic
    boring fantasy story that you expect was written by some old white guy.
    That kind of writing is just out of touch with the tastes of most
    people nowadays. What we really wanted to create was a story that’d be
    an instant sensation, like the works of Rowling and Meyer. The kind of
    stories that bridge all demographics in their appeal.”

    One does not need to go deep on this one to realize this is pure nonsense.

    And again, regarding the case of a skip button on RPGs, this is not really a matter of True Scotsman argument. Pretty much like I mentioned before, skipping combat on a classic DnD derivant RPG is essentially missing 90% of what the game is all about. One plays RPGs for the challenge of gameplay, most of which resides in combat. Supposing you would be playing a game of DnD, you wouldn’t simply skip a combat sequence just so the Game Master could get on with the plot, because that is the point of DnD. Having an RPG where you’re given the option to skip combat, essentially means Bioware is no longer capable of creating a healthy balance, when they have done so in the past. In a good RPG, combat and plot should be nigh seamless in terms of pacing. You shouldn’t be annoyed by combat nor bored with the plot. It is not a matter of audience, but of good game design. This has been done before, and could be done again. Unfortunately Bioware seems to be pending towards plot prevalance, which will eventually turn their RPGs into something more similar to visual novels. Added to that, there’s bad writing, which ends up making everything worse (DA:2 actually won the award for worst writing at the /v/GA’s, which was based on a survey of several thousands of votes).

    Again it’s a bit hard to explain my point of view without knowledge of old RPGs. So try walking on my shoes here, because I’m certainly walking on yours here by having all this effort to explain you all these things. However, there are certain things that can only be understood when observed directly, so if you’re really interested on the topic, and if you really want to understand where I’m coming from, you gotta play old RPGs. Play Baldur’s Gate 2. Play Diablo 1. Play Fallout 1 & 2, Temple of Elemental Evil, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment and Arcanum.

    If you’re feeling ballsy and really want to understand how can an RPG work with almost no plot, give a stab at Roguelikes. Try Dungeons of Dredmor, which has been fairly popular lately. Try POWDER, Desktop Dungeons, IVAN, and if you really want to go to the bottom, play the ASCII based ones like Nethack. These are games so detailed in their gameplay, that their perspective is for the player to imagine his own plot, based on the diversity of the game events. What is most ironical is that a lot of players who went through some serious adventuring in the game world, end up writing literary pieces based on them. These are called game chronicles and can often be very interesting reads for fantasy fans.

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     I’ve played old RPG’s. I don’t like them. I like modern, story centered RPG’s, shooters,  and old adventure games that aren’t really made anymore by mainstream companies.

    Furthermore, she wrote for many tabletop games (including Shadowrun) before getting into gaming because she loved, ironically enough, the passion of the gaming community.

    Regarding the Meyers quote, once again, that is fake. No one has been able to locate it’s source.

    Her full comment on skipping combat, (not gameplay) acknowledged the fact that a fast forward button would not work on all games, only those games “like Deus Ex or Bioware’s RPGs, you could take out every shred
    of combat and still have an entertainment experience that rivals
    anything you’d see in the theater or on TV.” Have you read the full, unedited interview?

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     Again I wonder if you read this article at all. Or you don’t know what “excoriate” means.

  • Anonymous

    If you don’t like old RPGs, then you don’t like RPGs in general, because these represent what a good RPG should be at its core. Any RPG fan will tell you that. What you mean by “story centered” is more akin to visual novels than RPGs, and I vivdly recommend you to try some then. This might explain why you seem to favor story telling aspects of modern Bioware “RPGs”, while most oldschool RPG fans appear to be turning them down. If it’s just a matter of tastes, then there’s nothing wrong with it, but you should try to understand the stance of oldschool RPG fans when they see their favourite genre suddenly become overrun by graphic novel features. It’s also a good thing you also like graphic adventures. Most people get turned off by the puzzle aspect right away. If you’re really into the genre I reccomend you to take a look at the Adventure Game Studio community. They have great user made games I’m sure you will find interesting.

    Still, cementing my point, try to imagine if someone suddenly felt graphic adventures weren’t appealing to a wide enough audience, and decided to hammer combat into them as a general characteristic that would take over several parts that would otherwise be part of the storyline. Obviously no adventure game fan would like that. This is exactly how oldschool RPG fans are feeling right now, so perhaps you should try to be more tolerant on that aspect.

    As for the /v/ga’s, regardless of the community they were spawned from, (and keep in mind plenty of people from reddit voted as well) had total vote count of 173,899 votes. That is a large amount of people that is more than enough to consider as a valid opinion. Trolling aside, these people are humans too, with particular tastes and interests. They’re not a small rag tag bunch of assholes. Everyone’s opinion is valluable especially when we’re talking about a large userbase which accounts for a large part of a demographic group.

    And I was under the impression Hepler’s comments on Meyer came form the 2006 interview as well. I’ll investigate that further. Nevertheless the other points still stand. I’ve pointed out before how self contradictory it is for a woman who wrote plots for pen and paper rpgs, to dislike RPG combat, especially when its an unskippable part of tabletop RPGs that is for more complex and dragging. And yes, I’ve read the full interview, and I disagree with that, especially on the Deus Ex part, because all combat an interaction is made in 1st person, and the game’s whole setting of espionage and conspiracy, along with level design, make it truly impossible to strip combat from it in any manner. I have a similar opinion towards classic bioware RPGs.

  • TheFeminineMissGeek

     Boy, this is getting increasingly difficult to reply to as it grows longer. If I miss anything, I apologize.

    We have different opinions of what RPG’s are. You like tactical ones, I like the role-playing aspect of it. Hell, I used to LARP back in the day. We both have games to suit our tastes.

    I used to love the KQ games, and I recall when they turned the franchise into a combat game. I was sad, sure, but I didn’t play it. I moved on, found other games. Simple as that.

    No one is suggesting removing combat from all your favorite games. What is being suggested is inclusiveness. If the game has a great story, then why not have an option to enjoy that story, the interactive gameplay and puzzles and what have you, while not taking anything away from the combat? Why is this idea so scandalous, I honestly don’t get it. Many games employ this feature, including LA Noire, Deus Ex’s “Tell me a Story” feature, and the various modes for the upcoming ME3. The “fast forward” option isn’t perfect, but reading some of the comments here and elsewhere, there are gamers who would enjoy this feature.

    Sorry, but what I’ve seen from /v/ about this is sickening. No, I shouldn’t cast the whole community in that light, but they proudly refer to themselves as the Internet Hate Machine, don’t they? Reddit (usually) downvotes the behavior that 4chan champions.

    While ME2 had many flaws, I disagree that it’s ruin was in the writing. Repetitive combat, recycled settings, abrupt ending, overly streamlined everything, sure. But writing? I disagree strongly, its characters and writing were its strong point. It’s been singled out and lambaste as this horrible thing, when it’s main crime was not being a proper sequel. They took a risk, made a VERY different game from its predecessor, and the risk apparently didn’t pay off. But the game isn’t horrible and completely unplayable. The company has said that they’ll listen to the criticisms and try to make improvements, (The DLCs have introduced new settings and eliminated wave-based combat) just as they’ve done with the ME games. They’ve even stated that they’re taking cues from Skyrim, and want to incorporate elements from that into future games.

  • Kalos Castalawavo

    So between the child porn, rampant misogyny, rape normalization, casual racism, and Ron Paul fanboyism… is there any reason not to just burn reddit to the ground and salt the earth?

  • no thanks

    From what I have read of her comments, Hepler is implying that women won’t be interested in deep and involved gameplay.  It seems to me that more than anyone else, it is Jennifer Hepler who has been condescending towards women.

  • Anonymous

    Well maybe, but that’s just like I said. Combat used to be the heart of RPGs. Now the issue in question is that Bioware used to be a developer that devoted itself to produce RPGs in the purest, most classic DnD form and thanks to that, it harnessed a very large fanbase of classic RPG lovers. However in order to cater to a wider audience for god knows why (Bioware RPG were always best sellers even in their hardcore DnD days) Bioware decided to water down what it used to be the core of it’s RPG gameplay. This generated a huge shitstorm that can still be felt at the cataclysmic mess that is the Bioware forums. Essentially there are two fanbases, one old and one new, constantly bickering against each other, with moderators usually taking the “new” side. So this older fanbase obviously feels betrayed, especially when Bioware holds the exclusive rights to the DnD ruleset. Other than them, there was no other company producing classic single player RPGs due to the evergrowing MMO market that seems to lure almost every company to bankrupcy these days. There still a few indie companies that make classic RPGs, but these are often quite poor in terms of overall quality. So it’s not really a matter of inclusiveness, but more of a matter of replacement. We wouldn’t mind if Bioware made games to appeal to a wider audience as long as they kept a special place for it’s older and most faithful fanbase. The fanbase that made them the most profits and catapulted them to fame.

    As for the behaviour of /v/ and 4chan in general, don’t take it to the heart. Most of their randomly destructive behaviour is all a big joke. These people are not like that in real life. In fact some of the people with the highest moral values I’ve ever known were former /b/tards (which nowadays are the largest force behind activism campaigns IRL. see SOPA, PIPA boycotts, etc). The whole “internet hate machine ” moniker was a fabrication of Fox News in their infamous report about anonymour years ago.


    “ETA: Combat in tabletop games is wildly different from combat in video games. Rolling dice requires no skill. ”

    I’ll forgive you this one simply because it was said out of ignorance. Every RPG that uses a stat-based ruleset is based on dice rolls, and Bioware’s are no exception, since it’s DnD, like I mentioned many times before. In case you don’t know, everytime you land a hit, various virtual d20 dice rolls are simulated. This is how critical hits/misses are calculated in relation to your character stats. The only difference in Pen and Paper RPGs is that these rolls have to be made manually, as well as the calculations. So it’s exactly the same thing, only incorporated in a real time environment. In fact Bioware has been slightly streamlining this system ever since KOTOR, due to it’s original complexity, which required constant pausing to manage your party correctly (something the older fanbase didn’t complain about, btw), because it was pure DnD by the time of Baldur’s gate. So please, don’t underestimate pen and paper RPGs. They’re the ancestors of role playing videogames, and still manage to be more complex and adaptable than any of ‘em.

    Also the “tell me a story” mode of Deux EX: HR is simply difficulty mode that makes enemies easier to kill and whatnot. Not a way to cut through combat altogether. Don’t know about LA: Noire because I haven’t played it though, but I always got the impression it was more of a puzzle game than a combat one.

  • Joe Ker

    How much black dick do you suck in a week?

  • Joe Ker

     This is why women should not be allowed to vote.

  • Eric Agel

    I’ve loved the writing in Dragon age and Mass effect. I’ve felt for a long time that we need dedicated writers making the scripts, and dedicated gamers programing the games. As you may have noticed from all the vitriolic postings, we gamers are not terribly creative writers. Often enough, not even good spellers. Without writers of your caliber, we get COD, and Battlefield. Good games, in their own right, but shallow. The games that I know you’ve worked on have wild in depth story lines and deep universes attached to them. Jennifer, I doubt you’re reading this, but on the off chance you see my post, please don’t let this bother you. The gamers that write these things are so myopic in their understanding of the production process, their opinions cant be considered. Let them not buy bioware games. They aren’t the target for your work. Their attention is fleeting and their thoughts are nearly primordial in their complexity. The games you have participated in creating are amazing. Please don’t leave our industry. Thanks

  • sakuragy love

    There is nothing wrong with visual novels or adventure games; nobody complains that Phoenix Wright or 999 or Ghost Trick has no combat. That isn’t the point. Her argument is still extremely shortsighted and self-defeating. Hepler is arguing for a complete separation between “storytelling” and “gameplay”; she isn’t arguing for inclusion, she is arguing for something that perpetuates the idea that games are an inferior form of storytelling. Instead of creating a cohesive experience in which game and story are one and only, see: Shadow of the Colossus or Metroid Prime, she is arguing that Bioware should completely separate the story from the game. Why not just make the game without combat in the first place if it is completely expendeable? A game, like a movie or a book or whatever, shouldn’t have expendeable elements. If a game wants to tell a story, the actual game has to be the story. You shouldn’t support her rather pointless, not very useful suggestions just because they come from a female writer working in a male dominated industry.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s the problem: your OP wording doesn’t suggest what you claim here.  It suggests that you don’t think her gender was that relevant to why she was attacked, and therefore don’t want to discuss that angle.

    As Maselphie said, it is not “possibly,” but “Yes.”  Her gender DID play a huge role in the attacks against her.  You can’t downplay that.  It’s the reason, period.  Trying not to focus on it, if that’s what you mean by “downplaying it” isn’t going to change that it was the reason.

    If you don’t want this to turn into a comment war of “but men get attacked too” that’s understandable, but trying to avoid that by pretending that Hepler’s gender wasn’t the reason for the degree of viciousness in the attacks is seriously misguided.  Or perhaps you just misjudged what it means to downplay something.  Because by using that term you’re suggesting that YOU are personally downplaying the importance because you literally don’t think it was important, not because you want to avoid a certain line of comment derailment.

  • Anonymous

    Except that Hepler faced rape threats and was lobbed with indisputably sexist slurs.  That kind of belies any attempt to claim that she wasn’t attacked because she was female.

    And how exactly has she been unprofessional?  Please don’t try to compare her responses to the abuse to the abuse itself.  There’s been a lot of that sort of equivocating going on, and nothing Hepler says in reaction to MONTHS of being personally attacked and even threatened should be held to the same standard.  It’s NOT the same thing.

  • Anonymous

    Why exactly is it so important to note that Hepler lashed out at fans after a while?

    Whether or not she should have or how “helpful” it was or wasn’t is completely irrelevant.  Why is a person’s response to abuse being treated as equal to the abuse itself?  

  • Anonymous

    I strongly suggest you get more from the hot inter-racial dating club” BlackWhiteFriends.℃0M ” where LOve is color blind and you can meet many cute babes, both black and white and try more……uytrfvghfgh

  • Kath

    It’s not. I’m saying she did *not* help herself and intensified it by reacting in such a manner.

  • Anonymous

    I’m well aware of what you’re saying, and I think you’re dead wrong and engaging in victim-blaming.  By saying she intensified it with something she wrote, you are blaming her for what others did.

    Hepler is not responsible for any of this, and devoting any space at all to what she says is implying that she did something wrong. 

    Let’s focus the attention on the fact she was targeted for harrassment, stalking, and called at home, and that included in all this were threats of physical harm, including rape and murder, and cease and desist with “well, she made things worse with what she said.”

  • Garrett Walters

    I still completely disagree with nearly everything Hapler has said, and it’s not because I’m a “basement dwelling, antisocial nerd.”  (Stereotype those who disagree with you much?)  It’s because the suggestions she’s made are very much anti-game, and not necessarily anti-gamer.  Her idea of a fun game is an interactive narrative, which, let’s be honest, isn’t a game at all.  It’s a “choose your own adventure” book with visuals.  And that’s not what first attracted ANY of us to video games.  It was the puzzles, the platforming, the strategy, and yes, the combat.  The GAMEplay.  The meat of the game…its heart and soul.  If you feel the need to skip THAT?  Then I’m sorry, maybe gaming ISN’T for you.  The same way Justin Bieber and the Twilight series aren’t for me.  I’m certainly not about to approach them and ask them to broaden their material so that I can be included.

    That said, she very much has the right to her own opinion, and personal attacks are not warranted.

  • Michael Leal

     It would have intensified no matter what; that’s just how people are.  Silence would have made it just as clear that they struck a raw nerve as her online response did.

  • Hank Hill

    Typically when people not savvy with PR (especially internet PR) feel threatened, they fall back on the obvious to try and refute them. Her “well I have a vagina and they’re virgins” comment is a textbook example of this, and it was the equivalent of throwing petrol at a fire to put it out.

    I’d really like emphasize that while it’s easy (and fun) to make fun of Helper, it’s not like this was a random decision just to piss her off. She did things to warrant it; she played a large part in ruining two franchises and said some things that will anger a lot of people.

  • Arakiba

     Ooh, are you from Afghanistan?

  • Arakiba

     The hate isn’t because she’s a woman, but if a man had made the comment she had, I doubt he would have had death threats or rape threats against him.  It’s like the automatic default of anyone hating on a woman is threaten to rape or kill her to shut her up.

  • Arakiba

     I kinda like it when people being criticized give as good as they get.

  • Arakiba


  • Michael Ball

     Don’t mind me, just greeting a fellow The Longest Journey fan.

  • Arakiba

     Making gaming more accessible for casual players will bring in more money than catering to the hardcore fans.  It all comes down to money.  What will produce more profit, 10,000 hardcore gamers or 50,000 casual ones?

  • Arakiba

     True, but threatening to kill or rape a woman because she said something that offended you does.

  • Paul Koehler

    okay so, normally I would just skip over all of this drama because it is painfully obvious that the people harassing hepler are assholes and not worth considering.

    But this is something that bares commenting on:

    ‘These last two paragraphs? They’re what a lot of people have been saying
    to the comic book industry when it shows reluctance to move out of its
    familiar demographic. Lets do some word swapping:’

    Video games are not comic books.

    This isn’t something that should need to be said, but it is something that apparently MUST be said for people to understand the things Hepler said that people are actually up in arms about.

    Video Games Are Not Comic Books.

    They are not any sort of book at all, in fact.  And nor are they movies.  And when it comes to narratives in video games, this is an extremely important fact which is completely lost on people like Hepler.

    Removing the action segment of a game so that you can skip to the cutscenes is not even remotely the same as altering the content of a comic book to appeal to a different demographic.  It is like removing the art from a comic book.  A video game with the action skipped is not taking advantage of its medium.  It is regression.

    A game where the story happens and you just skip to it might as well be a movie.  People like to troll and joke about video games with a heavy emphasis on cutscene by calling them movies.  There is a reason they are using the term as a pejorative — The more you excise player input and interactivity from the narrative structure, the more you are regressing the art form.  To do so is to miss the point completely.

    And just making it an option to skip the ‘game’ segments of the game does not actually help at all.  In order for the narrative to actually make sense if that is an option, it must be wholly divorced from the core game (or else the person skipping the scenes will not be able to understand the story!).  At which point you are just looking at a movie where you play a minigame between scenes.  This is absolutely the wrong way to go about using a video game to tell a story — not only are you not making use of the interactivity afforded by games to tell your story, you are going so far as to actually punish people who DO play the game by rendering everything they do to the bottom of the narrative food chain (assuming it even registers there)!  At that point you are wasting time, money, and effort by making a video game instead of a movie.

    The problem is, actually making a video game that properly makes use of its narrative means thinking about the narrative -as it relates to the medium-.  You can’t just write a story like a book or a movie and then ‘play stuff’ between chapters, which is clearly the way Hepler thinks video game narratives do (or, at least, should) work.  Well, you can — but it makes you a slacker.  If you want to write for video games, you need to understand what video games are and the manner in which a player interacts with them.  The people who made Deus Ex got it.  Hepler doesn’t.

  • Mate Sršen

    Nobody picks on Hepler because she’s a woman… but they’re not above misogynistic vitriol when picking on her. Are you, Valencio? Heavens forbid someone includes a non-heteronormative character you might have to interact with in your game. Especially some fat girl who wants to sex her husband. Right?

    You’re right about one thing: this is exactly the same as calling Kotick a money-hungry jew. Both are prime examples of regressive, tribalist behavior by a bunch of immature assholes.

    (Note how I insulted you purely based on your behavior, without presuming or involving anything about your sex, race, ethnic group or general outward appearance. That’s how you’re supposed to do it.)

    And for the record I disagree with Hepler.

  • Bel

    Abuse is never justified, dumbass.

  • narcissistic.claptrap

    Kath, I am not sure why you are so very bothered by someone else’s preferred play style.  There are some excellent action games out there that I have greatly enjoyed, but I totally would have chosen the “skip boss fight” option on every damn one of ‘em if I could have.

    My husband and I play a lot of the same games, many of which fall firmly into the action or shooter genre.  He plays the “skip the dialog and kill everything that moves” version of the game, and I play the “sneak around, non-lethal, pay-attention-to-every-word” version.  We both have fun, and those games sell a lot more copies by appealing to multiple gaming preferences.

    I don’t understand how my spouse can enjoy an RPG like Dragon Age without experiencing a lick of the plot, but he does.  And it doesn’t get me all hot and bothered that he does. 

    Rather than suggest that people stay away from your games because you don’t understand how they like to play it, why not just rejoice that more game sales = more incentive for the developer to keep making more of what you like?

  • Kath

    NC; But companies *aren’t* making the games I like. Why? Because of attitudes like Ms Hepler’s. There’s a point where accessibility destroys the game.

    To use Mass Effect as the example – it’s a third-person cover-based shooter with RPG mechanics. That is what it is. That is what it was for ME1, that is what it was for ME2. ME3 is still like that, but with a story mode available – I believe it basically nullifies combat (I think you still have to do it, but you’re overpowered) – and I think that’s fine.

    But skip the action scenes? In a game where they’re few and far between – Dreamfall, for example – I’d support that. But not in an *action* game. What’s left if you take the action out of an action game? The story in any BioWare game exists just to bridge set pieces together and to drive it forward.

    It’d be like removing the micro-management from The Sims, or even Bejewelled making the moves for you. It weakens the game experience. Yes, add a mode in The Sims where a lot of the stats either drop slower or aren’t there, but if you remove them then, well, the game just falls apart.

    A game with skippable combat will have to be designed around that. The story itself will have to change to accommodate such situations. And if we took a BioWare game as they stand now, what would be left? A very unsatisfying conversation system and a game that drops in length by literal hours.

    Why put time and energy into developing action games with skippable combat when you can put that same time and energy into a conversation-centric game? Why try and change one genre when you can apply those aspects to one that’s currently in a lull (adventure games)?

    There’s more productive ways of making combat easier to shift the focus to conversation and there’s a whole genre of conversation-based games begging to be brought back into the fore.

  • Vladim Eisenberg

    > Except that Hepler faced rape threats and was lobbed with
    indisputably sexist slurs.  That kind of belies any attempt to claim
    that she wasn’t attacked because she was female.

    Not so. They simply used the “right tools for the right job” to say – in the same way you don’t call a skinny person “a tub of lard” but something like “pencil-armed twit who makes starving somalians look muscular”.

  • Vladim Eisenberg

    Pretty much this.
    Because guess what – the whole reason games allow skipping isn’t for not going over the “boring chunks” – it’s because the dialogue is the same all the time, and given that not all games allow saving wherever, it saves you from having to listen to the exact same sequence a dozen times before you finally beat that boss. (games like Final Fantasy come to mind, where the dialogue often lasts about half times the combat)
    On the other hand, no game that I know allows you to skip interactive dialogue (I mean, the sorts Fallout and Fallout II had, where you can actually choose what to say) and it is well that way.

    Because, guess what – the combat in a game is a part of the story, a part of what’s going on. What the argument should *really* be is that we need more games with the balance of interaction set more towards story… but then, there are visual novels and all that, so nothing new was said.
    Alternately ,for people lacking time, there’s always cheatcodes, and always were.

  • Vladim Eisenberg

    @TheFeminineMissGeek, far below
    There have seldom been more incorrect statement. Sure, rolling dice requires no skill, but deciding what dice to roll where, does. Clever planning makes all the difference between a TPK and a seamless victory, besides, there are always the massive decisions on what to do with money, and/or experience points.

    Once again though, solution lies in making games with a smaller proportion of combat ,as opposed to it being skippable – much like one of the DnD games I play in. (As a sidenote, I can sympathise with some of her views .. messing with treasure and  making maps are my least favourite things in roleplaying, too. My orientation is bad enough to get lost in FPSes at times.)

    Except… you know, that’s the hard solution. Each in-game choice means a split, and while most often the main story can be led along an eigenvector, and you can make a ton of them deadends, in some cases it cannot, leading to a tree of content that a single playthrough will trace a single branch of. Which requires a lot more effort to deliver similar hours of content than slapping in a bunch of monsters at every step.
    What she’s proposing is essentially a fake way of dealing with gamers that are in it mainly for the story, similar to wanting to buy a pound of bread in your supermarket, and the folks going “Sorry, we only have hamburgers because compared to them, bread isn’t worth making. But you know what? You can buy 50, and we’ll allow you to throw the patties away.”

  • Vicente Pelechano Servando

     Our Heplerburg is running fro mthe Twitterfield…


    She must commit sudoku

  • Anonymous


  • Kitta Miau

    I fucking hate you jennifer. I hope you get fired from bioware.
    END OF RINE!!!!!! SEE????

  • Anonymous



  • Anonymous








  • Kitta Miau


  • Anonymous


  • Michael Joseph

    Bioware makes poorly made games that no longer appeal to the discriminating consumer. It’s like getting made at literature fans because they prefer Dostoyesvky to Stephenie Meyer. Neither gender nor sexuality play into this at all. For an example of good video game writing by a woman, check out The Witcher games. But then again, you’ll dislike them. The story is too sophisticated, it isn’t spoon fed to you, and the game expects you to be able to play something harder than “wave of enemy manager 2″.

  • Matt Moe

    IMO: We don’t want to not be seen as basement dwelling, anti-social nerds. Forget the norms and forget the casuals. Stop appealing to a mass of people who can’t even get past the first stage of Demon Souls or have even heard of the game. Whats going to happen in the future too? That people start end up putting more into the story than the gameplay because “Its what brings in the money.” What we get then is movies with a Next button rather than actual video games.
    The way that the past 5-10 years has been proof that most companies only care about money anyways. Bioware/EA is one of them.

  • Fudo Yukio

    Her “Work” if you can call it that is vile to say the least.. Professional ? HAH

    Grand theft auto had lawsuits over hot coffee..

    She is trying to force homosexuality upon people.. If I can I will attempt to push this as far as I can because I am injured from these actions taken by these individuals.

    Not just from the forced homosexuality  but also her talking about her.. bits  to the world.



    I will not get into the other horrors wrought by the person in question over this fiasco  all you have to do is open your eyes.

  • Fudo Yukio

    Of-course there are the details my Solicitor has told me not to state until begin.

  • Anonymous

     So, I think that Jennifer is an awesome writer.
    However, there are people who disagree with me and insult her.
    Unbelievably, these people thrive on putting women down and that is wrong.
    This is something that should be put a stop to

    Unrealistic as it may be, we should try and change their opinions about us females in game development.
    Personally, I think that it is the only way to resolve this conflict.

    Barely tolerable is the fact that games and geek culture is predominently male.
    It makes me sad to see all these people get so offended at the thought of a woman being talented and involved.
    Truly, it is absolutely shocking that these anti-social nerds would even have the guts to speak ill of her.
    Cruel, it is the only word to describe what they do.
    Hopefully, they will find the human part in them someday and stop this.

  • Anonymous

     My jimmies are rustled.

    The issue here is not about gender, it’s about a terrible influence on a company being called out as being a terrible influence on a company*. The reason reddit and ebaumsworld hate her is because she wants to make games less fun**. That’s the long and short of it really.

    The fact that she is an overweight female in a male dominated industry is a tool used by reddit and ebaumsworld to upset and dissuade her from continuing her work, not the reason she’s being abused. No matter who you are, you have something about you that can be used to mock you, hers just happens to be that she keeps her dick inside her body, not outside. It’s probably wrong to intentionally hurt people in any way, depending on your own set of morals, but to try and make this into a feminist “battle story” is remarkably stupid, short-sighted and downright dangerous.

    The people responsible for harassing her are incredibly immature and possibly unstable, but to tar everyone who hates her work as “basement dwelling antisocial nerds” is outrageously arrogant and uncalled for.

    I’m going to say something now that I know is clichéd and will probably invalidate all of the points you agreed with earlier – this is how gamers interact. They frequently call each other mean names and do stupid things, they scapegoat the slowest member of the herd and then run them down using carefully planned flanking (wym)manoeuvres, they use their glorious rows of razor sharp teeth to wound the beast in a cripplin- oh wait no that’s lions.


    Erm, you get what I’m saying, that’s how the internet gaming community likes to police itself, and whether it’s right or wrong is a separate issue from feminism. Feminism exists to eradicate sexism, and sexism is basically the stereotyping of a gender. To say “women do not behave like you just lost the game that, so women cannot be a part of the gaming community until the gaming community changes” is sexism.

    Hepler does not deserve special treatment for being a woman in a male dominated community, and being a part of the gamer community (which she indisputably is) is having every single possible fact or rumour about you thrown at you in an attempt to upset you.

    If she happened to be a man, almost every post by reddit or ebaumsworld would have included something about her having a tiny dick instead of a cavernous vagina.

    * Admittedly she’s not the worst (in many peoples’ eyes). R.I.P. BioWare, February 1995 – October 11 2007.

    ** Fun is a buzzword and means many different things to many different people. I’m talking specifically about the funcicity levels experienced by reddit and ebaumsworld users in this case.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, so you too are a fan of Jennifer Heplers amazing writing!

    I really recommend you her graphical novel, it showcases her skill at writing like no other. Its called M.I.T.H. Operation Smoking Jaguar, a real masterpiece, getting an incredible 1.77/5 in average by reviewers!*

    I quote here one of the reviewers as they talk about the novel:
    “The story focuses homosexual relationships to a large degree (easy once every three pages) and really builds up suspense by having the protagonist and his small entourage of male lovers have sexual orgies during pivotal moments in the battle for Earth”

    And another:
    “But, as I read, I found the story lacking and when two main characters pause in the middle of the impending apocalypse to make out, I almost stopped reading.”

    I think it is a blessing having a person like her in charge of the videogames I so much love! Her skill in creating realistic, deep and likeable characters is just what todays videogames need!

    I find it saddening that people take potshots at Hepler for being female, her gender plays no role, its her genius that people are reacting to.

    *It was not possible to vote 0

  • Michael Joseph

    you guys are just jealous because she has diabetes and a yeast infection and you can’t get either!

  • Anonymous

    What the hell did I just read?  Did the concept of video games not become about gameplay and interaction to watching cutscenes? A storys good and fine, and makes a game better, but games will always be about gameplay. If you don’t want to play a game but want a story READ A BOOK. We don’t give a fuck that she is a woman, or obese, or a bad writer. She’s hurting gaming. She’s propagating the idea that it’s ok for games not to have a challenge and just be movies.

    ITS NOT.

  • Jordan Santacruz

    Lol’d at the vid. Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

  • flegmaattinen

    I’m a female and I play games and I will never understand why people constantly whine for ‘games geared towards women’. Now to give you an idea of where I’m coming from, I enjoy city builder games and RTSes, some FPS games ( original UT, Half-life, TF2 ), RPGs ( Baldur’s Gate 1+2 are still the best RPGs made to date and it’s a shame what happened to Bioware ), Diablo1+2 were my favourites when they were new, and I play the occasional Dota clone if I can endure the horrible community. I also like some stupidly addictive “simple” games like Plants vs. Zombies and Orcs Must Die ( including the combosperging ).  And I like some of the buttpie games like Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft. Though I’m usually not into VNs, I did enjoy Katawa Shoujo a lot. I started playing games on Commodore 64, then Amiga 500, Super Nintendo, Sega Megadrive and then kinda jumped to PC.I am not great at games and I’ve never really bothered to get into competitive/hardcore play of any sort. I gave it a few spins in few games ( like WoW ) and it wasn’t for me, too stressful and time consuming. I play a lot, but I still do consider myself a casual gamer merely because I don’t generally invest that much effort into games.However, I still like games that can be demanding, and I dislike overly casual games ( with no option to ramp up the difficulty ). Especially if these overly casual games are titles that should NOT be strictly casual ( like RPGs or FPSes etc. ). If you want to play on Easy, go ahead but let me choose Nightmare if I damn well please. I may not be bothered to compete against others but I like that games are GAMES, and geared towards GAMERS. Different type of gamers enjoy different kind of games, and I’m just another gamer. I’m not a damn GIRL GAMER who needs to be catered games with homosex ( I like it but it doesn’t make or break the game for me ) or deep and thoughtful plots ( sometimes I just wanna blow some shit up ). Nor are games a method for me to get attention solely for my gender. I am not the type of female that goes ‘YEAH I’M A GIRL SO WHAT LET’S JUST PLAY THE GAME’. I’m the type of gamer that goes ‘…’ and plays the damn game.I am vaguely pleased for all the crap Hepler is getting because she went ahead and yes, said some of the most cancerous things about gaming as possible. I say cancerous because her attitude is indeed what is helping to create fiascos like Dragon Age 2. Origins was incredible and DA2 was such a bitter disappointment. The fact that she isn’t alone directly responsible for it all is neither here or there, it’s simply the fact that she stupidly went and gave a face to to some of the problems that games are currently having. And what a face. She couldn’t be a more  perfect stereotype. Anyway, in my opinion, a big problem in gaming currently is, that devs are trying to cater to too varied audiences, ending up half-assing everything. I wish they would stop doing this and just stick to catering roughly to certain archtypes ( RPGs for RPG gamers, puzzles for puzzle gamers etc. ), not for casual, hardcore, grinder, male, female, married, old, young, disabled, animal, and plumbers. No, I don’t mean never try anything new, just don’t change the way and direction of how a game works just to make it more accessible to people who couldn’t appriciate the previous version/game. Also, yeah, people actively working on games, should be gamers as well. Even if you’re ‘just a writer’, you should be able to think of the story in the enviroment of the game. If you want to just write, then write a damn book. Love the game you’re making, if you don’t, don’t expect others to either. I know, that’s idealism but consider the thought at least. Sure, a certain game may not appeal to all audiences, but hey… things rarely do. Make it great for those who appreciate the type of game, instead of somewhat lame for everyone.You want a girl game? Please, do make one, go right ahead and get to developing one. There are plenty of tools available, even for free. Just stay away from the titles that have already established a certain direction and genre. Start your own. I don’t want your feminist, girl power, female empowerment crap in my Vault 13 or my Town Center. I’m not so bloody insecure about my gender that I need to be reminded ( or remind everyone ) of it all the time.Also to whoever wrote the article, thanks for obviously not knowing anything about the internet. I always love a good Reddit bashing.  

  • Ken Walden

    It seems silly watching people trying to do damage control here.

    What do you hope to change? The community has pretty strong opinions, and yeah it isn’t pretty. Mobs usually aren’t. But the woman is still viewed as a lousy writer by a large population of consumers, and part of the problem with the whole lackluster quality of recent Bioware games.

    This community doesn’t care if you and your hubby and legally blind grandmother have a grand ol’ time playing TOR as founding members, blah blah blah. Clearly lots of people think the brand is going down the tubes, and they aren’t happy about it. I don’t see how you can shame people into liking poor quality service and content.

    There are lots of women who do a lot of great work in the gaming industry, and they shouldn’t be lumped in with an unqualified hack writer who most likely got her job because her husband worked at Bioware.

    Does being bullied make her a good writer? Is that the new dynamic we’re faced with? Do we really need to swoop in and save her? Should we all buy copies of MITH, and hold candlelight vigils while playing Dragon Age 2 and giving her 5 star reviews on Goodreads to send a message to cyberbullies? Maybe we should start a Kickstarter and fund a poultice for her bruised feelings in the form of an ebook about gay space marines that shoot Egyptian aliens with lasers while making out and crying.

  • Michael Joseph

     aw yeah gurl. come get dis hot chocolate.

  • Anonymous

    Hepler’s writing is bad. As bad as Richard Morgan’s writing who writed for Crysis 2 and Syndicate. I fucking hate feminists who try to bring up the point “YOU ASSAUL HER BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN, GO JENNY DON’T LISTEN TO THESE TROLLS”. That makes me really frustrated. I hate her works not because she’s a woman i hate her works because they suck horribly. They as bad as Morgan’s stuff and the worst thing – she writes  for games where story is important. At least you can forget about story in Crysis since it’s a shooter but you need much more motivation to forget about story when you are playing videogames. Videogames are my hobby, no im not a basedweller i have real life too but when someone tries to ruin it with those so called “innovations” that ruins the gameplay in the game i get mad. If i want a story i will go and read a book or watch a film but stop taking the “game” part out of “videogame”. Dragon age is a huge project that means smaller projects will orient on DA and that means we will get less and less gameplay in videogames because DA suceeded. That is disaster and it most be stopped. 

    And again fuck everyone who tries to bring up a gender in to this discussion.

  • Anonymous



  • golvio

     I do think the backlash against her is overblown and really childish. Nobody should ever have to suffer death threats over an interview.

    However, I can’t help but feel insulted at the conflation of so-called “casual” gaming and women who play games. I’m female, and I’ve played video games ever since my parents got me and my brother a Nintendo 64 I was little. I enjoy a good story in games, true, but I also like involving gameplay and good, brain-teasing puzzles. I can understand not wanting a huge, complicated game if you’re a mother or have a job with long hours, but I don’t appreciate being lumped in with them because I share genitalia. I do not excuse this viewpoint even if it is being espoused by another woman, because I’m not a member of some monolithic female hivemind.

    I also don’t really agree with what Hepler constitutes as “story” in video games. It sounds like she’s approaching games from a more literary/visual point of view. In my opinion, a great game story is one that’s integrated into the gameplay. A game that’s just cutscenes is just a movie. A game with just text is just a visual novel. The reason video games are held back as an art form is because people don’t quite understand what the medium is capable of, and instead limit themselves to the constraints of books and movies. Video games have a great potential to allow players to identify with the characters, and the challenges the character faces and overcomes become your struggles, and you share their sense of accomplishment, loss, growth, etc. To separate story and gameplay would be to neuter the experience of the game, and have both the story and the gameplay suffer for it.

    Perhaps she’s changed her viewpoint in the years since that interview, but perhaps not, since she still specializes in RPGs. In today’s RPGs I’ve noticed that story and gameplay are more separated, with cutscenes being punctuated by periods of battles and grinding. I prefer more dynamic, action-oriented games where you don’t have to push the same option in a menu for an hour. Stories that are limited to cutscenes also really fall flat, since I feel so detached from the action (especially if the dialogue is melodramatic or the voice actors are terrible). In my opinion, Valve makes games that really hit my sweet spot. The story in Half-Life and Portal may be simple, but the atmosphere and integration of it into the gameplay and environment are what really make it work. It makes me feel like I have a stake in the protagonist’s story.

  • Anonymous

    If hepler’s so jealous of my penis I’ll trade her for a while

  • Alejandro Senese

    Jesus fucking christ, that’s one hell of a magic trick. It’s like…They
    took every single word Hepler said, and warped it into their own
    reassuring point of views. I mean did they fucking READ the goddamn
    posts? This shit isn’t about feminism at-fucking-all. It’s about a hack
    ass writer that everyone wants to see disappear. Every single point of
    view that I’ve seen defending Hepler has been COMPLETE strawman; drawing
    to the point that she’s a woman, or this bullshit about gamer
    entitlement being dangerous, and all this other ridiculous shit.

    THEIR LOYAL FANBASE? Oh goodness no, it has to be because gamers are all
    jewbashing homophobic mysogonists that are entitled to gold plated
    diamonds on a marble platter. I mean holy shit, if anyone should be
    insulted here it’s the people that are actually crying out here.
    Bioware, EA, all the journalists and shit are saying WE’RE in the wrong
    here…How the fuck could they make that judgement? We’re the one that
    buy their games. We’re the consumer. How can they just say “Oh anon,
    you’re complaints aren’t valid. You’re just a homophobe and hate

    I don’t think I’m ever buying a Bioware again.
    Hopefully all this PR hits Bioware where it hurts, and we see less and
    less from them in the following years. This shit is just too much.

  • Anonymous

    You don’t really get it do you? People aren’t intimidated by inclusion. They are aggravated that so many industry resources are going towards simplifying games to the point where they are no longer as fun as they used to be.

  • WilliamRLBaker

    Note: what happened to her was wrong.

    Took A while I had to wait but finally I can say this site is nothing but a load of Misandric opinions, Jim Sterling says anything remotely misogynistic and its wrath wrath hes a troll, yet 9 months later when Hepler has been harrased and Jim says something along the same sentiment he always had, oh he has something relevant to say now… 

  • WilliamRLBaker

    so neither gender nor sexuality play into this…yet the majority of people harassment centered around her gender…

    thanks for being an apologist for all the basement geeks out there. 

  • Michael Joseph

    william you ignorant slut

  • Anonymous

     There’s more to Skyrim than dragonslaying.  You could skip the main quest entirely, or get other characters to do the dirty work for you.  What I would like to see is more diplomatic or sneaky options: talking people into doing what I want, or blackmailing them into following orders or else… maybe cutting a deal that makes everyone happy.  There’s more to life and entertainment than combat.

  • Michael Tariga

    Hey man, get a load of this guy/gal.

    Seriously now, what you are saying is that games should stop being games and be novels instead. Putting an option in where a player can skip from every combat, puzzle, stealth option, tactics and everything related to it is removing the aspect of gaming itself and what is left will be a choose your own adventure book or a novel in video format. Remember, what you are interacting with is a video’GAME” and playing it is the core part of the entertainment, “not” the story.

    You know what you need? Practice and experience. I suck at shooters at first, my aiming is bad and I freak out when things are not going my way. After several months of gaming with friends during the weekends, I got better. Same applies with RTS, video RPG etc.

    So NO! I dont want a cheat option on games.

  • Michael Tariga

    Look it is bad for people spending money on things that they pay good money on.

    But please please know what you want first before buying. Research, read, watch some youtube videos and reviews,etc. 

  • Anonymous
  • D.

    women have no place in the video game industry, just stick to kitchen plz

  • Spokker

    I thought the Hamburger Helper thing was humorous. It displays a healthy dose of creativity and good humor that Ms. Helper’s writing lacks. She should get out of the video game industry if she does not enjoy games. 

  • Spokker

    Games aren’t games anymore. Men aren’t men anymore. Fun isn’t fun anymore. Jennifer Helper represents male frustration in the modern, pussified world.

    Don’t bother replying as I have chosen to skip combat and win the argument.

  • Sarah Willis

    I can’t play any sort of shooter game because the first person or anything where the background moves with me makes me extremely motion sick. This means I physically can’t play the majority of popular video games out there. I’ve tried to suffer through and I can’t. My favorite game ever is Monkey Island. Why? Story drive with adventure, humor, and puzzles. I’d love to play Mass Effect, and yes I’ve watched cutscenes on youtube, but I’d love to play it without having to lie down after 20 min. 

    I totally get what Helper was saying. If you don’t enjoy the combat aspect but love the interaction, it really does limit games. 

  • Rutee Katreya

    Hepler didn’t say easiness was good for women.  She said it was good for newcomers, which includes a lot of women.  And it is, and it does.  Those are basic facts of video games; women haven’t really been included, so more of them are newcomers, and easier games are, surprising nobody, easier for a new player to get into than something brutal.  So I’d actually stand behind her here, rather than say she somehow is contributing to the problem in some major way.

  • Rutee Katreya

    but you have to remember that there are still Valerie Solonas’ and Mary
    Dalys out there and they do target all men with their commentary.

    SCUM was satire that Solanas’ publisher took from her house after she was dead and published as serious.  She hated Warhol specifically, alleging that he stole her work.  Daly actually had useful insights in academia.  She said shit that was wrong, yes, and hateful to men, but those did not actually enter feminism at large.  PRetending they did is disrespectful for folks working on actual social justice.

    MRAs face the same problem.

    Heh.  I love the smell of false equivalence.  Yep, a group fighting to entrench privilege is totally equivalent to folks trying to end it XD

  • Rutee Katreya

    She did say in an interview her least favorite aspect of video games is
    the gameplay, and that she would prefer the gameplay be skipped so
    people can just watch the cutscenes.

    Have you actually played Dragon Age or KotOR?  *I* wanted to skip the gameplay and get to parts of the game that were done well. And lest you get dismissive, I play brutal RPGs like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and Etrian Odyssey for fun.

  • matt

    Sorry I’m late to the party, just stumbled across this. Briefly perusing this site, I’m going to guess that the author of this article is not a gamer, so hopefully I can help to inform those looking in from outside as to why the things Ms. Hepler said were pretty terrible, as she herself admitted. 

    First of all, there is NO EXCUSE for the threats and general mistreatment of Ms. Hepler. That said, most gamers are kids or teenagers and as such are, by definition, IMMATURE and will behave as such. If you can’t take this type of immature behavior, you should not be in the video games industry.

    Second, story is ALWAYS secondary in games, next to gameplay and the overall experience. If you remove the gameplay, it becomes a movie, or a book, or a TV show. If that is what Ms. Hepler wants to do, she should be working in one of those fields. For someone working in the gaming industry to dislike playing games… would you want a chef preparing your food who only cared about the food’s appearance, but couldn’t care less about the flavor, texture, or the other qualities that make food appealing?

    Third, the more mature gamers who have a problem with Ms. Hepler’s comments, such as myself, are not INTIMIDATED, as this article likes to say, I guess in an attempt to belittle those who appreciate ‘hardcore’ games–games that are too challenging or in-depth for just anybody to pick up and have a good time with. We are worried that challenging gameplay is becoming a thing of the past, that if they start putting in ‘skip gameplay’ buttons, they’ll eventually just remove the gameplay entirely. There are already ‘Easy’ play modes in virtually every game out there, but yes, you do still actually have to PLAY THE GAME if you want to finish it… it seems like the author and Ms. Hepler are complaining that they actually have to do something other than just sit there watching, and maybe making a dialog choice now and then.

    I couldn’t care less about what other people think about the fact that I finish a game. I play games for the experience, and when you start making games more ‘accessible’, you start removing all the things that make games enjoyable to those who have been playing them all their lives, the things that make games difficult, and thus rewarding. It’s dumbing down the experience, not to bring more people into the gaming community, but to rake in more profits and dilute the community with loads of ‘casuals’ who really don’t care about a quality, in-depth gaming experience. Fine, you want a stupid game that makes tons of cash and is nothing more than a mindless waste of time? There’s tons of garbage out there for you, such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja or literally thousands of other titles. Why do proponents of game casualization have to attack what were once the best of the hardcore games out there, such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Diablo, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Legend of Zelda, Grand Theft Auto, etc.? It seems like the more money that makes its way to these once-revered titles, the worse, the dumber, the more ‘accessible’ they get, and the more money they make, continuing the vicious cycle. If the trend continues, in 20 years, games will be so stupid that people will wonder why anyone ever played them. Or maybe people are actually getting dumber, thanks to the systematic dismantling of the education system by idiotic politicians, but that’s a rant for another time.
    There are plenty of female gamers out there who appreciate hardcore games just as much as us guys, so using women as an excuse to dumb down games I’d think would be more insulting to women rather than sound reasoning for removing aspects of gaming that have always been integral to the medium. 

    In short, the author of this article just doesn’t get it… this is NOT about INCLUSIVENESS or EXCLUSIVENESS, it’s about MONEY. Period.

    And what the heck is ‘artificial prestige’?

  • Andrew Bollmer

    Interestingly, in the world of MMORPGs, particularly World of Warcraft, there is almost an exact replica of this situation going on, wherein the difficulty of certain content is “nerfed” or made easier after a period of time, and those who qualify themselves as “hardcore” get upset believing that the fact that the once-hard content is made more accessible to “less dedicated” players (read: those who don’t play 40+ hours a week), is ruining their own accomplishment, an argument which I have railed against for several years.

    On the other hand though, I don’t fancy her suggestions for including a fast forward button. Her assertion that games include buttoning through dialogue is actually dying out. That feature was a left over from text-based dialogue where it was included for people who read faster than the game displayed, and could thus move on without waiting around (and of course some who just wanted to skip it). The practice carried over into voiced-over games for a time, but many games now omit that feature.

    Secondly, to cut out the interactivity of a game, even optionally, kind of ruins the spirit of it being a game, ie an -interactive- experience. If you’re going to go the route of cutting the interactivity from a game so that other, less-”gamer” demographics can enjoy it, why not just contract a novelization or throw together the cutscenes into a DVD. I suppose you would lose the choices in dialogue options but, to me, that seems like a small loss at this point. But then again, I’m not really in a position to state that with absolute certainty.

  • Andrew Bollmer

    There may be merit to someone -disagreeing- with her. Harassment is a whole other story, there isn’t much, if anything that deserves it as a response, and is, for the most part illegal. So no…there is no -merit- to the harassment.

  • Anonymous

    why U insult ”basement dwelling, antisocial nerds”… we’re people too.

    my sympathy for U… gone.

  • Diana

     What. Rape threats should NEVER be okay. Rape threats are NEVER “simply the right tools for the right job.” They are not funny and not appropriate in any context.

    That is all.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, you’re pretty sick. You should get some help. Seriously. Even if you’re going to claim that you’re “just trolling” afterward, as so many of your types does. If she were black, would you say that calling her a “nigger” & saying she should be lynched “the right tools for the job”?

  • Anonymous

    So, because you think that what someone else is looking for in games is bad, you don’t want special features that would enhance the game for them, that you would never be forced to use, included in games (the way the special features are included for gamers like YOU who don’t like dialogue)? But you’re not self-centered, or anything, right?

  • Andy Entrekin

     You two are misinterpreting Vladim entirely.

    What Vladim is
    trying to say is that the people insulting Jennifer were trying to
    insult her and offend her in the most effective way possible.  He’s not
    saying rape threats are okay or that you should go around using racist
    insults against black people or sexist ones against women.

    simply saying that the people who attacked Jennifer wanted to be as mean
    as possible so of course they used sexist jokes and rape jokes.  But,
    this does not mean misogyny was the reason why they attacked her in the
    first place.  It’s only the method many of them chose to use to attack
    her, hence the phrase “the right tool for the right job”

    If you
    want to hurt or anger a black person in the fewest words possible you
    would probably use racist comments.  Likewise, if your intention is to
    hurt a woman using words you would use sexist ones.

    Nobody is
    saying it’s okay to do this, we’re just saying that them using sexist
    insults doesn’t necessarily mean they attacked her because she’s a

  • Andy Entrekin

    Of course there will always be examples to the contrary like Dark Souls.

    But you’d have to be blind to not be able to see that the industry is becoming standardized and the focus on big budget games is towards accessibility and more casual gamers.

    The problem isn’t that casual gamers like to play games too and don’t want as much challenge as other people, the problem is that companies are basing their designs around casual gamers.

    It’s much easier to take a challenging, well designed game with a deep gameplay system and simply tone down the difficulty level by making enemies weaker, dumber, or less numerous.

    It’s MUCH harder to take a game that is designed to be accessible and easy and turn the difficulty up while at the same time making it a challenging and rewarding system and not just frustrating artificial difficulty.

    See any mainstream FPS game as an example.  The game is designed around normal difficulty and the harder difficulty settings simply turn up the enemy’s health and damage.  I’ve beaten the Halo and Call of Duty games on legendary and veteran and it’s not that rewarding to slog through the artificial difficulty.

    Games like Dark Souls or Ninja Gaiden or DMC3 are hard and rewarding.  Not all of them have easier difficulty settings for more casual gamers but they easily could have added them in by simply making enemies weaker.

    And I still enjoy playing old NES, SNES, and Genesis games.  They are definitely harder on average than modern games.

  • Anonymous

    Many games crap out because of bad art – bad scripts, bad dialogue, bad art, bad voice acting, etc.  You’d think that gamers would appreciate people like Hepler who make games meaningful and engaging, but nooooooo.  People like her make games more engaging, more involving.  Unfortunately, there are many idiots who “think” that women are incapable of doing such things or are unnecessary.

    Imagine a movie being made without a costume designer, someone who tailors clothes both to the actors and to the sets and time of the story.  Would anyone watch or believe the movie?  The lamers  who attack Hepler…I mean gamers…okay, lamers – are no better than an idiot who disparages a costume designer.  

    The people who add the flavour and background to movies and games are as important as directors and programmers.  Without them, the experience isn’t believable or immersing, and no better than a B-movie or a lame game like Daikatana.

  • Tiferet

    No, games are not that diverse, and at least in America, they never have been, because despite the changing scenery (space, military, fantasy, whatever) they are all about the combat and to some of us who are not necessarily “casual” gamers at all, that is boring as all hell.

    There are a ton of women–and a few men, too–who do roleplaying on Livejournal, Insanejournal, Dreamwidth, Twitter and every kind of forum that would never enter an MMORPG because they don’t like fighting all the time, they like interacting with other players, intrigue, solving mysteries, roleplaying relationships and relationship development, and the like.  We don’t play video games (unless we know enough Japanese to try out some of the dating sims and other role-playing games that are actually centred on characters doing things that aren’t fighting) and yet we’re not Angry Birds or Farmville players, either.

    I played Echo Bazaar for over a year until it a) turned into a money pit and b) moved away from the idea that you could develop your character around a single or several traits and toward the idea that you had to do them all, which meant everyone had to be a fighter and everyone had to be a thief, which was not how it was presented when it first came out.  I had great fun solving historical puzzles, exploring the worldbuilding (which for such a game must be far, far more intricate than “generic fantasy/space/military”), having affairs, gaining artistic patronage, getting called to Court and becoming a courtier, making loads of money as an alchemist, and generally avoiding the hell out of stealing and fighting.

    I don’t mind short combats and playing the occasional fighter character, but that’s not all I want to do and I don’t want 60-90% of my gaming time to involve fights.  Even if I’m playing a knight or starship captain I don’t want my story to be about killing orcs or bugs or whatever–I want to solve mysteries and interact with other characters.

    So I don’t play video games too much, but not because I don’t like gaming; I avoid games with protracted combat for the same reason that as a teenager playing D&D and Traveller with my friends, if there was a huge long combat session going on, I would let one of my friends roll dice for me and make everyone cookies, and nobody minded because when there was a role-playing situation where we had to talk ourselves out of trouble or figure out something twisty, that was where my characters shone.

    What Jennifer Hepler is talking about is creating games for people who like the role-playing aspect of gaming, which isn’t the same thing as playing Angry Birds or Farmville (I don’t care for either).  And if game companies did that, women would buy them.  And she’s right that sometimes all that would be required is an option to skip some of the combats or at least truncate them for people who don’t enjoy that sort of thing and/or aren’t manually dextrous enough to be good at it.

    There ARE people who want something more from gaming than Angry Birds, but would rather explore the Land, talk to the consorts and solve the riddles than kill the imps, to use a Homestuck ref.

  • Tiferet

    It doesn’t matter whether they like what she said or not, threatening to rape her is targeting her gender, unless you think all these jackrods would say the same things to a guy who pissed them off.

  • Tiferet

    Why do you think you should get to decide what parts of the experience should be important to other players, and why should I care how someone else feels about the way I play a game when it does not affect their own experience in any way?

    I’m not necessarily advocating a fastforward button for the combat in Call of Duty or Modern Warfare because I’m bright enough to understand that in those games, that’s the point of the story and if I’m not interested in that story I should play something else.  But it’s very hard to FIND something else if, you know, I don’t want to play something silly or cutesy, either.

    I have personally had the experience of nearly bleeding to death IRL,
    and I can tell you that I don’t feel the need to repeat it, I don’t
    think my life was particularly enriched by it, and I’d have preferred to
    skip it.  If that’s the kind of thing you find exhilarating, more power to you, but it’s not very pleasant of you to imply that people of any gender who prefer not to experience those things in their entertainment don’t really know what they want, need you to tell set them straight, and are insulting you if they fail to be convinced.

  • Anonymous

    Well, allowing others to bypass that challenge to play the parts that they like isn’t doesn’t actually make completing the challenge less enjoyable… unless what you actually enjoy is bragging rights and not the experience itself.”

    This. You no longer have bragging rights or a feeling of accomplishment. It most certainly does make it less fun when you take something that used to be hard to get (the ending of a game) and make it extremely easy to get.
    Take Dragon Age for example (ironically it doesn’t count as a casual game to me at least). Imagine if you play through the game doing the hard stuff and win, then someone else plays the game but skips all the hard stuff and just talks to everyone and then defeats Uldred, that high dragon, Logain and whoever else in a cutscene then takes back Denerim in a cut scene and then kills the Arch demon in a cutscene…

    There’s nothing special at the end for the guy or gal that did it right anymore. The only special thing is the fighting (which is still there) but it removes the reward at the end of the game (or after difficult bits) of saving the world after all the crap you had to go through. You don’t have to earn diddly poop.

    The game described above isn’t an RPG any more… its kind of like a dating sim except the dating sim isn’t about dating anymore.

    Disclaimer: Yes misogyny is bad and I do not approve of it. I do not have a problem with games that are pseudo dating sim-esq “rpgs” but it’s sad to see them replacing good old rpgs.

  • Anonymous

    I should make a slight change. The bragging rights are not the only thing enjoyed. (The quote said ”
    unless what you actually enjoy is bragging rights and not the experience itself.” It’s both, not just the bragging rights.

  • Anonymous

    No one is complaining about the game having a better story or includes a romantic interest (though some have complained about gay / lesbian ones, but I do not share that criticism). The complaint is that the game is easier and that makes it less fun because challenges are fun. (Or less fun because you can get much the same reward with none of the challenge).

    My retort I guess is “Imagine a video game is now a movie or one of those goosebumps books you read when you were a kid that told you to flip to different pages depending on how you wanted to navigate the story”

    Those are fine things, but they aren’t RPG video games. Dragon Age, thankfully is an RPG video game, but skipping all the combat, or making it stupifyingly easy for the casuals, would make it not one anymore.

    Also, if I were a woman I would be pissed at the implication that seems to be floating about in that interview that women aren’t good at playing challenging video games and just want to see people talking about stuff instead of actually doing the world saving… Would make me want to play and beat a hard RPG just to shove it in her face! :-D

    *This is in no way a defense of people using sexist insults*


    Feminist Propaganda

    Stop Keeping Us Men Down.
    Guy Gamerz 4 Lyfe

  • Daniel Tinkov

    I missed the whole BS about this(actually I stumbled upon this article investigating other gaming controversy), but I do think that Jennifer Hepler and the likes of her are the cancer of video gaming industry and are dumbing down the entire gaming experiences to the realms of the absurd.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with casual gaming. From time to time I enjoy a game of Angry Birds, or something ridicules that no serious gamer will call a computer game. I also enjoy a good story and if the game I’m playing doesn’t have a good story I tend to eject the disc from my XBox so fast that Einstein will have trouble fitting it into special relativity.

    This said, however, JH’s comments are beyond dumb! Video games are video games, not movies! If you like to just play casually open Google’s main page and play a doodle. If you want to get invested in a story, watch a movie/tvshow or better yet – read a book! Games are supposed to be played to be interacted with and picking from 4 different dialog options aren’t cutting it. Not to mention that BioWare games have stupid dialogs that a 5 year old child can write and you are not even allowed to see what you are saying before saying it. Well, at least this gives some gameplay element, being that you have to play a game of chance in order for your character to even say what you want him/her to say.

    Jennifer Hepler is the embodiment of the decline of video gaming. Instead of talented young people that can contribute with different point of view and innovation to a stagnating industry the likes of her are drafted(for dubious reasons) from other waning branches of the entertainment industry and asked how to make games better?!

    Her answer to the loaded question is not the baffling part, however, what is amazing is that after she comes along with an answer so ridiculously stupid there are people wondering why generation of gamers, that supported VG developers(i.e. gave them their hard earned money), are angry with her. Well they better be angry!

    Wait, their’s more to this! There is a thing even more amazing then the above. Apparently there are people that think that this have anything to do with her gender! Well, news flash – it doesn’t! last time I checked no one was angry(apart from small minority) at Jade Raymond. Do you know what the difference is? The firs one is sitting there complaining that the games are too complex and should be made more like TV series, the second is making kick-ass video games. Guess which one will be called the C word.

    Any game developer giving retarded comments is going to receive his/her share of slurs. Depending on his race and gender the slurs are going to be different  but the anger have nothing to do with their race, nor their gender. I remember when Diaktana came out, I used to call for the lynching of John Romero and calling him names you can’t imagine. No one is going to say this is because he is a guy, because it isn’t. It is because he is a self-important dick, just the way Hepler is…

  • Daniel Tinkov

    Only as much as saying “I will f you in the a**” to a guy in the heat of an argument, amounts to misandry. Threatening to kill or rape people is as old as insulting goes. Insensitive, stupid and overboard – yes, misogyny – no.

  • Marianne Ibbotson

    As a female gamer I may be mildly annoyed by sweeping generalisations by her regarding what female gamers supposedly like/dislike, but why not let the less skilled or more story-oriented people enjoy only the parts of the game they like? It’s not really that different to a level select cheat, there’s no need to feel threatened by a “let me skip parts of the game” option. To reiterate, an *option*. Not one I’d use myself, but I’m not gonna run off crying just because it’s there, just like I’m not gonna weep over good old Sonic the Hedgehog’s ▲ ▼ ◀  ▶ A + Start.

  • EqualRightsGoBothWays

    Ha, haha, hahahahahahahahahahaha!

  • Dick D

    What you are looking for is already out there. They’re called movies.

  • Anonymous


    Some points are made. But there is a fundamental error you are making.

    A game without “combat” is still a game. A game without “gameplay” is hardly a game at all. Now I know there are classic Adventure games without much gameplay at all. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t played them (I think they feature puzzles and stuff like that though). Just so we are clear there are quite few games in that genre I would like to play (Grim Fandango being on top). I also like Bioware games.

    Maybe it is because I have this completionist aspect concerning my entertainment. I don’t skim books I haven’t read and I don’t fast forward movies I have never watched. At best you could say I rush through some parts (speed reading) but you can often do that in games by avoiding certain side quests or secondary objectives.

    Still, I suppose the option to fast forward doesn’t hurt or perhaps it does.

    Maybe I am just being dramatic but games aren’t exactly a passive medium. I suppose you could compare to books where you have to flip the page or click or whatever, but games by their very nature require participation. I suppose it shouldn’t bother me what someone else is doing and I agree to point.

    I don’t love the gameplay in Deus Ex. Sneaking around and all that junk is my least favorite type of gameplay. I do love the story, as much of it as I saw. Perhaps having the ability to fast forward won’t be so bad but I can’t shake the feeling that that would be a step too far. I think interactive stories like you find in Deus Ex or Mass Effect or Fallout 3 or Kotor point the way to go as far as game storytelling is concerned because they are just that, “interactive.” Are they gameplay by them selves? Eh, I used to think so but not so much anymore.

    Anyway, as much as I love story based games there isn’t a single game I have ever played that I have played just for the story. This might change with those classic adventure games but for now the trend remains strong. A campaign with a crap story but superb gameplay can still be enjoyed and game with good story might possibly be enjoyable too though it would be harder, though I have never played a game with a good story and truly crap gameplay. Mass Effect 1 comes close but the gameplay is merely on the lower side of average with a story that also falters with some poor design decisions thrown in for good measure (same goes for Jade Empire).

    In fact, I am glad you mentioned Jade Empire. I would fall into the category of people who found it shallow and lacking options. I simply think Jade Empire is not very good. It is not that it was easy (I tend to play easy games). The problem is that there was no where to go. You could get new fighting styles periodically, the styles them selves were absurdly shallow. I don’t think it would have been too much too ask for a game where you could get the basics down easy and then progress deeper as you saw fit. I admit there were one or two advanced moves in there which I never got down but they did little to deepen the game in general. It was was a case of super easy suddenly skyrocketting to rather obscure and difficult.

    Never mind the canned moves. I get their inclusion in the game. When I first started playing 3D fighter on the PS I kind of enjoyed canned moves. It made me feel like a bad ass with just the slightest bit of effort and I got a visual payoff as well with some flashy manuevers. I have moved past that though. It was probably sparked by a certain external pressure that it was lame. They were sort of right. Such things provide a cheap thrill but I would have never known the sheer sublime pleasure contained in Assassination mode of RSV (an FPS). Or even in sussing out the intricacies of certain characters in VF4: Evo.

    But I remember when I first start playing 3D FPS’s. Navigation alone with dual analogue was not easy at all. So I get it. A lot of gamers probably get it too when they remember getting into already established genre’s that require skill. I suppose there has to be a way to ease in new players too.

    I don’t that the solution is in most of the ones people have suggested.

    A fast forward button? Yick! Somehow that idea fills me with dread. And this is coming from someone who plays games on easy. Still some people just don’t like the gameplay featured in most realtime games. Whaddaya gonna do. In the end, I am not more bothered by a forward button than I am with easier diffulties in games. But man the concept of buying entire games just for their stories is… I understand Adventure games. I even understand RPG’s. But what is the point of buying Half Life (a shooter people consider to have a good story) if you are not going to play it? How will you even get at the story if you don’t play as the story is woven so tightly through it. Or Bioshock. While I don’t buy the Half Life esque storytelling style as a stand alone thing for now, it is rather good at giving context

    Overly simplifying the controls? Now I dislike overcomplicated controls as much as the next guy but I think it gets to a point where it becomes so simple that it takes away from the experience. Of course, PC gamers say that about console gamers who play FPS and other PC originated games on consoles. Of course, I doubt any console FPS players would begrudge a control scheme that actually gave them more precise control while maintaining the convenient form factor and simplicity.

    Which brings me to my next point.

    I think one of the big solutions for atleast some of these concerns is a more natural method of interaction that at the very least maintains the current level of depth. The Wiimote WAS more natural but it made things far too simple. Sure, directly controlling Link Sword seems like a natural thing and with Zelda’s limited moveset it makes sense, but it is almost completely useless as far Ninja Gaiden or DMC are concerned (nevermind that as far as I have gotten with the game it doesn’t really work well and is fidgety).

    Also, more genre variety would be better for people that don’t like any kind of combat.

    However, if you are giving me game where the core gameplay mechanic is shooting (even supported strongly by other things) doesn’t it make sense to make sure that it does it well. Mass Effect’s gunplay is actually HARDER to use because of what I hear and presume were measures to make it simpler (the stat based stuff). The idea of stat based shooting isn’t terrible but it is like in attempting to make things simpler for non-shooter fans they somehow forgot to tighten the controls somehow making it more frustrating for everyone.

    And don’t knock ‘artificial prestige’ as you called it. There is a certain joy in pulling something off and knowing that you did it yourself through skill. Especially in shooters. Even fighters. As you learn the moveset of favorite character and pull them off, it is incredibly fun.

    Also, I got carried away. The way people reacted to what she said, going so far as to dig it up 5 years after the fact is complete bullshit. I don’t necessarily agree with her view points completely but I think what they did was dramatically out of line.

  • toenails

    can’t tell if author of article passed high school english

  • Lashan’ Lequef Shasha

    I’m going to write this in the most calm way I know how, WITHOUT trying to start and debates or flamewars to be posted below this comment:


  • Darth Cumin

    Jennifer’s point of view is admirable. True games are about story first and
    foremost. They promote positive moral values and atmosphere, even if,
    for the sake of diversity, ‘dark side’ choices are there to be made.

    Combat comes not even second. People with less brilliant hand-eye
    coordination and few patience for neverending fights and deaths and game
    reloads etc. should have the right to play games as well. Combat should be
    optional, not mandatory.

  • Darth Cumin

    Who said combat is the core mechanic??? That’s just a convention, it is subject to interpretation. “Action” may take the form of decisions, words, dialogue, pantomime etc. as well, it is not punching restricted! You should review your basic vocabulary, before making “ridiculous” claims.

  • Darth Cumin

    Why not skip the combat if that would be an option? Why would that bother you?? You may choose to fight or not. Games are about CHOICES, not about combat.

  • Darth Cumin

    Have you missed the word ‘optional’ in you ‘skip’ part?? Nobody would force you to skip, it would only be an extra option for those who prefer it that way.

  • Darth Cumin

    The character development is in the initial creation, followed by the moral choices you make, sides you pick, factions you support, values you stand, emotional involvements for etc. That is what a good story means, and that leaves you good memories to think about in the end, not how many heads you bashed.

  • Darth Cumin

    Games you mention offer a way too dark, depressive and horrible atmosphere. That may appeal to some, but not for all. As for good the story really is, that is a mix between the story’s universe concept and diversity of choices the protagonist/player makes…

  • Darth Cumin

    Exactly. That’s it. Real freedom for all, not just for the bloodthirsty brutes who hide behind the ‘tactician’/'strategist’ mask.

  • Darth Cumin

    You are right. ‘Optional’ is the key word here. Or, optional again, in Game Menu -> Settings, to drastically reduce the number of combat encounters and their difficulty. That would also work.

  • Darth Cumin

    Yes, exactly. If you ask me, even a story over combat game like Mass Effect still hasn’t plenty of story: dialogues, choices, romances etc. I would have preferred a choice where my Shepard could have gone rogue of a sort, having her own ship and answering to nobody, not the Council, not to Cerberus. Maybe forming her own faction and fighting her own fights, not the ones thrown at her by others’s orders. Something kinda what Jack proposed once…

  • Darth Cumin

    No. “Adventure” are more about puzzle solving, not much about character interaction or choices that affect the story’s outcome. “Action” may mean much more than just inept reduction to physical combat. Real games are not “adventure”, nor “action”, they are about human beings with souls and hearts. With feelings above reflexes!
    Think again.

  • Darth Cumin

    You really are a poor one. Why would it bother you if the option to skip combat is available as an option for some players, not mandatory for everyone??? Who are you to dictate me and others what to play? Idiot.

  • Darth Cumin

    He’s an idiot. Probably one of those gory/horror lovers who always complain that combat in games isn’t too difficult or too limbs-apart rewarding.
    The discussion isn’t even about story over combat, where story will always prevail, because we are humans with souls, not robots.
    If at least the combat itself would be well designed, making it less of a chore and repetitive time wasting cursing mechanics. If it would be easy enough, while supporting and adding to the story itself, for those who prefer to contemplate the beauty of animations, the dance of movements martial arts are about…

  • Kathryn

    This discussion was 10 months ago, and you’ve just gone and insulted me (that’s me you’re replying to, I’ve ended up with about a billion Disqus accounts)? Seriously. Stop it. Most of us have moved on from this discussion.

  • Darth Cumin

    Yes and no. Some people just want to relax, not concentrate a lot on fights, while still enjoying a good story, while still making decisions. Make an experiment and see in what case sales would be bigger.

  • Darth Cumin

    I concur. In many games, and I name Bloodrayne here, I had to resort to cheats in order to extract the benefit of an interesting story. Because the combat was either horribly difficult, or long enough to make me yawn, or both. Not to mention non-realistic, considering there’s a level of realism even in the deepest fantasy.
    Games should be about story first, and gameplay, true gameplay should be about choices, choices, choices in everything: how you want the interface to look, how easy and skippable the combat should be, what in-game factions to support, moral decisions, romances etc.

  • Darth Cumin

    Only in your mind “it is supposed to be shooty”. I suggest you hang a monitor with Mass Effect slideshows on the wall near where you play Counter Strike. That would be the perfect choice for you.

  • Darth Cumin

    At least, one point where you are right. Difficulties are not always logical. That is exactly why many players arrived to the conclusion that it’s better to avoid any kind of combat, rather than being forced to deal with enormous time consuming idiotic combat scenarios. They, the players, are the heroes of their own stories, and they want to prevail with dignity, not to reload after the 100-th death yet again… Nobody can deny them their basic rights, which wouldn’t in the slightest bit interfere with those who love more blood (like you). All players are content in the end, as long as one option doesn’t hinder another.

  • Darth Cumin

    Get lost with your ‘practice and experience’. You know what you need? A good new hide after somebody would tan your current. Why do you want to force people to play your way?? Why aren’t they allowed to have an extra gameplay option?? How would that affect your playing style, nuthead?
    Best games are exactly this: interactive novels with optional combat. The focus would be on character development and personality, on character interaction and moral, emotional choices.

  • Darth Cumin

    And you’re called a reductionist idiot. Crawl back in your grotto.

  • Darth Cumin

    Let people play have an extra option. Let them play their own story, the way they want.

    *sigh* I wish some people weren’t able to express themselves unless they had something really important and useful to say…

  • Darth Cumin

    Another dumb reductionist. Get back in your grave and let real people feel their own interactive stories.

  • Darth Cumin

    A lot. And I won’t even bother explaining the difference to you.

    Tip: use your head and make some associations between concepts.

  • Darth Cumin

    Skyrim is a failed game. Oblivion was much better and Oblivion was less behind Jade Empire, or KOTOR 1 & 2…

    Skyrim’s “story” is a joke, the “moral” choices are only second-rate smoke and mirrors. Your money though…

  • Darth Cumin

    No, the option would be to skip combat only, not the story choices you make. And before you say that’s not possible, better use your head!!!

  • Darth Cumin

    Exactly. But it’s so easy to throw stones, rather than make use of at least an ounce of empathy…

  • Lina

    I’m afraid that you are mistaken, or are otherwise replying to the wrong person. There is a big difference between a player skipping combat (using, e.g. a “kill all” script, as one can do in Dragon Age) and then going through the cinematics and conversations *on one’s own*, controlling their *own* character, and watching someone else’s recorded version of another player’s game with the combat skipped. In the latter, one sees only another’s choices, not their own.

  • Darth Cumin

    I stand for those that prefer to have an extra option, one that wouldn’t affect at all the gameplay of others. That extra option may appear as a button on the screen, which pressed would ask the player if they wanna skip that combat round. If skipped, the round is won in player’s favor, loot is automatically added to their inventory and they proceed with the game, either to the dialogue lines or the rest of exploration etc. The player would still play the game, of course.
    And, I’m sorry if I wrongly offended you.

  • Darth Cumin

    Would be an insult if I was wrong about your point of view. Such a discussion is never truly ended, it concerns a form of art – the Interactive Story – and the way some people, out of greed and carelessness, defile it with non-realistic, clumsy controls.

  • Lina

    You did not offend me, although you were being unnecessarily offensive. You and I are obviously in agreement, so I do not understand why you unnecessarily chose to insult me.

  • Darth Cumin

    I owe you an apology. The comment was made for Kaarel’s:

    “Would that really be any different from just watching the conversations and cinematics on YouTube? “.

    I accidentally pressed a wrong ‘reply’ button. I’m very sorry. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

    Yes, sometimes, I take a more aggressive approach in order to outline an obvious, pertaining to basic common sense, fact that people seem to intentionally omit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I never attack for no real reason, and that differentiates me from other Sith Lords… :)

  • Lina

    No worries — I was just really confused. ; ) Perhaps you should take a lesson from Darth Nutmeg and always attack (with reason, of course) with a smile on your face. : )

  • Darth Cumin

    Attacking with a smile on one’s face is often more hypocrisy than benevolence. It’s the Cause one fights for the final verdict, not the ‘politeness’ of the blows. Smiley or not, a fight remains a fight.

    Besides, something smells very bad in people who take mottos such as “F**k the Desert”. Maybe should take a lesson in picking better models.

  • Lina

    Disagreeing whilst being kind is not hypocrisy. A debate does not need to be an argument. ; )

  • Darth Cumin

    In any case, everyone picks their own poisons. Better we end this discussion here, before somebody makes an indisputable embarrassing stance…

  • Lina

    I congratulate you for being able to use a web search to procedure a dictionary entry. However, it does cause one to wonder how anyone could be capable of such yet fail to comprehend the reason that entries can include multiple definitions. Have a good day!

  • Darth Cumin


    And that was supposed to hit me or something? Nice try.

    1. “I congratulate you for being able to use a web search to procedure a dictionary entry.”

    I’ll pretend this simplistic irony tries to make me further explain things, rather than cover for your dissimulated half-truth…

    I also ‘congratulate’ you for using words loosely, without backing them up appropriately. Real life examples could have helped, but maybe you’re too ‘smart’ to use them…

    2.”However, it does cause one to wonder how anyone could be capable of such yet fail to comprehend the reason that entries can include multiple definitions.”

    Notions accept multiple definitions, in that you are correct. That’s a truism only, nothing new.

    In this particular case, YOUR concrete definition (I.E. “A debate does not need to be an argument”) is not to be found, though, baby…

    Sorry. Your punch only hit the wall. Use some plantago to alleviate the pain. Better luck next time! :)

    P.S. I apologize for both of us for this inconvenience. You were warned not to pursue this.

  • Lina

    lollerskates! You are very amusing. Do not allow anyone to ever convince you to change. : )

  • Darth Cumin

    My change was never the main point here. It was about Jennifer, and how they did denigrate her and her ideas. For such idiotic people I have no smiles, only sabers. And after I send them to oblivion, you are totally free and entitled to discuss the subtleties and could have been better-s of the discussions, fights, arguments, debates, quarrels etc. You may even write a whole book on the subject, I’m sure people will buy it and appreciate your suggested ‘changes’ more than my ‘barbaric’ intentions.

    Oh, and don’t forget to credit your master Nutmeg in there. Otherwise he might think you tried to steal his snacks, and his smiles may turn into grimaces…

  • Krahn

    You know, I agree with this Jennifer gal, and I especially agree with this “Darth Cumin” fellow. Too often am I playing a Real-Time Strategy game such as StarCraft and I find myself saying, “All this micro-management and unit-control is just not enjoyable for me. I mean, I love RTS games, but I can’t for the life of me build units fast enough, mine resources fast enough, manage my defense and offense, nor be tactical enough to actually ever defeat my enemies. But I love RTS games, I swear! I’m just not talented enough to ever win one match. Also, I just don’t have enough time in my busy life to devote to practicing or improving in any way to actually learn how to play well. I have a full-time job, a kid, and I’m going to school! What I’d really like is a mode called “Skip mode”. I should be free to choose this mode, because who are you to dictate how I play my own game – this RTS – which I love – and paid money for? In this mode, I should witness a montage of myself playing the game, where I automatically acquire resources, make troops, and triumph, and then I can get to the good part where it says that I have defeated the enemy, and it shows me the scoreboard of my stats, telling me just how awesome I did.”

    You know what, too? This reminds me of when I go to Kentucky Fried Chicken to buy some chicken. However I’m actually allergic to chicken, and too often I find myself saying, “Wow, here I am at KFC, and I really love KFC, I swear! But, I’m allergic to chicken, and I’m actually a vegetarian, and I’m actually not even hungry right now. But I’ve just purchased this bucket of chicken, with my hard-earned money, but if I eat it, I’ll die. Why can’t this bucket of chicken actually be me playing tennis with my friend Hank? See, I have a full-time job, a kid, and I’m going to school, and my favorite thing to do, which I have time for, and won’t kill me, is playing tennis with my friend Hank. KFC should include an option for their buckets of chicken to instead be me playing tennis with my friend Hank. Because honestly, who do you think you are to judge how I enjoy my bucket of chicken? I paid good money for it, therefore, my chicken should support the option to not be chicken, and instead be me playing my favorite pastime with my friend Hank. You know, because my favorite thing is actually KFC, and not that other thing I just said.”

  • Krahn

    “Darth Cumin,” I have an IQ test for you. Usually multiple choice has four options, but I’m going ahead and lowering it to two. Come on, “Darth Cumin,” I’m sure you can get this right!

    “Games” are primarily:
    A.) Gameplay; the interaction/understanding the player has of the game’s rules and elements, used to overcome the game’s obstacles
    B.) Story; gameplay is not important in games.

  • Darth Cumin

    Oh, I can get this very right:

    1. Your face, initial: GAMEPLAY of fists
    2. Your face, post factum: sad STORY of a deluded game theorist…

  • Nataruma

    I think having MORE options in a game rather than fewer would be a much more profitable outcome for game developers, and would also bring more games to the table that a wider spectrum of people can enjoy.

    Your argument as I have understood it is that a game designed as it should be needs to be played with its challenge mode intact and that it is the responsibility of the gamer to learn the mechanics and adjust to the game’s demands, fair enough, but the gaming industry is already moving away from this concept and in many games there are quite a few difficulty adjustments you can make to tailor your experience.

    More and more I’ve noticed, and especially in the single-player platforms, game developers are offering the gamer the choice of how they want their experience to go. Minimal combat? Use more or less spells, or none at all? All these adjustments are made to ensure that whatever style your market enjoys, there’s a challenge level that suits different people. This is the right way, in my opinion, to satisfy most people. It is naive to say that it would satisfy everyone, but I understand what Hepler was essentially driving at and I agree with the basic concept of her opinion while I disagree that it’s an issue strictly concerning female gamers.

  • T T

    Just because she is a woman doesn’t mean she speaks for all women.
    Those 38% of gamers who are women? Those of them that play violent video games DO like violence. Removing combat from video games will NOT appeal to them.

    The violence and gameplay mechanics don’t need to change to appeal to women, the very idea is ridiculously sexist. Nor are women developers needed in order to appeal to a women audience (but there is no reason for women NOT to be developers).

    A male development team is perfectly able to avoid offensive sexist dialog and allowing the player to choose their character’s appearance (not JUST gender)

  • Jess

    I think you missed something. Typically women don’t play video games growing up or as young adults because of various reasons. Such as parents not liking girls playing those games (of course, they only think of GTA-type games), being inaccessible to girls (if there are brothers, they may not let her), lack of relatable games, and just the fact that girls and adult women are often looked down on for playing video games. No one is saying to make all games without combat/violence. But to actually invest in some games that aren’t combat-heavy would get many more newbies into video games.
    Besides, there’s nothing wrong with playing a game that’s basically just an expansive story. I love FPS and other violent games but to be able to really get into a story sometimes would be incredible. This wouldn’t just bring in more women but new gamers in general. Just think about all of the new people finding out how amazing games are and adding their input towards future projects, possibly even working on them.
    I think we need more of this “out of the box” thinking for the future of video games. They could easily be so much more than was thought possible.

  • T T

    If parents are buying violent games rated M for mature audiences only and requiring a photo ID to purchase then there is a problem at home, if those same parents forbid their female children from playing those very same games they allow their male children then there is a big problem at home.

    If they allow their male children to exert authority over their female children to the point of forbidding the female children from playing video games then that is just insane.

    Making more violence free video games is not the solution to any of the above issues

  • T T

    I replied to this… but my reply is missing, odd. has it been deleted?

    Anyways to repeat what I said:
    1. Parents forbid girls from playing violent games while allowing boys to play them (even though GTA is rated for adults only and requires a photo ID to buy) is a problem at home and the solution isn’t “more non violent video games”
    2. I never said there is anything wrong with non violent video games. I said its sexist to claim that women don’t like violent video games and offered as proof that 38% of gamers are women.