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Feminist Frequency Tackles the Age-Old Question: “Are Women Too Hard to Animate?”

Over the past few years, a significant problem within games has become much more apparent: there is a lack of playable female characters. This new Feminist Frequency video gets a little more specific than that, asking why there are hardly any female combatants in video games.

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The video begins with the notorious example of Ubisoft’s gaffe regarding why there were no playable female characters in Assassin’s Creed: Unity‘s cooperative mode. Many of the excuses could be summed up in a now-infamous phrase: “women are too hard to animate.” At the end of the day, it felt like what Ubisoft was really saying was that they just didn’t care to add female characters. While they’ve since changed their tune (see: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate), there’s still something left to be desired elsewhere throughout gaming.

From there, the video enters into some more interesting territory in trying to understand why there are no non-sexualized female combatants. They correctly point out that when female enemies are included in a video game, the player is encouraged to engage in sexual or gender-based violence against these characters. As well, they’re all often placed into some incredibly titillating, often demeaning costumes that emphasize their sexuality over anything else (see: Saints Row: The Third‘s “Whored Mode,” and Hitman: Absolution).

In addition to this, the video makes a strong case as to why including more non-sexualized female combatants doesn’t necessarily promote violence against women. Put simply: when female enemies are presented as equals to the player and as active participants in whatever action is going on, then it doesn’t exactly count as violence against women—at least, not in the way that we all talk about in video games.

If you haven’t checked it out already, the video is well worth a watch in that it does a great job of recapping some of the more major controversies regarding female combatants and female playable characters while breaking down and analyzing some of the more recent trends we’ve seen.

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.

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