Ubisoft sparked a bit of controversy last week when it was revealed that there wouldn't be any playable female Assassins in the upcoming Assassin's Creed: Unity for the Xbox One and PS4. The reason given by the game's Creative Director was that adding female characters would have meant double the animations, voices and visual assets, a task that would have been too difficult to accomplish when trying to meet the game's October release date. NPR spoke with members of the gaming industry last Friday, regarding this issue and the topic of diversity in gaming as a whole.
Among those questioned was Yusuf Medhi, the chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox, who agreed that criticisms regarding the lack of females in gaming were fair. He stated that Microsoft was very conscious about having women on stage during their conferences, but that the company desires to do more in the future.
Actress and comedian Aisha Tyler also spoke to NPR about her experience with the gaming community. The Archer star has hosted Ubisoft's press event for the last three years, and yet some gamers still doubt that she actually plays video games in her free time. Tyler noted that she has had to respond to these accusations numerous times, even while on the E3 show floor.
This is a group who has been excluded and now they're turning and they are excluding, and the irony and the hypocrisy of that is extraordinary. So I do a lot of calling people on that.
Ubisoft has responded to the massive amounts of criticism following E3, saying that they will work harder to represent women in future installments, though the issue of diversity doesn't stop there. Some astute viewers noted that there were more decapitations depicted during the combined E3 press conferences than there were women on stage, and that most of the people shown working in the industry have been Caucasian males. Notably, the controversy online, which led to a sarcastic Twitter hashtag regarding the alleged difficulty in animating females, shows that there are plenty of gamers who are passionate about seeing more diversity within the medium. Perhaps more game developers will take note of this while working on future titles.