Animating women is hard, guys

If you’re living under a rock, you might not have heard that James Therien, technical director of Ubisoft, said that Assassin’s Creed Unity will not feature any playable female characters.

“It was on our feature list until not too long ago, but it’s a question of focus and production,” Therien explained. “So we wanted to make sure we had the best experience for the character. A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes [inaudible]. It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it’s something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision… It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of game development.”

So you can’t add a female protagonist because wow, that perky bum is hard to do just right. And the hair! I mean, looking at the vast amount of exposed skin on the male characters, I can see why a female character would be drastically different:

dudebrosYou’d have to cut a boob window into that cloak, for one. They had nine studios working on this game, and that was just for the male characters. Imagine how many more they’d need to add to get some realistic breast physics in there.

You know, I feel like I heard this whole argument recently. When was that? Oh, right.

Frozen-Anna-and-Elza

“Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry.”

So what is it that makes men easier to animate? Is it because males are not supposed to be emotional, so you can plaster on an expression of grim determination and be done with it? Is it because it’s a lot easier to reuse the same character design from the last game and not bother thinking up a new one? Or does it just come down to the tired old argument that women don’t play video games and men won’t play games with female protagonists?

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2 thoughts on “Animating women is hard, guys

  1. What annoyed me more was Ubisoft’s statements that it would have been to much work load. So yeah shame on you women having bits that are time consuming to animate!
    Also didn’t Far Cry 3 have a female co-op option, so why hasn’t number four can’t next gen handle boob physics as well as the previous one?
    The industry needs to become a bit more equal as a whole really, it isn’t just Ubisoft they are just the baddy at the moment!

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    • Yeah, it’s absolutely a problem endemic in the whole industry. It’s a shame Far Cry 4 is taking a step backward. To be honest, I’ll still probably buy it since I enjoyed the last one, but it’s frustrating! I saw a post on Tumblr where a few animators were talking about what bullshit it is to say that women are hard to animate. I think it comes down more to “why should we expend the effort in adding a playable female character when men are going to be the only ones playing these games”, which isn’t even true. Still, I think the fact that this is even something people are talking about right now is a step in the right direction. Maybe some of these companies will consider adding in some ladies to avoid the same outcry with their next game.

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