Tropes vs Videogames

Let's talk about something besides AirMech for a minute

You may or may not be aware of the controversy surrounding Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter project, but I'm really happy that the trolling and harassment only seemed to help raise more money for her video series. You can read a summary on her blog about it, and she has also gathered links of more sites discussing the whole thing in more detail.

So why I am I posting about this here, when it's already covered in such detail by the gaming press? After some discussions with other game developers, I realized that what most of us accept as common sense (that the people harassing Anita are deplorable trolls), it's not often that we as game developers can come out and say our opinions on the matter. I'm sure most publishers cringe at getting involved in controversy of any kind, but since we have no publisher well I guess I can say whatever I want. So this is what I want to say:

Anita, know that you have the support of a lot of game developers out there. Many of us are guilty of perpetuating stereotypes that are unfair from a race, culture, or gender perspective. I'm glad you are calling the industry out on this stuff. While often we rely on these tropes to present something familiar to our audience, we make mistakes and go too far sometimes. We are listening, many more than can publicly admit it, but we are listening.

Early AirMech pilot concept art

Above is a concept image for our AirMech pilots from pre-production. The rendering style has changed, but our intention was to create a wide variety of characters and this is only the first round of them. Our Art Director is a woman herself, and has been given free reign to design the characters as she wants. Because they are pilots of giant robots and are non-military, we didn't impose any restrictions on how she designed them. That's one part I'm happy with at least because they don't have to wear "skimpy armor" or something that makes zero sense.

Fat Princess

Many of you know we are also the team who created Fat Princess. Again, Weng Chen created all of the characters for that. The only thing I feel a bit bad about there is the actual name and how it can be taken. Our producer (not part of Carbon) insisted on naming the game Fat Princess, which I'm sure led to more controversy and sales, but it was not something I personally thought created a good impression of the game. If you actually played the game, you'd see that no one is making fun of the princess, and that it's a gameplay hook that she changes size. You love her and are determined to rescue her no matter how big or small she is.

There was a lot of controversy around Fat Princess back in the day, and while we were forbidden to say anything publicly about it, I was really disturbed by a lot of the comments. In particular it was the "fans" in support of us and taking revenge on the bloggers who were upset by what they perceived as us making fun of overweight women. I was just disgusted by it all, because I really don't want those kinds of "fans" who are just cruel internet trolls.

Back to the original point, things are not always as they seem. I applaud Anita for having the stomach to deal with what she is dealing with, because I can't say I would be able to. I hope she and others like her continue to voice their thoughts and concerns, and that they know we as game developers are listening. And to you the audience, if you have read this far, you should really watch this video that explains better than I can why we need to stop with all this nonsense