Gears of War Wouldn’t Sell With A Female Protagonist, Epic Claims

The makers of Gears of War: Judgment don’t think a woman would make for a good protagonist. According to Epic Games’ art director Chris Perna, a female lead character would be “hard to justify” in any future installment of the series.

Speaking to the Official Xbox Magazine, Perna shared his belief that a Gears title with a woman at the forefront would hurt the game’s sales potential.

“That’s certainly interesting but I don’t know. If you look at what sells, it’s tough to justify something like that,” said Perna, who spoke at length about the series’ portrayal of women, whom he describes as “butch”.

“In Gears you kind of need dirt. If you want to create this attractive, stereotypical, sexy female—a lot of games do that and it’s kind of cliché at this point,” he said.

“You see the implants and the blonde hair and pants and you roll your eyes—it’s almost like the game geek’s idealization of what a woman should be. I think because we didn’t go that route we have more believability… we’ve got more butch characters.”

“They’re still feminine,” he went on. “Anya in Gears 3 comes across as being very feminine, and I think it works.”

Regardless of Epic’s decision to shy away from female protagonists, I can’t help but laud their decision to not sex up their characters for the sake of fanservice.

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9 Comments on Gears of War Wouldn’t Sell With A Female Protagonist, Epic Claims


On February 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I think it would be hilarious to see a female head on one of those steroid pumped character models that gears is known for (well, more like most of Unreal Engine games are known for)


On February 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

So, epic doesn’t want to use cliche looking females, but then falls into the cliche of avoiding a female lead because the game “won’t sell.” The Gears series has sold so many copies that it seems like the next game would still sell very well, even with a female lead. But then again, when something gets that popular, there is a tendency to get very conservative with the decisions because any decrease in sales is considered a failure.


On February 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Ah, Chris, ever heard of a show called “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”? If you didn’t know, it’s been quite a hit amongst the same demographic that buys gears of war games.

Ergo, you have little excuse to not have a female protagonist; and me personally, I’m kinda tired of playing as boring, bland, copy-and-pasted heterosexual white male protagonists


On February 17, 2013 at 5:01 pm

2 words.
Character Creation.


On February 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

1) I see absolutely NOTHING laudable about what he said or their “decision”. I don’t think it’s at all praiseworthy that they seem to think that their only options would be to sex a character up, or to not include them at all as an option. I also think it’s a little B.S. to suggest that their characters haven’t been “sexed up”:

2) It’s really nice to be told that I won’t buy anything that doesn’t star a cliche woman or a giant dude. But OK.

3) “the game geek’s idealization” – thanks for showing me what you think of the folks that pay your salary. Really awesome.


On February 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm

While I absolutely agree with you that there is nothing laudable about what Perna said, I have to disagree that Anya was overly sexualized. There may be a wallpaper that sexes her up (and really, it is not that bad), but in-game she is wearing heavy armor and all.

And more than the character model, it is how a female character that should be the basis of judgment. Triss Merigold in Witcher 2 is extremely sexed up, but she is her own character and does not exist just to please the player. That differentiates her from a lot of other female characters and is a step in the right direction.

Finally, I found the “geek’s idealization” comment really funny and very telling of Perna. He uses the stereotype of a typical gamer to argue that a stereotypical female character is the said gamer’s ideal fantasy. Way to show off your internal biases.


On February 18, 2013 at 12:06 am

This makes my brain hurt.

I realize that there has probably been all kinds of market research done, and I’m not claiming that the people doing said research are drunk simians (I’m just implying it), but what I want to know is has anyone actually tried releasing a game with a “butch” female protagonist? Sure the ultra macho idiot frat boy crown will hate it (and I’m not convinced that demographic or the misogynistic unwashed nerd is as large as everyone seems to think it is, they’re just very loud and obnoxious), but everyone else? I think they’ll just be happy that we’re still supposed to take a story featuring chainsaw bayonets seriously.

I also appreciate being told what my idealized woman is. Good to know that epic is monitoring my thoughts and thus perfectly reads what I, personally interpret as sexy.

Oh and just for record, I find the idea this supposed sexy dream girl is an inherently bad thing to be a little bit offensive. Fanservice, when done right, is not in fact evil. It is possible to create a conventionally sexy character without it being sexist or exclusionary.


On February 18, 2013 at 12:21 am

I wonder if this is the same market team that conducted “market research” for Bioshock Infinite by walking around a fraternity for a day asking fratboys what they thought of the different game covers.


On February 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm


That’s all I can say.

Epic’s game Unreal had a female protagonist, and I had no problems with this.