: Man Up: Do You Like To Play As A Woman?

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Man Up: Do You Like To Play As A Woman?

There is often much ado about either the lack of female protagonists in games or the portrayal of the ones we do have.

I think those are great conversations to have so that the increasing number of female gamers feel welcome in the hobby and the quality of the product can continue to increase. Whatever your opinion of the current state of things we have come a long way in certain areas since the old, old days.

What is discussed less often is the commonality of pixelated gender bending in games. Metroid blew everyone away early on when we got the reveal of Samus at the end. None of us knew we were playing as a woman and it was the 80's so it was a big deal. More and more though I see male gamers opting now and then or always preferring to play as a female lead.

I'm currently playing Beyond: Two Souls but it is such a human drama that I hardly even think about the fact that the protagonist is a female. However, I probably wouldn't have paid as much attention to something like Remember Me if it had featured a man. The game didn't turn out perfect, but I still say Nilin was an awesome character by the time you were through with that journey. Remember Me's game director Jean-Max Moris spoke of the challenge of creating a good female lead: “You have to avoid the pitfalls of making her just a damsel in distress or a sex bomb, because this is what you think would appeal most to the hordes of men that constitute your fan base." I believe he is right, and we saw a similar balancing act with the new Lara Croft.

Since the generation began I've slowly moved in favor of selecting a female protagonist for my RPGs when possible. The first time I played Mass Effect 2 I went with a male Shepard and it felt pretty stale, but the second time I created a female Shep and voila, more entertaining. I carried her over to ME3. I don't think it was just because the female voice actor was better either.

While I freely admit that I'm more inclined to have a female form in front of me for hours on end (however digitized that is) I also don't think that has much to do with why I now prefer to play as a woman in certain RPGs. It isn't as if I am hold up in my basement without female attention as the stereotype dictates either, but then maybe it is just because I prefer to surround myself with females over males that I trend toward playing them in my games too. It just seemed like a natural decision for me over time; if I was still a teenage gamer I would probably be weirder about it.

Perhaps it is just that games are a chance to explore something wholly different, so why not go as far outside your own personal experience as possible? I've read some people's own ideas: “I like agile characters, I prefer her weapon, game creators make nice female behinds.” I'm sure there are plenty of shallow reasons why so many of us do it, but I'd rather think that there are deeper reasons. I'd rather think that perhaps we want to see strong women in strong roles formerly reserved only for men. I'd rather think those internet comment sections full of “Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich” posts are from guys who are simply uncomfortable with their own proclivity to play as women when nobody is looking.

Men, tell us why you like to play as a female lead if you do, or go ahead and sound off on why you think it is an utterly strange thing for a man to do.

10/10/2013 David D. Nelson

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Comments (38 posts)

newchef
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:36:00 PM
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i dont usually care one way or another as long as the story and gameplay are good, granted if theres a choice i always choose a guy but thats probably because im a guy

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LowKey
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:41:49 PM
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You know, I've never really even given it alot of thought. I'm a guy, I play as a guy. Mostly out of instinct I suppose. Though online, I would never. I've heard alot of stuff from friends. Mostly guys who have female toons... Lol Dust 514 is bad for pervs who see a female toon...

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FoReVeR_0515
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:18:59 AM

Same here. I don't really think about it. I'm a guy, and when given a choice, I choose a male character. When not given a choice, I play as a female, and like I said, don't think about it much.

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Clamedeus
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:43:13 PM
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If the story is good and the game play is good I'll play as who ever, doesn't matter to me at all about gender when it comes to games. I usually play as a guy in most games (because i am a guy), but in RPG's i some times play as a female character, but i also make both a male and female character if the game will allow it on the same account etc.

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Caanimal
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:56:44 PM
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I think playing a female protagonist it just more fun... Game designers also tend to put more effort into female PCs, such as different choices in lines (when available) in games that offer up selectable responses, most of them to a rather humorous degree. Since most games tend lean towards male NPCs HEAVILY this created lots of opportunity to entertain the perverted little (or not so little) bits of our brains...

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, most games don't use the gender to effect the skills set, such as effecting agility(female quality) or strength(male quality)of a created character. Even in the VERY few games that do take that into effect I would lean towards female characters because I tend to go for agility based abilities, such as stealth, over brute strength.

Besides, I'd rather watch a female character swagger down a hall then watch some big buff dude blunder down said hall way. With how I play RPGs (over 400 hours of Skyrim, 250+ hours of New Vegas, etc, etc, etc...)I would rather watch a female than a male for THAT long, since I tend to play in 3rd player view...

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bigrailer19
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:01:33 PM
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I dont really care, it more or less depends on the game. If its a game with set character classes with a set sex and that character class appeals to me I pick it. Like Maya (Siren) in Borderlands 2. I loved playing as Maya too. Obviously in a game like Tomb Raider there isn't much of a choice but that certainly doesnt bother me. Nor, should it considering the vision.

However if I get to build my character and sex is an option I typically will pick male. I usually base thise character off of myself. Ive done quite well portraying myself in games like Oblivion and Fallout, even ME. Not sure why I do this but it makes creating ly character easy as I dont have to choose between which hairstyle I want.

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Vitron
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:19:18 PM
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Depends but I mostly play the female side if the character is preset. This might make me sound weird but I take character creation uh, "characters" seriously as they represent a persona ideal for me, so they're always male.

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PC_Max
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:22:25 PM
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I really do not think about it too much. Lara Croft I guess would have been the first female character I played, way back when with the oringial Tomb Raider. In recent years its would have been Faith in Mirrors Edge which to my mind was one of the best and fresh games of this gen.

Minus Lara Croft, the one thing I have noticed is the emotional differences the games play. More heart ache and such with the female protagonists. Usually, usually the male leads have be.. .uh hum... strong and cool... to get the job done. Less .. human to my mind. Less immersive cuz really you are not made to care about the character. It reminds you that you are only playing a game and a click/press away from a save or load.

Anyway, its fun to play whatever character gender they are. I suppose ethnic might be the next thing. Well, Faith was asian but do not see too many games that give you the choice. Only when and maybe there is character customization, but even thats few and far between.

I wait for the day when most games allow you to choose and customize a character to your wishes. But I can see how MAYBE they would have to take that in to consideration when developing certain specific storylines.

Anyway, the power of choice!

Keep playing!

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cLoudou
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:55:45 PM
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Yes, yes I do. If given a choice I will choose the female role.

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LegendaryWolfeh
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:10:04 AM
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As long as my female gets to have customizable giant breasts or string bikini's no problem. :3

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Draguss
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:31:10 AM
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Given the choice, I'll choose male. I once tried female in dragon age and found it very difficult to properly roleplay. That is, of course, only in the games I'm meant to roleplay in. I'm fine either way when it's an individual character with a story made specifically around them.

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Underdog15
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:47:04 AM
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Yup. Fetch Kinsman. Every time. FFXIV right now, too.

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cLoudou
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:52:22 AM

haha me too. Both of my characters.

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Knightzane
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 1:08:39 AM
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I've heard that "Whose (pardon my language) ass would you rather stare at the entire time?" By several people, and the truth is I don't stare at any characters behind the entire time. I play as a male character because I am male and it lets me get more involved in the game. When I played as Lara, It didn't bother me either, as it was her game. If it had a character create option I would have made a male character. It just gives me reason to play it. But if a game, as I said, features a female protagonist I have no issues playing it as a female. I normally don't go back and play it though, because I get bored and disconnected from it. Even if the female protagonist is a gorgeous set of pixels and polygons.

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kraygen
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:02:25 AM
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Personally I like to get involved in my characters stories and I like to write and I think of myself as being creative. So when given the choice of male or female, for me it all depends on the type of character I'm building.

Certain character types I often play as men and certain character types I often play as women. If I can play as a magic user with robes and such I always go male for that hooded, dark, secret past, look. If I'm playing an agile, acrobatic, combat type I tend to go female.

Every time I make a character in a game I try to build them to fit how I'm trying to play. Often when you get to create your character the story is more open, so I try to fill in the holes.

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Gamer46
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:26:14 AM
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For me it depends on the game, really. For Mass Effect I started the first game with a male character and female character and just felt like Jennifer Hale's voice acting was better and I decided to stick with the femshep, she seemed to be more badass to me while still maintaining a human element. No offense to the male voice actor for Sheppard, but when I played the first game his performance seemed kind of hollow, maybe it got better in later entries, but I knew I liked Hale's work so the decision was easy for me to stick with the female character.

For Saints Row, in the first game, the character was a male, so when I created characters for 2-4 I stuck with a male character and tried to keep him as close as possible to the character from the the first entry.

I don't really have a preference for male or female leads in more linear games though. As long as the game is good that's all I care about. I love the new Tomb Raider but I also love GTA V and the latter has 3 male leads.

Last edited by Gamer46 on 10/11/2013 2:33:08 AM

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Ather
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:35:32 AM
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With the RPG's, I do male because I am one, and I do things based on how I'd do them (especially for decision trees that effect out come.)

However, when playing Mortal Kombat, I always went for Sonya. I liked that she seemed a bit out of place compared to the men (remember, I'm coming off the age old men heroes, women damsels in distress), yet could handle herself. When playing Street Fighter 4, I found I did bets with Chun-Li. With X-Men Destiny, Aimi had the only decent backstory. It was either her, the mutie hater turned mutant, or the golden boy athlete. Blah to them.

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Beamboom
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 3:36:04 AM
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There are so many reasons why I always choose a female avatar.

There's obviously the shallow reasons. A graceful, elegant and agile femme fatale is just plain drop dead sexy. And the armours and outfits typically found in games (especially RPGs) don't exactly undermine that sexyness.

But there's more.
When I think back to for example Fallout 3 and the story with the daughter of that scientist and all the things she experienced, I remember it like I directed that story. It wasn't me, I just created her, like a fictional character. I get interested in my character - I think she's cool, and I get emotionally attached to her from that perspective.

When I play a beefy man it's all about stats and damage, I don't really care about my character per say. He's just a vehicle.


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/11/2013 3:36:50 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 10:22:43 AM

Very good point. I have little attachment to male characters.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 10/11/2013 10:23:15 AM

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___________
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 4:02:35 AM
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as long as it feels right and fits the story yea i dont see why not.
but thats the problem allot of games just do not suit women, i mean can you see trevors character being played by a women?
i mean you meet him for f*cks sake banging a bikies GF then when he gets the sh*ts with trevor he threatens to bang him instead.
and a girls going to react like that?
sure, and pigs fly backwards while reciting the national anthem juggling 10 flaming torches!

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Fane1024
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 4:24:17 AM
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I can't remember the last time I created a male character...possibly never in a console game. Most of my tabletop RPG characters have been male, but I have played a few female characters over the years, the first when I was about 14.

Aside from all the reasons given by others, the very nature of the character creation process may also be a factor. If I'm going to spend an hour or more tweaking a character's face, I want to make that character attractive and I find that easier with females.

It's also now probably more habit than anything else, since my characters are pretty much versions of the same (fictional) woman.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 10/11/2013 4:32:20 AM

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Beamboom
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 9:00:11 AM

Ah yeah, that too: Character creation is simply much more interesting with a female character.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 10:24:44 AM

Definitely more fun creating a woman.

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Fane1024
Saturday, October 12, 2013 @ 4:37:44 AM

As an aside: Beam, why haven't you logged onto PSN in over half a year?

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Beamboom
Saturday, October 12, 2013 @ 8:50:55 AM

I don't use that machine any more. I do my gaming on PC these days, until the PS4 arrive!

You on Steam too, Fane? Or only on console?
My nick on Steam is the same; Beamboom.

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Fane1024
Sunday, October 13, 2013 @ 12:55:06 AM

Sorry, Beam. I don't have a PC and wouldn't game on it if I did.

No Windows for me.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 5:44:44 AM
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idk i usually pick male roles outta instinct i guess i don't have a problem playing a female if thats what the lead charater is TLOU or tomb raider for instance both great gams i like em both have a game or part of a game where you play as a strong female characters i don't mind at all i mean it's nice to have a change once in a while. i mean when you don't have a choice i don't mind too much aye.

happy gaming =)

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Lawless SXE
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 9:02:27 AM
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I really like games that feature strong female characters, and I usually enjoy playing as them more in directed games, even though it is so rare. When it comes to character creation RPGs, I find that it so rarely has any real impact on the gameplay that I go with what I'm more conditioned to, i.e., playing as a guy (I'm definitely gonna go FemShep when I get to ME, but).

I don't know why that it. Maybe it's because females are more emotive than males? But then, even when I think of my favourite characters in any book, it's usually a woman... Hmm. This topic could give rise to a really fascinating psychological discussion among the right people... Top work, Dave.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 10:25:28 AM

Thank you old sport :)

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Ludicrous_Liam
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:09:50 AM

I don't know what it means psychologically, but I always create a man when I play those RPGs based around your created character. I guess it's because, when it's asking for those very minute details (hair colour, weight, are you strong or do you like to talk through things) I feel like it's asking to create a digital version of me. Because, there's only my own self where I can draw those details from, and obviously I'm a male (:p).

But like you, I enjoy the game just as much when I'm forced to control a woman. That's what I like about linear games - they force you into a perspective you wouldn't normally want to play a game with. You can make the player do things they wouldn't normally do, or even agree with. But because you play from their perspective...you understand why they do things much better. If it's done correctly (creating feelings of empathy), then it's super-effective.

(sppppooooooilllllerrrrrrrrr)

Playing as Ellie in TLOU was so awesome. Especially the boss fight with David (lol...ironic :p). Like we know as the player if we were Joel, this scrawny guy would get his face smashed in with the first attack you do. That use of interchanging perspectives really reminds you, and you're hoping for Joel to get there in time. So when you finally attack him for the 3rd time, you can really feel the anger when she's mashing his face with the machete - because we've been playing from her (somewhat) weaker perspective when in combat. Obviously that's not the reason she's distressed, as it's that very gamey way of doing things, but you can still relate that sort of empathy.

Then Joel comes in and you're like...I did it all by myself in the end. Ellie's a survivor just as much as Joel is. Sure this could've all been done with a cutscene creating a very similar emotional response, but the feeling of empathy was much stronger for me when I was playing as Ellie - I mean I felt like a scared little girl, hoping for Joel to burst in. But obviously you gotta do it yourself.

Edit: And when I look at the title of the article, I realise that the game is still fun when playing as Ellie, and that's very important. Because when you escape David, you only have yourswitch blade. Using it in melee will get you killed, whereas using it in stealth is even more effective than with Joel (because it's unbreakable), just that it takes longer (like the fight with David). And you only ever end up with 2/3 revovler bullets, so that's only emergencies (just as Joel tells you!). So even though you have to avoid gun combat, going through that whole escape is still really fun.

(end spoiler)



Last edited by Ludicrous_Liam on 10/11/2013 11:20:38 AM

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daus26
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 9:14:23 AM
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I was excited to play Lightning in the early days of XIII, before I knew its many flaws. Point is, that it's exciting to me when play a strong female protagonist, especially one that isn't overly sexualized.

If I were to choose, I always play as men though. It's something that I always try imagine my own situation rather than imagining a different character altogether.

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Nas Is Like
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:23:52 AM
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No, not really.

I'm playing Tekken a lot, and literally never play as a female. Don't know why, but I just don't.

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Brighat
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:46:09 AM
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I have no problem playing as a female character. My character in Saints Row 2 and 3 was female. I would model her after Jennifer Burton and have her wear all sorts of outfits; though I was attracted to the business suit the most. Nothing more alluring than seeing her doing a "genie dance" in a business suit as a taunt during a firefight. I would like to see the DLC or GTA VI feature a female character as a lead. Too many games that allow you to play as a female are in games where you have a generic stock character (Mass Effect, Saints, Borderlands) and not somebody like you saw in Fear Effect in Hana Tsu-Vachel.

Last edited by Brighat on 10/11/2013 11:46:30 AM

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SirGameOver
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:35:15 PM
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I love playing with female characters that are built in, Bayonetta, Hope, just to name a few more significant ones. Umm if the girl would suck on a game i wouldn't but come-on Mortal Kombat girls give you a reason to pick them. When creating my own character, I usually make a male to represent me but after that I definitely don't mind making a female because at the end of the day I get a bit more satisfaction whooping people with a female. It seems like people are embarrassed when they lose to girls so its just a way for me to relish my victories. Bottom-line, If the character is good, it doesn't matter whether they are a girl of guy.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 1:05:45 PM
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I'm the opposite for Mass Effect. I try to play as someone just like me. I've tried doing the angry woman Sheppard thing and I just feel bad.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:56:59 PM
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I agree ^ there, I don't care what gender I play with, as long as the story/gameplay is good.

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sobleck
Saturday, October 12, 2013 @ 8:38:47 AM
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I like any character so long as it makes sense. A good character is a good character. Nariko was perfect for heavenly sword, yet I wouldn't have appreciated a woman in God of War, because it just worked the way it is. So I'm not less likely play a game if it has a woman in it, it just needs to be a good story with a well written character.

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PharaohJR
Sunday, October 13, 2013 @ 4:44:55 PM
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if optional its man, if a linear story i dont mind women. reason being i enjoy characters that reflect me to a certain aspect... example of linear is Mirrors Edge, Tomb Raider & Beyond TS etc those i can deal with. optional in fighting games its majority male but its some female characters that have slick moves i can run with...... when vs somebody with lot of lip but their combat skills weak i pull out select female characters. if its custom character i dont even check female options.

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