in Video Games

‘Final Fantasy XV’ Has An All-Male Cast Because It’s “More Approachable” Without Women

Final-Fantasy-XV

Oh, Final Fantasy.

As a loyal fan who honestly is a little too used to being treated like this when it comes to most of the media I enjoy, I tried my hardest to close my eyes and plug my ears and go “lalalalala” when it came to the pervy focus on breast jiggle physics in Lightning Returns. I side-eyed the fact that the first incarnation of Cid that’s female must therefore fix all cars in booty shorts and a bikini top and have lingering shots on her boobs and ass in every scene she’s in (and doesn’t charge the boys for repairing the car? What’s up with that? Cidney needs to eat and pay her rent too, c’mon) but comforted myself with this mantra: “female Cid, boss ass mechanic, that’s actually a cute jacket, female Cid, boss ass mechanic…”

Now this?

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In a recent GameSpot interview, game director Hajime Tabata explained why the upcoming game’s party consists solely of men:

“Speaking honestly, an all-male party feels almost more approachable for players. Even the presence of one female in the group will change their behaviour, so that they’ll act differently. So to give the most natural feeling, to make them feel sincere and honest, having them all the same gender made sense in that way.

“The world might be ready to see the curtain lifted on what boys do when girls aren’t around, when they come out of the tent all prim and proper. That’s kind of the idea behind it… we think, male or female player, that everyone will feel a certain connection and bond with the four characters.”

Right. Because all men are completely incapable of true honesty or being themselves while around women. Platonic relationships between men and women don’t exist. God forbid there be a woman in the party, otherwise the boys will have to hold back on the potty humor and fall all over themselves trying to open tent flaps and pull out chairs and protect her when a big scary monster starts trying to kill them all. Oh, wait, that’s bullshit.

Tabata goes on to describe the game’s “boys will be boys” vibe. And in that moment, I swear, we were all accosted by memories of that “Guys being dudes!” vine.

I still do want to play Final Fantasy XV, because it looks gorgeous and the early reviews are decent enough and I really really want to make Ignis cook me ramen all the time, but this whole debacle has colored my thoughts on it and dulled my excitement by a lot. I actually was okay with there being an all-male cast for the game, at least before this interview came out. My reasoning was thus: it certainly would have been better if there were more visible and playable female characters, but this is one game out of many, many Final Fantasy games, and the franchise as a whole has brought a ton of awesome women to our screens. I’d thought that the crew just happened to be all men, was interested in seeing their friendships and stories play out, and had hopes that the few women we got glimpses of were handled well (Cidney’s iffy character design aside).

But if this is the mindset in which Tabata and co. are creating Final Fantasy XV, I don’t know how “natural” it’s going to feel. If anything, Tabata has gone and made this game less approachable for me. What a shame.

  • Josh Kroke

    he could have said it better, but he’s not /wrong/. Guys act different around there guy friends, and even one girl changes that behaviour, even if just a little. the games about a group of guys travelling together and it explores the idea of male intimacy (not in the gay way). It’s in no way sexist, and Tabata wasnt trying to be. Lets not forget we have had a game prior that was all women. Nobody made them justify that. It sort of irks me that, now that its men, it requires justification, and is called sexist.

    • Like I said, I don’t have an issue with the game’s playable characters being all men. My issue is how Tabata presented his reasoning – that an all male cast was somehow more easily relatable to players (does it feel like he’s assuming a predominantly male gamer demographic? Idk), or that the differences between men and women are so great that men can’t really be “themselves” around women. Maybe that wasn’t what he meant, in which case yeah it could’ve been phrased better, but I never said that it was a sexist game for having an all male cast. Only that the assumption that an all male cast is somehow “more approachable” seems ridiculous to me.

      I get that XV is trying to tell a certain type of story, and that group and friendship dynamics are typically complicated due to a variety of factors, gender identity and societal perception of gender roles being some of them, but based on my experience the presence of someone of different gender shouldn’t be drastically changing peoples’ behaviors. Not saying they HAD to have included a female character, moreso that if writing in a single character of different gender makes someone think the characters/relationships that THEY THEMSELVES ARE WRITING are going to come off unnatural or dishonest, then they maybe have some very uncompromising “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” concepts about something that’s pretty complicated.

      (Also, Final Fantasy games have been pretty diverse in terms of male and female party characters which I’ve always appreciated, but in the grand scheme of gaming, games that boast an all female cast are a drop in the ocean compared to all male or predominantly male casts. Jussayin. FFX-2 was tight though.)

      • Josh Kroke

        sorry if i came off as offensive at you or anything, i didn’t actually mean too, I’ve just been seeing people everywhere calling it sexist and the like and its just sort of… annoying. And while the changes aren’t necessarily drastic, they’re definitely present, and noticeable. I’ll admit though, i think it’s something that sort of goes away the older you get. That said, the party is definitely Young man, probably in the very early 20’s, at the point where the behavior would still be predominant. if there’s a woman around, they suddenly have to be impressive and different, gotta look good for the ladies mentality. Even when you get close to the women, even than that sort of thought process is still subtly there, and you sort of unconsciously do things you wouldn’t if it was just you and your pals, which is what Tabata wants to show. And by approachable, he less meant “A story with all guys is easier to see than a mixed story” and more like… a story about this sort of, Bro relationship, is easier to sympathize with, because many people out there, men, and women, have that sort of relation ship with there same gendered friends. Though i will agree, he really should have phrased it better, that statement was just /asking/ for him to be ripped apart. This is his first real major time under the spotlight game wise though, so I feel i can kind of cut him some slack for that, he needs to watch himself though.