Captain's Log: Aliens and Women

Happy Women’s Day!

In Captain’s Gambit, our cast of characters involves aliens, but of course based on Shakespearian characters from centuries ago. While we’ve kept the names and pronouns of the original characters, it was a conscious decision to design the female captains as such that we didn’t give them all cis-mammal-human characteristics. But it’s actually a fairly complicated issue that boils down to - how do you make representation obvious without perpetuating stereotypes?

In Favour of “Female-Looking” Aliens

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There’s two sides to this question that we wrestled with when designing the captains: on one hand, having visually identifiable “human female” presenting captains means that onlookers and players can easily recognize that women exist. This won’t be a blog post discussing the argumentation in favour of representation, but essentially that’s the upside of having ”female”-looking aliens: visual indicators help players recognize the act of representation, and with that, all the good empowerment and single-brick-deconstruction of patriarchal norms. Conversely, if nobody ‘looks like a woman’, there’s the question of whether or not there’s female and femme representation at all in the game - would it look like Captain’s Gambit is trying to “hide” the presence of women?

In Favour of Aliens Looking Like Aliens

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There’s the other hand, though: particularly relating to biological essentialism is the fact that there is no way aliens would share the same gendered visual stereotypes that humans do. And, looking at how we’ve designed men with such a variety of body types, it seems not just stifling but also uncomfortably focused on gaze and appearance to try and design all the women in Captain’s Gambit within a box. The implicit throughlines one would draw from comparing genders seems gross if we were to make every woman in Captains’ Gambit “look feminine”: why constrain the appearance range of one gender?

Wait

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Yeah, the path is obvious in retrospect, huh? Just do both! Multiplicity is key, and is what I think other media often mess up: by having only one person of a group, or every person in that group represented the same, there’s an uncomfortable burden for that character to embody the complex and multifaceted nature of anything falling under “womanhood”.

So yes, some captains look cis-human-female (mostly via eyelashes) but others don’t look humanly-female but are still women. And now you know why! My hope is that it’s never even crossed your mind until now - I want to normalize this stuff, and I hope we’ve been successful.

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Stay lofty!

PS: We recognize the patterns with the win conditions of most women in Captain’s Gambit… blame Shakespeare’s narrow scope of characterization. If you do have characters you’d love to see in future expansions or stretch goals, let us know!