This Ad Modded Video Games So the Men Behave Like Women

The results are sort of delightful

Let's start with some Serious Stats: Half of gamers worldwide are women. But women comprise just 22 percent of gaming-studio employees. And though women tend to spend the lion's share of money on mobile games specifically (incidentally, one of the biggest ways even off-mobile games generate income), marketing and character design still primarily focuses on the male user.

This sucks. There are tons of reasons for these details, beginning with women's forced exodus from tech and sustained through a wearying barrage of sexism. But all of that is really just context for Women in Games France's latest campaign, #GenderSwap.

For the ad, agency BETC Paris modded a bunch of existing video games, replacing male character movements with gestures typically reserved for female characters. We're actually sort of charmed by this … ?

Women in Games | #GenderSwap

The press release for the work led with a question: "What if video game heroes rolled their hips to send an important message?"

We'll start by saying the point makes it home. Yeah, gaming is full of women wearing totally impractical outfits for their purposes. But beyond that, #GenderSwap also made us aware of how women move in these games: seductively, kittenishly, languid in their arms, wading through industrial warspace as if through the gentle waves of a Mediterranean beach.

This is objectively ludicrous and embarrassing. That the trope survives at all makes us wince.

But the ad also awakened us to another possibility: We're kind of delighted by the sight of muscly male characters sashaying and stretching like cats, rolling deliciously over concrete like they're being tickled by coquettish breezes.

Female characters could definitely use less of that. But could male characters have more? It would go a long way toward teaching boys (and, yeah, men) that they can be any way they want in their bodies. And it merits saying that if women are to be freed of these stereotypes, then both sexes in gaming could use a few tweaks in approach (not to mention we could also use more sexes overall). 

I mean, we've got LilNasX now.

#GenderSwap went live Feb. 15. For two days, selected streamers—including Morrigh4n, Kaosvmd, Red Fanny, Adyboo, Hiuugs, Modiiie, Nimelya and Titavion—ran it on their Twitch channels. Examples of modded video games are also listed on the Women in Games France website, and on its Discord server.

"Some of the scenes that we collected had already been shared online, but some others had not. When all grouped together, it shows how large the issue is and we hope it will help realize how severe it is. Things are starting to change," says Morgane Falaize, president of Women in Games France. 

"Some exceptions to this representation exist; but for one Aloy in 'Horizon' or Ellie in 'The Last of Us,' there are dozens and dozens of female characters that are often way too cliché. Just like the film industry, television and advertising, video games have a profound impact on people's representation of the world that we live in and the interactions that we have with others."

Created in 2017, Women in Games seeks to double the number of women and non-binary individuals working in gaming over the next 10 years. It focuses on four pillars of action: improving women's visibility in the sector, raising awareness of diversity's positive impact in gaming, supporting the professional development of female employees, and educating young girls about industry jobs.


Campaign: #GenderSwap
Brand: Women in Games
Brand Managers: Morgane Falaize, Lamise Guenni, Victoria Cribier
Ad Agency: BETC
Agency Manager: Catherine Emprin
Executive Creative Director: Stephane Xiberras
Creative Directors: Arnaud Assouline, Benjamin Le-Breton
Copywriter: Matthieu Bouilhot
Art Director: Marie Glotin
Assistant Art Director: Corinne Chamoun
Creative Technologist: Lionel Sarrazy
Creative Consultant: Sebastien Delahaye
Producer: Fanny Perrier

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Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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