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343 hopes to set an example for fighting gender stereotypes in Halo 4

343 Industries believes developers have a responsibility to ensure their games don't encourage sexist behaviors in their players -- or in the game industry -- and kept that idea in mind while designing Halo 4.
343 Industries believes developers have a responsibility to ensure their games don't encourage sexist behaviors in their players -- or in the game industry -- and kept that idea in mind while designing Halo 4. Studio head Bonnie Ross acknowledges the perception many have of Xbox Live as being rife with players making offensive and sexist comments against others. While the service often bans those players, Ross told GameSpot in a recent interview that developers also need to think about how their games will be perceived before sending them out, to help hinder that kind of behavior. "As developers, we have a personal responsibility to think about how our games come across," she said. "With Halo 4, we were very deliberate in thinking about who should be female and who should be male in the game, and if we came off stereotypical, we went back to question what we were doing and why." The game's executive producer Kiki Wolfkill adds that games not only reflect the culture of their developers, but also reflect consumer responsibility depending on their success or failure. She argues that successful games that depict women in a respectful, non-stereotypical manner can help change people's perception of the industry as one dominated by males, and mostly serving male audiences. A recent survey found that nearly 80 percent of gamers believe that sexism is prominent in the games community, and 60 percent of female respondents said that they had personally experienced some sort of harassment while playing games online. 20 percent said they were even after the game ended, they were followed and bothered online by a male player. Microsoft can only do so much to stamp out that kind of behavior on Xbox Live Arcade -- Ross believes developers also have to step up to address sexism in the game community and industry.

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