Ridley Scott’s featured some fantastic fictional women over the years, but perhaps none are more beloved than Alien‘s Ellen Ripley. James Cameron’s Aliens then added to the kickass female roster with characters like Vasquez, Ferro, and Dietrich, and even the most recent installment of the franchise — the prequel Prometheus — featured prominent female character in the form of Shaw and Vickers.

All of which makes it a little surprising and deeply disapointing that Gearbox Software gives women the short shrift in its upcoming release Aliens: Colonial Marines. The multiplayer shooter reportedly won’t include any playable female characters, only male ones. Not surprisingly, that decision isn’t going over so well with some of its intended audience, and at least one of them is doing something about it: Gamer Melissa K has started a petition demanding the inclusion of at least one such character before the game’s February 2012 release. Read more after the jump.

Melissa K explains her stance over at iPetitions (via The Daily What):

Aliens: Colonial Marines developed by Gearbox Software and published by SEGA is an upcoming First Person Shooter where according to the official website “You and your friends will become the most badass military outfit in the galaxy – the US Colonial Marines.”… “Enlist in the Marine Corps: Bringing you a true sequel to James Cameron’s classic Aliens…”… ” An extensive upgrade system allows players to customize their characters to play the way they want”, yet according to Brian Burleson, Producer at GBX, You CANNOT play as a female marine.

While we fully support Gearbox, We would like to request the inclusion of playable females. The ALIENS franchise is dominated by strong females such as Ripley, Vasquez, Ferro, Dietrich and most importantly, The Queen. There is roughly 5-6 months before the game goes Gold and releases February 12th, 2013. We believe ALIENS is the perfect starting pont for developers to start including playable females in more multiplayer shooters. And what better company to start this than Gearbox with the success of Borderlands and the benchmark shooter Brothers in Arms? There are many females that enjoy playing video games and are fans of the films who are tired of playing as a male all the time. Lets let Gearbox Software see how important this is to the ALIENS franchise!

It’s possible — likely, even — that Gearbox’s omission of female characters wasn’t a conscious choice but rather a bit of careless oversight. Still, it doesn’t seem wise for a company to ignore 50% of its potential buying public. And considering how thoroughly market-tested products like this are, that no one at any point thought to correct the omission is surprising and regrettable. As part of a relatively female-friendly franchise, Aliens: Colonial Marines could’ve been in a better position than most shooters to attract women and girls. Instead, the lack of playable females sends them the message (intentional or not) that this game isn’t for them.

As of right now, Melissa K’s petition has collected over 2,000 signatures and continues to pick up more names by the minute. It’s unfortunately unclear how much impact a petition can really have at this point; with just a few months until the title hits shelves it could prove difficult for Gearbox to add or alter a character even if they want to. All the same, kudos to her for reminding game developers that diversity isn’t just the nice thing to do, but the smart thing — and hey, even if Gearbox can’t create a playable female in time for this release, maybe this’ll inspire them to keep it in mind for the next edition.

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