Publishers Don’t Want Gamers To Mature, Female Lead Characters Aren’t Welcome Either
Something we’ve always struggled to understand at eGamer is the whole issue of ‘females in games’. We honestly don’t see the problem, and most of the time–unlike those who see them as inferior–we actually welcome a female lead. Hell, I sometimes wish that we’d have the least bad-ass person ever as the lead.
A person with no actual physical worth, instead a pretty brain that can solve puzzles. Like Sherlock Holmes but without the hardcore. Yes, there are games like this–few and far between.
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Remember Me is an upcoming game from Dontnod Entertainment. If you frequent eGamer, you’d know that we have posted a bit of content on this before. Remember Me looks interesting because it actively tries to differentiate itself with ‘popular’ games on the market. To achieve their goal, the developers created a mixed-race lead character, who is also female. This is very different from the usual white-male-super-hero-type-vibe.
When Dontnod Entertainment tried to approach companies to publish their actively different game, they received a bit of interesting feedback. Mainly, “No.” Not because the game was bad, but because the game had a female lead.
Apparently Lara Croft, Bayonetta, Chell, etc, aren’t and weren’t ever good enough. Despite the fact that quite a few of those games just mentioned did quite well, and are quite popular.
“We had some [companies] that said, ‘Well, we don’t want to publish it because that’s not going to succeed. You can’t have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that,'” said creative director Jean-Maxime Moris.
Publishers actually felt uncomfortable with a female lead.
“We had people tell us, ‘You can’t make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that’s going to feel awkward.'”
Dontnod said that they made the lead a female because that’s what felt right. It worked with the game. However, they were up against sexist publishers, and by the time they were looking for publishers, it was too late to change her to a he.
“I’m like, ‘If you think like that, there’s no way the medium’s going to mature.’ There’s a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it’s not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game. I don’t know, that’s extremely weird to me,” said Moris.
“You can identify with people of the other gender in movies, why could you not in games? The fact that our core target is males 15-25 is not an excuse. We need to be able to create, and respect the audience enough to believe that they can be smart enough to identify with that type of character.”
Luckily, Capcom came to the rescue. The studio which we’ve all criticised for questionable practices, such as on-disc DLC, has stood up and said “we’ll do it!” It’s strange how certain things about Capcom annoy us, yet it is a studio who is mature enough to publish a female lead. They do deserve some sort of praise for this.
Remember Me’s development makes for an interesting story. It shows us that it’s not the core audience that hasn’t matured, but rather the publishers and their mindset. I am fully aware that publishers are often the ones ‘who know best’, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes breaking the trend is what’s needed.
I personally hope that Remember Me does well, for the reason that publishers thought that it couldn’t. When did games ever become a monarchy, where anything that wasn’t pure-breed-white-folk would be shunned upon? Do games need to be built on ‘family technology’ to ‘keep the development pure’?
Since when was a female that bad? Is it even worse that she’s a mixed race, because that means impure blood?
This only goes to show: games are what publishers make of them. The audience doesn’t have a chance or a choice to grow up. It’s like breastfeeding a young boy until he’s 7-years-old, he doesn’t know any better or any different–so it’s all of a sudden okay.