As a woman in a predominantly male industry, do you feel that females are misrepresented, or not represented enough, in games?
Look at the shelf in a GameStop sometime, and try and find a game box that has a female main character on it. Not a supporting sex interest, but a main character. Once you have that small handful, try and find a box cover that doesn’t feature strangely revealing clothing or that one damn Hollywood pose where she’s sticking her butt toward the camera. And that doesn’t even touch on games themselves, etc. That said, I do think Tomb Raider was fantastic. And everything, even including the box art, was pretty dang alright. Yes, even that one awkward not-rape scene. The biggest fault of that intro was the quicktimes made you dwell on EVERYTHING in it, because the quicktimes sucked. So scenes that might have been alright one-offs got slapped in your face a thousand times. Then you clear the first hour, and hey, it’s fine.
My favorite female character in games is probably still Jade from Beyond Good And Evil, though. The new Lara Croft is a solid entry, but she’s a distant second compared to Jade.
Jade was an overall badass in terms of personality.
That she was. And she dealt with her problems in a genuinely female way. She wasn’t just a guy with boobs and a gun.
That goes back to the narrative thing. Every single mechanic reinforced and interacted with Jade The Character. There was almost no “and now shoot 20 guys, because this is a video game, no I don’t care if that makes no sense for this character.” The latest Tomb Raider did have some of that. They did their best to write the character to account for it, but — it was still weird, in places. Overall, still fantastic.
How do you feel we can make positive changes?
I’m not sure there’s any specific thing to be done. Most of the problems relate to how men and women are socialized as kids, and they’ll fix themselves as the next generation of folks enter the marketplace and nudge out the old guard of less socially aware folks. Basically, exactly what is already being done, just more of it. Continue to encourage women to take up tech jobs. Continue to fight if your producer or whoever suggests that the hero needs to have bigger boobs, or even comes within striking distance of the phrase “a male hero would sell better.” And don’t be a douche to female coworkers / stop guy friends up short if they’re being douches. Simple, basic stuff.
How did you feel about the portrayal of Ellie in the Last of Us?
She’s 14. That’s kind of “it.” That isn’t a story about a guy and his girlfriend, that’s a story about a father figure and his daughter figure. Gender is a story-telling tool, though. You can’t make human interest stories whilst also pretending that everyone is an identically aged amorphous blob. The key story element that Last of Us seemed to want to get across is that father/daughter (or father/child period) bond — and you need a child for that.
It wouldn’t work if the girl was Lara Croft. There’s also a gameplay design angle there that complicates matters. If she ISN’T a less significant character, then either the player needs to control her, or she needs a really, really freaking good AI. But I’m guessing most people are less concerned with that, and more just her overall presentation as a character that needs to be helped. Which is a critical element for the father/daughter dependency angle. Or, again, parent/child. I doubt everyone on that development team was a male, and I bet some interactions were designed with mother/daughter in mind too. Maybe there is something reprehensible later in the game, no idea — all I’ve seen are trailers and gameplay sequences where Ellie seems like a pretty dang capable 14 year old. She holds it together, throws bricks to save the guy, etc. Yeah, great, she’s small, probably not the best in a fight — but she’s capable all the same.
Since we’re on the topic, do you think Tin Roof is a good representative of the female lead role?
Heh. Well, I’m obviously biased, but yes. I’ve tried to write her as a character that kid-me would have looked up to, maybe have been inspired by. She’s snarky, and bullish, and not particularly feminine – but still female, period.
Did you approach the game with that mindset — that she will be a certain way?
Eh, yes and no. I tend to have a wry sense of humor to begin with, so when I write comedy, it comes across as biting – which is where that aspect of her personality came from. I knew I’d need to lighten the mood, or the grimdark noir hard angles etc world would just get oppressive. Everything else, yes, that’s how she was planned from the get go. She was always going to be a lesbian woman of color. Though I don’t feel terribly well-positioned to write biting commentary on racial differences – I’m a privileged white female, there are better voices out with more personal experience in that – so don’t expect racial clashes.
My writing will focus more on gender clashes, general GLBT hatred, queer relationships, etc. That’s more what I know, and what I feel confident writing about.
Well, personal experience isn’t everything. You said it yourself, “writers don’t write themselves, they… write.”
It isn’t, but, the world really doesn’t need another “wot this white girl thinks about racism” piece. Besides — more importantly, a work should really only focus on a few resonant themes. You pull in too many, it turns into a mush. I’ve got deception and I’ve got gender. Those are plenty.
I only have one more quick question for you, if you had to sell Hot Tin Roof to someone that primarily enjoys massive worlds or generic shooters, what would your speech be?
Hot Tin Roof opens a massive side-scrolling city up to being explored in a way you’ve never seen before, with a revolver handgun system the likes of which you’ve never even dreamed of.
For more information about the game, or simply to claim your pledge rewards visit the games Kickstarter website. Whether you decide to become an actual in-game gangster (at least we hope it’s in-game), or grab yourself some fancy buttons, Hot Tin Roof is a game worth supporting. For more information about Megan Fox or Glass Bottom Games, visit the main website.