Dragon Age 3: Inquisition lead writer David Gaider has said at GDC that the industry will not fully embrace the notion of female stars unless there is clear financial motivation to do so. The old belief is that female character don’t sell, and this is a view Gaider would very much like to see challenged.
Speaking with RPS at GDC, Gaider said, “The thing about accepted industry wisdom is that you can’t question it. Everyone just agrees. It’s weird. The things that the industry decides are treated as incontrovertibly true until someone else comes along and proves them definitively wrong in a way that we cannot ignore. Then, of course, everyone jumps on it.”
“To say that about female protagonists – that they just don’t sell [is myopic]. Over the last ten years, how many titles have had female protagonists? And we’re supposed to accept, from those particular titles, that a) that constitutes a pattern, and b) the only reason those games were unsuccessful is because they had female protagonists? That is a real leap of logic… There is lots of that in the industry.”
Widespread change in attitude is possible Gaider stressed, but it would take something significant for it to happen.
“If you were to ask me what would make the industry change its mind about female protagonists, it would take some game coming out and being completely financially successful such that people in the industry couldn’t say, ‘Well, it was just because of this. Not because female protagonists are suddenly marketable,’”
He added, “It has to be something they can’t ignore. The only way the industry can’t ignore something is when money is involved.”
Lately we’ve seen a few prominent examples of this narrow-mindedness at play. First, Naughty Dog told VG247 that it was asked to push Ellie to the back of The Last of Us box art. The studio refused.
Second, Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream revealed it was asked to show star Jodie Holmes brandishing a gun on the game’s cover. They also refused.
What do you think it would take for the money and marketing men to stop rubbishing the idea of female lead characters in games?