Volume developer wanted a female hero, but decided story precluded it

Wednesday, 19th February 2014 21:52 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Thomas Was Alone developer Mike Bithell’s new game, Volume, focuses on a male protagonist, but in the early design stages he was “leaning more towards” a female.


“When I sat down to come up with the story of Volume, and who would be its characters, I of course had to decide on which gender the protagonist would be. I was honestly leaning more towards a female character, just from the selfish perspective,” Bithell told Polygon.

“That my last game was focused on a male character, and I really dug writing for Claire, who was popular with fans of [Thomas Was Alone.]”

While prototyping, Bithell did in fact use a female avatar, because he happened to have a character mesh handy – but she was a stand-in, rather than protagonist.

“This was before I’d settled on what story I was telling, I was just throwing ideas of gameplay together and seeing what happened. At that point, I’d honestly still have been using a cube for the player character if I hadn’t needed to account for eyelines and such,” Bithell said.

As the prototype progress, however, Bithell decided to use the game to retell the story of Robin Hood, and in so doing, decided he needed a male protagonist – not just because Robin Hood is a male figure in folklore, but also because his story is about “a man of privilege helping the little guy”.

Nevertheless, Bithell hopes his work will differentiate from industry standards.

“My hope is that this is a different kind of male protagonist. Smarter, non-violent, and a bit arrogant,” he said.

“I [hope] that when people play the game, they’ll realize why I chose to tell this story with a male protagonist. For me, that’s the interesting shift in the thinking recently. Male heroes should no longer be the default, it’s a choice, a choice that should be deployed when it works for the story being told.

“The thing that’s interesting with gender, and is exciting, is that the conversation has gotten to a point where I’d even be asked ‘Why male?’. That’s a big deal, and speaks a lot to the awareness that’s brewing in the industry about gender depictions, and frankly, the boringness of the standard chiseled beefcake with the big gun. People are getting tired of playing the same grizzled man carrying a variety of guns.”

Volume is a sci-fi stealth action title which emphasises sound in its mechanics. It will allow users to play as a female in its end-game content, which focuses on creating and sharing UGC levels. Expect Volume on PlayStation 4 and Vita; it has not been dated.



  1. YoungZer0

    What a sexist pig!
    Typical for this industry.


    #1 10 months ago
  2. absolutezero

    “a man of privilege”

    GET HIM. Also Stolen was a thing that existed.

    #2 10 months ago
  3. salarta

    I see we already have people being willfully stupid in the comments of this article by pretending this is the same sort of situation as Deep Down when it’s obviously not.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. absolutezero

    Oh please.

    #4 10 months ago
  5. schrodinger_cat

    Games are art and devs can make whatever they want from it. Stop this bullshit, already.

    #5 10 months ago
  6. YoungZer0

    I don’t even care about the story. He had the choice to make the main character female, but didn’t. Obviously he’s a sexist pig.

    #6 10 months ago
  7. Not The Eyes

    “Truly worse than Hitler”
    ~Brenna Hillier

    #7 10 months ago
  8. DeVitowned


    Amen. That’s exactly the point I made. Glad someone here has the capacity for objective and logical thought.

    #8 10 months ago
  9. FinalStar

    #3 Well, seems like Brenna now reaps what she sow.

    #9 10 months ago
  10. Tyrantsoul

    I smell another Brenna rant incoming.

    #10 10 months ago
  11. Dragon

    “There is one male main character in Deep Down. The story is being developed around him and his surrounding Ravens comrades.”

    Its obviously not the same situation.
    The hypocritical irony…

    #11 10 months ago
  12. Jbumi

    Why couldn’t the story have been about “a woman of privilege”? Same goes for Deep Down – why couldn’t the story have revolved around one female character & her surrounding Raven companions?

    I agree that devs can make whatever they want, but most times, when they’re being honest, they only choose a male protagonist because they feel it’ll make them more money than using a female. If they’d take the “risk”, I think they’d find that’s not necessarily true anymore.

    #12 10 months ago
  13. salarta

    As has been said COUNTLESS TIMES already, Deep Down is an online multiplayer game, NOT a single-player game such as this one or games like Metal Gear Solid, God of War, Devil May Cry, etc. The problem is not merely a game starring a male character, the problem is an ONLINE MULTIPLAYER game, a game where that capability is the focus, providing only a male option. Additionally, most of the uproar was when the initial report said there were 12 male character options, not only one character.

    But that’s not what people in these comments want to hear, is it? No, it doesn’t serve their agenda of trying to silence anyone that points out problems with how the industry handles female representation. Better to pretend none of it exists even if it involves acting deliberately stupid.

    #13 10 months ago
  14. Not The Eyes

    @salarta get mad or go make your own game with 12 female characters

    #14 10 months ago

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