Ubisoft Quebec’s director of narrative design, Jill Murray, has said she prefers “juicy and real” when it comes to narrative involving female portrayals in games, and feels when writers are “trying” to portray them in a positive light, it comes across as disingenuous.
Speaking with GI International, Murray – who wrote Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation – cited games such as Mass Effect, Gone Home, and Last of Us with doing narrative “right”.
“‘Trying to feature positive female characters’ is probably a mistake,” she said. “When you demand that characters be paragons of positivity, that’s when you get the feeling of “trying” and no one likes to play “trying.” Players want to connect with characters that offer something juicy and real.
“I’m less interested in the “kick-ass woman who can do it all,” than I am in the people whose flaws, interests, fears, and passions drive and pull them in conflicting directions. That includes the everywoman, the underachiever, the ordinary person moved to respond to tragedy, the woman who excels at one thing but the rest of her life is a mess, and so on. The messy stuff is what makes real people relatable and memorable, whether or not they’re good role models.
“For example, “Guevara” the English teacher who became a sniper in Syria after her children were killed in an air strike, or “Janice,” the con artist from my old neighborhood, who uses her puggle as an accessory to her petty crimes– I will never forget these women. I don’t want their lives, but I would wear a controller out playing them, to see how things work in their minds and their worlds.”
Murray’s latest project, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, ships next week.