Features & News

Publishers pulled support from Remember Me due to female lead

March 19, 2013, Author: Ariana Hester

Jean-Max Morris, creative director of DONTNOD, the developers behind Remember Me, has piqued interest by coming forward about the challenges of getting backers for a game with a female lead.

Remember Me is a third-person action game set in a steam punk future, in which Nilin, the game’s heroine, can hack an individuals memories, Inception style.

Nilin’s gender is integral to the overall theme of the game. “The world we were building was much more about emotion, intimacy, identity, and the way technology would intersect those. It just felt like the other side of the coin, the yin and the yang, and it just made sense to us that it would be a female character.”

When trying to actually make some progress in the financial department however, they hit a serious snag. No one wanted to back a game with a female lead.

“We had some 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,” Morris told The Penny Arcade Report.

Even if they had been open to changing Nilin’s gender it was too late at that point. “It was not a conscious decision [to make the lead a woman],” he said. “It was something that just felt right from the beginning. It’s one of those things that we never looked at from a pure, cold marketing perspective because that would have endangered the consistency of the whole game.”

“We had people tell us, ‘You can’t make a dude like [a player that] kisses another dude in the game, that’s going to feel awkward.’” Morris could only chuckle. “I’m like, ‘If you think like that, there’s no way the medium’s going to mature,’” he said. “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.”

I ask, if the masses can embrace female leads in movies why is it so much harder for video-games? Were you uncomfortable when Katniss smooched Peeta? Sarah Connor did the dirty with Kyle Reese, or better yet, Lara Croft kissed Daniel Craig’s character?

As a spectator I know I’m viewing a predetermined story. I don’t expect to only enjoy things from my point of view. I honestly prefer it the other way around as it makes you think about things from another perspective. I have no problem enjoying a game, movie or book from the male narrative, so why is it so hard for me to have the option to experience it from a woman’s?

To be truly honest, I’ve never had a problem with the limited amount of female leads because I knew who they were trying to market to, but to hear the reason voiced really struck me.

The only thing I have to say is that if publishers are going to give games with female leads a hard time I suggest they come up with better excuses. What do you reckon?

Remember Me comes out this summer in North America and Europe on June 7th.