Studio had to avoid pitfalls of making female lead a 'damsel in distress or a sex bomb'

Remember Me aims to aid gender equality in games

Dontnod Entertainment’s creative director has called its upcoming action title, Remember Me, a “subconscious militant act” in aid of gender equality.

Female protagonists are still few and far between when it comes to games. It’s an issue that some in the game industry – particularly females – have voiced, but continues to be slow to change, especially as far as console titles are concerned.

So when French studio Dontnod unveiled Nilin as the lead character of their sci-fi, third-person action adventure game Remember Me, it was almost immediately greeted by interest.

Speaking to Shacknews, creative director Jean-Maxime Moris said the game has become more about balancing the social and professional status of men and women than it previously anticipated.

“We didn’t think of gender equality being a major theme in the game, but thinking back on the world we designed, it is true that women have key positions in its governance,” said Moris.

“In 2013, we have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, so take this as a subconscious militant act.”

Getting the tone and look of the character right was something Dontnod had to be careful about, because of its target audience, which tends to be 15 to 25-year-old males.

“You have to avoid the pitfalls of making her just a damsel in distress or a sex bomb, because this is what you think would appeal most to the hordes of men that constitute your fan base. But if you respect your public, then you refuse to dumb your work down, and eventually it pays back because what you do is different. But I’m not saying we’re the only ones. I’m quite happy to see that more and more games feature female protagonists.”

Moris also said that having a female character was core to push the story of intimacy and personal memories in the game’s cyberpunk world of Neo-Paris.

“This is very different from usual cyberpunk themes that focus more on physical augmentation. An immense amount of work went into making sure that Nilin was a balanced mix of attractive looks and resonating character traits. Character design, dialogue, animation, game rules… everything plays a part in making sure that she comes across as a powerful character.”

At GDC last month, a number of sessions where held to discuss gender in games, including an emotionally-charged panel where women from the industry discussed reasons to be, and not to be, part of it.

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