BioWare: Female Leads Must Become Financially Viable
BioWare’s David Gaider believes female protagonists will only become popular in the industry once they are proven to be commercially successful.
“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.”
Unfortunately, Gaider believes the only way the industry will change its mind is with an irrefutable example of a commercially successful female lead. He said:
“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.
“It has to be something they can’t ignore. The only way the industry can’t ignore something is when money is involved.”
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, as well as the original StarCraft: Brood War, both feature the same female protagonist prominently on the box art — a rare occurrence in the industry. Could HotS be the commercial hit necessary to convince the industry? What about Tomb Raider?
Gaider went on to explain that the idea is not to make a game that caters specifically to women — but rather one that doesn’t exclude women. He said:
“It’s not that you have to make a game that says, ‘Hey, female audience! We’re here just for you!’ No. It’s about making a game that isn’t telling the female audience, ‘You’re not who we want to play this game.’ Just disinviting them. That’s something that the industry needs to get to. Not figuring out whether they should have pink boxes and unicorns because they think that would appeal to women.”
Wait — pink boxes and unicorns don’t make something appealing to women? Damn; I need to get some new t-shirts, then.