Game Front On Location – StarCraft 2: Heart Of The Swarm Launch (Interview)
GF: Over the last year there’s been a huge discussion of women and gaming, of perhaps sexism in games, the lack of female protagonists, and in the middle of that conversation we get Heart of the Swarm, obviously Kerrigan is a big part of that. Was that decision to feature her considered in light of this conversation?
SD: When we make characters, we’re basically creating superheroes. They’re super heroic. All of our guys are super muscled, super heroic, super bad guys, there’s no one that kind of walks a ‘I’m just a normal dude’ line. Everyone knows Jim Raynor, he walks around with that dirty t-shirt and gun belts, and he’s this mellow dude but he can kick anyone’s butt, even a marine in a marine suit. That’s a super hero, we do our characters to be super heroes.
When I play a video game I want to play someone who’s above and beyond the normal, either super good guy or super bad guy. Same with Kerrigan, she’s just Kerrigan, she was a former government assassin, she got turned into a Zerg, she got turned out of being a Zerg and now she’s on her quest for revenge. So how we make her needs to convey some kind of fierce determination, strength, power: I mean she used to be queen of the universe. Queen of the universe is not just a normal person. We had to make all the characters fit that.
* NOTE: Realizing my question was misunderstood as suggesting Kerrigan was a sexist design, I rephrased. *
GF: Well, do you feel like the decision to make the expansion focus really heavily on her was in anyway influenced by discussion about the lack of female protagonists in gaming or anything like that, or did it happen independently, can you talk about that?
* NOTE: At this point the PR representative overseeing the conversation with Dieder abruptly spoke up and answered the question for him. *
PR Rep: That’s not something we think about when we make games. I mean, Kerrigan has been an iconic hero going on 15 years.
SD: Well really, we had to choose between her and a cerebrate (laughs), and a cerebrate is just a big pile of goo that are all dead, so other than that and the Overmind, the Zerg didn’t have any heroes (laughter from everyone.)
PR Rep: We’re just worried about making cool games and cool characters, we’re not interested in trying to make a statement.
GF: So we heard today that some PETA folks were going to be here, did you hear that?
SD: I did, yeah.
GF: I feel like that’s them trying to make a joke, but-
PR Rep: We’re not interested in making a statement or getting into that, we’re just trying to launch a game.
GF: Of course, I’m not trying to get into a political discussion, just the message they said to Polygon was funny, ‘Zerg are people too’…
SD: (Laughs) Well, because of PETA, I will never, ever eat a Zerg. On my honor, I will never eat a zerg. Protoss I will go to town on, though.
GF: Finally, why has it taken so long for Heart of the Swarm to come out?
When you play it you’ll find out. Because Blizzard games are, in addition to being the best games around, they also have the best soundtracks, the best movies, the best voice actors. It’s not so much making a game anymore as making a cultural event. Look at all these people here, just for an expansion for StarCraft 2 that came out almost three years ago, so anything we make for it has to live up to what StarCraft 2 was, and if possible, what StarCraft 1 was. Something people will be playing for years to come. You can’t rush that out.
For the rest of the evening, fans gathered in multitudes to catch a glimpse of Heart of the Swarm before it launched, presumably planning to spend the rest of the night playing it at home. I didn’t envy the lack of sleep, but unable to stop myself from thinking that Blizzard fans are kind of awesome, I admit to having been cheered by the fact that the love seems two-way. Except, of course, for Protoss. They’re dinner.