At MCM May I had the fortunate chance to sit down and join the round table interview with Victoria Atkin, voice of Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and Patricia Summersett, voice of Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For the three days they did interviews for press and here is day 1, where we spoke about the games industry for female voice actresses and their thoughts on the industry at large.
Kicking off with the obvious question, have you been enjoying yourself at Comic Con and what’s the appeal of events for you guys?
I was like, it’s absolutely horrible. Yeah, it’s so great. This kind of Comic Con, this is my first time at MCM this year and there are a couple of reasons MCM is so wonderful. I think the sheer size and the fact that it’s the beautiful city of London is magical, I’d loved to just meet the other guests myself. I was just going to mention and say that Victoria and I went to school several years back. So for me, it’s also a reunion of sorts, as I haven’t been to London since then. So it’s very nostalgic.
Has it really been that long?
Yeah, I haven’t been back since then. So yeah, absolutely lovely being at MCM Comic Con. It’s a fantastic reception.
For me I get to come home. I live in LA and my family’s all here so it’s just wonderful being back where I used to live on the Royal Victoria Docks. So this is like really crazy that when I was a student I was living there with no money and I had never done Hollyoaks, I’ve done nothing and now I’m here signing. It’s almost surreal in a way so it’s really really cool. So I’m really happy to be here. I like doing MCM, I’ve been [to] Liverpool and Birmingham, and it’s great to be in London
Are there any roles from other games or mediums that you wish you were in?
Zelda! I wish I had been Zelda. Actually Zelda is a really cool part, but Patricia does a really good job; I wouldn’t ever want that. I would’ve loved to have been Lara Croft, but I was busy making Evie happen so I’m almost happier to be Evie and be something new. But I don’t know, there’s so many cool things coming out. I really would like to be a female lead in a Call of Duty, I think that would be cool. I’m doing two new games that are due to come out this year, which I can’t say what, but I’m really, one of them, excited to be joining the franchise. So that’s cool, I don’t know, I like things to come to me. There’s nothing specific. If they made a Wonder Women videogame, yes I want to be her voice.
I can just tell you’ll find it, because this is just you’ll find it. You tell the camera and someone will find it. In terms of games, there’s a really big part of me that would love to be part of the Overwatch family just because I love all of the actors I’ve met and they’re such a cool community to hang out with. So yeah, put me in Blizzard. Otherwise I grew up with up with She-Ra: Princess of Power and I used to cosplay as her at the age of six. So if anything in that world came my way, I would flip.
You would do a backflip?
I would a do back--, maybe a back handstand or a back walkover is all I could manage.
I think when you get it you should master a backflip, just so you can say it.
On a trampoline. They’ll say and she got it, and she flipped.
Of course talking about the things you have had the chance to do, obviously Assassin’s Creed is this huge phenomenon, this huge behemoth of a franchise; why do you think that is? What is the massive appeal of all these iterations and this world?
I think they’re one of the coolest franchises, and I’m sure you have an answer for this as well being one of the leads in Assassin’s Creed. I love the way that they pull from history in a really, they mix facts and fiction, in a really fantastic way and I think a lot of people really appreciate that, the way they jump around in the world and go into great detail in the locations. That to me, and the sort of way, the navigation is in the game is fantastic. They’ve been really groundbreaking and just great storytelling, great narrative, and I’m really happy to be part of the franchise, two assassins in that franchise.
First of all, they have the most loyal fanbase, the followers of Assassin’s Creed are so loyal and so incredible and they support every game even if it has glitches and it has, you know, problems sometimes. They still support it and love it, and I think that I really agree with everything Patricia has said. It’s that fantasy world but with history, the great thing about Syndicate was that we were able to relive Victorian England. You can watch documentaries, or you can watch films, but you don’t get to experience running through the streets, being in the horses and carriages and-- wait in the horses? No… I didn’t mean that, um… You know what I mean, being in the carriages and riding the horses.
Not quite Trojan horse?
No, that and meeting Queen Victoria. Meeting all those historical characters, you know: Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, it’s just fun, Florence Nightingale. You don’t get to do that, and now Egypt and French revolution, all these things. I think that’s why they’re so successful. I don’t really advocate the violence of it, but I guess that’s kind of an appeal of people being able to do those moves as an assassin and be stealthy and creep around and you know parkour, animated.
Just working in the dark to serve the light.
Oh she did it! She did it, get that quote in. I want that as a GIF: working in the dark
To serve the light.
I want that as a GIF, I wonder if I can remember these slogans from Assassin’s Creed, I would do it as well.
I think you kind of just answered my question but, what has been your favourite moment of playing as Evie or as Zelda respectively?
Favourite moment, my favourite moment has to be San Diego Comic Con when we released the game. Was because, I didn’t understand how big that franchise was, until San Diego. And we’re sitting at a panel with these thousands of people in front of us. Excited for the launch of this game, and it was, it was if not the highlight of my career so far. It began to put into scale of what this franchise was about and how important it is, this game to so many people and really felt honored to be a playable female character for the first time in this franchise. And it really, it made my dreams come true, because I’m doing this for female gamers, for women, and we’re making this huge step in this massive franchise. And, although I was really scared, that it would be hopefully received well. And thankfully, it was. It was an amazing moment. It wasn’t in the game, but it was part of the whole process that was just really magical.
What was the transition like playing as Evie and Zelda, previously I assume you haven’t played a role as big, so to speak, in terms of scale. Since Zelda, well Legend of Zelda as a franchise is such a huge franchise that everyone knows about. And with Assassin’s Creed, it was the case of first playable female character in the mainline series, I know you started off in Hollyoaks, so I assume there was a step in that regard as well.
Yeah I guess so, I mean Hollyoaks has this huge fanbase which is a different kettle of fish and then I had a huge LGBT community that were following me from my work on that. So I don’t know it’s a step or step across or a step somewhere, but it was definitely my first step into video games, and motion capture. And really, I fell in love, I really love motion capture. I love doing that and bringing it to life, that hybrid between theatre and film world and voice over. And the technology of it, bringing this character through technology, and animation, and dots on my face. Like how does that happen, and I’m fascinated by it, and to do that was definitely a step towards the future of where things are going. And I think, that’s what’s most exciting for me.
Yeah for me the journey of suddenly becoming Zelda was a really incredible, what I mean is, it’s led to travelling all over the world. My first Comic Con was suddenly in Kuwait, and so I was heading there a couple weeks later. And I was like wow, just the types of people you suddenly get a chance to meet around the world and how small it all gets. That is all definitely, I’ve been a voice and theatrical actor for ten years before Zelda came along. And when Zelda happened, it suddenly led to world travel which is one of my dreams. So it happened in a way I hadn’t dreamed, I was doing my world travels through Comic Con, I had never assumed I would be travelling through Comic Cons. In fact it was exactly my dream, it’s wonderful it’s opened a lot things up.
I’m curious, you’ve been talking about things opening up, obviously you’re both playing very prominent female characters in big franchises. There’s a constant discussion about how the games industry, amongst all the entertainment industries, represent women in title and treats women in the industry. I’m curious if you both have thoughts about where we’re at on that journey and what the future could or should hold.
All the time, I think that there’s a lot of evolution that has happened, and there’s now a lot of games now with playable female leads. Not a lot, but significant ones like Horizon Zero Dawn not including Assassin’s Creed. And Lara Croft obviously, but there is a long way to go and in terms of the sheer number of roles that exist for women. If you look at the breakdown of anything, video game, TV, anything. You usually find that, even if there’s a prominent female role upfront, you’re gonna get a break down of maybe two women and eight men. And that’s kind of just standard, I see it all the time, even with people trying very hard to change that. So onwards, I hope there are and I think there are leaps and bounds to be made in the future and that they will happen.
Yeah I mean my first role, I had to play a boy, just to get in. Just to get in, just to get into the door.
A pretty fabulous character to be fair though.
I just went, yeah you what, I’m just gonna play a man. Um.. No, what do I think about this, I have many thoughts on this. I feel very lucky in my career that I’ve played these figureheads, as a women, but I also feel very alone when I do it. Because generally it’s just me and a lot of men. And I’d like to put my foot forward and be this female character. I just did a new sci-fi TV show that’s called Extinct. But again, there was only one other women on the show with me and the rest were men. But I also think with video games, there’s just the crew behind the scenes, not only in front of the camera, with the motion capture and voices. But behind the scenes, it’s changing, but there’s not enough female video game writers, producers, heads of videogames. I would love to see a female video game company. There’s too many, and I hate to say it, there’s too many male driven companies that are not seeing the bigger picture, I think at the moment. And it is changing, I just worked on Horizon Zero Dawn, and I loved that game. I love Guerrilla Games, I love what they’re doing there. They’re one of my favourite companies I’ve worked for. They’re really, really great, they’re out of Amsterdam and they’re building this beautiful world with Aloy and they, I feel like it’s equal. There’s great male characters and there’s some wonderful female characters and I feel very blessed to have played two female characters in there, Frozen Wilds, which is really great. I just did a new game, and I, my heart broke because I got into the booth and sometimes we don’t see what character we’re doing, they just call us in. And this character came up, and I said “where’s her clothes?” And I was literally at a turmoil in my career, like “do I want to do this? Am I going to this?” Because this is against what I’ve been doing. I did it, and I’m happy it’s a great game, but that was a step backwards it was like “oh is this still happening?”. I think, like what Patricia’s said, we’re evolving all the time. But there’s still some big jumps we need to make, which I always think “we’re in 2018, we shouldn’t even be discussing this” and it’s like “why are we still discussing this?”. Like we’ve had the vote for a long time, but unfortunately we are still discussing it and perhaps we still will be in five years. But maybe when my daughters are here, they won’t be.
I’m curious on that point, there obviously is that very undeniable gender split within the industry. Do you think that’s because there are active barriers and prejudice at place, or is it also driven by a lack of women going into the industry as a choice. I’m curious as to whether you think there are actual barriers or if it’s just about encouraging people that the industry is for them.
I definitely think it’s a combination of both of those things. But all you need to do is go on to… Gosh I was look, there’s a streamer named AnneMunition, who streams a lot of Rainbow Six. And kudos to Ubisoft, they have a lot of playable female characters in that, who are very tough and very fabulous, I play Ash in that series and get to meet a lot of them. She recently posted, and she’s a well known streamer online, very professional and the girl hate she receives. People coming on and saying “are you a girl? Are you a gamer girl? Are you a gamer girl? Oh get off, just get off”. Things like that, that stuff is just so, so common. Girls who are very tasteful, it shouldn’t even really matter, if you’re a gamer you should just be, you shouldn’t be letting yourself-- but there’s a lot of bullying online for just being a women. I watched a stream of Rainbow Six during the Pro League and they do their best to help the women who are there just hosting or anything like that. The streams that you see, a women comes on, there are people who are “it’s girl girl girl giiirrrllll oh my god” and you know it’s things you don’t want to repeat. And you’re like, wow, a girl with a black T-shirt up to here [neck height], just popped on and is talking about very technical speak about the game she worked on and just gets blasted. So sure of course there is to some degree of, there’s definitely, and I think that’s changing too. I think a lot more women are coming forward and being yes I’m a gamer too. I’ve a gamer my whole life and there should be no problem with that. And other people are very accepting of that, but until that toxicity changes, until that element changes, that is a huge element of why there is a bit of imbalance.
"Why don't you use voice chat?"— Anne Munition (@AnneMunition) May 23, 2018
"Why can't I find a girlfriend who plays video games?"
"Why do you mute people who ask you if you're a girl?"
Gee, I dunno.
[Warning: extreme language and monumental stupidity] pic.twitter.com/TO4VzU44YF
I think you have to, you have to have great confidence. I feel even playing as Evie, on set it was just me, if I was lucky another women, and there’s like forty men. You know, it’s intimidating.
You’re in spandex [laughs].
Yeah I’m in spandex and I don’t get… No--but I don’t get intimidated very easily compared to, to I think, many women. But I really was, I really was you know, it was hard to speak up, because it just was. You’re just outnumbered and I think any man in that situation would feel the same if there was forty women and one guy. But like, that never seems to happen. But you know, it’s just, it’s just interesting and I’m so happy that we’re having these conversations. And I’m so happy to be at MCM today, like Patricia, like just, just doing this. This is great, you know, we just did a podcast with Cissy Jones, was it Jones?
Yeah from Firewatch, and we met Lucy from Overwatch today. And so it’s great, you know, we’re really coming together and even when I first did Assassin’s Creed. This wasn’t here, so it really is, that’s cool that we’re bringing all these girls together. And another thing I want to see is not always having masculine feminine characters, they’re allowed to be female and natural without being a sex object. And they can be female character without being butch, you know, something that’s like masculine. Like why can’t we, I’d like to see something like that’s like everyday. I hate to say that, normal is not the word, like there’s no normal. But like, something that’s in between that. Like let’s not go so-- like I feel like I’ve had to, in order to get into this man’s world, you wear a leather jacket and you know, you fight for that, to try and be relatable. So they kind of respect you, and then the opposite side is if you’re like sexualised and you’re this sexual object, like, there’s no respect. So whether or not we can have something in the middle that people can relate to, I would like to see more of those characters, cause it’s great. Rainbow Six is great to have all these tough characters, and Evie’s tough, you know, I like that we’re able to do the academic side where she’s kind of intelligent, she reads books, and she does these things. But let’s see more of that, like let’s see some more-- you know, Hermione Granger, you know relatable people in video games and they don’t have to be like a menace and they don’t have to be a sex object, let’s find something in between. Which I haven’t seen, have you? I don’t know any characters.
I see a few.
Like Zelda’s kind of in between.
It’s funny when you said Hermione, I was like she was a big influence on me. I really love Hermione Granger. I definitely thought of that when I was doing Zelda.
Yeah I guess Zelda is more in the middle, but it’s more fantasy based. But the shooter games.
Yeah, but I suppose that’s more of a genre too though.
Yeah, I don’t know. I would just kinda like to.
Well we definitely need more of them that’s for sure.
Yeah, something middle-ground.
Well we haven’t fixed it, but we’re getting there. I think we have to let you go, sorry.
And with that, Day 1 of the round table ended. Thanks to Patricia Summersett, Victoria Atkin, and MCM for allowing me to join in on the round table. Stay tuned for part 2, where we continue the conversations about their respective roles and the games industry for women.