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 2, continuing the conversations from yesterday's session (link) and the future has in stall for the game's industry.
Hello, how are you doing? [Laughs] Can you look at my teeth? [To Patricia]
Ah you look great.
What’s our new word for the day? Sistermance,
Yeah, because what’s the opposite to a bromance?
I don’t know
We’re gonna hashtag it, and trend it. This is the right place to do it. [Laughs]
I guess let’s start with that, how are you enjoying your Comic Con sistermance?
It’s very roman-- it’s very romantic, I’m trying to find a-- it’s very fema-- It’s romantic, it’s great.
It’s romantic, we’re having a lovely time together. It’s a nice refreshing change from Paul, no I’m joking. Yeah it’s great isn’t it? I’m having fun and it’s really nice to do this again with a female videogame star. So it’s nice to team up.
Likewise, [laughs] yeah no it’s been really, it’s been really good, it’s really cool to pair up with another female who plays a female warrior. And yeah no, that usually doesn’t happen.
We’re few and far between, so when we get to do it together it’s really fun.
I know yesterday, and in general, you guys have been talking very passionately, and elegantly, and that side of the industry and the changes you want to see, how big a part of that change do you think you guys being at events like this and meeting people and talking publicly is?
We were discussing this yesterday, weren’t we?
Yeah, cause I actually drew up some, after we were done talking about it in the interview we were thinking about reflecting on what exactly are our role can be in this situation and to say we’re going to go out and change the world is very, is um, perhaps deluded on some level but it has to start from somewhere and if you have people who are the leads of games coming out and talking about it with relative comfort and certain amount of intention obviously it’s going to change some people. Everybody who gets into this position has some people who inspire them or they saw something on TV or something that really got them as a kid and made them think, “oh I can be doing that too” and sometimes that’s the first seed so hopefully we’re providing seeds for people and in the future other women and other people who are not in a position of privilege right now who could be in the future and man I would love to be, I would love to, I was just going to say strow, to sow any of those, not to sow seeds cut that--
But you are sowing seeds.
Well you’re planting seeds, you’re planting seeds.
Yes, I would like to plant any of those seeds for people in the future.
Well I think you are, and like I think I was saying yesterday, it’s also like you said about. There’s a female characters and role models, but for me, they were missing and I wanted to fill that gap. You know, I wanted to, like I watched Batman growing up but there was no female, there was no female equivalent and I think that they began to be something inside of me that was like “I want to create that, I want be that for other people”. And I think, as we were saying yesterday, hopefully the generation that’s underneath us will have these, these female characters and will have Princess Zelda and Evie and all these other, Lara Croft, and you know, all these other characters that are really now becoming more prominent and it’s great to be able to have this position of, and I think it’s also a responsibility, you get given these fantastic roles but you also need to be able to continue doing this and inspiring others to keep, keep going.
Yeah, passing it on.
Following that, what types of ideas did you have? Because yesterday, you sounded like you had like an idea of type of narrative or female lead you’d want to create.
Yeah I know, yesterday I surprised myself [laughs]. Ah, maybe I’m a game producer now. Um... No, I don’t really have idea, I just hope that things like this, that more interactions and even our attendance at Comic Con, and our influence in these games, being cast in games, as Patricia said we’ve got a long way to go. Because even casting breakdowns there’s eight male characters and one female character, but, it is changing. And the fact there is even one female character is a step towards it, so I think that’s that. I guess I just want to encourage more women to come into the video game industry and to run, write, produce, to direct and to feel like they can do that and that’s very possible and that maybe what you’re talking about is my idea of characters and what I said about rather than having a sex object or a butch warrior, masculine type, finding something in the middle and I don’t know what the plan is for that. I mean, I don’t write for video games, but I just, again want to plant that seed that anybody that’s watching that wants new ideas for that kind of thing I think that’s what women want to see, relatable, people that relatable and maybe it’ll bring more and more women to video games if that happens, a middleground.
Yeah, I quite like doing panels on that note. I do find when you get to go to these events and you get to speak to women directly who might have any sort of question, and you get that one-on-one attention, you can speak to a pretty broad audience at a time and that’s always really nice. Depending on the con, you can get pretty big audiences [chuckles] to shout that message out and it’s pretty great.
I’m curious, how much of that gender division in terms of the number is down to prejudice or pandering in the games themselves and the way they’re being written or is it the types of stories, the types of narratives, that are being made into games. So for example, with Call of Duty it’s not a surprise that game is entirely populated by male characters. So how much of it, I guess, is prejudice or a desire to exclude women from that space and how much of it is the type of games people are playing?
Right well, as they say, I think it’s about 50% of gamers are women. But of course, it is not divided equally amongst games. You have a lot of times with FPSs, you have a grand majority of that to be men, but not to exclude, some of my favourite streamers women of Rainbow Six Siege, so I know several of them. And yeah, as I mentioned with AnneMunition for example yesterday, she just posted a video of what it’s like to be a gamer girl. People being like “You’re a girl, you’re a girl!” at her and like “get off the stream, you’re a girl, you’re a gamer girl” and just getting sorta plummeted. Obviously there’s a real trend in FPSs being a more sort of as one would say masculine territory and maybe a lot more like cellphone games, or puzzle games, and things like that tend to be more women heavy. Zelda, I found, is a really equal split I get maybe six year old girls coming up on their Switches and being like “oh my gosh” and I’m like wow you guys are awesome. But you see, you see a big wash of across the board for RPGs. Umm yeah, how much do I think? I wish I knew so I could get into there more and figure out how to change that, um, stigma around the exclusion on that somehow. But I don’t know how, but I will be looking into that into the future, ‘cause I do think it’s both.
Yeah, um, I think going on that topic, some things I’ve seen and I think I’ve maybe had a different experience in some ways I’ve played a lot of, I’m part of Titanfall 2, Shadow of War, Assassin’s Creed, um.. Horizon Zero Dawn is different as I was discussing, but those, those, I guess seen as masculine games. I think there’s two issues that maybe need to be addressed which is looking at the top down, you know, there seems to be a lot of people that are female at the level of the when we’re creating a game but the decision making I’m not sure how many, I would like to know the numbers on how many decision makers in the company owners are male, male and female, you know what I mean. It would be interesting to see that. And also marketing, I think marketing is also important and uh, I know when they did Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I have to admit I was upset that Evie was on one side of the game and that Jacob was in the centre. And it was really marketed like that, and unless you play the game you don’t know that. So, um, I think marketing plays a huge part in that. And sometimes in marketing, it’s not their, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. There’s the communication that’s missed because they don’t know the game and they don’t have, there’s so many NDAs that nobody knows what’s actually in the game so that informing and communicating the game and saying how do we want to present this. And having the… Courage to present it with female characters, I think there’s a, there’s a fear to present these female characters in case they don’t get the sales. And I think that we’re getting past that now, and that fear needs to be eradicated. Yeah.
Being a female gamer, I understand how there’s not a lot of representation in terms of women and being in the forefront of the games, being the star of it. Is there like any big franchises you’d wanna wish or love to get involved in and break that kind of stereotype? For example, Call of Duty is very male dominated industry, especially you know, but is there any type of gaming franchise that you guys would like to tackle and break that stereotype so that it’ll be like more like equal for men and women?
Well I feel like I’ve been trying to do that with Assassin’s Creed. I mean yeah there’s obviously some playable female characters in the other games, but this is the first for next generation console. And I think it has broken a lot of boundaries doing that, and uh, and I think there’s still with that franchise a way to go. Um, especially with Call of Duty too. I think they may have some playable female characters too.
Well yeah, there’s like one and three men.
Well yeah, that’s what we’re dealing with at the moment. And that’s unfortunately the way it is, but it is changing. The fact there is, Evie in Assassin’s Creed, and the fact these characters are in Call of Duty, that it is changing. But it’s still, I don’t understand. It’s 2018 and it’s still prevalent, very heavily prevalent in this industry.
But is there a specific game franchise you’d love to--
I’d love to be in Call of Duty, I would like to do that. I think that I think it’s cool right? It’s got the World War stuff, and yeah. What about you?
I was just thinking, we were just talking about those inequality, but I’m so happy to be part of the Rainbow Six Siege, for example, that has some amazing female characters in that and I do feel like that a lot of Ubisoft’s, uh, mandate has been to try to fix that problem as much as possible in the last years. And I think they’re doing a great job, you feel more and more comfortable working in that environment as time goes on. It’s more and more equal, again, it’s still when you look at even just the breakdown of total roles even if a women is out front. You have like ten guys for the background, just like sheer numbers of access to work in general. Not just in video games but in TV and film, where they’ll put a lead out front and there’ll be one women and three men. It’s almost the standard sort of, the standard sort of thing you see on a billboard these days. So I don’t know it’s--
Do you know about Geena Davis? You know what she’s doing?
No I don’t know what she’s doing.
Yeah so Geena Davis: I’ve been working with them with the last show, Extinct, and she has a foundation for women in TV and film and I don’t know, like I need to talk to them about video games, but they basically, have a program and an app that run the statistics on how many female characters, and um, even background characters, everything across the board, the crew. And they look at it, they present the statistics to Warner Brothers, Sony, and they’re very, in an articulate way, so it’s no, there’s no like negative connotations but she’s able to, she built this foundation now that’s really looking at how we’re presented. Because of, such as TV and film, are so influential on women of every generation. You know, and if we’re not seeing these women do anything, I think that’s why we’re evolving. You know, I know there’s the generation above us and the generation above that, there was just that there was no opportunities. They didn’t see that, they didn’t see role models of that, so it was like you’re a mother and you’re a wife and that’s, well okay if you do something else then good for you, but we’re not going to encourage it you know? So it’s, it’s great now that, that the boundaries are being broken and as you were saying with Rainbow Six, Horizon Zero Dawn is great. Aloy is just, I just did that with Frozen Wilds. I played two new female characters in that and it’s great, really great and really equal, and Guerrilla Games are doing a great job of that. And I think they’re getting lots of recognition for it too.
Yeah yeah, Overwatch too.
And Overwatch, have you spoken to Lucy?
Lucie Pohl? Yeah she’s awesome.
It’s been great being able to speak to you guys, but we’ve got to let you go.
So too has Day 2 of the round table ended. Again, thanks to Patricia Summersett, Victoria Atkin, and MCM for allowing me to join in on the round table. Stay tuned for the final part 3, where we wrap up the discussion of gaming culture, and relax with a glass of port and canned oysters.