Remember Me creative director discusses gender equality

Dontnod Entertainment has said that casting Nilin as the lead in its upcoming Remember Me "just felt right", but the Creative Director Jean-Maxime told Shacknews that the game is more about gender equality than the developer first envisioned.

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Dontnod Entertainment has said that casting Remember Me's Nilin as the lead in its upcoming action-adventure "just felt right," but the creative director Jean-Maxime Moris told Shacknews that the game is more about putting men and women on the same social and professional footing than the developer first envisioned.

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

Moris said the team had to be careful with Nilin at the same time, given that their core audience tends to be males in the 15-to-25 age range. "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," he said. "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."

Having a female lead was necessary to further push the story of intimacy and personal memories in Remember Me's cyberpunk world of Neo-Paris, Moris said. "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."

Moris said a lot of thought went into Dontnod's vision of what Paris would be in 2084. "Our narrative director (Alain Damasio) and lead writer (Stéphane Beauverger) are award winning sci-fi authors, and our art director (Aleksi Briclot) is a world renowned concept artist. They recruited a team of experts in their fields and did an amazing amount of research on every single detail of the Neo-Paris landscape, from architecture to what people eat for breakfast and everything in between."

Granted, sci-fi ideas come from what the developers read, watch or play, and Moris said that Memento, Blade Runner and even the works of Phillip K. Dick have had some influence on the game. But he said the movie Inception, which came out two years into the game's development cycle, made him feel like they were on the right track.

"Watching it, I felt like my design documents were flashing before my eyes," he said. "It made me feel a bit bad because what I was putting my whole heart into felt a bit less fresh for the first time. But ultimately the movie was a good thing as it made pitching the game to publishers much easier."

From The Chatty

  • reply
    April 15, 2013 11:15 AM

    Timothy J. Seppala posted a new article, Remember Me creative director discusses gender equality.

    Dontnod Entertainment has said that casting Nilin as the lead in its upcoming Remember Me "just felt right", but the Creative Director Jean-Maxime told Shacknews that the game is more about gender equality than the developer first envisioned.

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      April 15, 2013 12:04 PM

      Why is the director so focused on the fact that their protagonist is female?

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        April 15, 2013 12:14 PM

        Gets him the chicks clicks.

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        April 15, 2013 12:15 PM

        Because this kinda thing has become an issue again for god knows what reasons.

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          April 15, 2013 2:43 PM

          yeah how dare all women in video games not be one dimensional and exist solely for the benefit of male audiences. straight white buff men forever (no gay shit)

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            April 15, 2013 3:18 PM

            games are made to appeal to people who buy video games, aka straight 18-35 year old men. Its not rocket surgery.

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              April 15, 2013 5:44 PM

              The average age of someone buying a game is 35, with the largest demographic playing being 37 years or older. 47% of players are women, and adult women make up a larger demographic than males under the age of 18. 48% of the frequent purchasers are women.

              http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf

              "Bu-bu-but casuals!"

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              April 16, 2013 8:43 AM

              And maybe if video games weren't squarely aimed at 18-35 year old males, more people outside of that demographic would play them. Hmmmmmm.

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        April 15, 2013 12:31 PM

        Haha, because the news lately.

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        April 15, 2013 1:46 PM

        Because we should be critical of what has come to be quite homogeneous, lazy storytelling efforts in all forms of media and by having a main female lead that doesn't fall into the typically assumed roles for the gender (ie: 'requiring assistance' or 'serving as an object of sexual attraction') is a step to be proud of.

        In an ideal world, this wouldn't even be news. But in 2013, as the video game entertainment industry is still in it's growing stages as a storytelling medium, we aren't there yet. I now leave you with a speech Joss Whedon gave at Equality Now, shortcutted right to the extremely relevant bit.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYaczoJMRhs&t=6m2s

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          April 15, 2013 2:43 PM

          thank you for this but i should tell you that joss whedon is a massive gross misogynist and his whole 'feminist' thing is bullshit

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            April 15, 2013 4:31 PM

            That's fantastic - could I bother you for some proof to back up your claim of his behavior?

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          April 15, 2013 8:16 PM

          Thing is though, precedence has already been pretty well established for a while.

          Jade - Beyond Good and Evil

          Samus - Metroid series (probably the first and best example)

          Faith - Mirror's Edge

          Fem Shep - Mass Effect series (I know you can customize her appearance but overall she is a strong female persona no matter what path you take)


          My point is that the precedence has been so well established that it hardly warrants mentioning. Just make your character and let the reception speak for itself.

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            April 15, 2013 8:25 PM

            Wow, four characters rolled off your tonfingers. Clearly we have reached the zenith of equality in narratives.

            I know there are others, but are you really going to question that male is still default? Hell, in Mass Effect, it's literally the default gender, and in basically every other game I can think of where gender is an option, male is the default.

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              April 15, 2013 10:36 PM

              Lets take it a step further and create characters with no female/male attributes. Its the only way to be equal.

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                April 15, 2013 10:45 PM

                Ding ding ding. I would actually be fully behind that idea.

                I think games often use gender as the 'least common denominator' for creating a character that one can empathize with. "Oh, you're a man? Check this out - your character is a man. You know how that must feel, you know, to be him."

                I'd absolutely love a gender-less character. That'd be a greater challenge for any writing staff.

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                  April 16, 2013 6:29 AM

                  I really need to stop using sarcasm on the internet

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              April 15, 2013 11:35 PM

              My point isn't addressing whether or not there's a balance.

              I was addressing the issue that the devs have been toting the female protagonist like it's some revolutionary idea. It isn't.

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                April 16, 2013 12:54 AM

                No one is saying its revolutionary, where are you getting that from?

                People are saying its difficult to get a game funded with a female protagonist, which is true. Which is something that reflects really poorly on videogames.

                Why do so many male gamers get so fucking cranky and uptight regarding any gender equality issues in games? Why do they feel so put out or get so defensive about these discussions?

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                  April 16, 2013 1:06 AM

                  They've been riding this like it's a feature. The implications are clear. They believe that this game is a progressive step forward for gaming. Let's not be blind here.

                  That said, I'm all for the agenda. I don't mind it at all. Hell I'll play a homosexual main character so long as the game is good. But let's point out the bullshit marketing as we see it. All of this press regarding female leads is a tune some people want to hear.

                  I want to hear more about the gameplay itself and move on from the issue. The game looks great and they should focus on that instead.

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                    April 16, 2013 1:32 AM

                    Nearly every videogame released has unbearable marketing. Also i've seen a bunch of stuff relating to this game that didn't just focus on the equality agenda, maybe you should try different gaming news sources.

                    I dont know, i think complaining about marketing unless its genuinely offensive is totally redundant, especially if we're talking about a title that might prove to be somewhat unique that has not only struggled to find funding, but also get noticed.

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                April 16, 2013 1:16 AM

                Is having a female protagonist entirely novel? No. Is it fleetingly rare and fighting against a tidal wave of media that often enough seem to even forget women exist? Yes.

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                  April 16, 2013 1:33 AM

                  The fact we have to discuss this is depressing in itself.

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                  April 16, 2013 1:49 AM

                  Thing is though, this is not a gaming thing. Gaming, in terms of its story telling is only mirroring what is been in existence in every visual medium.

                  Most games are action based which will naturally mimic action movies, comics, and tv. The very same tropes that people are pointing out in video games are very present in movies with the same proportional slant.

                  Think about how more story oriented games such as Roleplaying games tend to have more strong female characters (although not always a lead or POV character). The same can be said with their cinematic parallels.

                  Japanese games by in large tend to follow the same tropes as anime and Japanese cinema.

                  If there was a gaming equivalent to the Chick flick, I'm sure it would follow many of the same tropes and trends.

                  Gaming is an emerging medium. It is only merely imitating what has been already hard set into our cultural norms throughout. I'm not saying that we shouldn't do anything about it but to single out gamers and the gaming industry is just plain absurd. It has little to do with gamers and is something much bigger than the medium itself.

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                    April 16, 2013 2:06 AM

                    Did I even mention gaming specifically outside of my acknowledgment of your list? I recognize it's not just the game industry that has this problem. I selected my words carefully.

                    However, on the specific topic of the game industry, as easy, and seemingly financially "safe," as it is to just mimic the behavior of other large media, I'm going to go ahead and say it's not an excuse. It's lazy, offensive, and to a degree, boring.

                    Even if Remember Me turns out to be a poorly developed game, so what? I'm glad the developer is very publicly criticizing the industry, because it should be called out on things like this until it corrects.

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                    April 17, 2013 1:53 AM

                    The point is we want games to grow up and not just draw their influences from such a confined and restrictive source. Thats why we're happy to see more female leads, and interested to hear more about it from the people who've struggled to make it happen.

                    Why you're arguing about this is beyond me.

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                  April 16, 2013 3:43 AM

                  I say old chap I've heard of no fewer than four four companies now employing women as secretaries. I daresay we should be able to put this issue about womens' place in the workforce to rest now. Clearly they have made their point.

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            April 15, 2013 10:27 PM

            Congratulations. You named four games made in the last... what, twenty years?

            Let's compare that to all the games featuring primary characters which are male and female characters which are either feeble or eye candy. Oh shit - my calculator just exploded.

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              April 16, 2013 12:02 AM

              I can name more. A lot more
              Joanna Dark - Perfect Dark
              Fem Hawke - Dragon Age 2
              Cate Archer - No One Lives Forever
              Ayame - Tenchu
              Lightning - Final Fantasy XIII
              Ashe - Final Fantasy XII
              April Ryan - Longest Journey
              Rosella - King's Quest
              Chell - Portal
              Zoey / Rochelle - Left 4 Dead
              Kameo - Kameo
              Jennifer Mui - Mercenaries


              My point is whether or not there's been a slant. Of course there's a slant. This exists in EVERY medium. My point is that it has existed and hardly warrants Remember Me being a revolutionary shining star.

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        April 15, 2013 3:18 PM

        and why don't we have white history month? really makes you think

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          April 15, 2013 10:38 PM

          Im still waiting for the yellow history month.

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            April 16, 2013 12:07 AM

            We can only brag about the railroad for so many times :-P

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        April 15, 2013 4:46 PM

        Riding the wave of media hype

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        April 15, 2013 6:49 PM

        The twist at the end: she's a dude, bro.

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        April 16, 2013 12:24 AM

        Because they were literally told by publishers that they shouldn't have one. And if they did, they certainly couldn't make her a real person with feelings and agency and all that stuff. As I recall.

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          April 16, 2013 12:39 AM

          Yea, but they've been boasting about this long before that article. I couldn't pull up the video, but I remember hearing them just going on and on about the fact that they have a female protagonist at a unveiling interview at a convention a year back.

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            April 16, 2013 12:42 AM

            Don't get me wrong. The game looks great. I just find the fact that they are so fixated on it so odd. Just make a good game and people will praise you for its qualities. A strong, respectable female lead will be among them.

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              April 16, 2013 12:50 AM

              Come on dont be dumb, videogames especially new IP need to take any and every opportunity to discuss there game from whatever angle gets them any attention at all.

              Furthermore if this game flops then it makes it even harder for the next team interested in a female protaganists.

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                April 16, 2013 12:52 AM

                if it makes it harder for the next game it's only because they've been pushing that angle so hard

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                  April 16, 2013 12:54 AM

                  You honestly think that? Come on.

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                    April 16, 2013 1:02 AM

                    Well apparently publishers have been iffy on taking a gamble on it. Honestly though, I do think that they may have jazzed up that story to be more than it really was.

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                  April 16, 2013 12:57 AM

                  Yea that's kind of my point. Sometimes it's just best to say your point with silence and just carry it out. No matter how progressive their point is, it's completely dependent on the quality of the game itself. If it's subpar then they've effectively done nothing to further the agenda or worse, like you say make publishers far more hesitant to approach that area for a while.

                  Now if they just focus on a strong game with a good story and solid female lead, people will notice and praise them on that merit. They would never have to say a single word about it. The action itself will speak volumes.

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        April 16, 2013 12:47 AM

        Because its currently a hot topic ans it sets this game apart from almost everything else right now.

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      April 15, 2013 6:35 PM

      Frankly, I still think they owe both Bungie and Studio IG royalties towards Oni and GitS.

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        April 15, 2013 10:43 PM

        Aww - you think Oni had an original concept in it's body.

        lol

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          April 15, 2013 11:24 PM

          I was including them from "gaming". Although, as I think of it, there was a GitS game on the PS1. Oh! One on PS2 and PSP as well.