When the third installment in Luxoflux’s True Crime series was first conceived at Treyarch it wasn’t intended to be part of that franchise at all.
Instead, it was first pitched as an entirely different project: ‘Black Lotus’, inspired by Hong Kong action-cinema and featuring an Asian female assassin as the player character (for evidence, check the LinkedIn profile of former EP Chris Archer, who lists “Black Lotus (Canceled - Reformed as True Crime: Hong Kong” among his professional credits).
One individual, a former employee, tells us that the original concept for Black Lotus’ protagonist had been modeled on actress Lucy Liu, whose action-heroine roles in films like Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill formed the basic inspiration. “Black Lotus was a great project internally,” says the source. “We were all very proud of what we were trying to make and the team was excited. We made great progress.”
But 2007 was a year when the top sellers on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 included Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Assassin’s Creed and Madden NFL – and the conclusion Activision took from that was that there was no room on the market for games starring a female main character. Another former employee with knowledge of the situation explains: “We were all on board, and then Activision killed it, said they don’t do female characters because they don’t sell.”
“Activision gave us specific direction to lose the chick,” says the other source plainly.
Maybe they could meet gamers half way and use transgender protagonists.
Maybe they could stop using dumb stereotypes and come up with an original, cool character like Kate Archer.
We were told the same thing by a publisher we once worked with. I think it’s a fairly common trope.
after reading this, I’m like ROFL, but it’s an inside joke, can’t share it at this moment.
But 2007 was a year when the top sellers on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 included Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Assassin’s Creed and Madden NFL – and the conclusion Activision took from that was that there was no room on the market for games starring a female main character.
I can see drawing the conclusion that you can’t sell with a female main character, but “no room”? Like, there’s just too many female main character games based on that list? The English language is dead.
From the comments:
While working on Scarface, Pete L. and I added a wealth of strong female characters to try to offset the macho overdose of Tony Montana. Bai Ling voiced one of them, for instance, and she was about as castratory as a female character could get. We had little illusions of making that product for female audiences, but did think the strong female characters both supported Tony’s unwillingness to kill women, and bring a laugh for girlfriends and wives in earshot of the boys playing our game. I mention this because management from Vivendi, which later merged with Activision, kept asking for things that were outside both our rating and Tony’s moral code. Peter Wallnutt (or something like that) asked for a micro-game where Tony hired a prostitute (feature chasing GTA), got locked into an interactive NIS, and held a gun to her head to force her to perform certain gratifications, toggle the analogue sticks to win, or Tony shoots her. We nodded politely and quickly backed out of the room. As accountable, sentient developers, we were not putting something that crass or macho-sadistic into the game, and we didn’t. I’m not saying all management is evil, but I am saying the management at then Vivendi had a lot of boys club elements that seemed to have a real penchant for objectifying women as disposable chaff, and when so many impressionable young boys buy into that mentality, then of course that’s where the money is, and lowest common denominator boys club product results.
Fuckin’ Bitches, why don’t they work?
See? The games industry really is just like Hollywood.
Gamers only have themselves to blame.
Don’t look at me, I played FemShep.
Asia’s great with female representation!
True crime looks awesome anyway, so who am I to nitpick?
Hell yeah, space bitch rocks!
Man, some of those derogatory comments on Gamasutra really are depressing.
Gamasutra needs a better way of screening accounts. Activision needs a better PR department.
Originally Monolith was going to make the protagonist a man. Too James Bond-y for the lawyers I assume.
I would love to have a third NOLF game!
It’s called Contract J.A.C.K., and it’s as close as you’ll ever get. :(
While there are way too many games that insist on a male protagonist, I can see the point to a degree. I know a number of people who simply cannot play as a female character in a game. It’s not because of anything more complicated then a tendency to roleplay the character (so to speak) as themselves and having a hard time identifying with a female on the screen. Which is why I think more games need to follow the Mass Effect route and simply offer a gender choice. Even Borderlands managed that. Sure, it’s more development time and cost, but you also open things up to everyone’s tastes.