Mass Effect 3 writer talks of industry "resistance" to creating diverse female characters

"Or any character that isn't both white and male."

A Mass Effect 3 writer has spoken about the difficulties faced within the games industry when creating "engaging" female characters.

BioWare scribe Ann Lemay described a particular experience when creating the game's Omega DLC and its key character Nyreen Kandros - the first female member of the turian race to be shown throughout any of the series' three games.

Kandros was originally written as a much blander character, an asari with no relation to the storyline's focal character Aria "or anything to make her stand out", Lemay wrote on the EA blog.

Lemay's input helped change Kandros into her final form, meaning that if players have a female Shepard, the DLC stars a party of three strong female leads.

"It was never an issue," Lemay recalled. "Which is just as it should have been."

But the smooth approval process for these changes was something of an exception, rather than the norm.

"In all of my years in the video game industry, this request process was the simplest and smoothest I'd ever gone through, particularly for the creation of a significant female character.

"Creating diverse and engaging female characters - or any character that isn't both white and male - should not be such an issue."

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After more than ninety hours of the Mass Effect saga, the first female turian Nyreen Kandros.

It's worth wondering whether Kandros' approval process was made easier by the fact this was a character introduced within DLC - usually bought by those who are already fans of a game. And fans had been asking after a female turian character for some time.

"If we can move beyond the resistance to such characters in our games, both as non-player characters and as main protagonists, I honestly believe that we'll end up with richer narratives and a broader audience.

BioWare writer Ann Lemay

Lemay's comments come just a day after the developer of female-fronted adventure game Remember Me revealed that publishers had passed on the title due to the gender of its protagonist.

"We wanted to be able to tease on Nilin's private life, and that means for instance, at one point, we wanted a scene where she was kissing a guy," Remember Me's creative director Jean-Maxime Moris explained. "We had people tell us, 'You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward.'"

"I'm like, 'If you think like that, there's no way the medium's going to mature," Moris continued. "There's a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it's not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game. I don't know, that's extremely weird to me."

It's a stance with which Lemay seemingly agrees.

"If we can move beyond the resistance to such characters in our games, both as non-player characters and as main protagonists, I honestly believe that we'll end up with richer narratives and a broader audience, and the industry ends up with a bigger and more interesting playground," she concluded.

"It's a win-win all around."

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