Although sexism in video games is often discussed, it's still, obviously, a major problem in the industry, at least according to Dontnod, the developer behind upcoming title Life Is Strange.
In a recent developer's diary video, Life Is Strange creative director Jean-Maxime Moris speaks about how several publishers originally turned down the title because of its female lead, some even insisting that the lead character be male.
Fortunately, Square stepped in and saved the day, agreeing to publish the game as is, which releases later this month.
"Square is basically the only publisher that didn't want to change a single thing about the game," says Moris. "We had other publishers telling us 'make it a male lead character,' and Square didn't even question that once."
Unfortunately, Dontnod has seen this from the industry before. They had similar problems with one of their previous games, Remember Me, which also featured a female lead. After the game's release, Moris reported that publishers also turned down that game for the same reason.
However, even if Remember Me had seen a gender switch in its main character, Moris stated that publishers insisted that one scene, where the lead kisses another male, be deleted.
"I'm like if you think like that, there's no way the medium's going to mature," says Moris. "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."
Even best-selling titles, such as 2013's BioShock Infinite, played down the importance of in-game NPC female character Elizabeth, by delegating her portrait to the back cover of the game (although her story is central throughout much of BioShock Infinite's gameplay). After fan outrage, though, developer 2K games released a reversible cover for the title in response.
Other developers see similar stories: although BioWare embraced the popularity of the female version of lead Mass Effect character Commander Shepard, the character didn't see cover art until the release of Mass Effect 3. And that was reversible cover art, with the male Shepard acting as the default option upon the game's release. This is particularly odd since BioWare recently announced that Shepard was originally seen as female by those who created the game.
So exactly why is this still happening? It's no secret that women make up nearly half of the video game playing public now. And titles featuring women have done well, especially when looking at the success of BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, The Last Of Us, BioShock Infinite and Mirror's Edge.
Regardless, there is still a misconception that gamers don't want to play female lead characters. Unfortunately, until we get past that, we'll see more stories like this.
What can we do? The answer is obvious: support publishers like Square, who aren't afraid to bring female lead characters to the video gaming public.