While we all argue about female protagonists, Rhianna Pratchett points out that there’s a lot more needs to be done to address diversity in games
The games industry is having a right old to-and-fro and the subject of female protagonists at the minute. But it’s not just females in games that need to be addressed. Name a game that isn’t fronted by a white guy, or “Whitey McStubbly” as Rhianna Pratchett, writer of the new Tomb Raider calls them. You’ll struggle to hit double figures. Never mind people of other ethnicities; anyone outside of the straight male demographic is woefully ill represented in videogames.
Talking to Kill Screen, Pratchett feels this should be addressed, “It’s not an accurate representation of gamers, it’s not even an accurate representation of developers! Developers themselves are much more diverse than the characters. Whenever anybody talks about a need for more female protagonists I say: “There’s a need for more female protagonists, but there’s a need for characters of different ethnicities, ages, sexual orientation, ability, et cetera.” We are very narrow when it comes to our characters.”
The problem becomes actually getting them in games, “Getting more diverse protagonists is important, and just getting them in there will be the first step. But I do think it is a bit disingenuous to have a gay character and then not speak to that. It’s kind of like having a straight character who happens to like people of the same gender. Exploring something about what it means to be a gay character, bisexual character, transgender character, in games, that would create some interesting stories. I’m not sure we’re there yet. But I think getting those representations into games is the first step. Once we’re more comfortable with that, actually speaking to those issues a little more broadly will be possible.”
Maybe it’s this thinking that has got people wondering about Pratchett’s take on Lara herself, “I’ve seen a number of threads about Lara’s relationship with Sam that suspect there’s something more going on under the surface. With Faith [of Mirror's Edge] as well. I’ve seen an entire essay about how I have a “gay agenda.” That was an interesting take on it, and not necessarily something that I’d considered.
“There’s part of me that would’ve loved to make Lara gay. I’m not sure Crystal would be ready for it! But we’ve not spoken about it directly, either. Who knows what the future might hold? It is a bit of a minefield.”
Later in the interview Pratchett does suddenly realise what she’d said, “I just thought: ‘I’d love to make Lara gay!’ That’s probably going to be your headline.” And look, we totally didn’t!