In an interview with GamesInsdustry, The Last of Us developer and Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann said narratives in AAA titles are nearing a time when a non-sexualized female protagonist can exist in a commercially successful game.
According to Druckmann, independent studios releasing games with strong narratives are forcing AAA studios to push more toward more diverse storytelling.
“With big AAA titles, it’s sometimes hard to make these gigantic shifts as far as what a game is or what kind of story it could tell,” Druckmann said, but adding that independent titles are forcing changes in big-game studios.
Druckmann said that as more examples of strong narratives in games come to fruition, gamers will expect better narratives that break stereotypical molds of a “commercially successful” game.
“I hope criticism of games and game narratives is becoming more sophisticated,” Druckmann said. “I think before you would have had a hard time talking about tropes and how women are represented in games, or how characters of color are represented in games. But now I’m kind of excited by the discussion and the kind of criticism games are getting.”
Druckmann said not all industry folk are excited to join that discussion of more diverse storytelling, but if the market calls for rapid change in video game narrative, those “who don’t engage in that discussion, who don’t try to appeal to audiences that are coming on, are going to be left behind.”
“I feel like AAA games … we’re on this cusp of at the very least seeing strong, non-sexualized female protagonists starring in games,” Druckmann said. “You’re going to see a lot more of those, and a lot more that are commercially successful.”
“A lot of times in AAA games, people feel like they need to play it safe because there’s so many parts of a giant corporation working on a global scale to launch a title that they don’t want to take too many risks. But once you have enough evidence to say, ‘Hey look, this is actually not a risk. This can succeed commercially,’ then creativity can flourish and new avenues can be pushed.”