‘Alien: Isolation needed a female protagonist’ says lead designer
games™ recently got the chance to sit down with Gary Napper – the lead designer on Creative Assembly’s upcoming Alien: Isolation. The game’s central protagonist, Amanda Ripley, is the daughter of the original film’s Ellen Ripley – and the family resemblence is strong.
Amanda is a survivor, before anything else – a fine homage to her doomed mother. After we spent some time getting to know Amanda during a 4-hour demo session, we felt compelled to ask Napper what the motivation was behind continuing the Ripley bloodline directly within Isolation.
“For us, we never even thought about having a male lead,” he reveals. “From the beginning, we made our test bed, and our test bed had a female protagonist in it.
“Alien: Isolation was always going to have a female lead, whether that was Amanda Ripley or a character of our own creation. It just felt right for the franchise, right for the setting – it’s just right.
“We’ve had people ask stuff like ‘do you feel more vulnerable being a woman in the game?’ …well, anyone in the situation you’re in aboard the Sevastopol is going to be vulnerable. I don’t think it matters what gender you are in the game, really, but Ripley suits our game.”
We also quizzed Napper on his thoughts regarding the direction the rest of the industry is headed, and whether he thought Alien: Isolation was setting a good example by releasing a game featuring a strong, female protagonist who’s gender – really – isn’t made that much of an issue within the game’s narrative itself.
“As a designer, I think that yes, people need to be more considerate about the sexes and races and representation we put into games, but I’m really against forcing designers to do it,” Napper explains. “If someone wants to make ‘Two Bearded White Guys: The Video Game” they should get to do it. The interesting thing, of course, would be to not do that, but you should be free to choose.”
Alien: Isolation is out October 7 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC, and the full interview with Gary Napper (along with comments from Isolation’s creative director Ali Hope) can be found in games™ 151, on-sale now – you can buy it in stores, online or digitally.