In the interview I did for Kill Screen's intimacy issue, I sort of allude to a specific person accusing me of writing Digital from an explicitly male perspective. (I wish I could say it's the only time it’s been said; ridiculously, it’s not.) There was actually a story behind that, but understandably, it got cut for space.
The context was that, during an interview for some news site, the following ridiculous question got sprung on me. You can tell that it kind of blind-sided me.
We must say that we really fell in love with Emilia, thanks to her simplicity and frankness. Why did a female producer decide to create a title that indirectly refers to a male main character? Are videogames still considered a thing for “boys” only?
I have no idea where you got this impression, but if you think that Digital has an implicit male main character, then as a writer I have failed miserably. The main character is whatever you want to project onto; as far as I’m aware, most people played it as if it were simply themselves. There isn’t a single word in Digital that ever suggests that the player character is male. That’s not by accident. If I were playing a game like Digital, and it assumed I was male, it wouldn’t just break the immersion; it would be extremely offensive. (In fact, when writing Emilia’s dialogue, I wrote it as if the main character was a woman; although I was careful to make sure nothing she said wouldn’t make sense if the character was male.)
And there’s absolutely no reason why a game with a blank slate as a main character should have them be male. I never once considered demographics when writing the game— that might be important for making a commercial product, but for an artist putting out something for the love of it, it’s completely counter-productive. My only goal with Digital was to simply write a game that would appeal to someone like me.
I certainly don’t think video games are for males only. I don’t think there are enough games out there with good, strong female characters, and while it’s completely ridiculous to suggest that players need their protagonists to always have the same gender that they do, it’s always nice for games to have heroes that are like yourself. If one can interpret Digital as being male-dominated, as being part of that problem, then I have clearly done something very, very wrong.
For some strange reason, that interview never got published.