Prey lead designer Ricardo Bare explains why diverse characters matter in games. Bare specifically mentions NPC (non-player character) Sarah Elazar, a woman of colour who plays a significant role in the game.
Previously, developer Arkane Studios revealed why Prey has a Asian protagonist (and a female character option), saying that it didn’t want its game to star another white, male lead.
Prey Dev on Why Representation Matters
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During a recent Twitch stream held by Gamasutra, Bare responded to a fan who thanked the Prey developer for the “incredible representation in the game,” as they can’t think of any Jewish representation as good as Sarah Elazar. Elazar is an Ethiopian Jew who serves as the security chief on the Talos 1 space station, where the sci-fi game is set.
Thanking the fan for the feedback, Bare said that “there’s a ton of characters on the space station but there’s four or five main character ” with Elazar being one of them. Players can learn more about the “very confident, brave woman” when she talks about her mother, her background and her history. Going into her room or office will also uncover “little details” about the character.
Agreeing that “representation matters,” Bare also said that “as a game developer and a writer, it’s just interesting to learn about people that aren’t like myself and do the best that I can to put those kinds of people in the game.” Meanwhile, “as a gamer, I’m interested to go to places that I’ve never been and interact with people that I might not normally interact with.”
Additionally, the Prey developer discussed the “pyschological impact” that well-written side characters may have on players and how they play the game. Bare explained that:
“It probably only matters for people who notice those things. And there’s a surface level read on things where you’re just like, ‘okay she’s a security chief who’s asking me to mow down aliens. Got it. I’m just blazing through the game and having fun with the mechanics.’
[But] if you’re the kind of player who really likes to investigate those things then it may actually inform the choices you make. Because a lot of the times in the game we present the player with some choices around what to do about these characters that you meet. So I think learning about them absolutely informs the choice you make. Especially if as designers we do a good enough job of humanizing them.”
Although Bare only spoke of the Jewish and non-white representation in the game, this isn’t the only positive rep that Prey has been praised for. LGBT players have also pointed out that when playing Prey as the female protagonist version of Morgan Yu, she still seems to have an ex-girlfriend, making her one of few LGBTQ characters in games.
On social media, Prey fans have also pointed out how many lesbian NPCs feature in the game, as well as how Morgan Yu’s secretary has a crush on his boss regardless of the player character’s gender.
That’s relatively unsurprising given that Arkane Studio is also the developer behind Dishonored 2, which was also praised for its gay and bisexual characters (as well as its characters of colour) but it’s positive to see that the company is clearly committed to delivering proper representation.