The biggest change Arkane Studios brought to its Dishonored franchise in Dishonored 2 was making Emily Kaldwin playable. In an interview with Engadget at E3 2017, Arkane’s co-creative director, Harvey Smith, said it was criticism about the lack of female characters in the first game that led to Emily being playable in the second.
“At first you take some criticism and you go, ‘Wait a minute,’ and then you go look and it’s like, ‘Wow, every woman in Dishonored 1 is either a servant, a prostitute, a witch, a queen or a little girl,’” Smith said. “Or a mistress. We had a mistress. That was not our intention.
“When something like that pops up, you can get defensive if you want, or you can say, ‘Guys, let me just ask this: Did we mean that?’ And the answer is no, we did not mean that.”
Smith, who was being interviewed by Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian, told her it was one of her videos examining the role of women as background characters in games that led to Arkane Studios having a conversation about Dishonored.
“We internally sat down. ... Your comment I will always remember, and I will take it to my grave,” Smith said. “It was something like, while Dishonored is a game that does many things very well, the roles that it has for women are very narrow.”
Dishonored 2 gives people the option to either play as Corvo, the main character from Dishonored, or Emily, who was a 10-year-old princess Corvo had to rescue in the first game.
Dishonored 2 is currently available to play on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. A follow-up, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, is scheduled to be released in mid-September.