V.Next – An Episodic Cyberpunk Adventure Video Game Feat. A Female Criminal Hacker

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One of the biggest complaints about the billion dollar video game industry is that there are not enough games featuring lead female characters, or at least female lead characters that aren’t overly sexualized. It’s one of the reasons vlogger Anita Sarkeesian started her web series Tropes vs Women to examine and identify the problematic ways women are featured in video games.

Most of you already know about gamergate, the horrendous cyber-bullying trend that saw Anita and a small handful of female game developers on the receiving end of some vicious and threatening attacks by gamers world wide who decided that women speaking up about injustice in the industry was encroaching too much on their boys club so releasing their private details, threatening mass shootings and describing how they thought these women should be sexually assaulted and raped was a natural course of action.

With women making up almost half of the game-playing population worldwide (and in some demographics they outnumber men), it’s good news to see that despite the growing pains, change is happening and more games are being developed to cater to the increasing female audience. There was a lot of negativity surrounding the inclusion of female soccer players in the latest FIFA 16 video game, yet these progressive moves keep happening and eventually the voices of dissent will get bored and get used to the changing world.

At the latest E3 conference in Los Angeles where multiple game developers revealed new games, it was clear how much this change is being put into effect. The Mary Sue shared a list of 23 games that now feature “badass female characters” which included popular titles such as Mass Effect, Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Walking Dead Michonne, Assassin’s Creed, and Call of Duty which is one of the top ten biggest selling games of all time.

Now there is a new game to add to the mix, being developed by Seattle-based developer SyncBuildRun. It’s called V.Next and is described as a cyberpunk adventure featuring a lead female character. Vivienne Denue is a recently imprisoned computer hacker set free on the dark and futuristic streets of Seattle. In fact 50% of the characters are female from the images we can see already released by the developers.

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The team behind this new title is mostly male and has one female member – episodic writer Marcy Holland – and although this could be a negative aspect, we see it as a positive that there is a mostly male team working on a game where a complex female character is the focus of the story. In fact the team is a diverse crew who have experience writing for games, TV and film and have come together to create an experience like no other game, while also pushing the boundaries that still exist in some parts of the video game industry.

“Vivienne Denue is a hacker with no past. Captured by the police and forced to work at an electronics factory, her memory was erased as punishment for her crimes. Returned to the streets of Seattle, Vivienne must relearn her skills as a hacker, and understand who she was, how and why she was captured, and what she’s truly capable of. Street-smart and tech savvy, she’ll relearn her mastery of hardware and software in order to right the wrongs in society, and foil a complicated collusion between powerful executives, scheming Artificial Intelligence programs, and shadowy gangs of cyborgs,” says a description of the game.

“V.Next is a tale of growth, discovery, and agency. In a world where technology and society can be overwhelming, Vivienne is a beacon of hope, and a force for good. Players join and shape her journey of adventure and action over 18 weekly episodes, in a thrilling mash-up of a sci-fi television series and an interactive video game. Welcome to the world of V.Next, where only one woman can save a future society from itself.”

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The company plans on released the first episode late 2015, and pending sales of this, they will release more in the second quarter of 2016.

“Our first priority is creating great entertainment. We also want to embrace a progressive and inclusive attitude, and tell stories that feature diverse leading characters who are often overlooked by popular media,” said SyncBuildRun founder and CEO Paul Furio.

The episode will be available on Mac and PC platforms, with iOS and Android versions to follow. V.Next was also greenlit by Steam, a video game platform where users vote on the games they want to see being made.

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And if you are wondering whether this game is for you and if it is worth playing by both men and women, be assured that the story is one that will engage all audiences.

“V.Next is a story about what it takes to become the best, and how one person can make a huge positive impact on the world around them. You’ll take revenge on corrupt corporations and fight for the underclass by manipulating circuitry, coding up new infiltration software, hacking servers, and sneaking past surveillance systems. You’ll collude with Artificial Intelligence and rip through the city on your tricked out café racer, all before recharging the batteries on your cyberspace deck,” says the description about what you will be doing when playing as Vivienne Denue.

It’s important to see game developers of all levels in the industry pivoting toward a more inclusive focus with characters and story lines. The more gaming audiences see strong, badass female characters as normal, the more these types of games will be praised on storylines, technology and innovation, not gender. To keep up to date on more developments with this new game, be sure to sign up using this link.

Here is the trailer for V.Next as shared by SyncBuildRun:


 

 

 

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