January 20, 2018: What Seven Represents
Written by Ajané J.K. Celestin
I’ll jump right into this – this will be one of my most direct, and blunt blogs, because it’s something we’ve discussed many times before and I don’t think this topic should be sugar-coated.
Seven was ALWAYS a character meant to represent all of the people of the world who might play, as much as possible.
She was designed with that in mind, with no nationality.
She is, without a doubt, biologically a woman of color. To represent as many people as possible, she was designed with no clear ethnicity, and a skin tone in between pale and dark that is common of people of mixed heritage.
We chose a female because the majority of our fans and BTS’ fans are female.
However, inclusion was important to us, so we did offer the ability for a male route. But this would obviously take double the development time.
It wasn’t funded, however.
And lately, I’ve realized it’s actually a really good thing.
Most of our fans unexpectedly seemed to love Seven and approve of her, but there are, of course, people who don’t like her.
And I’ll be honest, they’re almost always males.
We’ve received dozens of comments like:
“I can’t feel comfortable playing her! Her skin tone should be lighter/darker!”
“I wanted to imagine myself, I don’t want a distinct character!”
“You should include males too!”
Which shows a few things:
One, that they did no research before making demands, because Seven was voted by the majority of fans to be a distinct character, not one without features and a male version (it was never going to be Seven, but a different character) was offered.
Two, it shows a total lack of respect for our creative vision and hard work – we do reserve the right to create our game as we see fit, even if we sometimes allow players to determine certain elements of it.
Three, it shows that they’re not considering the millions works of fiction where women are forced to assume the role of, or follow the journey of, a male (usually a white one).
But most importantly, it shows an unwillingness to experience the world as a woman of color.
I’ve realized that what began mainly as intent to logically represent as many people as possible has become something that was sorely needed.
If you’re a woman, you’re rarely represented as anything but a piece of eye candy. If you’re a woman of color, you’re even more rarely represented at all in the first place. But if you are – 90% of the time, you will find the character viewed negatively, as aggressive, stupid, subservient, or less than white or paler women.
Name the number of works in which a woman of color is viewed positively. As beautiful, strong, intelligent, and capable. Then name the number of works in which the men in the story aren’t threatened by her.
In To the Edge of the Sky, we have seven amazing, attractive, capable men. And now we have at least one feminine character who is their equal – someone for many other females of the world to look up to and feel empowered by. The members of Phantom Alpha do not judge Seven based on her appearance, so why should anyone else?
We at Aeon Dream Studios are proud of our work and we’re proud of Seven. Representation is so very important to seeing oneself as worthy and as creators, we feel it’s our responsibility to show females that they are just as worthy as males. We also want to enlighten those who have never seen the world this way.
It’s your choice. You can experience the original world we’re creating through her eyes, or you can choose not to play the game. We’re fine with whatever decision you choose, we’re not judging, but no one’s fear or opinions will sway us from creating our vision, from creating the work of fiction that we feel is needed in the world.
We want our game to spread love and understanding, and it all starts with Seven.
The thoughts contained herein reflect the personal thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and feelings of not only the writer, but the entire Aeon Dream Studios core team.