Dishonored 2 and why I chose to play Emily instead of Corvo
Emily or Corvo? If you’re playing Dishonored 2, which will you choose? I came to my decision the hard way. Maybe you’ll be quicker off the mark than me…
With more than a touch of steampunk noir, Dishonored 2 takes you to a beautiful world of gloom, stealth, secrets and whale oil. After playing the first game I cared (possibly excessively) about who would be my eyes, ears and hands on my second foray into Dunwall and the environment I love beyond measure. So why did Arkane Studios and Bethesda make it so hard for me to choose between two amazing characters to play? Ugh, nightmare.
I could have spent the first hour of D2 getting right into it. Instead, I flicked between Emily to Corvo until my heart grew as sore as my thumb, feeling utterly unsure of myself, the world, or anything. I researched the hell out of my choice consequences on gamer forums and felt more torn than ever. I agonised, people. And I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone.
So maybe I should talk about why I chose to play Emily in Dishonored 2, and if you’re feeling the same pain I did, it may help to make your decision easier.
Corvo? Oh, I was so invested in Corvo. We’d spent countless hours together, Dourboy and I. With water under his bridge from the first time we headed to Dunwall, he had a death to atone for (forgive me – it was a guard at the beginning). Corvo and I had a score to settle with destiny, and I wanted him to walk away from Dishonored 2 with a clean slate. Oh, and also I utterly adore him. Look at his moody masky face. Look at him skulking with rats and scavenging for whale oil like a badass. LOVE HIM.
Emily? Well, new powers are always interesting. Oh, the pain of choosing between the new and the familiar! I felt like Bilbo Baggins, unsure whether or not to step outside the door. If I chose Emily I’d lose Corvo’s famous blink power, the one that lets you teleport short distances utterly unseen. I would miss blink more than anything. While very enticing in terms of powers, novelty and character, Emily seemed a touch more geared to chaotic mayhem than my favoured stealth approach.
Should I take the risk and go for something new, and raincheck Corvo for my next playthrough?
After far too long I realised that my decision was actually very simple.
EMILY KALDWIN WAS A WOMAN.
Obvious, really. I don’t know why it took me so long. The thing is, I like playing women in video games. Emily is a woman. Yes she is. A woman, woman, woman. In the end, my decision finally boiled down to two tremendously unsexy things:
UNSEXY THING #1: PROFIT
UNSEXY THING #2: STATS
Games cost money to make. AAA games cost so, soooooooo much money. And having a female protag is seen as a financial risk. That’s why, if there’s a game with a female protag, I am going to buy it and play it. I am going to GIVE THEM MY CASH GIVE THEM ALL OF IT, TAKE MY SHIRT TOO I DON’T CARE ANYMORE.
With my super-wisely spent money I can send the people who matter a financial signal that diversity in games = profit, not risk. The Dishonored 2 team have given us a wonderful choice of protags. I’d like to reward them for this, because that way they will hopefully keep doing it. After all, it was a risk for them. A financial risk. Did I mention money yet?
So that’s all good – I’m buying a game with a woman in it, huzzah for me, I’m ready for my cookie now. But how will the Dishonored 2 team know that I not only bought their game but did so because I wanted to play as a woman? Well, that’s the other important thing.
Remember when Dragon Age: Inquisition (one of our favourite games) released stats on Inquisitor genders? Big data rules the world. If someone’s collecting Dishonored 2 statistics, and I’m sure they are even if they don’t announce it, I want those data gnomes to know that I played Emily first. I want the Dishonored 2 team to feel really, really great about the fabulous game they made, and to know Emily Kaldwin is well-received by audiences.
So… Corvo and I will definitely hang out again. Yes, we’ll proper do our backs in, like, with our constant sneaking through sewers, because a life not spent sneaking 24/7 is a life unlived. We’ll blink our way all the way into the otherlands, he and I. But not now. Not on this first playthrough.
This is Emily’s time. Because diversity in games is the future, and it can be our present. All the love that my black little heart can muster goes out to the people who are working so hard to make it our present, from indie studios like Giant Spacekat and Double Fine Productions (looking at you, Broken Age) to AAA game studios turning out the likes of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
So I don’t care if you play Animal Crossing or Dark Souls. I don’t care what gender or orientation or genre you play. What I do care about is your being able to play the kinds of games you like.
And yeah, I want studios to know that if they’re making a good game with a female protag, happy gamers are going to BUY it.