I tried to take some time out today to think about the actual content of Lux & The Shadowmaker, rather than the marketing of the crowdfunder campaign, and thought I should write something about the characters, so I am starting with Lux, who is the character that you play ‘as’ in the game. One of the earliest decisions I made about the game was to make Lux a character who you don’t choose to play as a boy or as a girl, but as a child, regardless of who you are. I am interested in creating games where you aren’t just offered a cast of male characters, or a choice of male vs female characters, but in games where the gender of the characters is not important, and possibly disguised. So Lux is neither boy nor girl but a child.
When I was mulling over the idea of treating children as children rather than boys or tomboys, I had a flashback moment to one summer before I left primary school; walking along a wall with my friend and our little sisters, we took off our sweaty t-shirts, because it was a hot summer day. And I remember thinking that people wouldn’t be able to tell if I was a boy or a girl, but I would probably never be able to do that ever again, because once I hit puberty I couldn’t hide being female, whereas at 9 or 10 I could get dirty and be half-dressed and it was hard to tell.
I remember that age as being one when I could play football, and climb trees, and roll down steep hills. I hadn’t thought about being a ‘tom-boy’ for a long time, until I chose to make Lux a gender-free character as much as I possibly can. So one of my challenges now is to make Lux a believable 9 or 10 year old child, who behaves in a way that means they could be a girl or boy. When you play you won’t necessarily see a lot of Lux, as you will looking out of Lux’s eyes, so you might look down and see pyjamas and slippers, or catch a reflection in a mirror or a puddle.
In my mind I see Lux as something like an slighter older version of E.H.Shepard’s Christopher Robin, but in nightclothes that could be worn by any child, albeit not a modern child, as the game is set in a place that could be a hundred years ago, could be fifty years ago.
Another thing about creating a 9/10 year old is that they are not usually as tall as an average adult, and making the game as a 3d game (especially in the proposed immersive VR/Oculus Rift version) will involve setting the viewpoint lower than for a normal game. So as you explore your surroundings there will be things out of reach or tricky to see over, which I hope will be a little reminder of what things are like for children, living in a world that is (mostly) designed for adults.
And while I’m here, I’ve been playing with the Fey who will be flitting around throwing light into dark corners. So I thought I’d share this: