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Interview: Julie Nathanson, Far Cry 5's Jess Black, Speaks Out

As the video game industry continues to evolve and deliver new and exciting games to the outspoken gaming community, so too must developers elevate game content to reflect an ever-changing world. We have witnessed first-hand how video games can make a mark on society, such as the discourse surrounding games’ influence on violence and influencing  human behavior overall. But beyond the topic of violence, there is a case to be made in support of diversification and inclusion within video games, specifically in relation to women and minorities.

Julie Nathanson – the voice of Far Cry 5’s expert huntress, Jess Black – stated in an interview with TheGamer, that not only is there a “market for it,” there is also a “hunger for games with a focus on women and minorities.”

Whether you consider yourself a hardcore gamer who rarely misses out on playing every new game, or you’re a more casual gamer who plays a title or two a year; chances are that you’ve heard Julie Nathanson’s voice. The television, film, and video game voiceover actress continues to leave an impressive mark on the gaming industry, having provided her voiceover talents on games such as Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XV, and most recently, Far Cry 5.

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Julie’s insights on a market existing for more female-driven games are spot-on. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)’s annual reports and yearly targeted surveys for their Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report, women have comprised nearly half of the entire gaming population – and never less than 40% overall – since the association started publishing the statistics in 2008.

It’s also hard to argue against Julie’s mention of the “hunger” for more female character-driven games. Especially if you take a glance at Julie’s timeline on Twitter, highlighting the love that she – and Jess Black – have received since Far Cry 5’s release in March. The love for such a strong female character presents a clear case that an increase in female leads in video games would be more than welcomed.

During her nine years (and counting) history with ArenaNet working on Guild Wars 2, Julie has voiced many strong female characters that offer depth and complexity to the game. Providing her voice for such varied characters and, as she states, “dropping into that world of mysticism,” helps maintain her overarching goal of embodying the strength and depth of her characters.

Via Reddit/Jason Willheim

Strength and depth are ideal characteristics for any lead character, regardless of gender. Considering the success of games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Horizon Zero Dawn, as well as the excitement surrounding the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, should the industry increase the presence of strong, female characters moving forward?

“Let’s do it,” Julie exclaimed.

Jess Black, Julie’s most recent character, is one of the AI-controlled companions that players can utilize in Far Cry 5 for assistance. Jess’ background involves a story unsuitable for those faint of heart, as she, as Julie states, has “gone through hell.” Jess Black’s strength in moving forward through life with such a heavy past is one of the defining traits that Julie wanted to embody with the character, which she certainly succeeded in doing.

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