Joanna Dark, inspired by science fiction and spy movies, made her own name in a universe written in masculine.
The presence and evolution of female characters in video games has been discussed multiple times in the media. In recent years, interest has increased in studying the representation of ladies and breaking stereotypes that have restricted creativity. However, we must not detract from those virtual women who redefined the role of video games beyond the classic male hero. Thus, Lara Croft was a revolution in digital entertainment. At first glance, her beauty and sensuality stood out, but also her security, autonomy and impudence. Without a doubt, the archaeologist inspired a legion of protagonists who became the active subject of her story, without being the satellite of a main character. Today we commemorate a Rare heroine whose charm matched that of the aristocrat: Joanna Dark, the protagonist of Perfect Dark, became an icon of the spy genre.
Female first person shooter
Martin Hollis, director and producer of Golden Eye and Perfect Dark, conceived for the latter a woman inspired by other personalities in the spy genre. Aware of the female revolution in video game narrative, she tells Now Gamer how it was time to have a woman in the first person of a shooting title: “We thought it would be really cool to have a heroine in an FPS, behind the camera. This broke all the rules. It was like YOU were a woman. I have fond memories of Kim Kimberly, legendary secret agent and space pilot. It appeared in [Sillicon Dreams] that interactive fiction trilogy from Level 9, and in Snowball, where the player was surprised to see that it was a woman, and this happened with the game well advanced, if I remember correctly ”.
Hollis declared a fascination for female spies and female protagonists of science fiction stories, which was the cornerstone of Joanna Dark’s design. The designer cites Fatality Agent X-27 (Josef von Sternberg), Dana Scully (The X Files) and Nikita (La femme Nikita) as his most admired. “I also think there should be more video games focused on women,” said Martin. “After having a game with a male lead, it seemed to me to create another title with a female lead. Also, we wanted her to be average, not to look like a super model. We even wanted it to look androgynous. ”
The perfect secret agent
On the face of it, the undeniable appeal of Joanna Dark — also called Jo — may contradict Hollis’s statements, although Rare strove to create a woman whose main charm was not a pretty face. In designing their apparel, they prioritized pragmatism over seduction, as David Doak explains in Nintendo Life: “Back then, we loved Sylvester Stallone’s Ghost in the Shell and Judge Dredd, which influenced us a lot. . We also took a lot of inspiration from old anime. Joanna’s outfit is modeled after Ghost in the Shell, the leather outfit is based on Emma Peel’s from The Avengers, and the dragon dress got the Killer Instinct design. ”
Joanna Dark’s face was inspired by Winona Ryder, according to Brett Jones, studio animator and director of motion capture. Among all the references they had collected from the studio to create the spy, the actress from Inocencia Interrupted caught the attention of the studio with her pixie-style haircut and sweet features, but full of personality.