The Border House Podcast – Episode 3: Characters Done Right

Fang from Final Fantasy XIII

Fang from Final Fantasy XIII


Sorry for the delay everyone! But this episode, Denis Farr and I have a talk about Characters Done Right, and look further into how to succeed at creating diversity-aware characters.

We are still looking for transcribers! If you can volunteer to do 5 minutes of audio transcription, you would really help out the community. Please refer to this post for further details:

As well, the Podcast is looking for guest speakers! If you are actively writing about or developing games and would like to talk about diversity issues, let me know!


The Border House Speakers

Host: Mattie Brice

Editing: Kim

Denis Farr


Opening & Closing Credits - Was that away message for me? by 8bit Betty


About Mattie Brice

Mattie Brice is a game critic, designer, social justice activist, and student at San Francisco State University. She focuses her writing on diversity initiatives in the video game community, often bringing in the perspective of marginalized voices like transgender and multi-racial women to publications like Paste, Kotaku, The Border House, and Pop Matters. Mattie also consults and speaks at gaming related conferences like the Game Developers Conference and IndieCade. Her studies have led her to explore narrative design and plans to push the borders of how we think of the medium. Tweets at @xMattieBrice.
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6 Responses to The Border House Podcast – Episode 3: Characters Done Right

  1. You’re totally right about Aveline, and I hate it whenever someone gives her flack. She is one of the single greatest Bioware characters, hands down.

    Unfortunately, I did not like Vanille, because all I saw was a token peppy girl. There were a lot of times when she WASN’T and she was one of the best token peppy girls in FF games … but all I could imagine was some art designer getting turned on while drawing her. But “optimistic idiot” is an excellent description of why I’m learning to hate the token peppy girl more and more.

    And you bring up the “don’t read the comments” point … that’s something that really bothers me lately. I tried expressing my unhappiness with misogyny in certain places, and just brushed me off with “well don’t read the comments.” On one hand I see why reading them means you’re a glutton for pain, but on the other hand, you’re isolating yourself from society. That’s a symptom, not a solution.

    • Missy H says:

      I definitely agree with Vanille. To me, she seems like a very watered down version of Selphie (from FFVIII), which is interesting because Selphie seems to get a lot of flack for being the most tokeniest of token peppy girls in the FF series, even though I felt she was the best written “token peppy girl” in the series. She had her faults of course, but she was also a very human and well-rounded character. For example, when her Garden was destroyed by missiles and many of her friends killed, she didn’t dance around like an idiot or try to be chipper…she was distraught.

      One of the most memorable moments for me was when she first entered the destroyed Garden, was thrilled to see her best friend had survived and even jumped around a bit. Then as she moved further into the Garden, she got quieter and quieter, until she finally asked to be left alone (and even left the playable team) because she had realized that even though her best friend survived, her home was destroyed and many of her other friends were dead. It wasn’t a time to be dancing around and cheering. One of the sweetest moments of that sequence was when the teddy bear she had given a little boy before she left the Garden had gone missing in the missile strike, so she attempted to cheer him up by telling him that the teddy is out there somewhere, watching over them…even though it was obvious that she was completely devastated and trying her best to remain cheerful in front of the kids. It’s those small moments that made her such a real and human character…someone who people can relate to, despite her otherwise constant optimism and chipperness.

      my problem with Vanille was that the makers tried to make her all these things that Selphie was, but the makers overemphasized each trait to the point where she came off as an exaggerated cartoon character more than a real person. Then they pounded it into the audience’s head that “Don’t worry! She really IS deep! Look! It’s all just an act to hide her ~pain~” but failed to make her feel like a normal, human person. She was, as you said, the token peppy girl…for no other reason than they needed the game to have a token peppy girl. Mot of her scenes were either “I AM THE HAPPIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!” or “I’m not really happy. I’m sad all the time and I hide it with optimism”. There were no in-betweens.

  2. Greg Sanders says:

    I’ve started playing this one and am already enjoying. Thanks!

    That said, i have one question, Is there a borderhouse podcast feed? I read the blog directly all the time, but my podcast playing apps, particularly the one on my phone, work well if they have feeds.

  3. Patches says:

    I love Vanille!

    I know she’s in the mold of the peppy girl, but she showed hints of depth and maturity that intrigued me throughout the game.

  4. Tramell says:

    Love the discussion about Aveline, she really stood out in the game.

    Forgive me, I don’t have the source but If I remember correctly Fang was originally suppose to be male and was change during development. Actually I think its on the Wiki now.

    Ah found it,

    As always awesome podcast, I enjoy them very much.

  5. Corbiu Geisha says:

    My opinion of Vanille is always swinging. One moment, I dislike her for being the peppy girl and the next, I like how she is the mature one during her interaction with Hope. However, I have never gotten far in the game so my opinion is incomplete.

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