Entertainment

Queer Rainbow Six Siege writer shares importance of new trans character: “She’s a reflection of us”

Ed Nightingale September 22, 2021
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Rainbow Six Siege writers

Emi Donaldson / Simon Ducharme.

Online multiplayer shooter Rainbow Six Siege has introduced its first trans operator.

Osa has been added to the game as part of its year six content and joins the previously included Flores as LGBT+ operators as Ubisoft adds more diversity to the game.

Queer narrative writer Simon Ducharme was responsible for creating these two LGBT+ characters. Part of the process for Osa was speaking with trans consultants for authenticity, which included esports caster Emi Donaldson.

We spoke with Simon and Emi to find out more about the importance of trans representation in the game.

What were the main inspirations for Osa?

Simon: Beyond making a character that fits into the world of Siege and the ecosystem of Nighthaven, I wanted to create someone to represent and show my love for all the trans women that I admire and respect, like Emi and the other consultants we worked with on Osa

When everything was said and done, I wanted Siege to have a badass trans woman that trans people in our game’s community could be proud of.

Emi: Ubisoft came to us as consultants with some initial designs and documents, and I remember mad science and 60s pulpy sci-fi being a big part, that sort of retrowave energy which I’m a huge fan of. I would like to imagine I was an inspiration, not for Osa but for Simon in general.

Operator Osa in Rainbow Six Siege
Osa in Rainbow Six Siege. (Ubisoft)

Why was it important to include a trans character?

S: Siege’s goal when it comes to its roster of characters is to represent as many people as it can – not just because elite specialists come from all over the world, but because our players do, too.

As a team, we aim for parity, and it’s important to include gender identity in that endeavour. I’m very happy to facilitate that through my writing.

E: Because everyone deserves to be represented. Listen, I’m not going to sugarcoat how crap it is being from a minority group inside gaming as a general space. I mean, you’ve already published one of my rants about fighting for my place in esports against bigots and hatred. Having an openly trans character, someone that LGBTQ+ folk can look up to and feel represented, like they belong in a space where so many hateful voices try to tell them otherwise? That’s what it is about.

How have you ensured the character is authentic to the trans community?

S: Making sure trans women are involved at every step was key to making Osa who she is. Listening to our consultants’ feedback, casting a trans woman to do Osa’s voice performance whenever possible, and educating myself to make sure I’m not writing from a place of ignorance. I feel closer to my fellow queer people now than I did before we started working on Osa.

E: Honesty. I think that’s the main thing that irritates a lot of LGBTQ+ folk about attempts at representation is that they either try to paint on an identity as an afterthought or they create some vague wishy-washy descriptors to create a character. I think that with Osa the most important part was we made sure her journey, her history and her identity properly and honestly reflected that of a trans woman who transitioned at her age. But also honestly reflecting how her identity relates to her, a trans person is far more than just being trans and Osa has so many amazing dimensions. She has pride in her identity, but is not defined by it.

[Ubisoft] did a fantastic amount of research and had a queer writer lead the push, ensuring it was an LGBTQ-driven and created character from day one. Also, from before her inception they knew she would be trans and were dedicated to referencing and consulting trans women, as well as hiring a trans VA. Her journey is one built from our own, with the references of the many found families of LGBTQ and close friends we all share. For our part as consultants, she’s a reflection of us and our identity but also by extension all of the knowledge and experiences we have had as individuals that have led to a fully rounded character.

Will Osa being trans be recognized specifically in the game or just in promotional material?

S: Osa’s gender identity mostly plays a role in how she views and interacts with the world. We have two mentions of her transition in her in-game background, and they are to do with why she had that specific career path and why she cherishes her loved ones so much. If there is a moment where we go “she is a trans woman,” it will be because it informs the story and her place in it, not because we felt the need to say it. We didn’t mention Osa being trans in promotional material because we wanted the players to get to know her organically, as they do for all our characters.

As Osa joins Flores as LGBT+ operators, is this part of a larger push for more inclusivity in the game, and across Ubisoft titles? Why is this important?

S: While I don’t work on these topics at a global level, I know that overall, Ubisoft’s goal is to deliver gaming experiences that reflect the diversity of the world in which we live.

For Siege, my colleagues and I are happy to be part of the push to include gender diversity in our promise to make our roster of Operators one that represents as many people as possible. Personally, I feel that it’s important to be a positive influence where I can, and the gaming industry is one of many that need to acknowledge the existence and the beauty of queer people. If writing Flores and Osa can be a small part of that change, then I’m already doing more than I thought I could.

Rainbow Six Siege is available now on PC, Stadia, Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

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Related topics: Trans

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