-[Jump Button is a weekly column by Drew Taylor, written specially for GameSetWatch, that focuses on the art and substance of video game culture. This week - Julie Strain talks about her life, the making of Ritual's game Heavy Metal: FAKK 2, why there should be a sequel, and things that matter.]

It's been two years since I phoned her, but the pain that's in her voice when she answers, it stays with me still.

'My puppy died yesterday,' says the voluptuous, six-foot-one PC gaming icon. 'In my arms. My puppy got pneumonia. It came from the pet store really sick, and I nursed it, and I did everything. I took it in the shower twice a day, and I gave it medicine. And it died of a heart attack, and it died in my hands.

'I've been crying for 24 hours,' she says. 'She was so cute. Now... she's gone.'

That girl whisky voice in my ear, full of hurt, it belongs to Julie Strain—B-movie queen, adult dot com identity, and the face, name, voice and sass of the lead character in Ritual Entertainment's third-person shooter, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2.

Forget Tomb Raider. As a game character, this black-haired battle raven's boobs are bigger. Her weapon-based acrobatics, more deadly. Her attire—or lack of it—far more capable of poking out an eye.

-These pixels are a dual-wielding, uzi and flame-sword toting hero of the multi-verse. FAKK to the second level. And in this instance, the real was the inspiration for the fantasy; for the fictitious. Julie for Julie.

'I'm not sure what the character was like before,' says Julie. 'But when I came along, it added the 6'1” height, the athleticism. And, you know, I can give a mean snarl that no-one else can do, so they added that to it.'

The 'they' Julie's referring to, is Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Editor in Chief of Heavy Metal magazine. Writer of the animated movie Heavy Metal 2000 on which the game F.A.K.K.2 is based. Now Julie's husband.

'Just the fact that I fought off a killer in my real life with my bare hands,' says Julie, 'it kind of makes me the character.'

Explaining, 'A man jumped on my bed with a knife to my throat, and I thought, “I can't die, I need to be Penthouse Pet of the Year”. So I fought him tooth and nail, screaming for help until he ran away.'

The line between game character and person blurring now, with, 'She's a real-life superhero. It's a girl you can believe is a bad-ass, kick-ass mutha-fucker. I mean Barbarella was cute in her little boots and stuff, but I don't think she could go a couple of rounds in a ring with me.'

-This is Julie, sitting in the living room of her house, three pet animals looking up at her, reflecting with, 'I think the most enjoyable part of working on [the Heavy METAL: FAKK 2 game] was walking around game stores and seeing the game on the shelves. Acquiring that whole new element of fans. Games fans. And the people that were like, “Oh, Julie Strain, she's a real-life character.”

'You know, the fans are so hungry for anything they can see that is real. Give them something close enough and they're like, “Alright! I'm on it!”'

Adding, 'For sure I would do a sequel. So long as I don't have to travel. I've got a bad back now, but if I could do everything from home, I'd spin around, kick ass, jump up and down three times and stab the bad guy. All from my living room couch.'

The voice has changed now. When it's excited, it's young and fast, filled with the American dream. But slower—like when Julie says, 'bad back now' and 'died in my hands'—it deepens, becomes honeyed. It's the hint of someone who loves you; a voice of pain and world weariness.

This is the frailty of a real-life video game icon. The cancer of age; skin wearing thin over a body that hurts more and smiles less; a mind that rages against the injustice of ozone depletion and traffic lights that take forever to change.

-But, on the flip side is this: pixels made of flesh are able to transcend the screen.

This is the strength of a real-life video game icon. The ability to be human, accessible, fallible, know what gamers go through. Lara Croft remains almost mammary perfect. Kratos is locked in a misogynistic, pec-pumped mythology. But this F.A.K.K.2/Julie mix is both fantasy and mother. Fantasy and friend; acquaintance, sister, mistress.

This is real Julie/character Julie: circle-strafing, with a personal history.

Julie saying, 'I had a horse-riding accident years ago and I hit my head, causing amnesia, so it kind of erased any brainwashing I might have had. People were saying, “You're too old to go and model. Who do you think you are? You're 28 years old with a bad hair-do. And no-one wants to see you in a movie or a magazine.” And then after the accident I'm like, “I have to chase this dream. And never give it up.”'

This is Julie/Julie: powerful combo moves and gem stone upgrades, with added spirituality.

Julie confiding to me with, 'I believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.'

-Adding, 'I grew up as a Christian and went to a Christian school. I mean, I got “swats” every day for cussing and being bad. But as long as you keep it in your basic thought process, you always have that safe place to go to. I thought the other day, “What if there was no God or Jesus?” How empty a feeling would that be just to have this globe floating around in space, with no-one to look up to or save us or help us or pray to. It'd be scary. Almost like being with no parents.'

Adding further, in relation to her nude work, 'Nobody's perfect. And if this is the way that I got my fans and I can lead them to Jesus, then hopefully that's okay with God.'

This is real Julie/pixel Julie: huge flesh-eating plants and hellspawn, with assorted soup-making.

Admitting, 'Away from the cameras, I'm not the person you would think. I'm a big pyjama mama. I wear pyjamas every day and I'm at my house and I don't have make-up on and I cook a lot. All kinds of soup, like squash soup and asparagus soup. I go to the gym. I save spiders and crickets. And you know I just love my dogs. My little Doberman baby goes for a ride with me in the morning and I go and get my coffee and she takes the first sip. We both got coffee and then we go for a walk by the Playboy mansion.'

-And, once more Julie/Julie: end boss battles against Gith, with brutal self-assessment.

Julie, closing out with, 'I think most people might look at the pictures of me [dressed up as the video game character] and think that they'd like to fuck me, but perhaps by the end of this, they'd probably more like to have dinner with me, and sit on the couch with me and watch TV.'

[Drew Taylor works in the games industry in Australia and writes video game culture articles for various magazines. He likes dinner with friends and remembers (as a kid) when Logan's Run was one of the best shows on TV.]