So…friends, come on over and pull up a chair we’ve got a yarn for you this morning. It’s about diversity and what calling for representation actually means. First and foremost, advocating for more representation does not mean forcing diversity for the sake of it down consumers, game makers, game players throats.
It does not mean policing what people create. After all, the last thirty years has shown us that game makers will do as they will and we can’t really tell them what to do with their worlds right? Right. To claim otherwise is a logical fallacy.
So that being said, let’s talk about diversity in all forms, in all games for a moment. What it means when we ask for representation in media.
Diversity in games, what we seek to have more of is defined as: A goal whereby games will reflect the world around us; where games have varied characters who are fully realized, not simply flat stereotypes, and tropes. They will exist without controversy, hatred for the game, players, or it’s makers for choosing to portray a non homogeneous world to play in.
So that means no more Medpack Motherfucka type of characters in games, or Letitia the Trash Lady in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, or continued failure to half-ass diversity and inclusion by on adding more white women and going LOOK WE DID GOOD!
It means more Nilin, Chell, revamped Lara Croft; more well rounded characters that are not tropes and stereotypes. It means less #GamesSoWhite and more characters that exist as part of the games narrative without feeling forced into it to meet a quota. That’s the crux of the argument for so many, that diversity is being crammed down their throats to satisfy an ‘SJW’ demand for it.
Spoiler, there’s no SJW cabal holding game studios hostage to their wants and needs. What’s happening is a progression and hopefully a maturing of the gaming public to want more than the same scruffy, white, 30’ish appearing, bland hero that gets the girl or worse; loses the girl as motivation for man-pain vengeance.
We’re simply tired of the same old, same old. Gamers want new stories, new landscapes to play in. Dragons are fun and all, but what about getting out of faux medieval England for a change? The world is rich with stories and lore and history. Assassin’s Creed can’t be the only series inching a digital toe outside of England.
Aurion will be out and ready for play on April 16, 2016.
More games like Engare, about the mathematical beauty of Islamic Art
Diversity in games also means doing the work to have a better end product. Don’t throw a character into a setting, make them black or brown with a palette swap and consider things done. Does having a protagonist of color mean your narrative changes? Does the world treat them differently? This will vary from game to game obviously, but having a colour blind game world isn’t a step towards progress either.
For instance, the upcoming Mafia III from 2K studios has a black man as the protagonist, it’s set in Louisiana in the 60’s. Having a white character wouldn’t have the same impact as Lincoln, and having an option to choose without addressing the issues prevalent at that time would weaken the story, the narrative would seem off kilter if race was ignored.
So next time someone tries to go diversity isn’t important, or you’re putting politics or an agenda into gaming, show them this:
And ask if they can make the same collage with characters of color, LGBTQIA characters, disabled characters, neuro-atypical characters, women as leads in games. Our guess is you’ll be waiting quite a while for an answering image.
There are many reasons diversity is important, but forcing different characters down the throats of gamers isn’t one of then. Supposedly policing what studios can and can’t do isn’t it either. It’s realizing that everyone games, that we need and want to see ourselves reflected in the media that takes our time, money and energy. That this is an uneven exchange for so many of us and simply, we’re tired of looking out and seeing more of the above with new game announcements and releases.
That, that is why we need thoughtful, well done and more representation, not the status quo.