2 years ago1,000+ Views
The issue of diversity in video games (or media in general) is pretty much the hottest topic on the Internet. There are a bunch of different voices with a lot of strong feelings about diversity and most times -- for people looking on from the outside -- there are only two sides of the argument: one side that's pushing for more gender/race diversity and the other side, stupidity.
Earlier this month, an Anonymous developer wrote an article on The Guardian about a different kind of diversity that the game lacks. While I was reading the article, I felt that their opinion was something that's obvious, something that I should have been thinking about but wasn't. And that's mostly because because I think they're right.
At this point in the article, I stopped, bookmarked the page, and made a list of the last five games I've played and compared them all against each other. Here's the list:
Batman: Arkham City Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Grand Theft Auto V Dragon Age: Inquisition NBA 2K15
Four out of five of these games have one thing in common. They're all action games. Sure, there's a basketball game in there. But all of these games act on aspect of video games/gaming culture that has been blown out of proportion: the masculine language.
In Batman, you're beating the shit out of people with your big strong muscles. In Assassin's Creed, you're quietly stabbing the shit out of people with your flowing blonde hair. In Grand Theft Auto V, you think you're playing a satire about masculinity in contemporary America, but you're playing a male power fantasy. Dragon Age, however, is the closest thing to understanding what diversity might look like but still, the main gameplay mechanics and structure of the game is physical violence. And in NBA 2K15, you're being as masculine as you can be without actually hurting another human person.
And I think that's what the Anonymous author is getting at, game developers haven't been thinking outside of the box as much as they, maybe, should be. In a way, it makes the market extremely stale. No matter how many customization options the devs give us, we're all still playing the same game. You explore, you fight, you win, you get told a story (or you probably don't). And that's kind of bothersome. It seems like the games industry doesn't even have a space for something more avant-garde/experimental.
Growing up, I remember spending hours playing Sam & Max: Hit the Road (above). It's not a game you should spend hours playing but I loved it. There were a couple of reasons why I loved it, there was the humor, the pixelated art-style, and the anthropomorphic animals that you play as. But the main reason I loved Sam & Max (and all point-and-click adventures) is the feeling of solving a puzzle without having to shoot a gun at a switch and then another switch and then... well, you know where I'm going with this.
I think one of the points that the Anonymous author is trying to make (there is a lot in that one article, so if you have time, you should read it) is that the industry doesn't allow for Sam & Max experiences anymore. It doesn't allow for any experience other than sports or shooting.
Don't get me wrong, there are indie titles that are trying to change this stigma but usually they don't get the success they should -- especially if they're a new team of developers. It's a rough reality to accept; the reality where we think that the inclusion of a female or the choice of ethnicity in a style of game that caters to straight white male is equivalent to diversity.
@shannonl5 and @VinMcCarthy, what do you guys think about the article or any of this?
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@paulisaverage thanks, I'll have take a closer look at Telltale's lineup :)
@shannonl5 @VinMcCarthy, I love what the both of you are saying. The article I mentioned in the card definitely applies a different way of looking at implementing diversity and I think it can be applied to all forms of media. It's just easy for us to put the lens on Video Games because it's pretty small in comparison to Hollywood Movies or Television shows.
I think looking at our genres differently and looking at the way we define them can open up opportunities across the board (in terms of the visual media machine). I'm hoping, though, as more Indie Games get popular, bigger publishing companies will become more receptive to newer ideas.
P.S. @shannonl5, Super Mario Galaxy is one of my all-time favorite games. Check it out, or maybe watch a Let's Play on YouTube, those are my favorite when I know I don't have time for actually playing @VinMcCarthy, While I agree with your opinions here, Mew is still not great. Maybe average at best. You might say, I'm very Mew-esque, paulisaverage, mewisaverage, same thing right?
@paulisaverage I respect you responding a full work day later to our initial coversation! and though I recognize that you are average, I applaud you for seeking to reach out beyond that mediocrity into the ethereal realms of mew-level greatness. anyway, though, I also think that these concepts are easily applied to the video game genre - for the niche nature of things and the very specific audience it attracts.