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
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.