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GaymerX2 Panel Report: Designing Inclusive Videogames

By Marcus Estrada

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Panelists: Christine Love, David Rosen, Elizabeth Zelle

Video games are not born out of a vacuum but created by one to hundreds of people. Although all types of people have been driven to create games since their inception, it’s the unfortunate statistical reality of game development that many creators are from very similar backgrounds (ie: straight and male). With this in mind, how can developers go about making their games inclusive to a whole wealth of prospective players? According to Christine Love of Love Conquers All Games, David Rosen of Wolfire Games, and Elizabeth Zelle of Volition, it’s not hard at all. In fact, it’s rather silly to not work towards inclusivity.

Some gamers feel they are on the outside of discussions about inclusivity because they themselves fit into the stereotypical mode of being a white dude who fancies women. Sometimes this even makes them feel as if the discussion around inclusivity is mean-spirited or downright hateful. People with this mindset must watch this panel because it is full of jokes, light-hearted, and shows that creating inclusive games is already occurring, and that it doesn’t destroy their inherent fun factor.

Case in point, at many points during this panel the entire audience burst out laughing. Early on there was a moment where Elizabeth spoke about a research company Volition hired for focus testing that only selected male applicants. Why on Earth would you avoid women considering they make up about half the gaming audience? They had just never ever considered that maybe half the population was also worth looking into. A jab against Ubisoft for its comments about difficulty animating women was also necessary. David pointed out that with 50 animators on staff it would be no big issue to add it in – after all, it’s not like they were animating spiders or something!

Strange as it may seem, even inclusive games may be seen as completely average to some consumers. Christine brought up the type of discussion that came up after she created Digital: A Love Story which features a woman as the player’s love interest (but the player themselves is not gendered). She was then asked by a website if the love interest’s gender meant Digital would “only appeal to men.” Yes, totally, because only men are capable of being romantically interested in women?! It is not wrong for people to view the world from their small lens of experience, but it’s pretty humorous all the same.

What does it take to make inclusive games? People on board simply need to have some awareness that there is a world of experience outside of their own. This is easy to accomplish by simply listening with others offer up their opinions, and questioning your own social beliefs (that are very likely not universal truths). Look back at past products, see what fans have to say, and make choices that are integral to the development process. If you want to make a game about lesbian women, then go forth and make it. Shockingly, many straight people might end up playing it, as Christine found out. If you want everyone to be able to create their perfect protagonist then make sure that character creation is pivotal to the development process. All in all, make your games, make some mistakes, and learn how to better your creations as you go.

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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]

Marcus Estrada
Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come.
Marcus Estrada

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Writer for @Cliqist - This is my new ''PROFESSIONAL'' account. Yay, crowdfunded video games!
Glad to see the BL visual novel Sentimental Trickster was funded. How about those #Kickstarter stretch goals? https://t.co/AEU8LaeD6M - 3 years ago
Marcus Estrada