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Token video game characters distract from real stories - Anna Anthropy Exclusive
Token video game characters distract from real stories - Anna Anthropy
October 8, 2012 | By Brandon Sheffield

October 8, 2012 | By Brandon Sheffield
Comments
    102 comments
More: Indie, Business/Marketing, Exclusive



Anna Anthropy, Oakland-based author and developer of games like Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars and Calamity Jane, asserted during her Indiecade talk that we need more voices in this industry.

The typical cycle, she says, is "Straight white developers, make games that straight white reviewers market to straight white players, who may eventually be recruited to become the new straight white developers and reviewers.Ē

The trouble is that people without a history of repression can only offer tokenism when it comes to discussing something other than themselves -- such as the gay characters in Mass Effect. "Token characters are not the result of queer experiences," she adds. "Games by queer people, people of color, and by women - because in 2012 women are still a marginalized group within the game industry," are difficult to find in triple-A games, she says.

But in triple-A games, I inquired, what's better: a flawed attempt to address issues of otherness, or a character who is different from the straight white media norm which is not used as an "issue" to be dealt with?

"Token characters tend to distract media and press away from the people who are actually making games and telling their own stories," she says. "An example of a game that was AAA that I felt actually got gender performance right by accident was Saint's Row 2, which is a game that allows all sorts of gender performance and mixing and matching of gender signifiers, because the developers were interested in letting you make whatever characters you wanted."

"I think there's room to be permissive of play and performance without trying to create a tokenized character, and something you distinctly label as part of this group you can't break from the experience of," she says.

So if these voices are marginalized, where do they go? To outsider art, she says. One thing that has enabled this is the hypertext tool, Twine. Technology is not really viewed societally as a path for women, but Twine has become something people from different backgrounds have made their own. "What I've noticed is that most of the people who are making them are women, trans, queer, genderqueer," she says. "It's very different from this (as she shows pic of famous white game designer faces)."

Decentralization of the means to create video games allows people outside the mainstream to get their foot in the door. "The more people who are allowed to make games, the more people are empowered to make games," she says. "In a forum that's so homogeneous, we need those voices so badly."

In LIM, for example, you're a square that's colored differently from the other squares in the game, which become hostile toward you when you approach. Your square has the ability to blend in by hitting a button, but this causes stress, and can only be used for a certain amount of time. Anthropy doesn't want to ascribe specific meaning to it, but says "to me as a transwoman, it's about passing, about smoothing over in a world where you're perceived not to fit."

"I don't think all straight white men are evil," she asserts. "That's not why I'm talking about them and why they get to make the most games. What I'm talking about is the fact that having an entire artistic form dominated by a specific group of people is bad for that form, because only a small group of perspectives get to inform it."


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Comments


Amanda Lee Matthews
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In today's society, it is the straight white males that are repressed. No women of this generation have been repressed. The reason there are few females in the games industry is because few WANT to be there. The few that DO want to be there are pretty much guaranteed to be able to get there, but the straight white males that want to be there have thousands of people vying for the same limited spaces available to straight white males and therefore have a very slim chance of actually making it. If a woman makes a game using some simple method like Twine, RPG maker, etc. then yes she has a good chance of actually getting into the video game industry, but it isn't going to do anything for a straight white male.

Everyone has always had the ability to make video games. The difference is that in the past it was harder, you had to actually learn to program. Is Anna Anthropy unintentionally saying that women are so stupid that they can only make video games once the difficult parts are done away with? I think a woman should get in because of her own intelligence and abilities, not simply because she says "Hey I'm a girl and I wanna play too! Now change the rules for me to make it easier!"

Joshua Darlington
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Repressed or oppressed? The whole straight white male as victim meme is a tad iffy.

& Giving players more range to customize their avatars seems to be a minor ask.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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Both, Joshua. I would venture to say that the reason the majority of gamers in America are straight white males is because that is the group of people that today in America, have the least freedom to do what they want in real life, and therefore turn to video games. Combine that with the fact that video games most resonate with straight males anyway, which you can see by looking at gamer populations in any country that doesn't have a lot of white people.

It SEEMS to be a minor task, but that's a lot of extra programming. And yes it's fine to put that in there but if it is a requirement by society, then that is oppression. Leaving it out is not repression nor oppression. Straight white males should have the freedom to only put straight white males in their games, to buy games with only straight white males in them. If what you want is a game where you can be a woman, bisexual transvestite, whatever then make that game or buy that game. Don't try to say it is straight white males' fault you can't, because they aren't stopping anyone.

William Johnson
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I completely disagree.

When this is the normal
http://tiny.cc/9davlw

I mean...how can you possibly think that white straight males are at all oppressed?

We can take a look at two indie game developers, Kan Gao and Christine Love. They both make narrative heavy games. Both of them are using a premade engine; Gao is using RPGmaker, Love is using Ren'Py. Yet To the Moon has won a lot of awards and seems to have been reviewed a lot more then Analogue: A Hate Story. I mean, it is possible that Love didn't care and didn't enter Analogue in to any competitions. But I don't think Love has an inherent advantage over Gao just because she is female. And based off the the reception that To the Moon and Analogue have received, we might be able to assume, maybe that To the Moon has received a metacritic score of 81, maybe because Gao is male. While maybe Analogue is sitting at 62 because maybe Love is female.

Of course, there are a lot more factors then just that to take in to account, but if we are to assume that gender will make a difference; I think these two are as close as we can get with the major difference being the gender of the developers.

Joshua Darlington
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"Straight white males ... is the group of people that today in America, have the least freedom to do what they want in real life."

I'm stunned by this assertion. Please elaborate! & By that logic would babies and homeless people be the most powerful people in America because they play the least amount of games?

Amanda Lee Matthews
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William, I don't really understand what you are saying. But The majority of gamers do not make their gaming choices based on the gender of the developers. The majority of people playing games have no idea who made the majority of games they're playing (company names sure but actual people names? Beyond people with the status of Hideo Kojima, no), never mind the gender of the person that made the game.

My guess as to why Analogue: A Hate Story is less reviewed and awarded than To the Moon is promotion. More review copies sent out and etc. I have heard of To The Moon before but not Analogue - and I'm an occasional reviewer and my husband is a hardcore reviewer. That right there shows that Analogue is doing a poor job at promotion. I would not know the gender of the developers of either had you not mentioned them, and I would not let it affect my opinion of a game. Anyway my point was if both those people applied for a job at a major game company, the woman would have a better chance at getting the job because game companies have an affirmative action quota to fill. They would not be looking at the scores the game received so much as the fact that she is a woman, and she made a game. Heck look at all the women in the game industry that have never done any coding, that don't even play games, that openly admit to not liking video games and male gamers.

I did not say straight white males are oppressed IN VIDEO GAMES - I was talking about the real world. They are well represented in video games. Though even then I would not consider not having a person that looks like you in a game to be oppression. Look at my avatar and you can see I don't look like that, but I do not feel oppressed by that fact. I can still make a game with someone that looks exactly like me. I can still buy a game with someone that looks exactly like me. Giving video game a poorer review than another is not oppressing the developer.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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Joshua - Correlation does not imply causation.

Brian Bates
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I understand what you are saying but I don't think oppression/repression are the right terms to use, it is simply the reality of entering a highly competitive job market.

Joshua Darlington
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"Correlation does not imply causation. " Exactly. Your point that straight white males play more video games because we are oppressed more than everyone else is absurd. Thats why my response was - Ad ridiculum.

Speaking as a straight white male, I would like to hear you make a convincing case that I'm one of the most oppressed populations in the USA. At face value it sounds like extremely bizarre and perhaps entertaining premise.

The idea that only gays can write gay characters or only avatars can write for avatar characters seems iffy, if that's AA's actual arguement. However, hyper individuation and customization has obvious commericial value. People are narcissistic, and offering people a way to craft their personal identity/avatar seems like a better (more inclusive and thus more profitable) approach than the demographic aggregation used in 20th century broadcasting/advertising.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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Joshua - this is not the place to get into that subject, but a google search of "men's rights" will give you some examples.

Tyvon Thomas
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Well, that explains all the Straight White Male defense in this post. MRA. Nothing to see here, folks.

Joshua Darlington
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"this is not the place to get into that subject" um... Didn't you just bring up the subject?

But if you dont feel that you can represent your own point, I understand that you would want to back away from your own argument. Given your own lack of enthusiasm for "men's rights" I will pass on your invitation to look into a dubious and misguided subject.

Jason Lee
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I want to go back to your first post, because I think you've misinterpreted Anna Anthropy grossly.

If you read Rise of the Videogame Zinester, Anna's point about programs like Twine and such is that they lower barriers of entry for everyone to get into some level of game development, either as a hobbyist, radical, indie dev, etc. It has nothing to do with "intelligence" or "abilities", or doing something after "the difficult parts are done away with", and in fact it's a little offensive to me to value the programming and technical aspects over the expressive elements, that make the game about something (whether it is about love, desperation, or shooting aliens in the face); both are needed for a robust and effective game and valuing one over the other doesn't make you "smarter". So no, she's not unintentionally saying women are stupid, you're twisting her words (a nice subtle form of repression, btw). And consider this: you can play by the rules, but the only game you can work on that will get published by a AAA developer has to be about shooting aliens/zombies/angry men with guns in the face. As a woman, LGBTQ, etc. do you really want to make that game and play by those rules?

Hell, as a straight upper-middle class male I don't want to even make that game.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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Jason, intelligence and creativity are two seprate things. For example, it takes creativity to make up a story. It takes intelligence to write that story down. It takes both of those to make a video game. One is not more valuable than the other.

In today's world, I can either play by those rules, make a game that is either bad or good, and go with a AAA publisher, or I can follow my own rules and make a living publishing the game myself - IF I make a good game.

Aaron Casillas
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"In today's society, it is the straight white males that are repressed. No women of this generation have been repressed. "

?!

Will Hubbell
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Hey Amanda,

Straight white male from a middle class family here. Just wanted to drop by and let you know how wrong you are about us being repressed (or oppressed). I'm assuming you're a woman from your picture and name. I also assume your lack of experiential knowledge (the experience of being a straight white male) means you really don't know what you're talking about.

I live a charmed life in which I don't ever think about my skin color or how people look at me. I get preferential treatment pretty much everywhere I go. I was hired once for a job at a major chain restaurant because I was told I looked like an "all-American boy." What else? It's hard for me to know how difficult other people have it. I can do pretty much anything I want, let's just say that.

As to your statement of "no women of this generation have been repressed," I assume nobody on this site has called you out so far because 1. they're beyond ignorant or 2. they want to agree with you. A quick look at http://fatuglyorslutty.com/ blows this idea out of the water. If you don't consider continuous harassment oppression (or even repression!), I'm curious about what your idea of oppression is. In the 21st century nobody is so bold to build gas chambers or formal ghettos anymore - today oppression is a relatively subtle beast. But it's very real.

I personally have a problem with people saying "games should be this" or "games should be that." I say put your nose to the fucking wheel and grind it out yourself instead of sitting in an armchair like some pseudo-intelligentsia prick. Anna Anthropy is an exception, however, because she directly inspires people to make games. That's the bottom line. When she says "more women should make games," she's not yelling from across the room. She's handing people the tools and saying "go." And they do. She is creating an environment in which women and marginalized groups feel safe and open creating games.

"The reason there are few females in the games industry is because few WANT to be there." Anna Anthropy is actively trying to make this NOT the case.

As far as "men's rights" go: there are of course inequalities in our various government systems that skew against men. The classic case is divorce, in which men invariably get screwed. But there is no concerted effort against men, at least not an effective one. I say the following without hubris: men rule the world.

Toby Grierson
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It's a fair point that anyone can participate and a lot don't.

But a lot of who controls the money - a key ingredient in larger projects - carries over from whoever controlled it the last generation.

Our last funder repeatedly lectured us about how we need to have a "good white hero" and refused to let us have any female characters in the game, and we had to play ball for at least a little while because we had no money and well I've got to feed my family somehow.

When I look at how he worked, and I look at what else is on the market, to me the only plausible answer to "how many of these kinds of assholes are out there?" is "a metric fuckload".

Anyone can make any game they want, but the kinds of games people like to play are the ones with budgets, and the demographics of cash holders aren't the same. The only tool you have to influence them is to CONVINCE OTHER PEOPLE to vote with their wallets.

Sometimes downloading Unity and making an amateur art game about balancing squares or old men who are sad isn't enough. Sometimes you have to get up on a platform and run your damn mouth.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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Toby, how much of a budget did Minecraft start out with?

People like to play games that are good. All budget gets you is promotion - you can promote a game that isn't good into selling. Or you can make a good game and promote it a little on your own and let the fact that it is good make it sell.

Aaron Casillas
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@ Toby we had the same exec direction on a big game at a big pub
many many years ago "the hero has to be caucasian" not sure if it was based on marketing or just personal fetish.

Jason Lee
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Amanda, you can't use one lucky example as an indication for the entire industry Anyways, see my point lower down about the choice between having only two options: indie or faceshooting mangame.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutraís Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Toby Grierson
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It's absolutely not true that all a budget gets you is promotion. A lot of things that people genuinely enjoy like good music and animation are very labor intensive and OTS parts do not always help as much as one would imagine from a distance.

As an industry we've certainly made great strides in what one can do with OTS engines, materials, algorithms. But a team with time is still overwhelmingly more competitive than an individual's efforts by night.

Occasionally someone beats that reality. Good for them.

MaurŪcio Gomes
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Hello! I am from Brazil!

I look like a white male (but I am not truly one, I have a good amount of black and native american DNA)

And to people that say that "white straight male" are repressing people:

I got several women swearing at me for doing a chivalrious behavior (holding a door open for one of them when she had both hands busy).

I could not get in university because a clearly black guy with much lower performance in the test took my spot thanks to affirmative action.

I worked in a company that every time they had money problems they fired a white straight male, because all other works threatened to sue them for discrimination (specially the non-straight ones).

My children probably will have a even harder time getting into a public university, since now only 50% of the spots are allowed for whites.

Four days ago our culture ministry announced that they will make some public contracts where only black contractors are allowed.

More than once I was banned from speaking somewhere because I was white straight male, people just went to say that I was certainly going to say some "MRA bullshit" and thus they do not wanted to hear me at all, no matter what I had to say.

In a month where a couple of schoolfights hit headlines, everyone was quick to prosecute as adults any white agressor when there was a black victim, but a white blonde girl with blue eyes that got nearly lynched by a group of several black girls got the case dismissed in media as a "normal female rivalry that spiralled out of control"

I cannot walk freely on my parents neighborhood without weapons, just take me some steps on the street and people stare at me...

Once in that same neighborhood I went to buy some Coca-Cola, when I arrived at the bar, all the guys playing snooker stopped, stared at me and asked: "You are really from this neighborhood?" And the only difference between me and them was the skin color (not the clothing or anything obvious like that).

Here in Brazil more than once I was asked to move from where I was, because I was near a child or a women, like if I had a "rapist" sign attached on my forehead.

I got called more than once "homophobic" just because I said "no" to a gay hitting on me (and for some reason gays hit a lot on me).

One gay threatened to sue me for discrimination if I did not allow him to take me in the ass and gloated that he ruined more than once person life in that manner. Thankfully this person had no idea who I was, so I just fled (how he would serve any lawsuit having no idea who I am?).

White men are mostly always raped on our prisons.

Actually, the US official data show that in US there was 270.000 victims of prison rape the last time they counted... I think something is wrong with US ;)

Justin Sawchuk
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MaurŪcio do you know why that is the case because most white males are too browbeaten and scared or indifferent to to fight back, when these bullies go after white males they do it because they know white males wont defend themselves for fear of being labeled "racist".

Have you ever hear of any these so called militant egalitarians ever say that something was "too black" that we need to have more unqualified whites on the basketball team. Or that some Japanese studio has too many asians and we need more diversity, its only ever applied in one direction. The tyranny of the minority quite literally.

xx zz
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"In today's society, it is the straight white males that are repressed. No women of this generation have been repressed."

hey you're pretty fucking stupid

Guillaume Couture
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Most social sciences will argue that an individual is not only affected by genetics and body/brain "natural" functions, but also by lived experiences. Social Determinism argues one's made choices are an illusion and that they are actually products of the social context. I don't think it's necessary to polarize the debate around the nature of choices. Regardless of it, it is hard to counter-argue the effects of lived experiences on a person's behavior.

Furthermore, a person's lived experiences are directly associated to society. People live in a network of other people and they affect each other's choices and behavior. Domains like marketing are a testimony to the effect of society on an individual's choices and behavior.

The problematic aspect of analysing an individual's behavior is there is no certain way to distinguish products of lived experiences and products of the innate state of being.

The argument of queer studies and third wave feminism is that gender identity, unlike sexual identity, is a social construct and that it is performative (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo7o2LYATDc). That is to say, that choices made by a person who identifies oneself as a certain gender are affected by this person and other people's expectations.

The video game (core) culture is a very white male dominated community. The casual gaming industry opened the door for a lot of people who don't identify themselves as white males, but when you look at the industry's best selling product of 2011 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_Duty:_Modern_Warfare_3), it's an exemplary demonstrations that the core of gaming community wants to play as powerful white males who perform masculinity ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_(god) ). Playing video games is still a very gendered experience and it is only normal that those who want to participate in the industry and become employees are ones who relate to its narratives.

The fact that males would face more competition in the industry is just another indication that there is a problem in gender parity of chance. Maybe some companies use positive discrimination and impose less competition on females, but that's not helping the situation, it's just another way to emphasize the male/female polarization and create a conflict. Furthermore, in an industry oriented towards a male heteronormative market, non-straight-male (females, genderqueer and gay males for example) employees are still expected to produce content with a heteronormative masculine point of view. Just look at the sexualization of women and the implied male gaze in fighting games or the infamous hitman: absolution trailer.

Justin Sawchuk
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Yeah I guess you must have missed the walking dead game, prototype 2, assassin's creed, sleeping dogs and many other games where you play as a non-white male.

Jason Lee
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No, in Sleeping Dogs I get to play as some white male's idea of an Asian Stereotype.

Walking Dead is a little better, but still, just because your dude is black/asian/middle-eastern, doesn't mean it didn't come from someone who I feel probably has no real idea what it's like being raised non-white.

Consider an exaggerated example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFYCUaGXW_0

Mike Jenkins
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Hey everyone! I'm a victim!

Good luck with Spider Queens from Mars.

Brandon Sheffield
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Good job contributing to the discussion. Maybe think before you post next time.

Jason Lee
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Yes. Yes she is a victim.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutraís Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jonathan Jennings
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Some will say to spur intelligent discussion on this important issue that permeates our industry and that by expanding our knowledge on the issue we can fix the problem today for a better tomorrow!

I think it's just a good way to get a bunch of people to argue about and be further divided on an issue that takes more a personal upheaval and desire to change driven by a personal experience...not a gamasutra article...

Scott Siegel
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Understanding opinions and outlooks different from your own?

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutraís Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Christopher J
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Iíve been in the video game industry for about 12 years now and sadly there is A LOT of discrimination. If you donít fit certain stereotypes than itís definitely a lot more challenging to become a success, even if you are working 3 times harder then the next person. After all itís not what you know/do but who you know, right.

I try to assume best intentions and I donít think that the discrimination is always deliberate. From what Iíve seen, a lot of those who do it donít even realize they are doing it. Itís human nature, itís the ďself similarity principleĒ, and itís just something that happens and isn't necessarily a bad thing. It seems to be mostly about staying in ones comfort zone.

But when it comes to people of different backgrounds, discriminating based off of cultural biases and not work ethic or their ability to contribute only weakens your product. It also leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those on the bad end of the stick; it creates doubts and insecurities in a similar manor as bullying. No good comes from it.

I think what the article is about is that if you only have the same types of people with similar life experiences who have the same interests dominating the gaming landscape, then you will only get a slow evolution of the products that we make.

Itís Kind of like if you only used red and yellow to make paintings and not add blue simply because you are not familiar with it or comfortable with using it.

I donít think that the observation in the article is about the lack of diversity of characters being made in gaming. But more the fact that these characters that are created to ad diversity come across as caricatures or en-authentic because the people who are making them donít necessarily have the life experiences that would be ideal for making these characters relatable to the culture that they are supposed to represent.

These are just my opinions based off the cultural experiences that have influenced who I am.

Christopher J
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Iíve been in the video game industry for about 12 years now and sadly there is A LOT of discrimination. If you donít fit certain stereotypes than itís definitely a lot more challenging to become a success, even if you are working 3 times harder then the next person. After all itís not what you know/do but who you know, right.

I try to assume best intentions and I donít think that the discrimination is always deliberate. From what Iíve seen, a lot of those who do it donít even realize they are doing it. Itís human nature, itís the ďself similarity principleĒ, and itís just something that happens and isnít necessarily a bad thing. It seems to be mostly about staying in ones comfort zone.

But when it comes to people of different backgrounds, discriminating based off of cultural biases and not work ethic or their ability to contribute only weakens your product. It also leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those on the bad end of the stick; it creates doubts and insecurities in a similar manor as bullying. No good comes from it.

I think what the article is about is that if you only have the same types of people with similar life experiences who have the same interests dominating the gaming landscape, then you will only get a slow evolution of the products that we make.

Itís Kind of like if you only used red and yellow to make paintings and not add blue simply because you are not familiar with it or comfortable with using it.

I donít think that the observation in the article is about the lack of diversity of characters being made in gaming. But more the fact that these characters that are created to ad diversity come across as caricatures or en-authentic because the people who are making them donít necessarily have the life experiences that would be ideal for making these characters relatable to the culture that they are supposed to represent.

These are just my opinions based off the cultural experiences that have influenced who I am.

Lyon Medina
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" "I don't think all straight white men are evil," she asserts "

Why do I feel that they are the only one in question here then?

I am of lighter skin color, but I don't fall under white since my father is Mexican and my mother is Cuban.


*This just seems like an uninformed opinion like "the white man is keeping us down". Did Bioware literally keep gay men or women from their development of Mass of Effect 3? or was it just a shortage of actual people who are gay men and or women who worked for Bioware at the time? This entire interview is just a slippery slope to a issue that is not clearly stated in the article.

With what situation does Anna actually have a problem with?

"The more people who are allowed to make games, the more people are empowered to make games,"

Again did a situation come up where a person was not allowed to make games? Games are genderless, most indie games are played because of their playability, and not because a man or women made it. Maybe you can make the argument that when it comes to getting a larger job in the industry that it becomes more difficult to earn a position as a lead or a head of a department, but that is true for both men, women, gays, lesbians, straights, blacks, Asians, Mexicans, Whites. Everyone.

Just because there are all Japanese men in charge of all Japanese video game companies does not mean they are racist.

I can only speak from my view of the gaming industry and I see it as the only gender, and color blind community there is.

*Edit for my own horrible grammer and spelling.

Lyon Medina
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Did you quote me? Because I don't see "where are the problems, I don't see them." this in what I said. Please read my comment before stating anything. And before responding to this comment you better understand that being ignorant does not make you correct. Nor does liking your own post.

Lyon Medina
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You can curse, or just flat out incorrectly context my statements as much as you would like, but it does not make you correct.

So I will humor you and take your comments at a point by point basis.

1. "LAST WEEK you read an article about major racial harassment at a game studio, and proceeded to doubt the whole thing."

Here is the Article I believe youíre talking about.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/177006/The_mixed_blessing_of_G
irlfriend_Mode.php

I refuse to re-explain everything again that I stated.

Please feel free to repost anything feel you in which I "proceeded to doubt"

2. What will it take to make those two points connect in your brain?

I see connections; I just donít see the intent of making connections that don't exist to everyone or allowing myself to be pulled into the fray of accusations from one author to attract traffic. One such example was the 9/11 Conspiracy. I don't present opinions as facts. You say that there is connection because there is one. Yet you present no evidence of it. This leads me to your next point.

3."Gender- and color-blind" is just code for "I don't notice there isn't any diversity around me, and I'm totally okay with that."

Youíre reaching; you say I downplay articles only to say I cannot tell the difference. Do you when you play a game wonder if it was made by a man or a woman? I don't, and that is what is said and stated.

"Again did a situation come up where a person was not allowed to make games? Games are genderless, most indie games are played because of their playability, and not because a man or woman made it."

4. "I didn't quote you,"

I am not here to teach you grammar, but when you use "Quotes" that is quoting ("") my statement.

5. "If this question was rhetorical, you were assuming they didn't exist at all. If this question was not rhetorical,"

Do understand the motive of asking a question? To receive an answer. (That was rhetorical), and yes because I am giving my view point. Would I ask a yes or no question to better explain my view point? Is there injustice in the world? Why of course there is. Is it always connected to racism and sexism? No it is not. I can be rhetorical all day Joe. I don't personally think you deserve any respect. Not because youíre a man, or your race, or your preferences, but simply because youíre not respectable behaving like a two year old.

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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Actually, I think he's talking about this article: http://kotaku.com/5948422/serious-racism-allegations-levelled-at-
video-game-developer

Lyon Medina
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@Elisabeth Beinke

First time I have ever seen this article. I don't post in Kotaku forums though. Is my name on there?

*There are way to many comments to look through, but I know for a fact I never commented on or saw this article(before today). I still will not comment on the Kotaku forums. If Gamasutra decides to do an article I definately would say something.

*Updated

Jacob Alvarez
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Crap. I'm a straight, white man. I guess I should drop out of school and forego my desire to be a part of the video game industry. Apparently, there's too many of me in there already. Sounds like affirmative action to me: reward people based on physical traits rather than merit.

Nicole Leffel
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This is a more general statement that I think is appropriate for the comments here on Gamasutra at large, but I'm replying to you specifically because you mention being a student and aspiring to working in the games industry.

If you'd like to keep your potential to be hired as open as possible, do not make snide comments like this on the Internet, especially not attached to what is presumably your real name and photograph. In no way does the post above say that straight white men shouldn't continue to join game development. At most it argues that straight white men - especially in teams with little diversity - aren't well-equipped to approach marginalized characters in productive ways.

The fact that you read an article challenging the overwhelming homogeneity of the games industry and branded it as "affirmative action" based only on "physical traits" is Not Good. People that respond defensively to others promoting inclusion are people that are generally not offered jobs at places that value diversity. This is especially telling when any research on the demographics of the game industry will clearly show that white guys (and presumably straight white guys) aren't in any way endangered. Adding in more diversity is NO threat to you. Approaching it as a threat is, again, Not Good.

Anyway, I'm sure this will get written off as Even More Affirmative Action! but it's really and truly meant as advice. I've worked quite a bit to help students and aspiring game developers find jobs in my area, and this is something that really needs to be addressed. In no way is being a straight, white man going to adversely affect you in your search for a job - thinking so would be blatantly delusional - but showing a disdain for movements towards diversity and inclusion probably will.

Amir Barak
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@Nicole
Actually if he applies to places that are looking for people that are not 'straight white males' being one WILL adversely affect his likelihood of finding work; and this is likely since we've already, apparently, begun grouping people in that way.

But is it alright for you to post up an aggressive post about his post just because he made a post that challenges YOUR opinion of the article, er.. posted? (wow, that sentence makes my eyes go wobbly :P)

Jason Lee
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@Amir: We're only identifying this group in the context of this article, in our day to day (I hope) we approach potential employees and people as, you know, people, with new perspectives to add and ideas to contribute. If anything, the article points out that no, Jacob already has views that are in line with what's popular and profitable in the larger industry setting and should get along just fine. I've walked into an interview where my views on feminism might have actually hurt my chances of getting hired.

Which is kind of the point here, that we're kind of narrow in those ideas and perspective. This isn't the fault of people trying, or the fault of THE TERRIBLE WHITE MALE. But think about it, if I want to work on a game that I feel respects a certain LGBTQ background, where would I apply? Where would I go? How do I offer that perspective to an environment where apparently even a discussion of feminism stirs up aggression, harassment, and belligerence (Anita Sarkeesians Feminism in games project, Jennifer Hale's harassment, the backlash against homosexuality in ME3, etc.) Maybe there are more minorities and marginalized groups in the game industry than Anna thinks, but if there are they don't seem to have much sway over what's being portrayed in games and how it's being portrayed (as of now, rather insensitively).

The affirmative action argument's a straw man that doesn't have to do with the article, but rather as Nicole pointed out, isn't helping you. And whether you like it or not, every one of us (including me) needs to take a time out and step outside and question assumptions we're making about games, our industry, and whether we're really doing the best thing to move our medium forward into maturity.

Nicole Leffel
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@Amir This is clearly 100% not true. Please take some time to look up the actual stats on the game industry. If you are being reasonable about this at all, that will very quickly quell your fears that there's any risk of NOT being hired on the basis of being a straight white guy.

Also, I'll be taking a private moment to laugh at the idea that my reply was "aggressive." Wow, I'd hate to see what you'd have said about the truly blunt response I had first wanted to make.

Jack Mahogany
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The smallest minority is the individual, and I view games as being created by individuals, not "straight white males" or any other label people wish to attribute to others.

Kate Craig
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I came across Anna's work a little shy of a year ago, and I'm so grateful for her take on things. It's made me consider themes and mechanics I'd overlooked, and explore smaller games I might have otherwise missed. Up top.

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Ian Richard
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Oh come on Dave... whats more likely?

That all straight white males are psychically linked in our single goal to keep every minority down... or that game writing just sucks at this point?

How dare you think there is a logical non-hate-driven explanation instead of a global conspiracy involving all straight white males?

Joshua Darlington
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"because the writing sucks. " That seems like an easy answer. Unfortunately, its too broad to be true.

Game writing balances many goals. If you feel a certain piece of writing doesn't meet your expectations, it might be worth thinking about both the goals that are met as well as the goals that may not have been met as fully as you would have liked.

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Brandon Sheffield
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How anyone is seeing this as something other than "we should really get more voices in the game industry" is indicative that there *is* indeed a problem. I'm a straight white male, and I write other kinds of characters, but also when I go to GDC I mostly see other straight white males. I want other voices and other ideas to be represented in games because that makes games stronger, more interesting, more varied, and have greater significance to the world at large, because they will represent and reach more people.

People see a little criticism and think "NO, I AM OKAY, EVERYTHING I DO IS FINE, YOU ARE BAD," instead of recognizing the point, which is just to get more voices in games. The straight white male voice *is* the dominant voice in the game industry in the West. Who could deny it? Adding a few non-white or non-straight characters isn't the point - it's about who is making games. Her point here is mostly a call to action to people who are not straight white males to get out there and make games, however they may, presuming they want to make games.

Meanwhile who has showed up? People defending a perceived threat on straight white male dominance of a medium. "What is your problem, everything is fine, don't oppress those of us in power." It's depressing to read this stuff, but I guess that's why I have to keep writing about it. This thread proves that articles like this still need to happen - and more frequently, too.

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Brandon Sheffield
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Anna is not "just someone," she is a big voice for change in the industry and a prolific and respected indie game maker. she wasn't invited to speak at indiecade by accident!

How do you qualify that last statement - you want more diverse voices, but you don't care to know how diverse they are? That is confusing.

Kenan Alpay
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"What I'm talking about is the fact that having an entire artistic form dominated by a specific group of people is bad for that form, because only a small group of perspectives get to inform it."

Sure. Totally. I guess the "how" is really the question?

Anybody can make a game and throw it on the internet these days, which is cool. It appears that she's specifically referring to having different groups of people in bigger companies (like Bioware). It sounds like a tough goal, even for the most inclusive companies.

Maybe a better solution is to start your own company and create an open environment that promotes inclusion of all groups. Easier said than done. But I think that the best studios attract different kinds of people. I'd be happy working at a place like that as long as everyone was skilled and motivated to create amazing work.

Brandon Sheffield
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Yah Kenan, "how" is a good question - so far the solution is "if you can't work inside the system, work outside it." and considering how well indies are doing versus studio structure, that may be *the* best solution.

Inside of larger studios though, outreach at student job fairs and indie events could be helpful, because those groups tend to be far more diverse. You obviously don't want a situation where you're hiring someone just for their identity, but casting a wider net than job ads and actually canvassing for new hires could be useful.

Will Hubbell
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The problem is complacency. The solution is to keep talking.

Kenan Alpay
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@Brandon: Yes, outreach is important.

I guess the hope is that with diverse voices behind more games, a larger pool of people will be able to relate to and enjoy them.

And perhaps, members of that expanded audience will develop a passion like we did growing up, and go on to create their own works from various perspectives... and the medium will be richer for it. Seems like that's the ideal situation.

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Michael DeFazio
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I am seeing this as something other than "we should really get more voices in the industry"...The tone and the approach of the article...when you say things like:
"I don't think all straight white men are evil,"

...infers that you probably think some are "evil", (and exactly why are they "evil"... Because they are Straight? White? Men?"... I mean "evil is evil", no need to single out evil among a single group as if it is more prevalent than in any other group.

If I were to say:
"it's not that I think all gays are evil"
I am sure people would take offense... There is no need to be adversarial (as the tone of the article).

I would have an easier time if the tone was more PROMOTING of the cause (i.e. promoting and encouraging those women/nonwhite/gay/transgender ) rather than to specifically single-out another group and put them in a bad light. (It doesn't have to devolve into an "it's US verses THEM" debate, lets try to think about better ways where we can all get along)

just my 2 cents

Jason Lee
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Brandon, I just want to thank you for this article, this comment, and everything you're doing. I know not everyone agrees with you or sees the value in bringing stuff like this up, but people like me greatly appreciate it and it makes me happy to see you help raise awareness and discussion.

Joe McGinn
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"I would have an easier time if the tone was more PROMOTING of the cause (i.e. promoting and encouraging those women/nonwhite/gay/transgender ) rather than to specifically single-out another group and put them in a bad light. (It doesn't have to devolve into an "it's US verses THEM" debate, lets try to think about better ways where we can all get along)"

Well said Michael! The article seemed to be as intentionally confrontational as possible. I find it ironic that someone arguing against discrimination of certain groups feels the need to stereotype another group to make their point ... in which case it's no point at all.

Scott Siegel
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This isn't "just someone's opinion on the internet", Dave. Anna is a widely respected member of the independent games community. She's a prolific game designer, and published author, and spoke this past weekend at the IndieCade conference (this article is about the talk she gave at that conference -- a point most of the irate commenters seem to have missed).

Leonardo Ferreira
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...and here we go again.

Kate Craig
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Yep! Because it's pretty important!

Leonardo Ferreira
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An echo chamber of tired, oft-repeated points-of-view that will bring precisely nothing new to the table? I beg to differ.

But the text was great, though. Anthropy rules.

Kate Craig
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Tired and oft-repeated to you. Maybe even more oft-repeated to me. At the same time, with every Gamasutra post I see about increasing diversity I see names that I hadn't seen before, and keeping it in the public eye, recognizing that these issues are still important, is pretty valuable and reassuring to myself and others who are trying to make cool stuff.

Leonardo Ferreira
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Hm, in that sense I can't help to agree with you. These are relevant and necessary discussions. My point is with the beligerant and unproductive noise that usually follow these articles, drowning what could be new perspectives in me-toos and you-are-wrongs.

Jason Lee
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I am astounded by the amount of negative backlash that I'm reading here. She explicitly says that she's not out to get straight white males, nor is she some sort of straw feminist demanding dicks get chopped off and we all worship the goddess mother (http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=341). Every point that I feel that's been raised (men are being repressed, people are being forced what they want to do, women can come in if they want to) is something being projected on the article that's fighting some point she never makes in the article. Give the article another read.

Why aren't there more games like The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and other games? Out of the number of large AAA releases there are so few that are catered towards huge successful games that have been . Yes, there's Maxis doing the new Sim City, and there are small niche games that have a super strong following like the Nancy Drew Adventures (go play some!) but when we talk AAA we talk Dishonered, X-Com (already considered a "risky" game), Darksiders II... So yeah, you can say they're out there but they're barely there in the same volume that female-oriented (or non-male) films are in the box office or shows are on TV (historically much more of a media dedicated towards women).

A few ideas

- Large publishers don't wanna make huge risks
- Straight white males is THE demographic that is known to buy games, so making something for them is not a risk, while they can make a known successful franchise (Sims), be the game that hits the "casual" audience (something that's been used as a condescending term)


But lets look at comic books. In the mainstream, we don't have many female or non-white authors*. Yet out in the graphic world novel, there's Alison Bechedel, Marjan Satrapi, Adrian Tomine, Gene Luen Yang who either have to make their choice telling "their" story, or writing superhero stories for people who read superhero stories (and no matter who they "really" are, they will have a demographic sheet that probably says 18-30 white male). They traded that for the recognition and exposure of writing for superheroes and getting along in the "industry" but not everyone can make that choice nor afford to. In the gaming world I'd call Anna one of those individuals, and as a result she gets a lot of respect critically but I know for a fact she's not making a lot choosing to tell her story with the resources she has available. What I think she's criticizing is that choice between two lesser evils; be on the margins of the game community where she's known among insiders and indie followers, but outside of most of the view of the AAA public, or work within a AAA structure where she's most likely to make games about shooting aliens in the face, and being 1 of 300 people making that game won't have much control in offering a nuanced or appropriate portrayal of an LGBTQ character, if there even gets to be one at all.

I think our industry has a problem with perspectives. Film and television only matured and became better when women, black, latino, asian, lgbtq, etc. people had a chance to make media by them for others that help create new ideas. If being a bug collector or a cave explorer served as the seed for a beautiful idea that became Pokemon/Zelda, what kind of opportunities are we missing now?

Keep on truckin' Anna.

*I will say among the white males in comic books, there are a proliferation of great voices that helped the medium mature, if you think I'm being unfair. Garth Ennis is a good example: strong writer who drew from his Irish background and past with Catholicism to serve as strong fuel for great male characters. Still, Garth Ennis I felt struggled early in his career dealing and writing women and coming up with stories that really respected their point of view in a way that made sense.

Tyvon Thomas
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Thank you. You pretty much nailed every point that all of the competent people here are trying to argue for. I can only hope your statements aren't ignored by everyone else.

Amir Barak
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"She explicitly says that she's not out to get straight white males"
The way she uses 'straight white males' is a type of asteism (at best), intended or not I've got no idea. Which is why people (and I suspect not just your typical 'straight white male') have found it insulting.

Jason Lee
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I'll agree that Anna is no lyrical poet who can navigate the dire straights of language like a graceful swan, but I think you're also missing the forest for the trees. The times I've talked to her and her friends it's not some racial "straight white male" but rather an assumption of norms that fail to take into account blacks, gays, women, asians, latinos... you get the idea.

Current game industry reminds me a lot of 1930's/40's film industry, where the Hayes Code and studio interests really clamped down on a lot of creative expression that didn't fit with societal standards. Probably that may have been a better term for Anna to use, since it captures a better sense of what's going on: businesses are afraid of reaching outside the male-white audience (girls aren't nerds!), so those that fit in with those ideas tend to gravitate towards producing those games in a kind of feedback loop. That's not to say women and minorities don't end up in that industry, it's just that when they do they've already bought in (so to speak) to the ideas and perspectives that the industry produces, rather helping introduce alternatives at the AAA level

We're getting better though, and I think that if Anna said these things in the 90's it'd been even more radical. Thanks to the rise of indies, huge successes like The Sims, and the rise of Casual Gaming (for better or worse) we are getting an alternative to that old hollywood-like system.

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Dan Felder
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Can't we have both? Why can't there be fewer women in games because it began as a mostly masculine culture, which in turn makes women feel more out of place, which makes it so there tend to be fewer women in games, which market analysts look at and see the current audience which brings them to market to that audience and build games for that audience, which - if they do their job right - attracts that audience to sustain its high number of male members, which makes women feel more out of place...

We're talking about massive cultural trends and demographics here. Maybe, just maybe, there's more than one factor at work?

I don't think there's huge prejudice against men in the cosmetics industry, but I don't think as many men have it as their dream job to work in the cosmetics industry or spend most of the day thinking of cosmetics.

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Amir Barak
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But men do wear makeup and men wear clothes designed to make them appear a certain way and men put on smelly liquids to make them smell a certain way. And men shave and style their hair and men... well, you get the idea.

Jason Lee
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@Dan: I guess you got it. I don't think we should negate male messages or anything like that at all; Fight Club is a great movie about men by men the same way Halo is a great game about shooting aliens I think we need. It's just that there are way more fight clubs in the game industry I think there needs to be. Do we really want to remain as a man/boy's club for our medium?

@Amir: Good thing women make games for women designed for women to make them enjoy things that they enjoy.

^ That's the dangerous argument there I've just made ^

On the one hand, there's the argument that "girl's can play Halo also" which is true. However I'll posit that it's a bit like girls playing in the boys club, that they can only play these games that are meant "for boys" and be "boyish" rather than say, just be who they want to be and not be judged as "the gamer girl". But then there's the "you're being sexist if you want to just make pink barbie games" which honestly is also true and not the solution.

Graeme Strachan
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I agree with her sentiments about the general lack of diversity. However some of her comments are misjudged and borderline offensive.

The biggest problem I have is with this sentence:
"The trouble is that people without a history of repression can only offer tokenism when it comes to discussing something other than themselves"

Speaking as a student of literature and a writer myself I find this more than a little, bewilderingly close-minded, not to mention demonstrably untrue. That implies that only someone who has shared of a particular experience can ever create an informed artwork regarding that said experience.
That's the point I find more problematic than any of the supposed misandry being ascribed to the "white men" comments. No-one is arguing that the Games industry is overwhelmingly male-heavy however to say that is the reason characterisation is poor is disingenous.

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Christian Nutt
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Maybe it's badly phrased, but if the point is, "[So far] The trouble is that people without a history of repression [in the game industry] can only offer tokenism when it comes to discussing something other than themselves" that's a little more to the point. I mean, speaking as a gay man, I haven't seen anything that made me jump out of my chair in a positive way coming out of triple-A games.

I gather Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 were better -- I've not played them -- but DAO was hilariously bad in its portrayal of its gay/bi character [that elf dude] and actually played right into negative stereotypes. I'm sure there are other examples but I'm blanking on them. Obviously, BioWare gets the most ink.

I think the people at BioWare are very well intentioned -- I've read what they've had to say on forums, spoken to them, etc -- but it definitely often still comes across as tokenism, or the next best thing. And that's the point she's making, and I think it's a fair criticism to leap off from without anybody getting all bent out of shape about it. If anybody should be having an issue with it, it's the referenced creators, and it should be taken as feedback.

And for the record, even if she's saying "it's literally impossible for someone who isn't part of a minority group to authentically write about that minority group" I don't think that perspective can be dismissed, frankly.

Gian Dominguez
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"I gather Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 were better -- I've not played them -- but DAO was hilariously bad in its portrayal of its gay/bi character [that elf dude] and actually played right into negative stereotypes. "

I actually liked him. It was his promiscuity that actually made him a memorable character. Now if all of Bioware gay character were like him I'd take issue but there not, people shouldnt be too PC about it. Just like in the real world there are people who fit the stereotype roles(there is a reason there stereotypes) its ok for some characters to be stereotypical. (as long as its done properly)

Graeme Strachan
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"even if she's saying "it's literally impossible for someone who isn't part of a minority group to authentically write about that minority group" I don't think that perspective can be dismissed, frankly."

I'm afraid that's just incorrect. The entire history of literature is littered with examples which prove this to be false. I favour the idea that Anna meant the former option you mention, however she didn't word it as such, hence the heavy need to add additional assumptive qualifiers to the statement.

I'm actually working on a piece which touches on the positive portrayal of characters, and the often flawed assumptions players make about this.

Christian Nutt
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I certainly wouldn't argue that it's literally impossible for someone to write convincingly (if not authoritatively) about a group they're not a part of.

At the same time, I totally can see why someone would, particularly as a member of the group. And I, again, don't think this take should be dismissed as just plain wrong. Even if you don't agree, take it on board. At least be sensitive to the idea and think about why people feel that way.

Also, to go back to her original point, maybe the entire history of literature is littered with examples, but is the entire (much shorter) history of games?

Graeme Strachan
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I have a fundemental issue with the idea of someone actually believing that their own, or their "group's" experiences are so unique that it's impossible for someone outside them to do anything other than create a tokenist view. I can understand that some people might feel that way, and naturally I'd think they were much mistaken and quite unrealistic or arrogant in that belief.

The problem is that we are dealing with a concept that is only touched on in the interview. Ironically I think she's actually advocating less tokenism and simply a more deft hand at the wheel, to include traditionally "Othered" POV & situations with subtlety and grace. It doesn't come across clearly enough in the article to be completely certain.

As far as history of games vs history of literature, it still doesn't hold. The majority of games don't have the narrative scope to encompass anything like that level of characterisation or social interaction between characters. The ones that do usually only include it as a secondary narrative action. Such as Deus Ex HR or Dragon's Age where the narrative is still ostensibly a vehicle for the action and not an end in itself.

Anna is coming from the zine background, which very much is topic or issue-centric. As such yes there are almost no games that cover the level of specific issue that such other media do. But that doesn't mean that it's impossible for non-self-experiencing people to create plausible stories and characters in those realms.

She made for example Dys4ia, a creation in the 'videogame zine' style which talked about the feelings and events of HRT and Gender re-assignment. Now not to be unkind as it's a very heartfelt game, with a lot of effort put ito that. But when I played that, there isn't a jot of new info that I didn't hear when i saw Bethany Black's 2010 Edinburgh Fringe show on the same topic. With that in mind, any capable game maker who had seen that show and did rudimentary research on the net could have theoretically made Dys4ia. (again I'm not dismissing down the game or Anna, or the hard work that went into making the game.

For the purposes of this discusssion I think it's a valid point.

Michael Joseph
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I think empathetic people of one group can portray or write portrayals of members of another group _IF_ they've done the historical research, read a lot of litterature written by members of that group, and conducted many personal interviews.

There are folks who are still getting to know their own spouse who they've lived with for 10 years.

How is it NOT a tokenist view to portray a character when they haven't even bothered to dedicate themselves for a time, to learning about that character and the culture and history that helped produce him? And I think at least in the video game industry, nobody is doing that work or cares to. And it's foolish to expect them to.

Adam Bishop
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For anyone who doesn't think there are actual barriers to women working in the game industry, I'd invite you to read a piece I wrote a couple of years ago describing the environment for women at a developer I worked for:

http://gamasutra.com/blogs/AdamBishop/20101016/88267/Time_To_Grow
_Up.php

Lyon Medina
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Thank you for the read Adam.

Michael Joseph
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When members of the dominant group in a society complain about how unfair life is for them it is usually for one reason. It's the "jealous loser" mentality. (I'm not saying they are actually losers, I'm just describing the mentality of folks with this type of self esteem issue.) These folks are pretty well indoctrinated into the mainstream culture and value mainstream ideals of wealth, beauty, success, 2.5 kids, and so on... but they can never seem to achieve the level of success they crave.

They wind up feeling like just another average person or even below average and because they believe people deserve their lots in life, they experience conflict. "I deserve more than this! Why isn't my vision of a perfect life falling into place?" In their mind if there's nothing wrong with them, it must be something else. That something else often turns into scape-goating blacks, gays, liberals, environmentalists, etc. It's a defense mechanism to protect their own self worth. Show me a straight white male who blames minority groups for his woes, and I'll show you someone who has a lot of issues (eg problems maintaining friendships, selfish, superficial, drug or alcohol dependency, low self-esteem, depression, etc)

It's simultaneously fascinating and sad.

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Michael Joseph
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LOL.

You are welcome.

Justin Speer
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"Gender roles are natural, we can see this in non-heard animals, where there is no society to teach them that since they are females they should act this way."

Women should be obscene and non-heard? Groucho is that you?

John Flush
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I think I watched a movie from the 80's that stated "the only winning move is not to play" - I think we should adapt that to this article. The only winning move is to not reply. Dang it, I can't even follow my own advice.

Jason Lee
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But the temptation! The temptation to argue on the internet is just so, so strong!

On a serious note though, I've been checking in every once in a while the whole day and there are some great points raised that make it worth it which outweigh the trolling or insensitive comments. In particular Graeme and Christian both raise great points, and I guess I came down a little hard on Amir but I do respect his opinion and really made me consider how the tone can seem aggressive (after all, I'm not white so I can't totally relate which is why we need multiple perspectives in the game industry (hey there!)) and many more that I both agree and disagree with.

So here's where I stand

- White straight males can in fact write/design for minorities in a meaningful and intelligent way; see Neil Gaiman for a good example. However, make sure it's meaningful and intelligent; part of what makes him a good writer for capturing an experience other than the white straight experience is his advocacy and exposure to LGBTQ and women issues. It's all up the the individual really being exposed to things that are different from the majority.

- Likewise, we can get more people exposure to that kind of thing by creating a welcoming, accepting, and creative environment that allows for people from alternative backgrounds besides one that admittedly look a lot like mine: white or white-washed, suburban, middle or upper-middle class, straight, etc. I think we have enough examples of hostility towards women, minorities, and sexual minorities floating around, including this story: http://199.231.214.203/srpcache.html

- Likewise, plenty straight white males can offer great material about straight white males (Fight Club! Indiana Jones! Star Wars!) It's just that we can also have other things besides that in the AAA space (English Patient, Labyrinth, Juno), and so far the gaming equivalent is still mostly in the indie or niche spaces (Although I will say we got The Sims, MMOs, and other things pushing us forward)

- We're mixing up the term "white straight male" and what we really mean as a risk-adverse, marketing driven industry that is stuck making games for a certain demographic and therefore holds back on trying to solve positively portraying women and minorities because it's not a problem that will generate a lot of revenue for them. It might be time to consider though that in fact there might be large spenders outside the boys club, or that players are growing up and being more critical at problematic portrayals of women and minorities, but that's a complicated issue that still plagues other industries too.

- Women and Minorities, although they might have a few more opportunities to get into the industry as before, find that once there have to make games that don't capture their voice, viewpoint, and maybe even offend them on a level that makes them highly uncomfortable. It ends up being a compromise that I feel they shouldn't have to make. It's a position I almost found myself in once. Now, if you're a woman working on Dead Island and the term "feminist whore" is being thrown around as an internal feature name, does the love of your industry really eclipse your dignity? Should dignity and passion even be at odds ever?

That's my final words. Now I'm going home and hopefully playing X-Com.

Randall Stevens
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@Jason

Quick note. Fight Club wasn't written by a straight white male.

Travis Lobsinger
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As a "Token" Gaymer... Yes this is an important issue for many of the reasons stated. There are enough genres of games for all people (just like movies, look at your Netflix categories if you disagree). Though I have a gaming hobby, which leads me to play 100's of games without caring about gender roles in them, there are other games that I've specifically AVOIDED because lack of content that appeals to me. Every GTA game has hookers...but their all females. Mario goes after the princess... would the game have sold as many copies if Luigi was his lover and not a brother, locked in the castle to save? Probably not, but I lay odds it may have sold somewhere..to someone..that appreciated having a game, a fantasy if you will, where he actually identified with the main character.

I know for myself, I was more happy to save Toad.

Robert Carter
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Why do we need more voices? The quality should be more important than the quantity.

Why should we care what their race and sexual preference is? Anyone who says that your race determines your ability to contribute to a team is a racist, by textbook definition. If you hire a lesbian over a 'straight white male', simply because she is a lesbian and he is a straight white male, you are a moron. Who the hell builds teams on sex and race!?

I find it ironic that someone can write about how the whole industry is straight white males and then start talking about token characters... You just lumped an entire group into a stereotype token characters. Was this meant to be published on April Fools Day?

Ive never once given my races (Im mixed) or sex a second thought, or anyone elses race or sex for that matter, when it comes to my talents and my skills or their talents and skills. It is irreverent in every way. And please stop the BS about 'straight white males have life handed to them'. It just shows you live in a bubble with no connection to reality, with an inexplicable need to parrot cliches.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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*doesn't know what irony means, is unaware how incredibly dim witted he sounds*

Darcy Nelson
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Some of these comments make me want to gag. I hope Anna's games and her voice will continue to reach people and inspire a new generation of game devs.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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What's with the link pic having Cortez? He's probably one of the most interesting new characters in ME3, and it goes against the grain of the article.

Kristian Roberts
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Ok, so given the million or so comments, I bet this has aldready been said, but there is a series of categorical assumptions being made here that are truly unhelpful.

Exhibit 1: "I don't think all straight white men are evil," All white men aren't *anything.* In fact, they run the gammut from intolerant bigots to welcoming, empathetic super-hippies -- and all things in between (if you accept my flawed, yet illustrative spectrum. In fact, if games workplaces aren't welcoming of difference is the prevalence of douchebags, not of white straight men (per se) that is the issue.

Exbihit 2 (drawn at random from the discussion above): "Women and Minorities, although they might have a few more opportunities..." so that's um like 65% of the US population that now all things the same? Must be nice to have your thoughts pre-determined by your genitals and/or arbitrarily-selected physical traits. Very freeing.

I'm not trying to suggest that asshats don't exist (nor that they don't make like miserable for those that they perceive as different), but that that resorting to equally unhelpful broad generalizeations only makes things worse.


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