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IGDA Chair: Relying on stereotypes is 'lazy creativity'
IGDA Chair: Relying on stereotypes is 'lazy creativity'
July 9, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

July 9, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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More: Console/PC, Art, Design, Business/Marketing



Kate Edwards rose to the rank of Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in December 2012. Prior to that, she had spent the last 20 years of her games industry career improving cultural sensitivity and workplace diversity.

Inclusivity is no trivial matter to Edwards. When several high-profile members including Brenda Romero resigned in protest this March, following news that an IGDA-affiliated industry party at the Game Developers Conference had hired scantily-clad female models, Edwards made an open statement on behalf of the Association apologizing for the incident, and promising that IGDA events would be a soberer affair going forward.

"It was chance to reiterate what the IGDA is really about, what we want to provide to our membership," Edwards tells Gamasutra in a recent interview. "It's always been our intention to hold more of a networking sort of event... not 'parties.'"

Many of IGDA's Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are geared toward raising awareness for and educating on workplace diversity and inclusion. It's something that Edwards, with her professional background, holds quite dear.

"Diversity is a strength. The greater the diversity of experience you can draw upon to create games that are not 'typical.' You might even open up new genres that people didn't even think about before," she offers. "Getting to that point is going to be a challenge. It will be partly a generational change, but it's also going to take a lot of advocacy."

Asked what specifically IGDA had done to advocate for these sorts of changes, Edwards declined to name any examples beyond her own work prior to becoming Executive Director. However, being fairly new in the role, that doesn't mean she's sitting idly by. These things take time, she says.

"Prior to taking the IGDA function, and I definitely saw improvements over time. It was slow, but it was there. Game developers and artists understood that the use of stereotypes is not only offensive, it's also lazy creativity."

At the moment, Edwards is gearing up for the IGDA Summit, to be held July 31st to August 1st in San Francisco. Keynotes on the roster include Jen MacLean, formerly CEO of 38 Studios, and Ed Fries, co-founder of Microsoft Game Studios.


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Comments


Matthew Buxton
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Since when do games designers and artists get to determine the look and feel of a product in a large commercial gaming outfit, the real issue is upper management, marketing and PR, they are the gatekeepers to this process

Jason VandenBerghe
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That's simply not the case. I have worked in 'large commercial gaming outfits' for the better part of two decades, and I can tell you that devs are just as culpable for what goes into their games as the communications people, as often as not.

Personally, I fight every goddamn day for better creative decision-making, and I often win. I lose, too, but that doesn't mean I stop fighting. And I can tell you that my fights with devs are 10x more difficult than my fights with "marketing".

But, hey. "Upper management" does make an excellent blame target, especially if you're someone who doesn't want to take real action to make things better on your projects. It's certainly easier. Because we all know that "upper management" are all a bunch of money-grubbing suits, right?

Yeah. It's all their fault.

Andre Murphy
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Apparently this is a victory for those in protest. I can't help but wonder,"If nobody resigned & everyone in attendance said nothing, would there have been a public out cry calling the IGDA inappropriate? Were these women too revealing? Were they models by day & escort by night?

To me it wouldn't have made a difference either way. But to others showing a little leg & wearing a shoulder less blouse is considered "playboy".


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