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Why  Animal Crossing  and Nintendo need diversity
Why Animal Crossing and Nintendo need diversity
July 29, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"We have a broad age range, a broad range of experiences. It helps different topics get brought up that might not have been on a team that isnít as diverse."
- Aya Kyogoku, Animal Crossing: New Leaf co-director

Aya Kyogoku was the first woman to join Nintendo's game design team; she's now the co-director of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the successful and much-beloved installment of the company's life-sim franchise.

She chalks that reception up to diversity in the game team. It's not a new message for Kyogoku, but she states it succinctly in a new interview with USGamer.

"Looking at the Animal Crossing team today, the ratio of men to women is very balanced across all different positions involved in the development team. Because of that, we get to hear a lot of different perspectives and opinions. I think that goes beyond just men and women, too... Even beyond development, daily interactions in the workplace are a little different with a diverse team. In that sense, I feel like the fact that the balance is evening out is a good thing," Kyogoku said.

"Not only do we want diversity within one game, but itís also beneficial to have diversity across genres and the type of games we can make at Nintendo. Looking at it from that perspective, itís beneficial to have development teams that are diverse in their life experience and backgrounds."

The USgamer story is more than just an interview with Kyogoku; it looks at the history of diversity -- both missteps and wins -- at Nintendo.

This is a topic that Kyogoku and the game's producer, Nintendo veteran Katsuya Eguchi, have touched on repeatedly. It was a big theme of the pair's talk at this year's Game Developers Conference (which you can watch for free on GDC Vault).

It's also a discussed in another interview with Gamasutra, in which Eguchi said, "I think it was very important to have diverse teams so we can provide a diversity of content that people can relate to," and which covers how the team approached developing New Leaf which that in mind.

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Bob Johnson
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Meh. I bet in the future we hear how too much diversity is a bad thing.

Javier Degirolmo
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Well, diversity for the sake of diversity probably is bad (e.g. it's stupid to demand to add black people to a team working in a place where there are practically no black people), but actively avoiding diversity is probably bad too. As usual, the solution is between both extremes.

Theresa Catalano
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It feels like "diversity" is often used as a code word for an agenda... but REAL diversity is certainly sorely needed in the gaming world. And by real diversity, I mean all kinds of diversity, but especially diversity in the types of games we create. New experiences, creativity, thinking outside the box... that's the type of "diversity" that actually matters!

John Flush
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@Bob - I'll start. The more diversity you have the more you will attempt to appeal to everyone and actually appeal to no one as it is easier to take offense than to ignore what you don't like.

I would like to see the world in that people could get over this sort of stuff, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

I know they say to never bring up politics, but when politics is constantly being racist, sexist, and using age discrimination (and getting away with it with the public view by calling it 'demographics') I have little hope anyone else can either...

Dave Hoskins
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This article gives us a glimpse into the conformity and rigidity of some development environments.
It sounds like an awful place to make a game.