The Lack of Diversity on Videogames


In 2003 Bioware hid something in Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic that may have completely changed the company relationship with it’s own creation: one of his characters, Juhani, was a woman and… gay. Even the director of the game was not sure how people would react to it and so decided to hid. It is not exactly clear that Juhani is gay, getting only implied in some scenes. This event was a critical time for the developer, which in their next game left open the possibility of a homosexual romance. Today, thirteen years after KOTOR, it is still rare to see minorities in major titles.

You can say that we have minorities in major roles as an Asian in Mirror's Edge, a black woman on The Walking Dead etc. However, they are very rare and in tiny roles. See well; Nicole Martins in 2010 at Indiana University decided to research and make a census of how the characters in video games are divided, - and the results are scary - 89.5% of the characters are men. And 85% of them are white, leaving 9.7% for blacks and 1.7% for Asians. More worrying is knowing that it is not restricted to the sphere of the characters, but also directly affects the development of games, where the number of minorities remains scarce.

I see a lot of people justifying this by saying that women do not play video games and so need not be represented (which in itself is a ridiculous idea, bruhh). This type of argument and retrograde mentality is perhaps the biggest issue and this only collaborates with the lack of representation in videogames. Otherwise, this mentality is so busted that a last year's research showed that the public playing videogames 55% are women. This proves that representation is not due to the public, but of a cultural thinking. This situation has a prognosis of improvement for years to come, with games like Mirror's Edge, Recore, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Dishonored 2, putting women in leadership. But this hole is much deeper. The problem of marginalization in game development is not just about women, much less people of different religious or ethnic backgrounds, is on entire genders. Even though the characters on screen, marginalization is happening the way they are created, and this is detrimental to the health of the industry and its ability to retain as much attention as the developers themselves as players.

The point is that doesn’t matter much if you have a female character in Assassin's Creed if it is secondary and cliché. No matter how many women will be put in Gears if they are still written and made by men in order to please other men. Representativity is much more than just having the characters on screen.
Experience diversity contributes to more humanized characters, because of that games like Life is Strange and The Last of Us: Left Behind are so touching, let alone common experiences to give focus on human relationships. No stylized relationships to the game reality but a real relationship, sensitive and without binary and dichotomous emotions as they usually are portrayed.

We got to the point where the characters are no longer thought and written as human representations of people, they are thought of as mere characters in a video game. Less and less we see humanity and subtlety in personality of a protagonist. This is not even about sex, but about being simply an human being. Narrative and diversity of characters are important, representation is a fundamental way of saying "You're welcome, games are for you, these people you see at screen have emotions and feelings just like you!", but on the screen we see idealized characters almost as gods. The lack of gender diversity not only affects players, also affects developers in the industry - these people are likely to have grown, playing and enjoyed games like this, and now working with it, portray as characters and not as people as well as it was seen in older games.

As I said earlier, is not representative have a woman in the game if it is written by men, so it would be important work of women actively in this industry, but it seems that the big "bosses" do not agree with that. There were a few times we saw reports of a woman in this industry that has been abused or insulted by the company that worked.

The light at the end of the tunnel is now the industry is in a good place for people who want to create their own things. A new generation of independent successful developers are moving to the mid-size AA space with many more experimental and more personal ideas. Cibel from Nina Freeman, is the most personal game that anyone can play, since you are in the skin of the own developer. And it is a story of love so pure and real about how we fall in love that we would never see in a game with a bigger budget. Work well alone in a game isn’t an easy task. You need dedication and persistence, as well as a range of skills. This is not for everyone. But those who remain, I hope that we continue to see games that portray people as people. And that build a way to encourage the main industry beginning to rediscover genres, mechanics and lost concepts, treat video games as a lapse of reality and characters as people. It is a real hope for the future.

  • Persona 4 and how diversity can transform a game:

That Persona 4 is one of the best JRPGs you may have heard. But here I want to describe and explain the storyline of a character who made me love this game even more. Let's talk about a character named Kanji Tatsumi, he's different? Well he's gay, the game does not tell you that at any time, but it is easily noticeable that facet of the character. And that's what makes him one of the most interesting characters. It is not a stereotype, it is something different, unusual is what makes it brilliant.

Kanji is a mysterious boy who hardly show up at school. He has certain questions regarding their sexuality. Early in the game, Tatsumi is afraid to show any potential female interests or personality, and makes up for it with a thought guy personality. Your Social Link reveals that act as tough - and therefore not as himself - often caused problems for Kanji, and he wonders how to prevent such things from getting worse.

The game shines when it does what it does best, Kanji sends to a parallel reality that is repressed psychological desires of the character. It is not the common character and well resolved we usually see, but a teenager who is struggling to understand their sexuality. This is a situation that most teenagers go. Imagine how much it is representative for someone who is going through it at the time and play this game. Then you have passed or not by these problems, adolescence is when we discover who we really are, so this is something that needs to be emphasized. At the end of the game, he acknowledges acceptance and deeper understanding of the interests, and points out that their sexual orientation is not really the issue. The bottom line: no matter the difficulty we to understand who we are, everything will be fine.

The Kanji story is not to make a different character just for do it. It's a good storyline that goes teachings and entertain. And that's a deep story with immense character development, seeing Tatsumi solve their problems of identity and in the process we learn about our conflicts and how we choose to address them. Deep and so little discussed stories are what make Persona so amazing. I wish all games were like.


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