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Video: Sexism and sexuality in games

Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider takes a look at how romantic characters evolved from Baldur's Gate II to the Dragon Age series.
This article is being highlighted as one of Gamasutra's top stories of 2013. "Are we requiring the female protagonist to work harder and sell more in order to prove herself?" asks Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider, in this GDC 2013 video about sexism and sexuality in games, free courtesy of GDC Vault. In examining his own career, Gaider takes a brief look at how romantic characters evolved from Baldur's Gate II to the Dragon Age series. While he recognizes not all games can or should be all things to all people, he believes the industry could be less dis-inviting of players who would otherwise be paying customers. He urges those who choose to design minority characters to consider their roles and purpose in the game. Additionally, he suggests those of privilege to seek out possible groups affected by design choices and talk to them, or if security requires it not leave the office, to hire diversely. Their unique viewpoints, he said, should be considered "assets," not "affirmative action." Session Name: Sex in Video Games Speaker(s): David Gaider Company Name(s): BioWare EA Track / Format: Design Description: Games have reached the point where realistic portrayals of sex and adult relationships are possible, but what does this mean to us as developers? How much responsibility do we have in addressing issues of sexism and sexuality, and are we inadvertently making statements about what is acceptable, even when we don't mean to say anything at all? Our industry is struggling with a conflict between the desire to be taken seriously as an art form, and the desire to avoid addressing social issues because what we make are "just games." These things have implications on our sales, and while they can be addressed, it can only happen if we are willing to acknowledge that greater discussion of the topic within the industry is merited.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins. Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS. Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech.

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