Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Mar 2014 22:31 UTC
Games

BioWare developer Manveer Heir held a passionate talk about stereotypes in videogames, for a group of developers at GDC.

Heir backed up his ideas with research throughout the presentation. To begin, he cited a 2009 study, The Virual Census Representing Gender, Race and Age in Videogames, which analysed the primary and secondary characters of a large set of games and found that the elderly, children, black, hispanic and female characters were all uder-represented compared to the social makeup of the United States at the time. Heir also looked at the top 25 metacritic games of 2013. While half let players play as a woman, or an ethnic minority character, none facilitated both.

I always play as a female character if the game gives me the option. In fact, if a game does not allow me to play as a female character for no discernible reason, I will not buy it. This is not some sort of holier-than-thou quest; it's just my preference. I really want game developers to move beyond the generically handsome early-thirties shaven-head five o'clock shadow American. It's boring, it's lazy, it's pandering to the lowest common denominator.

This is one of the reasons why the Saints Row games have always appealed to me. Want to be a short, fat Asian woman wearing construction jeans and a fishnet halter top? Go head. Want to play as a cross-dressing thin giant with huge pink Bambi eyes and flaming red hair? No problem. Games that allow its players this kind of freedom are relatively rare, and that's a shame.

Heir's speech got a lot right, however. It was an important and powerful moment this year because, ultimately, it wasn't about storming barricades or attacking individuals. It was a message from one developer to a room of developers, asking everyone to go away and raise the issue with colleagues in their respective organisations. It was a well-reasoned, well-researched and impactful, and took pains to avoid falling into some familiar traps. It wasn't a drum-banging speech for those already in complete agreement. It didn't, as these things sometimes do, reflect more on the author than the issue. The anger behind Heir's words made it an energising listen, but the speech didn't accuse or condescend, and didn't draw battle lines. That's exactly where the debate needs to go. Nothing changes if everyone digs trenches.

Hopefully they take something away from this.

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fmaxwell
Member since:
2005-11-13

Since you decided to comment-snipe in the Oppo Find 7 thread, posting an insulting comment at the last minute to avoid a reply, I'll reply here:

Your assertions are trivially disproven by the existence (you might simply not be aware of them, living in your Apple-centric perception bubble) of other smaller than iPhone smartphones with comparable specs (for example among the Xperia Mini series of devices)


Living in your Android-centric perception bubble, you're obviously unaware that the Xperia Mini is over 30% larger in volume than the iPhone 5s and is over twice as thick. You're also unaware that it is woefully underpowered compared to the iPhone 5s, benchmarking in at less than 20% of the speed of the iPhone 5s.

Comparable specs? Are you on drugs? 4.5 hours of talk time on the Sony vs. 10 hours talk time on the iPhone 5s? 1GB of built-in storage vs 64GB? 720p vs. 1080p video? 320x480 pixel vs 1136x640 pixel display? 5 megapixel camera vs 8 megapixel camera? Where is the Xperia mini's front-facing camera, fingerprint sensor, or GlONASS receiver?

If you spent more effort researching what you wrote and less effort in comment-sniping, you'd come off as a lot less misinformed.

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