E3 2018: Video Game Industry, Can You Work on Your Diversity?

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“Sony’s E3 Flute guy” The very image of how tone deaf the gaming industry is in regards to inclusion.

I wanted to write about diversity seen at this E3 but I was reminded that diversity/inclusion is still something of a foreign concept to the video game industry.

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance -author unknown

Like many video game fans I was excited for this year’s Electronic Gaming Expo (E3). It’s become something like a holiday for many gaming fans. Announcements, reveals, details, release dates, it’s a big deal. It’s a chance for the industry to present itself to the gaming public (fans & critics a like) and build excitement.

Now, I was particularly excited for company presentations. These presentations allow Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and so forth to use stage presence and charisma for their respective visions. To be frank, I just wanted to see what was to be presented and whom was going to present throughout these various shows.

As the days went on and each company took the limelight, I was reminded that the gaming industry is still as diverse as a pack of Wonder Bread. Yes they still have a diversity and inclusion issue in 2018.

So the above tweet perfectly encapsulates what I wanted to talk about today. If you search around social media, you’ll find other PoCs expressed the same feelings while watching. So aside from Nintendo, companies start and stopped at having only one male of color. However everyone utterly failed at having at least a woman of color.

Why is this frustrating? Well, white hetero/cishet males are not the only people playing videogames. Also they aren’t the only ones making our games, despite being the majority. Maybe there isn’t enough PoCs around for companies to use? Well, let’s look at the numbers.

As per the 2017 International Game Developers Association Developer satisfaction survey,

The majority identified as white/Caucasian/European at 68%. Respondents were able to select up to 3 options for this question. East/South East Asian (18%), Hispanic or Latino (5%). Pacific Islanders constituted 3% of respondents, Arabian or West Asian made up 2% of respondents, Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples also represented 2% of the group, and Black/African American or African made up 1%

Now the same survey reports that women make up 21% of the gaming industry. Taking these numbers into consideration, why don’t we have more diverse presentations? Maybe people aren’t qualified and or lack stage presence? Well…those would be poor and lazy excuses.

Let’s not forget Ubisoft had Aisha Tyler host their E3 presentations from 2012 to 2016. So we know they can certainly use the influencers and personalities of color. So the decision to no use them and keep things…status quo was pretty disappointing.

I should mention the same applied largely to the video games shown. However we had a few outliers featuring badass women (which is awesome). Of note, Last of Us 2, stars a young woman. A woman whom shared a passionate kiss with another woman during it’s trailer. Which made a lot of heterosexuals angry (also awesome)

However the games were still rather white male protagonists and melanin deficient. I think Ubisoft’s Beyond Good Evil 2 is the only high profile game shown starring a woman of color. We also had a trailer for the maybe the most inclusive RPG of 2019, Indivisible by Lab Zero.

So you may ask me why is this a big deal? Why should it be important? Or my favorite argument from those outside marginalized groups, “they’re just videogames”.

I’m critically because as a fan of games I want the industry and the games to be better. To not speak on it and accept things as is would be shortsighted of myself.

Now, would you have a problem if all your movies starred only white people? If your directors were only white males? Would that bother you? Would you enjoy if all stories and experiences only came from one perspective?

Now, if people see more developers and industry members that look like them, they will be willing to pursue gaming careers. That would in turn help enrich our games and provided better experiences. These are known facts for any profession. But gaming is a business so let’s talk about that. Diversity is better for the bottom line.

As far as E3 2018 goes, I doubt my rumblings about will be the only one. I do wonder if and or when the game industry will remember non-white males play videogames.

Here’s a question games industry; If you want to incite the most folks to play your videogames, including people of color…why not have more of those faces for us to see?

Written by

I bat for PoCs, marginalized, equality, inclusion & geekdom. I'm warming the bench until coach subs me in. https://linktr.ee/jeffreyrousseau

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