I'm a straight male gamer, convince me diversity in games is a good thing

Lightknight

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Genocidicles said:
Normally I'm one to just stick my fingers in my ears and pretend everything is fine when discussions about diversity get brought up, but with all these articles about how the 'evil dudebro gamers' are dying off and how gaming will become more diverse and move forward as a medium (and how that's a good thing) have made me wonder:

Is this a good thing, for me? From where I'm standing, all diversity in gaming has brought us is shit like Gone Home. How can I get on board with 'diversity moving gaming forward', if it just means more crappy games I won't play on Steam? How is this a good thing exactly?
Games like Gone Home existing aren't taking anything away from you. They are, however, helping to legitimize gaming as a pastime similar to reading books or watching a movie.

If you're an action film fan, why would you give a flying monkey shit whether or not someone made a foreign documentary on dung beetles as long as you still get your action films? Does it somehow detract from your action film viewing to know that non-action films exist? It shouldn't. No one should be so insecure as to get mad if someone produces something they don't like.

An expanding industry means more money is getting sunk into it and more fans are consuming the product. This means higher production games and a larger variety. Sure, there may be more gone homes but that also means we get more Bastion's and Chivalry's and the Stanley Parable's.

Now, as far as the 'dudebro gamers dying off' side of the equation. Those are the people on the other side of the spectrum who are upset that you like action films (to stick with my analogy). They are every bit as guilty of insecurity as anyone who would be mad that they exist or that games get made for them. That they would dismiss gamers as just dudebro [insert insult here] does nothing but de-legitimize whatever point they're trying to make about equality at the moment. Some people like to try to pretend that equality means that minority groups have the same voice as majority groups. But that's not equality. Equality means each individual person has 1 vote and so a majority group still wins out because that's the most people voting that way. Inequality is giving any group a louder voice (more votes per person) or dismissing groups altogether. I think these groups have the best argument that their voices aren't being heard at all. Some just go a little far and demand that they be catered to as if they were 90% of the consumer base.

But the fact is that the dudebro games are still the top sellers. COD and GTA, these are the games that show up as the top sellers of the year for the past decades. Not only that, but the top sellers in multiple versions of the same game.

For example, last year: http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2013/Global/

GTA V and COD: Ghosts took four of the top five best seller spots by themselves (ps3 and 360 versions).

So unless people stop buying these games, they aren't going anywhere. What you've got to see this as is an opportunity for a wider base. Not for people to actually lose things. No need to be afraid of it. Consider that the movies already went through than transition and people still get the movies they want.
 

Naeras

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Because not all stories can be told from the perspective of a straight white dude. Or, at the very least, they don't make sense from the perspective of a straight white dude.
 

WarpedLord

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BinDipper said:
Then you are perpetuating the belief that men and women, blacks and whites are fundamentally or inherently different to one another. And I see that as sexist/racist.
Of COURSE men and women are inherently different, as are people of different ethnic backgrounds. You DO understand how biology works, right? Recognizing those differences is NOT racism/sexism... believing that one or the other is somehow "superior" is racism/sexism. It's not hard to grasp...
 

daubie

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[quote/]Yeah, and a 5.4 user score. I think I'd rather trust the users than journalists trying to look hip and progressive.

Well surely that's a matter of writing, not diversity?

Well if we're going for 'things we can't do in real life' why does it have to be playing as a woman, or a gay guy? Why not go all the way and have us play as transdimensional cyborgs with 2 brains? Or insect people with a rigid caste system? That actually sounds interesting to me.[/quote]

I tend to not to trust reviews more than user scores. There's usually less hyperbole involved. How many of the scores are anything but a 1 or a 10?

It is lazy writing to always use the same "white guy saves the universe" tropes, which is why why writing from more social perspectives would be a good thing. Diversity is not a verb. You don't diversity, you practice or experience diversity through things, such as writing. If you only see stories from one perspective you will never know how other people see the world or its problems. That encourages social isolation and in the end heightens social conflicts. Sort of how Google customizes everyone's search results to give them things that reenforce the person entering the search's beliefs. That in turn feeds the polarized arguments we see every day now.

If you are willing to play as a humanoid insect, why are you not willing to play as a woman, or a black guy, or a liberal/conservative (whichever one you don't usually affiliate with), etc.? Your suggestions, in a way are diversity (though I'm not sure why a cyborg needs to brains unless you're going I, Robot on us), but there are more grounded examples that could offer just as foreign a game experience in their own way.
 

BiscuitTrouser

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BinDipper said:
Just off the top of my head, if someone wanted to base a narrative on apartheid they wouldn't literally have to have black and white people being forcefully segregated. They could have blonde and brown haired people being forcefully segregated.
Art doesn't have to imitate life to explore it.
Thats true, but dont you think theres any difference in value to exploring a historical issue accurately and using surrogates for lack of a better word to represent them? I think that it would definitely be damaging to totally track it into fantasy. Aparthied stories are chilling for me because it actually HAPPENED. To like, REAL people. It adds an element of gravity to the story, since it actually talks about real events. People were actually hurt. Its worth exploring the fact that people DID act like that, not a hypothetical where some people hypothetically act like that. Theres a world of difference. To make it dark, real murders and genocides really ring deep for me, a fantastical one just doesnt. When a whole planet explodes in fiction and billions die i dont feel REMOTELY the same level of emotion as when i read the book thief, a book about a small girl during the Nazi ragime. She was real to me. The planet was not. And no quality of author could possible make it more real than the actual events.

Well let's bear in mind that I said the argument still maintains "some" weight in the field of narrative variety. We're getting further and further away from my original point but I'll continue because it's still interesting enough to test my beliefs in a different context.
My point was you can explore the language, architecture, religion and attitude of ancient Egypt without having to directly feature a depiction of ancient Egypt. You could create a sci-fi game that features a civilisation similar to Ancient Egypt for example. If you were to demand more diversity manifests as more games about Ancient Egypt that would be selfish, if you were to demand more diversity manifests as more games about more ancient civilisations, that would be legit.
Thats also true, and i 100% agree with your last statement, egypt was an example. I dont mind how diversity is presented to me, i just want to see a broader range in settings both culturally AND architectually. The pyramids are nice but the culture surrounding them adds a HUGE layer of depth. Also remember historical games have the extra element of "This was and IS real!" authenticity to them. You cant deny thats pretty rad to be seeing a reconstruction of a living breathing society.

You can, it's just highly unethical for you to then try and play off your desire for diversity as some objective political issue.
Thats fine and i accept that.

Mhm, you're not addressing my belief that any kind of personality can be accurately portrayed by any gender or race though.
I think thats true to a degree but let me put it this way:

I dont know where youre from, but if youre just an English speaker, or perhaps a bi/tri/quad linguist (in which case im impressed as hell) theres a billion stories youve never read or encountered from other cultures. I think lifting them out of that context hurts them, why not present them as they are? Do you think theres no unique value to other cultures, both present and past, and that we can simply transition any story (Myth or historical) out of its ACTUAL cultural and historical origins without harming it at all? I dont think so personally. A persons personality is partially dictated by their cultural values and upbringing. Could you tell the story of what its like growing up in Kenya or perhaps rural China in the UK? No. The personalities might be similar, but you cant say they are the same. And your idea of "We can just fantasy it up but keep all key elements the same" feels so unnecessary. Why take such lengths to move it from the actual setting, it seems like huge effort just to avoid using the word "chinese" and replace it with "Finese" or whatever fantasy analogue you use. If youre working THAT hard JUST to avoid talking about another real life race thats ultra uncomfortable.

But their cultural background and experience doesn't have to dictate what race or gender a character is.
In the case of the authodox jew it does. And not to mention although women, men, blacks and whites arnt INNATELY different, the way society treats them is. Expectations in ALL cultures are different for almost everyone. What is it like for a somalian woman today? No idea, but it definitely isnt the same as a British man. True you could shoe horn in a British white woman in somalia for whatever reason, but her experience wont be the same as a native.

And your example only works there because you've picked a factual and historical setting. Stories do not have to be based on fact or history and in most cases aren't. Therefore restricting the player to a certain gender or race does nothing favourable to the story. It only cuts out options.
Thats fine, but sometimes cutting options is good for a SINGLE story, because the author can write a very definite narrative. People treat clementine differently because shes a small girl, to have you customise her entirely would take away the nuance of human interaction or require a lot more coding to add the nuance in for whatever choice you pick. The way Kenny might interact with Lee if he were Russian, White, or Black might be VERY subtly different and to make him customisable would remove that extra level of nuance. It isnt huge, but its why the walking dead is excellent and not just good.

Aww for fuck's sake dude. Why didn't you write "The Walking Dead Season 2 spoilers."
I stopped reading as soon as I realised but man, that's one major fucking spoiler you just gave me.
Now I'm all sad.
Fuck. I am SO SO SO SORRY. I honestly feel so shitty about that. I thought since we were discussing that story you were familiar with how it ends up, since that definitely changed my attitude about the characters.

Shit. Play it ASAP! I cannot be more sorry about this shit o.o
 

Nubrain

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There are two things I want to add that I don't often see brought up in a discussion like this. first straight white male protagonist are not the problem. The fact that this is the default is the problem.

The second point is why I think this became a problem. it's natural to want relateable characters but i think a lot of people assume that the only way to relate to a character is to have them like the player. i know that's not true and I know personally the more like me a character is the more boring find it. it's the reason that it's so fun to play a villain. Race gender and sexuality are 3 building blocks to make a character, arguably the least important blocks but the ones given the most weight.
 

Schadrach

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shrekfan246 said:
Genocidicles said:
If it meant more strategy games,
Endless Space, Sins of a Solar Empire, Age of Wonders III, Eador: Masters of the Broken World, King's Bounty, Galactic Civilizations 3, X-COM: Enemy Unknown.
more roguelikes,
FTL, Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain, The Binding of Isaac, Sword of the Stars: The Pit, really too many others for me to even remember at this point.
more RPGS
Divinity: Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Transistor, Nekro, Grim Dawn, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, The Witcher, Dark Souls.
and whatever then great! But from what I've seen, all it has given us is walking simulators and shitty point and click adventures.
You should start looking harder.
Obvious question, but how is that in any way tied to diversity as it is meant here? You know, not diversity of game mechanics or genres but rather diversity in the sense of not containing characters who offend someone's progressive sensibilities? Why is it that creating such characters seems to create a failure to have compelling mechanics or narrative beyond that aspect of that character?

It seems like every game that doesn't have an "SJW"-type trying to shame the devs and/or players is either a walking simulator, visual novel, or point-and-click adventure, and all of those are surprisingly difficult to do well, specifically because they aren't especially mechanically engaging. Hell, I'd argue that the only *good* walking simulator is The Stanley Parable, and that's because of the nature of it's underlying narrative. There are more decent to good examples of the other types, but the ones that the "SJW"-types fawn over generally aren't good examples of those kinds of games.

To provide an example, this past weekend I completed a game tagged "Exploration", "Adventure", "Puzzler", and "Walking Simulator" on Steam that was a decent but not exceptional example of that kind of game where all the major characters in the plot except one (whose purpose was to die to support the main protagonist's motivation) are female, or are AIs depicted as female. Great aesthetic choices, though they could have used better visuals in a technical sense in certain cases. This game doesn't get the kind of love that something like Gone Home gets, largely because the plot isn't *about* the main characters being female, aside from why the only male character is killed. I picked it up in the Extra Credits Humble Bundle. Master Reboot. Mostly female cast indie first person exploration/puzzler, not a peep from the progressive brigade. I wonder why?
 

Silentwindofdoom

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With regards to the original post.

Diversity offers choice, you may find something you didn't know you liked, allowing you to broaden your horizons. As a sci-fi geek, i loathed fantasy novels, begrudgingly sat through LOTR and only saw the light when i took a chance on A song of ice and fire. I don't think you have to worry about games like "gone home" taking the place of the ones you enjoy now though, as a straight male gamer you are the primary audience and the companies know what most of you like.

That said, the current "movement" doesn't seem to be about adding diversity, it appears to be about replacing non-diversity. That to me is a fairly significant problem. Not because I am against non cis poc characters and their diverse stories, but because it seems less about wanting diversity and more about wanting to use games as a vehicle/platform for social progressivism. While that in itself is also not a problem, it -does- become a problem when those who do not want to toe the diversity line are branded as privileged Neanderthals.
 

Dragonbums

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Casual Shinji said:
Because variety is the spice of life?

Look, growing pains are a shit phase to go through, but afterward you'll be happy you did.

Honestly though, I'd like more diversity of... species. Gives us your mudokons, your rayman's (?), your huddled lombaxes.

Seriously though, fuck off with all the humans, I wracked my brain just trying to come up with three different non-human game characters for that lame joke.
How could you leave out Bubsy? In all seriousness though the animal mascot based games really did got extinct in the Ps2/Gamecube/Xbox era didn't it?
 

Casual Shinji

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Dragonbums said:
Casual Shinji said:
Because variety is the spice of life?

Look, growing pains are a shit phase to go through, but afterward you'll be happy you did.

Honestly though, I'd like more diversity of... species. Gives us your mudokons, your rayman's (?), your huddled lombaxes.

Seriously though, fuck off with all the humans, I wracked my brain just trying to come up with three different non-human game characters for that lame joke.
How could you leave out Bubsy? In all seriousness though the animal mascot based games really did got extinct in the Ps2/Gamecube/Xbox era didn't it?
Well, the animal mascots kind of killed themselves by focussing too much on being a marktable mascot and too little on being a good character in a good game. Ratchet would've gone the same way if the games he inhabited weren't great fun to play. It's ultimately the game that makes the mascot, not the mascot that makes the game. I never cared much for Rayman as a character untill the recent Rayman games. And the tremendous amount of fun I had with them I now tie to the character of Rayman. And so a mascot is born (reborn).
 

CymbaIine

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BinDipper said:
Then you are perpetuating the belief that men and women, blacks and whites are fundamentally or inherently different to one another. And I see that as sexist/racist.
No I'm not. Those things influence the way people experience the world and depending on the story that is being told they can be vital in the characters development.

I'm not bothering with the rest because I honestly can't be arsed arguing semantics.
 

WarpedLord

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BinDipper said:
WarpedLord said:
Of COURSE men and women are inherently different, as are people of different ethnic backgrounds. You DO understand how biology works, right? Recognizing those differences is NOT racism/sexism... believing that one or the other is somehow "superior" is racism/sexism. It's not hard to grasp...
Sexual dimorphism only goes so far. There are barely any biological differences between people of different ethnic backgrounds, no significant ones anyway.

In any case that's out of context because I was talking about the minds, the personalities, the experiences of human beings. Which might be influenced by biology but are in no way dictated by it.
While I agree a character's ethnicity or gender does not necessarily determine a character's mind and personality, our experiences as human beings are absolutely shaped by those things. In a sci-fi setting or utopian world, a character's skin color or ethnic background may have no effect, sure... but a person's gender (and potentially sexuality) will absolutely inform their experiences. For example, until we reach a point where people no longer procreate with sexual partners, straight men and gay women will respond differently to attractive women then they would unattractive women or any man, just as straight women and gay men will react differently to attractive men. Yes, I recognize I'm only mentioning "cisgendered" examples, but my knowledge outside of that is limited, so any points I tried to make in that regard would probably be clumsy and offensive.

In the real world, imagine if you had been born a different skin color, gender, or sexuality. Your life experiences would have absolutely been different than they have been up to this point, in ways both subtle and extreme. Why shouldn't games reflect this?

Anyway, I'm in no way trying to start an argument with you, as I agree with most of your points... It just drives me insane when people throw "sexism" and "racism" at anything that suggests that not everyone is EXACTLY the same, even if it treats them as equal.
 

McMarbles

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Naeras said:
Because not all stories can be told from the perspective of a straight white dude. Or, at the very least, they don't make sense from the perspective of a straight white dude.
Even the ones that can be told from the perspective of a straight white dude don't necessarily have to be. In fact, the vast majority don't.

So why is it the default?
 

Dragonbums

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Casual Shinji said:
Dragonbums said:
Casual Shinji said:
Because variety is the spice of life?

Look, growing pains are a shit phase to go through, but afterward you'll be happy you did.

Honestly though, I'd like more diversity of... species. Gives us your mudokons, your rayman's (?), your huddled lombaxes.

Seriously though, fuck off with all the humans, I wracked my brain just trying to come up with three different non-human game characters for that lame joke.
How could you leave out Bubsy? In all seriousness though the animal mascot based games really did got extinct in the Ps2/Gamecube/Xbox era didn't it?
Well, the animal mascots kind of killed themselves by focussing too much on being a marktable mascot and too little on being a good character in a good game. Ratchet would've gone the same way if the games he inhabited weren't great fun to play. It's ultimately the game that makes the mascot, not the mascot that makes the game. I never cared much for Rayman as a character untill the recent Rayman games. And the tremendous amount of fun I had with them I now tie to the character of Rayman. And so a mascot is born (reborn).
Is that what happened? I was like...8? When a lot of these games were around so I never really knew what happened to all the quirky animal characters. I just assumed those devs moved on to more mature audiences. I miss it a lot though. I'm hoping Sonic Boom will bring that back for just a little bit.
 

TheRookie8

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Obligatory "old, Civil War ship" joke.

I thought that videogames already had "diversity". We have multiple flavors of game types, genres, characters and mechanics. If the issue is squabbling over the main protagonists sex, gender or style of dress...this is a pursuit that will only end in frustration and really isn't worth anyone's time. What will dictate the future will be the quality of the videogame in question, as that will determine the lasting success. If the game fails to garner enough attention, or garners the wrong sort of attention, that game will fall into obscurity. The "greatest" games are remembered; and the most socially acceptable representations of a protagonist (to satisfy the activists) will be remembered as paragons of their kind. And the best part? The different types of games will satisfy different types of people. Chances are, if there is a reduction in a type of game you enjoy, you won't even notice it because the few you actually like are enough to grab your attention.
 

QuietlyListening

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Why not make games more diverse?

It's good business: You expand the audience to whom games would appeal by providing people with better representation.

It's good art: You can tell new and different stories by using the tools of cultural and historical context to make richer characters with more emotional resonance.

It's good socially: Exposing people to different perspectives fosters understanding and empathy for others. It breaks down stereotypes and artificial notions of what people should or should not be, and can give us more moments of introspection.



This kind of diversity is more than just body types and palate swaps. Those are necessary but not sufficient conditions. It requires more diversity in the production of games, and more care into their creation. The only way to get a better product is to demand it. If we allow games to be lazy, then they'll continue to be lazy. But if you want art to be proud of, then you have to hold it to higher standards.
 

Agente L

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I think it's less "We need more diversity for the sakes of diversity" aka pandering. And it's more like "We need better writing, we need better stories, which in turn, leads to diversity".

Bald Burly Mcshooty Shooty isn't there because developers are sexist. They are there because most developers are bad story tellers, and only know how to relay stories through characters they are able to relate to more easily.

But that's just my opinion.