So far as I can see, the authoritarian gaming press has, to varying degrees, come down on the side of virtue. If the gamers are winning, as Summers suggests, I’m not seeing it.
Of course, as an industry insider it’s always possible there’s something I’m not seeing.
I wade into the open sewer of message boards only so far. However, I very much doubt that my corporate masters will ever be moved to send out a memo suggesting we ditch diversity or in any way rein it back in.
That said, when it comes to questionable content I’ve pointed the finger before at Marketing. Devs are, of course, responsible for most of the content, but Marketing departments are a hinge point in this discussion.
I recall an incident on a famous AAA franchise I worked on. The four-player co-op mode was to have four characters, and we pitched an equal gender balance and diverse racial makeup. We even addressed age, making one of the women an older, Helen Mirren type. Marketing nixed this. They hated the scheme with a passion and, so far as I could see, plotted to squash it.
How they did so was very interesting. They set up focus groups in the American midwest primarily made up of young males. And they structured the presentation to give them the answers they desired. The dudebros delivered, and some of our women designers, watching from behind one-way glass, were horrified to listen in to some sexist chat by the participants, commenting on the fuckability of the characters.
So, Marketing got what they wanted: of the four characters there were three white guys, their one concession to diversity being the black woman. There was no arguing with Marketing. They had the metrics from Left 4 Dead to prove whatever the hell they wanted with regards to player selection of women characters to play.
It’s not just dev culture that needs a sea change, but Marketing also. They have input into greenlight decisions. They have powerpoints with data that can push products one way or the other.
I’m hopeful that change is coming. But that change will, in part, be metrics-led, it will be founded on the facts about the growing presence of women in gaming, and the realisation that tapping that audience will lead to $$$$$. So part of the solution, crass though this may sound, is more and more women playing games.