Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games



  • A lot of the issues with inclusivity do stem from game dev being a very white male dominated industry. Things are changing slowly and a lot more developers are sensitive to needing to reach a broader audience. But change as ever is slow and there is an element of back and forth to it.

    As others have said your decision for not buying a game is totally up to you but equally I believe that you are allowed to and should be encouraged to explain the reasons why you are stepping away from a game for inclusivity reasons. Don't demand censorship just give constructive feedback. You'd be surprised how often people take reasoned arguments on board over ALL CAPS death threats :P

    Crucially at the moment though whenever some big blowup happens over something in a game offending an individual or group it is far to quickly blown out of proportion by the two warring camps of "BAN THIS SICK FILTH!" and "SHUT UP YOU HIPPIES! I JUST WANNA PLAY GAMES!" Sadly there is no room for the middle ground of saying, "Yeah this thing is a bit problematic, why not try better next time?" Quickly things reach a level were devs feel stuck in the middle and any response, no matter how measured is met with anger.

    At the end of the day better representation means more people potentially playing games which means more games being made to cater to more people's tastes. Seeing yourself reflected in a game's protagonist is a powerful thing and it is just that straight-white-males like myself have had a monopoly on that for pretty much the whole of gaming. The sand is slowly shifting and I welcome it. If I can even get an ounce of understanding of what life is like for other people in the world than I am all for it. Games have a great power to deliver that in spades and enrich lives because it.

    I just don't get the push back on that. It seems highly counter productive to the growth of the medium.



  • I can't at the moment tell what game has done this right, but in my opinion, These things should come naturally into games, and not forcefully stuffed into them. What I mean by this, is that when developers start to create characters to their games, they need to develop all characters to represent what they are, instead of first making everyone white males, and then swapping them out for stereotypical representations for sake of having more diverse cast of characters. That way, the characters will feel more natural. Of course, the development team needs to either have some diversity on it to get it right, or at least have some friends with different background.

    Because more often than one might think, the problem is not that there are diverse cast of characters, but that they are not represented right. And those who cry that all games should have more diversity, yes, you have a point, but I think if any character is forced into a game just for the sake of having more diversity, it doesn't feel right, and in the end, makes the game worse.



  • I finally beat Inquisition after literally hundreds of hours in the game and I love it. It is probably one of the most inclusive and respectuful games I've ever played.

    Here is an stance on the bikini armor topic
    http://xboxdvr.com/gamer/LordBaztion/video/22030669

    Here is for transgenderism
    http://xboxdvr.com/gamer/LordBaztion/video/22030642

    The whole Dorian story arc is excelent in this regard too.

    Personally I saw a different perspective, as a catholic, I feel that religion in gaming is usually miss-representated, mostly based on the trope of the evil organization profiting of the ignorant masses. However, Inquisition handles the matter of faith and religion in a very comprehensive manner. Unlike most games, it understand the complexity within an organization that tries to be both, human and divine, it understands that politics affects influential organizations and that individual acts does not demerit the purpose of an organization.

    Here is an extract where mother Giselle acknowledges the limitations of the Chantry
    http://xboxdvr.com/gamer/LordBaztion/video/22514864

    Your character in the game have the option to acknowledge himself as prophet and hold the hopes of the people and, if you choose so, you will have to endure events that sometimes contradicts your faith. One of the roles of the games have you having a faith crisis yet the lore is still wide enough to not overuling your faith, even at the very end you are given the choice to stand for your faith. That is a magical experience that no other games I've played have deliver or at least tried.

    I want also to mention the progression in Bioware's writting between Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition, how it evolved to be more inclusive in the best way possible.

    In Dragon Age 2 there is a character called Fenris, he is a tervinter slave who escaped his master. His personallity is of a sad man with a tragic past of which he never talks about. At the begining I tought the character was boring and poorly written, then I realised that the character follows the Sasuke (of Naruto) arquetype and its primary aimed towards female audiences, yet the character is still boring and poorly written from my male perspective.

    In Inquisition, this arquetype comes back in the character of Blackwall but is so much better written. Now he has an actual reason to hide his past, that leads you to question his loyalty (with conversation options avaliable in the game) and the character itself feels out of place after its loyalty quest. It is definitelly a much more compeling character, up to the point that I, playing as a female Inquisitor, had him as a romantic interest.



  • I've never refused to buy a game that I would otherwise enjoy because its staff or cast lack diversity. That said, I do put active effort into buying games with diverse casts and supporting development teams with diverse staff. I agree with what's been said about letting the market decide, and I care about giving financial support to people who do stuff I like (when I can afford it) because it's a way of saying "Yes! This! More of this, please!".

    Based on the effect that media has on people, especially young people, I do support better-defined age restrictions. That said, I don't necessarily think that anything should be banned. Even when I talk about a game that I dislike for political reasons, such as what we've heard so far about Mass Effect: Andromeda, it's from the perspective of someone who's interested in what that game reflects in our culture. I grew up in film and cultural studies, and so it's not so much about "if you play this game or like this thing you're a terrible person" and more about "what does the fact that people want to see and experience this tell us about our culture and politics?". Even if you feel like the reason you enjoy something is totally insulated from its cultural implications, cultural forces still drive people to want to have certain experiences or engage with certain media and I think that's worth talking about. And I'll admit that there are some games that have political implications I'm really uncomfortable with that I still have a lot of fun with. I think that if you are aware of the problems with a piece of media and you can be honest with yourself that these things aren't perfect, you can actually have a much healthier relationship with games overall and be less likely to subconsciously pick up the political themes that are already there (whether you want them or not).

    Honestly, there are some games where I think that the world might politically be closer to my version of "good" if they didn't exist. The Call of Duty franchise, along with many other military-themed games and films, receive funding from the US military because they double as propaganda and a recruitment tool. Gamemakers pay fees to weapons companies to be able to feature their products in shooters, putting part of the cost of those games directly into the hands of people who have economic incentives to perpetuate war and arm domestic police forces. As someone who's pretty heavily anti-war, these facts raise legitimate concerns for me. And while I still do think they have a fundamental right to exist, I don't think they have a right to be free from critical thought about and engagement with the reasons why they exist and the effects of their existence. That pretty much summarizes how I feel about any game that I criticize for political reasons.

    That said, there are some games that I think are starting to get it right.

    The Longest Journey was centered in Europe, but its sequels (Dreamfall: The Longest Journey and Dreamfall Chapters) feature characters from Morocco. Their facial features, names, and skin tone are all in line with the way that their home city of Casablanca has been historically in terms of racial diversity, and while the games are set in a cyberpunk future there are elements of the character designs that call back to contemporary Moroccan fashion.

    Life is Strange is another notable addition, as the player character (Max) is technically bisexual in that you can choose a male or female romance option for her. Regardless of your choice, there are other queer characters (Chloe and Rachel). The game does fall victim to a certain negative trope that I'm upset about (check the spoiler), but overall this game handles sexuality in a way that feels very natural and true to the high school age characters.

    The trope I'm referring to is commonly called "bury your gays". At the end of the game, the only way that you get to kiss Chloe and confirm the romantic nature of your relationship (if you chose the Chloe path) is if you sacrifice her to save the town. In the equivalent cutscene where you sacrifice the town to save Chloe, the kiss is cut entirely. The reason this trope exists is because of the way gay and lesbian fiction had to be written in order to be publishable. Essentially, queer characters only get to exist so long as their story ends in tragedy so that it can serve as a moralistic warning that there is no such thing as a happy gay. Even though those publishing standards don't exist anymore, the trope lives on, and contributes heavily to queer kids feeling as though they will never get to be happy in the way their straight counterparts do.

    Despite my hesitations with how it ends, Firewatch handled the evolution of a relationship between a man and a woman in a way that feels good and respectful. I'm not sure how much of this is spoilers, so if you've finished the game check out the spoiler below.

    She doesn't have throwaway sexual humor, she doesn't throw herself at you, and you never even get to see her. The fact that the game developers took the time to develop the relationship as being about two people who came out with a job to do and are eventually driven closer by their commonalities and isolation is one of the healthier attitudes toward relationships I've seen expressed in a game.

    Of all the games you would expect to have inclusive romance options, Saints Row 4 might not be one of them. But surprisingly, whether you pick a male or female character, all of them are happy to go along for a ride. The only person who says anything to indicate his sexuality is Pierce, who will say "I don't normally swing that way, but" regardless of what gender you pick at the start.

    The new gender customization options for The Sims 4 have me pretty excited, as you can set custom settings dictating walk animations, voices, body shapes, fashion selection, and even whether your character can stand to pee. The Sims has never had restrictions on who your Sim could romance, but the first pre-made same sex couple was introduced in The Sims 3, and this patch to The Sims 4 is a really exciting move in the right direction for better trans inclusivity.

    What really makes all of these work is that it follows what @jipostus mentioned: none of these feel as though they were white men who got swapped out to put a ~diversity~ sticker on the finished product. Instead, these characters feel like an accurate and well-done reflection of the diverse world we live in. As the teams behind games get more and more diverse, especially in the writing rooms, we'll start seeing better and better representation like what we've started to see in film and television. And that's a change I'm very excited about.



  • @El-Shmiablo said in Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games:

    I really don't mind sexualization in games, but I dislike it when a game offers nothing BUT sexualization.
    Dogshit like Senran Kagura, Neptunia, Ar Tonelico Qoga, Gal Gun, Mary Skelter, etc, which are nothing more than shallow excuses for basement dwelling weebs to look at some anime tiddies, is what I am not a particularly big fan of.

    With that said, Code of Princess is one of my favorite games on the 3DS.

    are you kidding me dude? Ar Tonelico is one of the best stories in gaming. It has one of the most well developed & unique worlds I've ever seen with its own original languages and songs sung in those languages by some of the most talented artists like Origa and KOKIA. The story is contiguous across multiple games told from multiple viewpoints with multiple branching paths.

    The story is also filled with beautiful ideals like learning to understand and empathize with an opponent instead of simply defeating them. The female characters are well developed with complex sets of motivations, feelings and relationships with other characters.

    Honestly I hope you havent played these games and are just speaking from ignorance because it'd be far more depressing if you played them and all you took away from them was "anime tiddies" and thought there was nothing else.



  • I just hate no matter what people bitch, people complained about gears of war 4 because blah blah stereotype and damsel in distress blah. even though it has a very diverse cast and more mature plotline. i just hate how diversity just turned into a checklist and you got to check them all.



  • @Sieghardt Sorry but all the "deep lore" and "original languages" mean nothing when you are beating up on musclebound transvestites in the tutorial, your combat system revolves around stripping your female party members of their clothes, and one of your party member's cosmospheres involves pooping.

    alt text

    But you are totally right. The females are totally complex.

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    Its fine if you like this stuff, but please don't try to pretend that it is more than low grade weeb pandering fetishism.



  • @Bigdude1 said in Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games:

    I just hate no matter what people bitch, people complained about gears of war 4 because blah blah stereotype and damsel in distress blah. even though it has a very diverse cast and more mature plotline. i just hate how diversity just turned into a checklist and you got to check them all.

    Well, it is a checklist — the same checklist of every Nickelodeon middle school sitcom. White male protag (check), black friend (check), girl friend (check). It's a set formula synonymous with anything but diversity, unless you're saying Gears subverts that in some way.

    alt text



  • And then you have these guys, who think having a diverse cast of characters is some sort of secret agenda by the gaming industry.



  • @El-Shmiablo That conspiracy theory crowd bothers me the most. A Star Wars movie has a female protagonist and all of a sudden, it's a secret SJW agenda to force feminism down people's throats, as opposed to just being a story with a female lead. I honestly don't understand being outraged by something unless it stars the typical white male. Anonymity can truly bring out the worst of people - at times.



  • @SabotageTheTruth PREACH about the anonymity. I HATE that.



  • @El-Shmiablo said in Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games:

    @Sieghardt Sorry but all the "deep lore" and "original languages" mean nothing when you are beating up on musclebound transvestites in the tutorial, your combat system revolves around stripping your female party members of their clothes, and one of your party member's cosmospheres involves pooping.

    If you actually played the game you'd know Mute is an important character with again, a great little moral in the story as everyone comes to love her as she is. The game actively preys on any misconceptions people might have about a large muscular woman like that. She isnt a joke character, she's a valuable ally, a hero and a fan favourite.

    I'm glad you brought up the pooping because it shows such a facile understanding of anything in the game. Ever heard the phrase "You think your shit dont stink?" Finnel's story is very heavily about her inferiority complex especially in relation to Akane. She think everything she does is so much worse than the same thing everyone else does.

    If you want to be the guy on the internet who complains about games he hasnt played go right ahead but dont try to put it on people who have played and understand the game.



  • @Sieghardt said in Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games:

    @El-Shmiablo said in Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games:

    @Sieghardt Sorry but all the "deep lore" and "original languages" mean nothing when you are beating up on musclebound transvestites in the tutorial, your combat system revolves around stripping your female party members of their clothes, and one of your party member's cosmospheres involves pooping.

    If you actually played the game you'd know Mute is an important character with again, a great little moral in the story as everyone comes to love her as she is. The game actively preys on any misconceptions people might have about a large muscular woman like that. She isnt a joke character, she's a valuable ally, a hero and a fan favourite.

    I'm glad you brought up the pooping because it shows such a facile understanding of anything in the game. Ever heard the phrase "You think your shit dont stink?" Finnel's story is very heavily about her inferiority complex especially in relation to Akane. She think everything she does is so much worse than the same thing everyone else does.

    If you want to be the guy on the internet who complains about games he hasnt played go right ahead but dont try to put it on people who have played and understand the game.

    So we have to play the game to understand nuances of its pandering? :grimacing:

    The point @El-Shmiablo is making is that no matter what the narrative content of the game is it is still exploiting its female characters for cheap erotic thrills. That's the problem. It's the same bullshit handwaving that people use with the Dead or Alive games when they say "B...b...but it has good fighting mechanics!" The whole thing is problematic because of the conscious decision made by the developers to use their characters as objects of arousal.



  • @SabotageTheTruth Two British people in a row!? It must be a GLOBAL AGENDA.
    Chemtrails structurally compromise steel beams. It's in the water.



  • I personally don't even think that this needs addressing at all. You should not try and force "diversity" or something, creators should just naturally create whatever game they want.

    Once you start pulling out that checklist consisting of things like "We have to have a black female protag that is lesbian, strong, etc." you severely risk hurting the end product since it's something you feel forced to do for no good reason. This is my main issue with this, that people can't simply be focused on making whatever they want to make.

    (A) Can you name a game that has handled an aspect of equality, diversity, sexualization and sexuality well, and explain how it did that?

    Any game that doesn't even factor these things in. Games that became too focused on this always screwed up because they tried too hard to do the thing you just asked, making it unnatural or forcing whites, males or whatever into a non-equal positions. Equality is about disregarding all this.

    (B) What are ideas that you have, that you would like to see more of in games dealing with equality, diversity, sexualization and sexuality? How would you like a character portrayed? What kinds of setting and world building would you prefer to see?

    As I have said, to disregard it completely. This is not something you can "solve" by doing X, Y and Z. You fix it by simply trying to for example make a realistic feeling game with well written characters that are portrayed realistically. Trying to aim for some perfect equality, racism-free, diverse world that handles sexuality well is dumb.



  • @Sieghardt I have played it, but please, keep telling yourself that I haven't.

    Dude. Just be like Finnel and admit that you are a pervery. Ain't nuthin wrong with it, but stop trying to justify the game's gross fetishism pandering as having "complex female characters".



  • @thenerdtheword Yes they are objects, all videogame characters are objects, they are fictional characters, they are all created, they don't have free will, every single emotion they have is programmed, they don't have rights, every single one of them from Adam Jensen to Zelda are entertainment PRODUCTS, there is nothing pro ble ma tic about it.

    "So we have to play the game to understand nuances of its pandering?"

    Well, yeah, see if I would have never played Senran Kagura I would think similar about it (without the "it's problematic" bs, which pretty much means nothing, it's a non-statement nowadays really), but people who reduce the SK series to that one aspect of it is the same as people who reduce Doom to the violence (like both presidental puppets I mean candidates did at least once), and then censorship happens like in germany and australia, or china, or how just now people in the irish government want some missions removed from Mafia III, and that is actually problematic imo. These people either havn't played the or are so blinded by their "progressive" biases that they can't look past those aspects or realize that certain games are for certain demographics they are simply not part of.
    Now if alternatives wouldn't exist I might understand, but they do, masses of western games that have that diversity bs just for the sake of diversity. But oh no, a single country still makes games that don't obey the new progressive western ideologies, it's comparibly a small percentage of all games but we will complain anyway till they censor that filth.
    See what you don't get is, japan is simply different, the UN tried this shit actually a while ago, they told japan to censor their media even more, and japan said no. You know for being so for equality, they basically asked for that many women in japan lose their jobs, just because they create something western women are offended by, how is that not actually problematic? I'd even call it racist, the feelings of western women are more important than the livelihood of japanese women to those people.
    Another thing that comes over kinda racist is how when westerners see white people when they watch anime, but the japanese actually see japanese people despite the white skin color of most anime characters.



  • Myth of diversity quotas, one.
    Reality, zero.

    Literally rigged.



  • @Musou-Tensei said in Constructive Feedback: Equality, Diversity and Sexualization in Games:

    @thenerdtheword Yes they are objects, all videogame characters are objects, they are fictional characters, they are all created, they don't have free will, every single emotion they have is programmed, they don't have rights, every single one of them from Adam Jensen to Zelda are entertainment PRODUCTS, there is nothing pro ble ma tic about it.

    "So we have to play the game to understand nuances of its pandering?"

    Well, yeah, see if I would have never played Senran Kagura I would think similar about it (without the "it's problematic" bs, which pretty much means nothing, it's a non-statement nowadays really), but people who reduce the SK series to that one aspect of it is the same as people who reduce Doom to the violence (like both presidental puppets I mean candidates did at least once), and then censorship happens like in germany and australia, or china, or how just now people in the irish government want some missions removed from Mafia III, and that is actually problematic imo. These people either havn't played the or are so blinded by their "progressive" biases that they can't look past those aspects or realize that certain games are for certain demographics they are simply not part of.
    Now if alternatives wouldn't exist I might understand, but they do, masses of western games that have that diversity bs just for the sake of diversity. But oh no, a single country still makes games that don't obey the new progressive western ideologies, it's comparibly a small percentage of all games but we will complain anyway till they censor that filth.
    See what you don't get is, japan is simply different, the UN tried this shit actually a while ago, they told japan to censor their media even more, and japan said no. You know for being so for equality, they basically asked for that many women in japan lose their jobs, just because they create something western women are offended by, how is that not actually problematic? I'd even call it racist, the feelings of western women are more important than the livelihood of japanese women to those people.
    Another thing that comes over kinda racist is how when westerners see white people when they watch anime, but the japanese actually see japanese people despite the white skin color of most anime characters.

    That's a whole problematic bag of crazy I don't want to even start unpicking :upside_down:

    Let's just leave it at you personally being ok with objectifying female video game characters and me, personally as in from-my-point-of-view seeing it as problematic content and an approach to making games that I do not agree with. There are less problematic ways to handle sex and titillation in games which do not result in actively demeaning a title's characters. (Same goes for films, TV, anime, manga, comics, books, photos, and basically every form of entertainment) Just be honest with yourself with the reasons why you enjoy said content.

    PROBLEMATIC!!!!



  • I don't see anybody here calling for censorship of these games.
    My initial argument was that, if you are going to make a game, it should work on a mechanical level before you focus on pandering. Stuff like Senran and Qoga chaffs my giblets because, as games, they are lazy, shallow, and undercooked. This only serves to accentuate the pandering when it happens very often.
    Like I said, if you play and enjoy these games, power to ya brother, but don't tell me that they aren't cheaply made fetishbait. Revel in your pervertedness, instead of trying to justify that getting the cute anime girls take their clothes off because GREAT STORY AND DEEP LORE.

    The diversity quota accusation always makes me laugh. Unless you are privy to some secret forum where devs admit they are making games with diverse casts for no other reason than to please some nonexistent SJW boogeyman, that argument is laughable. Who are you to say that this isn't the game or story they wanted to make/tell?

    Using Gears as an example, the cast has always been rather diverse. Women and PoC have been part of the games since the first, but lo and behold you release a game with women and PoC today and SJW SJW STOP RAPING MY CHILDHOOD ANITA.
    I think the only reason it is suddenly more prevalent is because of the MASSIVE tonal shift of Gears 4, where it feels much more like Uncharted than any previous Gears game. Less war drama, more smarmbrow action adventure is the meal of the day.

    It makes tou uncomfortable because it is something you aren't used to seeing. Games, and media in general are still LARGELY designed for a white, male audience. Taking a glance at the biggest games/most anticipated games of this gen will tell you that. If anything, it is the exact opposite in the industry. It is DIFFICULT for games with a focus on women and PoC to be greenlit. The maker of Remember Me was laughed at in business meetings when he pitched his game to investors. HE was the one being told to make it a man instead of a woman. HIS story was the one that was being fought against.

    Tl;dr Wu-Tang is for the children