Having More Diverse Characters in Video Games Will Make Them Sell Better?

lara croft tomb raider Girl Gamers Tom Abernathy

Tom Abernathy, Microsoft’s narrative designer had started his narrative talk at GDCGame Developers Conference, with a tale about his daughter..

“[My daughter] made it clear that she didn’t like listening to songs that weren’t sung by girls, watching movies without girls, reading books not about girls, and her least favorite thing was when she’d be playing a game and she had to play a guy. Or when the Kinect camera would misidentify her as a boy — she would go ballistic. It wasn’t until I went out there to try and find her games she’d like that I discovered how little there was out there for a girl who wanted to play as a girl.”

However, in the games Tom Abernathy had worked on he strived for a more diverse character cast, he had learned about how the enterprise side of studio leadership often stood in his way.

“There are certain business circumstances you have to deal with, even if you want to make this kind of thing happen,” he said, “There will be people who point specifically to business interests in order to make sure you don’t do this…The only things that matter to businesspeople in a business setting is a business argument.”

Instead of dwelling upon the moral and creative reasons of why companies should create games that represent a larger range of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality in characters, Tom Abernathy presented a set of industry statistics meant to bring up the money making possibilities.

“There is hard data to indicate that you will attract more players and make more money when you have more diversity in your games, the business case that you need to persuade people that this is okay, that it won’t hurt sales, it does in fact exist.”

“Our audience is leaving us behind,” Abernathy concluded. “When you’re looking for a way to make your product stand out in the marketplace, choices like this are a savvy way to do it.” 

Whether or not this will increase game sales, I don’t know. I, as a girl gamer, know that when your growing up games that were ‘made for girls’, really sucked bad. I mean, sorry Barbie, but in your games there is no effing challenge what-so-ever. The new Tomb Raider is a good game that features a female character, Lara Croft is badass and epic. Skull Girls is another great game with female leads, and of course there are other games that feature some cool female characters.

Does anyone have anything to throw in?


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