Diversity has been something of a hot topic in the media lately. It's been brewing pretty heavily over the past few years in the gaming world too. And there are basically two sides of the coin here. The first is that people from minority groups (or basically, not caucasian males) rarely get to play a game, read a book, or see a movie where the hero is the same as them. How many action movies star a female lead? Or a hispanic lead? Or even a homosexual love interest? The other side of the coin is that the hero should be whatever it needs to be to best tell the story being told.
Both of these are important things to consider. But it's becoming more and more evident that there are better stories to be told if you stray away from the classic tropes. We saw some big stink in the media back before Star Wars: The Force Awakens released because of Finn being a black stormtrooper (and got an amazing response from one Patton Oswalt). Not to mention the outcry from the complete and utter lack of Rey toys for young girls following the movie's release. We also saw Ubisoft break from this mold when they released Watchdogs 2 - straying from the Tom Cruise-look-alike to an African American lead in Marcus Holloway. (People also bitched about Marcus because apparently it was "unbelievable" to them that an African American male could be an uber hacker.)
But for a long time, a champion of diversity in the gaming community has been Bioware. First with Mass Effect, and then following it up with Dragon Age. Not only can you play male or female characters of a number of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in most of their games, but they also feature an incredibly diverse selection of love interests. And importantly, those love interests were there for BOTH heterosexual and homosexual players.
Recently though, Bioware made a diversity inclusion in Mass Effect: Andromeda that completely fell flat with players, and more important, the segment of society the character was intended to appeal to and represent. With their character Hainly Abrams, Bioware has what is quite possibly the first main stream representation of a transgendered character in a Triple A video game. Needless to say, for some players, this is a BIG deal. It may only be an NPC, but it's still a huge step forward for the representation of the transgender population in a mass market game.
Unfortunately, Hainly Abrams fell completely flat: it came across as incredibly stereotypical, out-of-touch, and borderline insulting to transgendered players. To the point that Bioware has apologized for the way the character is currently written and presented, and has promised to do better.
It feels like this is yet another symptom the game carries from being rushed to launch instead of being held for testing and polishing. Something that could have been easily fixed if you'd just brought in a half dozen or so transgendered gamers and asked their opinion on the character and the dialog. This is a much different fix than weird animation issues.
Kuddos to Bioware for owning the problem and working to fix it. We will see how the game progresses from here.
So what do you think about the importance of diversity in games? Should every game use furry mascots to avoid the problem altogether? Are there any big game protagonists that you feel represent you? Is there a demographic you'd love to see a game focus on that's something other than your own? Let us know in the comments below.
** CHOP'S LCS GAMES OF THE WEEK **
This week is super easy for me. It's the Spring Playoffs for LCS. There are two great matchups coming our way this weekend.
Saturday April 8th @3pm EST - Phoenix1 vs Team Dignitas - This should be a super close game. Phoenix1 finished the split in 3rd, but Dignitas finished the split on the biggest streak and look really strong. Phoenix1 got hammered by both Cloud9 and Team SoloMid the last week of the season, but they still look like a really strong team.
Sunday April 9th @3pm EST - Counter Logic Gaming vs FlyQuest - This series is really up in the air. Both teams have been really inconsistent for the second half of the split (FlyQuest has been on a straight nose-dive since mid-split). CLG has a tendency to flip a switch when it comes to playoffs. On the other side of the stage: Hai, Balls, and Lemonnation are infamous for having ridiculous strong playoff games. Will the trick champions come out, or will we see a more traditional slugfest? We'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.