Diversity in gaming has long been a topic of discussion in the industry, and the issue of representation seems to be popping up more frequently as a part of that conversation. Now, after the release of Spiderman: Miles Morales–arguably the most diverse & inclusive video game released to date–this conversation has come to the forefront, as many are excited to see what is next for the future of development. Here at Airship, we hold diversity as one of our core values. It’s important to us that we continue to expand our studio with the best & most diverse talent possible.

 

So when we talk about diversity, where are we exactly? It’s easy for us to see great things from one title, to see progress from new releases as a whole, and to conclude that the industry is moving in a positive direction when it comes to the content of games. However, we have to showcase the same values internally that we display externally. 

 

I spoke to one of our junior artists here at Airship. He said: 

“I haven’t been in the gaming industry for too long, so I can’t speak for everyone, but I would say since I’ve started working in the industry, I’ve been given the same opportunities or even more to be able to take charge and be someone who can be relied on to always deliver. I’ve been pushed to grow and learn, but fairly and methodically, just like everyone else. I don’t feel like I’ve been isolated or left out because of my background or culture. I find that my differences can often be a focal point of a conversation, which can often be a nice icebreaker when meeting new people.”  

 

I also spoke with Ebonix , a game artist notable for her external work on The Sims, who has been creating diverse hair & skin tone packages for well over a decade and for multiple games in The Sims franchise. I asked her whether she believes the industry is making positive strides to diversify gaming, and she said: 

 

“I do believe that the industry is making strides to accurately represent a diverse range of people, and we can see this in the development of games such as Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales and games that are updating their current content with more inclusive content (like skins and hairstyles) such as The Sims, Black Desert Online, Monster Hunter: Iceborne & Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The issue definitely has been that, for POC players, readily available content upon release has been either completely lacking [or] inconsistent and an afterthought. 

 

“However, we see that as the industry is growing, and the community has become increasingly vocal about the disparities with regard to representation – the game is changing. Miles Morales gives me hope for the direction games are going, being that he is the main character who is of mixed Black and Latinx heritage, and his character design is exemplary. You can tell that there has been particular attention to detail paid to making sure his features, his hair and the same characteristics of NPCs are practically real.”
 

I also spoke with a few other community leaders in gaming who said, 

 Kyntex, Beyond Gaming/Flux – 
I believe they definitely are, but society as a whole doesn’t know what they are or how. Society feels as though things need to be put on social media for them to accept that something is happening, disregarding that for things to be done right, it takes time and planning. 

For example: if the Sims thing that Ebonix helped with happened a year ago, it would have been a lesser job in comparison purely because they had more time to work on things. Greatness takes patience, and a lot of people, unfortunately, want instant results and change. 

 

Derek Bake/ Code Club – 

“ Basically, I think that the indie developers have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to inclusivity and diversity in their games. Unfortunately, as the name entails, they are Indie, so they never get the mainstream audience.  

Bigger developers and publishers are making strides in this department. We are seeing more female protagonists, people of colour spearheading our games and even triple-A franchises, including a vast array of character personalisation. I do believe there is still a long way to go.  

For example, watchdogs legion. A triple-A game that was based in London but reflected the people, especially black people, in an incredibly poor light. Not accurate at all to accents, language, anything. So I think it was moving in the correct direction with the inclusion of areas like Brixton, but it let itself down with the caricature NPC’s, and to me (I could be wrong here), this reflects a dev team – from development to testing who are not diverse in thought or background. 

I think what we can take from these two viewpoints is that in game development, diversity is very much alive, but what all studios need to do is strive to make diversity a core part of the workplace, too. Introducing a diverse work environment brings new ideas and much more representative ideas to the forefront of discussion. Talent, ability & great stories come from so many different places in this world, and we would be remiss to leave them on the table.