A speech given by Manveer Heir, of Mass Effect development fame, could mark a major watershed in the way that the video games industry treats its non-white, non-male and disabled consumers.
Speaking at GDC in the USA last week, Heir - a gameplay designer at BioWare - he said in respect to the way that games companies and to an extent consumers treat groups other than white, western makes, "I sincerely hope that you are ready for that challenge, because I sure as hell am!"Polygon
reports that Heir, "cited the lack of minority, women and LGBTQ characters in protagonist roles and went on to discuss the dangerous side effects that stereotypes have on the gaming public, especially children.
"These negative stereotypes effect the identity of individuals in these groups," Heir said. "They affect the way people think and treat others in the real world, and [they] perpetuate the social injustices that occur in these different groups," he said. At last. Thank goodness.
He also pointed what we've been saying for a long, long time: marketing money can make a huge impact in both directions. "When a game starring a woman comes out," Heir said, "the marketing and the development spends are simply less, which can overall impact the quality of the game and [its] success, which skews the numbers in the negative."
Finishing up a remarkable speech coming as it does from an AAA developer, Heir summed the attitude of games publishers and developers and consumers to taking risks with what happens in-game.
"I want to see this in indie games and AAA games and mobile games. In board games, pen-and-paper games and every other type of game you can imagine. I want us, as an industry, to stop being so scared.
"If we make them I am confident that the audience will come and accept them."
A brilliant speech. Possibly even an historic one.