(Image credit: King)
On May 12, the Activision Blizzard newsroom published a blog post titled King’s diversity space tool: A Leap Forward for Inclusion in Games. He explained that King, the developer of Candy Crush acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2016, had been working since that year in conjunction with the MIT Game Lab to create software that would “create and monitor guidelines for character conception and creation” to identify how diverse is a set of character designs are.
This software, called the Diversity Space Tool, was demonstrated with radar charts showing breakdowns of Overwatch character attributes, in particular Ana, who was apparently given a score of 7 out of 10 for culture, race and age, but 0 per body type. and sexual orientation.
(Image credit: King)
The post explained that the Diversity Space Tool had been “tested by developer teams working on Call of Duty: Vanguard,” and Alayna Cole of Sledgehammer Games was quoted as saying, “We’re going to use that data in future games we’re working on.” . The post then read: “The Overwatch 2 team at Blizzard also had a chance to experiment with the tool, with equally enthusiastic first impressions.”
The Diversity Space Tool was widely criticized online, with many pointing to the bureaucratic oddity of “creating a tool when you could just hire various designers and listen to them“. It’s also an odd way of doing it, which instantly raises a lot of questions. The scale zeroes in on the typical middle-class, white, cis male video game protagonist, but how exactly do you get something like ‘run away’? from 10? Is someone at King using a color chart to measure exactly how dark characters’ skin tones are? Where exactly do Overwatch’s robot and hamster characters fit into these scales? Who needs a mathematical breakdown to point out that Overwatch had no black at all? women on your list at launch?
An update on May 13 tried to address some of the criticism, adding an editor’s note explaining that “The Diversity Space tool, currently in beta, was designed as an optional add-on to the hard work and focus our teams already have.” they put into telling diverse stories with diverse people.” characters, but decisions about game content have been and always will be driven by the development teams.” The update also removed the graphics (which I saved and embedded in this article) and any mention of Call of Duty: Vanguard or Overwatch.
(Image credit: King)
Dylan Snyder, senior game designer for Overwatch 2, said on Twitterr that “the part about Overwatch 2 was removed mainly because we’re not using it and didn’t know it existed until yesterday.” The follow-up saying that while working on Overwatch 2, “I’ve met nothing but genuine, wonderful people who not only want to make an amazing game, but are also incredibly open-minded and laser-focused on doing good in the inclusive world that Overwatch has created.” promise. This has been a big blow for us.”
Overwatch character artist Melissa Kelly, too commented on the postsaying, “God, I swear our own company goes to great lengths to slaughter any goodwill that has been created by the actual developers that make the game” and “Overwatch doesn’t even use this creepy dystopian [sic] chart, our writers have eyes. Artists: They have eyes. Producers, directors, etc, that I know also all have eyes.
(Image credit: Very discouraging)
The observation that video game protagonists frequently resort to a reduced set of options is not new. “Kids love thirty-something white men with brown hair” is now a venerable meme from a time when gamers complained that games were full of identical gruff brothers instead of complaining that women They weren’t attractive enough.
Apparently, the galactic brain’s corporate response to this complaint was to spend six years working on a program that spews out radar charts that measure how mathematically progressive a game’s cast is, and then brag about it on the website without ever running it for the people who make the game. whose characters were borrowed to show how great he is.