Diversity in the gaming industry has become a topic highlighted by concern from many. As the general audience has grown inclusive to different groups, why are companies still stuck with the same demographics? This question has led to the industry at large trying to come up with solutions to the problem, which is discussed at length in a recent interview conducted by GamesIndustry.biz.
Speaking with Leon Killin of Balance Patch (a consultant on diversity), and Cinzia Musio (developer Splash Damage's operations project manager), the interview covered diversity in gaming and how hurdles, as they relate to diversity, can be overcome. Killin explains that, within the gaming industry, there is a lot of discussion about "inclusion, equality, diversity" and says there is a "lot of fear." According to Killin, this is a fresh change from the usual annoyed response from longer-standing institutions.
Musio explains that the LGBTQ+ community has traditionally been affected by conventions of what people view as normal and abnormal. In other words, marginalized groups of people get categorized by those unmarginalized as per what they view as normal and abnormal. This idea of abnormality causes fear and condescendence.
On the topic of how the gaming industry should go about improving inclusiveness, Killin states that companies, developers, and other gaming entities need to adopt a "very holistic and joined-up way of thinking." Killin elaborates that, while it's valid to discuss the LGTBQ+ community's inclusion in gaming, it makes more sense to do so in tandem with groups as they relate to race, religion, and socioeconomic class. This is because these facets "really overlap and interlock in complicated ways."
While developers want to be conscious of diversity, there is an ongoing concern of whether it will be captured correctly or not. Killin explains that some developers end up avoiding attempts at factoring in diversity because "they don't want to even try because it's safer that way."
On the topic of the workplace in the gaming industry, Musio describes unconscious bias as being a factor in the hirees chosen. She says that many of those hiring tend to hire based on who they feel is right, but that the candidate they feel is right might be a form of unconscious bias. Musio concludes that going forward, it will be integral to challenge the unconscious bias, which is important "for us to grow as an industry."
The points made my Killin and Musio are very well-founded. There is a huge concern that there isn't enough diversity in games and that adhering to it could backfire in the worst ways possible. Hopefully, the issue can be addressed in appropriate manners going forward for the betterment of the industry altogether.