So Xbox leader Phil Spencer has recently spoken out about racial and gender diversity in their video games, and the reception has been of some mixed feelings. Of course we as gamers are some pretty open-minded and outspoken people, but the question has to be asked: is making a big deal about the diversity of characters in video games really a necessity?
Spencer remarked at an interview with Edge about the diversity of characters playable in games at the E3 conference,”We have a lot of work to do as an industry in this space.” Many people agree that there needs to be an acknowledgement that not all male characters reflect the broad shouldered, handsome, gun mounting soldier stereotype. Likewise, females do not always emulate the defenseless, attractive, and resourceful stereotype that has usually been shown in recent video games.
What Xbox needs to do is mix things up a bit more like they’ve done with titles such as Sunset Overdrive and Elder Scrolls Online. Characters in those games show a variety of social, gender, racial, and personality classes. All in all, games should reflect the world as it really is; full of people who differ in the way that they behave and appear. What’s more is that Xbox has included many titles that allow for the player to customize the character’s physique, facial features, gender, and race. This is a huge step forward from the predominantly light-skinned, muscular males of past games (we’re talking to you Nintendo).
Yet all-in-all, Phil Spencer has the right idea. Games are not limited to one type of character anymore, and that’s the way it should be. However, it should also be up the gamer to choose how they want to depict themselves in the game. It’s a personal experience that should reflect an expression of the player. Games should not have a predisposed male or female protagonist, although Xbox should be careful that they don’t overcompensate for character diversity in the future. We want a real-world experience, not a simulation of what it would be like if the world was perfect.