Some Sympathy For Seneca Crane

fine leather jacketsThere are two major conversations happening around games and creativity. One is an amazingly positive conversation around the value of representation and allowing players of all different identities to find themselves in creative media. This is such an exciting conversation, leading so many awesome experimental games, new game narratives, new genders and gender expressions for player characters, and just increased diversity of expression in indie games. There are also new lenses for critiquing and evaluating games by noticing the presence (or absence) of diverse storylines and PCs.

The other conversation is more of a constant refrain than a conversation. Whenever someone notices that the default in games is white, straight and male, someone else comes along to say well if you don’t like it, then go make your own games! Because, obviously, the next step after noticing that there are no queer storylines or playable PoC in a beloved game is to spend several million dollars, start a AAA studio, and hire a development team to make your own game. (And not a Twine game, either, those don’t count. Heh.) While I find this response ridiculous, this attitude does remind me of the power of game makers to shape expectations and attitudes.

But in my actual work writing for games, my biggest successful pushes for diversity and inclusivity have been very small. “What if we gave girl’s names and pronouns to half of these cartoon birds? Ok, about how almost-half?” or “What if we kept this mission exactly the same, but the quest-giving scientist was a woman instead?”

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