by Robert Roth
Only the most casual gamers could have avoided the recent furor generated around the issues of inclusiveness in gaming. As developers and publishers struggle to keep up with the changing face of the gamer, along with the fiery pushback from a privileged few, games are slowly, but surely, starting to more accurately reflect the demographics of the people playing them.
One strong example of inclusive gaming was cited by Joystiq’s Jessica Condit in her recently published piece, Gaming While Black. Sunset, developed by Belgium based publisher Tale of Tales, features a black, female, heroine in a first person exploration style game set in a fictional South American country. Last year, one of the game’s developers, Auriea Harvey, even became the first black, female to give a gaming conference keynote.
That Harvey’s keynote address is newsworthy speaks to the sad, but slowly improving state of diversity in gaming. While the art of character creation in RPGs, such as Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls or BioWare’s Dragon Age series, has long allowed players to mirror their own appearance, game cover art and default character faces are frequently whitewashed.
Still, as Queerty’s Matt Baume points out, Inquisition has gone farther than a lot of AAA games by including a trans character. Krem, voiced by the amazing and talented Jennifer Hale, is the real deal: assigned the gender of female at birth, shunned at home for trying to live as his true self, finally finding the freedom to be himself as a member of a sword-for-hire mercenary band.
Progress is being made, then, bit by bit, as female characters are moving from the role of damsel to heroine, black characters from gangsters to heroes, and LGBT characters are included at all. With each step forward, though, it just becomes more and more apparent how much farther games have to go.