I’d like to address something near and dear to my heart: issues and concerns with depictions of minorities in video games. The thesis around which most of my assumptions, claims and issues are based is this: Video games take many cues from cinema in terms of presentation, structure and characterizations. Bioware in particular is a prime example of this. In being so influenced by cinema developers take on a lot of the same trope baggage cinema at large does in dealing with issues of sex and sexuality, race and gender. The attempts at diversity are mostly typical of the affirmative action diversity common on TV and in movies and rarely attempt to do anything new. I can understand taking babysteps, but come on, we’ve been taking baby-steps for going on 20 years now. Grow up.
Primarily my focus is on RPGs and sandbox games because these should be the driving force for diversity in terms of particularization. Early RPGs such as Ultima, which drew inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons - one of the most customizable RPGs around, offered at least something in the way of diversity be it NPCs or customization options. Obsidian, and their precursor Black Isle Studios, hasn’t done poorly either, having fairly diverse casts. The original Fallout’s were meant to have alternate races available for the Vault Dweller which were cut due to budget constraints. Their characterization and writing has also always been excellent. Veronica in Fallout: New Vegas for example is a great, well written character. A similarly presented character is Cortez in Mass Effect 3, and I thought in that instance Biowar did a great job in dealing with few short scenes about dealing with the grief over the loss of his husband. But like anything it’s been a process, and a fairly slow one that has not been without faults. In my Fallout post I touched on how a specific problem with the Slavers in 3 is mirrored by a similar issue in Black Isle’s Fallout 2 with Vault City.