|Swiggity swooty, diversity is coming for that booty!|
Before we get into the meat of this article I want to take you all on a quick tangent to discuss three oddities I noticed in the things I watched and read. Firstly, the vast majority of diversity hustlers pushing the need for racial representation were white. I don't know about anyone else but I don't need white people telling me that I need to have my race better represented in video games. I would expect that Latinos would be able to, and more than willing to, speak up about the issue if they felt it was a problem. I'd also imagine other races feel the same way about things.
The second thing I noticed was a lot of words being used with little to no substance. Often times articles and videos would tell us representation is important but fail to actually tell us why it is important. It's nice to know who is playing games and what kind of games they are playing but if your article is titled Why Representation Is Important in Video Games then you should probably tell us instead of listing off demographic stats.
The third thing and possibly the most important is the use of cherry picked stats, quotes, and examples. Dismissing games that allow you to choose either gender or that have a wide cast of characters simply because it debunks your argument only proves you are nothing but a Diversity Hustler. It is also telling when these Diversity Hustler lie or misconstrue the actual content in a game to fit their agenda. With that said, let's get this show on the road by first defining what representation means.
What is representation?
For the sake of this article we are going to define representation as how well any particular group is used as the main focus of a video game. I believe this is almost exactly what Diversity Hustler mean and want when they talk about needing representation in video games. We are also keeping the discussion centered squaring on the characters that appear in the games and not about those behind the scenes. A discussion about diversity in video game creators is planned for a future installment.
Video games should represent those that play games
My immediate knee jerk response to this is "why?" In no way is a video game made better by simple virtue that it is a good reflection of its audience. This kind of thinking would mean games imported to China should have all the characters turned Chinese regardless of the story because Chinese gamers make up such a large portion of the player base. Video games should represent the vision of the creators and nothing more. Anyone trying to dictate how a video game developer should do his job is neither a gamer nor a believer in artistic freedom.
Representation appeals to a wider audience
Off the bat, the idea of a "wider audience" is a myth. Your product's audience is exactly what it is and any attempt to reach the mythical wider audience will only alienate the audience you already have. Even if you do sell more copies or get more mainstream attention it is no longer the product you started with so your product has not reached a wider audience but rather this new product has. Final Fantasy is a good example of this as the audience and gameplay of Final Fantasy 15 is nothing like that of Final Fantasy 10.
That said, there is no evidence to support the idea that people who play video games would be more or less inclined to play a game based simply on the color, gender, or sexual orientation of a character in the game. Super Mario Bros. does not become more appealing if Mario becomes Jose with no other changes to the game. People are not suddenly interested in your shovelware games because you make the stars non binary Muslim wheel chair bound Dog-kins. If a game is good then gamers will play it and recommend others play it as well. No one except angry gamer bigots and Diversity Hustlers care about the gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs of digital people. Good games reach bigger audiences than garbage ones do, so focus on creating a good game first and foremost.
Representation makes a more interesting product
This is an opinion and in no way a fact. Overwatch is not more interesting than Romancing SaGa 3. This is despite Overwatch having more representation in it. There is this misguided belief that more representation makes things more interesting when the reality is it often just makes the game unfocused. Juggling so many different sexual, religious, and racial issues in one game can often derail the plot and break the immersion. That isn't to say that a game about African American space soldiers can't be interesting. I'm saying, focusing on shoving as many different things into your game is going to dilute them all and make it an uninteresting mess no one will want to play.
I need to see myself in video games to be validated
This is the biggest argument I see for representation and it frankly makes me sick. If you need to "see yourself" in a video game character to feel validated then you are weak and your parents have failed you. Unless you are famous and the game is based on you, then YOU are not the main character in the video game you are playing. The main characters are simply the avatars we wear/use as we play THEIR story. Even when you can create a character, you are not that character. This is why so many male gamers can and do play as female avatars when given the chance. This is why I played as a Khajiit in the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Representation is little more than a buzzword that Diversity Hustlers use to control the narrative around video games. No real gamer cares about representation, they only care about good games. If representation was a factor in video game purchases then I would be very worried about the staggering amount of animal mascot type video games being sold. Gamers will buy a game if it is good even if the main character is non white. If you focus on creating a good product then you can make the characters whatever you want and we can stop hearing about this non issue. A list of all the things I read and watched is below.
Why Representation Is Important in Video Games
Brenda Romero on how ‘jiggle physics’ rules the gaming industry - Article and Video
How the Gaming Industry Can “Level Up” in Diversity
A lot of white men are mad about "forced diversity" in video games, and this guy had the perfect response
How important is "representation" in video games? - Reddit thread
The Desire for Representation in Games - An Honest, Open Conversation - Video
Colour Coded: Race, Gender, and Representation in Video Games - Video
A How-To Guide for Muslim Representation in Video Games - Video
Representation In Video Games Sucks (Right Now) - Video
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