Achieving inclusive game design | VentureBeat

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It is easy to see that inclusive game design is a broad goal for the industry. Ask anyone who makes games, and it’s possible to get wildly different answers about how to do it. Renee Gittins of the International Game Developers Association did the same in a roundtable discussion on reaching players through included game design.

The first thing that needs to be done in a discussion like this is to define the terms. For one person, inclusiveness can be a game that represents anything beyond the standard male Caucasian hero archetype. Or he could set the game in a place that is authentic to the culture and the people who live there. It can also be easy to let players with disabilities enjoy themselves, including simple controls or colorblind modes.

What is Content Game Design

WB Games Montreal’s Osama Dorias takes a comprehensive look at what game design means.

“For me it’s a game that tries to be inclusive,” Dorias said. “It’s a game that came out and contained something that showed they were trying to reach a wider audience.”

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Microsoft’s Tara Walker has a more focused approach. Voelker is Xbox Game Studio’s Accessibility Lead, as well as co-director of the Game Accessibility Conference.

“Being inclusive is literally being able to play the game,” Walker said. “If you don’t involve them, they won’t be able to play. It’s very cut and dry. “

Netflix’s Laura Teclarium has a different perspective on this phrase.

“I think consumers are very discerning. Players in particular, “she said.” When they’re playing a level, or they’re using a character in a particular theme, or from a certain country or a certain background, they can tell if it’s authentic or not. . “

Inclusive game design begins with inclusive game designers

Authentication is hard to fake. The easiest way to achieve this is to have a diverse staff available to provide comments and suggestions that would otherwise never have stood up.

“While we were developing a lot of characters, the original slate of our characters was turning to more men,” Teclarium said while working on Star Wars: The Galaxy of Heroes. “I was one of the few women in the development team in the room. One of the things I highlighted was that I would love to have an all-female team … If I hadn’t been part of the team to represent the women’s point of view it might have taken longer to bring that perspective into the game.

“It’s a strong business case to include characters from a variety of backgrounds,” Dorias said. “The hard part is, don’t make the noise that you’re just putting in a token; A palette swap for skin tone, or a voice actor was hired but everything seems to be the same … it should be early. If you do not bring the person [from a diverse background] Initially, you are controlling the damage. Decisions are often irreversible due to production concerns or financial concerns. “

Ubisoft’s disclaimer refers to their various staff

It is becoming more and more common to have a diverse staff. While companies have been gradually diversifying their staff over the years, the realities of the ongoing epidemic have accelerated recruitment practices.

“People with disabilities have long been excluded from employees in sports development because the idea of ​​remote work was not available to them,” Walker explained. “Remote work can be huge for people with disabilities. Traveling can be one of the biggest annoyances વું being able to work from home is literally too big. When there are more people with disabilities in your team, you get a more inclusive product.

Once you have the staff, the content design starts early

Have staff with experience living with disabilities, or bring in consultants with the same experience to make sure the portrayal is authentic. Ultimately real game design becomes a factor, though. So in the years-long process of game development, where can those live experiences affect change?

“It should start from the very beginning, in the design documents,” Dorias said. “The language you use in the design documents is extremely important. If you are sexing the player, for example … it will put the reader in a certain mind frame and everything will be built around it. If you come up and just say, whenever If you see someone’s example in a meeting or design dock, use the pronoun ‘he’, ask them to change it to ‘it’. The idea is to change the language of our design documents so that they become more inclusive. You will see that people will approach all issues differently. “

Voilker agrees that starting early is the way forward, but notes that as industry developers the problem still starts too late.

“We create our game and then we identify the gaps, and then we add options to put the band-aid on the situation,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with thinking about the effects of accessibility on paper prototypes.”

Design can only begin early if the staff feels safe to ring

Content game design is not just a one-way street. The company needs to be able to not only have a diverse staff, but also be able to create an environment in which staff feel safe speaking. Without it it can be difficult to take advantage of living experiences.

“Not all your efforts are fruitful. Not everything you try will work, “Dorias said. “But in the long run, you can make a difference. So keep it up. “

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