News: David Gaider, lead writer of the Dragon Age games over at BioWare, has used an interesting development anecdote to illustrate that “greater female representation in game development teams has a more practical benefit than equality for equality’s sake alone.”
Spend half a minute browsing some of today’s tweets issued under the #1reasonwhy hashtag and you’ll get a pretty gloomy picture of the game industry. It seems casual discrimination and sexism are the norm rather than the exception. That’s why I’m highlighting a blog post made by David Gaider, who serves as lead writer on BioWare’s Dragon Age series.
Few would argue that BioWare is a studio that can pride itself on a fair treatment and representation of the LGBT community and both genders in general. Just check out some of their work on Mass Effect’s romance subplots. The studio is currently working on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Gaider has written a blog post that offers a very interesting anecdote regarding its writing process.
“My team of writers on Dragon Age currently consists of nine people, most of which are female,” Gaider says. “If having such a large number of women on my team has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t lump them into one category of preferences any more than you could the guys.”
Gaider goes on to describe a meeting where some of the plot points were discussed in group, and one of the female writers pointed out that one particular suggestion could be interpreted as a form of rape. “It wasn’t intended that way. In fact, the writer of the plot was mortified. The intention was that it come across as creepy and subverting, but authorial intention is often irrelevant, and we must always consider how what we write will be interpreted.”
So a change was made, but it struck Gaider that the male members of the writing team all took the author’s original viewpoint. Only the female writers saw the potential for an unintentional interpretation. “If this had been a team with no female perspective present, it would have gone into the game that way. Had that female writer been the lone woman, would her view have been disregarded as an over-reaction? A lone outlier? How often does that happen on game development teams?”
“The gaming audience is changing, just as the nature of our games is changing, and perhaps there’s value in appreciating the fact that greater female representation in game development teams has a more practical benefit than equality for equality’s sake alone,” Gaider concludes.
This is akin to an issue that befell Crystal Dynamics over a scene in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot that could be interpreted as rape. Even now they’re still defusing that situation.