Bioware’s Manveer Heir Talks About Racism And Diversity In Games

By   /   Aug 6, 2011

Manveer Heir, Bioware’s senior designer at Montreal wants to see more diversity in the games which he believes can originate through different ideas isolated from traditional thoughts and views.

I don’t think the game having a black character, that shouldn’t be the selling point of the game. It needs to be an interesting game regardless of the protagonist, but that potentially when if someone plays that game, they discover the background of our protagonist has a better-defined character or something, or the race of the character actually affects the way characters talk to the player.

He believes that a good game’s reputation won’t be affected by changing protagonist’s skin tone from white to black. If the game is good enough, there won’t be any difference. And if you sell your game advertising or targeting a particular race (white/black), you can expect to be a flop.

I think that if you market your game as ‘a game for black people’ or ‘a game for Asian people’, it’s going to flop the same way most of the games for women flop. I don’t think that’s the good way to position that. For me, it’s less about selling your game based on those merits, and rather having those merits be in there and be discovered by players.

He also talked about how we can introduce new ideas and what we need to diversify the industry.

Next comes the courage, or the ability to be able to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to try this. And, no, I’m not going to worry about what other people think about if I’ve written for a different race or a homosexual character or a female character, and if it feels out of tone. I think we just need to have more writers in the industry in terms of more mature writers. This is not everyone in the industry. I do not want to diminish writers. There are a lot of amazing writers. I’ve worked with a lot of really amazing writers. But I’ve also come across bad writers unfortunately, like you would everywhere.

He also told that we need to have a healthy competition in the industry for novel ideas that can challenge others to bring something more creative.

The reason I speak up on this all the time isn’t because I want to be the only guy doing it. It’s because I feel the need to challenge the rest of the industry, including myself, to try to think about these things and do better. And I think if we start challenging each other, we’re going to improve as a medium.

Multiplayer games have been victim of racism in the past, and the trend continues. Now, it comes down to industry leads to address the issue, for which Bioware has already taken the lead. If these excerpts weren’t enough, you can get the full scoop at Gamasutra.

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