ActivisionBlizzard has an idea original for fighting stereotypes and promoting diversity in video games. The company filed its Diversity Space Tool, a tool that uses mathematics to ensure games feature diverse and inclusive characters. To achieve this, the software identifies the typical traits of a hero or villain and plots them on a graph where the weight of each is represented.
According to Jacqueline Chomatas, globalization project manager at King, the idea of creating this tool was born in 2016, when a method of dealing with existing prejudice and exclusion. Subsequently, King approached the MIT Game Lab who materialized the concept into software that takes various values to define whether the character is inclusive or not.
In an entry on the Activision blog, Chomatas mentions that Diversity Space Tool takes basic functionality such as gender, body type, role (hero or villain), age, and race. It also applies other more granular values, such as culture, sexual orientation, physical and cognitive abilitiesor socio-economic background.
The input displays a list with characters from Surveillance and focuses on Ana, the Egyptian-born bounty hunter. Judging from the image, the Diversity Space tool organizes features by drop-down menus and assigns certain values. At first glance, it looks like a mix of Excel with an RPG character editor. The tool allows filter by labels and a graph shows which values predominate in the character.
Activision software is a measuring tool and through numbers, the developers could identify the character’s diversity. The company is based on a standard established by diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) experts and is able to identify inconsistencies and stereotypes.
“[La herramienta] This helps identify those stereotypes, while helping creatives take a closer look at their designs so they can dissect their own assumptions and presets,” says Chomatas.
King’s directive states that diversity isn’t just about looks. The software helps identify storytelling opportunities for these characters. “I hope we create more characters that break the mold and better represent women, non-binaries, and other underrepresented minorities in the industry,” she said.
Activision is far from being the champion of diversity
The announcement of this tool comes at a difficult time for Activision. Although King assures that they have been working on it since 2016, the complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination that surround the company do not help the discourse of create a space where everyone feels welcome.
The Diversity Space Tool is also causing controversy among some developers in the industry. The general cry is that diversity and inclusion are not solved with mathematical formulas or a graphic, but with a multicultural development team. While the latter is important, it is not a definitive solution.
More than once, we’ve seen companies that sail under the banner of diversity goof off. The most recent example is Forza Horizon 5an Xbox game set in Mexico where Microsoft Games and Playground they focused on certain regions of the country. In an attempt to preserve authenticity, they hired Mexican comedians and artists.
The end result, more than celebrating Mexican culture, is an ode to the stereotype. The constant use of Spanishthe party in Cancun or the banal phrases of the grandmother are something common in Hollywood films.
Software is not the definitive solution, although it would help resolve some errors
Relying exclusively on a single tool will not solve the problem of diversity in video games, even if it would help if used in conjunction with experts. In any case, Activision believes that it can be applied to other verticals, such as television, cinema or even literature.
The company announced that several internal studies have been using it for months in beta. The most recent game to enjoy it is Call of Duty: Vanguardalthough Blizzard has already confirmed that it will implement it in Monitor 2. Activision has confirmed a final release for the summer and intends to make it available to the wider industry. It is unclear whether he will do so openly or through a license.