Diversity in Games (and Other Media)

Nothing like a sinus infection & viral bronchitis combo to slow your week, topped off with busting up your phone! At I can say that I am on the mend; as for the phone, that remains to be seen.

Since the Daily Post doesn’t have this week’s photo challenge up yet, here’s a topic that crossed my mind again recently and does on occasion when I’m writing or designing, or just reading about games and media in general: diversity. I’ll be talking mostly about games here, but a lot of this applies to other media like movies, TV, comics, and so forth, so expect some crisscrossing of that line.

It’s no big secret or shock that most game protagonists are the default white male. Most designers are white men, and historically their target demographic has been white males. It still baffles me that some people react some strongly against this “status quo” being changed or challenged, but that’s a different topic altogether. I understand why this is the default–the old adage of “write what you know” is a powerful and natural direction to take when writing. It’s easiest to imagine yourself as the protagonist of a story. If you were to take a look at all my writing and roleplaying characters over the years, you’d find that most of them were female, white, with red or brown hair. This, and likewise the default white casts or male white protagonists of TV shows, movies and games did not stick out to me as odd for a long time.  Read more


Smashing the Routine

After spending a chunk of yesterday feeling in a funk, I finally realized why: I’ve spent most of the last month moving (twice), hosting my boyfriend’s mom for a week, going away for a family vacation weekend, and going away for a friends camping trip weekend. My normal routine and most of the things in it have gone completely out of whack, cutting me off from the outlets I usually have for creative work, physical work-outs, and other things I’m passionate about. Life happened along and smashed my little routine to bits for a while there, but luckily it’s not too hard for me to put them back into the niches where they belong.

But this also segues nicely into another topic: why I love post-apocalyptic (or even mid-apocalyptic) stories. It has a dash of why I really enjoy stories set in the Real World Plus, as I think of it. You know, our world, but plus a little something else–like a school for witchcraft and wizardry, or a girl given incredible power so she can slay vampires, that sort of thing. It’s that yearning of wanting to picked out as someone special for being exactly who you are, an ordinary and good person who gets to be extraordinary all of a sudden. Who doesn’t want that? Also, it helps that you don’t need to go through the set up of a completely different world, either on the enjoying or the creating end. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either, but it minimizes the tasks that require your attention. There are also plenty of stories that are in completely foreign worlds that are excellent, and well-done world-building is an admirable skill.

Back to the post-apocalyptic. The basic tennant of this genre is always the same: the entire world has changed, and that means the people need to change with it in order to survive. What do you do when everything you know, your daily life, has been irreversibly changed? How do you deal with the world as it is now? The Walking Dead is a fantastic example of this–while it’s about zombies, it’s really not. It’s about people trying to figure out how to live in a world that has changed completely. Priorities have to change, the way they think has to change, and they realize these things slowly and with significant growing pains (not to mention a significant body count). The routine they have become accustomed to and lived in is smashed, gone forever, and there’s no guide for what the new routine needs to be. What’s more, the new routine itself is a constantly changing thing, and if you don’t catch up, how will you get by?

Characters in this setting not only need to adapt, but they eventually need to realize, in most cases, that there is no going back. Even if the bad guy is destroyed, that doesn’t mean the world gets to go back to the way it was. Who are they going to be, now that not only their life has changed, but the whole world has?