On May 12, the editorial staff of Activision Blizzard published a blog post titled King’s Spatial Diversity Tool: A Leap to Inclusion in Games. He explained that King, the developer of Candy Crush acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2016, had been working since that year alongside the MIT Game Lab to create software that “creates and monitors guidelines for the design and creation of characters” to identify how diverse set of character designs are.
This software, called Diversity Space Tool, was demonstrated with radar graphics showing breakdowns of Overwatch characters’ attributes, in particular Ana, who apparently received a 7 out of 10 for culture, race, and age, but 0 for body type and orientation. sexual.
The post explained that the Diversity Space Tool had been “tested by teams of developers working on Call of Duty: Vanguard”, with Alayna Cole of Sledgehammer Games saying, “we will use this data going forward in the next games we are working on.” . The post read, “Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 team also had a chance to try out the tool, with equally enthusiastic first impressions.”
The Diversity Space Tool was widely criticized online, with many pointing out the bureaucratic awkwardness of “creating a tool when you could just hire several designers and listen to themIt’s also a bizarre way of doing it, instantly raising a lot of questions. The scale zeroes in on the typical white middle-class male cis video game protagonist, but how exactly do you score something like ‘race’ out of 10? Someone at King Are you using a color chart to measure exactly what the skin tones of dark characters look like? Where do Overwatch’s robot and hamster characters exactly fit on these scales? Who needs a mathematical analysis to point out that Overwatch didn’t have any black women in it? your list at launch?
THE to update on May 13 attempted to address some of the criticism, adding an editor’s note explaining that “The Diversity Space Tool – currently in beta – is designed as an optional add-on to the hard work and focus our teams already put into telling diverse stories with diverse characters, but decisions about game content have been and always will be driven by the development teams.” The update also removed the graphics (which I saved and incorporated into this article) and any mention of Call of Duty: Vanguard or Overwatch.
Dylan Snyder, Senior Game Designer for Overwatch 2, said in twitterr that “the part about Overwatch 2 was removed mainly because we are not using it and didn’t know it existed until yesterday”. He followed saying that while he was working on Overwatch 2, “I’ve met nothing but genuine, wonderful people who not only want to make an amazing game, but are also incredibly open and focused on doing good in the inclusive world that Overwatch promises. That was it. a punch to the stomach for us.”
Overwatch character artist Melissa Kelly also commented on the postsaying, “God I swear our own company tries so hard to slaughter whatever goodwill the real developers who make the game have built” and “Overwatch doesn’t even use this creepy dystopia [sic] graphic, our writers have eyes. Artists: have eyes. Producers, directors, etc, as far as I know, all have eyes too.”
The observation that video game protagonists often rely on a restricted set of options is not new. “Kids love 30-something white men with brown hair” is now a venerable meme from a time when gamers complained that games were full of rude identikit niggas instead of complaining that women weren’t hot enough.
Apparently, the brain of the galaxy’s corporate response to this complaint was to spend six years working on a show that farts on radar charts measuring how mathematically progressive a game’s cast is, then bragging about the site without even running it by the people who make the game whose characters were borrowed to demonstrate how big it is.