|Art created by GW2 fan Purple Llama.|
During my conference tonight, the keynote speaker, an older African-American woman who pursued a PhD degree in a time of great inequality, spoke tonight and some of her words really resonated with me.
"I look out and I see you all. And I'm so thankful that you will never have to look around you and know that you are the first of your kind."
We, her audience are comprised of a rising group of undergraduate researchers. When you look at us, we are the definition of diversity, and reflect anything and everything that you could ever hope to imagine. We reflect the up and coming generation that will slowly change the face of doctoral scholars. And we have her, and her generation to thank for challenging the status quo and creating programs that have cleared many obstacles out of our current paths.
However, that same shift has really not been made in gaming companies. MMO's have often been criticized over the last several years of how little innovation has been made. For example, look at the recent Game Developer's Choice Awards. The winner of most innovation this year was Star Wars: The Old Republic. Really, voice acting and group chat sequences qualifies you for biggest innovation of the year? Well, when you compare it to the rest of the field currently out, than maybe it should have won. However, that does not make it right.
When you start to work your way through the reasons how we ever got here, everyone always focuses on investors, risk, and money. The common belief resides in companies tempted by the success of World of Warcraft and simply trying to replicate it in the hopes of making money. I believe this theory holds up quite well for the MMO industry, but I do think there are some other reasons behind this lack of innovation in the gaming industry as a whole.
Next time you watch a "Tour of the Company's Headquarters" or "Meet the Developers" take a look at the diversity. And I don't just mean race, I mean gender, religion, sexual orientation, geographical background, and you start to notice something striking. Other institutions, industry, colleges and universities, politicians, have all been making notable strides in diversity. However, the gaming industry seems to lack this or any call for change. Google "diversity in gaming", and you can't even find mainstream websites even writing articles about it. Why? And even more, does it have a detrimental effect on the gaming industry?
I would argue without a doubt that it does, but I lack the insider knowledge to explain why it has continued to persist and stagnate an that industry that we love.