We should discuss and celebrate the growing diversity/inclusivity at Xbox and the games industry at large

Hey everyone, I’ve been thinking on this a lot after seeing the consistent focus at Xbox on creating a more inclusive gaming environment not only with their narratives and characters, but in the people that we see represented at Xbox conferences, social media, and the like. Slowly, the rest of the industry is taking strides to follow suit, which should be equally celebrated. So I thought I’d make a thread about it and how diversity/inclusivity makes you feel represented and/or empowered.

For those that may know me, you’re probably saying “but Daniel, you’re a cis straight-white male, are you really the right person to talk about this and isn’t this just virtue signaling?”. I’m not entirely sure that I am the right person, but I didn’t see another thread like this and felt that my personal history might help explain why I’ve been a crusader for equal rights and inclusivity for the past decade. See, in 2011 my younger brother committed suicide; he was gay and, unbeknownst to me at the time, he was ruthlessly bullied by kids at his school and our parents did not make things easier. I was away at university when everything happened and I didn’t find out about the persecution until it was too late. It made me reevaluate my life completely, in many ways I won’t bore you with; this isn’t a pity call, but just an explanation as to why inclusivity is an important thing for me.

I had always felt that I was an ally to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and to those that live with disabilities of some kind, but it wasn’t until after my brother passed away that I realized that it’s often not enough to just be a friend, but that it’s necessary to speak when others are afraid to and stand when they can’t. I don’t need to explain how things are difficult for women, people of color, or the LGBTQ+ community, but as so much of our moment in history is attempting to revive an abhorrent mode of thinking, I think we should stand united in protest in every way possible and celebrate the positive changes we see in this industry.

For me personally, I feel that every story that focuses on characters and stories of women, a people of color, people of different abilities, or members of the LGBTQ+ community gives any member of those communities a new source of representation and inspiration; thus, hopefully for those lost and hopeless, a small reminder that they aren’t alone. It shouldn’t take a look at any number of the videos of children throwing mock funerals for Chadwick Boseman/Black Panther, why these stories are so impactful to those communities. I know some may have disliked Locke’s story in Halo 5, but it was amazing to see a powerful Black hero backed by a roster of powerful women Spartans in the forefront of one of the largest gaming franchises out there. We have lived through much in 2020, but it is pretty damn amazing to see that we have had two major publishers (Sony and Xbox) put out headliner titles with transgender and/or gay main characters that aren’t demonized or made to be pariahs (The Last of Us 2 and Tell Me Why).

I believe Xbox has embraced that diversity more and more over the years, dating back to Gears of War and plenty of other games, but also in their internal culture and overall Xbox team where so often it’s dominated by white males. I’m hopeful more of the industry is following that path that those like Microsoft/Xbox have been laying. It’s those stories and what they mean to you that I want us to share and discuss, to celebrate, and - for those publishers or studios that could be doing a better job - a place to highlight the areas that we still need to be doing better.

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It’s indeed a great thing going forward. I feel that, in general, Microsoft is doing great to include characters that can make more and more people feel represented, and initiatives like the adaptive controller or, to an extent, cloud and cheaper consoles allow for folks with less disposable income to join the fascinating world of gaming as well. I know that at the end of the day it’s business, the more people they allow to join the more money they ultimately get, but they could play it safe with generic white male protagonists everywhere and still make billions. So this is good.

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Hmm diversity is a hot topic for me. I divide between forced and real diversity.

If a long running series starts to change characters just to hit some checkmarks I think this is worse than no diversity at all. With such moves a psychological impression becomes a product and nothing more.

Tell me Why however does a fantastic job! They take the topic “trans gender” and view it normally like it would happen in the real world and add a mystery story to it. No tac on checkmarks.

Yes I agree Microsoft approach has to be honoured

And I haven’t played TLOU2 to share my opinion on that.

Tell Me Why taught me more about transgender issues than anything else I’ve consumed so far. It felt natural and nuanced, a really good way to get someone like me a bit more enlightened.

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100% agree.