Tag Archives: diversity

And in engineering-videogamer world

In my world the word diversity often (usually) refers to a mixed social identity composition of a group, typically encapsulated by socio-analytic categories like race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, sexuality, age and more. Watch what this video (for a game that I enjoy and play with friends!) implies diversity is:

And, to some extent, they’re right – the game has all kinds of heroes – aliens, monkeys, scarecrows, overweight alcoholics and more. Unfortunately LOL is not diverse and quite cliche in that:

  • Sexist cliches – Every female character is either a little girl (child) or a fighting fuck toy trope (with impossible proportions – the male characters have comparably more diverse body types). Of the non-human monsters (no, Yordles don’t count) there is only one with a female voice, as compared to dozens with male voices. And just in case you were thinking about suggesting the male characters have unrealistic bodies too, you might consider that this too is part of structural oppression.
  • Colorblind racism – Nearly all of the characters have either white skin (Caucasian) or fictional skin (bright red, blue, etc…). You can spot a couple of champions who are probably of implied Asian decent and perhaps some purchasable alternative hero looks (you have to pay money to be black Ryze or Latina Karma?) that may include others. Fantasy and Sci-Fi worlds without racial diversity are certainly cliche and default whiteness is a form of racism (think of Band-Aids or crayons of peach color being labeled ‘flesh-colored’).

I’d also add that far too many of their characters seem to have some serious anger management issues, but that would make a little more sense in the context of battle.

Body types in video games revisited

Most feminists who have played or seen videogames have noticed the frequent lack of diversity in available character body types. Typically characters in games take on super-human forms, for men this means huge muscles and for women this means big boobs and impossibly thin waists. Instead of ragging on about this I thought I’d point out Blizzard’s Diablo 3 has some unusual elements of body diversity:

Here we have a female barbarian, who is quite muscular and without ‘perfect’ hair and…

also here is witch doctor class who is a little overweight, hunched over and is also a person of color. The male monk (not pictured) might also be similar to someone of middle eastern ethnic decent.

Now this is not to say we can’t find some of the typical body forms within their array of characters (the super tall & thin Demon Hunter female, for instance), but I think it’s a small step forward.

I should also point out that the witch doctor stereotype is potentially problematic. I’d argue it furthers the ‘othering’ of non-whiteness, continuing with the racist tradition of relegating people of color to  “primitive” archetypes and associations. It’s no coincidence that the female wizard isn’t black or male barbarian isn’t Asian.

So more work ahead of us, but evidence of progress, in my opinion.