June 26, 2022


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Activision video game 'diversity space tool' sparks backlash

Activision video game ‘diversity space tool’ sparks backlash

Activision Blizzard’s unveiling of a new program aimed at increasing diversity in video game groups has become a typical example of what not to do.

News leadership: The publisher announced the Diversity Space Tool last Thursday as “Diversity Space Tool.”Leap forward to include in games“But by Friday evening it was I engraved those words And the more it advertised online, as the company’s developers began to criticize it.

details: The tool starts users with a blank graph, asks them to put a criterion in the middle for a character in a particular game genre and asks them to say how different a particular character is. It will create a larger form of a character who is not, for example, white, weird, or has a disability.

  • Activision framed it as a way to “avoid tokens, stereotypes, and exclusion” and described the “enthusiastic” response from the Call of Duty and Overwatch development teams.
  • The tool has been called “Concrete software that will create and monitor guidelines for character perception and creation”.

But the advertisement, which included images of the tool that showed numerical values ​​assigned to the race and gender of the characters, and sparked violent reactions online and across gaming media. was entitled “miserable moderatescary” And “Glorious character sheet of dungeons and dragons That does not make sense.”

  • Two Overwatch designers tweeted that they didn’t used or I saw The tool has been removed before, and references in the Activision ad to teams praising the tool have been removed.
  • “Oh my gosh, I swear our company is trying really hard to slay any goodwill done by the actual developers who made the game,” Activision personal artist Melissa Kelly wrote in a widely shared tweet.
  • “Do you know what drives our diversity?” She added, “Developers! We have people working on the game from these cultures. That’s it! That’s literally it.”
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Between the lines: One of the tool’s early architects said it wasn’t supposed to put a grade on diversity or replace “common sense” when developers create a character in a game.

  • “The idea was to slow down time a little bit and have more discussion and reflection on that crucial point of creation,” said Mikael Jacobson, MIT research coordinator at MIT.
  • The project was started several years ago in Swedish phone studio King by developers who were inspired by a presentation from Anita Sarkeesian, a prominent cultural critic who regularly speaks out against stereotypes in the game’s characters. King designers created a paper prototype to draw the diversity of characters, made by At the Game Developers Conference in 2017, he tapped MIT to help create a digital version that could eventually be used by game makers around the world.
  • Jacobson’s involvement in the project ended in 2019, when MIT gave the studio a working version. He said the vision was to present it as part of a workshop, along with the readings, and to Avoid setting stats Regarding personality traits, lest you reduce diversity efforts to a ‘numbers game’. It has affected the tool over the past few years and presumably has been botched.
  • Last spring, however, long before it was shown to the public, Activision reported it at Message to shareholders as a key starting point for her efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion.

What’s Next: Activision said Friday that the diversity space tool is not being used in active game development.

  • A tweet from company president Daniel Allegri was deleted last week celebrating her announcement.
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