Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview: Cypher on #INeedDiverseGames

Hi. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, what is #INeedDiverseGames?

It was a wee hashtag that was born out of frustration with the state of the industry, the lack of diversity I saw. Now it's become a point for people to express why then need diverse games, not just for themselves but for others to enjoy the art of gaming.

How did it start?

This tweet:

Despite what people might think, the hashtag was not in reaction to, or in anyway influenced by GG. They really weren't on my radar until the renewed coverage lately.

What are your goals, whether short-term or long-term?

The short term goal is to get people on board with the idea that diversity in games is a good thing, that it does not hurt anyone to give people more options rather than retreading the same stories, the same plots in games. For people to realize it's about inclusion, not exclusion.

Long term goals is to make sure it doesn't become a flash in the pan, hot topic of the day then fizzle out because something else is going on in the gaming world. Be that making it into a full time project, asking the game dev community for help in keeping it alive and thriving or the masses that clearly want more diversity based on the tweets that have been flying fast and furious.

What's the reaction been so far?

For the most part, incredibly positive. There have been attempts by GG'rs to hijack the hashtag, claim that if you support #INeedDiverseGames, then you support GG. That's so far from the truth, I don't even have words for it.

But on a more positive note, the outpouring of support and great response has been amazing. For a hashtag that was thought up on the fly while I was angry about gaming, it's gotten a great response. Kudos to those folks who have actively taken on those who seem to have a problem with wanting more diversity in gaming.

What have been the challenges?

Mostly, making sure that this doesn't overwhelm me (or the awesome dragonreine who has been instrumental in helping me run the tumblr, twitter, etc.) and to not let it fizzle out. Gaming is important to me, it's been part of my life for twenty years and because of my love of gaming, the challenge we all have is to make diversity more than a buzzword, to make it the norm rather than the exception. To show that there is room at the table for everyone.

What games do you like to play? Which games are doing it right?

I'm more of an action and RPG fan. Final Fantasy VII - XIII, Suikoden, Shenmue, Dragon Age, Dragon Age II and the Mass Effect Series. I also grew up in arcades, I love, love, love a good fighting game. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Samurai Shodown, so many I could name but except for FPS (I get motion sickness from them), I'm pretty much an all types of games gal.

As for games doing it right, Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age Origins & II, Gone Home, Child of Light, Papa & Yo, Remember Me... are all examples of giving you more diverse options, either through customization of your character, or giving you the option to play as a woman, a woman of color, a child, a young adult woman. There's also been a lot of suggestions from followers of the tumblr and via twitter.

How can we help?

Tweet, write up posts, review games and spread the word about titles you find. Not everyone has played every single game, and a lot of times you might have played a game that others may not know about.

If you can back game projects, or signal boost if contributing money is an issue. Tweet with the hashtag, Support indie game devs, support those with ideas if they tell you they want to do X, don't let the first thing that come out of your mouth be don't do it, it won't sell, no one cares. If that's the default response to different ideas, nothing will change.

Also be able to criticize games and gaming culture. Accept that not everything is great and that for the medium to grow, it must be critiqued and analyzed so people can find the flaws, fill them in and smooth them out.

Where can people find more about #INeedDiverseGames?

Here’s a handy link to the About page.

You can also find us at:

Facebook / Twitter / Google +

We’re taking submissions and are open to questions via the askbox or email

Lastly, there’s now a spreadshirt store up, and a full explanation up here.

Cypher has been an avid gamer for twenty years, and is invested in making sure that people see having more diversity in games is not a zero sum game, or about exclusion, in fact she wants more, better games for everyone.

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