Today Activision Blizzard completed its daily oopsie quota by blogging about how publisher subsidiaries seems to have used a special tool to help develop more “diverse” characters. It seems to think it can do this, I don’t know, actually talking to or hiring underprivileged developers. Why rely on annoying, scary people when we have strength data to tell us we’ve hit enough Diversity Points to start a new video game culture war? The numbers don’t lie. I mean, just look at this. That’s obvious, isn’t it? Well designed charts say it all, clear and calm.
Damn, I’m so glad technology allows us to tackle racism, sexism, ability discrimination and every other problem facing video games. Who knew it was so easy? When before Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan says that he “hates variety to the point of being annoying, like we just had this spreadsheet with a bunch of checkboxes,” really keeping that in mind. Okay, not really.
I’m being sarcastic, but in many ways it’s hard to contain how extraordinary this is. It’s not just someone who thinks a problem this complex can be solved with one Dungeons & Dragons character table without damn meaning. And it’s not just because Blizzard is in the midst of a myriad of “variety” disasters visible right now, including allegation of sexual harassmentnot possible recruit or keep talent on the sidelinesand ongoing union-related tensions.
But some people might not only build this, but blog, get interviewed about it, and then sign up to share it with the world. The reaction on the internet to the post and the tool it describes has been absolutely incredible, and rightfully so. Consider the fact that no one there saw this coming, amid all the other complete PR disasters. What does that say about Activision’s real ability to tackle rampant problems that have come under scrutiny by the public over the past year and the publisher has repeatedly vowed to fix? Right now, it doesn’t seem like anyone in charge is really capable of doing that, if this is what they’re coming up with.
And make no mistake, this is a PR disaster. I’m not just saying this because I disagree with the basic premise that you can, as the blog post states, use a handy tool to “dissect their own assumptions” magically and quickly, avoiding “token characters” and achieving “authentic representation” by defining “a more diverse character story” that “goes beyond” mere appearances. the difficulty with these is not because we are mere humans who cannot understand the primitive logic of 1s and 0s, but because achieving a better world is a process and a process. The moment you try to take a shortcut is the moment when you no longer care about the real problem.
While solving these problems may involve tools, Activision Blizzard has repeatedly demonstrated that it is at a stage where it needs more education, guidance, and mentoring from real-life people. Soft skills to help establish a basic understanding of what diversity means before it can think. about creating a tool like this. When a company like this it took years to introduce a black woman to a video gameI really can’t believe it has the ability to “measure” what the hell variety is or means, the less it does the better.
But even if we understood the problem in its own way, that wouldn’t make any sense. Can you take a look at any of the visualizations shared in the blog post and tell me what they mean?
I suppose there is some logic to it, maybe one that is only explained and known to people who regularly use the tool, but even suggest that you can list something like “likelihood” is utter nonsense. What is probability 0? What does it mean when the image in the blog post says someone has “sexual orientation: 0.357”?
How do you put it in front of someone and not feel weird about what you’ve done or what you’re saying?
While this hardly matters, the example use cases cited in the blog post won’t appeal to the average person. Have Call of Duty Vanguard, a game that Activision don’t just try to stay awaybut one of them active chuds hate because it has variety. Then another example of it is Overwatch 2a game where nearly everyone asks, “Why does this exist?“Are these fair reasons to remove a thing? No, admittedly no. But they’re adding on a pile of already bad looks. No one will go, “Oh, they used this to the Call of Duty that frustrates everyone! Again, the extent of marketing failure here is incomprehensible.
So yes, not the most attractive way to package what is ready Selling hard for those who want change but don’t think it can be achieved through representation alone. Nor for those who think that just putting a woman in a video game is too political.
Perhaps this is inevitable, though. In many ways, technology is the most extreme expression of whiteism and capitalism, structures that actively invest in the identification, systematization, and eradication of identifiers in order to maintain power and profit. The marginalized is not recognized until it is useful, and then based only on the most despicable terms, for the worst purposes. Identity is key to achieving those goals. After all, if you could develop a system to determine things like gender or race, you maybe use that information to “inform” larger choices, like making sure your character designs are diverse in more complex ways.
In fact, more often than not, such data used for surveying, jailing, and identity police are subjected to a microscope, often by people outside their communities. In this case, whether or not the data-collecting entities realize it, its most direct effect would be to better equip them to reduce criticism from the very parties to whom they are concerned. claims to be empowered. It’s funny how that works.
Why hire more people of color when you already have a bit of software that already tells you what you need to look at, or worse, can make you believe you already know what? Do you really have to think about your bias if the character you come up with comes out 3, 4, and 5 on the computer’s diversity scale? Those are pretty good numbers, my man! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s spend some quality time Realistic horse ball development. Polish is king.
“The characteristics and metrics are applicable to broader entertainment industries including television, film and literature,” the blog writes. “The only changes needed if used in these verticals would be the basic characteristics, which need to be tweaked to fit the genre and universe in which each character exists.”
Activision Blizzard’s blog post ends by saying that in the end it’s just a tool and at the end of the day, people still decide to choose. But not before betraying a larger vision of a world that lives under the rule of its instrument, and therefore its main logic.