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BioWare’s Heir wants to see more diversity in games with good writing

Saturday, 6th August 2011 18:47 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Manveer Heir, senior designer at Bioware Montreal has said he would like to see more diversity in videogames as it would not only make things more interesting for players, but more demonstrative as well.

Speaking in an excellent interview with Gamasutra, Heir said his opinion has nothing to do with “videogame affirmative action,” but using diversity to push the medium in order to create better games and to “tell better stories.”

“I hope that in 20 years I personally would have been able to do something on my own by then, to at least help advance things, but who knows where the world will go in the future.,” he said.

“First off, I don’t think [a] game having a black character should be the selling point of the game. It needs to be an interesting game regardless of the protagonist, but that potentially when if someone plays that game, they discover the background of our protagonist has a better-defined character or something, or the race of the character actually affects the way characters talk to the player.

“Things along those lines, so that when you’re playing the game, you discover something new that maybe is happening in the game that you aren’t used to, because you’re being treated differently, or you’re understanding the other side that maybe you don’t belong to, depending on your background.

“So, I think that if you market your game as ‘a game for black people’ or ‘a game for Asian people’, it’s going to flop the same way most of the games for women flop. I don’t think that’s the good way to position that. For me, it’s less about selling your game based on those merits, and rather having those merits be in there and be discovered by players.”

Heir said he doesn’t want to see the medium “get ghettoized, like what happened with comics,” as the game structure can change when writing a character’s sexual orientation, gender, or race.

“Even the age of a character — that can change the way your game is structured, what your game is about, the things a game can comment on, the mechanics of a game,” he said. “They can bleed into several areas.

“There are many ways to add to games. This is just the one that I’m interested in. This is the one that I’m pursuing as best as I can while working in the industry. And I just hope that other people will think about it and hopefully join the cause.

“Next comes the courage, or the ability to be able to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to try this. And, no, I’m not going to worry about what other people think about if I’ve written for a different race or a homosexual character or a female character, and if it feels out of tone.’

“I think we just need to have more writers in the industry in terms of more mature writers. This is not everyone in the industry. I do not want to diminish writers. There are a lot of amazing writers. I’ve worked with a lot of really amazing writers. But I’ve also come across bad writers unfortunately, like you would everywhere.

“So, if we make sure that we try to promote and push with our good writers… we give them the backing that they need, the support so that they don’t feel like they’re left on an island. And that we also challenge them. We challenge each other as an industry.

“The reason I speak up on this all the time isn’t because I want to be the only guy doing it. It’s because I feel the need to challenge the rest of the industry, including myself, to try to think about these things and do better. And I think if we start challenging each other, we’re going to improve as a medium.”

Those are just a few quotes from the full interview, which again, is excellent, and can be read through the link.

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10 Comments

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  1. TerraZet

    Bioware has gone to shit to be honest. I’m actually skipping Mass Effect 3 because of all this DLC/multiplayer/origin crap they’re pulling, its like EA doesn’t want us to buy their games

    #1 3 years ago
  2. sasanjfr

    look who is talking!BioWare!!!the guys behind Mass Effect 2 with a story simple enough for a 7 years old kid to understand;go there,find someone and recruit him/her on your team.A studio once capable of creating adventures that sucks you in their worlds such as Baldur’s Gate,Neverwinter Nights and even Mass Effect, probably will be Activision’s biggest rival in making mindless shooters in the future.
    just sorry for the RPG genre that games such as Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 calling themselves RPGs.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Giskard

    That is rich, you guys.

    I’m sure you’ll be buying it on day one just as any other reasonable gamer.

    Complain all you like though.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Stephany Nunneley

    @2 Well, Heir just started working there last year in September. Before that he was at Raven and before that a programmer at Big Huge Games. Give him some time. You can’t just waltz in at a new job and start a revolution. It has to be a gradual change. Plus, at least BW games give you the option of being male/female, gay/straight, black/white/purple. ;)

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Noodlemanny

    … What game has ever used a black man being the protagonist as a selling point? I can’t think of any…
    maybe its cos I never notice cos I’m so un-racist.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DSB

    50 Cent – Blood on the Sand? :P

    The way I read that, he isn’t speaking out against making race a factor. He’s saying he thinks there should be more diversity, more room for things like ethnicity being handled in a mature and deliberate way, rather than simply as archetypes.

    Which I think is kinda utopian. A lot of people make themselves into stereotypes, and even you’re looking for a minority type, there’s only so much you can do to flesh them out in a videogame. Ultimately you just have to tell the story as cleverly as you can, rather than making sure certain boxes are checked.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. LOLshock94

    one thing that im not impressed with ME3 is the comabt its just the same as ME2s nothing changed.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight

    @7 Stealth take downs and kills, actual grenades and not the ME version. weapons and armor are customizable and not the Me2 version. Each class has their own melee attack. You are also able to roll and dodge with able to shoot from cover.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Noodlemanny

    Hmm… But what about some REAL weapons and armour customisation? A actual decent level system would be nice too.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight

    @9

    Its going to be like ME 1 with the customization only not as superficial and you actually see the customization with weapons and armors.

    #10 3 years ago