Game Publishers and Developers Need More Diversity: Interview with Finji

Muaz from Twinfinite writes: "A lack of diversity in the gaming industry has been an issue for years and yet only recently has it come to the collective awareness. Reactions to the push for an increase in diversity have ranged the gamut from full support, such as in the case of the Plz Diversify Your Panel list, to outright scorn and everything in between. A developer that is trying to stand out from the pack is Finji, who released this announcement on their website detailing their plans to hire a team to work on a game. The main point of the post was explaining that instead of going the route of most every other developer out there, studio director Adam Saltsman was going to try to bring together as diverse a team as possible."

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spartanlemur1559d ago (Edited 1559d ago )

Why does this matter?

There are inherent benefits to diversity (different backgrounds = different worldviews = more unique product) but also inherent benefits to homogeneity (more relatability = better understanding = more cohesion as a team).

As a result, the point is moot, and there isn't really any reason to call for more or less diversity in a team.

The best way to hire is simply to pick the people who are the best at what they do, and not select based on skin colour, genitalia or the place someone was born in.

Muazimus-Prime1558d ago

There's more than enough homogeneity in the industry. Too much can lead to the same exact ideas being churned out over and over again. Is it really too much to ask for one team with diverse backgrounds to come together to make something different?

spartanlemur1558d ago

That's not what the article is saying. It says that (all) "Game publishers and developers need more diversity".
I'm not saying we have too much or too little, and I don't see what's wrong with a small team trying out a high level of diversity to test its benefits (in fact this would be a useful case study).

My problem is just the prejudicial implication that other studios need to arbitrarily pursue diversity without any strong evidence that it unequivocally makes games better.

And I addressed your point with a counterpoint that communication is easier within homogenous teams (a team of clones of myself could probably communicate just using facial gestures!). Of course, this could just be a small benefit, while diversity could be huge. It could also be the other way around. We cannot pass judgement either way until we have seen the evidence.

I don't see why anyone is disagreeing with my comment. I'm not attacking diversity, I'm just taking a neutral approach towards it and stating that the only thing we can all agree on is that more talented coders and artists make a game better.

Hopefully small studios trialling diversity like this will paint a clearer picture of its benefits, so we might one day understand how to factor that into recruiting.

Vantage1559d ago (Edited 1559d ago )

I honestly think people who desire "diversity" are either dupes, ignorant or defective.

Their background or appearance is irrelevant. Their skills are what should be valued. Trying to force diversity rather than hiring the right people is regressive and dark age.

It sounds like this Adam Saltsman believes skin color and gender grant special abilities. Which, of course, is absolutely insane and bankrupt.

Muazimus-Prime1558d ago

So as an African-American child of immigrants, I'm a dupe, ignorant, or defective to want a game made by someone who understands my perspective and experiences? Skin color and gender don't make anybody better than anybody else, and that's not at all anywhere close to what Adam was saying. Those two factors DO however provide the ability to tackle an issue from different perspectives, which can only improve this hobby that we all love.

spartanlemur1558d ago

But these factors are linked and we don't need to have a proactive approach to anything.

Gamers go on to become game developers; they are the most likely to pour their free time into learning and working on games and so will be first in line to take jobs.

Let's say 20% of FPS gamers are women and 80% are men. I imagine their genitalia is not going to affect their desire to work in the industry, so roughly 20% of those who seek to become artists or coders at studios are female with the rest male.

So assuming that hiring practices are meritocratic, we see 20% of FPS game devs being female and 80% male. This allows for perspectives to be proportional to the size of each market segment, and thus will create a game which is perfectly tailored to maximise the happiness of the FPS gaming community.

The same applies to strategy games or platformers, and the only downfall is that there is a time-lag for the market to be reflected in dev teams.

If 50% of devs are female in a market where 80% of players are male, I'd say that men are not fairly represented where we judge fairness as one person one vote (in reality it's one dollar, one vote, which is why niche games like Star Citrizen manage to get so well funded, but one person one vote is a simplification and holds if all people pay the same for a game).

By my above logic, diversity is neither inherently good or bad, but depends on the market composition, where it is arguably better if companies reflect the market for the type of games they produce.
But maybe diversity in and of itself is good for everyone (North Korean devs might bring something new to the table, even if none of the players are from their country), or maybe it isn't (language and cultural barriers might make the North Korean dev hard to work with, slowing development).
To answer this question, the only fair thing we can do is study examples of homogenous and diverse teams and isolate the effect of the "diversity" variable on sales.
I'm not sure it exists yet, but it would be wise to do our homework before dishing out prejudice like the author of this article does in their first paragraph.