Animal Crossing: New Leaf was developed by an even mix of men and women

Nintendo development team praises the positive effect its diverse team had on the 3DS' debut Animal Crossing title.

Barnstorming 3DS success Animal Crossing: New Leaf had a 50/50 gender split across its development team, and leading members from the studio have spoken about how that had a positive effect on the creation of the well-received title.

"As a woman on the team, I always felt welcome, and never felt awkward," said director Aya Kyogoku during a GDC 2014 talk examining the game, attended by Eurogamer.

Kyogoku also added that everyone in the team was invited to participate in discussions about all aspects of the game's design. "It opened us up to a variety of tastes and likings," said Kyogoku.

"Male and females and a variety of ages participated. We were able to leverage our diverse team, which couldn't be possible if one person was making all the decisions."

It also sounds like the development of Animal Crossing, a series famous for its incredibly broad appeal, was as intoxicatingly pleasant as in the game itself. Kyogoku recalled that members of the development team would regularly go on group barbeques, and would also make cakes themed around the game and bring them into the office. The upside of all this, according to Kyogoku, is that the team remained in good spirits towards the end of development--the notoriously difficult 'crunch' period.

Maybe the good times are infectious? Let's collectively work out how to bake a Tom Nook cake.

Nintendo has said that Animal Crossing: New Leaf sold 7.3 million units by the end of 2013.

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Discussion

96 comments
Arachnofunk
Arachnofunk

This game is kind of evil, it's so simple at its core yet impossible to let go. It has something that makes you want to come back everyday... it frightens me but I love it. 

PKMN37
PKMN37

An even mix of men and women work on a project together. Good for you, guys, but this isn't anything new.

gordanchoong
gordanchoong

I can't believe this game single-handedly increased the popularity and profit of the 3DS in Japan when this game came out, allowing it to beat and surpass its competitor, the PS Vita. So I was wondering why this game seemed to take a more casual approach than the other previous games that either targetted kids, girls , or non gamers. I wonder how the new Animal Crossing will be like when it releases on the WiiU; the next-gen Smash Bros. game should be a very good reason why they should consider developing a new Animal Crossing game for it.

musalala
musalala

This is cool so basically just hire talented people and  the game will be awesome..I thought this was common knowledge.

Breyant
Breyant

I have spent over 300 hours playing New Leaf and so far the only thing that seems like it will make me put this game away is a Wii U version.

Love it, and it's nice to hear about the dev team and the pleasant work environment, there is so much doom and gloom in this industry now.

tightwad34
tightwad34

It's obvious there were women involved in the development and it was obviously a good thing. I really do like the game, but I just can't justify putting too much time into it because I have way too many other games to play as well. I know this is a game that really does require time put into it. At least it isn't going anywhere and I can pop it in whenever I feel the need.

Crazyguy105
Crazyguy105

An even male/female ratio or not, New Leaf was filled with amazing new ideas that pushed the series forward in so many great directions.


Lets hope they can do it again with the inevitable Wii U game, and the content isn't recycled like it was in City Folk.

dipdish
dipdish

Like Aya Kyogoku was the first woman ever to make a game.

dctcool
dctcool

Its amazing how many people seemed to have completely missed the point about how the diverse development team allowed for the game to appeal to a wider audience which was the reason the game was able to sell well.

And instead think this article is a sexism issue.

guardianofhonor
guardianofhonor

So in the making of this game talent and experience took a backseat to making some kind of social justice statement, well not that talent had much to do with making this game anyway. Yeah females can do work too, incredible isnt it?.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Slim_Lyrics

Maybe you haven't been paying attention if you haven't noticed a single non-Caucasian face on GameSpot's payroll.

Do you know Eric Te? Benito Gonzalez? These two have been getting quite a lot of air-time.

Then there are others working behind the scenes, like Homer Rabara, Wernher Goff, Lark Anderson and Gaz (he is black).

P.S. If you are wondering how I know all these people, I will give you an inane (but not entirely false) answer: Chicken McNuggets and drinking hot sauce straight.

EasyComeEasyGo
EasyComeEasyGo

Gender issues in Video Games? Is this necessary?

Pewbert
Pewbert

This is the kind of thing I will never support. Just employ the people who are best at that job whether they are male/female/black/white/brown/disabled etc.

This is just a cheesy publicity stunt.

19James89
19James89

And the point of this politically correct article is what exactly?

nigelholden
nigelholden

I don't see where they said they forced any kind of diversity, just that it was there. But either way, it's their team. And I'm not ashamed to say that it worked out. Bought it for my kid and ended up incorporating into my daily morning commute. 


Either way, it's up to the developers to put together the team they see fit in order to create the project they want to create. There's no reason to whine about someone's choice in a creative endeavor. That's why I can't stand the likes of Sarkeesian, (besides the con artist thing), because it's the same thing. Whining and demanding that creative works adhere to their personal sensibilities rather than allow and support creative devs to have the freedom to execute their vision. They're already constrained or beholden to the market much of the time. No need to stifle any further. 


It's odd watching how polemic these discussions tend to get. But at the end, I don't see much difference between the person throwing a fit about the Sorcerer's chest in Dragon's Crown or rioting because Gone Home exists. It all sound like the same noise and only hurts the creative freedom that is vital to gaming. 

DocSanchez
DocSanchez

I don't give a crap. Is the game good? That's all that matters. Stop the creeping left wing politicization of the industry and concentrate on giving us games..

Link3301
Link3301

The issue with diversity in the game industry I think is more that women don't tend to study things like engineering or computer science in college, so less are entering the games industry except for more business oriented positions. Before we can have a lot of diversity in the industry, we need to get more women interested in studying programming and game design.

CnConrad
CnConrad

So this is the kind of game diversity creates...

Thankfully this isn't commonplace because I don't think you could pay me to play that game.

All kidding aside, this is 2014 and diversity is a non issue any girl that is smart enough and driven enough and has the proper social skills can make 80k by the time she is 30. (I know from experience)

The only diversity that gets talked about is detrimental forced diversity that puts unqualified people in positions they have no right to have.

crushbrain
crushbrain

Forcing diversity is useless. All that matters is whether the game was produced and produced well.

crognalsen
crognalsen

I think it's nice to an extent, but I also feel it has an impact on what you can do in a game because you don't want to offend someone.  I work with a lot of women now and I have become a fair amount more tame and social as it's expected by them.  I also have to change my thought process a fair amount not to offend them in some way.  For a game like Animal Crossing it might not be a big deal because it's about cooking, making friends, and living life in general.  In a darker game like Dark Souls it might make a big difference in just how dark it is.  In my experience women tend to be a lot more social, happy, nurturing people.  There is always the exception, but it rubs off on you.

gordanchoong
gordanchoong

@Crazyguy105  The new Smash Bros game should be enough (as well as New Leaf) to convince Nintendo to try really hard in developing a new Animal Crossing game on the WiiU.

crognalsen
crognalsen

@dctcool

I find that a lot of games end up appealing to a wider audience these days, but on the flip side they also lose something because they can't appeal to a specific demographic in a personal way.

justinhaywald
justinhaywald moderator staff

@Gelugon_baat @Slim_Lyrics  Also Cindy Tang, one of our CMs; Neha Tewari, who leads all of our video production; Randolph Ramsay, our Managing editor; and Van Nguyen, who does onsite content promotion. 

dctcool
dctcool

@EasyComeEasyGo  The game sold 7 mil copies as a result of the diverse development team since it was able to appeal to a wider audience.


So yep.

dctcool
dctcool

@Pewbert  You missed the whole point of the article.

The point was to show how a diverse development team allowed for the game to be sold to a broader audience.

Dharkanon
Dharkanon

@Link3301  This is a very good point, and there is also a lot of evidence that this is slowly changing. However, one of the forces that has an impact on this change (whether it is for better or worse) is an increased public discourse that 'normalises' women studying these subjects. One aspect of public discourse changing is the exposure of women already doing these jobs... hence, in my eyes, the value of articles like these.

Dharkanon
Dharkanon

@CnConrad  Sadly experience is often mistook to be scientifically representative, esp. when it comes to social issues and realities. Even if women who are 'smart enough' and 'driven enough' can make 80K, which is already a factually problematic statement, the issue is a gap in what 'smart enough' and 'driven enough' has to be depending on whether you're a man or a woman. One particular symptom is the pay-gap (which is a much better indicator than whether women can achieve a particular salary, because it is about a gender comparison). Also, achieving something at 30 is additionally problematic because one of the large issues in gender inequality is the glass ceiling, that is, the barriers to high-level late career jobs due to parental care and household labour division.


I can recommend Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn working paper "Gender pay inequality" as a general introduction. In spite of being 14 years old, very little has changed.


The above article also does not mention whether this representative team (rather than diverse team) was forced.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@crushbrain  

What makes you think that the diversity has been "forced"? ;P

Seems like a coincidence to me.

dctcool
dctcool

@crognalsen  You don't cook in Animal Crossing you sexist stereotyping idiot.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@justinhaywald  

Eh... may you humor me by telling me Gaz's name? It's surprisingly difficult to find his LinkedIn profile.

Pewbert
Pewbert

@dctcool @PewbertSo you have an idea for a product - You can make it the best it can be and sell it to a wide ranging audience, or you can make it with a diverse workforce and sell it to a much smaller but broader audience. 

One of them will make you money, the other will get you respect from politically correct morons.

I know which one I'd rather make.

19James89
19James89

@Gelugon_baat @19James89 Carry on trolling and stalking me and I'll phone the Police. 

EasyComeEasyGo
EasyComeEasyGo

Leave him alone Gelugon_baat. I know how you work so stop.

CnConrad
CnConrad

"I can recommend Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn working paper "Gender pay inequality" as a general introduction. In spite of being 14 years old, very little has changed."

Judging by that statement you clearly have no clue about the modern job market. An astronomical amount has changed in 14 years.

I'm willing to bet you have an axe to grind about some perceived wrong in the past that may or may not have actually happened. My wife's 60 year old mother believes the same thing.

I will continue living in 2014 where women can make what they deserve, have children and run a household all with out ever playing the gender card.

crognalsen
crognalsen

@dctcool

I don't consider it stereotyping.  As I said in my post I know there are always exceptions to the rule.  Having lived with a mother and two sisters and working in a library where almost the whole staff is women I think I have an OK grip on what many women have interests in.  I'm sorry you are on a politically correct vendetta to bring down the evil stero typer.  Having played games a lot from my childhood to modern day I can see the impact having more women working on games has had on the industry.  They are a lot more tame now then they used to be.  I don't mean to offend anyone, but I am just saying what I see.  I have nothing against women.  In most cases I have seen they are better people then men I've met.

Dharkanon
Dharkanon

@Pewbert @dctcool  I believe that your argument was the following: money is more relevant in game development than 'political correctness' - and, even if we say that it is factually accurate that 'politically incorrect' games make more money, then I still wouldn't call it a winning argument. It is an opinion, at best, given that there is no way to factually prove that money is better.


What is baffling is that 'political correctness' is not at issue at all in the article. Even your first statement, which touches on the debate of merit as a form of distributive justice (most skilled people get jobs), makes no reference to political correctness. In fact, it is worrying if you associate distributive justice with political correctness, since they are principally different ideas.


All I gather is that you are a supporter of a merit based distribution of resources - the one huge question is what happens when the opportunities to attain merit are unequally distributed in a society... if you claim that this is not the case, then you are at least right in saying that the facts are against you... but maybe you are saying that unequal access to the rewards of merit shouldn't matter (maybe arguing that economies are self-regulating, or something).


If I would tell you that using the word invalid is offensive, then I would be concerned with 'political correctness' - just to illustrate the difference. That's not about distributive justice, but using homogenising, inaccurate, or historically offensive terminology.

dctcool
dctcool

 Keep telling yourself that

Pewbert
Pewbert

@dctcool  Your mom is an invalid.

See kids, when you are losing an arguement, use the "your mom" comeback. Never fails.

And I have quite clearly won this arguement, despite the facts being against me :)

dctcool
dctcool

@Pewbert @dctcool  You missed the part where the game sold 7.3 million units.

Hardly what you'd call "a smaller audience" Especially when compared to The Last of Us which came out around the same time and sold 6 million

The broader audience is actually the bigger audience. Your argument is invalid.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@dctcool  

Tell that to the others. :P

Also, considering Animal Crossing's gameplay and generally family-friendly presentation, it can already be sold to a very broad audience.

Dharkanon
Dharkanon

@CnConrad  I guess we are mixing arguments - statistical evidence on pay inequality and factual explanations on the one hand, and expected gender roles on the other.


About the former: at least read something about this before throwing comments back at me - the working paper I recommended actually shows that you are onto something by saying that it is the types of employment. Approx. 50% of the pay gap is explained through this (but occupation category also included part-time or full-time, shift and salaried work differences, which are also crazily unequal) - race and labour-force experience also explain some, but 45% of the pay gap in unexplained by aspects relating to employment or demographics.


About the latter: constructions of femininity and 'what' a woman or man are meant to 'like' are relevant, since they in part explain differences in occupational and industry category. But, I am not fighting a battle here, I am merely pointing out that it is factually wrong to say that there is no pay-gap or explain it away by saying that it has nothing to do with discrimination.


And the battle is not so much 'for women' but 'against discrimination' - the first way of putting it makes it sound like it is fighting against men. Other aspects involve fighting 'for men' - e.g. issues relating to paternal leave, custody, etc.


And I feel like I have made a reasonable attempt at showing you that your statement was factually inaccurate (both that the pay gap no longer exists and explaining it through occupational category alone), even pointing you to some reading on the issue - take it or leave it. Or better yet, you could also present me with some research that supports your position that I am not aware of, so I might get a better picture of the issue too.

CnConrad
CnConrad

Granted, yes facts are on your side, a pay gap does exist. But, knowing several professional women I find the glass ceiling argument extremely offensive mainly because they all bristle at any one trying to tell them the 'way it is'

CnConrad
CnConrad

Ahh male in your late 20's quoting research made while you were still learning your state capitals.

Nothing screams hipster apologist like that.

The pay gap occurs because of the types of jobs women want not because they are women.

You tell a woman engineer or IT professional she needs you fighting her battles and she will laugh at you.

Dharkanon
Dharkanon

@CnConrad  I am male and in my late twenties (so very much 'in' the current job market) - the reason why I said 'little has changed' is because more recent papers show that little has changed, but almost all papers are sadly behind a 'pay-wall' of academic journals, whereas the working paper is open access... for a 2013 analysis of US Data, see "The Gender Pay Gap: Challenging the Rationalizations. Perceived Equity, Discrimination, and the Limits of Human Capital Models" by Hilary M. Lips (but it is behind the pay-wall)... the abstract says it all though: "A gender gap in earnings has proven both persistent and universal. This paper relies mainly on U.S. data, but a gap between women’s and men’s earnings exists in every country."


I have yet to find a meta-analyses of studies on the subject, but it is effectively a consensus about the fact that a gender gap exists - the explanations for this gap vary, but none claim that the gap is not in part due to discrimination, but the degree of discrimination as a causal factor is debated.


Sorry if I didn't ground my statement in some evidence... interestingly though, a lot has happened since the 70s, and the pay gap narrowed until the 90s... but since then, it has stayed almost unchanged.


Finally, the fact that women often have jobs, run households and are primary care-givers for children is describing part of the problem. This is commonly referred to as the double burden or second shift. Arlie Hochschild & Anne Machung's book 'The Second Shift' is a pretty comprehensive summary.


(I also guess you would have lost that bed)