BioWare lead writer on being gay and a developer
David Gaider says, "I contribute my viewpoint to the mix like anyone else, but it's hard to find a mix between pushing for things you feel are right to do and being 'that guy.'"
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BioWare lead writer David Gaider, who has worked at the role-playing game studio for more than a decade, has written a new blog post about what it means to be gay and a developer. Gaider explained that it's fine line to walk between contributing his viewpoint to internal discussions and being "that guy."
"I don’t think of myself as a 'gay developer.' I'm a developer who happens to be gay, and there's this one point of intersectionality where my personal life becomes relevant to my work life…and it's not easy to figure where your responsibility lies," Gaider wrote.
"I contribute my viewpoint to the mix like anyone else, but it's hard to find a mix between pushing for things you feel are right to do and being 'that guy'…the one that gets dismissed whenever he brings up a topic because that’s 'his thing,'" he added. "What point is too little, or too much? I have a whole ton of other responsibilities on my plate, so at what point am I focusing too much on this one thing when I have so much else to do?"
Gaider also said he regularly faces challenges related to his own biases.
"These are the same people for whom the mere existence of a gay character, or a plot that deals with gay subject matter, really anything that forces them to acknowledge that homosexuality so much as exists, is going to be a personal insult" - David Gaider
"There's also an element of second-guessing which comes up, if I'm perfectly honest," he said. "If I'm proposing something involving gay content, or looking at someone else's proposal which includes it, there's a part of me which wonders if I'm not unduly biased--if I'm not steering my project towards being viewed as 'the gay game' by the audience, or filtering the content through a personal lens it might not deserve."
At these points, Gaider said he works hard to remind himself that there are players who will encounter any gay content and automatically describe a game as "the gay game."
"These are the same people for whom the mere existence of a gay character, or a plot that deals with gay subject matter, really anything that forces them to acknowledge that homosexuality so much as exists, is going to be a personal insult," he said. "I remind myself that it's not that much to include, and really it's very little in comparison to the entire rest of the game…and thus, considering what it means to those fans who receive that validation almost nowhere else, it's not too much to demand a bit of tolerance and compassion from the portion of the audience for whom this content is not even intended."
Overall, Gaider said he would like the industry to move forward to a place where "this sort of thing" does not even need to be discussed. But for now, conversation on this topic is healthy, Gaider said.
"The more that gets said, the more it reinforces my belief that there's a place for such discussion right now, that it's needed, even amidst all the other concerns that I must deal with day-to-day which have absolutely nothing to do with who I choose to date," he said.
"That's how attitudes change, after all. I'm not going to pretend we already live in tomorrow, but acknowledging the criticism and striving to do better is--as an industry--how I think we'll eventually get there," he added.
Finally, Gaider acknowledged that "BioWare isn't perfect" when it comes to inclusivity in games. But he said he appreciates BioWare and owner Electronic Arts for their "willingness to consider what it takes to be inclusive."
"If I didn't have bosses who considered this important, and they didn't have bosses who considered this important, it wouldn't happen," Gaider said. "Really it would only take one person in that chain to go, 'no, this isn't something I’m comfortable with,' and it would stop right there."
EA recently received a perfect score (100 percent) on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for demonstrating best-in-class policies, benefits, and practices for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.