Next Mass Effect developer says games need to move beyond race, gender stereotypes

BioWare developer Manveer Heir’s GDC talk explained why games should move beyond stereotypes.


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Gameplay designer on the next Mass Effect at BioWare Manveer Heir spoke passionately at GDC this week about why games should move beyond presenting certain groups as stereotypes.

"Why should we reject stereotypes? Not only is it lazy, but it's fairly boring,” Heir said, as quoted by GamesIndustry International. “We play so many games that use the same stereotypes. I get fed up with the same old story and characters in every game. I know there are others like me, I talk to them all the time. For me, these stereotypes are contributing to the creative stagnation in our industry. But I also believe we need to reject stereotypes as a social responsibility to mankind."

Heir said that this is one of the biggest areas of growth in the industry, and while developers might make a lot of missteps along the way, it doesn’t mean that they should stop trying. He also rejected the notion that games have to feature traditional protagonists because it makes them more realistic.”If we want to make meaningful games, if we want to avoid turning away a significant portion of our potential audience, if we want to be a successful medium that is grown-up and not stuck in adolescence, then we need to stop falling back on the realism excuse and use realism responsibly and not as a default."

Heir ended his talk by calling developers to action, saying that the only way to solve this problem is for them to challenge the majority and the minority perception of how we deal with race, gender, sexual orientation, and all other sources of social injustices.

“This is the way to push the art form,” he said. “This is our way to challenge ourselves and others. Wherever we stand today as an industry, I am confident that we will stand somewhere far better tomorrow as long as you right here are willing to be an agent of change.”

In December 2013, we heard that the next Mass Effect is already playable and that it’s “fresh but recognizable.”

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