'Women are the new core,' says Microsoft narrative designer

"The world is changing, it has already changed, and we have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with it," says Tom Abernathy.


A narrative writer for Microsoft Studios has said that "women are the new core" and that creating more diverse stories, including more female characters and ethnicities, will make for better games.

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Speaking as part of a presentation at GDC 2013 (written up by GamesIndustry and Polygon), Tom Abernathy--who has worked on Halo: Reach, The Saboteur, and Destroy All Humans--said the games industry hasn't kept up with today's social culture and that the market for video games is changing at a pace that developers and publishers aren't keeping up with.

"Our audience is leaving us behind," Abernathy said. "The world is changing, it has already changed, and we have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with it."

Abernathy pointed to various studies that show the diverse makeup of modern gamers, including research by the Entertainment Software Association and casual game developer PopCap which states that adult women now make up 30 per cent of US gamers.

"Women are not a small special market on the fringe of the core," Abernathy said. "Women are the new core."

Abernathy also said that more diverse games would be good for the business of the games industry, because more diversity would bring in a wider audience and therefore generate more money. "But you need to persuade people that it's OK, and won't hurt sales but might help them," he said.

"Nobody in the room admits to being against making characters female or nonwhite," he added. "But they're scared because they don't know how to defend that choice to their bosses."

"Our industry, our art, and our business stand to gain in every sense simply by holding a mirror up to our audience and reflecting their diversity in what we produce," Abernathy said.

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