Xbox boss talks gender, diversity in new interview

July 28, 2015 - GamePolitics Staff

In a new interview with Edge Magazine, Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer took some time to talk about gender and racial diversity in the games industry and what his company is doing about it in its own backyard.

The talk of gender and race came up after Spencer said that the traditional videogame image has been "all sports, broad shoulders and guns."

When asked how that can be changed, he said:

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Poll: How do you feel about not knowing which race and gender you'll play as in Rust?

July 21, 2015 - Andrew Eisen

In the PC survival game Rust, your player character is unique to you.  Using your Steam ID as a key, the game randomly generates your character's look - including race and gender.

So, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

46 comments | Read more

Nintendo flip-flops on 'Super Mario Maker' hand color

July 17, 2015 - GamePolitics Staff

After being told by a room full of Nintendo reps. that the white female hand in Super Mario Maker would be the default, Nintendo has backpedaled a bit, according to Business Insider writer Ben Gilbert. Gilbert noted on Twitter this morning that the backpedalling was disheartening because it made him look like he made a mistake or didn't ask the right questions of Nintendo at the time... but he did. In fact, he specially asked about this issue before writing about it here.

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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 19, 2015 - GamePolitics Staff

Today we honor the life and work of an American hero and patriot, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On August 28, 1963, Dr.

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Intel Pledges $300 Million To Encourage Women and Minorities To Join The Tech Sector

January 7, 2015 - James Fudge

During his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week,  Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that the company will pledge $300 million to be used for scholarships aimed at bringing more women, African Americans, and other ethnicities into the tech sector. The company is partnering with a number of groups to do this including Feminist Frequency, The National Center for Women and Information technology, The Anita Borg Institute, UNCF, Girls Who Code, Society of Women Engineers, the IGDA, NACME, and many others.

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Breitbart.com Thinks 'Battlefield Hardline' Maligns Tea Partiers

August 14, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

Battlefield Hardline is taking a bit of heat today in Conservative circles for using imagery and language that some insist is meant to malign members of the Tea Party.

'Tekken 7' Producer Seeks Feedback on Middle Eastern Character

August 11, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada is asking for feedback on the next title in Namco Bandai's long-running fighting game series. In a Facebook post Harada showed off some early designs for a "Arab" character.

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Crowd Funding Campaign for Holocaust Game 'Imagination is the Only Escape' Launches

September 4, 2013 - James Fudge

An Indie GoGo fundraising campaign has launched for Luc Bernard's Imagination Is The Only Escape, a game about a young Jewish boy named Samuel who uses the power of his imagination to escape the horrors of the Holocaust after the Nazi occupation of eastern France during World War II. To say that the game's subject matter is dark is an understatement, but that's the point of the game, according to what Luc Bernard recently told The Verge.

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Brad Keselowski Credits Video Gaming for NASCAR Nationwide Series Win at Watkins Glen

August 12, 2013 -

Something interesting happened this weekend after Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen: he credited video games for helping him to master the track. Keselowski told Motorsports Talk that he learned to navigate the legendary New York road course by playing video games, and that the knowledge and expertise he gained playing the track in the virtual world translated to success in the real world.

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First Lady Sees Culture as an Obstacle to Higher Education for African American Youth

May 17, 2013 -

First Lady Michelle Obama recently gave a commencement address at Bowie State University encouraging more young African Americans to continue their education. She does so by throwing culture like videogames, television, and music under the bus.

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Accidently Racist: Indie Studio Changes Name of 'Raccoons in Space' Game

May 2, 2013 -

Nnnnice Games, an independent studio operating out of the Netherlands named its "raccoons in space" game "Starcoons," not knowing that the term is considered by some as a racist term. After learning that the title of its game might be offensive to African Americans and people of color, the studio decided that it had to change the name of its game. Starcoons will now be known as Curio's Starquest, the developer announced. The studio also said that it was unaware of the possible cultural issues associated with the game's original title.

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'The Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley River' Hopes to Teach Fourth Graders About Slavery in America

January 11, 2013 -

Ball State University (in Muncie, Indiana) professor Ronald Morris and computer science professor Paul Gestwicki have teamed up with graduate students to create a Unity-based game that teaches fourth grade students about the Underground Railroad (thanks to Polygon). The game is called The Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley River and puts students in the shoes of a runaway slave who must make his or her way to Canada where they can live a free life.

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Poll: Does the Gender or Race of a Game's Protagonist Matter To You?

November 28, 2012 -

Yesterday, Jean-Maxime Moris, co-founder of the studio behind Capcom's upcoming action game Remember Me, explained to CVG why the game's protagonist is a mixed-race female.

"We wanted [Remember Me lead] Nilin to stand out.  I think these sort of issues become self-fulfilling prophesies; people saying that only white males sell so then everyone only does white males."

24 comments | Read more

How Capcom's 'Remember Me' Challenges the Popularity of the White Male Protagonist Stereotype

November 27, 2012 -

In line with a story we published earlier this morning, Computer and Videogames highlights some excerpts from an interview with Jean-Maxime Moris, the co-founder of Paris studio Dontnod. Dontnod is the studio behind Capcom's upcoming action title Remember Me, which features a mixed-race female star as its protagonist.

4 comments | Read more

Kixeye Fires Four Employees after Complaints of 'Institutional Racism'

October 4, 2012 -

Following up on yesterday's accusation by an employee that social game developer Kixeye engaged in "institutional racism," four employees have been fired today. The accusations were made by an unnamed contractor who wrote a blog post under the name of Qu33riousity. He claimed yesterday that he was the victim of racial discrimination and has also seen it directed at others.

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Kixeye Accused of 'Institutional Racism' by Employee

October 3, 2012 -

Social game company Kixeye finds itself embroiled in an allegation of institutional racism this morning after an employee going by the handle "Qu33riousity" detailed multiple instances of discrimination against Kixeye's African American employees in a blog post. That blog post has since been removed, but not before he was told that he was being "too sensitive" and that the comments were "just jokes."

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AC3 Creative Director: Japanese Developers Get a Free Pass from Journalists on Bad Story-Telling

August 17, 2012 -

In a recent interview with Computer & Video Games, Ubisoft's Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin's Creed 3, said that games journalists are engaging in subtle racism when they give Japanese games a free pass on bad or odd story-telling while putting Western games through the ringer. When asked about why Nintendo can get away with endlessly reiterating the same basic stories with games like Super Mario Bros., Hutchinson offered a blunt response.

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Gamers Against Bigotry Succumb to Hacker Attacks, Launch IndieGoGo Drive

July 25, 2012 -

Gamers Against Bigotry, a site that asked gamers to take a pledge promising not to use bigoted language while playing games online, announced that it has lost 1500 signatures due to repeated attacks from hackers. The site has faced some tough challenges from months of repeated attacks from hackers who have done everything from posting "grotesque images" on the website's signatures page, to making it impossible for new visitors to sign on to the pledge.

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Morons on Parade: Slavery - The Game Trailer

September 6, 2011 -

It takes a unique kind of person to create a video promoting an obviously fake video game about slavery, a sad part of our history that the majority of Americans do not find much humor in. Nonetheless, we live in an age where the Internet allows for all kinds of free speech - even the kind we do not agree with, find offensive, or find to be outright disgusting. Still, sometimes you have to look straight into the abyss to see the foolishness of humanity. Perhaps this is one of those moments, so we present the promotional video for "Slavery - The Game."

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3D Games, Motion Controllers, and Motion Sickness

December 23, 2010 -

A Science Daily report called "Motion Sickness Reality in Virtual World, Too" discusses a new study about motion sickness associated with the Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation 3 Move. Clemson University (Clemson, SC) psychologist Eric Muth says that motion sickness from high-end technology that was at one time limited only to commercial marketplace and government training simulations is now in livings rooms across the U.S. This means that, with more access to this technology and the advent of 3D TV, motion sickness may become a more common thing to regular consumers. 

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Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of Aggressive Behavior

December 14, 2010 -

New research by one Dr. Christopher Ferguson from Texas A&M International University finds that depression in young people has more of a correlation to aggressive and violent behavior than gaming does - at least among Hispanics. While the study was narrowed to one demographic, the conclusions are nonetheless interesting.

"Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth," Ferguson concluded. "The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression. Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint."

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Xenophobic Spanish Political Game Taken Down, Developer Blamed

November 17, 2010 -

A game appearing on the website of a Spanish political party, in which players shot down illegal immigrants, was quickly yanked from the Internet after objections to its content.

The game, entitled Rescue, appeared on the website of the Catalan branch of the conservative Partido Popular (or People’s Party). Further describing the game, the Telegraph indicated that the goal was to “shoot down targets including ‘illegal immigrants’ parachuting from a plane and donkeys intended to represent Catalan separatists."

Once culminated, the game urged players to vote for the PP in the November 28 elections.

6 comments | Read more

Consumer Reports: Kinect Works Fine, Requires Adequate Lighting

November 5, 2010 -

Responding to a story from GameSpot which claimed that Microsoft’s Kinect had trouble recognizing the facial features of dark-skinned users; Consumer Reports refuted the problem, stating that the reported flaw was most likely due to low lighting.

Consumer Reports found that “The log-in problem is related to low-level lighting and not directly to players' skin color,” adding that the Kinect camera needs a certain amount of light and contrast in order to determine a user’s facial features.

In testing Kinect, the organization “did not experience any instance where one player was recognized and the other wasn't under the same lighting conditions.”

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GameSpot: Problems with Kinect and Dark-Skinned Users

November 4, 2010 -

A story on GameSpot details the problems two dark-skinned site employees had with Microsoft’s Kinect, the just-released, controller-free add-on for the Xbox 360.

According to the site, the two employees in question had problems with Kinect’s facial recognition abilities. One GameSpoter’s face was recognized “inconsistently,” while when it came to the face of the other staffer, Kinect was “never able to properly identify the other despite repeated calibration attempts.”

To make it even more confounding, Kinect had “no problems” recognizing the face of a third dark-skinned employee. No hurdles were reported with Kinect’s skeletal tracking system for any of the employees, which is good, as it is the primary means of controlling on-screen action.

The problem may or may not be that big of a deal however, as GameSpot wrote:

14 comments | Read more

Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially Insensitive”

October 19, 2010 -

An article on the African-American news site the Grio takes issue with the subject matter of the recently released Namco Bandai Games title Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, labeling the game "hurtful."

The game is set 150 years in the future, during a time when a war has destroyed much of the Earth and civilization, leaving robots more or less in charge.

The game’s main character, named Monkey (pictured), awakens aboard a slave ship as it is about to wreck. Monkey escapes with a woman named Trip, but loses consciousness.

When Monkey awakes he finds that Trip has applied a slave headband to his noggin, which forces him to follow her orders.

The Grio columnist called Enslaved “culturally insensitive,” adding:

31 comments | Read more

Race Politics and First-Person Shooters

October 19, 2010 -

An interesting opinion piece on The Atlantic Wire looks at race politics in video games, focusing on first-person shooters. Author Max Fisher talks about Resident Evil 5, Medal of Honor and Modern Warfare 2, inspired by an essay from Jim Gourley for ForeignPolicy.com.

The thrust of the opinion piece is about the painful transition from conflicts against zombies and fictionalized Nazis to real world conflicts involving real groups of people and how developers portray them. Here's a taste:

19 comments | Read more

Left 4 Dead 2 Writer Calls Racism Charges "Utter Insanity"

August 3, 2009 -

In mid-July GamePolitics reported on Houston Chronicle game blogger Willie Jefferson's assertion that video games are increasingly possessed of "racist undertones."

In support of his claim Jefferson mentioned the much-debated Resident Evil 5 as well as the recently-released Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Jefferson also pointed to Valve's in-development Left 4 Dead 2 (screenshot at left):

I am disturbed by the growing trend of racist undertones that are cropping up in video games.

One of the games that comes to mind is "Left 4 Dead 2." ...Set in New Orleans, players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies - with several of them who appear to be African-Americans. When I saw the first trailer for the game, all I could think about was Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath...

In the wake of Jefferson's charge, a writer for L4D2 has fired back, reports Destructoid:

While visiting Valve this past week, we asked how they felt about the [racism] accusations, and Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek was quite frank with his response.

"Utter insanity," says Faliszek... "There are mixed races of zombies, there are all different races of zombies that you shoot, and since we placed it in New Orleans, that makes it racist? I honestly re-read the [Houston Chronicle] paragraph about five times ... but when two of the characters in your game are African-American, it's a weird thing to be accused of. We're like, 'how does this work'?

"... As far as Katrina goes, if you go down to New Orleans, Katrina's still going on. I mean, it's messed up, it is crazy that the city is still in the state it's in, and we treat that with the utmost respect... It's a place we love, it's dear to our hearts. We would not cheapen it. It's not a brick-for-brick representation of New Orleans; it's a fictional version, and I love that city."

51 comments

Research: Video Game Characters Lack Ethnic & Gender Diversity

July 30, 2009 -

If you are a white male, the chances are pretty good that you will have something in common with the character you play in your favorite video game.

If you are a woman or ethnic minority, not so much.

At least, that's the conclusion drawn by researchers from the University of Southern California, Indiana University, Ohio University and Virginia Polytechnic. The research is published in the current issue of New Media & Society.

Study leader Dmitri Williams of USC commented on the data:

Latino children play more video games than white children. And they're really not able to play themselves. For identity formation, that's a problem. And for generating interest in technology, it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve.

Ironically, they may even be less likely to become game makers themselves, helping to perpetuate the cycle. Many have suggested that games function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

According to the study, only 3% of video game characters are Hispanic; all of those noted were non-playable characters. Ony 10% of characters are women.

African-Americans are more proportionately represented, but mostly appear in sports games or titles like 50 Cent Bulletproof which represent racial stereotypes.

Via: TG Daily

164 comments

Obama to African-American Parents: Put Away the Xbox

July 17, 2009 -

President Barack Obama has - yet again - referenced playing video games as a metaphor for underachievement.

[GP: click here for other recent examples, although Obama has made similar comments going back to at least 2006.]

In a speech in New York last night marking the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, Obama said:

We have to say to our children, Yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades, that’s not a reason to cut class, that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands - and don’t you forget that.

To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences, reading to our kids, and helping them with their homework...

 

It also means pushing our kids to set their sights higher. They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States.

BlackPoliticsontheWeb has the full text of Obama's speech. The Washington Post has coverage of the event, which it termed a "tough love message for [Obama's] fellow African-Americans." The New York Times called Obama's speech "a fiery sermon."

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal took notice of our coverage - and of some comments by GP readers...

182 comments

Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

July 15, 2009 -

Yesterday's edition of the Houston Chronicle's Game Hack blog ponders whether racism is becoming a norm in video game design.

Blogger Willie Jefferson expresses concern over 2009 releases Resident Evil 5 and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (pic at left) as well as the in-development Left 4 Dead 2. RE5, of course, has already been the subject of much debate over its depiction of African villagers as zombies. Jefferson writes:

I am disturbed by the growing trend of racist undertones that are cropping up in video games.

One of the games that comes to mind is "Left 4 Dead 2." ...Set in New Orleans, players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies - with several of them who appear to be African-Americans. When I saw the first trailer for the game, all I could think about was Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath...

The game that really inspired this blog entry was Ubisoft's "Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood." The game starts out with players assuming the role of Ray, a Confederate officer... the Confederacy, as far as I am concerned, wanted to keep their cheap slave labor and the like. I can not stand the Confederate flag... To me, the flag represents hate -- and offends me and many others to no end. [It] made me wonder how much research Ubisoft did for this game...

As a minority, had the South won, I wouldn't be in this position I am today...

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MattsworknameI still hold that not having the origonal cast invovled in any way hurts this movie, and unless the 4 actresses in the lead roles can some how measure up to the comic timing of the origonal cast, i just don't see it being a success08/02/2015 - 12:46am
MattsworknameMecha: regardless of what you think of it, GB 2 was a finanical success and for it time did well with audiances ,even if it wasnt as popular as the first08/02/2015 - 12:45am
MechaTama31I think they're better off trying to do something different, than trying to be exactly the same and having every little difference held up as a shortcoming. Uncanny valley.08/01/2015 - 11:57pm
MechaTama31Having the original cast didn't do much for... that pink-slimed atrocity which we must never speak of.08/01/2015 - 11:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew: If the new ghostbusters bombs, I cant help but feel it'll be cause it removed the origonal cast and changed the formula to much08/01/2015 - 8:31pm
Andrew EisenNot the best look but that appears to be a PKE meter hanging from McCarthy's belt.08/01/2015 - 7:34pm
Matthew Wilsonwhy, let me guess it runes like crap?08/01/2015 - 7:29pm
Andrew EisenInteresting. These throwers are different than the ones we saw in the earlier Ghostbusters prop pics. https://twitter.com/feigfans/status/62754147689817702508/01/2015 - 7:28pm
PHX Corphttp://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1088640 NeoGAF: Warning: Don't buy Binding of Isaac Rebirth on 3DS08/01/2015 - 7:26pm
MattsworknameYou know what game is a lot of fun? rocket league. It' s a soccer game thats actually fun to play cause your A Freaking CAR!08/01/2015 - 7:02pm
MattsworknameNomad colossus did a little video about it, showing the world and what can be explored in it's current form. It's worth a look, and he uses text for commentary as not to break the immerison08/01/2015 - 5:49pm
MattsworknameI feel some more mobility would have made it more interesting and I feel that a larger more diverse landscape with better graphiscs would help, but as a concept, it interests me08/01/2015 - 5:48pm
Andrew EisenHuh. I guess I'll have to check out a Let's Play to get a sense of the game.08/01/2015 - 5:47pm
MattsworknameIt did, I found the idea of exploring a world at it's end, exploring the abandoned city of a disappeared alien race and the planets various knooks and crannies intriqued me.08/01/2015 - 5:46pm
Andrew EisenDid it appeal to you? If so, what did you find appealing?08/01/2015 - 5:43pm
MattsworknameIts an interesting concept, but it's not gonna appeal to everyone thats for sure,08/01/2015 - 5:40pm
Andrew EisenThat sounds horrifically boring. Doesn't sound like an interesting use of its time dilation premise either. 08/01/2015 - 5:36pm
Mattsworknamean observer , seeing this sorta frozen world and being able to explore without any restriction other then time. no enimes, no threats, just the chance to explore08/01/2015 - 5:34pm
MattsworknameAndrew: I meant lifeless planet, Time frame is an exploration game. Your dropped onto a world which is gonna be hit by a metor in 10 seconds, but due to time dilation ,you actually have ten minutes, so you can explore the world, in it's last moments, as08/01/2015 - 5:32pm
Andrew EisenLP is 20, TF is 8 and has an old build available as a demo.08/01/2015 - 5:32pm
 

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