Blizzard is doubling down on diversity and inclusion when it comes to its own hiring practices.
That’s according to a leaked internal memo from Blizzard President Mike Morhaime, which Kotaku excerpted in a report last night. Morhaime is apparently spearheading a “global diversity and inclusion initiative” intended to spur on the hiring of underrepresented people inside the company — specifically women, who make up only a fifth of employees, and other minority groups, who make up only 14%.
While Blizzard will not operate under strict hiring quotas, employees are being encouraged to seek out and recommend women and minorities who are traditionally overlooked in the male-dominated video games industry. Networking sessions, mentoring groups, diversity training, and gender summits are also on order, along with fostering a women-centered advisory council akin to the LGBTQ council that already exists.
Quantic Foundry researcher and long-time MMO academic Nick Yee has an intriguing blog post out this week titled Dispelling Myths about Female Gamers in which he purports to do just that. Yee has been shuffling the data from over 300,000 submissions to the Gamer Motivation Model project to see what they reveal about female gamers. “Over and over again, we have noticed that cursory examinations of the data often support a gender-normative narrative,” he writes, “but diving deeper into the data reveals far more surprising (and interesting) relationships between gender and gameplay.”
For example, consider the lazy stereotype that women are innately averse to violence or competition in online games, a claim often used to dismiss female-dominated games as casual or not “real” games.
“At first glance, gaming motivations among men and women seem to align with gender stereotypes: Men are primarily motivated by competition and destruction, while women’s primary motivations are completion and fantasy. But this is only part of the story. For example, consider competition—the motivation that varies the most between male and female gamers – for which, it turns out, age accounts for twice the statistical variance than gender does. Or, to put it another way, the delta in the appeal of competition between younger men and older men is much bigger than the delta between men and women.”
Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.
I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?
Future Crowfall warriors might be looking at all of the archetypes (classes) and wondering how theirs will play any different than the rest. ArtCraft’s answer to this comes in the form of combat disciplines: traits that you mix-and-match to create a specific build.
The studio released a new developer stream that discussed how disciplines will be used in the game and a few examples of each. Eagle-eyed players can probably look past the talking developers to check out some of the details on a background spreadsheet.
Another way that ArtCraft will provide diversity is by providing gender variants, different animations, and other distinctive looks for many of the archetypes. “Crowfall has a range of character archetypes and establishing and maintaining the tone and personality of each archetype while providing options for player distinction is not an easy thing to do,” the studio admitted.
Settle in for a long discussion about combat discipline with the devs after the jump!
Remember back when Rust added new skin tones and other secondary attributes that players didn’t get to choose? Because the game just implemented another big variation between players: gender. Female models are in the game, and as with other character attributes, you don’t actually get to choose whether or not you want to play a female character. Your gender is determined based upon your Steam ID.
The update says outright that if you feel like you’re stuck in a gender you don’t want, there are lots of people who already experience that; it’s just that this is now determined by Steam ID rather than birth.
Other changes with this patch include armor and medical fixes, improvements to lighting and grass, and resource gathering. You can check out the full list of patch changes as well as some of the reasoning behind changes on the official site.
Call it “The Great Butt Controversy of 2016.”
If you didn’t see it pop up all over the internet last night, here’s the deal: There was some hubbub around a specific Overwatch character pose that some found out-of-character and sexualized, so Blizzard announced that it would be changing it around. The result? Some players claim it’s pandering to an oversensitive crowd, while others applaud the studio for being willing to make adjustments.
The pose in question was one of the character Tracer looking over her shoulder and accentuating her backside. In a thread on the official forums, one poster mentioned concerns that this pose turned a “fast, silly, and kind” character into a “bland female sex symbol.”
After some discussion, Game Director Jeff Kaplan announced on the forums that the pose would be changed, saying that the art team had been struggling with it and wasn’t completely happy with the pose either.
We’ve been covering Nick Yee-founded Quantic Foundry’s game analytics research as it’s fleshing out the Gamer Motivation Model, which seeks to create a modernized personality chart for gamers. This week, Quantic wrote that in its recent survey of over a thousand gamers, it could conclude that at least in first-person shooters,
“A higher proportion of male gamers preferred aggressive, close range tactics when compared with female gamers. Stealthy, long-range encounters on the other hand are preferred by a larger proportion of women compared to men. Interestingly, both groups were consistent in having the stealthy approach as the most popular answer, followed by close range tactics. An ‘in-between’ approach was the least popular answer with both men and women.”
(There’s much more to the post, including charts and responses by age, so have a look.)
I wondered whether those data might apply to MMORPG players as well. After all, some MMOs can also be played first-person or at the very least in chase-cam mode. As someone who’s played tanks, healers, and ranged in probably equal measures by now, I certainly don’t fit the profile. How about you? Do you think your gender influences your chosen MMO roles and classes?
Star Citizen rebalanced thrusters, hitpoints and weapons in its latest alpha release to the public test server, and the upcoming Star Marine FPS module showed its latest progress. Prompted by NASA’s recent flyby of Pluto, Elite: Dangerous compared its simulation to the real thing. Destiny revealed details of a huge balance patch that will change practically every weapon in the game and should make PvP more interesting. Path of Exile announced its new Emberwake race season, with over 120 race events and a series of in-game prizes to be won. And survival game RUST is in the news again with its plans to randomly assign a gender to each player in an upcoming patch.
League of Legends was forced to temporarily suspend ranked play this week when an instant recall exploit was discovered. Heroes of the Storm revealed the impressive winners of its recent ultiamte fanart competition and released its new immortal character Leoric, The Skeleton King. Valve revealed the prize pool split for Dota 2‘s upcoming tournament, The International, and got a US Senator involved to secure visas for two Russian players. SMITE revealed more details of next year’s world championship to be held in Atlanta and promised that $2 million in prize money will be spread across small tournaments throughout the season.
Read on for detailed breakdowns of the stories above and other news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively, and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed for weekly updates!
This morning’s Daily Grind question is brought to us by Kickstarter donor Tracergeek, who wants to talk about customization in MMOs — specifically, the type that happens in the middle of the game, after you’ve rolled your toon up and played for a bit, like race- and class-swaps.
How important is it for you to be able to change your character’s race, gender and class in an MMO, and which MMO do you feel is best at offering these features to players?
Coincidentally, I have been giving Trove an extended spin. Trove famously allows players to swap classes from cornerstones and hubs, and although you’ve got to unlock the classes and level them separately, it actually works pretty well in that type of sandpark. It’s the same sort of system that Marvel Heroes uses, and it’s not a huge leap from there to great sub-class-swapping games like Guild Wars and RIFT.