BioWare gameplay designer Manveer Heir has called for a revolution in the way video games depict the world and tackle the issue of identity.
Polygon reports that in an impassioned speech greeted with applause at GDC, Heir argued that video games – like any other creative industry – are not tasked just with representation but also with engendering change for the better.
"Wherever we may 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,” he said.
Going on to question the industry's treatment of "misogyny, sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and other types of social injustice" the developer argued that "these negative stereotypes effect the identity of individuals in these groups – they affect the way people think and treat others in the real world and [they] perpetuate the social injustices that occur in these different groups".
Added Heir: "We need to stop giving into the realism excuse especially when most of our games are fantasy games and not historically accurate.
[Instead we should] question whether realism even makes any sense for our game. If it does, then we need to make sure that the realism isn't boiled down into such a simplistic model that it creates more problems.
"We should use the ability of our medium to show players the issues first hand, or give them a unique understanding of the issues and complexities by crafting game mechanics along with narrative components that result in dynamics of play that create meaning for the player in ways that other media isn't capable of."