We must get our house in order around diversity, urges Shahid Ahmad at BFI event

Devs issue call for more diversity in games

At today’s BFI Video Games Day conference Tiniest Shark developer Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris made a case for games’ potential to represent and explore diversity.

“Games for me are the most exciting medium, and the most expressive medium, and we can use them to put people in other people’s shoes and have them understand and think about things,” she said during a panel titled ‘Diversity, Culture and Representation’ at the event.

“So aren’t games the best medium in the world for exploring difference?” she asked to the audience, later adding "Games should be the battleground here."

Khandaker-Kokoris was joined on stage by SCEE’s strategic content representative Shahid Ahmad, who also made an appeal to developers for more diversity, while making clear the games industry has a responsibility to foster a space where diversity prospers.

“It’s the function of the hyper-connected era that we’re in, that hate mobs get together at frightening speed and attack others,” he said. “Hate mobs that pounce on things early are part of the world we live in today. This is the world we live in, so we have to have our house in order.”

Ahmad also argued the case for introducing what he called ‘creative games development’ at younger ages in education, presenting the idea that when fostered early, creativity develops relatively free of prejudice, which could lead to a future industry representing more diversity in its output.

Also on the panel, chaired by Ukie CEO Jo Twist, was games writer Rhinanna Pratchett, who highlighted the challenge of writers afraid to write for characters of different genders, races and sexualties to their own.

Asked what developers should do about this problem, Pratchett offered a simple solution.

“They should find people who can [write for a diversity of characters],” she concluded, suggesting a greeter diversity of writers is needed on given projects. 

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