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Will "epic entertainment" and diversity ever meet?

The recent statements from Blizzard creative director Rob Pardo and HotS game director Dustin Browder aren't the first missteps from the company on women and diversity. The community has a lot to say. But where do we go from here?

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  1. UPDATE 7/5: Added news about Rob Pardo leaving Blizzard. 
    UPDATE 5/31: Added a section with thoughts from Blizzard employees.
    UPDATE 5/29: Added Rob Pardo's responses.
  2. It all started with a Q&A session with Rob Pardo.

  3. Harper:
    [Including gay characters and things like that is] part of it, but it's not just representing diversity in your narrative content, though that's certainly part of it. I think it really comes down to reflecting the diversity of player experiences, specifically diverse players, but also just the fact you have a lot of different people playing your game and reflecting their desires, experiences, contexts in what you're producing.

    Pardo:
    Yeah, I wouldn't say that's really a value for us, it's not something we're against, either, but it's just not something we're trying to actively do. I'd say that one of the reasons we do sci fi and fantasy is that we're kids at heart. We're not trying to bring in serious stuff, or socially relevant stuff, or actively trying to preach for diversity or do things like that. I think that sometimes it's not necessarily always the right thing to do, it's just how we develop the game.

    There's no maliciousness to it, but I'll give you an example where I think sometimes we struggle is our portrayal of women in the game. Because most of our game developers are guys that grew up reading comic books, so what do they draw? They kinda draw oftentimes comic book looking women which is offensive, I think, to some women. It's something that we sometimes have to actively catch ourselves and go, "wait, we need to not make our women characters wear armor that look like Xena or Sonya" or something like that sometimes.

    But it's a struggle for us because the diversity within our workplace is unbalanced. And it's not because we don't want more women developers, it's just what the industry is. If you look at the industry it is kind of like that, and it's very hard to oftentimes, just use female game designers as an example because I hire game designers, I just don't get the applications so it becomes challenging for us, I think.
  4. Things came to a head with Todd Harper's Polygon piece:

  5. Despite the fact that the MIT Media Lab Q&A with Pardo had been live since the beginning of May, Harper's piece awakened something in the community. (Continuing to add to this as I come across diverse views of the issue.) 
  6. creators say they're building a fantasy world but isn't it worse that their fantasy purposefully leaves you out? #RepresentationMatters
  7. I feel that many men in the gaming industry are not maliciously ignorant but they have no concept of outer perspectives/identities.
  8. Maybe if you made caring a priority, even if you guys got it wrong, more women would play games, and then more would want to make them.
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