Video games have always strived for realism, and for them to feel real they need to include a variety of people. Like our world, and like the universes of science fiction and fantasy, there are tons of different people and creatures. Variety is truly the spice of life, and video game realities would suffer without it, just like we would in our every day lives. I relish in knowing many kinds of people, many cultures, and am always striving to encounter more. It might be the writer in me, but I love learning about people's lives and what makes them tick.
It's not just me though, as there are many gamers who seek things out that they otherwise wouldn't know about because it's interesting. Don't we all want to see new things and new people in our video games? One of the biggest appeals of blockbuster games, like Mass Effect, are the many different kinds of alien species that are introduced. This diversity keeps things interesting.
Diversity doesn't always have pervasive. Sometimes it only takes one character that we haven't seen before to broaden our horizons. Prey did something subtle recently by including a character of the name Sarah Elaza. She's the ship's chief of security and she is an Ethiopian Jew. Ricardo Bare, Prey's Lead Game Designer, created her because he wanted to learn about someone very different from himself. By including her in the game, he was able to do just that. His recently learned knowledge was then passed onto the audience. This is a small example of how we can continue to learn about those around us through diverse games.
Another example is one of my personal favorites and taken from Dreamfall Chapters. The episodic game was released by Red Thread Games and features two different playable characters. One is a girl named Zoe living in a cyberpunk-esque future. The other is a male, Kian Alvane, who lives in a fantasy world where magic exists. Between the two worlds, the “real” and the fantastic, many different characters are introduced. Some are human or humanoid, and others look completely different, like one such female who looks like a blend of a human, antelope, giraffe, and maybe even dinosaur. The game even makes a point to bring issues of diversity to the forefront.
There are many characters who introduce themselves by what they are or where they are from. One old woman comes from a line of mole people, a fact that she is very proud of. By communicating with her during quests, we learn about her culture and her people. Another character, Enu, talks about where she is from when we first meet her. In her nervous babble, we hear about some culture traits different from the playable characters'.
It's games like Dreamfall Chapters and Prey that are changing the way we look at games. They're allowing for more types of people to be included, and that's great. We should always be continuing to learn, grow, and look outside of ourselves. By seeing the world in as many ways as we can, we better ourselves and those around us. It's awesome that video games are able to do this for us in a natural way. We can have a ton of fun while we are exposed to those that are different from ourselves.