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Nintendo: More women on development teams = greater diversity of ideas
News reported by 
Editor-in-chief
March 29, 2014, 22:04:02
 
This isn't exactly a shockingly novel idea, but it's nice to see someone from Nintendo openly stating it in a recent Wired.Com interview.

To be honest I wasn't even aware that the director of Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Aya Kyogoku) was female, let alone "almost half" of the development team, but it probably does make some sense that the Nintendo game that has seen the most widespread appeal between both genders has come from such a diverse development team.


Animal Crossing: New Leaf Director Aya Kyogoku

Some interesting quotes:

Producer Katsuya Eguchi (director of the original Animal Crossing):

“We wanted to make sure that the content allowed all the players to express their individuality,” he said during the GDC talk, “that it is was something men and women of all ages would enjoy. So in order to view the project from a variety of perspectives, we made sure the team was made up of people from various backgrounds and life experiences.”

Director Aya Kyogoku:

“Having worked on this team where there were almost equal numbers of men and women made me realize that [diversity] can open you up to hearing a greater variety of ideas and sharing a greater diversity of ideas,” she told WIRED. “Only after having working on a project like this, with a team like this one, was I able to realize this.”

I do have to admit, I am curious how much this attitude extends beyond the Animal Crossing development team at Nintendo? But it is a positive sign nonetheless.

Source: Wired.Com interview

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Posted: 03/29/14, 22:04:02  - Edited by 
 on: 03/29/14, 22:03:50    
 
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Zero said:
@Xbob42 Yeah but do they have any teams that specifically went out to diversify to appeal to both genders and ended up with a near 50% female ratio?

No, because that's dumb and not how talent works. Arbitrarily and artificially stretching your team to try to reach a 50% gender ratio I'd say creates sexism or bias, rather than eliminating it.

Tranquilo said:
@Xbob42

I don't know if you mean it as such but the concept of feminine and masculine is another social construction that we should strive to abolish. There is nothing inherently female about flowers or pink outside of the values we as a society dictate.

Pardon me while I step off my soapbox. I'm done.

Mmm, not entirely. While social construct definitely plays a role here, men and women are absolutely different on a genetic level. Women are more in-tune with emotions and social subtlety, they have a slightly different sense of smell and sight, men will typically be stronger and more aggressive, and tend to get along better because getting along with each other is how we survived, but in a less subtle sense, so we can miss a lot of minor cues few women would ever miss in social settings. I suppose technically that's also a 'social construct,' but in a much broader sense, not something we simply built up over the past 50 years.

Anyway, my point wasn't that "Flowers and pink" were feminine to begin with, Flower and Journey are simply much more abstract and emotional games at their core, aggression means nothing in them and there's a lot of subtlety, which to me makes them far more feminine in nature. Doesn't mean men can't enjoy them -- not at all.

And to bring it full-circle, Flower and Journey were made by Thatgamecompany, whose two main leads are --you guessed it-- a man and a woman. But not arbitrarily so, that's how they naturally began their studio. I don't think forcing a certain "diversity" in your studio is ever a good idea. Get folks who are talented and interested. Diversity will often follow naturally.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 08:28:40  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 08:39:52
@Xbob42

You have said it well; while it is true that men and women are different on a genetic level, saying things like woman are more emotional while men are more aggressive because of their respective hormones is painting a broad picture of what women and men ought to be. When you have an emotional man, he is seen as less of a man by many individuals (I've noticed this specially in the, shall I say "ghetto (formally known as) black" community where things like aggression or being good in a fight are often indicative of a mans status as such as opposed to being a dependable individual or being true to your word. But like I've said on more than one occasion, this is something that is more complex than it would seem initially because of generational poverty, widespread ignorance, government sanctioned prejudice, etc.

While I cannot deny the evidence of women having more of a certain hormone than men that may cause a certain effect or vice-versa, I think that the antidote for all of this confusion would be for people to open up a discussion and think more about these topics rather than just taking them at face value.

Knowledge is powerful, but without reason it is like a weapon without bullets. That is why I Owe My Allegiance to Reason; that is a pen name I'm working on, although I am reluctant to go with it since it spells Omar and there are already a couple of famous artists with that name. It's a work in progress. With that said, I don't entirely like that metaphor since it includes guns, but I think you get my point.

Oh, and P.S. you have a good point about bringing talented people from all over the place and the diversity will follow. Diversity for diversity sake is just as bad as innovation for innovation sake, otherwise we might end up with things like useless motion controllers that add nothing substantial to gameplay...


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 08:55:58  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 09:00:16
Xbob42 said:
Zero said:
@Xbob42 Yeah but do they have any teams that specifically went out to diversify to appeal to both genders and ended up with a near 50% female ratio?

No, because that's dumb and not how talent works. Arbitrarily and artificially stretching your team to try to reach a 50% gender ratio I'd say creates sexism or bias, rather than eliminating it.
No one is asking for that.

Xbox said:
Get folks who are talented and interested. Diversity will often follow naturally.
There are plenty of stories out there showing that that's not enough. Women developers get quickly fed up by the sexism of their coworkers and decide that the games industry just isn't worth it.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 17:56:50  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 17:59:39
@Xbob42 Who said anything about arbitrarily? Deciding that you want to have a diverse team to appeal to a diverse audience is anything but arbitrary. Do you really feel, for instance, that a group of 10 white men has the same chance of creating a game that really understands women and non-whites and what appeals to them than a more diverse group does? I mean, if you want to take the position that "diversity doesn't actually matter" and a group of 10 white males is just as capable of appealing to a diverse audience as a diverse group of people is you can, but I think all evidence is against you there. And if it does matter, then it's not arbitrary, period.

I know a guy who is making a game about gang violence in southside Chicago. Guess what he isn't doing... relying on his white suburban experience and the experience of his white suburban friends to make the game. He didn't go out and find a bunch more white suburbanites to help him, he went out and found people with actual experience in the subject he is trying to tackle.

Maybe most games aren't as specific in scope, but if your goal as a developer is truly to make games for more than just your own demographic, you should probably be looking outside of your demographic for some of the talent on your team.

Xbob42 said:
I don't think forcing a certain "diversity" in your studio is ever a good idea. Get folks who are talented and interested. Diversity will often follow naturally.

Except that it mostly doesn't in the real world video game industry, and you just end up with teams primarily run by and composed of white males. Or in Japan, Asian males.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 19:10:44  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 19:25:50
Tranquilo said:
@kriswright

Wait, what, I was under the impression that there were more women than men in the world, like 3:1, or is that just the United States?

At any rate, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it is good to have more diversity, but on the other hand, the fact that we are in the year 2014 and this is news shows how advance we really are as a society (globally) and it's saddening really.

I was reading through a wikepedia article on Qatar the other day (well, earlier today actually) and it stated that Qatar is an Islamic state and follows Islamic doctrine and applies it to law. Apparently in family court, a mans testimony is worth half of that of a man (the same thing similar to inhritance law, which dictates that a woman gets half of whatever a man gets). Now we have to look at this firstly from the context in which these laws first came about, it what was essentially a lawless territory with no government. Women were often sold into slavery/prostitution after a husband or protector passed away. Some women did inherit wealth, but plenty were still beheld to the whims/desires of the clan leader who often times didn't want to bother (specially if the widow had kids). Islam then brought a unified system of inheritance than was widely accepted (at first reluctantly) by male Muslims. Thus everybody was happy.

Of course nowadays, seeing how we live in a civilized and globalized society it seems appalling that these laws still hold water given the progress in philosophy, parliament, government, etc.

To summarize, a lot of the teachings in Islam (and Christianity) are antiquated, and honestly, at this point in time the world would be better off in there were no religions and everybody read a book every now and again.
Or maybe not as many women are interested in game development than men. Just saying. Wow.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:34:01
@WrathOfSamus777

But even if that turns out to be the case, you have to ask why. And then you realize that video games marketing almost goes out of its way to make women feel unwelcome, and it's a chicken or the egg scenario. Or they're being made to feel unwelcome by the male gamers. Or by other women who have internalized the "games are not for girls" message. So it's not as simple as "they're not interested".



Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:38:18  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:42:11
Guillaume said:
@WrathOfSamus777

But even if that turns out to be the case, you have to ask why. And then you realize that video games marketing almost goes out of its way to make women feel unwelcome, and it's a chicken or the egg scenario. Or they're being made to feel unwelcome by the male gamers. So it's not as simple as "they're not interested".
Or maybe women just aren't as interested in making games than men. Why does there have to be some inherently sexist reason for it? While there are more women playing games than ever before, hardcore gamers are still predominately male.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:41:57
@WrathOfSamus777

I'm not saying that I want more women developing games (although that would be nice, it it would mean men would be generally less prejudiced) but what I was saying is that it is a shame that in this supposed age of enlightenment, a woman being the lead designer on a videogame (or having mostly women work on a game) is seen as news. I just want to get to the stage where it shouldn't be just like hearing some random dude is the head of Epic Games for example, or that half of their staff is female. Likewise in anything else in life. On one hand, if it is a historical accomplishment it should be mentioned, like being the first female president, but it shouldn't be the defining factor. Affirmative action is a solution, but it is not the solution.

But it seems you missed the point.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:44:42
@WrathOfSamus777
There are obviously social factors to the way we all develop our respective interests. The alternative theory would be implying that there is a biological element to this, that people born with a womb are naturally less inclined to be interested in making games than those born with a set of testicles.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:48:00
@WrathOfSamus777

I think you just have to listen and pay attention to what women gamers and developers are saying and the reason why there "has to be some inherently sexist reason for it" becomes hard to deny. As I said, it's a chicken or the egg thing. You say gamers are predominantly male, but that might be because games predominantly target men and boys, and games marketing almost only target men and boys. And here we have a studio composed of 50% men, 50% women, and lo and behold they managed to draw in a huge audience of men and women for their games. So you can't handwave away the argument with "maybe women aren't interested". It's not that simple.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:48:10
Tranquilo said:
@WrathOfSamus777

I'm not saying that I want more women developing games (although that would be nice, it it would mean men would be generally less prejudiced) but what I was saying is that it is a shame that in this supposed age of enlightenment, a woman being the lead designer on a videogame (or having mostly women work on a game) is seen as news. I just want to get to the stage where it shouldn't be just like hearing some random dude is the head of Epic Games for example, or that half of their staff is female. Likewise in anything else in life. On one hand, if it is a historical accomplishment it should be mentioned, like being the first female president, but it shouldn't be the defining factor. Affirmative action is a solution, but it is not the solution.

But it seems you missed the point.
Well, I'm not really sure what your point is when you go on a historical rant about how women have been oppressed over the years and somehow tie that to misogyny in the gaming industry. The video game industry has historically been male-centric. That is fact. That isn't because women have been shut out or encouraged not to get involved, but because males have just been a lot more interested in gaming than females have been. That is still true, but it is changing somewhat with the rise of casual and Facebook gaming. So when you hear news about women having a more assertive role in a game like Animal Crossing, it's going to be news, and it will probably be celebrated by most people who are in the gaming industry or follow it.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:52:19  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:53:18
r_hjort said:
@WrathOfSamus777
There are obviously social factors to the way we all develop our respective interests. The alternative theory would be implying that there is a biological element to this, that people born with a womb are naturally less inclined to be interested in making games than those born with a set of testicles.
That's a good question. I don't know why exactly males are more interested in games than women, but they definitely are. If you look at the short history of the gaming industry, it's an undeniable fact.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 20:55:12
Guillaume said:
@WrathOfSamus777

I think you just have to listen and pay attention to what women gamers and developers are saying and the reason why there "has to be some inherently sexist reason for it" becomes hard to deny. As I said, it's a chicken or the egg thing. You say gamers are predominantly male, but that might be because games predominantly target men and boys, and games marketing almost only target men and boys. And here we have a studio composed of 50% men, 50% women, and lo and behold they managed to draw in a huge audience of men and women for their games. So you can't handwave away the argument with "maybe women aren't interested". It's not that simple.
OK, that might be true, by I don't think targeting men and boys with your games is a form of misogyny. It's just your target audience. And has the Animal Crossing team always had that 50/50 ratio of men and women? Because I know for a fact that Animal Crossing has always been popular with women. I was working video game retail when AC came out on GameCube and I saw firsthand how much women liked that game.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:00:50
Read the article, please. I know it's long, but it answers some of the things you say are "undeniable facts". You can't approach this with an attitude that you already have all the answers.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:06:20
@WrathOfSamus777

You're obviously set in your ways and I can already tell that discussing this with you will take me nowhere. I could make a case for society pushing certain things unto children and kids being a byproduct of marketing and peer pressure (games are supposed to like videogames and cars, girls are supposed to like playing with dolls, etc.) as well as pointing out that things like business and politics have "traditionally" been a male-centric thing (in part because they refuse to let women join, such is quite often the case on videogame culture, despite your best efforts to ignore it) but honestly have better things to do with my time.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:10:04
@WrathOfSamus777
Fact as it may be (in the sense that we can agree the situation exists), when we put the biology hypothesis aside, the next natural step would be asking ourselves why this scenario has developed, which is where information like @Guillaume is talking about comes in. The rabbit hole goes deep. This is a matter of how we raise our children, how we treat them differently depending on their gender, and how we enforce certain gender roles. It's a complex social construct we're dealing with here.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:11:46  - Edited by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:12:27
@Guillaume
OK, well when I get around to it, maybe I'll read it. If you're unwilling or unable to articulate how you feel yourself, I guess there really isn't much of a discussion here.

@Tranquilo
Oh boy, here we go. Express an opinion that goes against the left-wing, feminist-washed, status-quo and the hostility begins. Yeah, go play something and be happy.

@r_hjort
Why is it so important that we know why it developed? Why does it even matter? Is it really that all-important that there is exactly a 50/50 ratio of men and women in the gaming industry?


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:24:43
@WrathOfSamus777
I haven't said anything about 50/50 ratios, or any other numbers for that matter. The numbers themselves aren't a goal, but they could be a sign of better terms within the industry. What does matter -- what I think is really fucking important -- is equality. That everyone, regardless of gender identity can be truly free to develop the interests and ways of expression they want, without being forced into certain behaviour. That every form of cultural expression can be available, accessible and even welcoming to everyone that wants to be part of it. That we are all able to develop and live on our own terms side by side as equals. At the end of the day it's a matter of democracy, and especially so considering the vast amounts of money that exist within the gaming industry, but that's a discussion for another time.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:55:30
r_hjort said:
@WrathOfSamus777
I haven't said anything about 50/50 ratios, or any other numbers for that matter. The numbers themselves aren't a goal, but they could be a sign of better terms within the industry. What does matter -- what I think is really fucking important -- is equality. That everyone, regardless of gender identity can be truly free to develop the interests and ways of expression they want, without being forced into certain behaviour. That every form of cultural expression can be available, accessible and even welcoming to everyone that wants to be part of it. That we are all able to develop and live on our own terms side by side as equals. At the end of the day it's a matter of democracy, and especially so considering the vast amounts of money that exist within the gaming industry, but that's a discussion for another time.
I completely agree. And I like your definition of equality. However, other people's definition of equality really would be to achieve that 50/50 ratio no matter what. The politically correct term they use for it is Affirmative Action. It's really sexism/racism in reverse.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 21:59:54
Hahahaha!

Whatever.


Posted by 
 on: 03/30/14, 22:30:11
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