Director Tule McNally In Electronic Arts’ Inclusive Design, she chooses her words carefully when we talk about creating different characters for video games. Growing up in Germany, McNally is no stranger to the international video game industry. Before joining EA, she worked at Square Enix, Sega and Bioware. McNally’s team at EA assists with character development and public communication from underrepresented groups.
Her caution is warranted — Activision Blizzard was torn to shreds a month before our interview for its approach to reducing video game diversity, a way of assigning numerical scores to the marginalized, and turning identity into a sort of scorecard , which developers can use to determine which people they should include (or exclude) from the role roster. McNally is still happy to talk about EA’s inclusive design framework, though she’s quick to stress that the company isn’t taking a legalistic approach to diversity.
“It’s really a loose framework of guidelines and design ideas that we customize based on interactions with each game team,” McNally said. She points to the team behind Maxis Studios The Sims 4 (The ability for players to customize their Sims pronouns was recently added) As part of the company, the company has seen success creating content with a diverse player base in mind and doesn’t require much help. “Some other gaming teams may be more at the start. They may need more support, education and hand-holding,” she said.
EA released in 2018 Battlefield V Backlash for placing women in combat in World War II. Nonetheless, through a collaboration between the Pacific Expansion Development Team and the company’s Asia Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group, the foundation for the company’s approach to inclusive design at scale was laid.an intensive review process Battlefield V The downloadable content covers everything from the initial trailer and storyboard to miniature weapon trinkets and player skins. In addition to its employee resource group, EA reached out to geopolitical advisors for contextual authenticity.
After helping lead a volunteer initiative Battlefield V, McNally made a business case for the continued use of the inclusive design framework and presented it to Laura Miele, COO of EA. As a result of that meeting, the company created a new position for McNally: Director of Inclusive Design. Speaking of her current four-person team at EA, she said, “Two of them are focused on game accessibility. The other two are more focused on cultural sensitivity and representation, as well as working with game teams.”
Volunteer staff and a new internal team complement the work of external professional consultants. “We knew we needed this kind of guidance,” McNally said. It’s a fight against arrogance, not a tradeoff.
While some conservative consumers may react negatively to the prospect of inclusive character designs, it’s not the case that video game stories are approached from multiple perspectives. if only Care about fairness. Inclusion is also good for business. One goal of EA’s Inclusive Design Framework is to stimulate discussions with developers throughout the game creation process. It doesn’t make financial sense to wait until late in development to start raising issues that may require time and resource-intensive fixes.