Last class, Professor asked a question that stuck with me: what are the most inclusive games? That led to a few spin-off questions in my brain: what determines how inclusive a game is? Is what I experience to be inclusive necessarily so for everyone, since I perceive that it should be?
I immediately thought about games where the player is not represented at all. I thought about Roller Coaster Tycoon, for instance, or Sims. In such games the player doesn’t have a character to inhabit. Players become a sort of mastermind god, without a corporeal body. Games such as these take away the concept of identity entirely. This was what my mind posed as an answer at first, but after some thought I came to the conclusion that when identity is totally irrelevant, inclusivity is also impossible.
Then I started thinking about the most inclusive games I’ve ever played– instances in which I totally empathized with the main character and could imagine myself as them. I was surprised to realize that some of the most inclusive games I’ve played feature characters that look nothing like me– I must inhabit male bodies, for instance, or characters of different skin colors. But the key is that they emphasize universal human experiences. They talk about loneliness, or love for friends, or the need to seek safety from harm. On the other hands, some of the least inclusive games I can think of emphasize experiences specific to certain identities. GTA immediately comes to mind. Any player who is not a straight male is bound to experience moments in GTA when they feel alienated from the character they play (many straight males would, too, actually). So I’m led to conclude that inclusivity doesn’t depend on the depiction of the character, but rather the experiences and themes within a game.