The most inclusive games

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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 Tycoonfor instance, or SimsIn 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.

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2 thoughts on “The most inclusive games

  1. I agree that the experiences and themes in a game influence the level of inclusivity we feel when playing it. However, some characters discussed in class (such as Bayonetta and Lara Croft) were said to have been physically portrayed in a manner that made some people feel excluded, although they liked some themes in those games such as female empowerment. Perhaps there is a way game developers could thread that fine line between player depictions and game themes in order to increase the extent of inclusivity in their games?

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  2. I like and agree with the points you mention about what makes a game more inclusive. It is much easier to feel included in the game if the player can easily identify with the main character. This is also true in my gaming experience, as I have felt the most inclusion during the game Minecraft. In this sandbox video game, the player has the ability to build tools, create buildings, and much more in a 3D generated world. In the game, the player has the ability to choose any skin to represent their character, allowing the ability to uniquely represent oneself. Here, I can easily empathize with the character as I have the freedom to chose how he looks. These games agree with your conclusion, that inclusivity is a product of the experiences and themes within a game.

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