The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has shared guidelines on creating inclusive games, which it has developed in collaboration with Facebook Gaming. The organization pointed out the main principles of diversity that developers should follow to make their titles more appealing to different audiences.

Image: Renee Gittins, Executive Director of the IGDA

The IGDA published the document earlier this month. Facebook Gaming director of product design Bre Miller and IGDA executive director Renee Gittins also shared more information with GamesBeat.

According to the IGDA, developers should not only include a diverse cast of characters in their games but also follow inclusivity principles in team building, game mechanics, accessibility, and working with the community.

Miller thinks that diverse teams tend to make more diverse games. “Diversity of thought, creativity, and experience” lets developers create games that can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

“When you think about a diverse team of professionals, combined with inclusive brainstorming exercises, you unlock ideas earlier and hopefully at a more cost-effective point in the development process,” Miller said.

“Most people enter the games industry not because they fall into the career, but because they’re passionate about games,” Gittins added. “The players of today are tomorrow’s game creators. It’s important that the industry see this as an unprecedented opportunity for creativity on every level.”

What things should devs pay attention to while making inclusive games?

  • World building. The game environment influences user experience, so it is important to take into account the cultural and historical features of a certain setting. It is also crucial to remember about the correct representation of clothing, character appearance, and the way they interact with the game world.
  • Characters. Creating characters that spark empathy and emotions desired by different groups of players can benefit the story and motivations within a game. It is important to carefully work on their personalities, gender, relationships with other characters, as well as their cultural and mental traits.
  • Accessibility. It is impossible to make a game that will be accessible for everyone, but developers shouldn’t create unnecessary barriers for players. A user should be able to choose button mappings, text size, and game speed, and a game itself should be accessible for different groups, including the ones with color blindness and hearing problems.
  • Audience consideration. It is important to consider both intended and potential audiences while designing a game and its mechanics. Developers should pay attention to the level of violence, the depth of mechanics, and the language used by characters. Adding additional elements to a game that can be appealing to the widest audience possible might also be a good idea.
  • Player character. The more players can relate to and identify themselves with the main character, the better, so developers should offer the full range of traits, including appearance, gender, and romantic behavior, if the character doesn’t have a story-driven set of preferences.
  • Community. Developers should fight toxic and negative behavior among players, suppress harassment and abuse of any form, and moderate the community of their game. The IGDA also urges studios to promote good players and celebrate positive behavior, as well as to track feedback from different groups.
  • Marketing. If a game’s promo campaign skews heavily in favor of only one type of audience, the game will only be adopted by a very narrow group of people. Developers should also consider the reach and audience for any placement or medium, and make their marketing language as inclusive as possible.

According to the IGDA, improving diversity is crucial for the growth of the games industry. However, some teams still find it difficult to look at their biases and challenge their assumptions.

The full report by the IGDA and Facebook Gaming can be found here.

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