Why does it matter who makes our games?
A couple days ago we were covered by “The Advocate” (click me), and as you might have guessed, that raised a bit of commotion from people about why personal information about me was relevant. Why does it matter who makes games? As long as they are made?
I figured this was a great subject and a good chance to show just how it impacts Bloom (and really, what we are trying to achieve making games at all).
It’s no secret that the games industry, by and large, lacks diversity. In this case, that is gender diversity. This is actually a huge shame as it limits the stories and points of views different types of people bring to the collective table of gaming.
Considering that Bloom is dealing so heavily with an extremely delicate issue rooted in fundamental biological gender differences (birth and maternal love), it is simply advantageous to have someone a bit more “tuned in” to the issue of gender at the helm.
Now, before I go on, I just want to be clear that being aware and sensitive to these issues doesn't mean we will be bonking people over the head about it. Instead, all of what I’m about to point out translates to extremely simple shifts in the storyline or treatment of characters. Being respectful of differences in games isn't difficult; it simply requires a little awareness.
So, let’s focus back on what this means for Bloom.
Representation of Female Characters -
Obviously the mother in Bloom is one of the central female characters, and it would be easy to have her role be nothing more than a vapid caregiver devoid of character.
Upon hearing this, here is what one person assumed –
“The most prominent female character doesn't actually do anything but give love and support. Mothers are consistently reduced to this throughout movies.”
Shockingly, the mother character throughout the story in Bloom is actually a developed PERSON. She sets out on her own agendas throughout the game and does far more than simply support the main character. That we have come to expect less from games in handling a subject like this is exactly my point in the sensitivities different types of people bring to projects.
But, let’s take a prime example of “the normal way” and “the Bloom way” of handling a driving story point. ~slight spoiler alert ~
While I was writing the story, I needed a drive for the main character (in the hero’s journey, this is the “call to adventure” early in the game).
“The normal way” of handling this would have been to simply kidnap the mother character (a trope we see so often in games). If you analyze what message this sends, it isn't very good for women.
“The Bloom way” is to give the mother a reason to travel back to the “bad guys”. This is her choice and something she “must do” of her own will.
As you can see, either one of these get you to the same situation of driving the main character to follow the mother to the enemy. Though, this small change completely reshapes the personalities of the character and the role they play in the game.
Pregnancy in Gaming –
Often time in games (and movies) pregnancy is treated with a rather inconsiderate way. Here is a great video on the issue that covers the subject pretty well (check out the rest of her videos if you have the time, some great insights to our industry).
In Bloom, while the game begins with the birth of the main character, we take great care to make sure the issue is handled with the respect it deserves.
The art –
This is the easiest one to talk about (since not much needs to be said). The differences in the way I create concept art and models is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, notice how the female characters aren't half naked with giant breasts? Yea, this is a pretty easy one to be aware of. ..I’m kind of surprised this is even “different” to treat them with that level of respect.
To see more artwork for Bloom, check out www.studiofawn.com
Summing Up -
Basically, because I’m the one in charge of the story, and the art, and the overall direction of the game; everything is tinted by my own experiences and sensitivities. It means I can make a more thoughtful game (I'm a thoughtful person :), something that represents the characters respectfully and pushes the game further in its storytelling. The characters aren't reduced to empty cliches and are instead given full personalities and drives making them seem even more alive and relatable.
This is a game that deals with some very delicate subjects. It is my experiences in life which equip me to be aware of these issues and treat them as they deserve to be handled. Everyone has their own voice they bring to a project, this is mine.