"Are we requiring the female protagonist to work harder and sell more in order to prove herself?" asks Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider, in this GDC 2013 video about sexism and sexuality in games, free courtesy of GDC Vault.
In examining his own career, Gaider takes a brief look at how romantic characters evolved from Baldur's Gate II to the Dragon Age series. While he recognizes not all games can or should be all things to all people, he believes the industry could be less dis-inviting of players who would otherwise be paying customers.
He urges those who choose to design minority characters to consider their roles and purpose in the game. Additionally, he suggests those of privilege to seek out possible groups affected by design choices and talk to them, or if security requires it not leave the office, to hire diversely. Their unique viewpoints, he said, should be considered "assets," not "affirmative action."
Session Name: Sex in Video Games
Speaker(s): David Gaider
Company Name(s): BioWare EA
Track / Format: Design
Description: Games have reached the point where realistic portrayals of sex and adult relationships are possible, but what does this mean to us as developers? How much responsibility do we have in addressing issues of sexism and sexuality, and are we inadvertently making statements about what is acceptable, even when we don't mean to say anything at all? Our industry is struggling with a conflict between the desire to be taken seriously as an art form, and the desire to avoid addressing social issues because what we make are "just games." These things have implications on our sales, and while they can be addressed, it can only happen if we are willing to acknowledge that greater discussion of the topic within the industry is merited.