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Session Name:

Three Opportunities to Improve Character Design in the Games Industry


Why have video game characters historically been portrayed in stereotypical ways and what, if anything, have game designers done to confront this issue at their studios? Tapping into rigorous academic research conducted by the speaker, this lecture shares historical trends in game character design over the years and conveys insights pulled from 19 interviews with game designers about how these tropes have been encouraged, maintained, and eventually challenged in professional game studios. This research found that stereotypical and status quo character designs were historically institutionalized as normalized design practices, aided by a largely homogenous (i.e., mostly male and mostly white) labor force in the games industry. Building off these themes, this lecture discusses three key opportunities for industry practitioners and educations to challenge the status quo in game character design and ultimately adopt a more inclusive approach.

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