Activision's video game diversity tool draws backlash

83 15/06/2022

Activision Blizzard’s unveiling of a new software program meant to increase diversity in the casts of video games has become a textbook example of what not to do.

Driving the news: The publisher announced the “Diversity Space Tool” last Thursday as “a leap forward for inclusion in gaming,” but by Friday evening had scrubbed those words and more from its online announcement, as developers from the company began slamming it.

Activision's video game diversity tool draws backlash

Details: The tool starts users with a blank graph, asks them to establish a norm in the middle for a character in a given game genre and has them plot out how different a given character is. It will create a larger shape for a character who is, say, non-white, queer or has a disability.

But the announcement, which included images of the tool that showed numerical values assigned to characters’ ethnicity and sexuality, drew backlash online and across games media. It was labeled “mildly dystopian,” “creepy” and “a glorified Dungeons & Dragons character sheet that makes no ... sense.”

Between the lines: One of the early architects of the tool says it was not meant to put a score on diversity or replace “common sense” when developers are making a character in a game.

What's next: The Diversity Space Tool is not being used in active game development, Activision said Friday.

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