Video game developer walks back ranking functionality of diversity space tool
Video game developer Activision Blizzard backpedaled on a new diversity tool, scrubbing its site of references to the “ranking” function amid backlash.
The “diversity space tool,” which would allow users to rank video game avatars for their diversity according to criteria of sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, culture, body shape, age, and ability, would be an “optional supplement” and “is not being used in active game development,” Activision Blizzard wrote Friday amid backlash to its Thursday blog post touting the ranking system offered within its King arm.
“We want to see ourselves represented in games, we want the barriers to access lowered, and we want games to be a welcoming environment for all,” the game developer said in the update.
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“Decisions regarding in-game content have been and will always be driven by development teams” and not solely by this tool “in isolation,” the developer said.
In the last five years, 79.2% of the protagonists in the top-selling games were white male avatars, according to a study from 2021 cited in the blog post.
“An important principle for us at King is that all players should feel welcome,” King Globalization Project Manager Jacqueline Chomatas said. “The intention is to inspire game teams not just at King, but throughout the Activision Blizzard King network, to think outside the box and challenge preconceived notions around how characters should look and act.”
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Activision Blizzard hired a new chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer last month in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
The tool, which was developed in 2016, remains in beta testing.