So early on when you were talking about Blizzard's values you were talking about providing the most epic entertainment experience possible and the brand is the currency of the company, and also the idea that taking risks should be safe. I'm wondering if you could talk about the relationship between those frameworks and your perceived audience, and the ability of the company to include socially progressive ideas and content as you develop new things for your games.I guess I bring that up because you specifically called out Bioware, for example, for being a narrative focused company rather than being a gameplay company, which I guess I would say is pretty true of their last few big titles, but they're also one of the companies that's at the forefront of including more socially relevant content in their stuff, so I wonder if you could talk about how that plays out at Blizzard with that separate focus you discussed?
So when you're saying socially relevant you're saying the things they've done in their storylines and kind of the inclusion of gay characters and things like that?
That's part of it, but it's not just representing diversity in your narrative content, though that's certainly part of it. I think it really comes down to reflecting the diversity of player experiences, specifically diverse players, but also just the fact you have a lot of different people playing your game and reflecting their desires, experiences, contexts in what you're producing.
Yeah, I wouldn't say that's really a value for us, it's not something we're against, either, but it's just not something we're trying to actively do. I'd say that one of the reasons we do sci fi and fantasy is that we're kids at heart. We're not trying to bring in serious stuff, or socially relevant stuff, or actively trying to preach for diversity or do things like that. I think that sometimes it's not necessarily always the right thing to do, it's just how we develop the game.There's no maliciousness to it, but I'll give you an example where I think sometimes we struggle is our portrayal of women in the game. Because most of our game developers are guys that grew up reading comic books, so what do they draw? They kinda draw oftentimes comic book looking women which is offensive, I think, to some women. It's something that we sometimes have to actively catch ourselves and go, "wait, we need to not make our women characters wear armor that look like Xena or Sonya" or something like that sometimes.But it's a struggle for us because the diversity within our workplace is unbalanced. And it's not because we don't want more women developers, it's just what the industry is. If you look at the industry it is kind of like that, and it's very hard to oftentimes, just use female game designers as an example because I hire game designers, I just don't get the applications so it becomes challenging for us, I think.
You have some interesting alternate outfits for heroes. Roller Derby Nova, especially, caught my eye. On its own, that’s totally fine – just a silly, goofy thing. A one-off. But it got me thinking about how often MOBAs tend to hyper-sexualize female characters to a generally preposterous degree – that is to say, make it the norm, not a one-off at all – and StarCraft’s own, um, interesting focus choices as of late. How are you planning to approach all of that in Heroes?
Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That’s sort of where we’re at. But I’ll take the feedback. I think it’s very fair feedback.
I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it’s a medium that’s notorious – often in a not-good way – for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.
We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.
But it’s not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn’t everyone feel empowered? That’s what it’s about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.
Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.