Activision Blizzard has come under fire today over its announcement that a new tool will soon be rolled out across all of it teams that will be used to rate video game characters on their diversity. This tool, aptly named the Diversity Space Tool, will rate characters in games such as Overwatch on several different metrics, those being age, physical ability, cognitive ability, beauty, body type, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, socioeconomic background, and race, giving them a rating from 0 to 10 for each one.
This tool was announced via an official blog post on the Activision Blizzard website (thanks Game Developer), and was apparently developed by employees at mobile developer King during off-work hours. King's globalization project manager Jacqueline Chomatas explains that the tool has been developed in an attempt to stamp out stereotyping while characters are being worked on, although the tool's rollout has not gone down well with other developers.
As an example, Ana from Overwatch is used in Activision's blog post. For culture and race, she is given a 7 due to her being Egyptian and Arabic. She's also given a 7 for her age and a 4 for her physcial ability since she's sixty and only has one eye. For everything else she's given either a 0 or a 1.
While there's likely no malicious intent, it does reinforce the notion that diverse characters are something out of the ordinary. Most of the issues folks have with the tool is that it uses a straight white male as the baseline, and other ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities are given what are essentially points on how different they are from that baseline. It's a pointless tool that won't change much, while simply hiring more diverse voices would have better results.
Activision Blizzard hasn't yet commented on the backlash, but we'll keep you updated.
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