Back in the day when I was into video games, the issue of diversity never occurred to me. I played games like Tekken and Mario Kart, happily changing between a variety of characters from an Italian plumber to a kickass Japanese woman, a mushroom and a Russian robot commando.

I was spoilt for choice for diversity, and never once thought that I needed a character ‘like me’ to feel represented. The idea of playing video games was to escape to a fantasy world and be ‘someone else’ for a while.

Image credits: Fightincowboy

But perhaps that’s because I was a young white male, and had an infinite number of role models to look up to in all areas of media and western culture. I took representation for granted, and so the thought that others might long for their own heroes to relate and aspire to never crossed my mind. Luckily, we now live in more enlightened times. Or do we?

Ellie (The Last Of Us)

Image credits: thelastofus

Apparently, these days there is “a lot of fuss over gaming “forcing diversity” and people getting upset that a character is gay, trans, etc.” In a viral Twitter thread, self-described “straight white dude” gamer FightinCowboy decided to explain why this fuss is unjustified and give his opinion on why diversity in gaming is important.

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Billie Lurk (Dishonored: Death of the Outsider)

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Image credits: Fightincowboy

Dorian (Dragon Age: Inquisition)

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Battlefield 1 – In The Name Of The Tsar

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Chloe And Rachel (Life Is Strange: Before the Storm)

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Image credits: Fightincowboy

Image credits: Fightincowboy

But perhaps one has to look beyond fictional characters to find the real problem. According to the games industry trade body TIGA, just 14% of people working in the UK games industry are women. Over in the U.S., the International Game Developers Association suggests that only 3 percent of game developers are African-American, a figure that has risen by only 0.5 percent in the past decade. In comparison, 76 percent of developers are white.

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Image credits: FaeLalune

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So while this booming industry is giving a whole generation of people cultural cues and nuances, telling stories that are avidly followed by millions and millions of fans, these stories are being told from an overwhelmingly white, male perspective. Is it any surprise then that efforts to introduce diverse characters that better reflect our everyday lives appear forced? If we want true diversity in gaming, we need more diversity among the people that make them.

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Speaking to Bored Panda about the reaction to his posts, Fightincowboy himself seems to be a little worn out by the experience of going viral. The content creator, who himself loves games like Sekiro, Bloodborne and Dark Souls, has clearly received quite a bit of hate over it, sadly.

“I knew it was gonna be a hot take but didn’t expect that much engagement on it,” he told us. “More than anything, I blame it on politics. As much as I try to keep politics out of my content it is inevitably part of culture, and to that extent I think the current political administration has policies that empower and embolden those who embrace hate over love.

“People can debate and argue all they want but when white nationalist hate groups are using “Make America Great Again” as their battle cry, it’s pretty f**king obvious there’s a problem.”

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What do you think? Do you feel that there is ‘forced diversity’ in gaming? Are videogames inclusive enough? Should they even have to be? Scroll down to read the rest of the reactions below, and let us know what you think in the comments.

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Image credits: ENDERWS

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