King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#1
I wanted to make a sarcastic post about the compartmentalization and dehumanization of characters in media, but I honestly couldn't find a joke that would be as funny as this is ridiculous so instead I'm keeping it straight.


To clarify a few things, yesterday Activision-Blizzard the game company released information on an internal project called the Diversity Space Tool. In essence this tool would be used by video game designers (and others) to give points to their characters based on aspects such as race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, etc with the intent seeming to be that the more points a character scores the more "different" that they are from the norm. In their blog post which you can find here the author mentions that this tool could differentiate " truly diverse" and token characters from one another, the efficacy of this will likely be accessed in the following months as, unless backlash makes this go under, the tool is supposed to launch in Q3 of this year.

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(A screenshot of the tool in action)

Now I don't think that anyone finds this a particularly good idea and I want to keep the visceral disgust a bit at bay by instead talking about the worrying trend coming from a certain region in the world that wants to make all characters within media fit certain quotas. Personally I'm not a fan, but I want to know what others think about this tool and the general trend.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#2
To be frank...
I support the intention behind the development but dislike the idea of evaluating design by group score.
The concept itself encouraged segregation and stereotyping the diverse human ourselves, where we should be a spectrum.
When they try too hard to be inclusive, sometimes, it make things worst.
I dislike Eternals, a movie trying too hard to be inclusive. Too many token characters in it.
And a lot of the companies did the same, after seeing Rihanna's Savage success by inclusive strategy, the Victoria Secret team attempt to up their game in inclusive market. And I found their strategy distasteful. 
Although I myself attempted to be inclusive on my first draft, I dropped the pretentious characters. Because being too much "politically and morally correct" makes the whole story insincere and blant in every way. Some of my sensitivity reader even call my character Agave (the chubby plus size character) to be simply a token character. And readers dislike token characters! I as an author hate writing token characters too! 

So yeah, just my POV.
DrakanNo
by the way, good topic!

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#3
I see zero downsides to having access to an optional tool that can help me ensure that I'm not overlooking the importance of character variance.

I don't see MyFitnessPal as a ridiculous app that's trying to force me to be the next Mr. Olympia, I see it as a way to make sure I eat a salad once in a while.

Activision-Blizzard has way more controversial stuff (Hello, HR) coming out these days than a character creation assistant, but I don't come to RR to be political, I come here to write and read.

DrakanFascinating

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#4
This doesn't surprise me and all things considered isn't a big deal IMO. Call of duty alone has like 10 thousand people working on it.  Every thing is focus group tested and tracked. The player stats such as retention, micro transaction purchase habits, and everything else players do is something they spend a lot of time looking at. It's almost an art how good Activision Blizzard is at finding the best methods of making money for their games.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#5
DandyJordan Wrote: I see zero downsides to having access to an optional tool that can help me ensure that I'm not overlooking the importance of character variance.

I don't see MyFitnessPal as a ridiculous app that's trying to force me to be the next Mr. Olympia, I see it as a way to make sure I eat a salad once in a while.

DrakanFascinating
The idea that people and things should fundamentally be judged by their appearance, orientation, etc. instead of or more than their character might be a teensy bit problematic in my opinion. Even giving such an inkling is worth the controversy, at least to me. DrakanThinking


Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#7
Paradoxcloud Wrote:
DandyJordan Wrote: I see zero downsides to having access to an optional tool that can help me ensure that I'm not overlooking the importance of character variance.

I don't see MyFitnessPal as a ridiculous app that's trying to force me to be the next Mr. Olympia, I see it as a way to make sure I eat a salad once in a while.

DrakanFascinating
The idea that people and things should fundamentally be judged by their appearance, orientation, etc. instead of or more than their character might be a teensy bit problematic in my opinion. Even giving such an inkling is worth the controversy, at least to me. DrakanThinking
If that was the idea, then I'd agree. However, I don't think that's the purpose behind the tool. I think that's one way to interpret the tool's intended use, albeit an oddly specific one.

Hammers can be used to murder, but they're usually used for nails. Just because it might bruise some thumbs doesn't make this a crime scene.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#8
DandyJordan Wrote:
Paradoxcloud Wrote:
DandyJordan Wrote: I see zero downsides to having access to an optional tool that can help me ensure that I'm not overlooking the importance of character variance.

I don't see MyFitnessPal as a ridiculous app that's trying to force me to be the next Mr. Olympia, I see it as a way to make sure I eat a salad once in a while.

DrakanFascinating
The idea that people and things should fundamentally be judged by their appearance, orientation, etc. instead of or more than their character might be a teensy bit problematic in my opinion. Even giving such an inkling is worth the controversy, at least to me. DrakanThinking
If that was the idea, then I'd agree. However, I don't think that's the purpose behind the tool. I think that's one way to interpret the tool's intended use, albeit an oddly specific one.

Hammers can be used to murder, but they're usually used for nails. Just because it might bruise some thumbs doesn't make this a crime scene.
Considering that points are given based on those aspects I find it hard to imagine that that's not part of the idea. It's not out yet though so a more detailed analysis on release is probably justified.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#9
It is just an option. If you do not think everyone in your story is not too similar, then don't use it. As the other dude said, it is just a reminder tool you can use. 

Some aliens invaded the world, and you didn't realize that everyone fighting back the bad guys in your story are only the westerners. Maybe your book will benefit a bit if you include the Asians and Latinos fighting too. No harm in reminding you about that.

TBH I've never heard about this until you mention it. And frankly, I'm raising my eyebrow at this for the same reason I raised my eyebrow when people notice that the last Oscar is "Too White." Diversify if you believe your story needed it. Don't diversify if you believe your story doesn't need it. It is so simple that people don't need to make this political all over again.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#10
Paradoxcloud Wrote:
DandyJordan Wrote:
Paradoxcloud Wrote:
DandyJordan Wrote: I see zero downsides to having access to an optional tool that can help me ensure that I'm not overlooking the importance of character variance.

I don't see MyFitnessPal as a ridiculous app that's trying to force me to be the next Mr. Olympia, I see it as a way to make sure I eat a salad once in a while.

DrakanFascinating
The idea that people and things should fundamentally be judged by their appearance, orientation, etc. instead of or more than their character might be a teensy bit problematic in my opinion. Even giving such an inkling is worth the controversy, at least to me. DrakanThinking
If that was the idea, then I'd agree. However, I don't think that's the purpose behind the tool. I think that's one way to interpret the tool's intended use, albeit an oddly specific one.

Hammers can be used to murder, but they're usually used for nails. Just because it might bruise some thumbs doesn't make this a crime scene.
Considering that points are given based on those aspects I find it hard to imagine that that's not part of the idea. It's not out yet though so a more detailed analysis on release is probably justified.
If I went out of my way to use this tool, I'd hope it uses a point system - it would hard to get feedback otherwise.

Unless the writing cops show up at my door to take away my library card for not using it and scoring 10/10, I don't have any issue with its existence.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#12
I would likely never use it, but I can see why a company like Activision-Blizzard would find it useful. Their teams are huge. This is an organizing tool that allows those hundreds of people to get a quick overview without anybody putting in extra effort. 

Sure, there's more to a character than their appearance, but this is just a tool that points out statistics and makes people jobs easier. 

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#13
While I cannot speak to how exactly Blizzard used this tool it strikes me as pretty absurd to reduce characters down to a literal "diversity score" or checklist. It would seem to me that incautious application of a tool like this would lead to poorly written or tokenized characters- "Okay, we've got plenty of non-white and gay characters, but no poor ones! Quick, add someone!" I'm not personally offended, nobody is making me use it. It just comes off as the kind of thing that would be in a parody skit a few years ago (and, to be tinfoily and cynical, is possibly only being talked about to distract from Activision-Blizz's own shitty work environment and employee abuse). Of course this tool could be used well, but I still think it leads down a pretty reductive path.

P.S. I hope no one takes this as a "sJwS bAd" sort of argument, I'm all for more diverse rep in media, I'd just rather it be quality, well-written rep rather than tokenism to check off marketing boxes and avoid getting canceled on twitter. I like to think I've got a pretty diverse cast in my cyberpunk story, both for verisimilitude and because there's no reason not to. I just try to write my characters as characters and not scores on a fucking Stand Ability chart.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#14
I hate the idea that anything and everything can be put down to a number. If that were truly be the case, then something is really fucked up. 

Like let's give this an example. If we were to put, say, a 1 to someone's looks compared to a 10 on a 1-10 scale, what does that mean exactly? Is beauty not in the eye of the beholder? What about something like gender identity? What relation does that have at all to anything?

Basically, no. The intent is there. The outcome is shite.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#15
I thought it was something of a joke when I heard about it at first, honestly.  Taking a look at it, I can see the why.  Why they made it, what they think it could do for them.

As a writer, and especially a writer of sci-fi, occasional fantasy, and suchlike, it is not for me.  I try and keep current issue politics out of my stories.  For those that are concerned with such things, and incorporate the political connotation of diversity into their stories, I can see them embracing the tool.  

It won't stop a good writer from making interesting, engaging characters.  Does it *help* though?  For me, no.  

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#16
Race: Antartic
Age: 101
Cognitive Ability: Retarded
Physical Ability: Blind, Deft, vegetated
Body Type: Morbidly Obese
Facial Feature/ Beauty: One eye extra on forehead
Gender Identity: Intersex
Socioeconomic Background: The 1% rich
Sexual Orientation: Objectophillia
Culture: Inuit

The chatacter can score super high and it will be included as a hero with zero personality since they are retarded and vegetated. Since it is rare to have such combi in hero group. Now, how should the character background story to be told in order to show they are intersex objectophilia? 

Okay, now can you see the potential problem? What makes a person evaluate a character based on those QUALITIES THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PERSONALITY? In the end you only have a token character who said to represent the very minority but in a bad way that does more harm then good.

Indeed, it is yet to wait for the release. But this tool might not be available for public because it is designed for their employees, for their character designers. And such tool kills the creativity. Pushing the designer to focus on making more zero personality token characters. And that's sad.

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#17
I think this sort of thing seems inherently ridiculous, but it's definitely very emblematic of what happens when a form of art becomes a major business. Business culture, out of necessity, wants tools to quantify and summarize things as much as possible. The people making financial decisions in these corporations are neither going to have the inclination nor the time to look deeply into each character and see if they are written well; they're going to set out a goal (we want more diverse characters) and want tools that quickly quantify this for them. These sorts of tools that try to pin hard numbers on abstract or vague concepts are not unusual at all in other arenas of business (no one would bat an eye at, say, a restaurant developing a similar tool to measure whether their spread of available menu options had broad enough appeal), but they always begin to quickly seem farcical once applied to somewhat artistic endeavors. I think this one seems particularly obnoxious to writers because nobody wants to dream up a character and then go OH BOY LET'S CHECK OFF THE BOXES TO MAKE SURE THIS CHARACTER HAS ENOUGH DIVERSITY POINTS; this sort of thing is obviously soulless. But soulless quantification of artistic qualities is sort of the inevitable reality of business interacting with art. 

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#18
CloverCloverClover Wrote: I think this sort of thing seems inherently ridiculous, but it's definitely very emblematic of what happens when a form of art becomes a major business. Business culture, out of necessity, wants tools to quantify and summarize things as much as possible. The people making financial decisions in these corporations are neither going to have the inclination nor the time to look deeply into each character and see if they are written well; they're going to set out a goal (we want more diverse characters) and want tools that quickly quantify this for them. These sorts of tools that try to pin hard numbers on abstract or vague concepts are not unusual at all in other arenas of business (no one would bat an eye at, say, a restaurant developing a similar tool to measure whether their spread of available menu options had broad enough appeal), but they always begin to quickly seem farcical once applied to somewhat artistic endeavors. I think this one seems particularly obnoxious to writers because nobody wants to dream up a character and then go OH BOY LET'S CHECK OFF THE BOXES TO MAKE SURE THIS CHARACTER HAS ENOUGH DIVERSITY POINTS; this sort of thing is obviously soulless. But soulless quantification of artistic qualities is sort of the inevitable reality of business interacting with art.
I really could not agree with you more!

I wish these corps would just focus on telling good stories instead of making everything an agenda. Do you know how George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan came up for the ideas for Indiana Jones? They all three sat in a room and talked about it. They all threw ideas together and recorded the session. You can download the the transcribed manuscript. It's an amazing read and a ton of ideas were talked about, some of them pretty wacky. I suggest anyone download and read it if you want a good look at how these professionals made this work of art that has lasted for decades and is in fact, a classic.

You can feel the passion of these guys have as they brainstorm. It's amazing!!!

Re: King’s Diversity Space Tool - What do you think

#19
My stories take place in a Solar System colonized by humankind in the 60s. This kind of tool is REALLY important to be, ans I have made my own.

I have to show a melting pot of nations, people, languages, communities mixed together (or not) for a century. A character could be from any background and religion. That pilot? Here's a Italian-Jew-Mongolian with an Irish accent because Shamrock Town where he was born is an Irish colony. That tall lady with blond hair and blue eyes? She's Philippino. And a cyborg. Sexual orientation and political views spiced it even more.

Moon-cities and space station could be built around existing cities: Callisto being Chicago with the Callisto Bulls and the Sears Towers; or complete mix: Neo-Babylon, NYC but Japanese. 

In the end, this kind of tool makes you great unique and flavorful characters IN APPEARANCE. It suits perfectly my need. But it may not be for everyone. And the parameters (point system) should be adapted. 

However, does it make the characters interesting? No. That's another layer of work. Same with your story. But it could help.