Blizzard President and Co-Founder Apologizes for Games’ Lack of Diversity
A lack of strong, female characters along with some rather sexist comments have lead to Blizzard’s president apologizing for his company’s lack of diversity.
Joystiq reports that Michael Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, has apologized on behalf of his company for a recent history of controversial views some would find sexist along with an apparent lack of strong female characters in the current lore of Blizzard titles. Some of these sexist views include a comment made at BlizzCon 2013 that Aggra, the wife of Thrall, isn’t coming to the Outland of the past in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. Chris Metzen, a veteran designer, writer and voice actor at Blizzard, explained Aggra wasn’t making the likely journey to her ancient homeland of the past because “that honeymoon is over, it’s more of a boy’s trip,” indicating that the fierce, female warrior has become a domesticated housewife.
When recently asked about diversity at a talk in MIT, Rob Pardo explained that diversity wasn’t Blizzard’s biggest priority when it comes to making titles that specifically focus on engaging game mechanics. Pardo has recently parted ways with the company. And you can’t forget Blizzard’s April Fool’s joke which featured a female Draenei, one of the most underutilized character types in Warcraft, redesigned with lazy eyes and a bigger bust size.
It was because of these views and jests, along with some of the writings of World of Warcraft’s in-game characters, that Blizzard fans have started to notice why women are not accepted, even openly ridiculed, in Blizzard’s titles, despite making up a large percentage of its player population. In particular, Starcunning, a longtime Blizzard fan, specifically wrote to Morhaime about why she’s never playing a Blizzard game ever again, mentioning many of the sexist incidents involving Blizzard products and employees previously mentioned. What she didn’t expect, was that the Blizzard president was attentively listening to the formerly devoted fan of his company and wholeheartedly responded to her comments.
Morhaime recognizes and acknowledged Starcunning’s frustrations and promises to fix them for the sake of all gamers everywhere:
We are very conscious of the issues you raise and are discussing them more than ever, at every level of the company, in an effort to make sure our games and stories are as epic and inclusive as possible. Blizzard’s employees form a broad and diverse group that cares deeply about the experiences we are creating for our players. And we know that actions speak louder than words, so we are challenging ourselves to draw from more diverse voices within and outside of the company and create more diverse heroes and content. We are also actively looking at our story development and other processes to ensure that our values are fully represented. We’ve always believed that positive, lasting change comes from examination, discussion, and iteration, and this applies as much to story as to gameplay. There is no reason why inclusivity should come at the expense of an amazing game experience.
Just based on that little piece of his response, we admit that Morhaime handled the proper way it should have been done, unlike what Nintendo did in its responses to the LGBT community about Tomodachi Life. While we don’t expect Morhaime to handle all of his employees this tightly, we’re glad to see that he sees the problem and is working to fix things. We definitely hope to see Yrel become more like the Joan of Arc character she is meant to be like and wish to see Aggra visit her native lands and meet her ancestors.
“There have been times when we’ve been seen or painted as being uninterested in hearing feedback or making changes. I want to be clear that this goes against the philosophies and core values on which Blizzard has been built and continues to operate,” Morhaime said. “We will always listen, and we will always work hard to make games that appeal to as many people as possible.”