Category Archives: Games

“The Last of Us 2 Ellie is First Openly LGBT Triple-A Protagonist”

ellie the last of us 2 lgbt protagonist

“We’ve seen queer characters in video games before, but The Last of Us 2‘s Ellie is probably the first openly LGBT+ protagonist in a triple-A game. In the new trailer that opened the Sony E3 conference, Ellie is seen in a romantic relationship with a character named Dina, and the two share a kiss.

Ellie being LGBT+ was revealed in the first The Last of Us DLC Left Behind, where she serves as the player character and forms an intimate romantic relationship with the character Riley. But with Ellie being the protagonist of the entirety of The Last of Us 2 and the trailer showing a big gay kiss, we’re finally seeing some queer representation with a protagonist in the mainline story of a triple-A game, something that hasn’t occurred outside of the indie sphere or in supplementary media, not in the actual game…”


“Nintendo Says Diversity was ‘Extremely Important’ for New Switch Fighter Arms”

“Later this month, Nintendo will launch Arms on Switch, a fighting game with an eclectic cast of characters reminiscent of Blizzard’s megahit shooter Overwatch. While the games are built on different genres, one key similarity between the two is the variety of their rosters. That was by design.

“As this is a game where characters fight each other, we thought that it was extremely important to have this kind of diversity for the players,” explains art director Masaaki Ishikawa, “so that they had something to latch on to.”

The cast of Arms is fairly small by fighting game standards. There are 10 fighters in all, including several who aren’t human. But while the developer says it treated diversity as an important aspect of the character design process, Ishikawa believes Nintendo can do even better in the future.

“Our keywords in developing these characters were the fact that they have stretchy arms, but also their own unique personality,” he says. “So we’re not sure if we reached the level of diversity that we could have, but moving forward that’s going to be something that we take into account with our character design.”

Arms launches on Nintendo Switch on June 16th.

“Overwatch’s Search for Diversity”

“Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan recently gave a speech at DICE on the importance of creating games that are inclusive. Following his speech, I sat down with him to talk some more about this subject. I wanted to hear about the process and the challenges of creating games that step outside video gaming’s character confines of overwhelmingly white, straight, male heroes.

Game making is a creative process, an amalgamation of individual ideas and biases into a collective consensus. Games are consumed by people with their own passions, frustrations and desires. These games are also subject to international censorship laws and the conservative media’s outrage machine.

We’re told that it’s impossible to please all the people all the time, but this has turned out to be a thin excuse for gaming’s lack of diversity. For a long time, developers and publishers have satisfied themselves with pleasing the small slice of humanity they feel comfortable portraying. Not coincidentally, this male, white and East Asian demographic is also dominant in development, retail, publishing and, yes, journalism.

“There’s always going to be someone upset with things that we do,” Kaplan says. “We know we’re not always going to get it right. But it’s about trying to be welcoming to a lot of people and thinking about others…”

“EA CEO Discusses Diversity in Games and Teams That Make Them”

“Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson has spoken up to discuss diversity and representation in the Battlefield publisher’s games and among the teams who make them. In an interview with The Verge, Wilson said the makeup of the gaming community today is far more diverse than it used to be.

“Representation is really important,” he said. When I started playing games, we could squint and see 200 million players. Many of those players were 14-year-old boys playing in their mother’s basements. That was really what gamers were. There was this negative connotation about what being a gamer meant. Today the average age of a gamer, I think, is about 35. Nearly 50 percent of them are female, and certainly gaming transcends all forms of culture and gender and background, both socioeconomic and ethnic background.”

EA’s ambition when thinking about representation inside of its games is to “capture the true nature of the community that’s engaging in that content,” he said, adding that EA is already doing this.

“When you look at some of our games today, you see that we have strong female leads, we have strong black leads, we have strong Latino leads, we have young leads to older leads,” the executive explained. “It’s really important as we design games, and that wasn’t really any mandate that we made as a company, and it won’t be any mandate that we make going forward.”

Instead of being a mandate from EA higher-ups, a push towards better inclusivity occurred organically, Wilson said. “It’s really just the creators inside of our organization saying, ‘Hey, I’m looking at who’s playing our games. We know that they want to look into the games that we make and see people like them so that they can better relate to those games. We want to capture that…”


“‘Overwatch’ Game Developers Find Creativity in Diversity”

“When the makers of the globe-hopping video game “Overwatch” were coming up with the backstory for a character with the ability to freeze enemies and erect ice walls, their initial inclination was to make her homeland a stereotypically chilly place, someplace like Iceland, Canada or Norway.

“That’s what you would expect,” said game director Jeff Kaplan. “We asked ourselves, ‘What if she was from somewhere else? What if she was from China? How would that look?’ It’s not your normal expectation, and that’s what is cute, adorable, endearing and exciting about that character.”

Inspired by Chinese ice sculpture festivals, “Overwatch” lead character concept artist Arnold Tsang crafted a look for Mei, the bespectacled climatologist among the 21 characters of various races, genders, nationalities and sexual orientations which players can portray in the superhero-inspired multiplayer game.

Mei’s unlikely heritage and ability to encase her body in a chunk of ice aren’t her only unique attributes. She doesn’t sport a busty, Barbie-like physique that most female characters have in video games.

“From a visual standpoint, we want every character to have a different silhouette, not just because that’s more interesting to look at but because you want to be able to know which character is coming at you from a distance when you’re playing,” said Tsang. “With that sort of philosophy, it’s easy to embrace diversity.”

For years, the has been criticized for relying on stereotypes and not depicting a wider array of characters. Many games invite players to construct their own avatars, but a new wave of multiplayer games such as “Battleborn,””Paragon” and “Overwatch” are providing dizzying rosters of defined characters—each with different looks, abilities and histories.

The initial line-up of 21 heroes for “Overwatch” features 10 men, eight women, a pair of robots and one genetically engineered gorilla. (By contrast, the original “Mortal Kombat” featured six men and one woman when it was first released in 1992.)…”

“Expand Your Universe with Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s New Video Game”

“Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is entering the video game business. His new game, Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents: Space Odyssey, is an educational title developed to encourage players to explore space and science.

Although in early development, it’s being designed as a building game. Space Odyssey asks players to create their own galaxies. While there are elements of MineCraft and Civilization baked into the experience, Mark Murphy, co-creator and developer of the game from Whatnot Entertainment, said it’s something unique.

Murphy said the gameplay mirrors our universe, which is growing every day, inch by inch, minute by minute. The game allows players to build and grow solar systems – even galaxies. Players can also explore galaxies created by other players, including prominent scientists and fictional world-builders like Tyson, Bill Nye, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Peter Beagle.

By succeeding in science and exploration-based challenges, players, who transport themselves in spacecraft they design, will obtain valuable assets, gadgets, minerals, knowledge and tools to enhance the colonization of their planets.

Real physics, virtual universe

Murphy said this is a game of science future that utilizes real science and real physics. It harnesses these to imagine what the future of space travel, exploration, terra-forming, colonization, and ship design could be.

“Part of the gameplay will allow you to grow a planetary system,” Murphy said. “Its size and scope is relative to the level of challenge you would like to undertake. You can grow and mature these planets as much as you’d like, creating colonies, ports, mining structures, undertake trade of elements you discover/mine or invent or innovate. We are adding strategic partners that will consult with us on design and tech possibilities, including Bigelow Aerospace and the National Space Society to name a couple…”


“Rise of the Tomb Raider Shows How Lara Has Changed Over 20 Years”

“Noah Hughes, franchise creative director at Crystal Dynamics, believes that Lara Croft’s story is just getting started. The Tomb Raider franchise is turning 20 years old, but the reboot of the famous adventure character is still barely tapping into the stories about the formative years of the swaggering Tomb Raider, Hughes said in an interview with GamesBeat.

The Tomb Raider franchise has sold over 46 million copies worldwide and inspired one of the most successful video game film adaptations in history, with a trio of Angelina Jolie films grossing over $300 million at the global box office. Now Square Enix is celebrating 20 years of the icon, with the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration on October 11 on the PlayStation 4 and PC. It will come with a new downloadable content mission, Blood Ties, where you can explore Croft manor.

The action-adventure game has DLC from the past years, as well as numerous extras that go beyond last year’s Xbox exclusive, which earned numerous awards. It includes a new Lara’s Nightmare zombie combat mode, an “extreme survivor” difficulty level, and five classic Lara skins. These are all nice things for PlayStation 4 fans, but you shouldn’t miss the point about Lara’s story of female empowerment, self-reliance, and determination. Rise of the Tomb Raider is yet another example of how story takes center stage in the best blockbuster games.

Here’s an edited transcript of our talk. Check out our previous interview with Hughes here.

GamesBeat: Tell us what you’re doing for the 20th anniversary of Lara Croft? 

Noah Hughes: With the opportunity to release something like a definitive edition of Rise of the Tomb Raider, we wanted to include all the DLC, everything you could have gotten up until this point. But we also wanted to make sure to cater to that theme of 20 years of tomb raiding, bringing in some nostalgic elements and classic elements…”