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Creating balanced gameplay through inclusivity

Tülay McNally took to the stage at Pocket Gamer Connects in Helsinki to talk about her role at EA and bringing diversity to games

Creating balanced gameplay through inclusivity

Tülay McNally is the global director of inclusive design for Electronic Arts with a background in the gaming industry having worked with companies such as Bioware, Sega, and DICE.


The video game industry continues to grow as more people than ever are playing video games, be that hardcore or casual, so ensuring that the titles reaching players contain diversity is something the industry needs to keep at the forefront.


McNally leads a team at EA that works across the studio's many games to make them more inclusive. She is also part of the Positive Play Group which put in place positive guidelines to help ensure that the gaming community feels safe, fair, and inclusive.


During the talk, a Newzoo report on diversity was mentioned which shows that in the US 46 percent of gamers are female, proving that the old stereotype that only men play games has long passed. It also showed that 16 percent of players are LGBTQIA+, 31 percent have a disability, 20 percent are Latinx, 15 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian American. These stats vary from region to region but the statistics show gamers are a diverse group.


Representation for everyone


Regarding what players want McNally stated that “players today want to see themself represented in the game in an authentic and meaningful way”. She went on to say that “Inclusion is going to be more relevant in the future for the experiences that we craft.”
Expanding on this further McNally explained that not only do gamers want more diversity in the titles they play, but they also want to see companies taking more of a social stand on things that are happening in the world and on how our games are made.


McNally said that when these inclusivity principles are being taught to developers, they discuss what is under the surface as “people are not one-dimensional” McNally uses herself as an example, saying she is “not just a woman, but a woman from Turkey with no primary language, from a working-class background” therefore multiple dimensions make up who she is. That train of thought is used in the recommendations made to developers to consider during character creation.


Inclusivity covers such a huge range ,from gender, sexuality and body positivity to being culturally respectful, and all of these things need to be taken into account.


A question at the end of the talk was put forward asking whether the process of getting developers involved with including diversity within their games has been a challenge, to which McNally responded that actually, teams are welcoming this outlook and the only real challenge has been the uncertainty of how to actually tackle the task and in fear of getting it wrong sometimes developers have failed to get started all together. However as McNally can help to create a dialogue surrounding these issues she can help in guiding them through the process.


A recent Newzoo report covered female gamer demographics and revealed that mobile gaming is the dominant way to play for the majority of females.


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