This week's lecture covered the topic of 'Inclusive Design'. In essence, the material touches on a number of topics inducing accessibility, race, gender and conflict among others, with the intent to define and describe the reason why it's important to consider these issues when designing for media (although the article makes specificity to video games).
I sensed that the overarching theme was to be mindful - research your target audience and make allowance for an extended audience. For each topic, your design cues could betaken by asking the questions like: "would somebody with a hearing impairment be able to follow the dialogue in my game?", and if not should I then consider implementing closed captioning/subtitles to cater to that audience. "Would somebody who has a form of colour blindness be able to complete this particular puzzle, or discover this hidden item/tile?", and if not should I then consider an alternate colour pallette? A particular concept included in the article which I really liked, was the Bechdel test - attributed to Alison Bechdel's 1985 comic strip which poses 3 questions to determine a woman's role in film. This is a great tool which can be used to judge the gender equality of your piece of media, ie: "Does my game pass the Bechdel test?:" and if not, should I consider adding a female character to my script, or alter the existing cast in some way in order to make it more inclusive?
There is quite a lot of content in this week's lecture however if you remember to be mindful of some of the areas: gender, conflict, colour and sound, then all you need do is ask the question: am I neglecting these groups of people? If the answer is 'yes', then at the very least, no matter what decision you make after the fact, you have identified areas in your creative media that may alienate certain demographics.
The issue with trying to be inclusive is that people are quick to criticise whether you got it right. It's a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' scenario. The article mentions that a way to mitigate the backlash from trying to be inclusive in the first place, is to embrace the concept and include a lot of diverse characters. "Don't just have one woman, have many. Don't just have one gay character, have many. Then they represent lots of different people, they're not trying to represent a whole gender, race, or sexuality."
In my opinoin, this is sound advice as long as the integrity of the intended theme of the piece of media (such as the movie's plot, or the game's lore) isn't comprimised. I believe that equality in all forms should be considered when developing an idea, but don't simply include diverse characters for the sake of including them, I feel that an idea can very easily become over saturated and lose it's way because of this - the most famous of these tropes, I feel is the 'token black guy'.
TV Tropes defines this concept as the 'Token Minority', who "is a character designed to get more minority groups into the plot." TV Tropes extrapolates on our discussion from earlier by going into detail on a number of reasons why this is beneficial to the show and the writers. For instance, the token minority "is useful for bringing in discussions of racial issues, gender issue or homophobia into the plot", but ironically also "allows the producers to make race jokes related to minority without any shame" and "allows the producers to avoid criticism from minority groups" when doing so.
In fact, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of TV show, South Park, included a token minority in their show and named him, Token Black.
There's a lot to be said for content that goes against the grain in an effort to centralize these themes. In class, most students researched a movie which either identified aspects that enforeced bias and prejudice or, like in my case where I referenced 'Kill Bill"; a film that embraces gender and cultural themes as well as being stylistically appropriate for people with a visual hinderence such as colour blindness. To prove this point, I cited the famous 'Crazy 88' scene within the movie that was rendered entirely in black and white.
Another example of catering to the progressive nature of societal values, the film 'Monster', stars Charlize Theron, who plays Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer. In order to portray the role, the usually stunning Charlize had to gain 15 kilograms, shaved her eyebrows and underwent significant makeup sessions in order to resemble the real life counterpart.
This was a bold choice made by the actor but one which film critics praised. One such notorious critic, Roger Ebert named it best film of the year and wrote "What Charlize Theron achieves in Patty Jenkins' Monster isn't a performance but an embodiment."
The article goes on to discuss inequality in employment, touching on the long-standing issue of women in high-earning roles, as well as talking the issues of conflict within video games - relating even that point back to the misnomer that women aren't invested in violence within video games like men are. Although in saying that, the article references a study conducted by Her Interactive, which found that girls didn’t like fighting games because “they lost interest in fighting the same opponents over and over again for no good reason” (Graner Ray, 48).
There is a lot to be said about gender roles, sexuality, conflict, race and for that matter religion, violence and drugs in media - we live in a very politically correct society at present and thanks to the internet, a point made by Andrew in this morning's class, everybody has the chance and feels entitled to get up in arms about anything using the justification that they're 'offended'.
In conclusion, this week's material doesn't so much care about the impact including a variety of themes in a piece of work will have, rather it's about remembering to consider a wide variety of themes when creating your work as a failure to do so may result in eliminating your audience and butchering your outreach.
Tvtropesorg. (2016). TV Tropes. Retrieved 4 July, 2016, from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TokenMinority
Googlecomau. (2016). Googlecomau. Retrieved 4 July, 2016, from https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=i
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Duckduckgocom. (2016). Duckduckgocom. Retrieved 4 July, 2016, from https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/34500000/-Charlize-Theron-charlize-theron-34529253-1920-1200.jpg
Imdbcom. (2016). IMDb. Retrieved 4 July, 2016, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0340855/
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Herinteractivecom. (2016). Her Interactive. Retrieved 4 July, 2016, from http://www.herinteractive.com/about-us/overview/