Diversity is Not a Win-Condition

Fickle, Tara; Patterson, Christopher
Critical Studies in Media Communication

This article examines several genres of role-playing games in terms of their procedural logics of racial management as an attempt to understand how game logics can express varying and often contentious ways of enacting “diversity.” It argues that games themselves can help answer one of the most persistent questions about games today: “how do we make games more diverse?” We proceed by defining the racial logics—the “diversity rules”—structuring the Mass Effect series (BioWare, 2007–), Genshin Impact (miHoYo, 2020), and Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios, 2017). These games respectively place the player in the role of multicultural manager, racial empath, and divine avatar. These games show us the many logics, strategies, and appropriations that can occur when diversity itself is treated not as a complex process toward building social justice, but as an obtainable asset, and as the sole win condition in making and selling a game. Attending to these racial logics can open paths to new disciplinary directions in game studies by pushing beyond established domestic boundaries, liberal multiculturalist definitions of diversity, and ultimately into revealing our regional attitudes and particular ways of defining and practicing “diversity.”