Monday, October 25, 2010

We got a good look at the people behind Blizzard, they are like me

At every panel at this years Blizzcon, we saw the people behind Blizzard.

We saw the story-makers, the game-designers, the content-designers, we saw Metzen, Ghostcrawler. We did not see, the numberchruncing fans, we did not see the roleplaying forum fans panel, we did not see a lot of cool things that spinks mentions.

We did see the now (almost infamous) Q&A that Larisa boggles over. Okay some of us saw it, others read transcripts and read their own personal agenda into it.
Whatever you think of their response to this (and mine is in the comments on both posts), there is one thing painfully obvious for me, about these panel talks.

Every single employee with anything worth saying at Blizzard, is: 35+, white, a little overweight (some more than a little), balding and likes metal. And they only ever talk to other people like that.

I am reminded of two things:
This amazing article that really struck a chord with me. It is a bit old, but it is well worth the read:
What if the Character is black? By Brenda Brathwaite.

It is an amazing pieces, that two years later still sticks with me.
And this tl:dr piece from Dark Legacy Comics, it is aptly named "whitecraft"

Before any minds are blown: I am a white, late 20's male, I might be slightly overweight too. I love roleplaying (the real version, at a table with dice), and I almost wept, when I saaw the "GEEK" speech from Metzen.
(you know the part, the Star Wars part, showing the movies to your kids and hoping that those movies will influence their imagination, as much as it did yours...still gets goosebumps, and I don't have kids)

So Shouldn't I be happy? Blizzard is a company filled with... me.
So the games they make, should be perfectly suited for... me.
They should know precisely what I want. Because it is what they want.

But what I do know, is that a company filled with people like me, will only *at best* make a game filled with what I think I want out of a game. At best.
They will not -however- ever be able to make games filled with all the stuff I never knew I wanted in a game. Never.

So here is me hoping that they will soon get some much needed diversity in their departments. Hopefully that will shine through on their music choices too. Because no matter how much I like Offspring and Ozzy, and how much I love 'the D', it is all a little too much the same for my liking.

Edit to add, that I have missed at least one person with some weight at Blizzard, who is not like me. (at least not on appreances.) Shahram Dabiri. He is now lead producer on the secret mmo (well not so secret if you watched blizzcon LARISA!!!!!)


  1. One of the truly hilarious things I noticed about Dragon Age is that you can duly customise your character to be any colour you like - so there I was, a rather handsome dwarf of colour, wandering around the starting area talking to my ... uh ... entirely white family. Do you think I was adopted?!

  2. Did you not get that expansion-pack? "dwarfs mommas, what really happened in that mining SHAFT".

    Eh, Yea I think we had a talk about how bad I am at those puns.

  3. It's the same issue with every market, it only caters to a set audience and if it's a popular product, everyone ends up wanting it and is influenced by what the industry regards as mainstream or 'average'. you can see that best in the fashion industry too - who is it that actually designs fashion for underweight models?

    that's right.
    nonetheless we're all influenced by those pictures and we forget how narrowminded and one-sided the brains are that create them. they do not only sell what they like, but by selling it they are telling you that this is what you should like too. and it works.
    the only way around it is as you said, to have people in these teams that bring in different viewpoints. otherwise it will always be the same "mental monoculture".

  4. Oh gawd.. I just realised I'm the female version of Dwism (I would say older version, but we all know that all women are perpetually 23).

    On the plus side.. at least geeks have imagination.. even if that tends to wander in the same direction..

  5. Somehow i am reminded of an ESPN add I saw:

    I think i'll use that later for a talk about what makes a geek. It is a great add

  6. I don't really have anything to add here, more than a little "cheers", "/sign" etc. Well I'm not 20-something, not even 30-something (ahem) and not male or bald, but I agree on how homogene the staff looks and that it might not be for the good for the development of the games. Not if you want to explore new worlds, break new ground and challenge borders, expand outside of the things you already know.

  7. Poking around on their "Open Jobs" site a bit, they seem to want more of the same, even the point of asking for artists that work in the "Blizzard style" rather than bringing something unique to the table. There's something to be said for "stick with what you know", but more often than not, it just turns into a rut.

    Blizzard has been stuck in a rut for a while now. It's profitable, so there's no reason to try to change.

  8. Why do I get the feeling that you're trying desperately to justify the money you spent on buying that live stream? Just admit what a waste it was, especially considering they sent the opening ceremony for free! There's nothing to be ashamed of. it's only human to fall for a cheap marketing trick once in a while, finding out you've spent money on something that just wasn't worth it. ;)

  9. @lar: i'll explain in more deph why it was not money wasted imo.
    If you look at my "fekk it" post, there are some hints there.
    There is a lot of times ive regret spending money, this was not one of them.

  10. I'm just teasing you a little. <3 If I could I would probably join the stream as well, but I'm afraid my life situation isn't such that I can find the time to watch it at any length.

    Although this year probably wasn't the best one to get value for the money tbh. I'm still not impressed by what I saw in the schedule, but what do I know, I didn't watch it after all, apart from the opening then.