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News & Features Discussion  » General: Less Bias Means More Money

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27 posts found
  SBFord

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 12991

 
OP  5/17/12 1:25:15 PM#1

In today's Developer Perspectives, we take a look at the idea of bias in game development. Bias is a super-charged word and we've got lots to say about it. Keep reading!

When you're about to spend tens of millions of dollars of someone else's money, you normally identify your "ideal customer," and use what you know about that customer to inform all of your decisions. This doesn't have to be a cold-blooded exercise in focus grouping. For plenty of creative types, the audience is "people like me." That's fine. Good design only means extrapolating that into every decision.

Read more of Sanya Weathers' Developer Perspectives: Less Bias Means More Money.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

  BigHatLogan

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/09/06
Posts: 695

5/18/12 12:04:09 PM#2

I like how Age of Conan did the gender thing.  Topless and/or scantily clad females everywhere, some female quest givers = prostitutes/sex slaves,  generally male dominated world.   Funcom knew that their target audience was going to be overwelmingly male.  Robert Howard, creator of Conan,  was a bit of a bigot anyway.  Funcom stuck well to source material without trying to worry about bias or other crap.  I think they made a pretty cool game, and I had more fun in AoC than any other mmorpg besides EVE.   

Are you a Pavlovian Fish Biscuit Addict? Get Help Now!

I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!

  thinktank001

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/13/08
Posts: 1793

5/18/12 12:04:53 PM#3

I think I enjoyed the first couple of paragraphs and the last couple, and everything else reads like those crazy people on a soapbox

  jtcgs

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/28/04
Posts: 1843

5/18/12 12:07:47 PM#4

"As you can see, it's no one thing. It's a pattern, one you can't miss when you step back."

 

And that is where it all falls apart.

 

Development group is based in America, knows what American gamers like and is completely clueless on how different the playerbase is in Europe or Asia. This can be applied to developers from other regions.

 

Developers that only know the Subscription model are ignorant of the the players of the B2P or F2P models.

 

Developers using a sub model in a position that they must go F2P dont understand that the F2P market is based on Microtransactions and end up with something like AoC currently has...nothing remotely close to Microtrasactions and end up failing to target...their target.

 

Not one developer has managed to include the actual ENTIRE MMORPG player market...they always target one aspect and then further base their decisions on that smaller target and end up making their target audience even SMALLER with what they exclude in the game.

 

There is NO reason...not ONE for them to exclude aspects of ALL markets.

 

There is no reason not to pass on Subscription based and have a shop. A shop that offers microtransactions as well as larger purchases which will target all MMO players except the very few that think all shops = pay to win

 

There is no reason an MMO shouldnt be able to target both male and females equally. there shouldnt be a reason to not have in depth crafting system for those that like player based economies and the ability to just be a shop owners. Or have costumes and vaniety items for roleplayers. There should be no reason not to give players activiteis to do in towns to create a community and a feeling for the game to be alive...music playing, dancing, compititions like mount racing and the like. Or player created content like CoH/CoV/SWG/upcoming D&D MMO.

No reason not to have PvP. Raids both small and large.

PvE content in new MMORPGs should ALL have scalable content. It will give 100% of players the ability to play the way they WANT. Solo, small group, medium, large. AND on top of it all it keeps 100% of the game playable. Why make content level based? Once you pass that level bracket the only reason you would ever have for doing it again is to either FARM it or run a lower level friend through...which is really boring for the low level friend.

 

There are a TON of ways for an MMORPG maker to target a far greater portion of ALL MMORPG players...they are just too busy looking at graphs and numbers to look beyond their OWN limited thinking and knowledge of the genre that spans the globe.

 

Dont target 1 million MMORPG players...target the over ***20*** million there are around the world. Yes...over 20 million if you look at ALL MMOs going right now...sub, B2P and F2P.

 
 

“I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  someforumguy

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/25/07
Posts: 3477

5/18/12 12:35:08 PM#5

GW1 has male and female leaders in its story from all the races. Also the professions of these leaders have enough variation in gender and race. The same goes for heroes that join you. I'm not sure if this is the same for merchant gender. Next time I'll check if for example all dye traders happen to be female :) But so far to me the devs seems unbiased about gender and race.

Every ugly npc is a monster though :)

  MMOarQQ

Novice Member

Joined: 2/20/12
Posts: 659

"Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain."

5/18/12 8:38:43 PM#6

I like playing games, not political statements.

  waynejr2

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3712

RIP City of Heroes!

5/18/12 10:59:46 PM#7
Originally posted by MMOarQQ

I like playing games, not political statements.

[mod edit]

If it isn't politics, then women need to make their own game companies without any men and make those games they want to make.

  Lawlmonster

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/07/09
Posts: 940

Take my advice, I'm not using it anyway.

5/19/12 12:20:09 AM#8

"Bias in game design - racial, sexual, gender, whatever - is bad for business. Yes, business. This is not a discussion of political correctness, or a plea for justice. It's all about the money."

 

That's about all I needed to read. Bottom lining, gotcha.

"This is life! We suffer and slave and expire. That's it!" -Bernard Black (Dylan Moran)

  revslave

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 152

Welcome Home

5/19/12 2:34:35 AM#9
Thanks for the interesting article.
 
It would be interesting to be able to see the demographics of MMO’s and compare them with other genres of video games. 
 
For some reason I kept on thinking of True Blood a TV series that has a little something for everyone.  There are strong male and female characters in homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Characters have a variety of racial, ethnic and social-economic backgrounds.  There is both gratuitous frontal nudity, and strong subplots revolving around relationships. It would appear that the attempt to attract a larger target audience has succeeded, not by pandering but by being inclusive.
 
 
 
Welcome Home
Rev
 

  lifesbrink

Novice Member

Joined: 1/22/09
Posts: 554

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those who don't like dragons and those who enjoy living.

5/19/12 2:45:08 AM#10

This was an excellent write-up on some of the biggest issues in gaming, given I have yet to see a company that manages to think beyond their biases to try to work for the general gaming community.

 

However, it brings to mind something sad, that articles that are indepth and more meaningful to discussion on this site get very few replies, whereas most of the replies on this site are going to controversial articles and posts.

Gr.

My blog is a continuing story of what MMO's should be like.

  MMOarQQ

Novice Member

Joined: 2/20/12
Posts: 659

"Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain."

5/19/12 9:24:22 AM#11

A truly bias free game...  Every building with it's own wheelchair ramp, a perfect  ratio of every single ethnicity and sex, and a tampon machine in every lavatory.  The tailor is a black man, the armorsmith an Asian woman; the captain of the guard a wheelchair stricken Caucasian and the mayoress an East African burn victim.

Badass...

  jtcgs

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/28/04
Posts: 1843

5/19/12 6:31:27 PM#12
Originally posted by MMOarQQ

A truly bias free game...  Every building with it's own wheelchair ramp, a perfect  ratio of every single ethnicity and sex, and a tampon machine in every lavatory.  The tailor is a black man, the armorsmith an Asian woman; the captain of the guard a wheelchair stricken Caucasian and the mayoress an East African burn victim.

Badass...

How DARE you leave out South Americans, thats racist!

“I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  User Deleted
5/20/12 12:26:59 PM#13

Well the bias towards types of players is definitely shifting just look at the number of casuals that have swamped the industry. We casuals hate the monthly fee so those companies still holding onto that ancient model are hurting, they just aren't making anywhere near as much as their projections when they release games like this. I predict it will happen to TSW and TERA about three to four months after launch they will have a decline as well, and it's due to the types of players. Switching to whatever game I'd like to play freely without restriction seems to be the biggest pull for most games now, it's why Freemium and Buy2play are so popular because you can play whatever you want when you want without restriction of a subscription fee to lock you down. 

  Cyberdeck7

Novice Member

Joined: 5/14/11
Posts: 241

5/20/12 12:35:32 PM#14
Originally posted by jtcgs

 

There is no reason not to pass on Subscription based and have a shop. 

 
 

Unless you actually want to build a game and not just skin mechanics that lead to an item shop.

  Ishkal

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/14/10
Posts: 44

5/20/12 1:13:48 PM#15

Come on this article is a joke right?

  lifesbrink

Novice Member

Joined: 1/22/09
Posts: 554

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those who don't like dragons and those who enjoy living.

5/20/12 1:59:55 PM#16
Originally posted by Ishkal

Come on this article is a joke right?

Not really?

My blog is a continuing story of what MMO's should be like.

  Shinami

Novice Member

Joined: 5/30/05
Posts: 619

5/21/12 6:22:20 AM#17

....and Im sure Hello Kitty or neopets has no bias to specific genders. Play what you want, because nothing is more ridiculous than making strides to argue so much about the internal contents of a game, while refusing to actually argue about real political matters outside of the box. It shows a bias already where gamers flock to defend the measures of internal systems they are most dependent on and more addicted to. 

How about them Californians? You know the people who approved letting in-mates in prison or criminals under house-arrest serve their sentences on playing Worlds of Warcraft and other Online MMOs, as a measure to keep resistance low. 

Of course given this, oh no no no...video games aren't addicting and controlling right? Just an illusion of the mind. 

There will always be bias and don't you forget that there are females out there who do concept art for clothing designs. Females who wish to look sexy and skimpy as well as assertive, while the religiously bound, timid females are the ones who always encourage other women they should never keep their bodies exposed...Specially in religions where even though the word of GOD was given to humans, it was interpreted by MEN in a time where women had nearly no rights, and that is what we come to believe as "The Bible" 

How about the biased nature of males in games? The Bias nature that if I play as a male character in practically every game as a spellcaster, they always look like goths or vampires under a cloak throwing fireballs while females actually look normal.

Why is it when I see males as spellcasters I always think of "Toccatta and Fugue in D minor?" by Bach or when I see knights in Armor in every game, I am always thinking of the Crusades and Inquisition. Why is the scheme so focused that males are so restricted in their clothing and design based on occupation while females can actually look normal? 

I actually think women get the better end of the stick. Who cares if I play a game and people say "oh you'll be hit on by every guy from here to mars", I don't really care! The second one changes a game scheme to accomodate an aspect of gender a bias always exist.

Just in me writing this response I have a bias as a person due to my past and where I am going, but it seems that idiotic and prepubescent folk are always going to make politically-correct and public-relations languages in situations that deem almost impossible. 

All I have to say is "I'm just a girl" and show some warm personality, and easilly In most games I will be invited into a top guild, clan, team, group or whatever and as far as game experience goes, I have to deal with less BS outside of the occasional male trying to pick me up and running up politics through the channel on their way through the River Styx. 

I hate how even when one gets the better end of the stick, there is still a bias to give more. How about that fake sports entertainment show, World Wrestling Extreme where according to Nielsen Ratings, they have almost as many female viewers and more female contributors than their male counterparts in events and shows, yet sensitivity training will stay claim that its biased against women. 

How about this entire article? I got a great idea....The Obvious isnt the Obvious and I do not believe you did Consultation work for anyone, outside of trying to spin your direction towards trying to get a story. The first thing to game design is to deal with Non Disclosure Agreements of several kinds. I had ONE PROJECT where I had to SIGN FOUR NDAs for different technologies and patents involved...

Sorry, but this article to me is the kind that out of the interest of Justice against Praxis Seizures should be shot down and exposed for what it is. ^^ Good Luck..

*hugs* 

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  Kyleran

Bitter Vet™

Joined: 9/13/06
Posts: 18803

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

5/21/12 7:11:52 AM#18
Originally posted by jtcgs

"As you can see, it's no one thing. It's a pattern, one you can't miss when you step back."

 And that is where it all falls apart.

 Development group is based in America, knows what American gamers like and is completely clueless on how different the playerbase is in Europe or Asia. This can be applied to developers from other regions.

 Developers that only know the Subscription model are ignorant of the the players of the B2P or F2P models.

 Developers using a sub model in a position that they must go F2P dont understand that the F2P market is based on Microtransactions and end up with something like AoC currently has...nothing remotely close to Microtrasactions and end up failing to target...their target.

 Not one developer has managed to include the actual ENTIRE MMORPG player market...they always target one aspect and then further base their decisions on that smaller target and end up making their target audience even SMALLER with what they exclude in the game.

There is NO reason...not ONE for them to exclude aspects of ALL markets.

 There is no reason not to pass on Subscription based and have a shop. A shop that offers microtransactions as well as larger purchases which will target all MMO players except the very few that think all shops = pay to win

There is no reason an MMO shouldnt be able to target both male and females equally. there shouldnt be a reason to not have in depth crafting system for those that like player based economies and the ability to just be a shop owners. Or have costumes and vaniety items for roleplayers. There should be no reason not to give players activiteis to do in towns to create a community and a feeling for the game to be alive...music playing, dancing, compititions like mount racing and the like. Or player created content like CoH/CoV/SWG/upcoming D&D MMO.

No reason not to have PvP. Raids both small and large.

PvE content in new MMORPGs should ALL have scalable content. It will give 100% of players the ability to play the way they WANT. Solo, small group, medium, large. AND on top of it all it keeps 100% of the game playable. Why make content level based? Once you pass that level bracket the only reason you would ever have for doing it again is to either FARM it or run a lower level friend through...which is really boring for the low level friend.

 There are a TON of ways for an MMORPG maker to target a far greater portion of ALL MMORPG players...they are just too busy looking at graphs and numbers to look beyond their OWN limited thinking and knowledge of the genre that spans the globe.

 Dont target 1 million MMORPG players...target the over ***20*** million there are around the world. Yes...over 20 million if you look at ALL MMOs going right now...sub, B2P and F2P.

 

I will have to disagree with both you and OP for a couple of reasons.

1)  It costs too much.  It would be too expensive to try and cater to all aspects of every players tastes, hence features get left out of MMO's, from housing, to fancy leisure ware, to a wide varity of mounts etc etc.  Economics determine that the reward has to exceed the cost, therefore if Dev's believe something won't really increase their revenue/profits they'll leave it out.  (Blizzard is a great example with their refusal to include housing even though a fairly large segement of the market favors it.)

2) Here's an unpleasant truth, based on our gender, nationality, upbringing we all have different tastes for certain features and functionalities and in some cases they can be mutually exclusive.  Sterotyping is bad, but you know what, it sometimes is still true in many areas regardless.   Some features in MMO's appeal more to women than men, so it makes sense to include them in a game, if by an in themselves it will get more women to actually pay for the game.   

EVE is a great game where for whatever reason (most likely lack of Avatars than anything else) has very little appeal to women, (and most men for that matter) with one of the lowest female to male ratios in the industry (around 5%).  There's probably some other features about it as well that don't appeal to women, but to the fans of the game (a small niche I'll grant you) they wouldn't have it any other way.  So, should CCP radically modify their game to draw in more women? They can try but I'm willing to bet it can't be done, EVE is designed for a certain group and CCP is satisfied with that.

3) Finally, IMO the trouble with MMO's is thinking like yours and the OP that they must be designed to draw the largest possible market as possible.  While this makes perfect sense from a business perspective, it utterly destroys any chance for originality, personality and for the games to deliver features and functionality that while fun for some, are not favored by the masses.  We get clones of the standard theme park game model because of this sort of herd mentality with everything designed to draw in the most customers as possible.

So in conclusion I would say that not all bias is bad, sometimes it's a necessary part of designing and marketing any sort of product to be sure your product is focused on a proper subset of the market. (and not always the masses)

"In these forums 'honest' seems to be a symonym for 'hates the game just like I do'" - ohioastro
Kyleran - Bitter Vet ™ since 2006
"This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  GrumpyMel2

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1789

5/21/12 1:22:20 PM#19

Sorry but your article reads like a recipie for creating a boring, flavorless experience for the end user.

Bias is part of the human experience......and exploring different aspects of the human experience is what makes for interesting entertainment. Bias in fantasy settings or entertainment makes for good drama and good entertainment....

Tolkiens works wouldn't have made for as good a read if the Orcs weren't presented consistantly in as negative a light...

Shakespears, Henry V, wouldn't work particulary well with the French and English being portrayed in equal light....nor would it have worked without any imposition of gender bias.

Fantasy and drama are not only places where it is SAFE to explore bias, it's actualy healthy, productive and interesting to do so. It makes it LESS likely for such things to seep over into real life where they actualy matter.

It's the same dynamic at play when someone comes home after a frustrating day at work/school and spends a few hours blowing up zombies/aliens in a video game. It's a cathartic way of relieving stress for the individual and the only things which end up getting hurt are fictional pixels in a video game.

Healthy individuals are not only able to seperate fantasy from reality but having safe outlets to explore the negative aspects of our emotions is part of  what helps keep us healthy. Thinking otherwise is simply a denial of our basic natures as humans....and that we all have other aspects to our natures beside butterflies and rainbows.

  lifesbrink

Novice Member

Joined: 1/22/09
Posts: 554

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those who don't like dragons and those who enjoy living.

5/21/12 3:23:18 PM#20

It is interesting seeing the number of people who read this article who did not "get" it.  But hey, someone injects some controversy in the comments, and voila, more comments.

My blog is a continuing story of what MMO's should be like.

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