Aisha Tyler on Diversity in Video Games: ‘Gamers Have to Demand Change’

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aisha tyler gamer“The idea that there’s not diversity in gameplay is just not true,” says Archer star Aisha Tyler. “Does it need to be better? Absolutely.”

Best known as an actress, comedian and podcaster, Tyler’s also a big name in video game circles. An avid gamer herself, she’s hosted game developer Ubisoft’s press conference at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles — one of the biggest gaming trade shows in the industry — for the last three years.

Last week NPR’s Laura Sydell caught up with Tyler at this year’s E3 to talk about the continued lack of diversity in the video-game landscape, both onscreen and on the development side.

Despite the criticism, Tyler — a Black woman — told Sydell the industry has made great progress over the years. She cites Lara Croft, the lead character of the Tomb Raider franchise, as an example of a strong, female lead that has been around for nearly 20 years.

“Obviously people can talk about the misogynist tropes in that game — her boobs were too big [and] she had on short shorts — but the fact of the matter is she was a badass, and a lot of men were playing as a woman for years and years,” she says.

Game creators are beginning to respond to the realization that more women are gaming in traditionally male settings and on traditionally male platforms, Tyler says. “It’s slow, for sure, but it’s definitely happening.”

Tyler also points to The Walking Dead, the popular game based on the television and comic book franchise of the same name. It features a Black male lead and a secondary lead who is also Black. The game won multiple game-of-the-year awards and was one of the most popular games of 2013.

Like Hollywood, the video-game industry will follow the money. “Gamers have to demand change,” Tyler says on her Facebook page, “both with their voices and their pocketbooks. So when The Walking Dead, Tomb Raider or other games with diverse lead or secondary characters do well, we’ll see more games like them follow.”

Read the full story at npr.org

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