Gender Norms, Learning Curves, and Public Game Development in the Indie MMO TUG on Kickstarter

| 28 May 2013 17:00
TUG girls clothing

Warcry: It seems like Nerd Kingdom is trying to create a sandbox with a little social consciousness to it but you also want to make development of TUG very public. Between maintaining social consciousness that gamers might not completely agree with and a public, data driven design policy that incorporates how gamers engage TUG, what sort of bumps are you anticipating along the way? For example, you recently posted on the market pressures of hypersexualized female characters, how might this discussion impede development progress?

Peter Salinas: We do not think it will impede anything at all. Certainly we are creating a world for play, but we are also interested in understanding not just what gamers want, but what people think and why. There is good reason we take the time to discuss things and initiate dialogue like this with our community. If you notice, on that post we made it clear that you could dress and represent yourself a certain way, we would just not force it, and there would not be a gender bias in either direction. So why did people get so upset? Often times, we see that touchy topics create a preset expectation despite stated facts. But this is part of what we want to do: to discuss, to share, and to encourage our players to become a part of helping solve problems, not just identifying them. And to this stage it has been a success.

By being open and transparent with our community, we are able to set the tone of why and how we are trying to do things. We are creating a society of minds, not just a community for consumption. When we take the time to really explain ourselves to a few people, there is a very deep appreciation, and those few people tell a few more, etc. Someday, we hope these same gamers, who once perhaps never really thought about or questioned certain gaming tropes (or larger issues in society as a whole, even), will be able to look at and welcome different perspectives, and will also encourage others in the community to do the same. One day, those same people will also find unique ways of testing some of their own ideas, and will contribute to a world of understanding as well.

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