Earlier today, Activision Blizzard King made headlines. Anyone who has followed this company for the last year could probably guess that those headlines were not good. The story surrounded an internal diversity tool, which the company utilized to create its characters. As some might imagine, minorities and marginalized people being reduced to a metric on a chart proved pretty offensive. That's why Activision got to work crafting a response and tossed one and naturally did so late on a Friday evening.
We have updated the post to clarify the purpose of this tool, which is one small component of our broader DE&I efforts and is not intended to be a replacement for diverse perspectives. We regret any offense that the original post may have caused. (2/2)
— Activision Blizzard (@ATVI_AB)
The following message was posted to the Activision Blizzard website in response to the diversity tool that was revealed earlier today:
There has been conversation online regarding the Diversity Space Tool, particularly concerning its intent and our commitment to diversity. We’ve edited this blog post to clarify that this prototype is not being used in active game development. We would like to add the following comment for additional context:
Started in 2016, the Diversity Space Tool – currently in beta – was designed as an optional supplement to the hard work and focus our teams already place on telling diverse stories with diverse characters, but decisions regarding in-game content have been and will always be driven by development teams. The tool was developed at King, and has been beta tested by several developers across the company, all of whom have provided valuable input.
The objective of using the tool is to uncover unconscious bias by identifying existing norms in representation and acknowledging opportunities for growth in inclusion. It is not a substitute for any other essential effort by our teams in this regard, nor will it alter our company’s diversity hiring goals. Over the past several years, the development of the tool was done with the support of all our employee DE&I networks, and we collaborated with external partners to create an even more robust tool.
The tool isn’t meant to be used in isolation; teams would sit down with company DE&I staff to identify existing norms and then discuss, educate, consult, and collaborate on how a character’s representation is expressed beyond those norms. This process is intended to create a conversation where our developers, assisted by the tool, challenge assumptions, assess choices, and find opportunities for authentic representation to be fostered in our games.
Activision Blizzard is committed to reflecting the diversity of its millions of players around the world through representation and inclusion in its games as well as its employees. Our intent with this blog entry was to share an in-progress piece of our journey in this endeavor. We recognize and respect that all people may be on their own, unique point in their journey with DE&I. The Diversity Space Tool is not a definitive evaluation of diversity in game content; rather, it is a bridge in opening previously unspoken conversations into how thoughtful inclusion can happen – and thrive - in games.
On the one hand, this was yet another fire of Activision Blizzard's own making that needed to be addressed, but issuing a statement at such a late hour probably isn't ideal. It still begs the question of why this tool even exists in the first place. There's an easier way to address diversity and unconscious bias in the workplace and that's by actually having a diverse workplace. Needless to say, it's been a bad year for Activision Blizzard between the lawsuits, the labor disputes, and a slew of other controversies.
Keep it here on Shacknews for the latest updates, because if we've learned anything in the last year, it's that this won't be the last time Activision Blizzard makes the news for the wrong reasons.