The week 5 lecture for CIU111 was titled “Inclusive Design” and spoke of finding ways to include as many people in your design as possible. This includes broadening your scope to include men and women, able and disabled. the lecture then went on to advise us to be sensitive in created material when including religious symbols, various nationalities or minority groups.
From this lecture the main point I understood was that as a creative it is easy to get bogged down in your own creativity and not stop to think how the rest of the world will respond to your creation. I also found it interesting that the stand out message of the lecture was “careful what you include lest you offend someone”, but more on that later.
From my experience and what I have seen and learned, discrimination is far more prevalent in modern society that it should be, the flip side to this however is that people are easily offended.
I think both of these things can be dealt with, first discrimination, the simple answer is not to do it, with regards to creative material, don’t exaggerate stereotypes, if you are representing a culture in your work, do it accurately. The key is to keep all content within context.
The second issue was how in today’s society people are easily offended, this is a more difficult topic to deal with as it is much like beauty in the fact that everyone has their own opinion on it, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Similarly what one person finds offensive another will not, for example I find it offensive that media portrays beauty in one way which makes people who are not that way feel inferior, I think this is discrimination based on personal opinion, each to their own I say. Or I find it offensive that metal music gets a bad reputation when a vast amount of “pop” music is far worse in content and message, again this is my own opinion. While all day could be spent debating either of these two statements, the fact remains they are my point of view and your’s may be different, thus the fact emerges that what is offensive is based on personal discretion. Now to the solution, it too is simple, think first and get offended later. For instance, let’s say you are playing a game, and the main character’s best friend is homosexual and you think he is being portrayed in a way you don’t agree with, you get ready to write an angry letter to the company and plaster hate messages all over social media. But what if you take a moment to think about it first, OK, so this character is homosexual, so what? You don’t like the way he is portrayed? Not your call to make, he is just one character not the entire homosexual community, maybe he is the way the developers wanted him to be? Characters are created to be who they are for the sake of the narrative not to represent entire sectors of the community. It would be like judging all of the human species based off of what one person saw of you, not really fair is it? Almost sounds like discrimination.
So the short answer is take everything with a grain of salt, one character in one game or movie is not representing an entire community it is simply, one character in one game or movie.
With all of this said, this hasn’t covered inclusive design regarding male/female and people with disability. The first is simple, people are all different and thus different people will like different things, design wise you simply have to include options that both genders will find appealing, however some research (covered in the lecture content) shows that these differences in preferences are born of societal influences rather than personal preference.
Second, include options for players that may have a disability, this is a little trickier, if they have only one hand, let them re-map keys and include macros for them to use so they have an enjoyable experience, however disability is such a diverse subject and so different from person to person that it is hard to formulate a solution for all. That said simple things like closed captions for the hearing impaired would make the content more accessible for more people.
The significant points of the lecture were avoid discrimination and include as many people in your design as possible. With this comes a host of ethical, professional and social issues. Ethically it is wrong discriminate against others, but if your narrative is set in a time or place where one civilisation was enslaved by another than it would be normal in that world for the slaves to be treated worse than the masters, not pleasant but it is part of the narrative world. The question that arises from that is “where do you draw the line?”, that is the line between creating a vivid and engaging world for the audience and tip-toeing around content that might be offensive if taken out of context. This overlaps into the professional issues of this topic where as a creative professional the dream is to bring life to a world but you are restricted in what that world can be by society and how they respond to your work.
With all things there are multiple points of view that can be taken on the subject, firstly it could be taken that creatives should avoid any content that may be controversial or offensive to anyone, secondly everyone can decide that if they don’t like the content than they just shouldn’t play that game or watch that movie or third creatives and consumers should keep things in context.
The take-away message is as a creative we should do our best to include people in our design, we should be considerate. I think the most important thing is to go the extra mile to include options for those wanting to experience your creative work but have a disability that would make it difficult or impossible without those extra options. The key thought is that all people should have equal opportunity to experience what you create.
A little consideration for others goes a long way, and the world could use a lot more of it.
Here are some other resources and articles you may find interesting regarding the topic of inclusive design and how it relates to avoiding offending others.
This articles talks of how some believe that political correctness has gone too far and in now in fact doing the opposite of it’s intention.
An interesting survey regarding political correctness.
By James Day – 1002467