The lack of diversity on the Mass Effect: Andromeda development team is partly to blame for the game’s failure. Former BioWare developer Manveer Heir, who has been an outspoken advocate for diversity in the games industry, recently revealed more about the game’s troubled development.
Mass Effect: Andromeda recently joined the EA Access library of free games, less than seven months after launch.
Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s All-White Leadership to Blame for Game’s Problems?
Speaking during a recent episode of the Waypoint Radio podcast, Manveer Heir, a former BioWare developer who worked on Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda, revealed more about the game’s troubled development. Heir calls the game’s development “a real difficult project” and that says that its concept was rebooted “multiple times”.
Heir explains that he was one of the people who complained about the game’s core issues – particularly its story, which some called a colonialist fantasy – “for years”. Heir says:
“I wasn’t the only one [who spoke out]. There were other people, there were other white people, white men, who spoke up. There’s a lot of really good people inside of BioWare who spoke up on this stuff. The lead writer at the time did not seem to care or understand and so this is what happens when you have a homogeneous leadership. The leadership of Mass Effect: Andromeda was all white men.”
Although the former Andromeda developer says that being especially vocal can lead to “internal strife”, Heir adds that “It is our job to speak up and do that thing”. Heir says that “when I realized I was in an environment that did not accept that and want that, and that was telling me I was being too angry or I was speaking up too much, and basically tried to tell me to sit down and be humble, I was like…peace out.”
Some of Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s issues were specifically with how marginalized identities were included in the game, such as the gay romance controversy and the portrayal of a transgender NPC. But this isn’t the only way in which the Andromeda development team would have benefited from being more diverse.
Heir goes on to note that because of the leadership team’s homogeneity there were “blind spots”, meaning that certain problem areas of the game’s development (such as the story) were not addressed in a proper or prompt way. As this article from the Harvard Business Review explains, diverse teams of people are more likely to think outside the box.
Obviously, there were more problems with Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s development, such as middle management “bloat” as Heir and the Waypoint Radio hosts discuss, but this is one area that the BioWare team clearly struggled with. EA and BioWare are currently examining exactly what went wrong with the game, though, so perhaps this will be high up on that list.
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