Inclusivity is viability

I don’t speak for my employer Xbox, but I work there focusing on inclusivity for our products and services. Just like many people our party at GDC left me appalled… and honestly crestfallen. Asking people to embrace the point of view of others is not easy work, but I promise to work tirelessly on getting us on track. However, I work on products, not parties, so let’s talk about product development.

I’ve always really liked this tweet from Tara because it makes me question what viability is, and from whose point of view. Along with MVP there is another modern software development concept I’d like to look at, Responsive Design, the practice of creating interfaces that are responsive to the devices that are running them.

Looking at responsive design and MVP through the lens of inclusivity allow us to rethink what viability is. Is making your app work across dozens of Android variants important when product was designed by a team of similar individuals likely for them and their peers? There are myriad facets to consider when creating a product or service — devices are a single one. There are others, including these aspects of people: gender; race; culture; sexuality; age; ability; and many more.

These gaming data points are interesting: the ESA says 44% of gamers are women and 46% of gamers are over 36. PopCap conducted a survey in 2008 where they found 20% of casual gamers identify as having a disability. According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, African American youth between the ages of 8 and 18 play games 30 minutes more per day than white youth, while Hispanics play an average of 10 minutes more.

Designing our products to meet diverse expectations and our software interfaces to be responsive to the abilities of users is good business.
People-first design.

As I strive to design for everyone and I often return to this quote by Saturo Iwata as it inspires me to deeply consider the needs of others in my designs.

“I am most concerned with what we think of as a gamer. As we spend more time and money chasing exactly the same players, who are we leaving behind? Are we creating games just for each other? Do you have friends and family members who do not play video games? Well, why don’t they? And, I would ask this: how often have you challenged yourself to create a game that you might not play?”
Satoru Iwata, GDC 2005 keynote
Awards tribute to Saturo Iwata from GDC 2016 by Raber Umphenour, Shawne Benson, David Hellman, & Chris Kohler

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