Transcript of question asked to Rob Pardo during MIT Media Lab appearance. You can see the full video at http://www.media.mit.edu/video/view/conversations-2014-05-07 and move to timecode 70:15 until 73:45.
Todd Harper: Hi. Thank you for speaking. So early on when you were talking about Blizzard's values you talked about providing the most epic entertainment experiences possible. And being...the brand is the currency of the company. And then also the idea that taking risks should be safe. I'm wondering if you could talk about the relationship between those frameworks and your perceived audience and the ability of the company to include socially progressive ideas and content as you develop new things for your games. I guess I bring that up because you had...you specifically called out Bioware, for example, as being a narrative focused rather than a gameplay focused company, which I would say is pretty true of their last few big title releases but they're also one of the companies that's kind of at the forefront of including more socially relevant content in their stuff. So, I wonder if you could talk about kind of how that plays out at Blizzard with that separate focus you discussed.
Rob Pardo: So when you're saying socially relevant you're just saying the things they've done in their storylines, y'know, kind of the inclusion of, y'know, gay characters, things like that.
Todd Harper: That's part of it, but I think it's...I mean it's not just representing diversity in your narrative content although thats certainly part of it. I think it really comes down to kind of reflecting the diversity of player experiences, specifically diverse players, but also just the fact that you have a lot of different people playing your game and reflecting their desires, experiences, context in what you are producing.
Rob Pardo: Yeah, I wouldn't say that's really a value for us. It's not something that we're against either, but it's just not something that's...something we're trying to actively do. Y'know, I'd say that, y'know, one of the reasons that we do lots of fantasy and sci-fi is we're still like kids at heart. Y'know, we're not trying to bring in serious stuff or socially relevant stuff or actively trying to preach for diversity or do things like that, and I think that sometimes it's not necessarily always the right thing to do but it's just how we develop the game. There's no...it's...there's no maliciousness to it but, like, I'll give you an example where it catches...where we...where I think sometimes we struggle is our portrayal of women in the game. Because most of our game developers are guys that grew up playing...reading comic books. So what do they draw? They kinda draw, oftentimes, comic book looking women which is offensive to, I think, some women. And sometimes we have to actively catch ourselves and go wait, we need to not make our women characters wear armor that look like Xena or like Sonya or something like that sometimes. But it's a struggle for us because the diversity within our workplace is unbalanced. And it's not because we don't want more women developers, it's just what the industry is. If you look at the industry it is kind of like that and it's very hard to oftentimes just use female game designers as an example, because I hire game designers, I just don't get the applications. So it becomes challenging for us I think. Does that make sense?
Todd Harper: Yes.