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Uncharted dev says character diversity just as important as graphics and gameplay

It is "absolutely" important that characters in Naughty Dog games are women and people of color.

Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us director Neil Druckmann is hopeful that Naughty Dog's future games can do more in the area of character diversity.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Frame, Druckmann said it is "absolutely" important that characters in Naughty Dog games are women and people of color (via NeoGAF).

He added that it wasn't until recently that he realized one of the core pillars of game development, alongside gameplay, graphics, and story, should be diversity.

Naughty Dog

"I've been talking more and more about this recently with the team. When you make a game, you have these different pillars that you're trying to balance," he said. "It's graphics, it's gameplay, it's story and you're trying not to let any one pillar overwhelm the other. You're trying to just keep all of this stuff in your mind like, how does it all work together? Recently, I realized that there's this other pillar of diversity. That's just as important as any one of these other pillars. I've kind of empowered people on the team that have made this their top priority."

Druckmann singled out Naughty Dog lead concept character artist Ashley Swidowski, whom he said is "constantly challenging me and pushing for diversity in our cast."

When designing new characters, Swidowski asks Druckmann things like "Can this be a person of color?" and "Can this be a woman?"

Druckmann went on to say he sees himself as a "pretty progressive person," but acknowledged that his lens can be somewhat narrow sometimes.

"I see myself as a pretty progressive person and yet my default is a white, straight, christian male," he said. "That's interesting because I'm Jewish and yet that's the norm for me right now. It's a challenge and it requires energy to deviate from that. Therefore it's important to empower people on the team that are going to push for this pillar."

The full interview is incredibly fascinating. Go read it here.

Another big-name developer, DICE, recently talked about how diversity is a major area of focus for its upcoming World War 1 shooter, Battlefield 1.

"We want to show diversity in the game," he explained, referencing the game's depiction of African-American Harlem Hellfighters and more. "That's been a key goal. You can see in the trailer that there's a Bedouin woman warrior on a horse. She's a playable character in the single-player campaign."

Before that, Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett said she believes female characters need to be more than just "strong," and that calling them that is a "disservice" to the rest of their character. She also says she'd "love to see more diversity within male characters."

Naughty Dog continues to support Uncharted 4 with new multiplayer content and is also working on the franchise's first single-player add-on. Beyond those, however, the developer has no announced games. The studio has talked about the possibility of The Last of Us 2, while there has also been chatter of Naughty Dog making a completely new game.

Uncharted 4, which launched in May, is the last game in the series that Naughty Dog plans to make (though there could be an Uncharted 5 with a different studio).