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#1 Edited by Castiel (2520 posts) -

Final Edit: (Even though most people are not going to read this anyways)

What I'm apparently doing a really poor job of saying is: I want more diverse and varied storytelling in games. Now if European developers wants to make very American games, and by American games I mean games inspired by the big Hollywood blockbusters, that's fine. But if that is the type of games they make because it's the easy thing to do, that would suck.

Japanese games feels hugely different from American games. They do that because they reflect the japanese culture and view of life and that makes them different from American games. That's why some people get really into Japanese culture in general; because it's so different and it appeals to them, because they get something which they can't get from American or European games.

What I'm asking is: Where are all the "true" European games? Where are the games with a uniquely British, French, Russian or Italian view of life? Why are so many European games so American?

I'm just wondering that's all.

I'm also not saying that more cultural diversity automatically means better games and I'm DEFINITELY not saying that they should make very European games no matter what. The developers should make the kind of games they want to make no matter what that is. I'm just wondering as someone who lives in a European country and who likes to watch both big blockbusters and more indiependent and experimental movies, which often happens to come from a European country, why so many of the games from European developers doesn't reflect the diverse "genre" of culture we have in books and movies. Yet most European games feel very alike. But Japanese and American games feels hugely different.

The "conclusion" in this forum seems to be that the audience simply isn't there. The audience for more experimental and culturally different points of views isn't there. Which is a damn shame if you ask me. In MY opinion, we need to see more culturally diverse stories in order for the game industry to truly flourish artistically.

That is what I'm trying to say and if you can't understand that, or that this is simply my own opinion, no I'm actually not speaking on behalf of the entire world, well then I can't help you.

Over and out.

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I apologize for my poor English in advance. I hope it isn’t too hard to understand.

We need more cultural diversity in games

One of the things I really like about movies is the broad "genre" of different cultures available. Let me extrapolate: With games there only seem to exist two kinds of games; games set in America and games from Japan.

Now games from Japan has a very distinct feel to them. You are very rarely in doubt that you are playing a Japanese game when you are.

American developers often set their games in USA, which is understandably since its home. It makes sense to create something out from the stuff you know and are familiar with. But why do so many games from European developers also take place in America? Where are the Danish, German, Italian and Spanish games etc.?

I know there is a very obvious and boring answer to this. It wouldn’t make money to set a game in France and have all the characters speak French. God forbid you would have to read subtitles; of course they could always release a dubbed version in USA with English voices with stereotypical French accents.

Metro: Last Light is one of the few foreign games that have a very distinct feeling to it. It feels Russian and that sets it apart from most other games. I think that game did okay sales wise, but that might also be because it’s a fps, and a fairly decent one at that, but you can’t make every game a fps or else it will get boring.

I find it sad that more European developers are afraid to set their games in their own countries and have it be in their native language. But I realize that it’s way easier to sell a game if it’s set in America, but just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s the best/only solution. The thing that is most challenging at succeeding at is often times also the most rewarding when it actually does succeed.

Anyways what are your thought on this? Are you happy with just American and Japanese games or would like to see more games set in other countries?

I personally think more cultural diversity would be extremely refreshing and it’s something that needs to happen if the game industry artistically wants to blossom in my opinion.

Edit: Reading the comments in this thread it seems like some people don't understand that this is just my opinion, so I apparently have to make that clear again.

Also countries have different cultures and ways of looking at life and that is part of why I like to watch culturally different movies, it gives me something special and new. That is what I want to see in games. I want to see more studios making games in their own language, literally, and culture.

No, more diversity doesn't necessarily mean better games, but I would be interested in games branching out to something more than just American and Japanese games and I guess some people didn't get that part of my post.

#2 Edited by MonetaryDread (1986 posts) -

Thats because most European developers are closing shop to relocate to Canada, where it is cheaper to produce a game. My thoughts specifically on diversity in games is that it will only show up when people of different cultures make something of their own. Like you said, Japanese people make Japanese games, Americans make american games, men make game that focus on male issues. If games need more female oriented games, then first, there needs to be more females making games. If the industry needs more Croatian focused games, then there needs to be more companies based in Croatia to make games. The other option would be to convince everyone else to just stop buying games that focus on white, American, male stories. It will never happen, but it might be worth a shot.

I am a firm believer that people make the games they want to make, and forcing people to make something for the sake of diversity would be just as damaging as letting the industry regulate itself.

Edit: Also, if you want more cultural diversity in games. Then make a game that focuses on what you want to see. It will be tough, but nobody else is doing it.

#3 Posted by jimmyfenix (3805 posts) -

Spot on. This is my fundamental problem with Military FPS shooters. They mostly follow real life scenarios and Battlefield Medal Of Honor and Call Of duty follow this script "Go to a foreign country...Shoot Brown/Russian soldiers...USA wins" I understand why they do it. It sells.

I would love to see these games break there cliches and explore different settings and stories but that does not seem likely.

#4 Posted by JasonR86 (9578 posts) -

There's more variety in games now then ever before. Sure, more culturally diverse developers would be welcome but it's not like we're playing a million of the same game like we did in the 8-16-bit era with platformers.

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#5 Edited by Zomgfruitbunnies (723 posts) -

I don't buy the "we need more (x) in games" argument. Good games aren't simply defined by what they decide to include but how they handle and make use of the included elements. Exotic locales and a diverse ethnicity don't automatically make games better and foster artistic growth. Good writing and/or gameplay design are far more important than simple setting.

#6 Posted by CornBREDX (4739 posts) -

I think we'll get there as the medium matures more- much like it has in a lot of ways with film these days.

#7 Posted by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

Industries exist where there are markets to support them. The largest market for games is America. The largest language games have in common is English. When there is a market for French-language games that are set in France, you will see French-language games set in France. If the market is not big enough to support development, there will be no development. This is absolutely in no way an ethical dilemma. Your argument is no different than saying there's not enough diversity in fruit, because the grocery store carries way more apples than pears, and that fruit is being held back by the focus on apples. The reason you see more apples than pears is because more people are willing to spend more money on apples than they are pears. Remember that game development as a career requires pay cheques, and that pay cheques require providing value, and that providing value requires a market who wants it.

This is basic economics. Honestly they should be teaching it in primary school.

As for 'more diversity = better art' uhhhh no. More diversity equals more diversity, leading to a higher chance a person can find something they enjoy, it is in no way a comment on the subjective quality of a work. Honestly, where are these ideas coming from? Tumblr?

#8 Posted by spraynardtatum (2519 posts) -

Agreed. Bring on the diversity.

#9 Posted by medacris (634 posts) -

Make a cast diverse in gender, ethnicity, country of origin, height, weight, personality type, and religion/sexuality (if it'll come up during the game), but also, don't make them walking stereotypes.

As for more diverse studios in other countries...it'll happen, and I'd love to hear more about what other countries will be saying through their games, but it can be costly, and I can understand why some countries would have more interest than others in making games.

#10 Edited by Budwyzer (537 posts) -
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Bushido Blade
  • Big Game Hunter
  • Cabela's African Safari
  • Mass Effect

Indie Games aren't usually set in any culture. The Binding of Isaac was set in a basement I believe. Tell me where in the world is The Stanley Parable set? The narrator is clearly not American nor Japanese.

Space games contain alien culture...... Without any specific requests for a culture that you believe is missing, I fail to see what's missing.

Are you simply requesting that more games need to be originally cast with characters based in other countries, along with main voice casting? If so, why? The more English dominates video game sales, the closer the world comes to a single common language. Are you against global unification through open channels of communication?

#11 Posted by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

@budwyzer: I support most of what you're saying except for the idea of a global language being some kind of harmonious thing (also making such a fundamentally fucked language like English the rule). But that's a whole huge discussion.

#12 Edited by Kidavenger (3484 posts) -

I think most games are set in a fictional world not on Earth at all.

Assassin's Creed has done a pretty good job at cultural diversity throughout it's run.

Remember Me was set in Paris. (this game is good, more people should play it)

Tomb Raider was set in the south pacific

Guacamelee! was set in Mexico

Papers, Please not america

As you mentioned Metro: Last Light

Out of maybe 50 major releases this year the majority of them aren't set anywhere in the real world and of those that are, there are quite a few that aren't set in America or Japan.

#13 Posted by spraynardtatum (2519 posts) -

I like the idea of characters speaking the language of the country that the game takes place in. That adds to the immersion of a game.

#14 Posted by StarvingGamer (7902 posts) -
@castiel said:

I realize that it’s way easier to sell a game if it’s set in America, but just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s right.

I can't, wait, what?

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#15 Posted by Budwyzer (537 posts) -

@budwyzer: I support most of what you're saying except for the idea of a global language being some kind of harmonious thing (also making such a fundamentally fucked language like English the rule). But that's a whole huge discussion.

Yeah, English is really fucked up. Any language that has homonyms is just fail.

#16 Posted by GreggD (4475 posts) -

Spot on. This is my fundamental problem with Military FPS shooters. They mostly follow real life scenarios and Battlefield Medal Of Honor and Call Of duty follow this script "Go to a foreign country...Shoot Brown/Russian soldiers...USA wins" I understand why they do it. It sells.

I would love to see these games break there cliches and explore different settings and stories but that does not seem likely.

Though the ending is ultimately the same, the content of the Black Ops 1 and 2 campaigns shows that Treyarch are entirely self aware when it comes to US military involvement since WWII, and in fact, the stories are painted with a highly cynical tinge. In case you need proof, they show involvement in the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, the Angolan Civil War, America's allied favors for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and the Panamanian Invasion. None of these scenarios are shown to be a positive thing, and in fact each one is explicitly explained as being botched, or decidedly not a good idea, in hindsight.

#17 Posted by Demoskinos (14512 posts) -

@jimmyfenix: Psssssh, please you also played as SAS in CoD there's you're diversity. :-P

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#18 Posted by Atlas (2428 posts) -

I think Europe is a bigger player in the international gaming industry than it ever has been. Previously, I think a lot of European developers set their games in the States because Americans were the primary audience and the largest consumer market for games. I think that while Japan has declined and the USA has stagnated, Europe is growing. It's small, steady progress, and you still have developers like DICE making very American style military shooters. Honestly, a lot of the best work has been done on the indie scene, as AAA is still very much American dominated, which I think is partly due to AAA development being very much influenced by film, and Hollywood is very US-oriented, obviously. And if you extrapolate that analogy further, how many foreign/non-English language films actually get wide releases in countries like the USA? Everyone knows how important Europe is to art house cinema, but not so much when it comes to blockbusters, with some exceptions (like Skyfall).

But even American developers/publishers are realising that Europe is an important growing market, especially for the console makers who are hoping to grow their markets in smaller economy nations which have historically been PC-dominated. This change in focus might lead to more games with different cultural touchstones breaking through the glass ceiling and making an impact.

As for outside of Europe, Japan, and North America, it's much harder. Bigger games are fucking expensive to make, and it's so hard to break through with a big title, much more so than in film. China and South Korea are their own weird introverted beasts, while emerging markets like India and Brazil are still way behind the pace of video game development/culture set by the USA.

#19 Posted by Hunter5024 (5503 posts) -

I don't really think setting a game in America helps with sales at all. I can't recall a time where the marketing of a game really played up the American setting. Maybe something like GTA does a little bit.

For me this is the same as the women in games argument, if a developer wants to make a game that's set outside of America with non american characters, that's cool. If they want to make a game in America with Americans, that's cool too. I do feel like we get a little more diversity than you seem to suggest though. Video games pretty frequently have us traipsing across Earth to journey through ancient forgotten civilizations, and unexplored environmental anomalies. A large portion of games aren't even set on earth, most fantasy games exist in a fictional world, and usually the basis of these worlds is decidedly European.

#20 Edited by Castiel (2520 posts) -

@hunter5024 said:

For me this is the same as the women in games argument, if a developer wants to make a game that's set outside of America with non american characters, that's cool. If they want to make a game in America with Americans, that's cool too.

I completely agree with this btw. I just get the sense that their is this perception that you have to make your game very American in order for it to succeed. Unless you are making a indie game you could probably get away with making a game set in Sweden in Swedish. Year Walk is a good example of this: It's a game set in Sweden and based on Swedish folklore and therefore it has a distinctly Swedish feel to it.

But I don't think a studio would be able to make a big expensive game set it in Sweden and have the characters speak Swedish and that's a damn shame. I would love to see more video games with a distinctive cultural flavor to them.

#21 Posted by A_Talking_Donkey (262 posts) -

I've been saying pretty much the same thing for a long time. Not only more diversity though, more positive diversity. It's embarrassing how a lot of games portray people of other ethnicities.

#22 Posted by jdh5153 (1034 posts) -

I would rather not play games that are not American.

#23 Posted by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

@budwyzer said:

@brodehouse said:

@budwyzer: I support most of what you're saying except for the idea of a global language being some kind of harmonious thing (also making such a fundamentally fucked language like English the rule). But that's a whole huge discussion.

Yeah, English is really fucked up. Any language that has homonyms is just fail.

For me it's that it's this bastard child of Germanic and Romantic languages, and it leans German here and Roman there, and rules that are in effect for words from this branch work like this, but they don't work for words from this branch... it gets silly as hell.

Spanish and Mandarin are way more applicable for massive, globe spanning languages.

#24 Edited by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

Why do you feel it is a 'perception' and not a 'conclusion reached through extensive demographics research'? I understand that from the outside it seems like business is just routinely craven and shallow (and to a degree, you'd be right), but there are literally people whose entire jobs revolve around finding new markets that want new products and delivering it to them. If these other markets were as strong as you believe, intelligent people would recognize them, and set employees to work creating the product demanded at a price it can be supplied at profit. That this is not happening is not proof that these markets can't support that kind of development, but it is absolutely the contingent factor.

#25 Posted by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

This American would be down with that. Though I tend to play many more games that take place in fantasy/ non-earth sci-fi settings, so meh. Still, just because I'm not playing them doesn't mean I can't recognize that diverse is better. Perhaps I'd be more interested if there was more variety.

#26 Posted by Slag (3897 posts) -

Sure, who wouldn't want that?

Expanded choice is a good thing for art and consumers The more different creative perspectives the better.

#27 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1404 posts) -

As others have said, there are far more games set in fictional and non Earth locations than there are games set in America.

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#28 Posted by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

@budwyzer said:

@brodehouse said:

@budwyzer: I support most of what you're saying except for the idea of a global language being some kind of harmonious thing (also making such a fundamentally fucked language like English the rule). But that's a whole huge discussion.

Yeah, English is really fucked up. Any language that has homonyms is just fail.

For me it's that it's this bastard child of Germanic and Romantic languages, and it leans German here and Roman there, and rules that are in effect for words from this branch work like this, but they don't work for words from this branch... it gets silly as hell.

Spanish and Mandarin are way more applicable for massive, globe spanning languages.

Personally, I love the quirky diversity that English's weird diverse roots give it, but I admit it makes it perhaps an odd choice as a lingua franca. However, these things aren't ever decided that way, are they? They were decided by England and America's large periods of cultural and economic dominance in many areas. If we wanted to change it now wouldn't it make just as much sense to adopt one of those artificial languages specifically crafted to be logical and easy to learn?

#29 Posted by A_Talking_Donkey (262 posts) -

It should also be noted that those non-Earth places often have cultures that are a lot like real cultures.

#30 Posted by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

Personally, I love the quirky diversity that English's weird diverse roots give it, but I admit it makes it perhaps an odd choice as a lingua franca. However, these things aren't ever decided that way, are they? They were decided by England and America's large periods of cultural and economic dominance in many areas. If we wanted to change it now wouldn't it make just as much sense to adopt one of those artificial languages specifically crafted to be logical and easy to learn?

I think it was almost entirely the dominance of broadcasted American media that did it. Until the rise of Hollywood and of television, America was still seen as a frontiersy backwater, not a place of significant cultural development. Even England, for all its military and sea might throughout the early modern era was a small player in European artistic and cultural development; the best poets and playwrights were writing in French, and the best philosophers were French or German.

#31 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5118 posts) -

No complaints here. I'd absolutely love to see games implement more diverse characters. I just think it'll take time.

#32 Posted by Jimbo (9767 posts) -

Nonsense, we get to shoot at non-white people all the time.

#33 Edited by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

@brodehouse: Honestly, I was more talking about England's role in India and China.

#34 Posted by zombiepenguin9 (526 posts) -

I think games are doing a pretty decent job already... most of the games on my shelf aren't set in America, or any real country for that matter. I don't really want to play games in other languages, and reading subtitles distracts from the action onscreen. There are also plenty of FPS and/or military-based games set in non-American conflicts, though they may be set in a fictional universe. RTS games are often set in Europe, for example.

I do agree that cultural/racial/ethnic stereotypes in games need to be addressed, just as in any other media. But just making the player character a different ethnicity without proper context won't do much, and some cultures or certain roles within a culture won't translate very well to games. Even though I don't play a ton of military shooters, it'd be weird to play as a Nazi soldier in a WWII title all for the sake of diversity. That's an extreme example, of course, and not what I assume the OP to be inferring.

#36 Posted by Tom_omb (325 posts) -

As a Canadian I'm bored of games set in America. I didn't pick up GTA V, taking the series back to California and repeating the same jokes criticizing American society seemed super dull to me. If they took the series back to London, or a new location around the world, I probably would have bought it. That was one of the things that hooked me about Sleeping Dogs, I've never played a game set in Hong Kong before and I loved it for that. Europe has much more history then North America, that could potentially lead for some super interesting settings. Imagine an open world game set in one of many modern European cities built on top of ancient roman underground tunnels and uncovering centuries old mysteries in medieval castle ruins.

#37 Posted by believer258 (11555 posts) -

Sleeping Dogs is a pretty good example of a game set in a different country. Far Cry 2 is as well, though whether it's a good game or not is debatable.

STALKER and The Witcher were also made in Eastern Europe.

#38 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

There's more variety in games now then ever before. Sure, more culturally diverse developers would be welcome but it's not like we're playing a million of the same game like we did in the 8-16-bit era with platformers.

totally Agree. There is a lot of diversity in games today. Of course a COD or Battlefield will sell a lot more but developers today always try diversity. Look at the Order for example which is set in a steampunk London in 1886.

Also if you try more diversity you will always get criticism if you do something wrong. The best example here was Resident Evil 5 which was called as racist because you kill black people in Africa^^

#39 Edited by StaticFalconar (4849 posts) -

@tom_omb said:

Imagine an open world game set in one of many modern European cities built on top of ancient roman underground tunnels and uncovering centuries old mysteries in medieval castle ruins.

So kinda like Assassin's Creed but in the modern times?

Honestly I don't see the point of OP is trying to make in general. Most of the FPS games have you traveling the world anyway if you're not in space or some shit like that. Bioshock was always their own cities. And assassin's creed had traveled all over the world with each iteration. Just how american is Mass effect, it being set in space and all? resident evil has left Raccoon City long ago. The GTA series is probably the only widely famous popular game that solely sticks to being American.

#40 Posted by Tom_omb (325 posts) -

@staticfalconar:

Yes, Assassin's creed is a great example of a studio that does this well. It's not even a matter of a modern day setting. I love games set in Fantasy worlds, and that may be more common then games set in real world locations, but that's a different argument. If you're going to set a game in a real world location there are more compelling places then the many American cities we've seen before in movies and other games. Lack of diversity in games may not be as widespread an issue as the OP suggests, but I don't see how going someplace new in a game can be a bad thing.

All that being said, the North American city I'd love to see a game set in my hometown of Vancouver.

#41 Edited by joshwent (2041 posts) -

@castiel said:

I find it sad that more European developers are afraid to set their games in their own countries and have it be in their native language.

I wonder what your examples of this are? What immediately comes to my mind considering new releases is Watch_Dogs, a game set in Chicago that was developed in The UK, France, Canada, and Romania. But the setting seems clearly like an intentional story choice. It's set in the US because that country is currently a great example of the pros vs. cons of a networked society, considering the kerfuffle surrounding NSA's secret gathering of digital information and all that stuff. The US has a special brand of technology ignorance and paranoia that are very much toned down in most other countries. The setting, though not the homeland of the devs, is perfect for the game they want to make.

What would you say is a game developed outside the US that seems like it was forced to be set there just for sales reasons?

@tom_omb said:

Imagine an open world game set in one of many modern European cities built on top of ancient roman underground tunnels and uncovering centuries old mysteries in medieval castle ruins.

I think someone's making a game just for you. ;)

#42 Posted by Castiel (2520 posts) -
#43 Edited by A_Talking_Donkey (262 posts) -

Even though I don't play a ton of military shooters, it'd be weird to play as a Nazi soldier in a WWII title all for the sake of diversity. That's an extreme example, of course, and not what I assume the OP to be inferring.

That could actually be really interesting depending on the narrative.

#44 Posted by ervonymous (1297 posts) -

Alan Wake and Max Payne weren't sweating in communal suburb saunas but there's always stuff like UnReal World which is as Finnish as you can get. Remedy's either a great or a terrible example because their inspirations are obvious and as such fit in America.

@zombiepenguin9 said:
Even though I don't play a ton of military shooters, it'd be weird to play as a Nazi soldier in a WWII title all for the sake of diversity. That's an extreme example, of course, and not what I assume the OP to be inferring.

That could actually be really interesting depending on the narrative.

Perhaps, but all I see is the original Medal of Honor with hitmarkers and a scene where you can't bring yourself to turn that valve, a comrade kills you and you jump to the next playable character.

#45 Posted by crithon (3048 posts) -

when I play Metal Gear Solid 4 and Peace Walker online I'm surprised at the amount of south american gamers. I got one guy from Venezuela, and I asked him "Didn't Hugo Chavez say Video games are evil." and he replied "FUCK HIM." I feel this is more about "what country adopts what" it's like saying "Does Pacific Rim feel like a Mexican movie?" Now Peace Walker does have some themes of Central America liberation, Big Boss turns into Che Guevara style character. But I was noticing this before in Metal Gear Solid 4 and 3's online play, a lot of south american gamers making clans and having their flag as their icon and I see it less in PC gaming.

#46 Posted by AiurFlux (901 posts) -

No we don't. Game developers need to be left alone to create whatever they want with the artistic vision that they're trying to convey instead of people shoehorning them into a set mold. If a company from Germany (Crytek for example) wants to create a game set in Germany with German speaking characters nothing is stopping them. But just because they choose not to doesn't mean that people should get up on their proverbial soapboxes like they're prone to do to try change shit.

If anything we need to let artistic freedom and creativity rule the day instead of this, "We need more (or less) ____________________ in games." We really don't.

#47 Edited by Clonedzero (4037 posts) -

I'm not really feeling that as an issue honestly. It's pretty diverse already.

Threads like this are worrisome actually, because it makes me concerned developers will listen and do something dumb. Like i always hear people wanting a Fallout game in europe or asia or something. Yet that completely misses the entire point of the goofy 1950's american culture and retro-1950's sci-fi it has going. Why even call it fallout at that point?

I'm not against it, don't get me wrong. I just think this is a non-issue. The only real genre i can see this being a problem is the modern miltary shooter stuff. But modern day is probably the least interesting setting for a game in general for me. I live in the modern world. I wanna visit fantasy or sci-fi shit.

#48 Posted by chrissedoff (2075 posts) -

I'd like to see more diversity in video game settings. I think consumers' willingness to play non-American characters or in non-American settings is underestimated, and publishers are playing it safe as always.

#49 Edited by Giantstalker (1510 posts) -

Forced cultural diversity is one of the worst things in gaming, movies, etc... it's this kind of PC thinking which is helping to destroy interesting media everywhere.

It "needs" to be inclusive. It "needs" to be representative. It "needs" to be a responsible, inoffensive, agreeable product everyone should like. Maybe what it "needs" to be is whatever the hell the creators really wanted it to be, for good or for ill, and being imbalanced and skewed is part of what makes it interesting.

So in short, I disagree, we don't "need" more diversity in games.

#50 Edited by Whitestripes09 (396 posts) -

It would be pretty hard to do since a more culturally diverse game would mean a more educated audience. Not to be stereotyping here... but the U.S. pretty much fails at identifying cultures. Japanese and European games really only work because they are so influenced by western characters and stories. Not to mention that Americans are some of the biggest buyers of video games... I think that hopefully in the future we will see more games that feature culturally different characters. I think it would be fascinating for once to play the alien instead of the space marine...