Mass Effect
The Mass Effect series was praised for its strong female charactersEA

"Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia: Where Do Video Games Stand?" That was the question posed at a talk at this week's Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

The discussion was led by BioWare Montreal gameplay designer Manveer Heir, who received a standing ovation for the "rousing" discussion during which he called for the industry to rid itself of the many stereotypes that exist in the medium.

He called that duty "a social responsibility to mankind" according to Polygon. "These negative stereotypes affect the identity of individuals in these groups. They affect the way people think and treat others in the real world, and perpetuate the social injustices that occur in these different groups."

Heir's work has been largely based in popular sci-fi series Mass Effect, which drew acclaim for the freedom it offered players to create a male or female character and then mould that character's personality through the choices they make.

You can even choose to make your character gay, something which the game never treats with anything other than respect.

Issues and complexities

"We should use the ability of our medium to show players the issues first-hand, or give them a unique understanding of the issues and complexities by crafting game mechanics along with narrative components that result in dynamics of play that create meaning for the player in ways that other media isn't capable of," he continued.

Heir called the assumption that audiences won't accept a gay hero "very cynical", also extending that to "women protagonists in games that aren't glorified sex objects and actually have personalities beyond supporting the men in the game.

"I want us as an industry to stop being so scared... Let's create a game that changes the core experience for the player... Let's find a way to challenge the majority and the minority perception of how we deal with race, gender, sexual orientation and all other sources of social injustices we have in our world," he said.

"Let's not be scared to ruffle feathers and let's be open and honest about our intentions. Let's push and engage in a new discourse as a result of these dynamics. And let's do all of this because what we are currently doing is absolutely not working.

"Wherever we stand today as an industry," he said to round off the talk. "I am confident that we will stand somewhere far better tomorrow as long as you right here are willing to be an agent of change. I sincerely hope you are ready for that challenge because I sure as hell am!"

Cue applause.