LGBT sim Pridefest marks Atari’s equality push (Wired UK)


Pridefest
Pridefest

Atari’s
upcoming social-sim lets you plan your own Pride parade

©
Atari, Inc


Video games are the most successful entertainment medium on
Earth, but the industry still overwhelmingly focusses its efforts
and representations on straight while males. Atari is looking to
redress the balance slightly with Pridefest, an upcoming
mobile game allowing players to design their own pride
parade
.

Pridefest
is shaping up to be something akin to classic sim games such as Theme
Park
. Players customise parade flotillas, plan
entertainment, and keep their city happy, with new festival
supplies unlocked as they progress. The game is also set to include
social features letting users visit each other’s cities.

“This has been an idea for quite a while and we believe the time
is right to develop a game for the LGBT community,” Fred Chesnais,
CEO of Atari Inc, tells Wired.co.uk. “This is an audience that has
been underserved as a whole in the gaming community.”

Actual playable LGBT characters are still few and far between in
games, and titles addressing the themes and issues surrounding that
community are even scarcer, rarely appearing outside of the indie
sector. Asked about the industry’s reluctance to tackle such
material, Chesnais says “We can only speak on behalf of our own
games [but] this is a game we wanted to do for some time. It was
for us a question of concept, design, and time-to-market. Our goal
is to deliver a great game.”

The announcement of Pridefest is Atari’s second major
outreach to the LGBT community this year, following the company’s
recent sponsorship and attendance of the GaymerX convention, which
describes itself as “the gaming event for everyone, but focusing on
supporting LGBTQ gamers and allies.”

“Gaymer X is a convention where all kinds of people come
together to celebrate games and discuss inclusivity, diversity and
equality in the game industry,” Chesnais says. “Because Atari is
developing a LGBT-themed game, we felt it would be the perfect show
to partner with. The timing, theme and audience was a natural fit
for both groups.”

While Pride parades were traditionally highly politicised, with
the first ones launching in New York,
Chicago, and California
in the wake of the Stonewall
riots
, Atari is — for better or worse — distancing
Pridefest from the more serious elements of Pride
marches.

Pridefest will be a fun, social game first and
foremost. We do not have a political component in the game,” says
Chesnais. “Our mission is to deliver an enjoyable and engaging game
for the LGBT community that celebrates equality and diversity.”

Although this stance may mean the game doesn’t serve to educate
players on the historical importance of Pride events, it’s also
heartening that Pridefest is being seen as a game first,
and not a tool to bludgeon home social commentary. Atari also hopes
not to reinforce stereotypes about the gay community with the
game’s spotlight on Pride, but rather be an inclusive mobile gaming
experience.

“The concept of the game is to empower players to create and
launch their very own personalized parade in a city of their
choosing,” Chesnais continues. “Pride parades exist all over the
world. We are taking an established event and passionate cause and
game-ifying it with an Atari twist. We are also putting together an
advisory board that includes people entrenched in the LGBTQ gaming
community to ensure we do not pander to stereotypes but to develop
an engaging and fun game that is inclusive to all gamers.”

Although Atari is yet to release any gameplay images or a launch
date for Pridefest, it’s a positive move within the
industry. Hopefully, the final product will live up to its
potential.

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23 July 2014 | 5:15 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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