In a refreshingly frank interview with Gamasutra, Mass Effect 3 senior designer Manveer Heir shared his hopes that games can embrace more racial diversity and in doing so, tell better stories.
The number one argument I hear against it is, especially, what I just said, worrying about offending people. "Why do we have to put a minority character or a female character in a game just so we don't offend minorities or females?" To me, it's never been about that, at all, to me. It's not about fairness, it's not video game affirmative action. It's about actually pushing our medium to make better games, to tell better stories in our games.
I've played certain characters over and over in video games. Every time I save the world, it gets less interesting. It doesn't matter what the journey was to get there. Ultimately, I know what's going to happen. I know I'm going to save the world at the end, and I'm going to play the same like archetypical character to get there, because mythology says there are certain archetypes — the savior.
So, to me, thinking about the sexual orientation, the gender, and the race of a character can change... Even the age of a character — that can change the way your game is structured, what your game is about, the things a game can comment on, the mechanics of a game. They can bleed into several areas.
Heir has been a proponent of video game diversity for some time now, joining a panel on racial diversity in games at the 2010 DICE convention. Like this new Gamasutra interview, that talk is well worth checking out.