There was a time in 2013 when I was convinced that I was the only person on the internet not playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I knew that it was enormously popular (it’s sold over 7 million copies thus far, and gave the 3DS a significant sales boost). I knew that I couldn’t go on Tumblr without encountering a gazillion gifs of it. But here’s a thing I didn’t know — nearly half of the game’s development team was female. And the way Nintendo sees it, that played a big part in New Leaf’s success.
As detailed by Laura Hudson in an article at Wired, Nintendo approached New Leaf with a sensible line of thinking: If you want a game that appeals to both men and women, why not have both men and women make it? Director Aya Kyogoku, who recently spoke at the annual Game Developers Conference, said that the experience of working on a more balanced team was eye-opening.
“Having worked on this team where there were almost equal numbers of men and women made me realize that [diversity] can open you up to hearing a greater variety of ideas and sharing a greater diversity of ideas,” she told WIRED. “Only after having working on a project like this, with a team like this one, was I able to realize this.”
Producer Katsuya Eguchi, who has led the Animal Crossing team since its N64 days, echoed these sentiments.
“We wanted to make sure that the content allowed all the players to express their individuality,” [Eguchi] said during the GDC talk, “that it is was something men and women of all ages would enjoy. So in order to view the project from a variety of perspectives, we made sure the team was made up of people from various backgrounds and life experiences.”
I feel there’s only one appropriate way to express my feelings toward that.
On the subject of diversity, Hudson asked Kyogoku about the noted lack of skin color options for player avatars. Kyogoku replied that they wanted players to “represent and express their individuality, so there are a variety of things we are planning on doing to facilitate that in the future.” I know a lot of players who’d love to see that happen.