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"My brown ass got talked to all the time about speaking up."
- Veteran game dev Manveer Heir, reflecting on his time at BioWare during a recent episode of Waypoint Radio.
Longtime game designer Manveer Heir has gone indie, but before that he spent years at BioWare working on Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Today, he made a guest appearance on the Waypoint Radio podcast to talk a bit about his work, where he's been, and where he's going. It's a really interesting conversation that touches on a lot of topics relevant to fellow game devs, including the challenge of trying to make the game industry a more diverse and inclusive place.
Notably, Heir talks frankly about his work on Andromeda and the problems he and his colleagues faced in getting it ready for ship. When the game debuted earlier this year it caught some criticism for glorifying colonialist fantasies, for example, and now Heir says there were people within the team who spoke up about the issue years in advance -- and in vain.
"I wasn't the only one. There were other people, there were other white people, white men, who spoke up. There's a lot of really good people inside of BioWare who spoke up on this stuff," he said. "This is what happens when, I think, you have a homogeneous leadership. The leadership of Mass Effect: Andromeda was all white men."
He also ruminated on what it was like to be someone who works at a large, high-profile studio and also speaks publicly about topics like diversity, race, and representation in games. Heir describes being "talked to all the time about speaking up" and feeling like some people in the company wanted him to stop rocking the boat.
"As somebody's who's public, you become the loud guy, you become the angry guy, and you become the person who's just trying to get all the press for yourself. That's how it's read, and then there becomes internal strife," said Heir.
"It is our job to speak up and do that thing. I'm not gonna quiet down and I'm not gonna not fight. So to me, when I realized I was in an environment that did not accept that and want that, and that was telling me I was being too angry or I was speaking up too much, and basically tried to tell me to sit down and be humble, I was like...peace out."
And that's apparently exactly what he did -- after his work on Andromeda was complete, Heir left the company to do his own thing. Fellow devs can hear more about that experience (and lots more) in the full episode of Waypoint Radio.