The idea of riders isn’t a foreign concept to the film industry in most countries. Performers or companies have the ability to amend their contracts in some way after they sign on to a project, and these amendments can sometimes have wide-reaching consequences for the whole project. Frances McDormand of Fargo fame spoke about the concept of a diversity rider during an Oscar speech, which is a provision in these types of contracts requiring the people working on it to be diverse in terms of factors such as gender, race, and/or sexuality. Now, it looks like video games might start including similar provisions if the announcement of a Warner Bros diversity rider policy as any indication.
It has been reported by Polygon that Warner Brothers has taken into consideration previous negotiations with actors about movies that are in development and that it will be rolling out this diversity rider across of the Warner Brothers divisions. While Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment is the arm of the conglomerate that looks after the video game side and it isn’t quite clear yet when these diversity measures will be introduced, it shouldn’t be too far along. It seems like a commercially smart move to undertake by the company, and its CEO has echoed the same sentiment when speaking to NPR.
When it comes to how this diversity rider could pay off, though, Warner Bros could be considered as a party that’s going to lead the way for other commercial entities that may still be on the fence about implementing these policies. Diversity riders are theoretically there to provide more opportunities to people of minority representation in the industry, and more diverse voices have the potential to lead to more diverse storytelling within video game projects as a whole.
Keeping in mind that Warner Bros owns a bunch of subsidiaries that pump out some of the most popular video game franchises of all time (Just Cause, Batman: Arkham), this move could take some time to implement successfully but the prospect of new takes on already popular titles is exciting to think about.