Episode's 2017 Diversity Standards


#1

At the start of 2017, the Episode team sat down and looked at our app to decide what we wanted to focus on this year. As we evaluated the many important issues and priorities around Episode, one thing was especially clear: our stories and platform should reflect the amazing diversity of our players and the world around us. In regards to that, we’ve let you down and we’ve spent the past weeks reflecting on how to do better.

When we use the term “diversity”, this includes but is not limited to age, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, culture, socioeconomics, gender identity and expression, sexuality, mental health, and physical disability / chronic ailment.

We want to share with you some new things we are striving for as a team for the remainder of 2017:

  • We will focus on developing stories at Pocket Gems that better reflect the diverse voices, identities, and experiences within our community. Starting in April, internally developed stories will incorporate characters with and experiences from a wider range of perspectives.
  • We will look for community stories with diverse casts, leading characters, and perspectives to feature in weekly shelves. We will spend more time curating themes to ensure a variety of perspectives are meaningfully represented, taking your feedback on each in an effort to make the next one better.
  • We are partnering with more creators from the community - including many you’ve suggested to us - to bring a wider range of voices to our featured stories. We will continue to expand this outreach as we grow.
  • We will increase the diversity of clothing, hair styles, character features, and backgrounds to empower everyone to tell THEIR story. Moving forward, we will put assets into production each month that expand the diversity of our art catalog, representing more religions, ethnicities, cultures, and genres. We have a lot of work to do here, so this will be an ongoing effort. We’ll aim to get the first set of these released before summer.
  • As we explore more diverse issues and identities, we will set aside pre-production time that may include additional research, interviews, characters studies, and visual development to ensure we bring better context to the story.

While these changes won’t happen overnight, we want to let you know about some of the stories we have in development to help reflect our dedication to representing our diverse community:
We recently re-launched Venomous, the story of a Latina police officer driven to prove herself in a cutthroat New York City environment. We loved working with the creator, Hannah, on this and are excited to launch more community stories.

  • We have begun work on a new story with a popular recording artist. In this story, you will be able to select the gender of both your character and your love interest.
    In partnership with a major Hollywood studio, we are developing a story based on a hit movie that will feature a Korean-American fashion designer and business owner.
  • We are working with an active member of the community on a new game-show-like story with a hugely diverse cast, where characters’ ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds will be a part of the story and the roles they play on the show.
  • We’ve got a new story in development that focuses on the fluidity of gender identity and the gender-based standards that surround our society.

We hope that in being more transparent about our diversity goals for 2017 you can continue to help hold us accountable to them. Thank you again for your feedback and dialogue with us. We will work to learn from our mistakes, and are excited to create a space where all people have a voice.


Heroes & Villains: The First Creator's Contest of 2018!
Diversity Standards: Your thoughts?
Diversity Standards: Your thoughts?
#2

#3

Would hopefully like to see an update on this since this was made last year and there were many discussions this whole year on these matters afterwards. Members have spoken to the team through Skype or phone calls more recently again as well in January on these issues.

Hope to see this updated :slight_smile:


#4

Looking forward to reading the one you are working on with the Korean-American fashion designer :slight_smile:


#5

It’s been close to a year since this post and the only non customizable poc story you’ve allowed to have a legitimate feature spot is still Venomous, while other stories get POC slapped on the covers with customizable characters whose defaults don’t look like the covers. Is this still something that’s being taken seriously by the team?


#6

It’s very upsetting that you guys didn’t commit to your promises. What happened to the story about the fluidity of gender? What happened to the game show story and the one when you should pick your gender and sexuality? We are loyal to you guys ,so be loyal to US! We want diversity! Putting a black girl or a Asian guy on a story’s cover when you guys offer customization is NOT DIVERSITY! Even the loading page is a HUGE JOKE! You have all the leads from your stories (all white , cis and straight btw lol (: ) and then there’s people of color used as decoration. You guys had a whole year to be better. It’s so disappointing. We deserve better…but apparently you guys don’t think so.


#7

I believe the game show story they were talking about is Haute as Hell.


#8

This sounds really nice in theory, but it’s been a year since the start of 2017 and it seems as if there’s not much follow through. There has been an improvement in terms of more diverse clothing/hairstyles, but as for actual stories, in every single story on the home page except for Demi Lovato and Haute as Hell you have to play as heterosexual. Also, I’ve yet to see a single main character from episode with an explicit mental health issue or a physical disability. So yeah, when I first read this I was hoping episode would actually get more diverse, but when I looked through all the episode stories I was disappointed to nothing but lots more “which white guy will you date???” stuff. Other interactive story apps offer female date options in almost all their stories, and it’s disappointing that episode is still so far behind.


#9

love this post, episode. completely understand if it’s worth the wait


#10

That is so true, you’ve promised to do this, but you are treating it as a joke. People use writing to step in their own world and not to be judged by reality, yet they can’t be who they want to be. I hope you fix this because you are honestly driving away those who aspire to write.


#11

It’s sort of sad that Episode fails to live up their own standards


#12

Y’all who say that they have not made any progress and stuff, please try to understand. I’m sure they are slowly progressing & working towards this.
They can’t just publish 100 stories with bisexual & diverse characters and remove all the pre-existing stories. I’m sure they understand your concern & you guys have to understand that they are slowly working towards their diversity standards goal. It’s rude to be SO hasty. :frowning:


#13

Ok but they set up this goal themselves. People were not complaining directly to episode to create more diverse stories before they put this up, then they failed to complete their own goal, so ofc they got backlash. It’s not anybody else’s fault except the episode team for setting up goals that they couldn’t achieve.


#14

They didn’t set the goals up on their own. This was in response to backlash from last year and we have been waiting patiently to see change and people are simply wondering where these changes they promised are. Nothing wrong with that.

Might I add, it’s 2018 and nobody should have to be waiting patiently for diverse stories. It’s really not that hard to include different types of human beings in stories, and yet, here we are.


#15

There’s no point of complaining about it so just chill and relax until they achieve their goal. Non of you guys are helping but you are pressuring them , and when you pressure someone they will rush fast to do it but it wouldn’t turn out as great since they rushed. Let them take their time to make quality content.


#16

I don’t see pressure when we’ve waited a year and have not seen progress. When conversations have had to happen yet again to assist them in doing something that shouldn’t be hard to do.

A year. When in that time, we have had Mr. Popular and I; My Teacher, My Gangster, and a host of other recycled Wattpad stories. It didn’t seem like a lot of thought or planning went into those stories. Not to mention the host of talent within the community that they can collaborate with. It’s easy to say chill when you are not the one waiting.

Stories with POC leads, LBGTQ leads, etc. have proven to be successful. Why isn’t Episode being inclusive? It makes this commitment seem hollow and just a way to pacify those who wanted to see change. That’s the message that it sends.


#17

Isn’t it 27 days? Their comment was published 27 days ago not a year.


#18

No, this post was made in March of 2017 after backlash. They copied this post from the old forums. These issues have been called out since 2016.


#19

It was on the other forums since like late 2016


#20

Oh okay thanks.