Episode's 2017 Diversity Standards


#565

Hi, everyone. I am still pretty new to episode and the forums (I only started about a year ago), so please forgive me if I am wrong about any of this information. But, I would like to share some of what I have noticed on this thread and my opinion on this topic. This comment is mainly referring to EPISODE and their stories and diversity, not user stories.

Now before I get into the nitty-gritty of this all, I would like to discuss the meaning of diversity itself. This is my perspective of the meaning of diversity, and I know that it might not necessarily be the same as others’. Anywho, I digress, the definition of diversity is: a range of different things, or variety. Diversity is a very broad term, and there are many different sub-categories including but not limited to: sexual preferences, racial diversity, cultural diversity, mental disorders, etc.

Sure it is important for user stories to have diversity, but I do not think that it is as important as the Episode-created and featured stories. Here is my reasoning: The stories you see on the shelves, on your home page, and that are promoted are the stories made and chosen by Episode. These are the stories that are more likely to be read because they are easier to be found, and not everyone wants to go and look deep into the depths of Episode to find a story with good diversity. I think there are are probably lots of great user stories out there with good plot and good diversity, but they would be harder to find because it is not promoted by Episode or have less. THIS is why it is so important for episode to include more diversity in their stories. Because whether they like it or not, Episode is a form of media; and, if they continue to not include diversity in their stories or show it in a stereotypical way, then they will just be upholding the stereotypes surrounding people/things that are different from the norm.

Here is what I think we need in terms of diversity: Diversity is not just having a character with a different skin color, or putting a hijab on a character. You see, at the core, people are different. Now, I am not saying this to segregate people and but them into boxes. What I mean is people come from different walks of life and have different perspectives on certain things. An african-american, homosexual, christian may not have the same beliefs as a caucasian, heterosexual, christian. While people have similarities, they also have differences, and that should be shown in these stories.

Episode, I understand that you may have a specific people that you market towards which shows the types of stories you will create, but you do not always need a diverse story, to have diverse characters. And what I mean by this is, you don’t need to always have a story centering on a “diverse” person to have diverse characters. You can easily add diverse characters to stories such as “The K*ss List” and “Positively Princess” if those are the stories that you get more reader retention in. Now, it would be nice to eventually get a story with a “diverse” character as the MC, but it is all about baby steps.

I think the main thing we are angry about is that you posted this at the end of 2016, and have produced many stories since then and we don’t see ANY of these promises incorporated in the stories you produced. Maybe we would be a bit more patient if we saw baby steps being taken to add more diversity into stories, but we don’t. And we are beginning to wonder if this is is just a group of empty promises.

In summary:

  1. It is important for Episode-Created, featured, and promoted stories to have a diverse cast because those are the stories that readers are more likely to see and read.
  2. Diversity is not just having a character with a different skin color, or putting a hijab on character. It is, at the core, having a character with a different personality and views on life and SHOWING that.
  3. A story does not always need to be centered on a “diverse” person to include “diverse” characters. You can easily add more diverse characters to the types of stories that you market.

I am not going to give you a list of things I think you should have for your 2019 standards, I think that is something that you as a company should reflect on yourselves. But, as I see how important this is to the Episode community, I sincerely hope you take time to reflect on the content you produce and how you can work to improve it over the next year or two.

Okay, I think that is it. Thank you so much for reading. Please reply if you think I have left something out, or if you are confused on one of my statements. I am sorry if I offended anyone, that was not my goal, but to just share my opinion on this topic. :slight_smile:


#566

While I agree with almost everything you have mentioned…
And u say reasonable things. U (not just u, but everyone) should understand, that Episode is not a charitable organization. They need, and they want to profit. They produce stories that are most likely to be read by the majority. And sadly, it is what it is. Independent writers, however, have all the possibilities to write a story with diverse characters.


#567

I agree with what you said. It doesn’t matter who or what race is the majority, EVERYONE should be represented and deserves to be. Or atleast a fair amount. They aren’t even at the basics of it and can;'t even ad us in properly. They don’t even add gay characters properly. Notice how some of the gay men wear floral clothing? Smh. Preach sis! :clap:t5:


#568

Right! Not all gay men are super feminine. I personally don’t know any who even are. But you know, stereotypes are what makes episode episode :roll_eyes:


#569

I’m am happy they have Transgender body types. What sucks? Most likely gonna get it in 2028. :woman_shrugging:t5:


#570

I understand what you are saying, and I agree. Episode, in the end, is a company that profits from the content they produce and, you’re right, it is not their job to put out stories that include diverse characters. But you see, the whole problem with this ordeal is that Episode made a PROMISE to us, as a community to create stories that involved a more diverse cast and they’ve failed to do so. And since they have done virtually nothing, about this feels very belittling (in my opinion) and feels like they are just sweeping us under the rug.

(I do not know much about business, so please correct me if I am wrong) You see, Episode makes money from the stories that get the most reads, so if story tropes like “Pregnant by ____” get the most reads, then they will produce stories like those. The thing is, we are not asking Episode to stop producing stories like that, we are asking Episode to include a more diverse cast in the stories they produce, to represent the under-represented of the Episode Community (like they said they would). If they want to create a story like “The K*ss List”, maybe they could have made the best friends more diverse. For instance, the GBF option, can be plainly offensive to Homosexuals as the character’s personality seems to revolve around their sexual identity and is a poor excuse for “diversity and inclusion.”

But, in the end, EVERYONE wants to be represented ACCURATELY (not offensively) in the media. And, you are right, it is not up to Episode to create stories with a more diverse cast. But, it IS up to Episode to keep the promises they make and that, at its core is what I think everyone is so angry about. That Episode made a promise to represent the under-represented and has taken no steps of action to keeping it.


#571

:clap:t5::clap:t5::fist:t5:


#572

But the thing is, diversity is one of the things that episode uses to promote their stories and platform. A lot of businesses do this

and like you said episode is a business. Therefor they want to appeal to more of their consumers this is the reason for this post

This is why in order to appeal to all of their many market segments, they must represent as well as make it possible for us to represent more groups of people. And they aren’t doing a good job at it and not keeping up with their promises which is very bad for their platform. For example many people like me, don’t normally read featured stories that have gem choices simply because we realize that there is no diversity in personalities, story plot or the characters themselves.


#573

I agree on this point! As a fellow Asian, I would say I don’t have monolid or hooded eyes, but I have, I would say, pretty wide eyes. However, I do have a pale complexion. :joy:

This is true! I use the gold tones a lot for this!


#574

Right? My story has the majority of asian characters and I use gold skin tones for most of them. Some of them have neutral skin tones, but yeah the rest of them have gold skin tones. Although, you can use rose skin tones for asian BUT it’s kinda rare for asian to have it. However, I do have a fellow asian friend who has cool undertone because she has pale complexion and her skin always turns red whenever it got exposed to the sun/after exercising.


#575

I’m still waiting for The cultural hair in instant princess :frowning:

Also uh
Yknow
Lip colours that suit dark skin


#576

Maybe someone can help me think about this: I’m writing a story and I’d love to add choices for gender, sexuality, color and culture. First of all I think it’s hard to write about something I don’t know enough about (For example, I can add a storyline that have a male MC and male LI but I don’t think I would be able to write it realistically). Wouldn’t you say it might be better to stick with what I know?
and second: how can I add cultural background for the MC and LI when I don’t know which choices the reader made? I always add lot’s of diversity in my other characters but the customised ones are difficult.


#577

This isn’t a reply to your question, but I wanted to ask, what’s a Male MC and a Male LI? Sorry, I’ve been on Episode for years, but I’ve quit writing stories for a while, so I’m a little confused! :smiley:

About your struggles with writing a story,
sorry to hear that! :frowning:

Good luck! :heartpulse:


#578

I believe MC is used for Main Character and LI is the Love Interest :slight_smile:


#579

Thank you so much!
Have a great day / night!
:slight_smile:


#580

Personally, yes. I appreciate that you want to make everyone feel included, but I appreciate even more that you are conscious about getting representation wrong. I’ve definitely read stories where the writer assumes they can properly write an identity outside their own, when that is not the case. For instance, without calling any stories out, I’ve sometimes seen “asexuality” as an option for the MC orientation at the outset of stories, but the writer has confused that with “aromanticism,” and they let it preclude asexual MCs from having any kind of romantic relationship, which isn’t the experience or desire of every ace person. Personally, I’d rather not even see them try to represent my sexual orientation than perpetuate false assumptions about it.

That’s not to say that, for example, heterosexual writers can or should only write heterosexual characters. But they should be really careful about how they include identities they do not claim a stake in, as they can easily stereotype the people they mean to represent without realizing. So rather than an allosexual author assuming they know what it means to be ace, if they want to include options for ace readers… give them the same options as anyone else, including the option to not pursue romance… and also don’t force their MC into bed. What I mean is, instead of “Ace MC is open to only this path because I think I know that’s what being ace means,” a better option is “Ace MC is open to any of these paths, none of which is explicitly exclusive to what I think being ace means because I might be dead wrong. (And maybe I won’t put a label I don’t know anything about on the MC, but let the reader decide for themselves what the decisions they make say about their MC’s identity.)”

Anyway, that’s my two cents based on harmful representation I’ve seen. Harmful rep isn’t better than no rep, even if the intent is to be inclusive and generous.


#581

Thank you so much :heart: this is so helpful!


#582

Thank you
That craps annoying


#583

These are both good questions. I’ll try to answer both here.

For your first concern, this is where research comes in handy. While it’s best to write what you know, that should be accompanied by expanding what you know. It’s good that you don’t want to misrepresent people because misrepresentation is common and can be harmful. For example, as a man who’s been in relationships with other men, I can confirm that most MLM rep on this app is very clearly written by straight women. It’s nice to see straight authors want to represent us, but it shouldn’t be obvious that the author has never experienced what they’re writing about. Same-gender couples aren’t exactly the same as a man and a woman in a relationship, and often the differences are neutral or positive. However, that should just be another reason to listen to other people talk about their culture, sexuality, relationships, etc., in addition to the fact that it’s just interesting to learn about others. It’s less about sticking with what you know and more about making sure you know something before writing it.

As for your second question, there are a few ways you can do this. One is to just include limited or no customization. Some people won’t read it because of that, but there are more people who don’t care for customization than you may think. Otherwise, you can allow readers to choose a culture from a list. Leaving some out is inevitable because the branching and research necessary would be a nightmare after a certain point, but you’d be able to save their choice using gains and reference it when it becomes relevant. Another thing, which I’ve done with positive reactions from readers, is have a character whose parents are of two different ethnicities with one being set (for example, a fully customizable character could be half Chinese regardless of customization, and any features that aren’t common in east Asian folks could be assumed to have come from the other parent, whose ethnicity isn’t specified) or a character from a diverse culture anyway. For example, a Latinx character could be just about any race, since Central and South America are extremely diverse due to their history.


#584

Thank you for your thoughts on this.
I gave it a lot of thought. One of my friends is lesbian and I talk with her about her relationships. I fully respect her but I always feel like I don’t completely understand. Other friends are from other cultures and I love learning from them. I could always ask them for help.
I really like the idea of limited customizing and the parents from different ethnicities, I’m going to think about that a little bit more. I’m working on a story for the new contest so I’m challenged by the deadline!