Improving Diversity and Inclusion: “Rigs of Color” Strives to Expand Its Representation in the Video Game Industry | New

“The goal is to include people of color in depictions of humanity, true humanity, so that all different types of people can be shown from all angles and can be seen in every story” , explains Chery.

Artist: Davina Dawson

Chery and a team of WPI undergraduate and graduate students design what the industry calls “platforms.” Simply put, rigs are like scaffolding in construction or the bones and muscles of your body, and animators use them to generate life and movement. The rigs are created through a multi-step process that may involve motion capture and rotoscoping, tracing frame-by-frame live action captures.

The seeds for the Rigs of Color idea first came to Chery when he was a student in the early 2000s and unable to come up with non-white character rigs. The work really started to take off in 2019, when an undergrad approached Chery, asking where he could find black characters for his animation project. During that conversation, Chery says he realized, “It’s been a problem for a long time, and I have all the skills to solve it. The project’s work was also beneficial to white students, who Chery says learned to recognize their implicit biases and became more versatile as artists as they created anti-racist characters.

Chery also says he thinks the May 2020 murder of George Floyd was the catalyst that changed people’s minds and made them see the importance of Rigs of Color and the need for representation. As he says, “George Floyd’s death has made people listen to what people who look like me have been saying for years.”

An example of this newfound attention came after Rigs of Color was publicly announced in the summer of 2022. Chery garnered interest and support from industry animators at well-known companies, who contacted her through the through social media and email. These professional animators have offered to help spread awareness of Rigs of Color, as well as helping out with testing.

Rigs of Color character wearing alt jacket and earrings

Artist: Hannah Belan

Currently, there are over 30 characters on the Rigs of Color website, a milestone Chery says was made possible by the funding and support he received from WPI. He also received funding from the Public Interest Technology University Network, a partnership of dozens of universities designed to create a new generation of civic-minded scientists who will use technology to serve the public and the common good. He’s working on creating 1,000 characters, so there will be an average of 10 characters for most major racial and ethnic groups.

Two-thirds of the total number of characters will be free, with the idea that students, professors, and small to medium-sized studios would be the primary users. Providing free access to the majority of characters is intended to facilitate their use and proliferation, and eventually change the mindset of the video game industry and make them an integral part of inclusion.

About Shelly Evans

Check Also

10 Things Fans Should Know About The WWE All Stars Video Game

All WWE Stars was released on March 29, 2011 for seventh generation consoles, and it …