OK... *deep breath* Long ass post incoming.
I am a very pro-diversity person, myself being a racial/ethnic minority in the United States. It's always cool, at a personal level, to engage with people who are "different" than you because you get to learn new things and enrich your life in the process. I put "different" in quotes because, despite differences in culture, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc, at the end of the day we all have the same, universal macro-level human similarities. In the spirit of sounding like a broken record, I'll use GAF as an example: I'm a straight man myself. Some of my favorite posters on this forum are gay. THE (at least in my eyes) sweetest, most compassionate, most chill poster in this entire forum is trans, and for me it's not even a question. We have awesome posters from, literally, all over the world. So, can we set aside that yes, diversity is good? I think this is a simple thing we can easily and universally agree on. OK, moving on...
The OP makes points that have merit. Forced representation and corporate pandering are not just shallow and insincere, they're driven by cold blooded capitalism. [Disclaimer: I am a very pro-capitalist guy; there's that one quote about democracy as a government system, which I won't get exact but will paraphrase: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." That quote can be mapped to capitalism as a financial/economic system. But just like any other system, unchecked/unfettered capitalism obviously has its flaws.] And beyond that, It has two drawbacks:
Exploitative: One thing I notice, especially around Pride Month, is the sheer commercialization of everything. Pride flags in bars and shops are not meant primarily as a celebration or call for "acceptance" or "justice", they're meant first and foremost as a way to entice you to that business and buy stuff. It's no different for video game companies. Sometimes the enticement may be explicit -- a DLC, a microtransaction item, etc; other times it's meant to say "Hey LGBT gamers, wink wink, nod nod, we're your 'ally'... please don't forget to buy our games." It's using people's group identity to get them to buy stuff; it's almost a textbook definition of "exploitation." Hell, in the 70s, lower budget movies started hiring primarily black actors, having soul/funk soundtracks, and storylines about the ghetto. This wasn't done for any major black pride reason, this was done expressly to get black people to buy those movie tickets. It was even given the name "Blaxploitation" by academics and historians because of this. I think this kind of exploitation is pretty dehumanizing, to be honest: "In actuality we don't care about the values of your group or, more importantly, about you as an individual; we simply want you to buy our stuff."
- It's exploitative to the minorities/underrepresented groups that the companies claim to be championing
- It's actually culturally, personally, and professionally reductive/harmful to the minorities and underrepresented groups.
Reductive: People are complex individuals with many goals, desires, purpose in life, things they like and dislike, etc. So when companies -- video game or otherwise -- lump people into a group (and in the process play to the absolutely most stereotypical aspects of that group) it's actually a disservice to the person and to the group that the person feels they belong to. An anecdote: A few years ago, a chick I was dating took me as a guest to a social event her company was hosting for "Hispanic Heritage Month." Myself being of Hispanic background, the whole thing was so superficial, forced, and cringe as hell. There was bland, flavorless Tex-Mex -- not even genuine Mexican -- food, which is already an issue for me because even though I'm Hispanic, I'm not Mexican, and there's actually a fair amount of Tex-Mex stuff I don't like. The music was horrible -- it's the kind of sanitized Latin-tinged pop music that native-born Americans who don't listen to real Latin music may like. Think stuff like "Despacito," anything by Pitbull, etc. Then there was almost the worst offender: native-born Americans very awkwardly and badly trying to speak Spanish and trying -- in the words of one particular young lady -- to "connect with [my] experience." This was before the term "lived experience" -- which I hate with a fiery passion -- was mainstreamed, but that was a proto version of that term. But because I'm not a party pooper, and because I had to not be a troll for my girlfriend's sake, I still tried to enjoy myself, even through all of that.
It may be an amusing/silly anecdote, but at a larger scale it absolutely stops being amusing and silly. Companies that stereotype in this way not only remove individuality, but affect the way that members who are not of that group see people of that group. "Oh, you're a gay guy? So you must be a rainbow-flagged, tight booty shorts, super effeminate diva" when what I've observed is that many gay guys do NOT fit the "super effeminate diva" profile. Since the city I live in has a very high gay population, there's some gay guys I've seen that are some of the manliest looking motherfuckers around; none of this diva business.
For hiring and quotas, it goes in two bad directions. You get underqualified people that either don't mind getting the job, or may even be wholesale "hustlers" and expressly take advantage of the minority status to get the job. These people then underperform, and all of their coworkers are internally reinforced in their stereotypes that "well, this person only got hired for their minority status, since they clearly lack the skill." Then for minorities that ARE legitimately qualified, and awesome, there's a sense of defeat in that you got hired primarily for your "group" membership, as opposed to your actual high level of skill for your job.
What needs to happen is that we all need to live by Martin Luther King's words, slightly modified by me for the 21st century. We need to get to a place "where [people] will not be judged by the color of their skin [or any other minority status[ but by the content of their character."
That applies to anyone. Jobs hiring. Video game companies and the way they behave both outwardly (for PR purposes) and internally (towards their employees). Stop pandering, and start treating people like individuals.