Underrepresented communities call for more diversity in video game industry

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Black person playing video games
Credit: Marsjo for Pixabay

Underrepresented communities who want to work in the video game industry have called for more diversity in the sector.

Black Girl Gamers, POC in Play and Women in Games are a few video game communities who are trying to bring more diversity into the industry.

These communities are trying to improve the representation of women, people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community who want to pursue a career in video games.

The state of diversity in the current UK video game workforce

Two video game controllers which are in the shot.
Credit: TheXomil for Pixabay.

In the 2020 Games Industry Census conducted by The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), it found that 10 percent of the UK video game workforce are from an ethnic minority group.

Asians made up six percent of the workforce, which is slightly more than the two percent for Black people working in the sector.

UKIE created the Raise the Game pledge in 2020 which focused on improving diversity, equality and inclusion in the video game industry.

Mikayla Jones holding two video game controllers
Mikayla Jones is a video game content creator and consultant who is based in Birmingham. Credit: Paul Stringer

Mikayla Jones is a Birmingham-based Black video game content creator, consultant and Twitch streamer.

Jones, who streams under the Twitch name @ItsKaylaSinead_ said:

“There are a multitude of things that video game companies can do, in particular senior leaders within those organisations and human resources have to have a real look at where they’re at with recruitment.

“It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s finding those communities and it starts with diversity and inclusion in the video game industry. It also needs to show the breadth of jobs that are available because gaming is not just about design, it’s a huge industry.”

Finding and hiring diverse video game talent

Two black women discussing business in the office
Credit: Christina @ womenintechchat.com for Unsplash

A joint-authored report from Robert Walters and Vacancysoft found that 47,000 people are employed directly, and indirectly in the video game industry in the UK.

Out of the 47,000 people working in the UK video game industry, 20,000 people are working indirectly in this sector, which includes merchandising and eSports. The other 27,000 are working in video game development.

Jobs in the video game industry are not just restricted to game development as there are other routes that people could take to work in the sector.

Jorden Dakin-White, Head of PR and Content at Rix.GG, highlighted eSports as a possible route into the industry for people from underrepresented communities.

White, who identifies as non-binary said:

“There’s a lot of jobs within the industry that while they have a specific skillset, just remember that anything you’ve learned in the business world can apply to eSports.

“The eSports industry is still a male-dominated space, and could benefit greatly from the presence of more diverse voices coming into the industry and that’s because games are for everyone, eSports is for everyone, and we need people to apply.”

Mikayla Jones also explained about how non-traditional roles such as finance and human resources could be an option for underrepresented communities to work in the video game industry.

She added:

“We need to also ensure that people are equipped with the right skills to ensure we don’t lose out on a generation of talent in the video game industry. There are people who have worked as head of people and talent that have never considered a career in video games before so I want to see all folks of different backgrounds in senior roles in the industry.”

Importance of role models

Melanin Gamers part of a conference panel
Credit: Melanin Gamers

Role models play an important role in inspiring communities of colour, women and the LGBTQ+ community to pursue a career in video games.

Tomb Raider, Uncharted and The Last of Us are a few video game series that have women, people of colour or LGBTQ+ characters playing a lead or supporting role in the game.

Annabel Ashalley-Anthony, who set up Melanin Gamers in 2018 pointed out the need to give a platform for people of colour who are working in the video game industry.

Ashalley-Anthony said:

“One of the reasons why we interview and highlight people of colour in the industry is because there’s more people working in the industry than we think there is. When you see a game being advertised, the person who is playing it is not a person of colour, it’s usually a white man. That won’t motivate you to say oh I could do that thing.

“It’s important that the people of colour and what they’re doing in the industry are brought forward and we see that this person has done this, looks like me, and I can do that too. That sounds like a basic thing but it’s exceptionally important when you don’t see it all the time or you’re seeing one type of person.”

The future

Group of video game people from diverse backgrounds
Credit: Melanin Gamers

Underrepresented communities such as the LGBTQ community, people of colour, and women were hopeful about the future when it came to diversity in the video game industry.

Rix.GG’s Jorden Dakin-White said:

“There’s a real value for change and diversity because people are in that space now where they want but maybe don’t know how.

“Having these spaces where people can go to find resources to connect with communities and offering people contracts, viable programmes, content and all those kinds of things, and brand partnerships is important for driving that space forward.”

Melanin Gamers’ Annabel Ashalley-Anthony added:

“People are starting to realise how big the gaming industry is. From the ground level, there’s more students picking careers in tech in the gaming industry at university and that has grown so much. It was one of the industries that did well during the pandemic and I’m hoping that momentum continues.”

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