24 Feb 2020

Building an Inclusive Digital Industry

jay ann lopez | Stemettes Zine
CTRL Your Future

Growing Up

Growing up, gaming was seen as a hobby and not a career in my Caribbean family. I loved gaming, but its perception and lack of diversity meant that, at times, I felt as if I was a trespasser. So I pursued my other area of interest, science. But gaming remained close to my heart.

Fast forward 15 years and gaming remained dominated by white or Asian cis-men. But as technology becomes incorporated into everyday life, the industry seems a plausible career path for more young people. While this does offer an opportunity for the industry, all that remains is accessibility.


Diversity And Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are becoming the centre of discussion in various industries. Indeed, the clear gap between what the digital space is like now, and what should be, needs addressing.

In the tech industry, the lack of diversity in gaming, in particular, feeds into an exclusionary and discriminatory culture. This makes gaming a daunting space for non-white, nonmale, LGBTQIA gamers and professionals to enter.

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And, I am not alone in my experiences, over 5,000 women who felt this way now exist in my community – Black Girl Gamers. Through this community, we offer our perspective on how gaming can progress for the better of all. It has inspired several of its members to explore careers in this space too – somewhere they never thought they could belong.

Change And The Future

The rise of discourse in these communities has brought about wider awareness and action from the industry. Professionals are empowering underrepresented gamers to speak up about the exclusion they experience and hold businesses accountable. The gaming industry is young and there is hope; I see that evolving in the games we now play. From characters such as Bangalore and Senna to games like Raji, there’s emerging representation of non-Western perspectives.

With technology in our everyday lives; the opportunities for accessibility increase. More jobs in tech poses the perfect chance for us to reshape the industry into an inclusive and empowering space. Chief Diversity Officer roles are a new addition to many tech companies such as Facebook, Riot and Amazon, and boards are diversifying.

With time, this way of thinking will take permanent hold so that the younger generation can enjoy characters that they can relate to in the games they love to play, but more importantly, need not second guess whether tech or digital is their calling.

This article was written by Jay Ann Lopez, Founder of Black Girl Gamers.

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