18: Diversity

18: Diversity

What can be done to increase diversity and representation within games and the game designer community?

 

 

I have so many thoughts on this. To start:

Publishers tend to favour already-published designers. This perpetuates the status quo.

Seek out first-timers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Playtesting in closed groups misses new designers.

Do some playtesting in public, and advertise it.

Walking into events where you’re in the extreme minority just sucks.

Create buddy systems to support underrepresented folks.

Game design is more accessible to people with more time and money.

Don’t require in-person pitch meetings.

Offer event scholarships.

Make sure child care isn’t what keeps your female partner from designing.

People from underrepresented groups make it past all of these barriers, but remain unseen.

Here’s a long list of published women. https://www.elizhargrave.com/women-nb-game-designers

Check out their work. Make lists for other groups. Lift people up.

Elizabeth Hargrave

Mentorships, scholarships – anything that specifically encourages diverse designers to throw their hat in the ring. The Jellybean Scholarship offers 6-month mentorships to female designers; in the coming years, we’re hoping to expand that to offer more.

Peter Hayward

When you see a new diverse designer, go introduce yourself to them and make them feel welcome in the community. It seems easy, but making sure that the new designers feel like they’re welcome is such a big deal, especially when the community doesn’t look like them. It was real intimidating to walk into my first Unpub room and actually stay to playtest when there were no other women there. Making things easy for new designers helps them stay instead of having them leave. The more that stay, the more likely someone else will see someone that makes them feel not as different.

Carla Kopp

There are many things that can be done – giving spaces and platforms to existing designers from marginalised communities is one. Big Bad Con does a great job of this by inviting a diverse group of designers as special guests to their convention. Other ways could be featuring a diverse group of people in artwork, like what BFF! by Ross Cowman and Terri Cohlene has done. Creating games that explore different themes can also open up a lot of opportunities for people, such as Monsterhearts by Avery Alder.

I think that when people see the different possibilities of game design and it’s not restricted to a certain set of people, you create a more inclusive environment (and more interesting games), encouraging the birth of new designers. Inviting people to the table is crucial to this, as well as making sure that current designers don’t get demoralised by slow progress.

Banana Chan

People from underrepresented groups make it past all of these barriers, but remain unseen.
Here’s a long list of published women: https://www.elizhargrave.com/women-nb-game-designers. Check out their work. Make lists for other groups. Lift people up. — Elizabeth Hargrave

There are many ways to promote diversity and inclusion in games. Here are a few easy ways to start; promote and play games rooted in diverse cultures and places. Buy games from diverse designers. Highlight these games and designers on social media. Invite diverse designer to conventions to sit on panels and run games. Have clear standards of conduct in your games community that bar racism, sexism, and other isms. ENFORCE those standards. Remove chronic bad actors instead of tolerating them.

Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

Great visibility for inspirational and diverse designers. Future gamers need to know that games are for everyone, and that they can be designed by anyone. However, this is very difficult to do if they keep seeing the same faces over and over again…

Sam Illingworth

The most important thing we can do to increase diversity and representation within games and the game designer community is to create games that people from all parts of life are actually represented IN. When I first began gaming and all characters were male, I often chose games that didn’t have characters (I think this happened naturally). Let’s make sure that our representations are inclusive. That will bring more and different people into the community into games.

Helaina Cappel

Promote and play games rooted in diverse cultures and places. Buy games from diverse designers. Highlight these games and designers on social media. Invite diverse designer to conventions to sit on panels and run games. — Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

A shift in attitudes towards women, people of colour and non-cis/hetero folks in the gaming universe? A general dismissal of the whole “get politics out of gaming, I don’t want it” frame of mind? Sorry, but making games is steeped in politics, accept it. From the language you use, the characters in your story, the art you have – EVERYTHING has meaning. If we could just use basic stuff like non-gender specific language and make games with less of a focus on colonialist history, that’d be at least a start. We’re looking to work with diverse designers at our company, and opening your doors to all is a good step, but there really needs to be societal change to make it easier for minority groups to even have the opportunity to play and design.

Michael Fox

No single person is a saviour. Individually, we can make tiny changes that will hopefully move us in a better direction.

Consider what your art is representing and suggesting. Consult people. Do research.

Challenge those who portray a world of homogeneity. Don’t give anyone a ‘free pass’.

Being mindful of one’s own actions, and their ramifications, is a good first step.

Bez Shahriari

Myself and other like-minded people are in the beginning stages of developing a scholarship program for designers from under-represented sectors. We’re currently exploring wording, scope, and sustainability. In the meantime, I support designers who need a boost by providing them with mentorship, playtesting their games, supporting their games financially, talking about their games, and helping them build relationships within the industry. As a community manager and event moderator/host, I use codes of conduct to create safe and welcoming spaces and I work to increase visibility for diverse creators when recommending guests for convention panels and the Meeple Syrup Show.

Sen-Foong Lim

Be mindful. Make choices that reflect a global society and intend your game for that society. ASK QUESTIONS. Learn what you don’t know. Suffer the momentary embarrassment of asking someone in the community if this name is suitable, or this hair style, this neckline. That ping of anxiety is far better than your name on a box that offends and will haunt you.

Adrienne Ezell

From the language you use, the characters in your story, the art you have – EVERYTHING has meaning. If we could just use basic stuff like non-gender specific language and make games with less of a focus on colonialist history, that’d be at least a start. — Michael Fox

We’ve made progress when it comes to representation in games and now some of that energy should be spent on inclusion, which means building safe spaces for anyone we are welcoming into the game design world. Those spaces look different for different groups and the wider game design community can facilitate that. So lets help Queer designers to create spaces where they can provide support for new Queer designers…and lets help Black designers to create spaces where they can provide support for new Black designers…and so on. Once we feel like there’s a place for us, we will thrive.

Omari Akil

It really comes down to hiring people who aren’t all alike to work on games and run events. We need more underrepresented designers leading projects and communities, creating content, and being celebrated for their achievements. Until the game design community is safer for these designers – truly safer, not just the safety of empty promises and declarations of intent – there will be a giant gap where some amazing people and games could have been. We need to reach a place where underrepresented designers are not afraid to put honest, personal games out in the world for fear of being torn apart for it.

Clio Davis

I think the best thing to do now is to go with the wind. There were no women game designers when I started 40 years ago – well, there was Maureen Hiron. Now, while I don’t specifically look for it, I happen to have more collaborations in progress with women designers than with men. And while women are still a small minority in the designers community, I think there are half, or almost half, of the new game designers getting in the business every year.
It’s a bit more complex for international representation – game designers are still mostly Europeans and Americans, but Koreans, Japanese and Chinese are coming in fast, and I bet other will follow suit, maybe starting with South America. As for representation in games, it’s a complex issue and my longest blogpost, Postcolonial Catan discusses some aspects of it.

A fun initiative which could be followed is what the Taiwanese / Japanese team behind Hanamikoji just made – their game with pretty geishas on every card sold well, then they made a new version with pretty guys. I prefer this kind of fun and humorous take over moral discourse which is often counterproductive.

Bruno Faidutti

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