Debugging D&I – Amiqus’ Liz Prince speaks to Out Making Games’ Ian Masters, James Dodd and Zoe Brown

This month Amiqus’ Business Manager Liz Prince speaks to Ian Masters, James Dodd and Zoe Brown from Out Making Games about the organisation – and what games companies can do to support their LGBTQ+ staff …

TELL US ABOUT OUT MAKING GAMES.

OMG as we like to call it, was formed by a diverse group of LGBTQ+ games professionals back in 2019. We started with ten committee members from a wide variety of backgrounds both in terms of skills (coding, production, law, PR, etc.) but also companies from indies to big corporates. From an initial goal of creating networking opportunities and a support network, OMG is now growing into much more.

WHAT ARE YOUR KEY OBJECTIVES AND GOALS AS AN ORGANISATION?

We are working to address and overcome the barriers that exist for LGBTQ+ professionals in the industry, both by transforming policies and institutions, and by changing hearts and minds through education. We run events, activities, comms and forums to advocate, in a positive way, for the interests of LGBTQ+ staff and to provide a group to connect people together. A united community is an empowered one.

Each of our initiatives this year is driven by at least one of four pillars: Advocacy, Community, Education, and Intersectionality. Our commitment extends to supporting everybody in the LGBTQ+ rainbow and most especially those who find themselves most marginalised in 2022 – trans and gender diverse people.

Our commitment to intersectionality and our belief that fighting one form of oppression means fighting all forms of oppression.

WHAT BARRIERS ARE CURRENTLY FACING THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY WITHIN THE GAMES INDUSTRY?

LGBTQ+ people both in and outside of the games industry face hate, discrimination, harassment, unequal treatment and scrutiny of their family life related directly to their sexual or gender identities. Along with this can come worse mental health, pay disparity and barriers to advancement. Specific to the games industry, there are added challenges of targeted bigoted attacks of queer developers from players on social media – and the emotional labour associated with either fighting for or being asked for input on authentic LGBTQ+ representation in the games we make.

WHAT CAN STUDIOS DO TO WELCOME AND SUPPORT LGBTQ+ INDIVIDUALS IN THE WORKPLACE?

• Harassment and bullying policies which specifically call out homophobic, transphobic and biphobic behaviour.
• Provide a safe means to report homophobic, transphobic and biphobic behaviour, both directly, but also through anonymous aggregators like the Call it! app, so people feel safe reporting it.
• Transitioning at work policies and healthcare that provides cover for gender dysphoria, gender affirming surgery, mental health cover.
• Hire and pay consultants rather than ask LGBTQ+ staff to be solely responsible for managing authentic representation.
• Make sure your hiring practices are not discriminatory by using panels to hire rather than individuals.
• Create an environment where LGBTQ+ people feel 100% comfortable being their true authentic selves is essential.

CAN YOU HIGHLIGHT ANY PARTICULARLY GOOD INITIATIVES YOU’VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY TO SUPPORT THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY?

One of OMG’s key goals was to create mentoring opportunities for our members. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we instead partnered with the industry’s top mentoring scheme Limit Break – a scheme that was originally started to help women and gender minorities. The OMG team provided the support Limit Break needed to scale up, and in doing so open up support for LGBTQ+ people and people of colour. In 2022 Limit Break facilitated over 1,000 people in mentoring partnerships! We’d also love to call out the Tentacle Zone Incubator which is doing some amazing work supporting a wide range of diverse people creating new games and companies.

Okay, two more … Rainbow Game Jam, and UKIE’s #RaiseTheGame.

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