“Diversity and Inclusion is an incredibly long journey and change will not happen overnight” – Debugging D&I with Splash Damage

Amiqus’ Liz Prince speaks to Splash Damage’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisor Cinzia Musio about how to take the first steps in establishing as studio’s D&I initiative


Cinzia Musio, Splash Damage

Where does a studio start when approaching a D&I initiative?

One of the first things we did was to set up employee resource groups – an LGBTQ+ group, and Women at Splash Damage. Later we set up BAME at Splash Damage and recently we set up the Families group. These groups are open to everyone – whether you are part of a marginalised group or an ally – and it was a good place to get the conversation started, looking at the issues and what things we could do to fix them.

The next thing we looked at was unconscious bias and how to fix that. Thankfully, there’s a lot of free resources out there in terms of webinars and workshops. Discussing unconscious bias was a great way to start talking about how marginalised people are affected without making it accusatory or telling people that they are thinking things wrongly or doing things wrong, but rather that it’s what society and psychology has set us up to do and think.

We also began to host events. This started with International Women’s Day where we brought in industry women to talk about what it’s like being a woman in games. We also hosted a Pride event, where we had a live drawing session, but the model was a Drag Queen. With our events, we try to include a mix of awareness and bringing in people to talk to staff – but we make sure it’s also a celebration.

Who should get involved in a D&I initiative within the studio?

It’s a massive strength having leadership on board and that’s really helped us. It makes a big difference if the CEO believes in it. It brings strength to the conversation and means it’s something that cannot
be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

D&I should involve everyone and not be done in separation. What you don’t want is for people to think you are doing this to work against them. If you make the work open and transparent, you can bring everyone along with you, and it becomes part of the studio’s culture. It’s so much more valuable than telling people ‘this is what we’re doing’. That just creates a divide and politicises something that doesn’t need to be politicised.

It’s important that leadership knows that when you invest in diversity and inclusion, you have better retention, your workforce is going to be collaborating better, and people believe more in the studio. Ultimately, it will make the studio a more successful place.

What are your top tips for a studio starting out on a D&I initiative?

One of the most important things I did was to become a sponge for information. Learn the data, learn the business cases, so you can relay that information and discuss what you should be doing as a studio and what the benefits are.

Pace yourself. Diversity and Inclusion is an incredibly long journey and change will not happen overnight.

And keep track of your successes, because it is a long journey! So you need to celebrate the positive moments to give you the energy to keep you going.

What advice would you give to small studios who maybe don’t have the resource to do some of the things that you’ve managed at Splash Damage?

Take it seriously. If you put in the foundations, you are putting in the groundwork for the future of the studio that will make everyone’s life easier.

We are lucky that there are a lot of resources in the games industry. We are an industry of wanting to share information and help each other. Get in touch with groups like POC in Play, Out Making Games and G Into Gaming, sign the Ukie Raise the Game pledge.

If you are struggling, reach out to people in the industry because we want to help. No one is trying to keep the secrets to themselves. Everyone wants to share that knowledge and make the whole games industry a better place to work.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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