EA, Kixeye, the ESA and others speak up on representation and diversity in the industry

Game execs call for acceptance of LGBT in games

Games representatives and social activists have called for an attitude of acceptance towards LGBT issues in the industry at an event in New York.

As reported by Gamasutra, senior staff from EA, Kixeye, the ESA and US politicians discussed the issues facing members of the LGBT community when it comes to the games industry at EA’s Full Spectrum event.

The message the panels’ shared was for acceptance of LGBT people to transform society.

Speaking at the event was Ford Foundation president Luis A. Ubinas, who had a message for developers.

“I want to emphasize the importance of the role you could play,” he said. “The images you present and the interactions you allow, are going to help shape the future.”

He went on to draw attention to the importance that games help to free young people from the often intolerant judgements of the society they live in.

“Somewhere in this country there is a young person… for whom being gay means isolation and secrecy. For them to enter fantasy worlds where they can be free to hold hands with a person of their choosing regardless of gender, or make a home with a partner of their choosing… that means they can move from the passive world of television, where they can see other people doing these things, to the active world of gaming, magnifying the impact that we know media can have.”

Former IGDA director and now Tencent industry relations head Gordon Bellamy said the way to make greater tolerance in games a reality is for the development workforce to reduce its barriers to widen diversity among people.

“Reducing barriers for diverse people to tell diverse stories is a challenge of any entertainment industry. If you can reduce the friction to getting into roles of leadership, that’s how more stories get told, period,” said Bellamy.

Long-time Maxis developer and now Kixeye EP Caryl Shaw added: “It’s a white dude-ly industry, still. In general it is still a very hard place for women to get in, and that’s got to change… I want the next generation of game developers to not be 15 per cent women, 85 per cent men.”

Dan Hewitt of the ESA agreed that having more diversity in the workplace will be beneficial for all.

“If you can create a safe space where all your employees feel comfortable, you’re going to keep people like Caryl, who will create awesome games that will sell [and] please your shareholders. It just makes good business, when companies take these steps,” Hewitt said, who also pointed out that efforts to promote diversity are sometimes met by low interest.

Bellamy, a black gay man himself, explained that it wasn’t until he’d attained his Harvard degree that he felt he could achieve anything in the games industry. He called for more role models and activists.

“It’s very empowering for people who don’t know that they have the opportunity to be part of the gaming narrative. This is actually very rare to see.”

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