Q&A: Brian Carr on Game Devs of Color Expo 2022

Starting out as a showcase that attracted only a handful to travel in from outside of New York City, Game Devs of Color has expanded over the last seven years to become a global virtual event that serves to challenge and inspire the wider games industry. GDoC’s Executive director and co-organiser Brian Carr tells us more. 

What excites you about GDoC Expo 2022 this year, more than any other year?

I’m always a big fan of what comes out of the GDoC Expo Direct. Seeing the game trailers from the talented exhibitors playing one after another really gets me hype for what’s to come in the days ahead. Playing all the games during the Gradient Convergence Steam event is a close second.

How has the process of bringing the event together been, given the uncertainties of recent times?

Everyone (not just us) has been feeling the sting of ever shifting circumstances and less abundant resources. Thankfully, the pool of amazing contributors, volunteers, and attendees is still quite deep. Our community and sponsors have been incredible in helping us maintain a standard of excellence despite the circumstantial and practical hurdles.

What speakers and subjects were you particularly pleased to be hosting this year?

There are so many amazing talks this year. Seth S. Smith who works on VALORANT at Riot Games has a fantastic game design talk about “Understanding Player Dynamics.”

Jared Tan has a great marketing talk called “Lessons from a Million TikTok Views in Two Weeks.” I’m super excited for it, as I am of a generation where TikTok is a strange and interesting new frontier. Dani Lalonders, Son M., and Alex AK will be joining us for the panel “Crowdfunding Real Talk: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” There is a lot of great practical knowledge in this panel for how crowdfunding actually works.

GDoC has grown to encompass more diverse elements, in terms of being more than about “pure” game development, but also representing those who also identify as marginal beyond colour. Has that been intentional and important to the event’s growth?

Internally, we work to break down our own biases. We want to give as many facets of our community as possible a chance to break through. We make a dedicated effort to find folks who are from a variety of under represented groups. When there is room for all facets of our community to make games, that’s when the industry is at its best.

In which areas of business or development do you hope to increase interest and therefore promote greater diversity in the industry?

You could say we are pushing to increase hiring for storytelling roles given the amount of great talks we have about narrative design this year. Allowing marginalised people to tell their stories in their own voices helps the game industry to pull away from creating boring one dimensional characters. This is something that we clearly support and want to see more of.

GDoC comes from humble beginnings. Is it important to stay humble and how do you achieve that?

As far as we have come there is still so much further to go. Our mission has always been to build access to knowledge, funding, and opportunities for people of color in the games industry. The industry itself reminds us to stay humble because there is still so much work to do to achieve our goals.

Are there those that still ask why GDoC needs to exist – how do you respond to those kinds of questions?

Constantly. We respond politely and try to treat the question more as a teachable moment than an affront to our existence. The games industry at large is making strides to become more inclusive and equitable, but these initiatives are still in the early stages. We still need Triple A game studios to be more thoughtful when it comes to employment. We need more PoC represented in games not as stereotypes, but as real characters with real narratives. Until we see that the equity gap is closed there will always be a need for the Expo.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give the fresh-faced organisers preparing for the first GDoC?

If you’re ready to go out of your way for the next generation of game developers you’re at the right place. This is a games expo with a purpose, and the fun is in service to an important larger cause. We strive to do better than other game events. GDoC prioritizes paying our talent first and providing opportunities for attendees to experience one of the most vital and vibrant events in the industry.

You will already be planning for 2023, but has there been any thought to bringing GDoC Expo across the pond to Europe?

Technically we have … virtually. If anyone wants to reach out and contact us regarding a GDoC Expo Europe we are more than happy to discuss. All the organisers have valid passports and are ready to work!

Need To Know: About GDoC

Where: www.gamedevsofcolorexpo.com
When: September 15, 2022 – September 18, 2022

Highlights:
• Semiotic NPC Design: Mapping Symbols Of Identity – Chantal Ryan
• It’s Not About You: Beyond the Hero’s Journey – Jen Coster
• The Bridge Between The World And A Game Developer – Ron Jones
• Unionisation and Diversity in the Game Industry – Game Workers of Southern California
• The Accidental Afrofuturist – Nate Tannis
• Introducing Chaos: Let’s Build Some Procedural Narrative Systems – Sherveen Uduwana

About Richie Shoemaker

Prior to taking the editorial helm of MCV/DEVELOP Richie spent 20 years shovelling word-coal into the engines of numerous gaming magazines and websites, many of which are now lost beneath the churning waves of progress. If not already obvious, he is partial to the odd nautical metaphor.

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