“We need to change the diversity profile of the games workforce” – Aardvark Swift Spotlight: Games Careers Week

The games industry over the last few years has come on leaps and bounds, ensuring games careers are more accurately mapped out and demystified to those looking to join the sector, but what about the general public, especially those from more diverse backgrounds that the industry tends to struggle to recruit?

With more and more outreach by charities, studios, not-for-profits, recruiters, and educational institutions happening every year, how can the industry as a whole ensure that more people from every background have the chance to start careers in games?

Jimmy Bowers of Aardvark Swift speaks to the three co-founders of Games Careers Week to find out what they have planned for this festival of industry employment.

“We need to change the diversity profile of the games workforce,” says Rick Gibson, CEO of The BGI, a games education charity that was founded as a result of a long-running campaign from over 600 studios and universities to create a new agency for games culture and education.

“When we first started talking about this initiative, one of the key realisations was that no one organisation, no matter their size, has a monopoly over the education to employment pathway. Instead, what we have is this patchwork quilt of amazing programs who each do their own thing well in their own specific area, but they’re usually disconnected,” Gibson says.

The desire to better link up these organisations and initiatives is at the core of what Games Careers Week is, creating a more accessible, user-friendly roadmap to industry employment. “As Grads in Games, we work with thousands of students every year, helping them get ready for a career in games. It’s the next step on from the early years work done by Declan and Into Games, the finishing touches of a long journey into the industry,” adds Andy Driver, operations manager at Grads in Games, a not-for-profit community-interest company, originally set up eleven years ago by Aardvark Swift.

“Understanding this journey starts at a young age is important, working your way through primary education and into secondary.” confirms Declan Cassidy, CEO of Into Games, a non-profit that supports people in finding rewarding careers in video games by connecting education and industry. “We started roughly at the same time as The BGI, during a shift as studios began to realise the value in connecting with education and strengthening those pathways.”

Games Careers Week matches what The BGI, Into Games, and Grads in Games all want to achieve, inspiring students, teachers, parents, and guardians from all backgrounds to discover careers in games.

“As collaborative organisations that are used to working with others, it makes so much sense for us to come together and link up at a specific time of year, not just to showcase our own work, but to welcome others to do the same,” adds Gibson. “We, as an industry, are really good at talking to each other and understanding our own jargon, but to make a real difference we have to talk to the public in order to change the deep-rooted challenges that exist in the sector around skills shortages and diversity in the workforce.”

The drive of Games Careers Week, as well as providing employment advice, is showcasing to the wider public that there are life-long and well-paid careers in video games for everyone. “It’s the right time to do something like this. There’s been a noticeable shift, with positive stories about games being given more of a platform, especially in the media which influences how they’re perceived by parents,” says Cassidy.

Games Careers Week launches on March 26th, keep apprised of updates via their website gamescareersweek.org. Listen to the full conversation with Rick Gibson, Declan Cassidy, and Andy Driver, and learn more about how to get involved with Games Careers Week, in an upcoming episode of the Aardvark Swift Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, third party apps, and the aswift.com website.

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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