Jo Twist called for the game industry to pull together to make it a more inclusive and welcoming place during a BAFTA Scotland panel on diversity Develop Live yesterday.
Twist said there was currently a “real problem” when talking about the issue, as the right research was not in place to display all the facts. She highlighted reports from Creative Skillset and IGDA presenting different figures on the number of women in the industry, making it difficult to know just how big the issue is.
Though the discussion often focused on women, the panellists explained that diversity also meant different ages and backgrounds. As panelist and Next Gen Skills Academy acting MD Gina Jackson explained: “It’s about having different voices, different social experiences and different backgrounds”.
Tigerface Games’ Kate Ho added: “It’s not just about gender”.
It was also noted that the debate isn’t limited to just games, the issue is also present in the VFX and animation sectors.
“If you look at Silicon Valley, it's amazingly multicultural and welcoming to a whole set of different people," said Jackson. "It means conversations can be had, clashes of ideas can be had.”
A member of the Develop Live audience questioned the difficulties of having the debate when many don’t think there’s a problem, particularly without some hard numbers to back it up.
Jackson said finding someone to write reports and to fund research was key, and felt the debate had been let down in that area so far. Ho countered however that the research could be quite easily done, and someone should just go and do it.
Air of fear
Jackson said one of the key issues she faced when approaching the topic of diversity was the air of fear when speaking out.
“Being on this panel isn't a comfortable place to be, talking about this isn't a comfortable place to be,” she admitted.
“I'm waiting to be attacked.”
Jackson also stated when writing articles online, she would never read the comments through that same fear of being attacked. She added that to tackle the issue of diversity in games, the responsibility needed to be shared amongst everyone, rather than expecting others, or indeed just women or minorities, to do it.
Ho said she never wanted to enter the industry to champion diversity, but growing in both the tech and games sector could be a hard place for women at times.
Twist added: “Sometimes it feels like you can’t win”, in reference to opening up the discussion on diversity and speaking out on the issue.