Current gaming trends are transforming the industry in ways we haven’t seen since online play became the norm. One of the latest gaming trends is a changing and growing gaming infrastructure that is making room for new voices and new competitors. The industry as a whole is becoming more varied, allowing more people better access to multi-device content and self-publishing opportunities. The hope is that this trend will facilitate a groundswell of mid-level and indie producers whose voices will amplify issues of inclusivity and diversity in gaming.
Major platforms like Apple and Google opening up
While long-term specifics haven’t been detailed by either company, legal, regulatory, and commercial pressures are forcing platforms to be more accommodating to smaller publishers (and subsequently, developers) with benefits to the industry as a whole.
Apple took initial steps after a major 2021 antitrust case ruling emphasizing “anti-steering” and additional payment options, as well as direct publisher to customer communication. While these platforms remain largely inaccessible from the perspective of indie developers looking to rise to the top of Apple’s App Store—often a prerequisite for success—this is a step in the right direction.
Pushing for inclusivity and diversity in gaming
Since high-profile and infamous instances spanning from the early 2010s to now, the gaming industry has faced major questions from the public and its employees. Many of these critiques revolve around multiracial and LGBTQ+ representation.
Grassroots organizations have sprung up to act as watchdogs for the industry. Their public statements are making clear that they expect more diverse representation in game main characters and more diverse game developers producing stories that reflect lived experience.
In time, access to a variety of game development and publishing tools (see, Apple’s antitrust response above) can make smaller and indie publishers more competitive.
There are also growing calls for increased educational and job accessibility among individuals with disabilities. As a result, more are embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI), working tirelessly to prevent the most vulnerable from being left behind. This includes individuals with learning differences like ADHD or dyslexia as well as mental health conditions such as PTSD and anxiety, who can struggle at work or school without appropriate support. Villa Maria College’s Achieve Program is unique in how it holistically aids students with learning differences to succeed, including many within our 4-year game design program.
Just a few years ago, a future game developer would have dreamed of seeing their vision come to life on PC or console. Now, TV and movie firms have become general content companies, creating cross-device and multimedia more broadly. We are now seeing crossovers of famous games, characters and worlds, with content increasingly centering on new adaptable mobile devices and the “metaverse.”
This isn’t just exciting for the developer from an aspirational standpoint. It is a gaming industry trend that means additional opportunities for game designers to apply their creativity and skills in the marketplace. While the perception among prospective college students is that programs don’t always prepare them for a career, Villa’s game design program teaches real-world skills from game conception to distribution including design, development, and production.
Game designers who start working in one aspect of game design are likely to find that their design and development skills are valued across media for their creativity, problem-solving, and expertise!