Gaming has gone from a niche industry to a behemoth, racking in an estimated $180 billion a year globally. This has placed it in the public eye. From the hiring process, to the development process, to the support of a gaming ecosystem filled with aspiring creators and designers, gaming companies and their stakeholders are facing more calls than ever to emphasize diversity and inclusion.
Talking about diversity and inclusion is important but putting each into practice is even more so. Here are a number of ways advocacy groups, businesses, and other institutions are making gaming more diverse. Let’s take a look at how these early initiatives are supporting diversity in gaming, from hiring to gaming content.
Achieving these goals starts with gaming companies hiring diverse candidates from underprivileged backgrounds. For many, this means changing their hiring process to highlight individuals with the ability to grow and add new perspectives, in addition to those ready to deploy their technical skills from day one. A combination of a strong education and interpersonal skills will always be important but with a more appropriate weight given to those coming from diverse backgrounds.
Gaming companies participating in social justice
Try as some might, it is getting difficult for gaming firms to stay out of the limelight. Their employees and customers are demanding more social justice activism from them. Recent reports estimate that seven out of ten employees want their employers and the games they create to be more inclusive and diverse, and gaming companies to be more active on issues of justice and equity.
Gaming giants like XBOX and Playstation have made statements supporting increased diversity and inclusion in gaming, and are increasingly persuaded by customers and their workforce to make gaming and associated industries, like esports, more inclusive.
More resources for developers and consumers
On a larger scale, Apple recently pledged to allocate millions of dollars to supporting less prominent creators and studios. They’ve also made changes to App Store rules to help independent publishers. These changes have the potential to boost competition and allow a more diverse group of creators and publishers to succeed.
At times, left out of the discussion about diversity and inclusion are individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities and the ways they can succeed with support at work and school. Villa supports all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts and has taken special care to cultivate an educational environment that promotes the success of all students.
Targeting young people (from childhood to college)
Children are the future and this couldn’t be more true for a gaming industry in prime position to embrace trends established by young consumers. Young stakeholders’ voices only grow louder as these social media natives become eligible to vote and enter the workforce.
Many of them consider online activism an important part of who they are and will carry it into their adult lives. They expect to see more diverse and representative characters and storylines, body positivity, and the promotion of work from creators with marginalized backgrounds. The impact of this can be seen in calls for a more diverse and inclusive esports industry that is exploding in popularity. But for all its success, it’s also fallen behind the times. As a global and growing industry, esports will be best served by a more diverse, equitable, and just environment for fans and competitors.
Governmental and grassroots diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) initiatives to improve diversity in esports can be seen in the UK, where organizations like Women in Esports are encouraging more women to participate in the sport. In a similar vein, gaming giant Riot Games is helping girls and women benefit from safer spaces online where they can hone their skills without being bullied or harassed by other gamers.