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Game devs show up to support Black Lives Matter and Black game devs

Game devs show up to support Black Lives Matter and Black game devs

June 1, 2020 | By Alex Wawro

June 1, 2020 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Serious



Amid ongoing protests across the U.S. sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, protests that are being met with police violence, game developers around the game industry are taking to social media to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and Black communities.

While most of these statements are polite affirmations of solidarity, some studios have made clear notable efforts to support Black folks both in games and at large.

Developer and publisher Kitfox Games, for example, published a statement of support on Twitter that also included proof of charitable donations and a small list of resources for people looking to support relevant causes. Publishing team PopAgenda also published proof of a charitable donation to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, and offered to directly connect with Black and aspiring game devs to provide additional support.

Lionkiller dev Sisi Jiang has put together an online Google Sheet collecting the names, contact info, and specialties of people in the game industry who have publicly volunteered to offer mentorship and advice to black game devs. Many of those volunteering have done so in response to a post from the Game Developers of Color Expo Twitter account calling for mentors to volunteer their services, and for Black game devs to show their work in the replies. The organization has also continued to promote and highlight the work of Black game devs on its Twitter account, as it has done since its inception.

Both Microsoft and Sony have made public statements of support on Twitter, with Microsoft continuing to update its Twitter account with brief quotes about U.S. racial violence and injustice from its Black employees. Sony has also canceled its planned PlayStation 5 event on June 4th, and employees report the Japanese company is matching charitable donations made in support of organizations which promote racial justice, civil rights, and Black communities.

Nintendo of America (or any branch of Nintendo) has made no noticeable public statement or show of support at this time. (Update 6/3/2020: Nintendo of America posted a statement earlier today, affirming that “we stand with the Black community and all those who recognize our shared humanity and fundamental belief in equality and justice." Full statement here.)

As the industry continues to highlight the contributions and work of Black game devs, it's worth remembering that within the past year thousands of game makers were surveyed as part of the GDC State of the Industry report, which included some relevant comments about how their companies are investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives.

"The staff who aren't cis white males seem to be disproportionately a) contract employees and/ or b) affected by layoffs. On paper our numbers are better now than a few years ago, but I'm not sure if retention is going well," wrote in one respondent.

"Due to the candidate pools available to us, if we're not consistently diligent at pushing forward diversity candidates we go from being diverse to a pile of white dudes in three months if we don't pay attention," added another.

Updates:  

6/3/2020: EA is the latest company to voice its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and has made a long-term commitment to drive change and combat racial discrimination.

The U.S. publisher will contribute $1 million to organizations dedicated to the fight for racial justice, beginning with the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. In addition to its own contribution, it will match any donations made to those and other local organizations through its YourCause program during June. 

It is also launching a new program what will give all of its employees an additional paid day each year to apply to volunteering in their community, and on June 9 will hold an internal Community Conversation to better grasp how its workers feel about the racial injustice present in society.

Niantic and The Pokemon Company have joined Nintendo in offering statements and donations, the former offering plans for what their work on racial equity will look like in the near future. 

Infinity Ward has made a similar, slightly unusual statement with regards to Call of Duty. The company is committing to alterations to its online moderation, alterations it certainly could have put into place any time in the last few years. 

6/4/2020:  Double Fine has joined its parent company Microsoft in voicing its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and condemning police brutality across the USA and other countries. 

The studio called for an end to the "systematic oppression, disenfranchisement, and murder of black people in America," and urged people to remember the countless lives that have been destroyed by police violence and racism. 

It has donated $12,000 to Black Lives Matter, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Color of Change, and encouraged its community to help drive change by donating what they can.

6/5/2020: Infinity Ward's in-game anti-racism efforts have apparently begun, with the inclusion of a new loading screen message that's appeared in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone.

Epic Games has also released a statement in response to current events, however unlike its game development peers, it does not directly call out Black Lives Matter or any specific cause, and does not contain any donation promises. 



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