Reprogramming Diversity in DIY Game Design
In an effort to combat the lack of diversity in the video game design industry, the past few years have a surge of inclusivity projects designed to bolster participation from marginalized groups in game design. These projects take on many forms, from training-based workshops like Girls Make Games to teach-yourself approaches. The abundance of these inclusivity resources has created the belief among many that, today, “everyone can make video games.” While on the one hand, these resources can be important tools for encouraging girls, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals to pursue game design careers, the rhetoric of “everyone can make games” might be interpreted as meaning everyone has an equal opportunity have a career in game design, despite challenges these individuals may encounter along the way. This talk emphasizes how we should not rely on inclusivity initiatives as the sole solution to the game design industry’s diversity concerns. Such initiatives place the burden of shifting the industry’s culture of sexism, racism, and other discriminatory practices on those who are marginalized by it, rather than seeking reform from the game industry itself. I discuss the steps that must be taken by proponents of diversity in gaming, including work policy changes, collective organizing and mentorship, and allyships with industry leaders. Only then can we ensure these initiatives are preparing individuals for long and successful careers in game design.