Game development attracted me for the same reason as many others in the industry: games and play shaped me as a person. They are part of the reason I am persistent, adapt easily, and learn quickly. I genuinely love making my own games.
The industry, however, has not always been welcoming. As a woman of color, I noticed that the industry sorely lacks both groups I represent. Several entities founded initiatives to help make the industry more equitable in terms of gender, but I still found myself missing opportunities and being treated differently than my white female peers. There has been also a noticeable increase in playable characters within AAA games who are women, but most of them appear to be white. The gaming industry, which exists within our society and is shaped by the histories of the major countries it inhabits, is not immune to the intersectional problems that affect marginalized people.
Like most microaggressions, it is hard to identify when and why people treat you differently. But in 2015, I decided to focus on building spaces in which game developers of color could thrive independently of these issues. With much help from an awesome band of game developers and marketing specialists, I began to pull together an idea for my largest event yet: a 200-person expo featuring games and a roundtable about race in the industry.
That idea turned into the inaugural 2016 Game Devs of Color Expo. It was a rare space in which the marginalized were celebrated. Developers were able to network with each other, present their work in a professional space, and get feedback directly from consumers. All games were shown free of charge. Tickets were affordably-priced at $5, enabling a wider audience to attend.
A great success, the event left us feeling exhausted yet satisfied. Many attendees sent us positive feedback – people couldn’t wait for the next GDoCExpo. The connections made and conversations had during the event energized them. They wished the industry was more like our event: accessible and diverse.
With the hopes of helping to make the industry more inclusive, we’re back and organizing an even better Game Devs of Color Expo this year. Just like last time, we are highlighting marginalized developers. Additionally, we are hosting five educational talks about game development and four panels about various parts of the game development process. All talks and panels will be live-captioned, and the event is wheelchair-accessible. GDoCExpo will be at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, an historic venue that can hold up to 700 people, on June 24. To keep the expo accessible, student and low-income attendee tickets are $5 while general tickets are $20.
For the above reasons and many more, the 2017 Game Devs of Color Expo is a must-attend event. Want to try games by developers from around the world? Got an urge to learn from different perspectives from your own? Need to feel normal and joyful in all your melanated game dev goodness? I’ll see you on June 24th.