The gaming industry is poised to be the next boom industry in American business. In 2018, video game revenue reached a new high of $43.8 billion, according to Entertainment Software Association and The NPD Group. Like many of the United States’ most profitable enterprises, the gaming industry is overly saturated with white males. As a result, most of the characters in their video games look just like them.
Seventy-five percent of people working in the gaming industry are men, and nearly the percentage identify as white. For gamers of color, the journey is long and with minimal reward. Lack of representation leads gamers of color to struggle with a sense of belonging.
“If you’re a young person of color playing games, you don’t really see yourself represented. That kind of instills in you this sense that maybe I don’t really belong,” Mitu Khandaker, a professor at NYU’s game center, told The New York Times in a recent feature on minority gamers.
If you walk into the production meeting at a big gaming studio, the room would look very homogenous. Along with people of color, women also are largely underrepresented in the gaming industry.
One young game developer is trying to break the glass ceiling. Davionne Gooden, a 21-year-old Black video game developer, is making waves with his new computer game that tackles mental illness while at confronting racial and gender biases. In “She Dreams Elsewhere,” the main character is a girl who is in a coma and confronts the “villains” — in the form of anxiety and depression — that are in her mind. The game also features an all-Black cast.
Gooden is optimistic about improvements in inclusiveness in the industry. One bright spot is that there is a big appetite within the industry for inclusiveness and diversity. A recent International Game Developers Association survey that showed 81% of people in the industry felt that diversity in the workplace is somewhat or very important, which is up from 63% from a survey in 2015.
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