Games

Twitter Hashtag Challenges Internet Who Makes Video Games

JC Lau smiles for the camera at the 2019 Game Developers Conference

photo: JC Lau

While the video game industry is becomes more diverse every year, marginalized game developers in professional settings are still often dismissed because of their looks. A developer started the hashtag #WhatAGameDevLooksLike after security guards apparently stopped her no fewer than three times at a games conference, and now that hashtag has become wonderful proof that people of all genders, races and sexualities are involved in every facet of game development.

On March 18, 2019, JC Lau – then at Bungie, now at Harebrained Schemes – was scheduled to participate in a panel entitled “Building An Inclusive Game Studio Culture” at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. While waiting in line to collect her ID, she claimed no fewer than three security guards told her the line was for speakers only. She noticed that the white men around her weren’t being questioned by security. After the experience, she learned that other women, non-Americans and people of color, were subjected to similar treatment. In response, she posted her selfie with #WhatAGameDevLooksLike and encouraged others to do the same.

The hashtag was so successful that Lau has continued #WhatAGameDevLooksLike during this year’s GDC (the in-person event has been canceled for the past two years due to Covid-19). the hashtag is filled with selfies from female, queer and non-white developers. Some of them speak of having worked in game development for a decade or more.

Lau is optimistic about the hashtag’s positive impact on the industry. While it raises people’s awareness of how much diversity already exists in game development, and disrupts the image of the “typical” game developer as a white cis male, it’s also been a source of camaraderie for marginalized developers in an industry that has it is still very homogeneous. said Lau kotaku:

#WhatAGameDevLooksLike was an opportunity for people to connect, empower and celebrate each other and the diversity in our industry. I’ve had messages from people saying they thought they were the “only ones” with a certain background and found others like them. It was also a way for people to have conversations about how to navigate this industry as a person from a marginalized background and get inspiration for the future of the industry.

Lau added that she has not experienced any problems with overzealous security forces this year, but that she has heard stories of demoralizing treatment from some other GDC attendees. It is clear that there is still work to be done to ensure that the public perception of game developers is in line with the diverse reality.

https://kotaku.com/slug-whatagamedevlookslike-diversity-gdc-marginalized-1848700549 Twitter Hashtag Challenges Internet Who Makes Video Games

Curtis Crabtree

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