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At our recent GamesBeat Summit, we hosted the Diversity in Gaming Breakfast, sponsored by Facebook Gaming. This gave us a chance to start the second day of our event with a panel that included moderator Latoya Peterson of Glow Up Games, Sheloman Byrd of Streamline Studios, Leanne Loombe of Netflix, Verónica Orvalho of Didimo and Bryna Dabby Smith of Brass Lion Entertainment.
Diversity is important in our industries for obvious reasons. If we want gaming to grow, it’s important to incorporate as many different voices, faces and perspectives to the landscape as possible.
For Verónica Orvalho, even being a CEO of a gaming company doesn’t automatically mean that her voice is heard. “It’s tough. It really is,” she said. “I was at DICE last year, and I was one of the few women there.” She explained that for DICE this year, she sent Didimo’s head of sales and CTO, two males, and noticed that they had an easier time doing business.
Finding a place in the gaming industry is even more challenging for mothers. Peterson noted that when looking for participants in the panel, they had a hard time finding mothers in mid level positions rather at the top executive levels or those new to the industry.
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“There’s the trauma of crunch and this history of long hours. It’s hard to say, ‘It’s 5:00, I’m going to make dinner for my kid and I’ll be back.’ And that’s unfortunate,” said Bryna Dabby Smith of Brass Lion Entertainment. She added that work life balance isn’t necessary for just moms, but for everybody. It shows how a culture of crunch, which is a problem for everyone, can create barriers for specific groups.
Sheloman Byrd of Streamline Studios is a Black executive in gaming. He noted that when he was at Tencent, he was the only Black man there. It can become overwhelming and isolating in a leadership position that can already feel inherently lonely.
“Journal, have a hobby, have a safe space and have a really good book,” he said when asked for advice for others. “Those things will definitely help.”
It’s important for companies to creature a culture that can welcome and foster diversity. Leanna Loombe noted that for Netflix, this includes making sure that its content also features diversity. She often asks herself, “How can we keep the foundations of the Netflix culture but adapt that to what we need in games and what we need as a games team to thrive?”
Hopefully, it’s a question our entire industry continues to ask itself. Diversity isn’t just about helping those from minority or unrepresented backgrounds. It’s about how these perspectives can help us create better games, services and working environments.