The death of George Floyd in police custody at the end of May last year was just the latest in a long line of tragic and avoidable deaths of unarmed black men and women throughout the United States. Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, the list continues and grows with heart-breaking regularity.
This profound sadness is only compounded by the danger and risk of public direct action in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 is far from over on the shores of America, and yet day after day last year we saw members of our communities unable to stand the injustice of racial inequality in the USA any longer, braving the risk of infection and taking to the streets to protest.
We understand that this level of direct action is not a viable option for many of us. There are many reasons to stay inside and stay safe, and given the length of time since these tragedies, ongoing public protest is unsustainable mentally and physically. But this isn't an excuse to avoid engaging with a sensitive topic which is too often swept under the rug.
Your support on the streets is appreciated, but in the longer run support comes in many other shapes and sizes. The gaming community is one built on shared passion and the experiences and friendships those provide. We are all gamers. And while support right now is necessary, sustained support of black voices in our community, beyond the length of a trending hashtag, is needed far more.
With all that said, we've taken our time to find ways the gaming community can support its black members, either through your wallet or your presence and further education. Take your time to find the best way you can help out your fellow gamers and invest in the future of our culture and community.
Ways to donate
"We uplift racial justice and equity so that our girls can not only survive but thrive within spaces in the fullness of their unique selves." Check out our full statement surrounding the current events: https://t.co/xNNYJ8a9Qw #racialjustice #georgefloyd #blacklivesmatter— Black Girls CODE (@BlackGirlsCode) June 3, 2020
Black Girls Code puts together programs and events to help girls between the ages of 7 and 17 learn STEM skills necessary to enter game development. With greater diversity of workforce, games can be made with greater diversity of viewpoints. With a mission to get a million young women of color learning to code before 2040, they may need your help in funding all those classes. You can support Black Girls Code with one-off or monthly PayPal donations.
A more general leg-up program for disadvantaged youth in Oakland, California is aiming to help children of color from low-income backgrounds learn how to make games. Programs are aimed at teaching aspiring game devs between 15 and 25 the skills they need to make their dream game a reality. If that's your dream too, you can sign up for their 2021 intake which will soon be taking applications. If that's not you then you can help them realize that dream with a single or monthly donation, but if you are strapped for cash you can also sign up to mentor if you are able to donate your time to help support a young person of color get a decent start in the games industry.
Every year the Game Developers Conference offers countless opportunities for devs to get their game in front of publisher scouts or even just learn the wealth of knowledge of their peers at talks and presentations. For many black and other marginalized members of the development community, this is a pipe dream given the huge cost ($1600 all access pass) of the conference. I Need Diverse Games puts together a scholarship fund to send devs out to GDC to gain all that professional development. They also provide resources and education at other events and conferences to improve the diversity of the industry. You can donate to inflate the GDC scholarship fund and give even more black game devs the break they might otherwise never get.
Ways to educate
We are excited to announce that @code_coven is offering scholarships to the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community for our Intro to Game Making course!— Code Coven (@code_coven) June 6, 2020
No prior game exp required.
Apply here by June 10th: https://t.co/UvdP15obXY
Thanks @SquareEnixUSA! #blackgamedevs pic.twitter.com/9BCGdZS6Nc
Before we get to more relevant educational opportunities, there's an opportunity we'd like to shout out. For black, Asian and minority ethnic women in the aspiring game dev community, the Code Coven spring 2021 program is currently taking applications for their 8-week intro to game making course. You'll need to be quick to apply before the end of the month, but if you've been thinking about taking the plunge then this is the perfect opportunity. Code Coven offers online courses, 6 hours a week, on getting started in Unity with no prior experience required. There are guest lectures and flexible lab hours. Find out more here.
@PikaChulita @BlessingJr @TheCinephileGuy @ZombaeKillz & @vicious696 join us this week to talk about the murder of #GeorgeFloyd. About being Black in America, how the gaming industry is failing Black creators & we get real about the state of the world. https://t.co/RXnOU7xgSX pic.twitter.com/d5gePjMJgT— Spawn On Me Podcast (Review us on Apple Podcasts) (@SpawnOnMe) June 1, 2020
Spawn on Me is a podcast hosted by Kahlief Adams and features a rolling conveyor of people of color in the games industry and its associated communities. Obviously recent events have provoked a departure from usual topics of conversation, which usually touch on the unique difficulties and scenarios of Adams' guests in the industry. The last two weeks of episodes in the wake of George Floyd's death are essential for anyone looking to educate themselves on the plight of black Americans, and looking to learn from additional viewpoints. You can find it on every podcast service but we've linked to Apple above.
Another entertaining podcast focused on diversity within the gaming community is The Optional, with weekly guest contributors talking about their favorite games and anything else that is covered under the wider umbrella of our favorite pastime. The content matter is more focused on gaming than Spawn On Me, but includes diverse viewpoints to help you understand your favorite games from different perspectives. You can find it on pretty much any podcast service.
Ways to support
POC in Play
These past few days have been heartbreaking but we shall make it clear - #BlackLivesMatter .— POC in Play (@pocinplay) June 1, 2020
If you want to know how to make a difference through donating, educating yourself or actions you could be taking right now at home, see the thread below. pic.twitter.com/fGnT5rYfvs
This organization is based in the UK but results in improvements across the global industry. The stated aims of POC in Play is to put more people of color in play, increasing visibility of marginalized groups within games. This involves education and advocacy, but in more practical terms they're a great source of finding more black developers, studios and content creators. Their Twitter account highlights many streamers and games that you can check out, and if you want to support them with a subscription or by buying a game if you like the sound of it then job done.
Black Girl Gamers
WE HYPE! Only one week until our inaugural #BlackGirlGamers Online Summit, in partnership with @Twitch!— Black Girl Gamers (@blackgirlgamers) June 7, 2020
Join us on Twitch Front Page for panels, key notes & tea on Streaming, Voice Acting and changes in gaming on June 13th at 7pm GMT.
Watch this thread!#BGGOnlineSummit pic.twitter.com/tdgcgIAM8O
Another source of spotlighting new voices in the gaming community is Black Girl Gamers. They showcase any of their 6,000-strong roster of streamers and YouTubers on a given day, but more importantly this weekend they'll be hosting a digital summit with panels from streamers and voice actors about their experiences in the gaming community. Come for the education but hang around to support these content creators in the weeks, months and years after June 2020.
AnyKey is an all-round advocate for improving diversity and inclusivity in gaming and esports. While a large portion of their work is currently focused on supporting the black community, this advocacy extends to women and LGBT+ communities as well. Their support allows initiatives like Black Girl Gamers to exist and grow, and if you follow their Twitter or other social accounts you'll be clued into more signal boosting like that.
Amplify voices, and use your own
Finally, one of the most powerful things you can do to support black voices in the games industry is to acknowledge them, to amplify them, and to avoid staying silent. Social media can be a terrifying maelstrom of noise during critical, world-changing events such as the past few weeks, so make sure to be mindful of your own mental wellbeing. But if you want to lend your support, and have spent the time educating yourself and listening to black members of the gaming community voicing their experiences, then speak up. Thanks for doing what you can to help make our community more welcoming to everyone.