DEI / Events / Gaming

Game Devs of Color Expo berated online for seeking game devs of color

Welcome to 2015.

The Brooklyn Gamery logo. (Courtesy image)

Here’s the question in question: “What percentage of your team identify as People of Color?”
And some context. Brooklyn Gamery, an organization founded by a group of developers who identify as people of color, including Brooklyn tech scene mover and shaker Catt Small, is hosting an expo for developers of color.
“The concept of race affects everyone, yet people often avoid discussing it,” the event’s invitation reads. “This is especially true within the context of games. Join us for the 2016 Game Devs of Color Expo, a two-part event where we’ll explore the intersection of race and games!”
Well-articulated call for fostering diversity, no? Simple enough. Wait, let’s go live to Twitter for some reaction:

Here’s another reaction: “Race baiting bullshit run by people who’ve done nothing of value in games right here”
And here’s a terrific #actually response that really makes you think: “ by default, wouldn’t everyone answer 100% as white is a color too?”
Now, there was also plenty of reaction to the reaction.
One supporter wrote to Small: “Catt, this tweet is BS! Please continue. POC deserve these spaces & communities. Also the evite specifically states all welcome!”
“It’s not race baiting. That person is a notorious GamerGate shit-stirrer,” another responded.
Brooklyn Gamery ended up deciding to remove the question from their submission form.
“We wanted to avoid tokenization so we added this question yesterday. Should we take it out or rephrase? Let us know,” the group wrote on Twitter. And then later, “This morning was tough, but we learned a lot from it. We want to make this event great. All feedback from developers of color is welcome. Due to feedback we received from multiple devs of color, we’ve removed a question from our submission form that made some ppl uncomfortable.”

Catt Small, cofounder of Brooklyn Gamery.

Catt Small, cofounder of Brooklyn Gamery. (Photo by Tyler Woods)

We caught up with Small this October, and the founder/gamer/grad student/Generation Google scholar talked at length about her experience as a black woman in tech and gaming. She said the gaming and game development world is predominantly inhabited by men, and typically white men. One of her goals is to get more people from different backgrounds involved in the scene. And to be involved in a scene, she said, it helps one’s comfort level to be around at least some people who look or sound like you, not to feel like a total outsider. That would benefit not just the people who want to be involved, but the scene as a whole.
“The more diverse people we get into gaming the more interesting perspectives we’ll have,” she said.
You can sign up for the 2016 Game Devs of Color Expo here. Tickets are $5 and need-based free tickets are available. Game submissions will be accepted until Dec. 31 and the event will take place on Jan. 16 at the Microsoft Technology Center in Times Square.

Companies: Brooklyn Gamery
Series: Brooklyn

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