Working in the games industry can be a huge amount of fun. A standard response I gave in interviews for years was “If you can’t have fun in the games business, then you’re doing it wrong.” Which always got a laugh – especially from those who had nothing to do with games and gaming.
However, as we are all aware, for many people, there is a very negative side and sometimes toxic side to it all.
From issues around working practices and office culture, through to bullying and harrassment, down to the sense of entitlement which exists in some players, the games industry can, on occasions, be a horrendous, traumatic and toxic place to work or play.
One of the reasons I stepped back from the Scottish Games Network a few years back was that, moderating, patrolling and trying to keep the site and social channels even semi-civilised was a full-time job. Every post descended into personal attacks and bitter comments.
In October 2014, when the whole GamerGate ‘issue’ was at its height, I wrote an editorial entitled Scotland Says No, which stated flatly that this would be a welcoming and inclusive place for anyone engaged in developing, publishing, studying, teaching, or otherwise involved in this industry, was very welcome, and that no form of harrassment would be tolerated. Not a controversial statement, you’d think…
I got two death threats.
It broke my heart. It exhausted me. I decided I had better things to do than try to shepherd an industry which seemed so willfully hellbent on its own destruction.
How We Live Now
Even now, in 2020, we’re at a point in time where numerous people, across the industry are having to take to social media, to make public the problems they’ve had and highlight ongoing issues of bully, harrassment, sexual abuse, and discrimination, since their employers can’t or won’t do anything meaningful to end the toxic culture which seems to pervade every aspect of gaming.
It has to stop.
So we’re supporting Raise The Game. This is a new initiative from UKIE, which deserves far, FAR more recognition and support from the wider industry.
Launched in February 2020, the initiative asks developers and publishers to sign a pledge to directly and pro-actively address the issues of diversity and inclusion within their own company and their own games.
The pledge has three key pillars:
Creating a Diverse Workforce
By recruiting as fairly and widely as possible
Shaping Welcoming and Inclusive Places to Work
By educating and inspiring people to take more personal responsibility for fostering and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Reflecting Greater Diversity in Our Work
By striving for this in everything we do, from game design and development, through to marketing and other support services.
These are wonderful goals. If this initiative succeeds, it would go a long way to addressing nearly all of the issues this industry still struggles with.
Raise the Game already has the backing of several dozen developers and publishers, from EA, Ubisoft, Xbox & Jagex, through to indie developers across the country.
It’s also open to Academic institutions and other supporting businesses and organisations. Everyone in fact.
There are many there, but nowhere near all.
The Scottish Games Network signed up this morning.
UKIE should be very proud of this project. It needs to be far more widely known, and supported across the industry.
So we’re going to help as far as we can.
If you run, lead or manage a games business, or organisation within the videogames sector – please consider signing up.
For anyone else, please like, link, share, tweet or otherwise help get the message out that the games industry aspires to be better.
Let’s all Raise The Game.