Video Games have been an integral part of the American pop culture landscape. It’s like Baseball and Apple Pie. It has now turned into a monetary endeavor sought after by large entertainment companies, vendors, etc. The Video Game industry has now crossed the $180 Billion mark as of 2020. Earning more than the film industry and North American Sports combined. This is due to sponsorship, e-sports, and streamers. But like Social Media Influencers there is an obvious lack of diversity in this ever-growing community. In research done by The International Developers Association only 2% of Game Developers are black. A number that will surely put fear in the hearts of any aspiring Game Developer. But now Black Creators in the industry are looking to change that.
On the development end of things; we have Chandana “Eka” Ekanayake. Ekanayake is a part of a movement meant to make the gaming community more inclusive. Ekanayake took initiative and started his own studio, Outerloop with his partner in 2017. Outerloop specializes in virtual reality experiences. Starting his own studio Ekanayake was working at Uber Entertainment. While there he saw the drive investors had for VR. So Ekanayake made the leap and pitched his ideas and released his first game, “Falcon Age” in 2019. During Ekanayake’s tenure, he never would emphasize his cultural history, “I was always worried about losing my job.”
But it’s not just about the development. Streaming games is a whole sub-industry within the gaming industry. But the similarities that the two share are a love of games and a heinous lack of inclusion. A wall that will be knocked down. 3BlackDot, the studio behind the acclaimed “Queen and Slim” is producing a new series called, “Gaming While Black”. A digital series designed to show representation in the gaming industry. CEO of 3BlackDot, Reginald Cash said, if you ask a fan who the top gaming creators were, they would maybe say Ninja or PewDiePie. Or if you asked them who some of the top game designers, engineers, or even characters were, there likely wouldn’t be much diversity on that list. Clearly, there is something missing, from just a representation standpoint, if half the adult population on earth says, ‘I’m a gamer,’ and you can’t think of any diversity, that’s a pretty massive problem”.
It’s apparent that the gaming community in the past has not been too welcoming towards creators of color, but with these creators of color. That will soon be a thing of the past.