I’m still new to games per se. I’ve grown up as a consumer, a writer, and a critic, but not a creator. This year, I got my first job in the industry, and it’s been a fantastic journey so far.
In games, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco is one of the biggest industry events on the game dev calendar. It’s HUGE, with a lot of industry-facing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities. Unlike things like PAX or E3, the focus is on game makers and the industry as a whole, rather than end users. For someone starting out in games, it’s seriously a wonderfully immersive way to get connected, and get a more in-depth idea of what the industry as a whole is like.
Because of the scale of GDC, it’s also pretty spendy to go to. Luckily, there are scholarships that exist because GDC recognizes the importance of making the conference (more) accessible to people of different backgrounds, levels of experience and entry points into the industry.
The scholarship I applied to was with I Need Diverse Games. INDG is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that “seeks to bring projects, works and research by marginalized folks to light. [They] also seek to discuss, analyze and critique identity and culture in video games through a multi-faceted lens rooted in intersectionality.” There’s a lot more to this on their site, but you can probably see that this is right up my alley.
As someone who has literally been the token minority everything in the vast majority of my jobs, it’s really important to me to see others like me doing the work that I do. I’ve had people come and ask me what I think as a nonwhite/nonmale/nonstraight/nonAmerican/etc. people, as if I speak for all of those underrepresented groups. I’ve had people try to relate to me by telling me about their favorite ramen place/the one time they went overseas/their one queer friend. I understand their intentions, but being the special snowflake minority is exhausting sometimes. (Or just rage-inducing, because BASICALLY VARIATIONS OF EVERYTHING IN THIS VIDEO HAS HAPPENED TO ME AT SOME POINT.)
These are not new or unique issues. The games industry (in its current form) was made mostly by white dudes. It’s no surprise that in an industry where we create entire universes and rewrite history on a regular basis that having a pretty narrow worldview means that that particular worldview will be disproportionately amplified, at the cost of muting other stories, voices, identities and backgrounds.
INDG received 25 passes to GDC, and offered them on a scholarship basis. I was waitlisted initially, but was later notified that I had been awarded a pass! (What I hope this means is that the other amazing applicants who were initially offered passes found other ways to get to GDC, so there’ll be even more underrepresented folk there.) I’ve just completed my GDC registration, and it’s a wonderful to know that there are people who believe that my voice matters, and that I can be a vehicle for change.
I’m also going to go there and learn all the things because I’m a giant conference nerd. It’s that vestigial part of my brain left over from academia.
So, thank you SO MUCH to INDG for this amazing opportunity. I’ll see you in San Francisco!