Getting diverse games into the gaming market at large is about making a movement. When Tanya DePass sent out a tweet in October 2014 with the hashtag #INeedDiverseGames asking the industry for a higher caliber of gaming experience, she didn’t know she was starting that movement. The nonprofit began with that tweet, and by August 2016, I Need Diverse Games was a registered 501(c)3 organization.
Over the past four years, I Need Diverse Games has made a positive impact on a number of levels. The organization provides scholarships to scholars attending the Game Developers Conference each year, and they attend conventions and conferences regularly to discuss the need for inclusion in video games, their production, and their creation. They also create an online community and safe space for marginalized gamers of all kinds, including those of diverse races, genders, sexual orientations, neurodiversities, and disabilities.
I Need Diverse Games’ work has also included the publication of two books, anthologies sharing true stories of dozens of game developers and their experience in an industry controlled by straight white men. Publisher CRC, a division of Routledge, has worked with DePass for both anthologies. The latest book, Game Devs and Others: Tales from the Margins is a curation of true essays from 22 people who have worked in gaming. It debuted on June 8th, 2018 and is available digitally or in print. DePass took the time in between her summer travels to chat with Sidequest about her new book, and how to support I Need Diverse Games.
What inspired Game Devs and Others: Tales from the Margins?
Jennifer Hepler Brandes reached out to me about the follow up to Breaking the Glass Level Cap: Women in Game Development, and thought the logical progression was the stories of marginalized folks, and [asked] if I would like to be the editor? After I ran a couple of laps, I accepted and we worked on the pitch and working with CRC; and I took on the review, editing and working with each contributor once they accepted having their story in the anthology.
How did you put together this great group of diverse writers that needed their stories told?
I put out an open call for submissions and asked for the full essay rather than a topic and abstract. It was difficult to make decisions since so many folks I know submitted essays! I tried to make sure they all met a tone of honesty but not super negative or overly cheerful and sugar coated about how the industry is. I also accepted essays from folks who are adjacent to the industry, to show another side of the story.
What was your most significant takeaway from this anthology?
That while everyone’s story is different, there’s a thread of sameness in how the industry can be lonely, or how it doesn’t acknowledge those of us on the margins. That it can be hard to be the only one in a studio, or to cover games and never see yourself represented in titles you have been looking forward to. It shows a common struggle that I wish we didn’t have as marginalized folks in the industry.
We just want to be heard, seen and treated like our other peers.
What is the biggest thing you are hoping gamers and readers might learn from Game Devs and Others: Tales from the Margins?
To understand why so many of us fight for inclusion, not just diversity. That it’s not a zero sum game for us, and we want more games for people not less. We just want to be heard, seen and treated like our other peers.
How can gamers and readers help support I Need Diverse Games on top of getting the anthology?
Patreon is our main source of funding: patreon.com/INeedDivGms or if they want to send a one time donation, our PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a favorite book about gaming that you would recommend?
And last but definitely not least, what’s your favorite game this year? What are you playing that you just can’t put down?
Surprisingly, God of War, I finished it in record time (for me) and want to replay it.
I love to play random games on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS4, GameCube, iOS and PC (in that order). Favorites include Tomb Raider (newer series), Horizon Zero Dawn, Overwatch, Breath of the Wild, Assassin’s Creed, SSB Melee, SSB Brawl, Mortal Kombat, Animal Crossing, and more!