How to support the black gaming community

Ways you can support and amplify the black members of our community.

The death of George Floyd in police custody at the end of May is just the latest in a long line of tragic and avoidable deaths of unarmed black men and women throughout the United States. Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, the list continues and grows with heart-breaking regularity.

This profound sadness is only compounded by the danger and risk of public direct action in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 is far from over on the shores of America, and yet day after day for the past fortnight we have seen members of our communities unable to stand the injustice of racial inequality in the USA any longer, braving the risk of infection and taking to the streets to protest.

We understand that this is not a viable option for many of us. We understand there are many reasons to stay inside and stay safe, but also that this isn't an excuse to avoid engaging with a sensitive topic which is too often swept under the rug. Your support on the streets is appreciated, but if you are unable to protest then support comes in many other shapes and sizes. The gaming community is one built on shared passion and the experiences and friendships those provide. We are all gamers. And while support right now is necessary, sustained support of black voices in our community, beyond the length of a trending hashtag, is needed far more.

With all that said, we've taken our time to find ways the gaming community can support its black members, either through your wallet or your presence and further education. Take your time to find the best way you can help out your fellow gamers, even if it's just buying an absurd number of games for cheap. 

Ways to donate

Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

This is probably the easiest way to donate with the added bonus of, well, more than 1000 games. It's less like donating and more like buying more games than you could ever feasibly play, but with the proceeds going to the NAACP legal defense and educational fund and a community bail fund. The minimum contribution is just $5, which in our opinion is absurdly low considering the bundle contains wonderful meditation gem A Short Hike, and dozens of other brilliant titles like Minit, Night in the Woods, and Nuclear Throne.

Black Girls Code

Black Girls Code puts together programs and events to help girls between the ages of 7 and 17 learn STEM skills necessary to enter game development. With greater diversity of workforce, games can be made with greater diversity of viewpoints. With a mission to get a million young women of color learning to code before 2040, they may need your help in funding all those classes. You can support Black Girls Code with one-off or monthly PayPal donations.

Gameheads

A more general leg-up program for disadvantaged youth in Oakland, California is aiming to help children of color from low-income backgrounds learn how to make games. Programs are aimed at teaching aspiring game devs between 15 and 25 the skills they need to make their dream game a reality. If that's your dream too, you can sign up for their 2020 intake which is currently taking applications. If that's not you then you can help them realize that dream with a single or monthly donation, but if you are strapped for cash you can also sign up to mentor if you are able to donate your time to help support a young person of color get a decent start in the games industry.

I Need Diverse Games

Every year the Game Developers Conference offers countless opportunities for devs to get their game in front of publisher scouts or even just learn the wealth of knowledge of their peers at talks and presentations. For many black and other marginalized members of the development community, this is a pipe dream given the huge cost ($1600 all access pass) of the conference. I Need Diverse Games puts together a scholarship fund to send devs out to GDC to gain all that professional development. They also provide resources and education at other events and conferences to improve the diversity of the industry. You can donate to inflate the GDC scholarship fund and give even more black game devs the break they might otherwise never get.

Ways to educate

Code Coven

Before we get to more relevant educational opportunities, there's an opportunity we'd like to shout out. For black, Asian and minority ethnic women in the aspiring game dev community, the Code Coven summer program is currently offering scholarships for their 8-week intro to game making course. You'll need to be quick to apply by tomorrow, but if you've been thinking about taking the plunge then this is the perfect opportunity. Code Coven offers online courses, 6 hours a week, on getting started in Unity with no prior experience required. There are guest lectures and flexible lab hours. Find out more here.

Spawn On Me

Spawn on Me is a podcast hosted by Kahlief Adams and features a rolling conveyor of people of color in the games industry and its associated communities. Obviously recent events have provoked a departure from usual topics of conversation, which usually touch on the unique difficulties and scenarios of Adams' guests in the industry. The last two weeks of episodes in the wake of George Floyd's death are essential for anyone looking to educate themselves on the plight of black Americans, and looking to learn from additional viewpoints. You can find it on every podcast service but we've linked to Apple above.

The Optional

Another entertaining podcast focused on diversity within the gaming community is The Optional, with weekly guest contributors talking about their favorite games and anything else that is covered under the wider umbrella of our favorite pastime. The content matter is more focused on gaming than Spawn On Me, but includes diverse viewpoints to help you understand your favorite games from different perspectives. You can find it on pretty much any podcast service.

Ways to support

POC in Play

This organization is based in the UK but results in improvements across the global industry. The stated aims of POC in Play is to put more people of color in play, increasing visibility of marginalized groups within games. This involves education and advocacy, but in more practical terms they're a great source of finding more black developers, studios and content creators. Their Twitter account highlights many streamers and games that you can check out, and if you want to support them with a subscription or by buying a game if you like the sound of it then job done.

Black Girl Gamers

Another source of spotlighting new voices in the gaming community is Black Girl Gamers. They showcase any of their 6,000-strong roster of streamers and YouTubers on a given day, but more importantly this weekend they'll be hosting a digital summit with panels from streamers and voice actors about their experiences in the gaming community. Come for the education but hang around to support these content creators in the weeks, months and years after June 2020.

AnyKey

AnyKey is an all-round advocate for improving diversity and inclusivity in gaming and esports. While at the moment much of their work is understandably focused on supporting the black community, this advocacy extends to women and LGBT+ communities as well. Their support allows initiatives like Black Girl Gamers to exist and grow, and if you follow their Twitter or other social accounts you'll be clued into more signal boosting like that. 

Game Devs of Color Expo

GDoCExpo is a conference focused on putting game creators of color in the limelight. As a result, following along with this year's (remote) expo starting virtually on September 19 is a great way of discovering and supporting game devs from black communities. There are ways to support, sponsor and donate to the expo itself if you can spare, but if not then your attention is also important. You could also buy a ticket for up to $20, regardless of whether you want to exhibit a game. There are also talks (which will be livestreamed this year) and community events.

Amplify voices, and use your own

Finally, one of the most powerful things you can do to support black voices in the games industry is to acknowledge them, to amplify them, and to avoid staying silent. Social media can be a terrifying maelstrom of noise during critical, world-changing events such as the past few weeks, so make sure to be mindful of your own mental wellbeing. But if you want to lend your support, and have spent the time educating yourself and listening to black members of the gaming community voicing their experiences, then speak up. Thanks for doing what you can to help make our community more welcoming to everyone.

Photo courtesy of Josh Hild on Pexels.

Editor-in-Chief

Chris is the captain of the good ship AllGamers, which would explain everything you're seeing here. Get in touch to talk about work or the $6 million Echo Slam by emailing chris.higgins@allgamers.com or finding him on Twitter. 

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