Nigel Twumasi, is the co-founder of mayamada (UK manga brand covering comics, gaming and youth engagement), and an integral part of the Do I Look Like a Gamer? Campaign. He recently shared his thoughts on the lack of diversity in the gaming industry.
Nigel had an idea for the campaign pre-pandemic. This was born after an interaction with someone where he explained his Manga business that also deals with video games- to his dismay, he was met with judgement and asked “aren’t gamers bums?”. Thinking it was a joke, he explained his role and what his business does, but it quickly became clear they weren’t joking.
He realised that although he operates in spaces where his profession is accepted and even coveted, to the average person, it’s not always seen as a “proper job”. The name of the campaign derived from interactions like this, where people are constantly told that they “don’t look like gamers”.
Along with this perceptual issue, there is also a need for increased diversity within the industry – this includes not only game characters but also content creation, and the jobs available within the industry.
Diversity can be improved in the gaming industry
“To its credit,” Nigel says “the gaming industry recognises the issue of diversity.” Though the industry is aware of their shortcomings, there are still many factors that can be improved on. Nigel believes the topic of diversity should not only be addressed at the level of in-game characters but within the industry as a whole.
As echoed in many sectors, women of colour are the least represented in the gaming industry. Not just in game characters, but within the industry itself – from content creators, game creators, to gamers themselves. An easy way to start the conversation, and expose minorities to the industry, is to show them the opportunities that exist within it.
While many companies exclusively hire highly skilled staff, who tend to be white males that were exposed to the industry from a young age, Nigel believes not everybody is conscious of the fact that they can have a career within the gaming industry.
“A key part of growing that diversity is letting younger people know that they can actually work in games and that there is a path for them to follow,” says Nigel. That is why the, “Do I Look Like a Gamer?” campaign is focussed on exposing young people to the industry, and showcasing the potential career opportunities within it – hiring a more diverse youth will help close the gap of minority representation.
Working to closing the gap
The team at “Do I Look Like a Gamer?” is working hard towards their goal of having an inclusive industry with equal opportunities for all – the campaign is focussed on young people, along with bringing together people from different walks of life, to discuss transformation and the exciting opportunities the gaming industry can offer them.
According to Nigel, one of the goals is to showcase an industry where anyone can envision themselves working. They are working towards introducing different key players in the industry that young people can meet, who resonate with them.
Not only does it show them that they can work within the industry, but it also illustrates the various opportunities the industry can offer. “Do I Look Like a Gamer?” achieves this by hosting events where young people can develop the right skill set to find work within the gaming industry. Further to this they also offer work experience where possible.
Some of their upcoming events include:
- 4 June 2022: Friends and Family Games Design Jam. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how tabletop games are created, and even create your own.
- 2 July 2022: Cupcake & GamePad Social. This free event is for young people and aspiring games professionals as we get to know developers from some of the UK’s biggest games companies over cupcakes and friendly(ish) gaming competition.
Hopes for the future of gaming
Nigel hopes to see more diverse games, not just in the characters they portray, but also in the stories being told. In his opinion, this can only be achieved through a more diverse industry. “By having a more diverse workforce, you’re getting more perspective, more different characters. The same goes for stories. It’s like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and experiencing their journey,” explains Nigel.
Being able to experience a story from a different point of view brings more excitement to the industry. “When you have enough of the same people with the same perspective making the same games, eventually it gets old.” New stories bring to light new ideas and new interactions.
Being able to create games is highly specialised. Becoming a developer involves many years of studying, to learn how to program and animate. Nigel envisions a future where the creation of games is accessible to the general public, opening doors to many new perspectives and exciting stories.
The “Do I Look Like a Gamer?” campaign has the right approach by exposing young people to the possible careers they can pursue – have a look at what they are all about, their exciting goals, and maybe you can attend one of the upcoming events?