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Diversity, fairness and inclusion are words that quickly come to mean a lot in the gaming industry. At GamesBeat Summit Next 2022, a panel of experts gathered to discuss what each aspect of DEI means for games industry companies and how best to implement them.
The panelists clarified that diversity and inclusion are different things, and that just because a company serves one doesn’t necessarily mean it serves the other. Patty Dingle, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Riot Games, said: “Diversity really is like who’s in the room, right? Count all your heads. Inclusion is about making all those heads count – you’re in the room, you feel valued… We all like to think we’re all human, we’re all the same and we treat everyone the same. But that’s just not true. People walk through the world very differently. Where they start in the world is very different. So if you activate those two things, hopefully you can get to a fair place.
Miguel Doherty, executive producer at Puga Studios, added: “Studies show that many people may see a company as diverse but not inclusive. They have the people, but they don’t hear everyone. I think understanding those key concepts makes a big difference as you strive for justice as a whole.”
The “how” of DEI
The panelists also discussed how to build a studio with DEI in mind. Aletheia O’Neil, co-founder of Tether Studios, said, “If you’re trying to reach a diverse and global audience, I think it helps to bring in those different perspectives early on. It helps shape that and if that’s the mindset of the studio, you increase your chances of success.”
O’Neil added: “You have to hire the right people, and the best way to start is to target people who are different from you and who have different perspectives. People have a natural tendency to want to surround themselves with people who are similar to them. When you finally do that, you have a whole team of people who feel the same way. You end up with a fairly narrow product.”
Doherty said efforts to be more diverse and inclusive can help retain talent and also spread positive word of mouth for companies. “We’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘I like staying here because this is a very safe environment for me.’ That could be a woman, or a trans person. That’s been super healthy for us in terms of culture and keeping these people. And that makes a lot of them more involved.”
Dingle said of her recent efforts at Riot, “People know [DEI] is important. They know it’s critical to the business. They just want help on the ‘how’. And that’s what I’m here for. I’m going to help with the ‘how’ because I have no doubt people will help me direct this work. It’s not just about the DEI people. Everyone has to help with that.”
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