For decades, no matter the industry, people of colour have suffered through a lack of opportunity and a lack of respect, leaving them stuck playing second fiddle throughout their careers.
The games industry is no different, and here at PocketGamer.biz we wanted to do our part and help bring attention to the many incredible people of colour that help make up this sector. That is why we are committing to a new long-term regular feature to spotlight these people and their careers.
So, welcome to our 'POC in Mobile' series, where discussion about finding a place in the games industry, the various challenges faced as a minority, and what truly needs to be done to make games more diverse will be the focal points of conversations.
This week, we spoke to Tencent Games senior director of North America marketing Anthony Crouts about his experience in marketing and why more education outreach programs are needed to help get people of colour into games.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you start off by telling us about your role in games and what it entails?
Anthony Crouts: I am responsible for all marketing initiatives covering the US (North America, Central/LATAM America, and South America). My team develops and executes general marketing campaigns in addition to managing our social media channels and our influencer programs.
Get a better understanding of the different business models of games and how the industry makes money.Anthony Crouts
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
I have always been a huge fan of games and I truly enjoy playing games on every platform. My motto is: "If it’s a good game I play it a lot, if it’s a bad game I have played it once".
Being part of the industry throughout the whole of my career doesn’t feel like work, it allows me to fuel my passion for games and at the same time expand the industry so more people can enjoy the media.
How would you recommend people get started in games? Any tools or literature you would advise?
This a question that I get asked a lot. First, you have to have a passion for games and voraciously play everything. Get a better understanding of the different business models of games and how the industry makes money.
Finally, listen and follow key influencers to gain insight into what they like and don’t like about games. You have to understand and be able to clearly articulate how the industry “gains and maintains” gamers.
What did you study (if anything) for your role? Are there any courses out there that you would advise for aspiring professionals?
I have a background in business management, which is a good foundation to understand the basic dynamics of how the industry works.
Additionally, engaging with all of the different parts of the industry has helped me. Gaining an understanding of how different parts of the business works is crucial in order to build strong working relationships and fostering a strong team.
What do you think should be done to improve diversity, not only across the games industry, but across all industries?
All companies need to take a pause and re-evaluate what audiences they are attracting to their products/services, and how they are running their businesses. Are they being inclusive in their strategies? Are they building healthy audiences? Are they reinforcing the core tenets of decency? Respect, empathy, compassion.
Establishing a general education outreach program for people of colour could help them understand the significance of the gaming industry.Anthony Crouts
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
Obtaining that initial opportunity to demonstrate my abilities was by far the hardest challenge I've experienced. This has been my motivation in all of my roles in the industry, continually challenge myself and setting high personal goals - this keeps me focused.
What do you think can be done to help encourage more people of colour to get into games?
Establishing a general education outreach program for people of colour could help them understand the significance of the gaming industry. Being part of the industry, we take a lot of things for granted with the general population and their understanding of what the industry is and how it works.
Is there anything that recruiters should be doing differently to address the lack of diversity across not only games development but all industries?
I think more investments need to be made for creating a career path for members of diverse communities in need. By actively engaging and supporting organisations that are in alignment with bringing technology training to underserved communities can be a start. Spearheading interactive programs at HBC's (Historically Black Colleges) can also be another area to explore.
Since the surge in the #BlackLivesMatters campaign that took place last year, what changes (if any) have you seen from across the industry to address the issue?
There has been a heightened awareness of the concepts and materials being included in games. Storylines and assets are being closer evaluated and more fully discussed.
There has also been an awakening that different gaming audiences and segments haven’t been fully engaged. This has led to more discussions of team diversity.
What advice do you have for other people of colour that are looking at getting into games?
Hard work, knowledge, and confidence are the best equalisers when you approach anything you’re interested in pursuing. Achieve an in-depth understanding of the part of the industry that you want to join. First, be proactive to learn.
Speak to as many people in the industry as possible, including game development professionals, marketing professionals, community managers etcetera. Reach out to friends of friends who may know these individuals. Next, be willing to do whatever task/job presents itself at a high-quality level. Finally, have confidence in yourself and your skills. Your patience will eventually reward you with an opportunity.