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 Ludia community specialist Dave Vincent about growing up in a Haitian household without witnessing characters that represent their culture, why recruiters need to more and being inspired by industry veterans like Reggie Fils-Aimé.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you start off by telling us about your role in games and what it entails?
Dave Vincent: My role consists of interacting with our different online communities and helping the developer team optimise the game, based on community feedback. I'm also handling our social media pages as well as finding innovative ways to fuel and increase our community's size. In short, I'm making sure the community's voice is heard and translated as much as possible in our games.
I'm making sure the community's voice is heard and translated as much as possible in our games.Dave Vincent
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
Video games have always been part of my DNA. I remember spending countless hours with my little brother, playing games like the Final Fantasy series, Legend of Legaia and Metal Gear Solid. Although I've always expressed interest in working in the games industry, I never expected to be a part of it as it seemed more of a dream job than anything else.
How would you recommend people get started in games? Any tools or literature you would advise?
There is no better way than to have love and passion for video games. Of course, my professional path might be different from a game designer, but I believe that we all share our passion for the video game medium. Reading online publications can help develop a more reflective view of video game titles.
What did you study (if anything) for your role? Are there any courses out there that you would advise for aspiring professionals?
I studied Communications and Politics at the University of Montreal. My dream job was to either become a journalist or a political speechwriter. However, my professional path has ignited a passion for digital communication.
I worked as a freelance writer for an online gaming magazine, then as a content manager at a marketing agency. With the experience that I've acquired, I've been able to make the big jump to Ludia.
What do you think should be done to improve diversity, not only across the games industry but across all industries?
Everything starts with representation. I believe that visible minorities should be further highlighted in games' promotion - such as developer diaries - so that gamers can be aware of their presence and inspire the next generation to follow suit.
I'm very proud that one of the most-known black figures of the video game industry is Reggie Fils-Aimé. However, it is only after watching High Score on Netflix that I've been aware of other black visionaries like Gordon Bellamy and Jerry Lawson. Thus, I believe the success stories of visible minorities should be further highlighted!
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
One of the biggest challenges is working remotely. I've joined Ludia at the beginning of the global pandemic, and I haven't seen my colleagues physically. It is also unfortunate that I can't physically interact and exchange with my colleagues because they're a lively bunch.
I'm very proud that one of the most-known black figures of the video game industry is Reggie Fils-Aimé.Dave Vincent
What do you think can be done to help encourage more people of colour to get into games?
I strongly encourage developers to include more visible minority characters along with their cultures in their games. Growing up in a Haitian household, we never really had a character to identify ourselves fully. It's only recently that developers have started to take risks by including Haitian-based characters in their games.
Blockbuster titles like Assassins' Creed IV, Overwatch and Cyberpunk 2077 are good examples. The inclusion of visible minorities in the game brings word-of-mouth, resulting in growing interest from non-gamers of the highlighted community.
As a community specialist, how do you address issues with toxicity, particularly displays of racism inside your community?
Part of my job is to maintain the well-being of the community. Any player displaying toxic behaviour on our social platforms is swiftly removed. Our community should remain a safe and secure place for our players to exchange.
Is there anything that recruiters should be doing differently to address the lack of diversity across not only games development but all industries?
Recruiters should remain open-minded about including visible minorities and should never forget that they represent the studio. A multicultural workplace does say a lot about a company.
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?
It's great that the industry highlighted #BlackLivesMatter last year. Although I'm pleased that it has raised awareness and further discussion about our reality, I don't believe that it has brought any significant changes in the industry. In the context of #BlackLivesMatters, I think that studios should further highlight the success stories of their black employees.
What advice do you have for other people of colour that are looking at getting into games?
Never give up! From experience, potential employers preemptively judged me because of my skin colour. I often heard that I was not the right fit for the company without a proper explanation. Although discouraging, I kept on knocking at different doors until I found the right employer!