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 Com2uS associate producer Arturo Ruiz about what more can be done to welcome minorities into games, as well as why companies need to more than simply positioning themselves as supporters of #BlackLivesMatter movement.
PocketGamer.biz Can you start off by telling us about your role in games and what it entails?
Arturo Ruiz: As an associate producer in the gaming industry, my role would normally be limited to writing reports (regarding player activity, revenue, monetisation, etcetera.), gathering player feedback, improving processes within the team to make sure schedules and tasks are executed in a timely manner, suggesting game improvements and supervising community managers.
But I also have the unique opportunity to work on content - writing scripts, recording and producing videos, hosting streams, events and working closely with marketing for user acquisition purposes and creatives.
As long as you are passionate about it, enjoy fast-paced workflows and learning new things on a daily basis, this is definitely the place for you.Arturo Ruiz
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
To be frank, I had no previous knowledge of the games industry and had no idea what working in it would feel like. I used to be an attorney for almost three years.
After moving to the US, a friend of mine got the interview for me and I came in completely blind. Two weeks in and I was already in love with one of our main games - Summoners War, which motivated me to study and see games as a career.
As long as you are passionate about it, enjoy fast-paced workflows and learning new things on a daily basis, this is definitely the place for you.
How would you recommend people get started in games? Any tools or literature you would advise?
First off, there's an amalgam of free knowledge online that can create a great foundation to join the gaming industry.
The Game Developers Conference and Ask Gamedev on YouTube are some of my favourites to learn theory and see how production works.
Websites like PocketGamer and Gamasutra will help form a broad understanding of industry dynamics and news. And, finally, Blood, Sweat and Pixels is a book that takes a deep look at a game's development process, with the difficulties and challenges it carries within it. If you still love gaming after reading it. Come over! I’m waiting for you. Haha.
What did you study (if anything) for your role? Are there any courses out there that you would advise for aspiring professionals?
For my previous role (community manager) and current role, I took two Udemy courses regarding video game production to have a better understanding of the processes I would be involved in. I also researched a lot about social media channels and gaming community behaviours.
Also, one of my favourites was a Coursera project management specialisation that really helped me organise schedules and tasks that involved a variety of team members and products. Nevertheless, the best teacher was experience. Learning from situations and peers has an enormous value in the industry and being able to adapt and absorb knowledge constantly is a big part of it.
What do you think should be done to improve diversity, not only across the games industry, but across all industries?
The first step is definitely representation. In the last couple of years, we've had women and minorities as protagonists in triple-A video game titles, which was a nice change of pace, but this is not enough.
Minorities have to know about the industry and feel welcome to be part of it. That's why affirmative actions like internships or mentorships are extremely important, so people can be inserted in this reality, have knowledge about it and the opportunity to finally be in the gaming industry, creating real change.
There’s also a small stigma of games not being considered a "serious career" that needs to be destroyed, so more people hear about it and pursue it as a viable professional path.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered since joining the industry?
Ask yourself how a certain change would impact the player base before it happens.Arturo Ruiz
Probably dealing with the complexity of a worldwide game, in which understanding how to make different cultures feel welcome and represented is one of the biggest obstacles. Another interesting dichotomy is keeping in mind both the interests and desires of your game’s player base, as well as the company you’re representing.
That fine balance is extremely important to keep impacting both sides in a positive manner and increasing the longevity of the game.
What do you think can be done to help encourage more people of colour to get into games?
The aforementioned representation - not only as protagonists in games, but in content and media can bring to light the importance of having diversity in the industry. This also motivates future generations and makes it feel like an attainable profession.
Is there anything that recruiters should be doing differently to address the lack of diversity across not only games development but all industries?
I would love to see if recruiters can actively support diversity through internship processes, so there's more knowledge and access to the games industry. Ideally, it would be a movement where more people have information, qualification and experience to be part of it.
Unfortunately, those seem to be big barriers to entry, making the same people (similar socio-economic background and ethnicity) have easier access to our industry, whereas others find it extremely distant and tough to do so.
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?
Apart from companies publicly positioning themselves as supporters of the movement, I haven’t seen any specific changes, especially since COVID happened right after it.
On the other hand, I feel like games have an interesting function for social movements since many of them can be used as platforms to communicate, gather people and promote change. I would love to see more transformative actions in hiring processes and early professional opportunities for students in the future.
What advice do you have for other people of colour that are looking at getting into games?
Research, follow official pages of games you love, become part of games communities and start analysing behaviour. Not only from the usual player's point of view, but from the other side.
Ask yourself how a certain change would impact the player base before it happens. Check past situations that happened to similar games and see what was the outcome. And once you join, try to promote change from the inside and support diversity.