How You Can Support Black Gamers

How You Can Support Black Gamers
Photo: Alex Pantling, Getty Images

More than a week has passed since the brutal police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Rallies and protests have since ensued, rightfully, from coast-to-coast. And it’s not just Floyd. It’s Philando Castile and Breonna Taylor, Freddie Grey and Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner (among many, many, many others). The deaths of black people at the hands of police have been allowed to continue unchecked and unabated. Justice is long overdue, and it’s high time to offer support in any way possible.

Given concerns surrounding the ongoing covid-19 crisis, no one will blame you for steering clear of physical protests. But that doesn’t mean you should sit on your laurels and do nothing. Support can take on many forms—listening, reading, donating—and in many spaces. The gaming community is no exception. Here are a few ways you can support black gamers. (Of course, it’s impossible to talk about everything you can possibly do or check out. If you know other nonprofits, organisations, podcasts, creative groups, or other forms of advocacy we should spotlight, please share them in the comments.)

  • With more than 6,000 members, the London-based Black Girl Gamers seeks to amplify the voices of black women in gaming through Twitch streams, a YouTube channel, and a Facebook group. On June 13, at 2:00 p.m. EST, they’re hosting a digital summit. Don’t miss it.

  • The podcast Spawn On Me, hosted by Kahlief Adams, spotlights people of colour in the gaming industry and community. The most recent episode, “A Lesson In Blackness,” which was recorded in the wake of this week’s distressing news, is essential listening (as is much of the back-catalogue).

  • Listen to The Optional, a weekly podcast hosted by Cam Brewster and Kotaku’s own Paul Tamayo. The show regularly features black, POC, and other marginalised voices delivering (I promise this isn’t biased) some of the savviest industry commentary around.

  • It’s no secret that the tech industry—and STEM jobs in general—skews heavily white and male. Black Girls Code is an organisation with the singular goal of addressing that disparity. Their stated goal is to train a million young women of colour (ages 7 to 17) in the ways of computer coding by 2040.

  • I Need Diverse Games is an Illinois-based nonprofit dedicated toward showcasing creative work by marginalised people and providing a safe online space for gamers of colour. Each year they send roughly two dozen people (free of charge) to the annual Game Developers Conference, and also put together talks on diversity issues at other industry events.

  • The Game Developers of Colour Expo, which showcases works by creators of colour, is scheduled for September 19. In past years, the event has been held in Harlem. This year, due to concerns surrounding covid-19, it’s going virtual.

  • POC In Play is a nonprofit aimed toward increasing the visibility of people of colour in video games, both on the screen and in the studio. The org may be based in the United Kingdom, but its members and advocacy initiatives act globally.

  • Gameheads is a small but mighty mentorship program based in Oakland, California, geared toward teaching low-income youth and youth of colour (ages 15 to 25) how to create video games, including classes on coding, gaming history, level design, and more. The 2020 class is currently accepting applications.

If you have the means to donate, donate. If not, that’s completely fine—but at the very least commit these groups to memory. Follow them on social media. Talk about them to your friends. For those who work at large companies, ask around your office, and see if your employer has either taken a pledge of corporate social responsibility or facilitated a company-sponsored foundation. Then, recommend these groups as potential recipients of corporate windfall. (You’ll likely find the relevant point of contact in Community Relations or a similarly named department.)

You can, and indeed should, offer support outside of the gaming community, too. Our colleagues at Lifehacker assembled a thorough list of places you can donate to, on both the national and local level. For those planning on heading to a protest, stay safe, bring bottled water and hand sanitiser, and wear a mask. Lifehacker also has some further advice on that front.

The key thing to remember here is that these efforts aren’t just something to do this week. The fight for justice isn’t just something you should think about until protests slow down and the news cycle moves on. Keep the fire alive, like an Olympic torch of long-overdue equality. Make an effort to play indie games by black developers. (Need suggestions? Rad Magpie has a terrific list.) Hire black people to write, code, film, edit, create. Amplify voices. Listen. And when it comes time to speak, shout it from the rooftops: “Black Lives Matter.”

Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

Log in to comment on this story!