Jason Schreier, a reporter for Bloomberg & New York Times bestselling author of Press Reset + Blood, Sweat, and Pixels recently made a tweet calling out the core talent from Typhoon Studios, the developer behind Journey to the Savage Planet, for opening a new studio called Raccoon Logic! What’s the problem you ask? The team is 100% white males and he felt there should have been a more diverse team. That tweet actually made me wonder, how are we handling diversity correctly?
I have to point out that as soon as Jason called out this particular team on their “lack of diversity”, he was met with extreme push back, even been hurled racist insults when some found out he was Jews. I won’t lie, I thought he was white. He looks white to be fair. Honestly, race is such a fickle thing! In any case, it sparked a heated discussion.
In many cases, there’s no doubt that having a diverse team, a team that comprises of different genders, races, and any other factors has its benefit and matters for a game studio. We’ve seen what happens when a culture is formed near homogenous and it becomes toxic for a minority group when they’re either ignored or neglected.
Ubisoft, Riot Games, and Activision Blizzard comes to mind where the toxic work environment was a result of an all-white male leadership. However, there is something to be said on how diversity should be handled.
How do you handle a proper and fair hiring process when it comes to diversity? Do you break down the races, and if so how does one determine the percentages of which race needs to be on the team? Not to mention that in a country (in this case the United States, which is undoubtedly majority white), if you are hired as a Black, Asian or Hispanic, are you there because of your skill and merits, or to fill a quota so that you don’t get called out on social media….kinda like what Jason did.
We need to also acknowledge the types of people who are taking courses to learn the skills the gaming industry is known for. For example, let’s take a look at women. No matter what the media tells you, the unfortunate reality is that women just aren’t as interested in computer science and coding as men are, which means that the pool of women available is limited. There’s also the fact that those small number of women would have to have been aware of a hiring process happening in the company in the first place. It’s just an unrealistic expectation for a start-up company to go leaps and bounds to hire a woman, (and not just one but a lot) putting their operation on pause to some extent. They could, but I mean, will they? According to computerscience.org, only 20% of computer science professionals are women and there are so many incentives to try and get them aboard but the truth is, most women just aren’t interested. Even in 2021!
I’ve always said that the best way to ensure a healthy and diverse team is to ensure that the hiring process is unbiased and fair to everyone applying. There’s also context! This team was formed of 75 percent oldies, so does that mean the next 25% would exclude white people? We’re entering that touchy area of neglecting one’s merits for the checklist. Then again, the movie industry hires people based on the gender they need so, maybe this can be extended to all fields? We’ll see but it’s worth having this discussion.
Having a diverse team is a major plus, and helps greatly in seeing other people’s perspectives, but if not done correctly and fairly, could have negative ramifications in my opinion.