EA held a Full Spectrum event in New York yesterday, to discuss the games industry’s approach to LGBT issues. Though the industry is slowly becoming more inclusive, the general consensus was that more diversity is needed from top to bottom, and that the nature of the development culture around video games - as being a predominantly "white dude-ly" industry - needs to change.
"With relentless pressure, change is possible," said Ford Foundation president Luis A. Ubinas [via Gamasutra]. "Attitudes can evolve, and a nation and society can be transformed."
"I want to emphasize the importance of the role you could play," he told game developers. "The images you present and the interactions you allow, are going to help shape the future."
"Somewhere in this country there is a young person... for whom being gay means isolation and secrecy," he continued. "For them to enter fantasy worlds where they can be free to hold hands with a person of their choosing regardless of gender, or make a home with a partner of their choosing... that means they can move from the passive world of television, where they can see other people doing these things, to the active world of gaming, magnifying the impact that we know media can have."
Caryl Shaw, executive producer at Kixeye, expanded on the requirement for greater diversity in the industry, and spoke of gender inequality in the workplace, and called on more women in the industry to reach out and tell their stories.
"It's a white dude-ly industry, still," says Shaw. "In general it is still a very hard place for women to get in, and that's got to change. I hope women are reaching out, doing internships and trying to mentor women... I've been really lucky, but I also have a really big mouth; I've gone out and said, 'I'm going to be out, I'm going to be really loud, I'm going to try to tell my story and get more women involved because I want things to change.' I want the next generation of game developers to not be 15 percent women, 85 percent men."
The ESA's Dan Hewitt concurred, suggesting that working environments need to become more inclusive.
"If you can create a safe space where all your employees feel comfortable, you're going to keep people like Caryl, who will create awesome games that will sell [and] please your shareholders," he explains. "It just makes good business, when companies take these steps."