On Tuesday 2nd June, Blackout Tuesday hit social media by storm and video game companies were some of those involved in the movement. Studios, Publisher and other companies such as ActivisionBlizzard, Ubisoft and EGX. were some of those who spoke out.
While other companies such as YouTube and Ubisoft stated, they were going to donate to the causes. Others such as PlayStation and Activation postponed presentation and launches to “allow more important voices to be heard” (PlayStation). Despite these many were criticized for just being words. Many went against what they have done and said in the past. Blizzard, for example, suspended Ng’ Blitzchung’ Wai Chang after he showed support for the protest in Hong Kong last year and banned three players following for the same reason.
It is great to see these companies support the Black Lives Matter movement as they extend the reach of these messages. Their message is reaching an audience who may have tried to ignore them or show people that there is support. Not only this, but it ‘normalizes’ the conversations. Large companies have an adequately large scale of influence and can help to encourage people to discuss these issues. However, it’s too soon to give the companies a round of applause until they show commitment in the long run.
Upper Echelon Games rightly said that companies don’t care about these movements or the people involved, often going for the path of least resistance. This statement is very much the case; companies were reluctant to get involved with the Black Live Matter movements back in 2016 when it started. Primarily due to its controversy with right-wing political parties and media often brandishing terms such as “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” in response. While companies often change their social media profiles pictures to represent the pride colours in their logos, in all countries except for the Middles East or other countries with an open prejudice towards the LGBT+ community.
Blizzards ruling openly state that they don’t wish their participants to act on these issues, specifically in Hearthstone ruling their prize total can be reduced to zero.
“Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.”Hearthstone Grandmaster Asia Pacific Rulings
We need to hold these companies accountable for these statements. We need them to take actions. Companies need to start to diversify their workforces, ensuring that all are given a fair chance and not just in the near future but in the long run as well. There is no quota for a diverse workplace, there are no stats which can be brought to show how diverse it is at your place, there is no completion. This is ongoing. These games or employees shouldn’t be treated any differently to any other, just by simply promoting or hiring companies will be doing the right thing, there doesn’t need to be an award ceremony for doing the right thing. Just offering everyone the same opportunity naturally a diverse place should go ahead. But hiring different people is just one part of the puzzle.
We need to know build for a future where diverse workplaces are commonplace. Companies should use this time to not only looking at their diversity rate but their community reach programs. There needs to be more encouragement for the younger generation to see that there is a place for them in any industry they may dream of being part off. If companies continue to hire diverse workforces in the future, we will see children will see that they too can join these industries and this will become almost second nature in the world.
There is already some fantastic work being doing, GamePad, an annual event in London, whose focus is to bring communities together. Mayamada co-founder, Lao, gave a great speech at EGX last year discussing what GamePad offer. They offer volunteer positions to people, supporting the development of their social skills and helping fighting isolation, looking to make gaming something for everyone to get excited about, new and experienced gamers. Mayamada are Manga Anime artists, so it goes to show that anyone can start these types of events. GamePad is sponsored by Nintendo, Ubisoft and Bandai Namco Games but this is something that is needed on a consistent scale. Conventions like EGX and E3 have a focus on game development which is great but having a focus on community development can encourage these younger generations to get more hands-on in the industry.
I honestly believe that if every company, not just the small, could promote games by diverse developers, hire various people for their workforces, get involved with a range of different communities and continue to do this in the long run, we could see a completely different industry landscape soon. This is the next step from the social media statements and posts for all companies large and small. We need to see lasting change and we need it too start now!