While the goal is and has always been to strive for diversity and inclusion, there have recently been issues brought to light within the gaming industry that have indicated there are some major issues in this regard. Although the industry does encourage and foster diversity when imagining new worlds and environments, this has not necessarily been applied to its workforce and video game characters. Here at Reflector Entertainment, we are aiming to take the necessary measures to ensure that our company embraces a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect.
Embracing diversity and inclusion in the gaming industry is a goal that we are constantly striving towards. However, it has been made clear that our industry is lagging in this regard, and there is an urgency in implementing meaningful change.
Last September, Diamond Lobby conducted an enlightening study on diversity in gaming. Everyone knows the ground-breaking character Lara Croft (the Tomb Raider series), and the impactful presence that Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn) has now cemented within the industry. However, there are still very few female characters that are household names.
The report, based on the 100 top-selling and major games released since 2017, shows that nearly 80% of main characters are males, while nearly 55% are white, which isn’t representative of the vast amount of diversity the world has to offer. Another eye-opening statistic was that only 8% of main characters are female and non-white. Additionally, over 60% of all characters are white, with every other major ethnicity gathered within the remaining 40%.
This makes it quite clear that the gaming industry needs to do better job in representing how different and diverse we all are, and that applies to culture and portrayal as much as it does to skin colours, genders, beliefs and so on. In turn, we will be striving to set an example through our actions.
Since any real change starts from within, we have sponsored and created space for the implementation of an in-house Diversity and Inclusion Committee founded by some of our passionate staff. In its first year of activity, Reflector’s Committee initiated actions on various fronts. In order to raise awareness on D&I issues, the Committee enrolled Reflector into the Canadian Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) employer program and granted all of our employees’ access to several free monthly webinars from the CCDI. This includes webinars on themes such as “Inclusive Leadership”, “Gender expression vs Gender Identity” and “Combatting Tokenism”.
Furthermore, in 2021, the Committee provided a four-hour Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias training to all managers, which was provided by the CCDI. Between webinars and other activities, the Committee strives to provide a regular flow of D&I related news and educational content through its newsletter and presence at our company Townhalls. Keen to express support to communities and external organizations, the Committee has also initiated a donation to two organizations fighting against anti-asian racism. Furthermore, a paid mentorship has been put in place for two emerging filmmakers culturally related to the stories of one of our upcoming products, paving the way to greater engagement from the communities reflected in our products.
Planning for Lasting, Meaningful Change
In order to embrace this desire for change within the video game industry, we need to clearly set our company-wide goals, because we know what we’re aiming for. We want an open, inclusive, welcoming work culture. We want to provide an environment that attracts talent from all backgrounds, which will support the development of vibrant IP’s with strong cultural representations displayed through our characters. This is the reason why we chose Haroona as our main protagonist in our upcoming video game UNKNOWN 9: AWAKENING. She is the embodiment of a strong female lead with an Indian background culture
We aim to foster innovation and creativity by encouraging a diversity of ideas and send out a clear signal to our gaming industry colleagues. We know that proactively connecting with diverse talent is key to raising awareness of any biases, as well as key to promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization. We will, of course, learn more about ourselves and make adjustments along the way, which is the natural path towards a constant and healthy cycle of improvement.
We aim to establish our workplace values: promote positive and inclusive communication, ensure inclusiveness in our company processes, empower the use of inclusive language, establish programs to increase and sustain diversity, celebrate diversity through company activities and functions, and stimulate sharing, listening and open-mindedness. Additionally, if ever a conflict were to arise, we will have a collaborative resolution process in place.
It is also key that our values of diversity and inclusiveness are represented and implemented within the IP and games that we produce. In a way, that should come naturally through our diverse and creative production teams, and we will always strive to the highest level possible in order to avoid any unconscious bias while including representations of different cultures and genders in the storytelling process. The key steps include engaging with cultural consultants, as well as reaching out to the communities that we are trying to represent in our strong and inspiring characters, which will be an integral part of the development process.
Reflector also wants to engage with communities, in addition to supporting broader D&I initiatives within the gaming industry.
We have also joined the Raise the Game pledge and shared Reflector’s goals, and are working with Games for Change in order to find more partners in our quest.
The goal of all these efforts is to help move our company and industry into a position to celebrate and embrace the diversity and inclusion that surrounds us. Reflector hopes to create an environment that supports and fosters a diverse, robust, and open workplace.
The gaming industry invents worlds, we should be reinventing ours. Always remember that diversity is a strength.