The industry summit discusses how to tackle gay and lesbian issues in videogames and the industry.
EA makes clear its stance on gay rights, being one of a few companies to sign an amicus curiae indicating that it opposes the Defense of Marriage Act. It doesn’t end there, however: EA recently held an event to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in the gaming community to promote discussion and encourage greater understanding.
The Ford Foundation and EA co-hosted “Full Spectrum”, a summit where members of the gaming industry can discuss LGBT themes in videogames and the industry. Discussions throughout the day addressed several issues, such as the over-representation of straight white males, dealing with male-dominated online games, and encouraging diversity in the workplace.
Kixeye executive producer Caryl Shaw observed that today’s gaming workplace lacks diversity, which reduces the scope of stories that could potentially be told. “It’s a white dude-ly industry, still,” she said. “In general it is still a very hard place for women to get in, and that’s got to change.”
Shaw also addressed the competitive nature of gaming: “Games are a place where people want to posture… in whatever way they know how to stand up for themselves,” she commented. “It’s really sad, but it has become part of game culture, and figuring out how to change that is why I wanted to participate in this event today.”
Gordon Bellamy, head of industry relations at Tencent, said that it required a Harvard degree for him (as a gay black man) to start feeling like he could accomplish anything in the industry. “Part of coming out is having a context to come out to; for people who want to be in the game industry and have a career in games, they need to know there is a context they can become a part of,” he said.
Luis A. Ubinas, president of the Ford Foundation, also drew attention to the importance of the game developer role, saying that games would “help shape the future” when it comes to perceiving LGBT values. “For (players) 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.
“With relentless pressure, change is possible,” Ubinas noted. “Attitudes can evolve, and a nation and society can be transformed.”