The Gaming Industry Isn’t Known For Diversity, The Latinx Games Festival Is Working Hard To Change That
For the past few years the gaming industry has gotten a bad, very bad reputation when it comes to gender, sexual and ethnic diversity. Even though video game fans are as diverse as society itself, women, LGBTQIA and people of color are underrepresented. This extends to how games are marketed, to diversity in professionals in the industry and to networking opportunities.
Even though gaming is as widespread as say, watching television, and we play more than ever before, some online communities formed mostly of white men believe it is their right to claim the entirety of the gaming world for themselves. Yes, really.
So Jason Vega created the Latinx Games Festival, which just had its first and very successful run.
Jason Vega is a famous Latino gamer who saw an opportunity in bringing together gamers and developers from both sides of the border. So professionals from the United States and Latin America, a region that has a nascent and in crescendo independent games scene, got together at the Museum of Latin Art (MOLA) in Long Beach, California. September 14, 2019, will be remembered as a watershed moment for collaboration among Latino gamers.
Networking is king!
The idea behind the festival was to bring people of color together to identify and fight against political, social and economic obstacles that impede their inclusion in the digital games industry. Vega hopes that this event will plant the seeds for future networks of professionals. He also advocates for a DIY culture: we got the tools and we got the creativity, so a trabajar, mijos!
And the attendees heard some pretty inspiring words!
Vega said in the inaugural address, as reported by Latino Rebels: “This story is not about me. It’s about everyone in this room, community organizers, all you here. [It’s] also about using my own money, the sleepless nights, the pain you feel in your skin when you’ve been working too hard and your eyes don’t feel the same. You don’t wake up the same. You have nightmares about things going wrong”. Preach, hermano! If something can distinguish the Latino gamer community in the future is that sense of solidarity that makes us who we are.
And there were some great speakers such as Trinidad Hermida!
This Latina is the head of diversity and inclusion at Niantic, one of the industry’s giants (just to give you an idea, the company developed Pokemon Go!, perhaps the most successful Augmented Reality game of all time). Hermida is an amazing woman who has broken many glass ceilings in the digital technology industry, working for companies like Dell. She has a great philosophy, “setting a standard of incorporating everyone’s genius, we can change the game.” We are right there with you!
And Fernando Reyes Medina, a wonderboy of the industry.
There is some great, young Latino talent in the industry. That is why Vega included Fernando Reyes Medina in the speaker program. He was born and raised in Mexico City (eso, un chilango, carajo!). He has worked in such big projects as incorporating the Microsoft Cortana personal assistant into the Xbox platform. He is changing the industry from within: he is part of Latinx in Gaming, an initiative born within Microsoft. The future is shiny for him and we are sure he inspired more than one gamer in the room.
The event was a success and fans were quick to thank the organizers.
Yes! This is what Vega was aiming for, the establishment of networks of professional collaboration and emotional support. We gotta stick together! Ben Wu, who identifies as Asian-Latino, is literally over the moon after the event