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Our Diversity Initiative

Most of you probably know Payload Studios as the studio that makes TerraTech. You may even know that we also run The Tentacle Zone. But today we wanted to talk to you about something a bit different…. Game On, our diversity initiative.

What is our diversity initiative?

Good question! Our initiative is the steps we’re taking to promote and encourage diversity in our own studio and the wider industry. 

For the last few months we’ve been running a series of events focused on diversity. The aim of these events has been educating attendees (and ourselves!) about how to support, promote and increase diversity in the video games industry. 

The events started off as socials for women in the games industry (and guests), but we quickly discovered that studios and individuals wanted change but didn’t always know what action or steps could be taken. We thought we could help find and provide suitable resources by running events covering a range diversity-related topics. 

It’s worth noting that although when we started we were approaching diversity from a gender perspective it can actually mean all sorts of things; different ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, religions, ways of learning or even different personality types.

Why did you start the initiative?

Here at Payload we have an awesome team. We feel very lucky to work with a bunch of talented, creative, fun and supportive people. However, there are only two women in the company and one day the two of us started discussing what we could do to encourage more women to join the Studio. We spoke to our colleagues/managers and, luckily for us, they thought it was a great idea. 

The more we researched, the more we realised how much we can do, not just to ensure that we continue to be a welcoming and inclusive Studio, but also to promote diversity within our own company and the industry as a whole.

Why is diversity a good thing?

That’s something we could talk about all day, but we’ve picked out a few key benefits below. Firstly, from a business perspective, numerous studies suggest that diverse teams are:

  • More productive (Harvard Business Review)
  • More profitable (McKinsey)
  • More creative and innovative (Forbes)
  • Happier and more resilient (various including Harvard Business Review)

 

Additionally, research from Glassdoor suggests that two-thirds of job hunters consider diversity to be important when they consider companies and job offers. If your company has an inclusive culture you’re more likely to attract a greater number of candidates for positions, and drawing from a larger talent pool means you can attract and retain the best talent. That can only be a good thing!

Secondly, there’s also a compelling moral case for inclusion and diversity. It’s important to ensure that everyone is treated equally and has the same opportunities to progress, feel valued and be rewarded. All people matter, and the benefits of diversity are not just for business, but also benefit individuals and society.

So why is it important to support diversity?

The video games industry can be incredible. It can be a fun, creative and rewarding place to work, but unfortunately it’s workforce isn’t always the most diverse. 

All kinds of people play games, if we look at gender for example, it might surprise you to learn that studies (from Entertainment Software Association) indicate just under half (48%) of gamers are women. Furthermore, 84% of teenage girls in the UK regularly play games from a variety of genres (Kid’s Insights Survey 2018). 

Despite this, it’s estimated that only 20% of the industry’s workforce is made up of women. Girls entering gaming and STEM fields face particular challenges when starting their careers. This can range from a preconception that ‘gaming and tech aren’t for girls’ to unconscious bias, or companies not having inclusive cultures.

If we don’t take steps to promote diversity and ensure our companies are inclusive, video games studios run the risk of missing out on talent, losing talented staff and falling behind other industries. It also means the game studios will miss out on the benefits that diversity brings.

What have your Game On events involved?

We’ve been lucky enough to host some knowledgeable and inspiring women. We’ve run several events, the aim of which has been to educate attendees about issues related to diversity, specifically within the video games industry. Our previous speakers have included:

  • Liz Prince (founder of Putting the G into Gaming), who spoke about the steps companies can take to promote diversity
  • Vicki Reynolds (diversity advocate and unconscious bias expert), who spoke about the negative impact unconscious bias can have and how we can manage it
  • Jo Twist OBE (industry legend and Ukie CEO), who spoke about Ukie’s Diversity Census, what steps they are taking to address diversity and her experiences in the industry 

Our events are focused on diversity and are open to all industry professionals and students that are interested in the subject.

Ok I’m sold, how can I get involved?

  • Come along to one of our Game On events! The next one will be our Game Changer Panel which features a stellar line up and will provide attendees with practical tips and resources for creating and nurturing diverse and inclusive teams
  • You can keep up to date with our diveristy events by following me (@Khally_SJ) and the Tentacle Zone (@TentacleZone) on twitter!
  • Fill in Ukie’s diversity census, the data from this will provide vital info about the games industry and allow us to benchmark ourselves against other tech industries. It only takes a couple of minutes!
  • Get involved with one of the groups or initiatives that support diversity (there are loads including those talking about our next Panel

We hope that our events will provide attendees with a greater understanding of what we can do to improve diversity in the industry and why it’s important. We’ve already seen small changes taking place and all big change starts with lots of small changes!

And who started the events?

The initiative was co-founded by me (Khally) and Sammi (our awesome Senior QA tester). Here’s a little bit of info about us:

Sammi is the Senior QA tester here at Payload. She studied Game Design at university and has been working in games ever since. Sammi’s favourite game is Beyond Good and Evil and her favourite female game protagonist is Jade (Beyond Good and Evil).

Khally is the HR and Office Manager at Payload. She studied film at university, but after working in film/television moved to the games industry. She’s been playing games since the days of PS1 and Dreamcast. Her favourite ever game is Final Fantasy X (closely followed by Mario Kart). Khally’s favourite female game characters are Yuna (FFX) and Aloy (Horizon: Zero Dawn).

And one last thing from us….

Today is International Day of the Girl, which is an event held annually by the United Nations to support opportunities for girls, celebrate their achievements and increase awareness of gender inequality around the world.

There are loads of cool events happening to celebrate the day in the games industry, including War Child’s Day of the Girl campaign. You can find out more here.

If there’s any girls reading this we hope you’ll consider video games as an area to work in.

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you at an event soon!

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