Our team is proud to include a community of incredibly talented 2SLGBTQ+ game devs. Building on a conversation we had in a previous blog post, we’re back with the founder of the Queer Collective, Jules Loughin, to learn more about their experience as a queer person in the games industry.
Jules is a Narrative Designer on our upcoming game, Journey to Foundation. We asked them to share how they think the games industry can better provide support for 2SLGBTQ+ game devs and some advice for queer developers and creators working in the games industry.
What steps has Archiact taken to make it a more inclusive space for queer game devs?
"Archiact has an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) panel that is led by Anastasia Wilks, one of our HR people, a writer named Moe, and myself. The purpose of this panel is to review aspects of Journey to Foundation through intersectional lenses. The panel includes queer people, people of colour, and different minorities.
"These marginalized identities may have different viewpoints about things that are going on in the game or in the course of development regarding the team. They may not be comfortable speaking up to their manager or the leads, but the EDI panel allows them to bring their issues forward in a safe space. The panel then discusses some solutions to present to the leads, which is a very effective way of raising concerns without making vulnerable people feel more vulnerable.
"Anastasia also leads an EDI roundtable. It's a safe space for people to come forward with any EDI-related issues that they're having at the studio. It's not necessarily for finding solutions but is great for making sure HR is aware of these things and can be working on solutions.
"Additionally, the studio supporting queer game devs and adding queer representation to Journey to Foundation is really important. It tells members of the studio and members of the public that we support the queer community and that we want to see more queer folks represented in media."
Do you think the games industry is becoming more diverse/inclusive?
"There's always more work to be done, but on social media, game devs are opening up about their identities. Not just queer identities, but all sorts of marginalized identities that people may have previously felt like they couldn't talk about. Those conversations are being brought to the game dev community and to their workplaces, their individual studios. That's a really good sign that they feel safe enough to start talking about these things.
"There’s a lot more representation for members of the queer community in games and a lot more positive representation. Ten years ago, the only representation for trans people in games were sex workers, and now there are AAA games with trans characters who are complex and aren't society's outdated stereotype of that identity. These characters actually represent the trans community and there were clearly trans people involved in developing them. 'Nothing about us without us' is really important when creating media that includes marginalized identities.
"In summary, things are improving. Of course, there are still areas where things could be better, but I think things like the EDI panel are a good place to start when it comes to making sure that game devs are being heard.”
What can companies do outside of Pride Month to support the queer community?
“Continue to hire queer people to work on your games and listen to them. Queer people often have unique insights, not just on queer characters and queer themes, but on all sorts of matters such as sociological topics. They have a different way of thinking, sometimes because of the amount of introspection they've had to do or because of the levels of discrimination they face in real life. Queer individuals have a lot of valuable perspectives to bring to game dev.
"Where possible, companies should look to diversify management and leadership. Make sure to include queer leads in addition to creating more diverse leadership teams in general. It's awesome to have a lot of queer juniors and intermediates, but it would be even more awesome if those people had folks like them to look up to at their own studios and at other studios. And, of course, continue to make games with queer characters and continue to donate to queer causes.”
Do you have advice for 2SLGBTQIA+ developers and creators working right now?
"First of all, take care of your mental health and try to maintain your work-life balance. The games industry is famous for burnout. It's a really tough industry and people who are marginalized in the industry tend to burn out the fastest.
"Next, find community. If there isn't an ERG or a vocal queer community at your own studio, there are communities on social media such as Discord servers that you can be a part of. Follow other queer game devs. Even if you don't interact with them it's nice to see that they exist and that you're not alone.
"Finally, if there are any queer seniors out there: great job on making it this far! Please continue mentoring queer juniors in this industry so that we can build multi-generational queer strength and continue to support each other."
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Jules! We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next for the Queer Collective.