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The Queer Collective: Creating Safe Spaces for Queer Game Devs

This year for Pride month, we’re revisiting a topic we touched on in a blog post this time last year: the Queer Collective, one of our Employee Resource Groups. We sat down with the founder of the Queer Collective, Jules Loughin (they/them), to learn more about the group’s role in making the studio an inclusive space for queer game devs and their allies.

How was the Queer Collective established?

The Queer Collective started when Jules answered a call from our People and Culture Specialist, Anastasia Wilks, for employees to start employee resource groups. Since Jules

had participated in an LGBTQ+ resource group when they worked at Electronic Arts, they knew the value of building queer-friendly spaces in game development and were eager to step up. For Jules, the purpose of an ERG like the Queer Collective is to show employees that they are valued. It serves as a safe space where they can feel confident they will be supported if they run into any issues related to their LGBTQ+ identity at work or in their personal lives.

The group also serves an educational purpose; as Jules noted, even members of the LGBTQ+ community have lots to learn about each other. After all, everyone's experience of gender and sexuality is unique. Since the ERG also welcomes LGBTQ+ allies, it also provides an opportunity for folks to learn more about how to support and stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

What initiatives has the queer collective taken over the past year to support its members and create a more welcoming community?

Last year, the Queer Collective worked with the studio to raise money for a queer organization, and decided to donate to Qmunity, BC’s queer, trans, and two-spirit resource centre.

In recognition of Black History Month, the Queer Collective featured a different Black queer historical figure every day in February to shine a light on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, and to highlight figures who have gone unnoticed and uncelebrated for too long.

There are also some events in the works for Pride Month. The number one event we're looking forward to participating in is a walking tour by Forbidden Vancouver called the Really Gay History Tour. It’s for ERG members only to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy Vancouver and learn more about the city's queer history. Plus, back by popular demand from last June, the Queer Collective will be hosting a queer movie gathering for the entire studio.

Finally, throughout the year, when days of visibility provide space for us to recognize, honour, and stand in solidarity with folks of various marginalized identities, Jules makes sure to post about that identity so that people in those communities who work at Archiact feel seen and people who may not know much about what it means to belong to that community can educate themselves.

Why is it important to create queer spaces like this in the games industry?

Though the industry is improving, Jules emphasized that marginalized people are often the first to burn out of the games industry. There is less incentive for marginalized folks to carry on in the industry if they feel isolated or unsupported, and they may need more support than studios are used to giving.

Spaces like the Queer Collective are important for this very reason: they show queer game devs that they are not alone. They remind queer game devs that they're in this industry for a reason. Further, the more queer game devs thrive in the industry, the closer we get to seeing queer representation among leads and senior positions, representation that is currently rare. Our hope for the future is that, as resources like the Queer Collective become more of a norm, the number of queer individuals represented in upper-level positions in the industry grows alongside greater acceptance and visibility of LGBTQ+ folks.

What is some advice for people looking to start their own Employee Resource Groups?

“First would be to get the support of someone in leadership,” Jules told us. “Or all of leadership, if you can. It’s important for those ranking above you to understand what you're doing, why you're doing it, and to allow you to put time into it so that it can be the best it can be.”.

Jules added: “It's okay to start small with a Slack channel or Discord server, for example. A lot of work in game dev is already really hard, so don't put a lot of pressure on yourself right at the outset, just work on building community and trust within that channel.”

They also stressed the importance of having a code of conduct because LGBTQ+ identities are a source of a lot of dissent from different groups of people. There are disagreements even within the LGBTQ+ community about different issues related to queerness—it's a very complicated topic—so it's important to have some rules in place for how people should engage with each other.

Here are a few examples from the Queer Collective’s code of conduct:

  1. Please do not ask anybody to disclose their gender identity or sexuality - asking someone’s pronouns is great, but it should be each individual’s decision what they disclose beyond that and when.

  2. Conversations in the channel stay in the channel, unless with the explicit permission of all parties involved we decide to bring them outside of this channel. This channel is not monitored, except by the ERG leader

  3. Be respectful not only to those who are queer or allies, but also support the intersectionality of the other aspects of individuals.

  4. Please approach all interactions in good faith – the queer community is diverse and full of differing viewpoints, and allies may still be learning how to engage with LGBTQ+ topics. If somebody is in need of correction, do it gently or step away.

  5. Topics discussed in this channel may be polarizing, controversial, or triggering. If you’d like to bring up a topic that you feel may be upsetting (e.g. news about anti-trans legislation, or venting about a homophobic family member) please make a post with trigger/content warnings, and place the content of your message in a thread beneath that.

  6. If you have issues with someone in the channel, bring them to the ERG leader instead of starting conflict in public channels. For these sorts of things, it's important to keep that sense of a safe space.

So far, the Queer Collective has run very smoothly, in large part thanks to members’ respect for the code of conduct.

A big thank you to Jules for sitting down with us to discuss the Queer Collective! We'll be sitting down with Jules again next week to talk about their experience being queer in the games industry.


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