Black Lives Matter.
This is a statement which should be self-evident to everyone everywhere, including the Global Game Jam. Equality and a commitment to diversity are at the core of the Global Game Jam, although we, as an organisation, haven’t made an official statement saying as much until now.
We apologise for the delay in issuing this statement and we apologise for how this delay created an absence of GGJ support and leadership on these issues. This was not our intent, but we recognise this as a failure. We have committed to working with our Executive Committee, Organizers and our global community to realise meaningful changes regarding our accountability, transparency and responsiveness. The delay in making a statement was not because of a desire to support privilege or bury our heads in the proverbial sand but rather borne out of a desire to get a message out which is not a knee jerk response to a crisis, but rather a statement followed by a plan of action which demonstrates our dedication to supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.
Both as board members and as individuals, we have been working to better understand anti-racism activism, researching the best ways to support and elevate BIPoC in games, developing a meaningful plan with several actionable items in support of the BLM movement, and figuring out the best ways we can support anti-racism activism and BIPoC in our Global Game Jam community. More than a statement, we wanted to act, and act on a global scale. Our plan includes the following statements and their actionable points:
1. We commit to prioritizing and amplifying melanated voices.
- When selecting keynotes for the Global Game Jam and Global Game Jam NEXT, priority will be given to speakers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.
- Create a new monthly newsletter feature which highlights a game creator or games from underrepresented people in the GGJ community.
- Produce a quarterly podcast or video where a board, staff, EC member interviews a developer and plays their games.
2. The Global Game Jam board of directors must be representative of the international community it serves.
- The GGJ will immediately work to create a new seat on the board of directors whose role will be to oversee the implementation and enforcement of the Inclusiveness Policy and Code of Conduct across the organisation. Nominees from underrepresented groups will be prioritized but not required, as we recognise serious issues with further burdening Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour with the task of keeping boards and organisations accountable.
- Create a diversity requirement for the board and propose any requisite amendments to our Bylaws to require representation from major global regions.
3. We acknowledge that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour are underrepresented in games and games education and that this needs to be remedied.
- The board will ensure that at least half of Global Game Jam NEXT curriculum and mentor videos will feature Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. Young people are inspired to pursue careers when they see people like them in those roles. Our curriculum is primarily meant to help site organizers of GGJ NEXT, but is often viewed by middle and high school students in our GGJ NEXT jam sites. Towards that end we have room to improve in the diversity reflected in the professional game designers featured in our videos.
4. We will increase the participation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in the Global Game Jam as site organisers and participants.
- We will be expanding our Accessibility Fund to an Accessibility & Diversity Fund to assist self-identified BIPoC in running a jam site.
- We will work with our industry sponsors to create sponsored internships for individuals recruited from underserved communities.
- Appoint a task force specifically aimed at reaching at least 10 new underrepresented communities/countries/cultural groups in economically challenged areas each year.
5. We need to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour are safe and welcome at every Jam site around the globe.
- We are revisiting and revising our GGJ Inclusiveness Policy and Code of Conduct, and providing new guidelines to regional and site organisers to ensure its enforcement at every GGJ site.
- Review policies and processes for vetting GGJ volunteer conduct, and their knowledge and implementation of GGJ’s Inclusiveness Policy and Code of Conduct.
6. We will create initiatives to better support our global, non-English speaking community.
- The Board and Executive Committee recognise there is a need to continue the spirit of the BLM movement to other sectors in our community, and thus we are actively working on initiatives to identify and provide support for international challenges within GGJ. As we don’t want to diminish our statement on BLM here, we will address this other initiative in a separate statement.
Of course, if it were possible to press a button and end racism in game jams, the videogame industry, and the world, we would have pushed it already. Sadly, systemic problems like racism do not have overnight solutions, but we genuinely hope that this plan of action is an initial step forward and only the beginning of the work we are undertaking to improve the Global Game Jam. We look forward to hearing from our community about other actions we can take.
Lastly, we would like to again thank our community of jammers for holding us accountable in our delay in posting this statement. Calling out injustice is not easy or comfortable, but it is necessary for growth and progress. Never stop making the world a better place.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please reach out to us at [email protected]. The board is additionally hosting an Ask Me (Us) Anything via Zoom (link forthcoming) on Sunday 5th July at 12:00 (noon) Los Angeles/ 21:00 London/ 5:00 Tokyo.
The GGJ Board of Directors:
- Joseph Olin, President
- Ashley ML Brown, Vice President
- Houssem ben Amor, Treasurer
- Carl Callewaert
- Lenore Gilbert
- Foaad Khosmood
- Kevin Miklasz
- Shelley Miles
- Kate Edwards Executive Director
- Jo Summers, Executive Producer