A lack of diversity in the gaming industry has been an issue for years and yet only recently has it come to the collective awareness. Reactions to the push for an increase in diversity have ranged the gamut from full support, such as in the case of the Plz Diversify Your Panel list, to outright scorn and everything in between. A developer that is trying to stand out from the pack is Finji, who released this announcement on their website detailing their plans to hire a team to work on a game. The main point of the post was explaining that instead of going the route of most every other developer out there, studio director Adam Saltsman was going to try to bring together as diverse a team as possible.
After some time, I reached out to Adam to see how the hiring was going, what his experiences were with this ambitious search, and how development of the game Overland was going.
What made you decide to get as diverse a staff as possible?
Oh boy – a lot of things. I think the main thing is just the rising tide of awareness about issues like this in our community. I would probably give shoutouts to people like Mattie Brice and Leigh Alexander and Anita Sarkeesian and Erin Robinson and Manveer Heir and Rami Ismail and Zoe Quinn and Shawn Alexander and I’m running out of space here, but there’s a lot of really eloquent and passionate voices for diversity in our community right now. I’ve learned a lot in the last few years, and we’re trying to apply some of that new knowledge and new perspective. It helps too that we’re preceded by studios like That Game Company and The Fullbright Company and a lot of the people I listed above, who are doing really powerful, original work with diverse teams. And I think they do powerful and original work very much because of those diverse teams, as opposed to in spite of, as prevailing “wisdom” would imply.
That all sounds a bit PR-ish for my taste but it’s all true things… you know a lot of it really just boils down to wanting to see new things get built, and wanting to meet new people, and find new collaborators, and really as long as we’re doing that why not do it in a way that is fair and equitable and sane? You kind of can’t go back once you start to recognize the obstacles that are in place for a lot of people.
Did you experience any hurdles when you first started recruiting the team?
Yeah, I think there were two things that were the biggest hangups for me, and I’m not sure I adequately dealt with either of them, though we did much better with the first one. That first one is really nailing the language in the job postings – when I wrote the job post for our art director position, it was a good start but there was a lot of really combative language in there. The folks from Bento Miso helped me do a better job of that on our audio director position, but there are still some things I could have done better there. The thing I do not think I did a good enough job of is outreach – getting outside my twitter followers and industry job boards and reaching out into communities where there are more women. Next time we do this (and there will be a next time!) I look forward to taking that more seriously.