Hi there, I’m Sean Labode, Community Manager at Sold Out Games and today I want to share something a bit different on our blog. It’s not about a new game coming out, but it is something personal to me and something that is very important to me. I’m thankful that Sold Out has given me the platform to share this with you today.
So my story in brief is that I’ve been a part of the UK video games industry since 2012. I spent the first 2 years of this in the games media as well as being an on-screen presenter, producer and editor before landing a job at Sold Out in London which is where I’ve been for 6+ years now.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been born here as London is home to a lot of international cultures, but I want to write today about my experiences to do with race and inequality that I’ve personally experienced whilst living and mostly working in London. Now I have to point out that my experience has not been as bad as others I hear or read about from around the World.
Everything to do with Black Lives Matter has been so educational and has been such an eye opener for me, as a person of colour. This year in particular, due to the horrendous events that happened in America, the world has been shaken up and made aware that racism in all forms is still a huge detrimental problem that hasn’t gone away. For me, working in the UK video games industry, I feel at times extremely lucky to be in an important role as the forward facing Community Manager for Sold Out, but also there’s more responsibility to what I now do and what I fundamentally represent. This would range from making sure my community has an open door policy to ask questions on these issues, coming forward if players are experiencing any issues, be that game-related or personal but also and most importantly showing that we’re a diverse team which listens and reacts.
We have an open-door policy here at Sold Out and practice having transparency for staff and our developers. Being able to ask questions, however small or silly they could be deemed, and having a chat with peers or managers helped me grow a lot (and I did ask many silly questions too). In doing so, it means others have found it easier to approach me or other team members too. The fact that I’m writing this blog entry for Sold Out shows there’s a trust on my behalf to come forward and speak passionately about these worldly matters that affects me and many others.
The fact that news and social media is still reporting and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement many months after George Floyd’s death has been inspiring to me. Usually after big news, you wait a couple of days and it will be forgotten about but this remains, it has longevity and I think it’s had a profound effect on many others – and that is great to see. Especially during COVID-19 we remain spreading awareness through social distancing, always fighting for equal rights in our own ways. Whether than be through donations, peaceful protesting or using our own talents to show support. I’ve started to write my own narrative for a short game which features two black protagonists, male and female, who face hurdles in life that people of other races may not be aware of. I want players to learn what it’s like to walk the less easy path and seeing different choices but not having all the opportunities to take them. This is my protest, sharing life experiences that some gamers might not even be aware of.
The games industry is a fantastic industry for new ideas, free thinking and exciting challenges but there will always be more work still to be done in regards to diversity. The dream would be seeing more POC (people of colour), BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and bigger mixes of all genders, orientations and disabilities in creative roles in the industry. We can tell great authentic stories, so let’s put players in the shoes of others who are just as important as the next person, and build loving communities using games we all would want to play.
If you’ve made it this far thank you for reading. This is just one person’s voice, my voice, but I now urge you to also do your own research too as I’m only scratching the surface. There are many books, blogs, films etc. to check out but I would also recommend checking out https://blacklivesmatter.com/ to see examples of the hard work put into this movement too.
Thank you for your support.
Published: 27th October 2020