Head of Games London says metaverse can’t be “designed by a bunch of white guys”

"The more diverse the workforce is, the more diverse those virtual worlds become"

Michael French, head of Games London, has spoken about the need for diversity in all aspects of gaming, including the metaverse.

Games London are currently involved in the London Games Festival (which finishes April 10). As part of that, the company has put on an exhibition in Trafalgar Square as part of Ensemble, their initiative to showcase UK video games talent from Black, Asian and underrepresented ethnicities.

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“The census results for the games industry that came out earlier this year have made it pretty clear that our workforce has some diversity to it, but is not diverse enough,” said French.

According to that census (which saw 3600 industry professionals take part), currently, 67 per cent of the gaming workforce is male, while 30 per cent are female and 3 per cent are non-binary.

Additionally, 66 per cent of the workforce reported that they are White British, with 24 per cent as White Other, 5 per cent as Black, 2 per cent as Asian, 2 per cent as Mixed/Multiple ethnicity and a final 2 per cent as other.

According to French, Ensemble was started in 2018 by London Games to help address that balance. “We wanted to celebrate these trailblazers from underrepresented backgrounds and tell their stories. Hopefully that will show others from all over the world that people that look like them, work in this sector. I think that’s the only way we can change that talent ratio over time.”

French describes Ensemble as “just the right thing to do. I can measure and record all of the business wins we get during the festival but actually, uplifting these people that haven’t had the chance to tell their story is incredibly rewarding.”

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After London Games Festival ends, Ensemble will tour, but according to French, “there’s always more to do.”

“We want to do more with mentoring and creating more pathways into gaming. There’s a project that Film London runs called the Equal Access Network, which has done amazing work in terms of getting people from different disadvantaged backgrounds into positions in film and TV. That’s the direction of travel for us.

“We’re all talking about that big boom in gaming. That popularity means more people want to work here, but we need to create those pathways for people from all backgrounds to get into this industry.”

“Also, the more diverse the workforce is, the more diverse those virtual worlds become,” added French. “We’re all talking about the metaverse at the moment but the metaverse cannot just be designed by a bunch of white guys, that’s ridiculous.”

In other news, Epic Games and the Lego Group have announced that they are entering a partnership to “build a place for kids to play in the metaverse.”

Announced on the Epic Games blog, the developer and the Lego Group have plans for a long-term partnership and will “team up to build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together.” It’s described as a “family-friendly digital experience” and plans to give children access to tools to encourage them as creators.

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