Vt. game developers aim to make industry more inclusive

Published: Jun. 19, 2019 at 5:27 PM EDT
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Many Americans play some kind of video game-- if not every day, from time to time.

Now, a nonprofit in Burlington is creating the first-ever video game set in Sri Lanka.

But the creators say they're trying to do much more for the gaming industry. Our Olivia Lyons shows you how.

"At the end of the day, the industry is for a certain group of people right now and the market is for-- in the United States and most of the world-- a certain kind of person right now. And we're saying good, you have that, here we are over here," Kel Bachus said.

Bachus created Rad Magpie only one year ago. The intent behind the organization is to create a space for underrepresented developers such as women, trans people and people of color.

As someone who was a woman in the industry and is now trans, Bachus recognizes their struggles and is determined to make their voices be heard.

"I think it's harder for certain groups to take the risks that they should be taking and would be taking except that they are already taking so many risks just by existing in the program or existing in the world or existing in the industry," Bachus said.

In 2018, only 23% of game developers were women and 81% of game developers were Caucasian.

Dana Steinhoff is the executive producer at Rad Magpie where she is working on the video game set in Sri Lanka.

"To be in a company that values so specifically those people and that values people who weren't handed a lot of confidence just by way of how they were born is awesome," Steinhoff said.

"When we see people that we are not expecting to see, we pay attention. And isn't that the entire point of what we're doing here? With what Rad Magpie is doing here, what women who are starting businesses, what various people, as they bring their idea to market, when they don't look like everyone else who is bringing the same idea to market, people pay attention," said Gwen Pokalo, the director of the Center for Women & Enterprise.

Bachus tells WCAX News they do not exclude Caucasian men from the organization, but their main focus is on underserved communities to prove they do exist in the industry.

Developers say the future of this kind of business model is promising. Pokalo said this is the business model of the future. By relating to consumers who are not fully represented in the marketplace, they're trying to find a competitive differentiation and advantage to create success.