During the past few months, a lot has been written about everything related to Gamergate. Every opinion has been expressed and every voice has had its chance at being heard not only in games-related media, but also in the many mainstream media that has picked up the story.
Most recently, as an offspring of the many discussions regarding sexism and diversity in the games industry, quite a lot has also been written about the Swedish #gamerdiversity signature petition, which has already gotten nearly 1.500 game developers from all around the globe to show their support and step up against sexism in the name of games.
The petition was launched a few weeks ago by the Swedish Diversi.nu project, which was initiated back in 2013 in collaboration between The Swedish Games Industry and research firm, Praxikon. The aim of Diversi.nu is to create a more diversified Swedish games industry across educational institutions, game companies, and game communities. Specifically, Diversi.nu hopes to create a network of people from within the different sectors of the industry who all want to increase diversity. The plan is to build this network and have it share its knowledge and experiences with diversity through the Diversi.nu website, social media, local meetups and rewards.
As such, Diversi.nu is about much more than the #gamerdiversity petition and Gamergate. A point that was made very clear when we talked with Rasmus Künstlicher and Milda Rönn from the steering committee of the Diversi.nu project.
“Even if the petition is important, Diversi is about so much more. We’re creating a network of people who wants to encourage and support each others’ diversity efforts. To help them do that, we provide channels and forums for them to share knowledge, experiences and ideas regarding diversity; we support and create collaborations on diversity efforts between them; and we enable them to acknowledge and reward each other’s diversity initiatives.”, they say.
While it is important to speak up when something is wrong, Diversi.nu is about looking forward and trying to find the good and positive initiatives that can make a difference. The constructive thoughts and methods for enhancing diversity is what should see the surface, so that these methods can be adopted by others within the industry.
When Diversi.nu was initiatied in 2013, it was to support a Swedish games industry that had talked about and tried to be become more inclusive for a long time without any evidence of success.
“By 2013 many efforts had already been made to increase diversity and make the industry more inclusive, but there was a growing frustration that progress didn’t come faster. “
The need for more diversity had long been established in Sweden by gamers, game developers, educational institutions, and game journalists. And for the traditional games industry dominated by white males making games for a young male audience, it was thus hard not to feel challenged. The Diversi.nu initiative, however, is not about exclusion, but inclusion. It is about adding to, and not removing from, the teams that already make great games.
“It can be difficult to understand other people’s situation and see things from their perspective and it is therefore also easy to make unnecessary mistakes. Together we can help each other to create a more diverse and inclusive games industry without losing anything of what we love in the games. It’s not about removing anything or anyone from the games, it’s about doing better and getting further with more inclusive teams and a greater audience!”, Rasmus Künstlicher and Milda Rönn explains to NordicGameBits.
Looking to the future, the team working on the Diversi.nu project hopes that their concept will eventually spread to other countries and parts of the world as well. “When it comes to meet-ups, workshops and other location based activities, we have to start somewhere, so we start at home in Sweden.”, says Rasmus Künstlicher and Milda Rönn, who also emphasizes that everyone is welcome at the Diversi.nu events, and that the language spoken both internally and externally is English. “It wouldn’t be much of a diversityinitiative if we excluded others because of language, which is why we use English both internally and externally.”.
If you should be interested in spreading the ideas and thoughts behind Diversi.nu, Rasmus and Milda encourages everyone to make great use of the free tools and resources found on the Diversi.nu website. “The tools and resources on our website will of course be free to use by anyone, anywhere.”