Diversity and inclusion are equally important for different reasons

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion are words that have quickly come to mean a lot in the gaming industry. At GamesBeat Summit Next 2022, a panel of experts came together to discuss what each aspect of DEI means for companies in the games industry and how best to implement them.

The panelists clarified that diversity and inclusion are different things and just because a company is serving one does not necessarily mean it is serving the other. Patty Dingle, Riot Games’ global head of diversity and inclusion, said: “Diversity is really about who’s in the room, right? Counting all their heads. Inclusion is about making all those heads count: you’re in the room, you feel valued… We all like to think that we’re all human, we’re all the same, and we treat everyone the same. But that is simply not true. People walk the world very differently. Where they start in the world is very different. So when you activate those two things, hopefully you can come to a level playing field.

Miguel Doherty, executive producer of Puga Studios, added: “Studies show that a lot of people can see that a company is diverse but not inclusive. They have the people, but they don’t really listen to everyone. I think understanding those key concepts makes a big difference when looking for equity as a whole.”

The “how” of DEI

The panelists also discussed how to build a study with DEI in mind. Aletheia O’Neil, Co-Founder of Tether Studios, said: “If you’re trying to reach a diverse, global audience, I think incorporating those different perspectives first helps. It helps shape that, and if that’s the mindset of the studio from the start, you’ll increase your chances of success.”

O’Neil added: “You need to hire the right people, and the best way to start is by targeting people who are different from you and have different perspectives. People naturally tend to want to surround themselves with people who are just like them. If you end up doing that, you have a whole team of people who are thinking the same thing. You’re going to end up with a pretty limited product.”

Doherty said that efforts to be more diverse and inclusive can help retain talent and also spread positive word of mouth for companies. “We’ve heard a lot of people say that, ‘I like staying here because this is a very safe environment for me.’ It could be a woman or a trans person. That’s been super healthy for us in terms of culture and keeping these people. And a lot of them get more engaged because of it.”

Dingle said of his recent efforts at Riot: “People know [DEI] It is important. They know it’s critical to the business. They just want help with the ‘how’. And for that I am. I’m going to help with the ‘how to’ because I have no doubt that people will help me further this work. It’s not just about the people at DEI. Everyone has to help with this.”

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