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Academia and the Black Experience in Games with Prof. Lindsay Grace - GDC Podcast ep. 21

Lindsay Grace is Knight Chair in Interactive Media and an associate professor at the University of Miami School of Communication. He joins Gamasutra's Kris Graft and Alissa McAloon to chat about games and academia, games with social impact, and the Black experience in game development.

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On the Black experience in game dev

"One of the inspiring but also tough realities is that a number of the indie game makers that self-identify as Black actually decided that they couldn't find a space in traditional game design or development, so they made their own. And you'll see this time and time again.

"...I really think there could be a whole lot more [resources] committed [to aspiring Black game developers] than there is currently. I think it's obvious because the demand is there. When you hear members of a community who are by ratio high consumers looking to be producers, there is a disproportionate number of African-Americans who make games compared to consume games.

"And you can see there's a huge gap--at least 7 percent on most estimates. So less than 2 percent of the industry is African-American, but accounts for 9 percent of the consumer base...I have to say the larger organizations have the money and resources and time to [bring Black game developers in]...I think the pressure does fall on the larger orgs...then put pressure on everyone else to [follow suit]."

On what's next for game academia

"My general expectation is that we're going to see two things happen. I think first you're going to see a general understanding that games and game studies...will expand. The number of programs that are being generated these days I think looks similar to film in the 1970s, where it was strange maybe to say in 1950, 'I'm a film major,' when in 1970 everyone is like 'yeah! what kind of film do you do?'

"I think you're going to see the same with games, because there was a point where people were like, 'wow, you're studying games,' and now no one is impressed or surprised by that. They tend to ask the next question, 'what kind of games do you do?' or 'what kind of games do you study?'"

GDC Podcast music by Mike Meehan

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