In the gaming world, there are a lot of upcoming talents who work tirelessly to get eyes on their work.
Add into the equation being a designer from a marginalized community, and your chances become even slimmer. In light of this, Xbox has announced a partnership providing a platform for young Black developers.
Xbox has partnered with Gameheads, an Oakland, CA-based video game design program for youth of color, to showcase its students’ games, according to information shared with AFROTECH.
Launching on Feb. 1, Xbox’s co-branded website featuring Gameheads’ students’ games will revolve around celebrating Black history.
“At Xbox, we are committed to empowering underrepresented creators with the resources and information needed to bring their creativity, innovation, and originality to the games industry. Gameheads is working to support the next generation of developers, so the partnership was a natural fit,” CVP of Gaming Consumer Sales at Microsoft Dametra Johnson-Marletti told AFROTECH.
The new partnership comes after Xbox initially connected with Gameheads by providing mentorship, internships, and mental health services for students. Now, the leading video game company is bringing visibility to their work.
“We want people to see our students,” Gameheads Founder and Executive Director Damon Packwood told AFROTECH. “We want to point out the connection between the work that we do, the quaint little boutique games that our students make and how that can help lead them into careers in the tech and video game industry. Our students work on some of the industry’s top video games such as ‘Tomb Raider,’ ‘Valorant,’ ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Psychonauts 2,’ and more.”
He continued, “There is something to be said about the type of games our students create versus the type of games they buy. I think it’s fascinating to see them imagine different experiences than the ones that are offered on store shelves. We know that there’s an interest by young, diverse gamers in games that provide them with something different. It’s untapped for sure, and we see it every day through the work and games they make.”
In addition to teaming up with Gameheads, Xbox has additional initiatives, including the ID@Xbox Developer Acceleration Program, which supports underrepresented developers with resources to land their games at the company.
What’s more, it launched Xbox Game Studios Game Camp, a program that offers a free immersive learning experience, and Project Amplify, a video series that amplifies Black voices.
“We know that the work doesn’t stop there,” said Johnson-Marletti. “At Xbox we are constantly looking for opportunities to increase representation and ensure that gaming creators feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. By removing longstanding barriers to entry for creators and normalizing diverse storylines and characters in gaming, both players and developers win.”
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