Black in Gaming, a Network Expanding In a "Who You Know" Industry
Black in Gaming (BIG) "is a community dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and promoting Black professionals in the video game industry. Since 2002, BIG has been actively developing opportunities for education, leadership and skill expansion for Black people in gaming". They are present on Facebook, Discord, and Clubhouse, creating online spaces for discovering the collective Black excellence we all wield without the tainting of white supremacy in our expression and interactions, professionally and casually.
Trinidad Hermida, Director of Community and Outreach for Black in Gaming (BIG) who had joined BIG in 2020 said it was because "#1 I want to be where all the Black people are at [Game Developer's Conference] GDC, and I believe in the mission". BIG's mission "is to increase the percentage of Black professionals in game development from 2% to 5% in five years, increasing Black cultural impact both on and off the screen. This is the BIG 5 in 5".
"I think you get out of BIG what you put into it... we need our own shit, we need a community, and we need a place where we can belong and be ourselves... and spread the wealth of information".
BIG has been a professional network for Trinidad, who is new to the professional game industry as of 2018, "not knowing the lay of the land, I relied on the BIG people... [who have] been there and done that". She is the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Niantic, the company that developed Pokémon GO. BIG is a community for those who are new to meet those who are more experienced. Trinidad sees BIG's future as "being a foundation or non-profit who has multiple arms that affect and empower the community, education, [professional] development... scholarships... being a real advocate for Black people in gaming".
Hezekiah Olopade aka Hez, a member of BIG, has found the community to be "definitely a morale booster, first found out about BIG at GDC". In Hezekiah's life path "going into [game development] was never an option. . . I didn't know there were our people in the industry like this".
As a member, Hez "would love to see [BIG] just expand even bigger than any of us ever dreamed". Hez wants the percentage of Black people in the game industry to go from 2% to as high as it could possibly go while BIG's stated mission is 5% in 5 years. More awareness of Blacks in the industry is what Hez believes will be a driving force for getting more of us into the industry, stating this mainly because, "the gaming industry is more of a 'who you know' than what you know industry". If BIG can expand our Black network to create genuine friends who you know and can bring you in, then it's only natural we'll see an increase in our own presence.