To cap off National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, Xbox announced “Project Amplify,” an outreach program to help the next generation of Black game developers begin charting their career paths within the industry.
In a blog post from Xbox, the company announced it will have a panel at Revolt Summit 2022, an event whose mission is to offer young aspiring artists an opportunity to celebrate, network, and curate the necessary skills to grow within their careers. Although the event typically features celebrities and musicians within the music and entertainment industry, Revolt Summit also highlights those within the technology spectrum. The event takes place from September 24 to September 25 in Atlanta, Georgia.
For those still wondering why Xbox wished to be a part of an event whose lineup included appearances from hip-hop celebrities like Amber Rose, Killer Mike, Gucci Mane, and Bobby Shmurda, the statistics from Microsoft’s commissioned survey paint a pretty clear picture: Today’s Black youth are hungry to dive into the gaming industry despite it not highlighting folks that look like them.
According to a recent HBCU poll, 95 percent of the 200 college students and alumni who responded want to work within the game industry. Of those 200 respondents, 34 percent want to be program managers, 24 percent engineers, and 18 percent want to be game developers. I don’t think I’m pulling the rug out from under any reader’s chair by reminding you that the current climate within the gaming industry is still pretty damn white. And for those pearl-clutching at my lukewarm take, Xbox agrees, saying “only 2% of professionals in the video game industry are Black compared with 13% of the U.S. population.”
For folks unable to book a plane ticket to Atlanta in this economy, this is where Project Amplify’s video series comes in. Xbox uploaded a video series under the same name to the ID@Xbox YouTube Channel. Throughout the 16-episode playlist, viewers can watch videos featuring 14 game designers working at Xbox. It features folks from 12 different disciplines of game design, including narrative directors, character artists, and software engineers.
My two cents, as someone who’s (check’s pigmentation) Black and covers the gaming industry as my job: I think this is a good move on Xbox’s part. While I was studying journalism in college, charting a career path within games journalism proved to be nigh impossible for my college advisors to help guide me on considering the only recent success stories they could conjure were Alanah Pearce and Greg Miller, who, although great, ain’t Black. While it isn’t Xbox putting on its hotep hat and ratioing bigots on social media, helping kinfolk get their foot in the door of this relatively young and insider-esque industry is welcome. The more the merrier. Good luck to all who apply.