By Kimari Rennis
I’m still thinking about what I learned at the recent Game Devs of Color Expo, a supportive environment for game developers and their fans from various backgrounds held each year in Harlem. The GDoC Expo is very young, but it’s helping the community learn and think about games in important ways. (The video for all the panels discussions are right here above my byline!)
Before I arrived in Harlem for the festival, I thought about what games are. Most people think a video game is a sleek plastic case holding a glistening CD filled with entertainment. In someone else’s mind, that person may visualize a vague blur of vibrant color as they fight or play fast, the sounds of a controller or the tapping of keys in the background. But behind any videogame (or card game or board game) is an industry, indie or corporate, filled with creative minds and revolutionary thinkers. There is a constant demand for new ideas and artistry created by unique individuals that make the magic you see when you play become a reality.
Bearing that in mind, here’s what I learned at the expo.
****The gaming industry is more than just one job; there are producers, testers, audio directors, artists, managers, animators, developers, composers, marketers and designers. Everyone’s talent, no matter how big or small the team is, plays a crucial role in orchestrating a meaningful work of art with its own purpose and audience.
****For that talent to shine, the people behind our games need support.
****Everyone was really nice. One thing that I immediately realized that the diverse people who dedicate their lives to the art of games make up a tight-knit community.
****A lot of time and investment goes into making a game and growing it over time so that it has its own place in the world.
****This is for DYI people. When it comes to designing games and taking the time to sit there and code, do not do it to a point where you get sick. Make some time for yourself.
****For those who want to make games for the first time, try participating in game jams. It doesn’t cost any money, and it gives you a feel for what you’ll be in for in the future. You’re given a short amount of time to create your game either by yourself or with a team you can grow with if you decide to continue with your project.
****Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and reach out to others if you want your game to be seen and heard. You’ll be greatly surprised by how many people are willing to help you out if you talk to them. But it takes work.
****Open up. If you’ve finished a game, get out there and display it for the world to see. There is a variety of cons and expos that you can attend and host your game so that you can get the feedback you may need or the networking that you have been longing for. If you don’t have the money for all, choose the one that is best for your particular project.
****This is a bit of advice that everyone has given but still holds true: there are so many pathways into the industry and no one’s story is the same. There is no pre-made path made to go directly into games. Instead, it can be a path that you create on your own based on what drives you.
Kimari Rennis is a New York Videogame Critics Circle senior intern from the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx.