By Kayla Cowart, Community Cultivator
Gamers are more than the white male, nacho eating stereotypes- although, I do love me some nachos. In five years, the gaming community will continue to show just how many gamers are disabled, people of color, or even queer. These are my predictions as a black girl gamer on where were headed in the next five years. Pump your breaks though, before we jump to the future, lets take a look at the past.
Women And Gaming Go Way Back
What age did you first start gaming? I started at 4 years old, playing Pokémon Red and Blue in 1996 before I could even read. In 1980, Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman won the National Space Invaders Championship by Atari. Heineman is a transgender woman and the first person to ever win a national video game tournament.
Black girl gamers have been showing up and showing out at the professional level too! Jeannail “Cuddle Core” Carter is a professional Tekken player who won ELEAGUE’s Tekken 7 Team Takedown which aired on TBS earlier this year. Brown girls like Cuddle_core are proof that in the next five years, we will see an increase in the number of black women in the tournement scene. Cheers to EVO 2019- we are coming for you!
How Black Girl Gamers Disrupt The Status Quo
I appreciate games like Fortnite because I can play an avatar that looks like me. Out of the 125 million Fortnite players, 27% of them are women. I too, am one of the women who logs in to play regularly with an avatar that has brown skin and curly hair. Although, not all games have a varied character customization like Fortnite. The games industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity in games. In five years, we can expect to see more people of color developing their own games that tell the stories we would like to see.
Momo Pixel, creator of the viral black women’s hair pilgrimage game- Hair Nah, took the internet by storm earlier this year. That’s because Hair Nah disrupted the status quo of what a video game narrative should look like and centered it around a black woman’s experience of having her hair touched without permission. Whew, chile! Let’s all sing Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange. In five years, I want to see more people of color centered narratives in video games because there is a big market need for it.
We can’t discuss the future of the Black Girl Gaming community without acknowledging some of the leaders who are in the trenches right now doing the work. If you haven’t already, check out what the Official Black Girl Gamers are doing! Founder, Jay-Ann Lopez has a team of amazing community managers and Twitch streamers who are helping BGG members partake in a safe gaming space. Catch a stream at- https://www.twitch.tv/blackgirlgamers
Thumbstick Mafia is another organization created for women of color in the gaming industry. The founders, Anastasia “Seeker” (@chasinglux) and “Sharky” (@sharkyshood) are thought leaders in Black Gaming circles are create heavy hitting content. See their work at- https://thumbstickmafia.com/.
The Next 5 Years
Call me a hopeless romantic but, I see a bright future for Black Women and other Women of Color in the games industry. Not because the gatekeepers will finally open the doors of equality, but because Black Women have a history of making a way out of no way. Black Girl Gamers will continue to let their voices be heard and skills put on display for the next five years and beyond. To all of my black women in the games industry, just know, I’m rooting for you.