Hi, Matt here with the first in our developer series.
Our Budgie Smuggler Series will touch on a few different topics, all of which focus on us as a company, and not just Renegade Legion. We will cover a diverse range of topics and want this series to provide you with a better understanding of how we work, what we value, and how you will see that reflected in hat we do.
Our first post is about diversity in gaming, and specifically in Budgie Smuggler Games (BSG). I’ll talk about our goals, where we sit in meeting those, and how we want to reflect our principles for diversity in Renegade Legion.
You will have seen us talk before about what we want in our company and games, and there are two company principles I want to talk about here, which are:
• Empowerment of Diverse Voices • No Tolerance for Intolerance
I have been fortunate in my career in that I have worked with Aboriginal communities in Australia and work with many Aboriginal people. My job is in cultural heritage management, and I have been able to clearly see what lack of equity can do to people who are not white, and not male. Doors that open easily for me do not do so for some of my colleagues, because they are not designed to. Have a look at gaming threads on twitter and it’s clear the same issues of lack of equity exist there for those who are not born white or male.
Therefore, we want to actively find people not like us i.e., not cis white guys. Why? Well, we want to provide opportunities and equity for voices not our own, and we also know through our own experiences that rich and diverse story telling teams create more interesting, vibrant, and engaging stories. That’s great for the story tellers and for the fans.
What is also important is that by celebrating our contributors, we show those who might not normally engage outside their comfort zone that it is ok and safe to do so within the RLU, and that they can learn to appreciate and respect aspects of lived experiences not their own. Secondly, it shows other creators that there is space for them in the industry, that they can be successful, and that their stories are valued and celebrated.
So, where do we stand on diversity within our team at the moment? Honestly, it’s only OK so far at best, and something we will be working hard to change over the next couple of months. Our original group all knew each other and was largely white men, so we know our next step is getting more diversity into the team fast. We have six male to three female contributors so far, so that’s not a great balance, and no women in the four top positions, not ideal either. Eight of us are white, which is really bad, and that needs to change. Six contributors are American, and three are Australian, so our outlook is skewed by that as well. We are also all part of cis married couples too, so we have a big gap there. So, we have talked pretty big so far, but now we are past our initial set up, we need to take steps to address these imbalances. We expect to be held to that by those watching us too. Talk is cheap.
We have also set some internal standards in the team for character representation, and we need diversity to help us do that authentically. We are not going to produce character art that shows scantily or tightly clothed women and big tough white guys. We are going to show all shapes and forms, and all types of people, because that’s the world we live in. We want all of our fans to be able to find themselves in our work, identify with positive representations of who they are, and celebrate themselves in an amazing universe.
We are going to start that with the canonization of our first fan. Katie is an old-time friend of mine, we grew up together and go and see the new Star Wars movies when they come out – it’s our tradition. Katie was our first Sovereign Patron and jumped in as soon as she heard what I was doing. As her handle is the Ginger Ninja, we always intended to make her the General in charge of the TOG’s special forces. It was an easy choice to make. However, Katie is pregnant at the moment, so we asked if she would like her character art to have the TOG special forces general shown as being pregnant in her art. Katie was stoked that we would want to do so, as have the other friends I have mentioned it to. A strong, successful woman, pregnant, whilst in the service of her nation is a powerful affirmation for female RPG players. We are really looking forward to creating the first canonization art with Katie and will use it to test how we canonize the other Sovereign Patrons.
The example of Katie is how we want to approach the RLU, by giving voice or image to those who might otherwise not be seen in strong and positive ways that we can all celebrate together. All of this makes for a stronger and more open community that will bring all of us great experiences and friendships that will last for years. We look forward to doing more of this as we go along. The cover of our Call for Writer is beautifully rendered and provides three alien and human faces that do not fit the standard many games have used over the years, and we can’t wait to share it, as it shows the path down which we want to go in celebrating the diversity of humanity through the RLU.
And IMPORTANTLY, if you know of skilled contributors that are not like us, i.e., they are not cis white guys, then point them our way. We want to know about them and hear from them. As we get closer to Kickstarter, and as we get the pre-Kickstarter fiction moving, the more names we have to approach, the better.