Social justice issues in the workplace can be a difficult topic to navigate, especially if you are a job seeker in the video game industry. Gaming giants like Xbox and PlayStation have made public announcements in support of social justice causes such as LGBTQ+ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a job seeker during this turbulent time in our society, you will need to decide which, if any, social justice causes you want your new employer to support. When doing your research, however, it’s important to judge a potential game industry employer by ongoing initiatives as opposed to knee-jerk reactions inspired by peer pressure.
The video game industry is no stranger to social justice causes and has been the center of debate on a regular basis for everything from tropes to body image, representation of marginalized groups, and whether or not they cause violence. Socially conscious job hunters won’t have any problems finding recent statements from prospective game job employers about where they stand.
Beginning in June, Microsoft posted a series of tweets that highlighted quotes from Black and LGBTQIA+ employees, allowing them to voice their concerns about social issues in their own words. In addition, the tech giant’s gaming brand, Xbox, promoted Pride Month in June by sharing stories from the Xbox Ambassador community.
PlayStation, as with many brands, kept its statement brief saying,” We denounce systematic racism and violence against the Black community. We will continue to work towards a future marked by empathy and inclusion and stand with our Black creators, players, employees, families, and friends. #BlackLivesMatter.”
Even Nintendo America, which isn’t known for jumping into touchy subjects, posted a brief statement showing solidarity with the family of George Floyd and the Black community at large.
Other brands like Forza Motorsports and gaming event organizer Axis Replay celebrated June 19, i.e. “Juneteenth” and the anniversary of America’s Emancipation Proclamation, through donations, live streams, and calls for solidarity.
According to a 2020 study by Jobvite, 81% of workers think company culture is important in their decision to apply for a job. Meanwhile, younger generations entering the workforce tend to be more vocal about social justice issues, whether that be lowering a company’s impact on the environment or initiating diverse hiring practices. For recruiters, this means that screening candidates — and vice versa — could involve more than skills and experience.
It may also be a test of whether values align. Young talent will more than likely want to know how a gaming company stands on certain issues, so making a statement will be important for recruiters. However, a generic statement may not be enough and disingenuous actions can backfire.
While many job hunters lean toward a company that makes games and tackles the problems in today’s society, actions speak louder than words. Companies need to evaluate whether a PR statement is enough or whether they need to implement new procedures, hiring practices, philanthropic endeavors, and the like in order to “practice what they preach.”
Failure to back social justice claims up with action will not only alienate potential future employees but consumers as well. In fact, making social justice issues part of a gaming company’s platform can, and often does, divide consumer audiences.
The entire world is impacted by social justice issues, and the video game industry is no different. When looking for a job in gaming, there are a few things to consider:
Remember, a recruiter is going to look at your words and activity, too. It’s tempting to be angry and vocal on social media, but be aware that most employers pre-screen before an interview for potential strengths or warning signs. A recruiter may ask you questions that relate to your personal interests. Don’t be afraid to ask about any initiatives the company has such as diversity or protecting the environment — it might help you pick the right fit!