Weekly News Roundup #7 – Black Lives Matter Stirs The Gaming Community

Good evening everybody, and welcome back to our Weekly News Roundup, where we cover interesting, odd, exciting, or in this case, touching video game related news.

With the world understandably still reeling over the events of the last few weeks, it seems almost tone deaf to ignore. So with that in mind, this weeks News Roundup will be covering everything that gaming personalities and companies are doing to either help out, or make their stance known. At least, I’ll be covering as much as I can in one article.

Final note – I’ve done my damnedest to credit everyone, and everywhere, for the info you’ll see here, but with such support flowing in from everywhere on social media it’s certainly possible I’ll either forget to mention something important, or I’ll credit incorrectly. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Major games companies speak out.

Video games are…. well they’re video games. At even the most chill climate relating to current events, they aren’t all that important. Especially now.

But what video games do often possess is a platform that hundreds of millions of people access daily. I wouldn’t say that anyone expected companies to speak out, or postpone events, but thankfully that’s exactly what they’ve done. At least in general.

Now I will say that “speaking out” in terms of major corporations and similar is essentially the bare minimum. However in a recent article on The Verge, it’s pointed out that these very same companies have been notably silent in the past on very similar matters.

For the sake of clarity as well, Ethan Gach wrote a very interesting piece over at Kotaku about how these companies are being very ambiguous (or just plain not answering requests) when it comes to actually explaining their long term goals for supporting Black Lives Matter. I thoroughly recommend reading it through, it’s eye opening.

While some companies, like EA and Niantic, seem to have actual plans in place, other companies such as Activision Blizzard seem to be far more unwilling to discuss their plans. In fact the latter recently had some trouble when they suspended pro Hearthstone player “Blitzchung” for saying “liberate Hong Kong” live on stream last year, which makes their public statement seem ironic, or hypocritical, to say the least.

Unsurprisingly, people didn’t wait long before making their thoughts known on Twitter.

That’s not to say the statements are hollow, or deliberately misleading however. As I mentioned earlier, these companies have a massive audience. Raising awareness throughout that audience will always do more good than bad. At least in theory.

Perhaps the highest profile, and most obvious voices of support have come from PlayStation, and Call of Duty. The prior have postponed their June 4th PS5 event, currently indefinitely with no new date currently announced.

This in particular was a massive move, and one that’s been widely commended across social media (despite some truly disappointing comments on the tweet itself). The main reason this came as a surprise, is because it’s now largely discussed how Xbox are holding much of the mind share when it comes to next generation consoles. Aside from the good press, delaying this event doesn’t seem to benefit PlayStation, so it seems to be coming from a place of good intentions. Which is fantastic for everyone.

In terms of Call of Duty, to the best of my knowledge they’ve done something currently unique in the support of BLM. Not only did they postpone the start of the new seasons across Modern Warfare, Warzone, and Mobile, they’ve also added a message to the loading screen in their game. It appears to show every time you load Modern Warfare, or switch modes!

The message reads, and this is pulled from an article on The Verge:

“Our community is hurting. The systemic inequalities our community experiences are once again center stage. Call of Duty and Infinity Ward stand for equality and inclusion. We stand against the racism and injustice our Black community endures. Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be.”

Once again, it’s absolutely worth mentioning that Activision Blizzard do own the Call of Duty license, so you’re more than entitled to take statements like this with some large grains of salt. It may not be enough to just say these things, but the awareness these messages will bring could do some good.

More companies need to take physical steps to reduce and eradicate racism from their brand or products. Ironically Call of Duty has long been home to racist slurs, either voiced or through tags and account names, which people have been quick to point out.

Xbox Brazil, and Xbox in general might even find themselves in deep water after this tweet from Jason Schreier:

Clearly, work needs to be done. But these statements and pledges from companies across the community are at least a step in the right direction.

Kinda Funny Highlights Black Voices In The Gaming Community.

For those who don’t know Kinda Funny, they are currently home to a number of either already prominent, or rising names in the games journalism and media entertainment sector.

Starting in 2015, when four IGN members of staff left the business, the three that still remain in Greg Miller, Tim Gettys, and Nick Scarpino have since ran Kinda Funny (along with a host of other people that I dare not overlook). With regular expansion, and both on and off topic content, they offer a wide variety of entertainment in the form of produced shows that can be enjoyed in both video or podcast format.

I know it sounds like I’m promoting Kinda Funny here, but I figured an introduction was necessary before I got into the relevant bits to this article.

Their most recent hire Blessing Adeoye Jr, who was previously part of Okbeast, has been an impressive voice. Both for Kinda Funny, and in light of recent events, on Twitter. Understandably extremely vocal about the way that racism is handled (or not handled) in the US, he’s been notably outspoken.

Astutely aware of this, Kinda Funny changed up their normal show and hosting scheduling. Normally the selection of regular hosts on staff rotate in and out over the course of a week, especially on Kinda Funny Games Daily. In case it wasn’t obvious, it’s a daily rundown of video game news.

However with a tweet from Greg Miller on June 1st, he announced that the following week of KFGD content would be dedicated to elevating and highlighting some black voices in the gaming community.

Now, irritatingly, I’m way behind on my dose of KFGD. But I did manage to find the time to listen to the first entry, with Parris Lilly. If you don’t know him, you aren’t alone, neither did I shamefully.

Thankfully now I do! A host of Gamertag Radio, not only was Kinda Funny Games Daily super interesting to listen to, but both Blessing and Parris did a great job. I’m now following Gamertag Radio on Spotify, and I strongly recommend you go and check them out!

You might be wondering why I’ve specifically highlighted Kinda Funny in this section. That’s because while my opening segment today was focusing on companies saying words, but maybe not openly acting on those words, this is the opposite.

Not only have the people at Kinda Funny been honestly speaking out these last few weeks, as a company they’ve also gone out of their way to do some good. Whether it’s Blessing getting involved in one of the coolest “match me” donation runs I’ve seen, or Greg suggesting this elevation of black voices in the community, it doesn’t matter.

Just kudos all round. Worth noting as well, that they aren’t the only companies doing this. Inside Gaming have taken a similar course of action, as well as Gamespot:

Just a feels good all round.

Community Personalities Getting Involved.

Phew, where to even start. Well let’s start with some streaming action shall we?

Alanah Pearce, JackSepticEye, Rubber Ninja, and CrankGameplays

First up is Alanah Pearce. if you don’t know who she is then you’re probably wrong. She has a wonderful habit of showing up in almost all of the regular video game related content that I consume at some point or another, and I’d wager you’re the same.

A former IGN employee, because honestly who isn’t, that doesn’t really sum it up. Currently working out of Funhaus, she also has her own YouTube, streams semi-regularly, appears on a bunch of other shows sporadically such as We Have Cool Friends by Kinda Funny and on shows like Inside Gaming, AND for interviews like the one found on Pocketgamer. The list carries on if I’m honest, and I’m not sure I have the article space to cover everything she’s lent a hand to here over her career today.

I was going to try and intro the tweet, but $56,000 kind of introduces itself don’t you think? Accompanied by massive YouTubers and Streamers CrankGameplays, Jack Septic Eye, and Rubber Ninja, the stream did a fantastic job of raising money for the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

MN Freedom Fund is an organisation dedicated to paying bail for those who otherwise cannot afford to, which is very apt given the country wide arrests going through in the US right now. If you’re interested in supporting, Alanah appears to still be taking donations!

Dr Lupo

Dr Lupo is a massively popular PvP orientated Twitch streamer, who’s currently one of the many people jumping on the clear enjoyment of Escape From Tarkov. Creating his channel after becoming so good at Destiny that people offered to pay him for carries, he’s since been a known name and face in PUBG, Fortnite, and the aforementioned Escape From Tarkov.

In case you missed it, Dr Lupo had a very outspoken view to share through his platform:

Dr Lupo regularly co-streams with fellow giants Ninja and TimTheTatMan, so his follower base and popularity is no small thing. He’s well known for being open about social issues, especially on his channel, and part of his statement made his view clear on the inevitable retorts he’ll get:

“I know people are gonna be like ‘Oh, Lupo, stay in your fucking lane!’ I don’t give a shit anymore. I don’t fucking care, dude. It’s a nightmare. And the worst part about it is, because I’m white, I don’t even really know what it’s like… I don’t understand it. I don’t have to face that.”

His honest take on it is refreshing, and we need more of it.

DataDave

Now I stumbled onto DataDave by accident the other day. Someone I followed shared something, of someone else sharing something and here we are.

I can’t generally find the time to watch Twitch sadly, you know how it is. But DataDave is a Twitch streamer currently sitting on around 50,000 followers, and he seems to stream a wide variety of games. Most recent of which is the new Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, and what is technically its sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

So there’s the intro, here’s where I stumbled onto him:

In the thread he’s linked a google doc that does exactly as he says. I’ll link the whole google doc at the end of his section here, but here are some of the highlights:


“It’s been mentioned that a lot of content creators on the front page of Twitch, outside of February, doesn’t consist of many Black creators nor POC during other months of the year. Another aspect, is that many of those creators featured that month, seems to be the same group of individuals each year. There’s a ton of great creators on the platform big or small who feel like they have an even upward battle for recognition and to get an opportunity such as front page time.”

“Another suggestion could be to highlight different people from different gaming communities (just as an example: Warframe, Pokemon, Battle Royals, Card Games, Retro streamers, creatives, DJs, etc) periodically and really highlight those creators in a creative way. You could even focus on a specific community for a set amount of days and highlight the various streamers that make up that game community. There’s numerous ways to go about it, but it’s important to make sure that you’re varying the people on the front page to ensure the same individuals aren’t always present.”

“One of the things we thought of was maybe if diversity is stressed on the forefront of the homepage and also in their ads. Twitch has done an amazing job with the new channel trailer feature that we can put on our offline page. I believe we should put some of them in the twitch ads and on the homepage. People will find that there are streamers more relatable with their interest if they can see gameplay too. This list can be extended even further to highlight different communities every month or period of time with various groups and types of people. A group video in an advertisement of a multitude of streamers could even be featured from different communities and highlight creators of various or similar games, communities, or completely different areas.”


These ideas, and the rest contained within the google doc I mentioned all sound fantastic, and what’s even better is it appears that Twitch has taken notice:

As mentioned, I said I’d link the full document and it’s right below here. I may not have the time I’d like to dedicate to Twitch, but if you’re interested definitely head on over to his profile! POC members of the gaming community famously have trouble making themselves seen or heard amongst the crowd, and regularly this isn’t down to their own talent, but more the lack of push or support they get.

Hopefully this changes.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u4afMRobHDiT8Jm0ao375EFg6XZcD9eoaEyEQEwYX0o/edit

The people I’ve mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. These are just the people that I managed to catch zooming down our twitter feed.

Chances are many of your favorite creators and websites are doing their part to push POC community members that deserve your attention, but much like my discovery of Gamertag Radio, I implore you to not forget about these people once these issues have died down again.

Support them, even when it’s not fashionable.

People Are Asking For POC Community Members to Reach Out To Them.

As the title, the last week or so on Twitter has seen an outcry from people already in the game journalism business, to offer their services to aspiring POC aspiring writers, producers, and other roles within the industry. To start us off is a person we’ve talked about today already, in Alanah:

There aren’t many more people in the industry as qualified to give tips on brand management, online presence, and pitching ideas, so I wholly urge anyone reading with similar aspirations to jump on this. She wasn’t alone either:

Patrick Kelpek is a senior reporter over at Waypoint, a channel with a LOT of podcast content to sift through if you’re into that sort of thing (I very much am). As such, you can bet your bottom dollar that he knows what he’s talking about.

One person went a step further:

If you don’t know Janet Garcia, she works over at IGN as a guides editor, but appears on a host of other IGN content! Working at IGN she obviously has a huge amount of contacts, colleagues, and friends in the industry and she’s put that to good use here. Some of the replies are as such:

The list thankfully goes on. It’s obviously entirely unknown at this stage how helpful this will be for all involved going forward, but the fact the desire is there is fantastic.

There are tons of other offers like this flying around on Twitter, and if you ARE an aspiring writer, producer, editor, or anything in the field. Take advantage! You shouldn’t have to, but it can’t hurt.

Outro

Now I know what some of you will be thinking – why now? Why all this support for POC community members, aspiring or otherwise, now?

Listen, I can’t judge peoples inspirations, or what’s urging them to speak up now. What I can speak to is the fact that I’ve never, in my 27 years, seen such a reaction to any situation. Not just through the states, but worldwide. People from countries everywhere are watching and listening, and hoping it gets better.

But “gets better” needs to mean more than “brushed under the carpet”. Which is why, as small as our platform is, I’m urging those that are committing to make things better, to actually try and do it.

Don’t forget about the aspiring writers you’re trying to raise up. Don’t forget about the black streamers that have suddenly gained a surge in popularity. Don’t treat this very real issue and tragedy, as a way of bolstering your social media popularity.

SeriouslyAverageGamers can’t offer much, if anything. We don’t have the experience in the field, we don’t have the perspective with both of our current contributors being white and British, and we certainly don’t have the necessary following to actually make a difference.

What we decided we could offer, was an article like this. An article that goes some way to showing what some of the good people are trying to accomplish.

If there’s anything at all you feel deserves to be included in this article, anyone that deserves a spotlight shone on them, or a company going above and beyond. Tell me. I’ll be freely updating this article with any related news for the next week.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe if you’re taking part in any protests, and we’ll see you in the next article. My last share in this article will be of a Kotaku written piece about black streamers being shocked at what it took for the community to notice them. It’s a fantastic article, please read it.

https://kotaku.com/black-streamers-are-grateful-for-new-twitch-viewers-bu-1843889885

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