Over the years I’ve found a lot of black gamers doing great things in the community. Black voices is my attempt to help push the narrative that we are here and have something to say. Tamika ‘RedInfamy’ Moultrie is one of those people. This is her story.
Video Games have been pretty much a cornerstone in my life since I can remember growing up in the 90s. I would watch my father play on the SEGA Master System, which my Mom got him for Christmas, and was amazed as a toddler at the cool, colorful images. I remember trying to figure out what was going on and to join in on the fun since I looked at him and seen he was having fun, so I had to join and figure out why was that by picking you up on of the gamepads. It was unplugged, and I remember to this day tapping his hand letting him know it was plugged in like his. From that day I was wired into a passion that would follow me from a fun pass time to the career I hold now in the gaming industry plus how I plan to shape it.
Being in this industry for about seven years now I’ve seen, and encountered a lot through my lens as a black female journalist. From 2011 to now the growth of more black men and women in the industry has grown due to YouTube, Twitch and other social media platforms for discovery. Social media has ushered in self-starters and those who were were rejected and looked over mostly because they didn’t fit the white description. Social media gave content black content creators a voice that could not be shut up nor ignored. Social media ushered my first start professionally in the industry and how I was discovered. Before then I was seeking a PR position in the gaming industry after college and was rejected numerous times. Finding my niche as a journalist in gaming showed how creating opportunities versus begging for one from those who project they do not want you in their realm.
Many thriving gaming outlets are owned and ran by whites compared to people of color in the industry. Individual black media personalities are thriving but have yet to centralize a network where black content creators could share their content to the masses. I’ve worked with various independent black gaming websites and also large outlets and have seen how selfish motives result in failure. This a huge problem in our black community, the issue of not helping one another succeed or to help win together for the greater good. As a black woman with some of these outlets, my knowledge and integrity were always being challenged. The sad thing is it was from my own people. Which was a big disappointment, but a huge lesson learned on how to move forward by helping and inspiring others through my journey.
To change the narrative moving forward to help black media in the gaming industry expand, joint ventures such as collaborating, and helping each expand each other’s network and adding one another to projects that is a win-win is a simple initiative to grow. I have many black/latinx colleagues and friends in this industry, and the core group and network we have we are always trying to help one another get to their goal even when not presented to do so. We collaborate on each other’s projects like podcast, streams, and events which helps share both audiences to one another invites to events to help foster a connection to someone pivotal, and introduce to new opportunities that one may not have to know about. Besides business support getting to know each other to build a rapport is key too in efforts of doing all the above. Caring for one another without selfish motives is the first step to diversifying a situation when the opposing people or perspective doesn’t want you there.
The perception of the gaming industry just being predominantly white is a stigma in its own regards because there is a growth in the industry due to the boom of social media to expose new talents that were not pursued. Even though there is an influx of exposure to different walks of life in the talent pool, many Podcasts, Twitch, YouTube, and Pro Athletes of color are still not getting their just due in the industry. If you look at the faces of IGN, Rooster Teeth, Game Spot and even new shows they have a full white roster. There are a good number of black gaming journalist in the industry but are not given opportunities to large platforms nor on camera exposure.
At times it can seem very despairing, but it lights the fire to seek for change. As a diversity advocate especially for my people in this industry I forward to helping and shaping where gaming and geek media from the black perspective. Why? Because a silent voice speaks volumes even when one person is able to hear it once.
The talented Ava Duvernay shared a very important outlook on how she viewed embracing her gender and ethnicity in her profession. She mentioned how she was proud to say she was a black female director instead of just a director because the world can get to see through her lens as a black female’s perspective. The gaming industry is lacking diversity and chooses when to celebrate it for a short time, but by black creators joining together and setting the pace then the rest have no choice but to follow.
Last year there was a big disappointment in the gaming industry last year when the newly Facebook Gaming launched a campaign to celebrate women in gaming, which featured all white women panel in the photos. Women of color throughout the industry was appalled by the disrespect by not reaching out to various different women of color that are in the industry to showcase. Seeing this was an annoyance but inspired me to start a project featuring us women of color in gaming that are never displayed.
In this industry, the discussion of diversity isn’t at large and confronted as much. Blacks in this industry and community should be very unapologetic to their race and culture. The more we voice what is going on and also love to come together to make opportunities with each other the results will be grand. For those that inspired to join the industry, this is just ammunition to strive to greatness and counter the bull, and surrounding ourselves with positive individuals from all walks of life.
The movement for equal recognition and creating platforms will move faster as we start building each other’s success to battle the misrepresentation, prejudice, lack of opportunities, harassment to pro players, and lack of representation.