As the gaming community and industry continues to grow, the call for more inclusion of Black/POC/women characters and creators increases as well.
According to a study published by Statista, women make up nearly 41 percent of U.S. gamers, while the International Gamers Developers Association reports that only 1 percent of individulas working in the game industry are Black.
Even more so, racial representation in games is lacking as well as Black characters only comprised 10.7 percent of those observed in 150 of the most popular titles, according to a 2009 study reported by TechCrunch.
In an effort to combat these low statistics, a Black mother decided to introduce her daughter to games that reflected what she looked like to help build up her self-confidence.
Yvonne Oatley — founder of mobile gaming app Frobelles — developed the game alongside her daughter Alyssa, who helped design the characters and create elements for the game.
“My daughter and girls like her should be able to find games with characters that they can relate to,” Oatley told Black Enterprise via email. “It’s also important for children of other ethnicities to be able to see more diverse characters, as this helps them to learn and understand racial differences, in a positive way.”
Oatley shared with Black Enterprise that she firmly believes it’s important for her daughter and others like her to see positive imagery of Black girls in the games they play.
“As a mother, I am passionate about ensuring games are appropriate and impacting positively to my child’s mental health. We (my daughter and I) discovered that whilst the games my daughter played were safe and child-appropriate, there was a distinct lack of diverse characters. My daughter didn’t feel represented–she wanted characters with skin and hair like hers. It was this feedback that prompted me to step into the world of mobile gaming as a creator.”
Oatley concluded saying that it took her time to adapt to the world of app and business development entering the niche industry as a Black woman creator.
Culturally, she shares that these challenges are no different from what she and many other Black woman entrepreneurs face when starting new business ventures.
“With the fast pace at which technical requirements for game approval update, I’ve had to adapt my way of thinking to keep up with the constant movement,” she revealed to Black Enterprise. “I think that culturally, the challenges in this space are similar to those that Black women entrepreneurs face in other areas of business–the challenge of being seen and heard.”
As Black women continue to make strides in the gaming industry, Oatley and her daughter’s empowering gaming app prove that our representation can be created by us, for us.
According to Black Enterprise, the gaming app is expected to launch later this week.